DBusiness Daily Update: Shyft Group in Novi to Showcase Specialized Utilimaster Vehicles at Kentucky Expo, 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.
Utilimaster will showcase three utility vehicles at The Utility Expo this week in Louisville, Ky. // Courtesy of The Shyft Group
Utilimaster will showcase three utility vehicles at The Utility Expo this week in Louisville, Ky. // Courtesy of The Shyft Group

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.

Shyft Group in Novi to Showcase Specialized Utilimaster Vehicles at Kentucky Expo

Utilimaster, the specialty vehicle brand of the Shyft Group in Novi, will showcase three utility vehicles that demonstrate the brand’s wide range of capabilities at The Utility Expo this week in Louisville, Ky.

“Each of us rely on the essential services provided by utility companies and municipalities as they keep our communities functioning,” says Chad Heminover, president of Shyft Fleet Vehicles and Services. “At Utilimaster, we provide the vans and trucks that make this work easier for frontline crews. We’ve seen first-hand all summer how important these services are as we’ve witnessed flooding, storm damage, and power outages across North America from hurricanes, thunderstorms, and other inclement weather. Utilimaster builds and upfits utility vehicles across vehicle classes and platforms, to perform precisely and effectively for our customers.”

The Utility Expo is the largest gathering of utility and construction professionals in North America and gives attendees access to leading experts and innovators in manufacturing and technology, for every utility segment. This year, Utilimaster is showcasing three vehicle platforms: an Aeromaster walk-in van, Ford Transit Cargo Van, and Ford F-150 Pickup Truck.

The Aeromaster Freightliner MT55 Walk-In Van features an Onan Generator, a Team Fenex Air Delivery System, an EZ Stak interior cargo package, vise assemblies, cargo area HVAC, and flip down rear step bumper. This step van is upfitted to serve as an underground substation vehicle that delivers fresh, climate-controlled air to utility workers working underground.

The Ford Transit Cargo Van includes a solid-steel bulkhead with windows, Stabiligrip cargo flooring, Legend DuraTherm liner, LED strobe lighting, Samsara GPS, GFI outlets, and a 3600w inverter. This upfit is designed for electric meter testing applications.

The Ford F-150 Pickup Truck showcases a Workforce topper, StorMaster combo cargo management system, drop down ladder rack, and Vanner inverter. This truck is designed for general contractors and light-duty jobsite applications requiring quick and secure access to tools.

“Each one of these utility vehicles demonstrate Utilimaster’s ability to deliver highly customized upfits to our customers that are tailored to their specific needs,” says Heminover. “We build vehicles that are ready to meet the challenges for the specific job at hand — from cargo vans and pickup trucks to large walk-in vans.

For more information about The Shyft Group, visit here.

DTE Energy Foundation Provides Statewide Economic Development Support

The DTE Energy Foundation today announced it has awarded grants to Michigan-based organizations to spur economic development and job creation across the state.

Grant recipients include the Ann Arbor Spark Foundation ($200,000), Detroit Economic Growth Association ($700,000), Detroit Regional Partnership ($2 million), Michigan Economic Development Foundation ($100,000), Northern Lakes Economic Alliance ($100,000), The Right Place Foundation ($100,000), and Venture North Funding and Development ($120,000).

The goal of the grants is to better position each organization to meet the unique needs of their regions, develop programs and initiatives that support the economy and bolster job creation.

“The economic strain our state has experienced over the past year has tremendously impacted so many Michiganders,” says Lynette Dowler, president of the DTE Foundation. “Our partners will use these grants to improve the economic wellbeing and quality of life for communities by building local wealth, diversifying the economy, and creating and retaining jobs. Each of these organizations work hand in glove with their communities to meet the direct economic needs in their regions, and this support will help them continue to create a stronger more resilient Michigan.”

Communities are continuing to adjust to the ongoing challenges brought on by the pandemic, making this statewide surge of economic development more important than ever, according to local officials.

“We share the DTE Energy Foundation’s priorities of creating jobs for all, increasing diversity, equity and inclusion, and attracting investment to our communities,” says Maureen Donohue Krauss, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Partnership. “The DTE Energy Foundation’s support of economic development efforts are having a lasting impact across Michigan. They have been instrumental since the inception of the Detroit Regional Partnership and continue to be a phenomenal partner as we work to build a more prosperous region and state.”

