DBusiness Daily Update: Rocket Community Fund and City of Detroit Invest $5M in Home Rehab Program, Automation Alley Distributes 300 3-D Printers, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Rocket Community Fund, City of Detroit Invest $5M Home Rehab Program
The Rocket Community Fund and city of Detroit today announced a joint $5 million investment in the Rehabbed & Ready program, a public-private partnership that renovates homes, creates new homeowners and increases access to financing in Detroit neighborhoods that have an appraisal gap.

The program, created alongside the Detroit Land Bank Authority in 2015, rehabilitates land bank-owned single-family homes in neighborhoods with an appraisal gap that is preventing Detroit residents from accessing financing.

The DLBA oversees renovations, turning blighted properties into move-in ready houses complete with all-new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Additionally, through a partnership with Emerging Industries Training Institute, the program supports skilled trades education to develop local talent. As a result, each property creates job opportunities for local contractors.

“The Rehabbed & Ready program has made affordable home ownership possible for a lot of Detroiters who may not have been up to the challenge of renovating a vacant Land Bank house themselves,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Scaling up this program will create this opportunity for more residents across all Strategic Neighborhood Fund neighborhoods, while reducing blight and stabilizing property values.”

The investment from the city of Detroit and partner Invest Detroit are being made through the Strategic Neighborhood Fund — created from public, private, and philanthropic resources that brings targeted investment to 10 neighborhoods throughout Detroit.

The Rocket Community Fund, the philanthropic arm of Rocket Cos., founded the program with an initial $5 million investment, bringing its total commitment into Rehabbed & Ready to $7.5 million.

The new investment — part of the Rocket Community Fund’s $150 million, 10-year commitment to Detroit — will finance renovations, as well as provide a backstop to cover the gap between construction costs and the sales price of homes in the program.

“We are driven to ensure that every Detroit resident has reliable access to sustainable housing and has the opportunity to grow wealth through programs like Rehabbed & Ready,” says Laura Grannemann, vice president of the Rocket Community Fund.

“Sales through this program not only chip away at blight and repair issues, they also provide appraisers with new home sale comparisons that stabilize the values for surrounding homes and increase access to financing for Detroit residents and their families.”

Through Rehabbed & Ready, the Detroit Land Bank Authority identifies vacant homes in Strategic Neighborhood Fund areas to be renovated by local contractors. The DLBA works with the city of Detroit and Invest Detroit to ensure any surrounding blight is removed before the property enters the Rehabbed & Ready pipeline.

“We are proud to be able to use our existing housing stock for a program that benefits entire neighborhoods across Detroit,” says Saskia Thompson, executive director of the Detroit Land Bank Authority. “Rehabbed & Ready also allows us to work with Detroit contractors to create accessible, turnkey properties for Detroiters.”

The program is only available to homeowner-occupants. Investors and speculators are not eligible to purchase these homes. As a result, this transaction provides the necessary recent home sale comparison that appraisers subsequently utilize to conduct proper home valuations for homes that are being financed in the nearby area.

For more information, visit here.

Automation Alley Distributes 300 3-D Printers
Automation Alley, the Troy-based Industry 4.0 knowledge center and a World Economic Forum Advanced Manufacturing Hub for North America, has announced that its Project DIAMOnD has distributed its first 300 3-D printers to small and medium-sized manufacturers in Oakland and Macomb counties.

Project DIAMOnD (Digital, Independent, Agile, Manufacturing on Demand) is an initiative to create the country’s largest 3-D printer network on a blockchain technology platform funded through $12 million in 2020 CARES Act funding grants, $10 million from Oakland County and $2 million from Macomb County.

It was created to accelerate digital transformation among Michigan manufacturers and strengthen supply chains for developing PPE during the pandemic.

Project DIAMOnD participating manufacturers also are able to use the Markforged 3-D printers they receive to expand their production of a variety of industrial parts and products, ultimately enhancing Industry 4.0 manufacturing capabilities in Michigan and throughout the United States.

“Automation Alley shepherded this funding to maximize its value to the state’s pandemic response and to advance our mission to accelerate the digital transformation of Michigan’s small and medium-sized manufacturers,” says Tom Kelly, executive director and CEO of Automation Alley.

“We again thank Oakland and Macomb counties for their support and salute all of the area manufacturers who stepped up to participate in Project DIAMOnD and elevate Michigan’s 4.0 readiness and lessen the country’s dependence on foreign products while being prepared to help fight this pandemic.”

Initial grant eligibility for Project DIAMOnD was limited to 250 manufacturers from Oakland County and 50 from Macomb County with fewer than 500 employees. While the 300 3-D printer target has been met, the long-term objective of Project DIAMOnD is to facilitate the creation of a self-governing, open, and scalable marketplace implemented using the decentralized principles of blockchain technology.

To learn more about Project DIAMOnD, or to inquire about joining the network, visit here.

