DBusiness Daily Update: SpartanNash Ships First of Several Containers Packed with Donations to Ukraine, 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.
A SpartanNash employee prepares a shipment of sports drinks for transport to Europe and ultimately Ukraine. // Courtesy of SpartanNash
A SpartanNash employee prepares a shipment of sports drinks for transport to Europe and ultimately Ukraine. // Courtesy of SpartanNash

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.

SpartanNash Ships First of Several Containers Packed with Donations to Ukraine

SpartanNash in Grand Rapids has shipped the first of several containers of critical supplies to Europe as part of its $1 million commitment to Ukrainians who are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

SpartanNash’s military division coordinated the export, which included baby formula, diapers, over-the-counter medicines, sports energy drinks, and personal hygiene items.

“Collecting product donations in the U.S. is one thing but having the international logistic relationships to get them abroad quickly is another,” says Tony Sarsam, president and CEO of SpartanNash. “International freight shipping is an extremely delicate and intricate specialty, as so many details go into these journeys, and coordinating these shipments is one of SpartanNash’s global supply chain strengths.”

The overseas and rail journey can take up to 50 days, but SpartanNash was able to expedite this shipment to less than 17 days, taking a route to get as close to the conflict as safely possible in Warsaw, Poland. SpartanNash partnered with Convoy of Hope to receive and distribute the necessities in the hands of Ukrainians across eastern Europe.

“This is a humanitarian disaster, and SpartanNash is uniquely positioned to support Ukrainians in addition to the American military heroes who are serving on the front lines of this crisis,” Sarsam says. “As a People First company, we look for opportunities to provide aid to those in need whenever we can.”

SpartanNash’s military division distributes grocery products so military commissaries and exchanges can deliver a familiar shopping experience to servicemen and women with their favorite U.S. brands, providing a touch of home regardless of where they are stationed. The Company distributes products to 160 military commissaries and more than 400 exchanges located in 39 states and the District of Columbia, Europe, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Honduras, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Djibouti, South Korea, and Japan.

SpartanNash distribution centers are strategically located among the largest concentration of military bases in the areas the company serves and near Atlantic ports.

“In any crisis situation, rapid response is vital, and we are glad to partner with SpartanNash to leverage its expertise in global food logistics,” says Ethan Forhetz, vice president of public engagement for Convoy of Hope. “Getting close to a warzone and responding during a crisis is no simple task. We rely on our disaster response experts and local volunteers to deliver hope to the impacted communities.”

For more information or to donate to Convoy of Hope, visit convoyofhope.org.

AT&T Brings ‘Hyper-fast’ Fiber Internet Speeds to Detroit

AT&T Fiber has introduced its all-new 2-Gig and 5-Gig Hyper-Gig internet speeds across parts of its entire footprint, including Detroit.

With multi-gig speeds now a part of the AT&T Fiber portfolio, there is more bandwidth to go around, making for an internet experience that upgrades everything, according to the company.

Throughout 2022, AT&T will continue to roll out multi-gig speeds across its fiber footprint and densify fiber in Detroit, among other cities across Michigan. AT&T plans to increase its current fiber footprint to cover 30 million customer locations by the end of 2025.

“We continue to invest in the Detroit community to give our customers the fast and reliable connections they need, with speeds that allow them to do more and do it faster,” says Tom Monahan, vice president and general manager of the Greater Lakes Region for AT&T. “Whether running a home office or a small business, gaming competitively, or making sure the smart oven starts dinner on time, AT&T Fiber makes it easy and virtually seamless. The launch of multi-gig speeds is part of our larger plan to provide more options to our customers and connect more people than ever before.”

AT&T says it is committed to connecting more Americans to reliable, high-speed broadband internet in several ways, including expanding and upgrading its network and participating in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP provides eligible households with a benefit of up to $30 a month and up to $75 on qualifying Tribal lands to reduce the cost of broadband service and can be applied to all our AT&T Fiber speed tiers.

Additionally, the company recently introduced a new plan to its Access from AT&T program, providing internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps of symmetrical speed for $0 when combined with ACP.

AT&T also is addressing the digital divide in education through the AT&T Connected Learning initiative, which focuses on investing in connectivity, technology, digital literacy, and education solutions to help today’s learners succeed inside and outside of the classroom.  This includes opening more than 20 AT&T Connected Learning Centers across the country, all fitted with free access to high-speed AT&T Fiber internet and Wi-Fi.

For more information, visit here.

Farmington Hills’ ATC Drivetrain to Open Manufacturing Plant in Tennessee

Farmington Hills-based ATC Drivetrain has selected Knoxville, Tenn. as the location for its newest manufacturing facility.

