DBusiness Daily Update: Rocket Mortgage Classic Announces All Star Field for Celebrity Scramble, 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.
Jason Day is one of the PGA Tour pros playing in the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble. // Courtesy of Rocket Mortgage Classic
Jason Day is one of the PGA Tour pros playing in the AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble. // Courtesy of Rocket Mortgage Classic

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 Mortgage Classic Announces All Star Field for Celebrity Scramble

The Rocket Mortgage Classic announced a star-studded field for its AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble presented by the Total Health Care Foundation, which will take place at 5 p.m. on July 26 prior to the PGA Tour event.

PGA Tour players scheduled to participate include:

  • Will Zalatoris
  • Tony Finau
  • Jason Day
  • Justin Rose
  • Rickie Fowler
  • Matt Kuchar

Celebrity athletes and entertainers scheduled to participate include:

  • Barry Sanders
  • Tom Izzo
  • Calvin Johnson
  • Dylan Larkin
  • Maurice Allen, long-drive record holder
  • Kelley James, singer and entertainer

Each AREA 313 Celebrity Scramble team also will include a golfer who competed in THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational. Female golfers Mariah Stackhouse, Sadena Parks, and Chrystn Carr will be joined by the men’s champion as well as Willie Mack III and Joe Hooks. The men’s portion of THE JOHN SHIPPEN National Golf Invitational is contested over 36 holes at Detroit Golf Club on July 23-24, with complimentary admission available to the public for the final round on July 24.

U.S. Army Awards Ricardo $18.9M+ to Deliver ABS/ESC Retrofit Kits

The U.S. Army has awarded Ricardo’s Detroit-based defense business unit more than $18.9 million to deliver additional antilock brake system/electronic stability control (ABS/ESC) retrofit kits to improve the safety of operation of the Army’s High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).

In addition to the retrofit kits Ricardo has previously delivered, this contract award will improve safety on fielded vehicles in the Army’s HMMWV fleet. Additionally, more than 7,000 new production or recapitalized HMMWV vehicles have been delivered to the Army with Ricardo’s integrated ABS/ESC technology following the Army’s mandate of the Ricardo system on all new production HMMWVs.

In 2019, the Army provisioned Ricardo’s ABS/ESC retrofit kit into the national stock system for application of vehicles produced prior to 2019 that are slated to remain in the Army’s enduring fleet through 2040.

“Ricardo is committed to providing our customers with mission-critical, innovative, integrated solutions that deliver capability to the soldier,” says Chet Gryczan, president of Ricardo Defense. “This award demonstrates that Ricardo can solve tough challenges for legacy systems that require a future-looking integrated solution.

“Consistent with our core values of sustainable, safe, and smart mobility, the successful deployment of Ricardo’s ABS/ESC safety critical system ensures the safety of soldiers and operators remain at the forefront of every training and operational mission.”

Warren’s Jenne Inc. Expands Internet Services Via Metro Wireless Partnership

Jenne Inc. in Warren, a provider of cloud services and a distributor of technology solutions, has announced a strategic partnership between Jenne Cloud Services Brokerage and Metro Wireless, a nationwide internet service provider and telecommunications company.

Specializing in business wireless connectivity delivered via a variety of media, Metro Wireless partners with carriers to deliver the functionality and flexibility that partners and end users alike count on. Metro Wireless’s managed service model allows it to serve needs like multi-carrier SD-WAN, temporary use, or rural solutions. Anywhere nationally, primary or back-up, Metro Wireless can help.

Forging this relationship gives Jenne’s partners a resource when it comes to wireless internet services.

”Jenne is excited to partner with Metro Wireless to provide wireless internet services and managed connectivity solutions as part of our enhanced growth into cloud services brokerage,” says Shawn Berry, senior vice president of global cloud sales. “Adding Metro Wireless to our extensive portfolio represents an excellent carrier choice for our partner community to engage with across the Metro offering. We’re confident their nationwide presence and technical expertise combined with the knowledge of our custom-built technical solutions experts will quickly lead to incredible success for our partners.”