Fidelity Investments Expanding into Detroit
Fidelity Investments, a diversified financial services firm based in Boston, announced plans to expand into Detroit and more than 20 other U.S. markets.

Fidelity says it expects to hire an average of 50 remote-licensed certified financial planners for its new Detroit location with 25 coming on in the second quarter and another 25 in the third quarter.

“Growing our U.S. footprint and expanding our technology teams will allow us to source diverse and innovative talent to meet our customers’ changing financial needs today and, in the future,” says Mark Barlow, general manager of personal investing for Fidelity Investments.

Nationwide, Fidelity is adding approximately 4,000 licensed representatives, technologists, and customer service representatives across its existing U.S. footprint and into dozens more over the next six months. More than half of these positions are expected to be filled by mid-year.

To get more information or to apply to join the Fidelity team, visit here.

Report: Failure to Understand Younger Investors Could Affect Advisors’ Ability to Attract Clients
Full-service wealth management firms have a vested interest in tailoring their services to the evolving needs of younger investors, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Full-Service Investor Satisfaction Study.

The Millennial generation is poised to inherit more than $68 trillion in wealth from their Boomer parents during the next decade, according to J.D. Power, and they have a stark divergence in the investment behavior of younger investors compared with their older counterparts.

“Investors under age 40 are changing much more quickly in terms of their wealth management preferences and priorities — and they look increasingly different from Boomers,” says Mike Foy, senior director of wealth intelligence at J.D. Power.

“Not only has the pandemic significantly accelerated their shift to more digital engagement, but emerging issues like ESG [environmental, social and governance] are also a major priority for them that isn’t seen as much yet among Boomers.

“Wealth management providers are making a mistake if they assume that the emerging affluent investors will simply evolve into Boomers over time. Firms with the ability to recognize and address these changing needs will define success through the great wealth transfer.”

One of the key findings of the study include that more than half (55 percent) of full-service investors under age 40 prefer digital channels for communicating with their advisors vs. just 26 percent among older investors.

Other findings include:

  • Younger investors are twice as likely to make financial changes.
  • ESG becomes key priority but many firms still fall short.
  • One-time fee-for-service and subscription payment models attractive to younger investors.

Edward Jones ranks highest in overall investor satisfaction with a score of 770 (on a 1,000-point scale). Stifel (760) ranks second, while Fidelity (751), RBC (751), and UBS (751) each rank third in a tie.

For more information about the study, visit here.

Plymouth Township’s Tespo Vitamins Expands Product Line
Plymouth Township-based digital health care and natural vitamin provider Tespo Vitamins has expanded its product line furthering its brand as one of the fastest growing vitamin providers in the industry.

Tespo Vitamins now offers more than 20 different vitamin pods and stick packs along with its dispenser and related accessories. These expanded offerings, combined with the Tespo Health app, are designed to provide consumers with “the most convenient and beneficial vitamin experience possible,” says Ted Mills, co-founder and CEO of the company.

Tespo Vitamins sources the very best ingredients from around the world for its vitamins, Mills says. The Vitamin Pods contain no sugars, GMOs, artificial colors or fillers. When dispensed in liquid form, Tespo Vitamins allow for more effective absorption via vitamins made from free form, powered ingredients.

“With the Tespo Vitamins brand, we are offering a truly comprehensive product line that includes vitamins that are truly in demand today,” Mills says. “Convenience and quality matter to our customers, and by providing both we’re growing into an industry leader.”

For more information, visit here.

Entertainment/Afin Technologies Partners with Augeo on Launch of Koiyn
Entertainment/Afin Technologies, the Troy-based discount and promotions company, has partnered with Augeo on the expansion of its Koiyn program, a membership incentive program featuring card-linked cash back rewards.

Koiyn seamlessly integrates with member and association programs, enabling organizations to give members additional value, which increases participation, engagement, and loyalty, according to the company.

Entertainment adds Koiyn card-linked offers to their more than 500,000 exclusive discount offers database, adding value to their member benefits solutions. Koiyn enables users to enroll any credit or debit card to receive cash back on eligible purchases at participating merchants. The simple user experience and frictionless cash back delivery appeals to members seeking extra value in everyday purchases.

“We are excited about expanding our long-time partnership with Augeo by adding card-linked offers into our suite of benefits,” says Lee Evans, CEO of Entertainment/Afin Technologies. “Card-linked offers add a new dimension to the value equation we provide for our member benefits partners. The combination of our traditional offer content with cash back offers is truly powerful in creating engagement and meaningful value for members.”

Game-design elements within the platform encourage usage and add a more engaging member experience. The Koiyn program is designed to appeal to younger members looking for a compelling experience and relevant, authentic value.

Comerica Bank to Host Virtual “First 100 Days” Program April 21
Comerica Bank is presenting a virtual program analyzing the early days of the Biden Administration called “First 100 Days: Politics, the Market, and the Economy” on April 21 between 2-2:45 p.m.

