DBusiness Daily Update: Southfield’s 123Net Expanding Fiber Internet Connectivity in Kalamazoo, 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.
Southfield’s 123Net has started construction on a major expansion to its fiber network in Kalamazoo. // Stock photo
Southfield’s 123Net has started construction on a major expansion to its fiber network in Kalamazoo. // Stock photo

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.

Southfield’s 123Net Expanding Fiber Internet Connectivity in Kalamazoo

123Net, a fiber internet, colocation, and voice services provider in Southfield, has started construction on a major expansion to its fiber network in Kalamazoo.

After a review process, the city selected 123Net to install an additional 26 miles of fiber infrastructure throughout Kalamazoo’s primary business district. The installation will connect all 15 municipal buildings, including a private network dedicated to serving the regulatory and compliance guidelines of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. The network also will be available to local area businesses in need of state-of-the-art high-speed fiber internet.

“This expansion represents a huge technological leap forward for the city of Kalamazoo,” says Tim Dubois, chief information officer for the city. “This investment will benefit everyone in our community — including the businesses in the central business district — and will help bring us closer to each other, to the communities we serve and to other major markets.”

The new Kalamazoo fiber network will be interconnected with 123Net’s existing 4,500 miles of fiber in the state and to several major data centers as well as the Detroit Internet Exchange. 123Net is unique in that it owns its entire network, removing the complexities and costs that often are associated with third-party and multi-provider solutions. The company works directly with several additional Michigan municipalities, helping them meet the unique networking challenges that local governments face.

“Our goal at 123Net is to make Michigan the best connected on the planet,” says Dan Irvin, founder and CEO of 123Net. “The city of Kalamazoo supports that goal and is dedicated to bringing world-class internet to its business district areas. This new fiber hub offers businesses the advantage of easily and affordably connecting directly into 123Net’s Dedicated Fiber Network.”

Comcast Grants Nonprofits $100K to Improve Digital Equity

Comcast today announced it will award a total of $100,000 in Lift Zone Opportunity Fund grants to Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan and Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries.

The grants will help the two Comcast Lift Zone partners deliver a best-in-class experience for members and families at their locations. The also will help advance digital equity for more Detroit students and families.

Since October 2020, Comcast has launched 23 Lift Zones in the city of Detroit, 50 across Michigan, and more that 1,000 across the country. Lift Zones assist families who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to connect to the Internet in their home. Lift Zones provide free WiFi hotspots in safe spaces designed to help students and families get online, participate in distance learning, do homework, search for jobs, and access health care information and public assistance.

The Detroit Rescue Mission Genesis House III and Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan – Diehl Club each will receive a $50,000 grant. The funds will be used to acquire technology, software, digital skills training content, tech support training for staff, and aesthetic improvements to the physical spaces that house the Lift Zones.

Four Groups Grant $650K to Organizations Addressing Food Insecurity

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation granted $650,000 in funding to 14 organizations fighting food insecurity in Michigan.

The 14 organizations are:

  • Access of West Michigan: $50,000
  • Allen Neighborhood Center: $50,000
  • Barry County Community Foundation: $50,000
  • Community Action House: $75,000
  • Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan: $75,000
  • Greater Lansing Food Bank: $50,000
  • Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities Inc.: $75,000
  • Micah 6 Community: $20,000
  • National Kidney Foundation of Michigan: $60,000
  • Oakland University: $60,000
  • I.S.E. Corp.: $50,000
  • Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association: $20,000
  • Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency: $25,000
  • YMCA of Saginaw: $50,000

“We are proud to partner with these grant recipients who are dedicated to improving access to healthy, nutrient-rich food which addresses an important social determinant of health, prevents chronic diseases and leads to better overall health and well-being,” says Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for community relations at BCBSM.

Schiff Hardin, Arent Fox Law Firms to Merge March 1, 2022

The Schiff Hardin law firm in Ann Arbor and the Arent Fox law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., have agreed to merge, effective March 1, 2022.

Operating under the name ArentFox Schiff, the new firm will be home to more than 600 lawyers and policy professionals and serve as a destination for an international roster of corporations, governments, private individuals, and trade associations.

ArentFox Schiff will be based in seven U.S. markets that include Ann Arbor, Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco, and provide comprehensive, industry-focused transactional, regulatory, and litigation counseling.

The firm will be led by Chair Anthony V. Lupo and Co-Firmwide Managing Partners Cristina A. Carvalho and Joseph J. Krasovec III.

“By joining forces with Arent Fox, our clients will benefit from the collective talents and resources of two market-leading firms,” says Krasovec, a Schiff Hardin managing partner. “Both firms value creativity and client service excellence. Going forward, ArentFox Schiff will prioritize investing in legal talent and innovation that enables us to continue to be an industry leader in gateway U.S. markets.”

The new firm is expected to be a leader in providing comprehensive legal counsel to the finance and corporate sectors, and remain a destination for clients in the real estate, environmental, agricultural, beverage and food, consumer products and product liability, health and life sciences, fashion and retail, and sports and entertainment industries.

“We are merging at a time when both firms are having record-breaking years in terms of production and profitability,” says Lupo. “Schiff Hardin’s excellent reputation is a reflection of their legal talent, storied history, and a client-first approach.

