DBusiness Daily Update: Rocket Cos. to Replace Whales with Smiles on Detroit’s Broderick Tower, 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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Rocket Cos. will replace Robert Wyland’s mural of whales on the side of Detroit’s Broderick Tower with a work featuring the colorful smiles of Detroit artist Phillip Simpson. // Courtesy of Rocket Cos.
Rocket Cos. will replace Robert Wyland’s mural of whales on the side of Detroit’s Broderick Tower with a work featuring the colorful smiles of Detroit artist Phillip Simpson. // Courtesy of Rocket Cos.

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 Cos. to Replace Whales with Smiles on Detroit’s Broderick Tower

Detroit-based Rocket Cos. today announced it will replace the current Robert Wyland mural of whales on the side of Detroit’s Broderick Tower with a work by Detroit artist Phillip Simpson on Nov. 16.

The company says it wanted to make sure the space didn’t become a billboard and that it was a showcase for a local artist. The new mural will be printed on vinyl that will be attached to the wall. It will not permanently cover the existing whale painting.

“When we heard this property was going to be used as advertising space again, we saw it as a great opportunity to take control of the space and bring more art to downtown Detroit,” says Casey Hurbis, chief marketing officer of Rock Central, the marketing provider for Rocket Cos. “Such a high-profile location — seen all around the world during Tigers’ home games — needs to be a place to display the work of Detroit artists. We hope other Detroit companies and property owners will also explore using their buildings as canvases for local artists.”

After discussions community members and local artists, Simpson to create the new mural. He is bringing his recognizable, colorful smiles to the side the Broderick Tower along with the message that Detroit is home. Detroiters can learn more about the design and hear the artist describe his vision at HomeIsDetroit.com.

This installment is the latest in a history of the Rock Family of Cos. bringing murals from Detroit artists to the city’s core. Recently, Simpson brought his smiling faces to the basketball courts in the Rocket Mortgage Sports Zone as part of the Monroe Street Midway, along with art from fellow Detroit artist Sheefy McFly.

Other prominent murals on Rock Family of Cos. buildings include Charles McGee’s mural “Still Searching” on the side of the 28 Grand building, Sydney James’ mural “Out of the Ashes We Will Rise” in the Federal Reserve building garage and Swoon’s “Monica” on the side of the Ally Detroit Center building.

Rocket Cos. invites art fans to make the trip downtown and take a photo with Detroit’s resident humpback whales, swimming up the east side of Broderick Tower, before the new art installment is unveiled on Nov. 16. The mural is best viewed from the east end of Grand Circus Park or the corner of Madison and Witherell streets.

Shinola Honors Artist Georgia O’Keeffe with Great Americans Series Watch

Shinola will honor artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known as the mother of American modernism, with the latest installment of its Great American’s Series watches that launch Nov. 15.

This limited-edition gift set features a Shinola Birdy crafted with a minimalist design inspired by O’Keeffe’s painting “My Last Door.”

The timepiece features a new, hammered finish reminiscent of the rocky, tumbled vistas O’Keeffe captured in her work. A premium, black leather strap adorns the austere, open dial and slender hands. The watch was made in partnership with the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M.

The watch retails for $750 and is available at Shinola.com and select retail locations

Shinola’s Great Americans Series is a collection of limited-edition watches that honor those who have helped shape American culture and made a lasting mark on American history. Past honorees in the collection include Henry Ford, the Wright brothers, Smokey Robinson, Maya Angelou, and Muhammad Ali.

Nexteer Automotive in Auburn Hills Receives Two CES 2022 Innovation Awards

Nexteer Automotive in Auburn Hills has received CES 2022 Innovation Awards for its Steer-by-Wire (SbW) with Stowable Steering Column and its Automated Steering Actuator. Both came in CES’ Vehicle Intelligence and Transportation product category.

Nexteer’s combination of SbW with Stowable Steering Column “reinvents” the behind-the-wheel experience and opens an untapped frontier of advanced safety and performance features for autonomous and traditional driving, according to the company.

Its Automated Steering Actuator offers a single steering solution that solves challenges for shared, autonomous, and electric people mover vehicles — including those without a steering wheel or driver. It enables higher vehicle speeds, higher steering loads, and higher safety and durability requirements.

“Nexteer is honored to be recognized with two CES 2022 Innovation Awards for our innovative Steer-by-Wire with Stowable Steering Column and our Automated Steering Actuator,” says Robin Milavec, president, chief technology officer, chief strategy officer, and executive board director at Nexteer Automotive. “These technologies are poised to transform the future of mobility by improving safety and performance and supporting OEM needs across megatrends like Electrification, Autonomy, Mobility-as-a-Service and more. We’re proud of our team’s commitment to relentless innovation that enables us to develop game-changing intuitive motion control solutions like these.”

Detroit’s Prop N Now Reaching Neighborhoods that Waited Years for Blight Removal

The City of Detroit’s bond-funded blight removal program, Proposal N, approved by voters one year ago, is reaching neighborhoods that once felt left behind.

A key promise of the Proposal N ballot initiative was to address vacant and run-down homes in neighborhoods the city couldn’t previously reach, due to federal restrictions on where the Hardest Hit Funds could be spent.  With no geographic restrictions on the city’s bond funds, the Demolition Department has been concentrating its efforts on neighborhoods that have waited years for the city’s blight removal program to reach them.

One area seeing significantly more attention is the Mapleridge neighborhood on the city’s east side, which is south of Seven Mile Road and east of Gratiot Avenue.  Since Prop N was approved, Detroit’s Demolition Department has completed 757 demolitions, has 2,200 more under contract and more than 900 in the demolition pipeline.  Meanwhile, the stabilization of 231 salvageable homes have been completed, with another 1,800 under contract.

Since May, 56 vacant properties have been demolished or stabilized in the Mapleridge neighborhood, with an additional 221 planned demolitions and 109 planned stabilizations to come.

Community Foundation and Knight Foundation Announce Nearly $1M in Support of Detroit Theaters

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, announced nearly $1 million in support of 10 theater organizations in Detroit through Staging Change Detroit, a program committed to supporting efforts to innovate, reach new audiences, and enrich the arts and culture community.

With this latest round of support, $1.2 million has been provided to the theaters participating in the initiative.

This round of grants is the implementation of lessons learned and ideas generated from previous Staging Change Detroit support. The theater organizations came together as a cohort to discuss what it means to respond adaptively to complex challenges in theater and what innovation means today in the changing landscape of arts and culture.

“A vibrant theater scene in Detroit is vital to our economy and plays an essential role in our community,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation, “The Community Foundation is pleased to partner with the Knight Foundation on Staging Change Detroit to continue investing in and supporting talent and innovation in the local arts sector.”

The 10 Detroit theater organizations receiving grants from Staging Change Detroit include:

  • The Hinterlands — $75,000.
  • Shakespeare in Detroit — $100,000.
  • Detroit Public Theatre — $100,000.
  • Plowshares Theatre — $100,000.
  • Black & Brown Theatre — $65,000.
  • A Host of People — $100,000.
  • Mosaic Youth Theatre — $125,000.
  • Matrix Theatre — $85,000.
  • Planet Ant — $125,000.
  • CMAP (Carrie Morris Arts Production) — $115,000.

To learn more about the Staging Change Detroit program, visit cfsem.org.

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