MEDC Names Agency Partners to Boost Tourism Business

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. has selected four advertising and marketing agencies to promote the state as a world-class business location and travel destination to inspire, motivate, and engage business decision-makers and leisure travelers to choose Michigan.

The agencies chosen and their specific areas of responsibility include:

  • Lambert Partners/9thWonder (with offices in Grand Rapids, Detroit, Lansing, and New York) for business marketing and advertising.
  • MMGY (with 12 locations worldwide including Detroit) for travel marketing and advertising.
  • FINN Partners (with 22 offices worldwide including Detroit) for business and tourism public relations and social media.
  • Meredith Travel Marketing (with seven locations throughout the U.S. including Detroit) for state of Michigan travel guide production services.

“Whether our audience is leisure travelers, entrepreneurs or business owners looking to expand or grow in the state, we have a compelling story to tell about the opportunities Michigan has to offer,” says Doug Kuiper senior vice president of marketing and communications at the MEDC. “Working alongside our talented team here at MEDC, these four respected, top-tier marketing and PR agency partners will play a critical role in getting our Michigan story into market and building a pipeline of new visitors and new business leads that will help drive long-term economic growth in Michigan.”

The firms were selected based on the recommendations of four Joint Evaluation Committees, each including at least one industry expert from outside of the MEDC. The JECs reviewed and considered the responses received through the RFP to determine their recommendations. Each JEC reviewed scoring and technical proposals, oral proposals for those who received consensus scores greater than 80, and pricing proposals for those who participated in oral presentations.

“Our existing providers have delivered high-caliber, committed, and outstanding work,” Kuiper says. “Ultimately, the decisions from our JECs are based on the belief that these four firms will best amplify and expand the MEDC’s Michigan storytelling, while continuing to grow Michigan’s visibility and reputation as a regional and national business and leisure travel destination.”

Data Management Firm Munetrix in Auburn Hills Receives Investment

Munetrix, an Auburn Hills-based provider of municipal and school district data management tools and proprietary performance analytics applications, has received a growth equity investment by Essex Bay Capital, a Massachusetts private equity investment firm.

The investment, the amount of which was nit disclosed, allows Munetrix to expand its resources in areas like product development, customer support, and sales.

“I could not be more proud of the Munetrix team for living our mission and delighting our customers every single day by helping hundreds of K-12 school districts and municipalities on financial planning, budgeting, transparency, and academic outcomes” says Buzz Brown, co-founder and CEO of Munetrix. “We are excited to work with our new partners at Essex Bay who understand and appreciate our core values, and who will support our vision for product innovation and growth, both organically and through acquisitions.”

Franklin Foster, a partner at Essex Bay Capital, says, “Munetrix’s reputation as a leader and innovator in the financial planning and academic analytics realms is well-earned, as evidenced by its winning of a 2021 CODiE award, an EdTech Breakthrough Award, its ongoing GovTech100 recognition, and the clear demand for the solutions it brings to market. We look forward to partnering with the Munetrix leadership team to continue the company’s fast-paced growth and further support its mission, culture, and customers.”

Additionally, as part of the transaction, Munetrix has added GovTech entrepreneur Steve Ressler to its board of directors.

McLaren Macomb Senior Behavioral Health Center in Shelby Township Set to Open

McLaren Macomb soon will complete its latest expansion with opening of the McLaren Macomb Senior Behavioral Health Center in Shelby Township this week. The multidisciplinary inpatient facility will provide an advanced level of care designed to meet the varied mental and emotional health needs of Macomb County’s senior citizen population.

Construction began on the $8 million facility, located on Schoenherr Road, just south of 21 Mile Road in the fall of 2020.

“There can be a disconnect between the ​physical health and ​mental health,” says Theresa Chapman, program director of the McLaren Macomb Senior Behavioral Health Center. “As we age, ​we face multiple changes in many different areas of life, and the aging population is left to find a way to cope with those changes and the loss associated with them, all of this can leave them feeling depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. These changes and reactions are normal, but often extra help is needed if the depression and anxiety go on for too long and that’s why we’re here, to provide that specialized care to this unique population.”

The new 23-bed inpatient facility is designed to meet the needs of adults 55 and older who are in need of treatment for increased anxiety, prolonged emotional issues after a major life event, behavioral disturbances, depression with suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and delusional thoughts, among other behavioral health needs.

“The growing emphasis being placed on behavioral health and mental and emotional well-being, along with the de-stigmatization of the need for this area of care, have been very promising,” says Tom Brisse, president and CEO of McLaren Macomb. “It is always exciting to be able to grow and expand our services to our community, especially one that is in a position to meet a growing need.”