ATC Drivetrain, a remanufacturer of automotive powertrain and drivetrain systems, will invest $8.3 million and create 218 new manufacturing jobs in Knox County over the next five years. This is the latest of several new investments ATC Drivetrain has made recently, including the implementation of new technologies and capabilities in the global battery and electric vehicle powertrain market and an increased presence in the commercial vehicle market.

“Our customers are the focus of all we do at ATC Drivetrain,” says Greg Heald, president and CEO of ATC Drivetrain. “This expansion is driven by increased demand from our customers, and the Knox County location is particularly well suited for our future plans as Tennessee, and the broader region, are home to a rapidly developing electrification ecosystem.”

ATC Drivetrain offers original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) a local solution by utilizing a combination of progressive engineering and state-of-the-art equipment to produce like-new transmissions and engines. The site is scheduled to begin production in April 2022 and will support the company’s growing remanufacturing and battery life cycle management businesses.

Founded in 1938, ATC Drivetrain supplies remanufacturing products and services to various international automakers. In addition to operations in Europe and Asia, the Knoxville facility will be ATC’s third manufacturing facility in the U.S. ATC currently operates two manufacturing facilities and a distribution center in Oklahoma City, Okla.

@properties DTW Joins Christie’s International Affiliate Network

The @properties DTW real estate firm, which has offices in Birmingham and Detroit, is joining the Christie’s International Real Estate network. The brokerage will become @properties Christie’s International Real Estate.

@properties DTW launched in February 2021 as the first independently owned affiliate of Chicago-based brokerage firm @properties. In December of last year, @properties acquired Christie’s International Real Estate, paving the way for the Detroit firm’s latest move.

Through the affiliation, @properties Christie’s International Real Estate’s agents and clients in the metro Detroit area will gain access to a luxury brokerage network with member firms in nearly 50 countries and territories, special marketing partnerships, and referral opportunities with Christie’s, the world-leading art and luxury business.

Prior to establishing @properties DTW, principals Eric Walstrom and Alex Irrer built Alexander Real Estate into the No. 1 brokerage firm in Detroit’s downtown market and the No. 1 broker for new construction and adaptive-reuse developments. Over the past year, they have grown their firm to 67 agents with projected 2022 sales volume of $500 million, up from $100 million in 2020.

“An affiliation with Christie’s International Real Estate — one of the world’s most respected luxury real estate brands — will allow us to offer an added level of service to Detroit’s high-end home buyers and sellers,” says Walstrom. “We’re honored to be associated with a brand that is so well-respected around the world, and we know the affiliation will position us well for future growth.”

Metro Detroit Nonprofit Platform Launches Ukraine Donation Portal

SHARE Detroit has launched SHARE Ukraine, a one-stop-shop — ShareUkraine.org — where those who wish to support Ukrainian citizens can find trusted ways to help.

SHARE Detroit and SHARE Ukraine co-founder, Sam Rozenberg, was born in Ukraine and is passionate about doing good in his home country, especially in its most urgent time of need.

“As I quell my emotions, I become increasingly committed to doing everything in my power to make a difference and be on the right side of history,” Rozenberg says. “This site is a call to action. One hundred percent of all contributions go to an organization that directs your money to help Ukraine bring light out of the darkness. All recipient organizations are nominated and vetted by people on the front lines in Ukraine, like my former classmate Tolik Lobanov, a retired general in the Ukrainian Army, now a volunteer in the territorial defense force.”

The site hosts a direct connection to the Ukrainian American Crisis Response Committee of Michigan, where individuals and groups can donate supplies and volunteer to join the committee’s efforts. Donations will go directly to Ukrainians whose lives have been flipped upside down during the Russian invasion. The committee is looking for people with varied skill sets, from legal knowledge to communications to healthcare to fundraising.

In addition to the donation and volunteer opportunities, the SHARE Ukraine site hosts fundraising events such as the Slavic Solidarity: A Dinner for Ukraine or educational webinars such as JLearn Presents: The Crisis in Ukraine and its Jews.

Detroit Opera Premieres New Production of La bohème April 2

Detroit Opera is inviting audiences back to the Detroit Opera House April 2, 6, and 10 for Gary L. Wasserman Artistic Director Yuval Sharon’s new production of “La bohème,” the first in-person opera performances in the venue in more than two years and the first under the new Detroit Opera name.

The production casts familiar elements in a new light, as Sharon and Detroit Opera stage the classic opera in reverse order from Act IV to Act I, with text and music otherwise unchanged.