“This combination doubles our corporate, finance, and litigation capabilities and enhances our ability to anticipate and respond to our clients’ most important business problems. As a result, we have built out our full-service counseling for companies in industries that are driving the global economy.”

Right Management’s PowerLead Strengthens Talent, Curbs Attrition

Right Management, Great Lakes, with offices in Southfield and Grand Rapids, is offering its PowerLead training program to manufacturers to help train their employees for the future.

PowerLead is designed to quickly “upskill” front-line supervisors, teaching them to excel as daily leaders. It improves retention, inspires loyalty, and strengthens efficiency among Michigan companies, according to Right Management.

The program was inspired by Right Management’s history helping companies thrive in complex environments where attracting, nurturing, and managing people is crucial to growth.

Facilitated by Right Management’s experienced instructors and leadership experts, the training is flexibly scheduled and deployed at any Michigan manufacturing site. Highly interactive “in-person” classes are supplemented by online modules and material that is often reused. For more information, visit here.

Application Window Opens for Impact100 Metro Detroit’s 2022 Big Give

The grant application window is officially open for Impact100 Metro Detroit’s 2022 Big Give.

The organization’s goal is to award $350,000 in transformational grants to Detroit-area nonprofit organizations. Applications will be accepted through Jan. 14 via impact100metrodetroit.org.

“We strive to award high impact grants and provide exposure to nonprofit heroes in metro Detroit,” says Kelly Walsh, president of Impact100 Metro Detroit. “We are working to be a leader in collective philanthropy and build a strong presence in our community.”

Each year, members donate $1,000 toward the collective grants. In 2021, the organization awarded two $100,000 grants to Developing KIDS and Freedom House and an additional $52,000 was divided among Accent Pontiac, Brilliant Detroit, and LifeBUILDERS.

The $252,000 gifts in 2021 represent 252 Impact100 Metro Detroit members, making it the biggest Big Give in the foundation’s six-year history. A total of $864,000 in grants have been awarded since its inception. Past recipients include The Lawn Academy, Micah 6 Community, Zaman International, Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, Downtown Boxing Gym, and The Empowerment Plan.

“Across the country, Impact100 organizations empower women as philanthropists to pool their resources and deliver a greater impact to their community,” Walsh says. “Our chapter was the first in Michigan and we’ve experienced exponential membership growth in the last six years.”

The organization is currently seeking new members for 2022, to bring the total amount gifted to more than $1 million since inception.

Once the application window has closed on Jan. 14, the applications will be vetted by Impact100 Metro Detroit members through a process that includes financial reviews and virtual site visits. Grants will be awarded in May based on a vote of the Impact100 Metro Detroit membership — every member has one vote — for nonprofits across five focus areas: Arts and Culture; Education; Family and Individual Support; Health and Wellness, and Revitalization, Recreation and Environment. The grantees will be revealed during the annual Big Give event.

New Provisioning Center Opens in Ferndale

Ferndale’s newest cannabis retail facility, Crucial, is open at 642 E. Nine Mile Road. and planning a Dec. 3-5 all-weekend grand opening celebration.

Events will include vendor displays and giveaways, free food, and cappuccino. Rapper Tee Grizzley will make an appearance on Dec. 5 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Product specials will be available all-day Dec. 3-4.

Winter Blast in Detroit Goes on Hiatus for 2022

After 17 years celebrating winter in downtown Detroit, organizers of Winter Blast announced that they will not be hosting the 2022 event in Detroit due to funding challenges.

“We are grateful for the support of the city of Detroit and all of our past sponsors and partners who have helped make this winter experience in Detroit a successful, inclusive family oriented festival for more than a decade, but due to time constraints caused by COVID and other factors, we did not have enough time to raise the necessary funds to produce the 2022 event in Detroit,” says Jon Witz, the festival’s producer.

“Currently we are in talks with another major municipality that may be able to help fund the festival in early 2022 for southeast Michigan. We will make a formal announcement if that option comes to fruition, and if it doesn’t, we will resume fundraising efforts in the year ahead so the festival can return to Detroit in 2023.”

Originally designed as a showcase for Detroit during Super Bowl XL, the community festival provided winter programming, quality of life, and helped showcase local businesses and positive developments in downtown Detroit. Prior to the pandemic, in 2020, the free event returned to its original, single-weekend format and hosted 75,000 people in Campus Martius Park.

Aquinas College President Announces He’s Leaving the School

Kevin Quinn, president of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, has announced he will not seek another term leading the Catholic liberal arts college.

Quinn leaves Aquinas College following completion of a $61 million comprehensive campaign, record student retention, successful reaccreditation, and recognition by U.S. News & World Report as one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, among others.

Quinn informed the Aquinas Board of Trustees of his decision at its October meeting. In November, the trustees named Provost Stephen Germic as interim president.

Aquinas is evaluating firms to lead the national search for its ninth president and expects to make a decision soon. A search committee of trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders is being formed and will be announced in the coming weeks.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as president of Aquinas College,” says Quinn, who joined Aquinas College in 2017. “There were a number of factors that contributed to my decision, including the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the main reason is that my wife, Terry, and I are ready for our next adventure.

“We have appreciated the warm welcome we have received from our campus and the greater west Michigan community. Part of Aquinas College will always be with us, no matter where we go.”