Overseen by a board-certified psychiatrist, the facility will include a full complement of registered nurses providing around-the-clock care and an experienced manager to supervise all patient care services. The services of social workers and occupational and recreational therapists will also be available.

Through this facility, McLaren Macomb will add nearly 30 jobs to Shelby Township.

For more information, visit here.

Whitmore Lake Provisioning Center to Open Oct.1

Whitmore Lake’s first retail establishment for medical and adult-use (recreational) marijuana and cannabis education — Planted Provisioning Center — is planning its public grand opening for Oct. 1-3.

The establishment is moving into a renovated the property at 9545 Main St. in Whitmore Lake’s Central Business District. Half the property will house the new provisioning center, which features 2,800 square feet of retail space, including a bud bar, six POS systems, and a waiting room with seating for more than 10. The other side of the property is reserved for additional retail space. The total anticipated investment is $1.8 million.

Whitmore Lake resident Victoria Nichols will serve as Planted’s general manager and supervise a team of budtenders and cannabis coaches.  She also is a medical marijuana patient and experienced caregiver.

Grand opening activities planned for the weekend include catering by Eli’s Blazin Wings and Pizza on Oct. 1 at 11:30 a.m., a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Brighton Chamber of Commerce with Whitmore Lake’s Board of Trustees from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and possible vendor days with the products carried by Planted.

Music, giveaways, and deals also will be a part of the grand opening festivities for medical and recreational customers. Heaven on a Roll Food Truck will be on site Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A mobile billboard truck also will be touring Livingston County with “now open” messaging and contact information.

“We are thrilled to be a new member of the Whitmore Lake business community,” Ritz says. “The Planted team will bring a disciplined, retail-oriented experience as a community-oriented cannabis outlet.”

For more information, visit here.

Community Foundation Announces $14M in Grants in Southeast Michigan

The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan announced grants totaling $14 million in the third quarter to support organizations primarily in southeast Michigan that are focused on the arts, civic life, education, environment, health, human services, and youth.

“The Community Foundation is dedicated to supporting programs that benefit the region,” says Mariam Noland, president of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan. “We are amazed at the innovation of these organizations as they address today’s pressing needs. In addition to these grants, we have also funded projects actively addressing criminal justice reform, substance use and organizational capacity building in Pontiac, Mich.”

Organizations receiving grants include:

  • Avalon Nonprofit Housing Corp. — $10,000 for two large scale murals at a newly constructed affordable housing development in Ann Arbor.
  • Last Straw Ventures — $15,000 to collect oral histories and create interactive educational programs about Sarah E. Ray and her civil rights activism in the Detroit area.
  • Sphinx Organization – $200,000 to support programming and arts leadership for a series which advances the diversity and accessibility of classical music.
  • University Musical Society – $75,000 for both in-person and digital programming for a series which celebrates the arts of the Arab World and its diaspora.
  • Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue — $25,000 to transform a downtown synagogue into a hub with office and programming space for nonprofits.
  • Anti-Defamation League — $37,500 for the expansion of the anti-bias education programming in schools across southeast Michigan for K-12 youth.
  • Huron River Watershed Council — $60,000 for youth engagement programs that foster connections between students and the natural world through experiential education.
  • Birth Detroit — $50,000 for programming expansion and midwifery team development.
  • Gilda’s Club Metro Detroit — $75,000 for the expansion of virtual programming for individuals and families affected by cancer.
  • Area Agency on Aging 1B — $34,500 to develop the Oakland County Blueprint for Healthy Aging, a data-driven strategic plan for addressing aging issues, needs, and opportunities.
  • Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit — $75,000 for an occupational training program that provides industry-recognized credentials and skills for underemployed and unemployed individuals.
  • Shelter Association of Washtenaw County — $40,000 to address housing and shelter needs for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Inc. — $47,873 to enhance services for refugee and immigrant families in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.
  • Children’s Center of Wayne County Inc. — $40,000 for a program that will provide free aid and services to youth with disabilities.
  • Methodist Children’s Home Society — $60,000 to expand the child abuse prevention services program.

Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to Host State’s Largest Food Truck Rally

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy announced the details for its Detroit Harvestfest & Food Truck Rally, which will take place Oct. 9-10 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The family-friendly event will be staged along the Dequindre Cut Greenway and include trick or treating, a free pumpkin patch, inflatable bounce houses, hands-on activities for the kids, as well as five stages of musical performances from local artists, a beer and wine garden and more than 60 food trucks from throughout metro Detroit and beyond.