Participating Comerica senior vice presidents include Dan Donohoe, director of government relations; Robert Dye, chief economist; and John Lynch, chief investment officer.

Similar to the bank’s fall 2020 events that provided insight on the latest market trends, economic news, and political election updates, the participants will provide analysis on the latest developments.

To register, visit here.

Ricardo North America Brings Leaders Together for April 22 Event
Ricardo North America in Van Buren Township is convening a cast of thought leaders from several industries to discuss how the environment, electrification, autonomy, digitization, software and other factors are converging to define the future of mobility.

The Ricardo Mobility Summit 2021: CONVERGENCE will take place virtually April 22 starting at 11 a.m.

Featured speakers include:

  • Jim Farley, CEO of Ford Motor Co.
  • Ernie Garcia, CEO of Carvana
  • Sanjay Ravi, general manager of automotive, mobility, and transportation industry for Microsoft Corp.

A complete roster of participants can be found here.

“A rare collection of issues and influences is converging to overhaul the current transportation landscape,” says Marques McCammon, president of Ricardo North America. “It’s a half-century of change stuffed into the 2020s. We created CONVERGENCE to cover all mobility angles and trends and to highlight how Ricardo — a product agnostic organization — develops transportation solutions to fit our customer’s business, not the other way around.”

For free registration, visit here.

Wayne State to Host Virtual Education Job Fair May 5
The Wayne State University College of Education in Detroit will host a virtual job fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5. The event is free and open to anyone interested in pursuing jobs in education as well as current education professionals seeking new opportunities.

“We are committed not only to supporting our students and alumni and members of the community in their job search but also to serving as partners to school districts and other educational organizations that are seeking qualified candidates for open positions,” says Paul Johnson, assistant dean of the WSU Division of Academic Services. “We are grateful for the support of the participating employers.”

Recruiters from throughout the Midwest, including out-of-state school districts, will interview candidates for a variety of positions in teaching, administration, counseling, librarianship, psychology, social work, special education and more. More than 30 employers are expected to attend.

“Because the job fair is virtual, it is open to anyone who wants to pursue a career in education,” says Mary Waker, academic services advisor and coordinator of the event. “We hope job seekers throughout the U.S. will explore available opportunities with recruiting organizations and join us for this event.”

Those who register can use the Career Fair Plus app to access job fair information and resources — including a current list of recruiters — from their mobile devices. They also can attend a series of free professional development workshops to help them prepare for the event. Workshops focused on understanding job search basics, navigating the school job search and getting ready for the fair are scheduled to take place April 14, 21, and 28.

Interested individuals must register here by Tuesday, May 4, to reserve an interview with a recruiter.

The Furniture Bank Announces Premium Pick-up Services
The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan in Pontiac is announcing three new premium furniture removal services for metro Detroiters in time for the spring-cleaning season.

The money earned from the new venture will help fund Furniture Bank’s Furniture for Families program, which provides beds and furniture to between 1,200 and 1,500 low-income households annually.

“Over the years, we’ve learned that — in addition to the basics — our furniture donors also want to get rid of things like desks, china cabinets, and exercise equipment,” says Rob Boyle, executive director of the Furniture Bank. “The families we’ve traditionally served don’t necessarily need them, but we’re able to offer them at no charge to folks who can use them. We dispose of the items we’re unable to find a home for.”

In addition to removing bulky or worn-out furniture from homes, the Furniture Bank also offers expedited scheduling for donors who need things out in a hurry and will now drive out to donors who live beyond regular collection routes.

Premium pick-up services start at low as $75-$100, with the proceeds supporting the Furniture Bank’s mission to help local families. Receipts are provided to donors for all items removed should they wish to write off the donation on their taxes.

The services include:

Furniture Bank “You Call, We Haul” Service: Trained professionals will carefully remove and dispose of bulky items such as desks, armoires, china cabinets, entertainment centers, bookshelves and exercise equipment. They also will take items that are a little more than gently used.

Furniture Bank “Extra Mile” Service: Furniture Bank will drive to communities beyond its regular pick-up areas. These include northern Oakland cities like Holly or Leonard, or cities like Brighton or Hartland to the West and north Macomb cities, such as Richmond, and southern Wayne communities like Van Buren Township and Worden.

Furniture Bank “Fast Track” Service: The Furniture Bank can send a truck out sooner than the next scheduled pick-up day.

“It’s really a triple win,” Boyle adds. “Donors get items removed from their homes at a reasonable cost, people of limited means can get things they can use at no charge, and the Furniture Bank makes money to provide the essentials for families who have the greatest need. The Furniture Bank wants everyone to feel good about their home.”

For more information or to schedule a pick-up appointment, call 248-332-1300 or email donations@furniture-bank.org.

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