Private Equity Industry Veteran Michael Kell Launches Thornlea Capital

Private equity industry veteran Michael Kell launched Thornlea Capital in Birmingham, which provides investment capital to support founder and family-owned businesses in the lower middle market.

Utilizing strategies and relationships based on Kell’s more than 20 years in the private equity and alternative asset markets, Thornlea Capital finds value for investors seeking attractive risk-adjusted returns while helping founder-owned companies grow and evolve, with the goal to add value to the organization without disrupting the core of what makes the company successful.

“With flexibility in structure and commitment size, Thornlea Capital can access lower-middle market (less than $25 million in annual revenue) opportunities closed to large private equity managers,” Kell says.

Prior to forming Thornlea Capital, Kell spent 11 years at GCM Grosvenor, a large alternative asset manager. While there, he focused on private equity deal sourcing and investment underwriting activities and had responsibility for regionally targeted programs in Michigan and the broader Midwest. He also focused on the special situations practice and was involved in deal sourcing and conducting due diligence on private equity investments.

For more information, visit thornleacap.com.

Alchemie in Troy Earns $1M Federal Grant for Accessible STEM Learning

Alchemie, an educational technology company based in Troy, has received a $1 million Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to bring to market the Kasi Learning System.

SBIR grants are awarded to startups building technologies with the potential for positive impact on society.

Kasi is a system that uses multi-sensory augmented reality to create pathways for all students, especially those with blindness or low vision (BLV), to explore and learn chemistry and science.

The Kasi system is a web-based software application that combines tactile manipulatives with computer vision algorithms to allow the manipulatives to “talk” to students to provide guidance as students learn STEM concepts. Instead of a mouse or a touchpad, the Kasi manipulatives, embossed with braille and other symbols, provide an alternative user interface for Alchemie’s interactive learning software.

The goal is to create a learning system that is “born accessible,” and deliver accommodations for differently abled learners as a key feature, not as an add-on to the product. Since most BLV students are more likely to receive instruction in mainstream classes, Kasi helps to build inclusiveness and confidence for BLV students and increase academic persistence in STEM courses.

“With the shift to all-digital learning tools, which rely more on visual interactions, blind science students have an even more difficult time keeping up with content,” says Julia Winter, founder of Alchemie. “With the STEM skills learned from tools like Kasi, BLV youngsters are more likely to have the confidence to continue on into good science-oriented careers.”

With $125,000 in additional funding from the Michigan Emerging Technology Fund, the Alchemie team plans to design and manufacture inclusive packaging and the Kasi tactile pieces in the Traverse City area.

‘Unpack Your Financial Baggage’ Podcast Returns with Anatomy of Investor Returns

The “Unpack Your Financial Baggage” podcast has released its second episode, which covers the Anatomy of Investor Returns.

The podcast is hosted by Lou Melone, CFP, managing member of Melone Private Wealth, and R.J. King, editor of DBusiness magazine, DBusiness Daily News, Tech and Mobility News, Detroit 500, and Michigan Makers.

Episode two answers two questions: Why has the average investor continually, not only underperformed the indexes, but their own investments? What are the components that make up The Anatomy of Investor Returns?

The Anatomy of Investor Returns explains why the worst enemy to reaching financial goals is the investor. This blueprint uses long-term analysis of the stock market, economic theories, neuroscience, human history, and psychology to explain how as humans are vulnerable to sabotaging even the most carefully laid out financial plans.

“This model provides the client with a simplistic understanding of why they shoot themselves in the foot,” Melone says. “It explains a process of combining the data and human nature. For example, it’s the rational brain versus the intuitive brain. By understanding the history of rational versus intuitive behavior, you can become aware of your shortcomings.”

Lou Melone started to build his model of The Anatomy of Investor Returns years ago and researched the ideas and concepts thoroughly over time. The components of The Anatomy of Investor Returns are:

  • Stimulus: The virus that affects your rational thinking.
  • Investor Behavior: How the stimulus affects your behavior – Five behaviors with which investors may struggle.
  • Volatility: Volatility vs Risk. What volatility is, what it isn’t, and the anxiety people sometimes feel when they hear the word volatility.
  • Retention Rate: How volatility affects retention rates.
  • Asset Class: How retention rate affects asset class. A look at the performance of asset classes over time that often surprises many people.