In this new arrangement, Sharon and Detroit Opera reappraise the ways in which audiences and artists can interact with repertoire, bringing fresh eyes and ears to a classic while extracting hope from tragedy, life from death, and love from loneliness.

Presented as a co-production with Boston Lyric Opera and Spoleto Festival USA, unconventional take on Puccini’s opus is itself an experimental, nonconforming, and original piece of art. La bohème will be conducted by Roberto Kalb and features a cast that includes Marlen Nahhas (Mimi), Matthew White (Rodolfo), Edward Parks (Marcello), Brandie Inez Sutton (Musetta), Benjamin Taylor (Schaunard), and Cory McGee (Colline). Also appearing is George Shirley as The Wanderer, a new character created specifically for this production.

“The music that begins Act I and Act IV is almost identical,” says Sharon, “and even in its normal chronology, La bohème isn’t a connected linear narrative, but a collection of short episodic narratives. So, a reverse chronology comes more easily than you might expect.

“But the effect is profound: suddenly, La bohème, this classic, archetypal opera, becomes a bit of a mystery. We know there’s a darkness to it, we watch the death and tragedy unfold. But where does it start? As we move through the world of memory, we witness a resurrection, and a new love blooming. When the audience leaves the theater, they won’t be left with the heaviness of inevitability. Instead, they’ll be left with a notion that the pain was worth the fleeting moments of joy. We move backward, so our audience can move forward.”

In order to keep the narrative of the reverse staging cohesive, Sharon introduces a new role: The Wanderer, portrayed by George Shirley. The Wanderer will give a spoken introduction to each act, helping the audience follow the reverse chronology of the story. This new text is drawn from the original source material for the opera and stage directions, allowing the opera to remain true to its artistic and historic milieu.

In addition to his spoken introductions to each act, The Wanderer also will appear in three new fourth-wall-breaking scenes; in each appearance, the action will be put on hold as he asks the audience to consider which direction the story could have gone.

Tickets for La bohème are available online at DetroitOpera.org and start at $29. Orders for groups of 10 or more may be placed by emailing groupsales@detroitopera.org. Subscriptions can be purchased by calling 313-237-7464.

New Book Details Women-led Transportation Projects

More than 100 women across the United States — and the more than 30 mobility projects they led — are detailed in the recently published book, “Women Driven Mobility: Rethinking the Way the World Moves.”

The book, written by Katelyn Shelby Davis and Kristin Shaw, showcases the rising leadership of women in an industry historically led by men. This includes work that spans automotive, transportation, tech, infrastructure, and other sectors that aid in the movement of people, goods, services, and data.

The authors have created a platform for women breaking the glass ceiling in automotive, transportation, and mobility — receiving recognition from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who wrote the book’s foreword.

“The mobility industry was born out of the union between the automotive and the technology sectors — prominent spaces for their legacies of ‘boys clubs’ — and is revolutionizing the way the world moves,” says Davis, who is the communications lead at mobility company Cavnue. “Despite the patriarchal pedigree, women in mobility are integrated throughout the industry and are designing and engineering some of the most innovative technologies and platforms that are driving the future of how goods and people move and the spaces, communities and roads they move along. Yet their stories remain mostly untold.”

The authors spent nearly two years sourcing project case studies and interviewing women from across the country. The result was a detailed account of leading-edge mobility projects that shed light on the policy and legislation, design and engineering, community advocacy, funding, and marketing that is needed to implement new mobility systems.

“We wanted this book to not only celebrate the women featured but truly recognize their work and accomplishments,” says Shaw, communications and public involvement coordinator at WSP. “By taking a work-first approach in this book, it is our hope that this book will become a resource and inspiration to anyone who is looking to make an impact in their communities through mobility and infrastructure design with access, equity, and sustainability at its core.”

For more information, visit womendrivenmobility.com.

Davenport University Reschedules Business Gala Featuring George W. Bush

Davenport University in Grand Rapids has rescheduled the 23rd Annual Excellence in Business Gala, its annual event to benefit student scholarships, to Thursday, May 26.

The gala will feature a conversation between Davenport President Richard J. Pappas and George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States. Guests will have an opportunity to hear about Bush’s time in the White House, the challenges facing our nation in the 21st century, as well as his current work at the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

During the event, Davenport also will recognize a top business leader from the west Michigan community.

“Davenport is recognizing J.C. Huizenga, the chairman of Huizenga Group, with the Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award for his incredible leadership and contributions to our economy and community,” says Pappas. “Through his work with the Huizenga Group, National Heritage Academies, and various boards, J.C. is a valued member of our community and we are proud to recognize his achievements.

For more information, visit here.