Admission to the event is $5 per person.  Children 17 years of age and under are admitted free.  The Dequindre Cut is located between Orleans Street and St. Aubin Street and runs from Mack Avenue to Atwater Street. The event footprint runs from Woodbridge Street to Wilkins Street on the Dequindre Cut.

“Detroit Harvestfest has become one of our most popular events, and every year it keeps getting bigger and better,” says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “This will be a great opportunity for families to have some fun and to enjoy the beauty of the Dequindre Cut.”

The Food Truck Rally features more than 60 food trucks that offer fare such as Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican, seafood, soul, gourmet desserts, and more.

For more information, visit here.

Michigan Women Forward Announces Top 10 Challenge Finalists

Michigan Women Forward has announced the top 10 women entrepreneur finalists for the 53 Voices pitch challenge sponsored by Fifth Third Bank. They are:

  • AnnaMaria Pasley-Horn of Hope Central Urban Arts, an after-school program that teaches the performing and technical arts.
  • Jacqueline McCollum of GloblHue, which showcases minority-owned businesses, along with spaces where minority college graduates and job seekers can promote themselves.
  • Sandra Jonick of U-Plant Landscape Designs, which creates landscape designs for homeowners to install themselves.
  • Alyson Caillaud-Jones of Chartreuse Sisters, a French-American fusion patisserie run by sisters in Grand Rapids.
  • Lesa Walker of Sweet Thoughts, which makes healthy snacks with new D’lishus Sweet Krispy Chips.
  • Celeste Belanger of The Mustard House, a place in Detroit for people to gather in a unique specialty shop with a cafe and garden.
  • Jennifer Justis of Sleepy Dog Books, a boutique bookstore that sells new books along with retail offerings to the Mt. Pleasant community.
  • Yvette Jenkins of Love Travels Imports, which develops, produces, and distributes ethically made sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags.
  • Chantele Jones of Estella’s Vegan Dessert Boutique, Detroit’s first all-vegan bakery.
  • Chevelle Brown of I Teach Chess, which uses chess to train young minds to become critical thinkers.

Each finalist submitted a 53-second video outlining their idea. The public will have an opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite idea by visiting miwf.org. Voting will be open from Sept. 30 through Oct. 13.

“This impressive list of finalists is a testament to the power and resilience of Michigan women,” says Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer at Michigan Women Forward. “We created the 53 Voices pitch challenge to reduce barriers to raising business capital by providing Michigan women with the funding, training resources and social connections needed to turn an idea into a viable business. This would not be possible without MWF’s partnership with Fifth Third Bank.”

After submitting their business concept papers and 53-second voice submissions, applicants completed three Michigan Women Forward entrepreneur education training workshops.

The winners of the 53 Voices pitch challenge will be announced on Oct. 19. The first prize winner will receive $5,000, second-place winner will receive $2,500, and the third-place winner will receive $1,000.

For more information about the 53 Voices pitch challenge, visit miwf.org.

Habitat for Humanity to Perform Home Repairs in Southfield Neighborhood

Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County will be joined by volunteers for a neighborhood repair and cleanup day tomorrow in Southfield’s South Evergreen Neighborhood.

Bringing together homeowners, volunteers, corporate and community sponsors, and Habitat Oakland staff, Rock the Block is part of Habitat’s neighborhood revitalization efforts, offering minor exterior home repairs to homeowners at a modest price.

Volunteers work with Habitat’s construction staff to repair porches, install fences, replace cracked concrete, clean gutters, and complete lawn clean-up. This program ensures that homeowners reside in safe housing, enables seniors to age-in-place, maintains and increases home values, and fosters neighborhood stability.

The event will take place over 12 worksites and benefit approximately 30 homeowners. This is the third of three Rock the Block events that Habitat Oakland will conduct this year.

Detroit Zoo to Host 2021 Lung Force Walk Sunday

More than 500 individuals, families, groups of friends and corporate teams throughout the Detroit area and across Michigan are expected to participate in the American Lung Association’s Lung Force Walk, which begins at 7:45 a.m. Sunday at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak.

Participants will stroll, saunter, or power-walk through the zoo for 1.5 miles. The event is conducted to raise awareness and money to fight lung disease and end COVID-19.

For more information, and to register, visit here.