Malone and King also cover topics related to investing: What is the VIX otherwise known as the fear index?

“Lou makes a very compelling case for sticking to your financial plan,” says King. “With so much news available instantly, investors can sometimes react emotionally. Lou explains how people can overcome their anxieties and avoid making a bad, or rash, decision.”

Episode three will launch soon and is a discussion about what an advisor does, what to look for when you’re ready to hire a financial professional, a review of titles in the industry, and what everyone wants to know: how do they get paid for their services?

To listen to the podcast, visit here. For more information on Melone Private Wealth, visit here.

Flagstar Bank Completes Third MortgageTech Accelerator Program

Flagstar Bank in Troy has wrapped up its third MortgageTech Accelerator program — the first and only accelerator in the United States solely dedicated to mortgage technology. Four startups graduated after a final presentation closed out the three-month program.

Flagstar looked for startups working on breakthroughs in all facets of the mortgage business, including mortgage origination and servicing, compliance, secondary marketing, and fulfillment, as well as activities performed under the Community Reinvestment Act. Among the criteria for selection were company progress in product development, prospects for growth, and potential for CRA impact.

The graduating class of fintechs included:

  • LoanSense of Ypsilanti
  • OrangeGrid of Flower Mound, Tex.
  • Calque of Austin, Tex.
  • CredEvolv of Naples, Fla.

“We place a huge value on using technology to change consumers’ lives and offer an industry-leading customer experience,” says Lee Smith, president of mortgage for Flagstar Bank. “This program makes our industry stronger and positions Flagstar to deliver a more seamless, frictionless, tech-enabled home loan experience for our customers.”

Startups engaged in mortgage tech innovations interested in participating in the next cohort may email Ashwin Mago, Flagstar’s director of mortgage digital and MIS, at ashwin.mago@flagstar.com.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels Select Life Remodeled COO for ‘Fat Albert’ Flight

Diallo Smith, COO Life Remodeled, a Detroit non-profit focused on sustainable and equitable neighborhood revitalization, has been selected by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels demonstration team to ride in its C-130J Super Hercules today.

The ride in the Blue Angels’ support aircraft, affectionately known as “Fat Albert,” is part of its Key Influencer Program that promotes a culture of excellence within the community and inspires youth to work hard towards achieving their goals.

Key influencers are defined as people who help to shape attitudes and opinions of youth in their communities. People turn to key influencers for advice and information because they have credibility. They may be experts in their field, public figures, leaders of organizations, teachers, guidance counselors, or school administrators. Flying these citizens is designed to promote the Navy and Marine Corps as professional and exciting organizations with which to serve.

Diallo and his team repurpose vacant school buildings in Detroit into one-stop hubs of opportunity, mobilize thousands of volunteers annually to clear four square miles of blight, and provide new roofs, windows, and furnaces to homeowners.

City Bark Named One of ‘America’s Coolest’ Pet Businesses

City Bark in downtown Detroit has been chosen one of “America’s Coolest” by PETS+, a trade publication for the U.S. pet industry, in its sixth annual contest.

In total, 16 businesses earned the “America’s Coolest” title this year. The contest highlights top independent pet stores and service providers in the U.S. Entries were judged based on their history, exterior and interior appearance, marketing, online presence, and individuality.

“It’s a pretty big deal in the pet industry, and no other pet business in metro Detroit has won the award before, so we’re super excited,” says Jamie Judson, founder and owner of City Bark.

PETS+ Editor-in-Chief Pamela Mitchell says: “We asked businesses from around the country to tell us exactly what makes them so cool. We were floored by the response, and we thank all the businesses that entered. The winners are a diverse collection of pet stores, grooming salons, and dog walkers and pet sitters, and each of them are cool in their own unique way.”

JScreen Brings Cancer Genetic Screening to Detroit

JScreen Detroit, an outgrowth of JScreen, a national nonprofit public health initiative based at the Emory University School of Medicine, provides education and access to at-home genetic testing to determine a person’s risk of developing or passing down hereditary cancers.

JScreen Detroit is a JFamily program that aims to lessen the impact of cancer on Detroit’s Jewish community. This summer, JScreen Detroit and JFamily encourage Detroit’s Jewish community to get tested and take the first steps toward a healthy future for themselves and their families.

Statistically, half of all men and a third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetime. This translates to more than 3 million people of Jewish descent across the U.S. and more than 28,000 in Detroit alone.

Jews are at a significantly higher risk of carrying mutations in certain cancer susceptibility genes. Mutations in the BRCA genes are associated with increased risks for breast, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancer.

JScreen’s CancerGEN test assesses the BRCA genes and more than 60 other genes associated with risks for many types of cancer. This cancer panel includes genes that are actionable, meaning steps can be taken to help prevent cancer if a person tests positive.

“JFamily offers educational opportunities and community around families’ happiest times, such as the birth of a first baby or sending a child off to college,” says Stephanie Erez, director of education for JFamily Detroit. “But along with happy occasions come challenging situations, which is why at the core of our mission is a desire to offer support in times that families need it most.”

Thanks to the support of the Lacey Foon Family Fund and the DMC Foundation, JScreen Detroit has subsidized more than 170 testing kits to date. JScreen program fees are being highly subsidized for the Detroit Jewish community as follows:

  • ReproGEN — $18 with code DetroitRepro (normally $149)
  • CancerGEN — $36 with code DetroitPreventCancer (normally $199)
  • ReproGEN and CancerGEN combo —: $54 with code DetroitScreens (normally $299)

The subsidized JScreen Detroit fees apply to individuals who provide their health insurance information, regardless of their coverage or deductibles.

To get tested, visit JScreen.org, receive the simple at-home test, provide a saliva sample, and use the pre-paid postage to mail it in. Licensed genetic counselors provide consults via phone or secure video conferencing to ensure that people understand their results.

14 Michigan Sites Make National Register of Historic Places

Fourteen historic Michigan properties have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

“From Detroit to the Soo and from individual properties to complexes and historic districts, these historic properties tell the stories of our communities, our state, and our nation,” says Martha MacFarlane-Faes, deputy state historic preservation officer. “They illustrate our shared history, foster a sense of pride in our communities, provide recognition of our historic places, and generate investment and economic activity.”

The newest Michigan properties to make the register include:

  • Walbri Hall in Bloomfield Hills
  • Elijah Bull House in Bloomfield Township
  • Luther Burbank Elementary School in Detroit
  • Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Michigan in Detroit
  • Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic Motherhouse Complex in Grand Rapids
  • Iron Mountain Veterans Administration Hospital
  • ParkwynVillage in Kalamazoo
  • Gibson Inc. Factory and Office Building in Kalamazoo
  • Fishtown Historic District in Leland Township
  • Michigan Central Railroad Middleville Depot
  • Nathan Esek and Sarah Emergene Sutton House in Northfield Township
  • Elmer R. Webster School in Pontiac
  • Garfield School in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Vicksburg Historic District

Romanian Classical Rock Group Amadeus to Make U.S. Debut at Meadow Brook Hall

Amadeus, the Romanian all-female classical rock ensemble, will make its U.S. debut on stage at Meadow Brook Hall Aug. 4.

This event is part of the hall’s Summer Concert Series that typically features popular metro Detroit musicians at the National Historic Landmark, located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester.

“Amadeus brings so much talent and energy to each performance, no matter where they are around the world,” says Shannon O’Berski, director of external relations at Meadow Brook Hall. “We are thrilled to host this incredible ensemble as part of our summer concert series. Each concert brings its own atmosphere, and no place is a better setting for entertaining than Meadow Brook. We look forward to welcoming guests from near and far for this amazing performance.”

The crossover music ensemble has performed all over the world, released six records, and garnered more than 200 million hits on its YouTube channel.

The show is set for 7-9:30 p.m. on Aug. 4. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 each. More details are available here.

This evening includes a cash bar, snacks, and a self-guided touring of the historic mansion during the break. Guests are invited to come early to explore the estate and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.

For information on other summer concerts at Meadow Brook Hall, visit here.