DBusiness Daily Update: Spectacle Society Eyewear Store Opens in Corktown, Michigan Jobless Rate Declines in January, 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.
map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 11

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.

Spectacle Society Eyewear Store Opens in Corktown
Spectacle Society, a new independent eyewear store, has opened at 1512 Bagley St. in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

The enterprise is dedicated to providing Detroiters customized eyewear that reflect their individuality in a space that is invested in giving back to the community.

The store, owned by Tina Arroyo, opened March 10 with a grand opening attended by Mayor Mike Duggan and a host of other officials.

“Spectacle Society is another example of how, even during a pandemic, businesses in the city of Detroit are continuing to open and flourish,” says Duggan. “When we see an entrepreneur like Tina turning her dream of opening a business into a reality and opting to establish that business right here in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, she is giving hope to other Detroiters that their dreams can also be possible.”

Spectacle Society offers handcrafted independent eyewear not currently available in the city and customized digital lenses. A portion of Spectacle Society’s annual sales will be donated to a Detroit-based organization.

“This has been a dream of mine for more than a decade,” says Arroyo. “I wanted to open a premium eyewear boutique that focuses on providing a high level of customer service, personal styling, quality spectacles, and genuine care for clients, which I feel is rare to find in most markets, but is especially lacking in Detroit. Everyone deserves a pair of glasses that makes them feel amazing. We aim for Spectacle Society to be a destination for all Detroiters who are looking for an exceptional experience and a stellar pair of spectacles regardless of home address.”

Michigan Jobless Rate Declines in January
Michigan’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell in January to 5.7 percent, largely due to withdrawal from the state workforce, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. As a result of the annual data revision process, the statewide December 2020 rate was revised upwards by 7/10ths of a percentage point to 8.2 percent.

Payroll jobs in the state’s trade, transportation, and utilities industry rose for the ninth consecutive month during January. Sector jobs advanced by 137,000, or 21.6 percent, since April 2020, but remained nearly 25,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

The national jobless rate edged down between December and January by 4/10ths of a percentage point to 6.3 percent. Michigan’s January jobless rate was 0.6 percentage points below the rate of the U.S. The U.S. unemployment rate rose by 2.8 percentage points over the year, while the state rate advanced by 2 percentage points since January 2020.

“The sharp drop in Michigan’s January unemployment rate was mainly due to a reduction in the size of the workforce, as the number of employed in Michigan increased only modestly over the month,” says Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The state’s labor force fell by 2.5 percent in January.”

Monthly labor force trends and highlights:

  • With the annual revision process, Michigan’s 2020 annual average unemployment rate was revised slightly upward, from 9.7 percent to 9.9 percent.
  • Reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan’s annual jobless rate jumped from 4.1 percent in 2019 to 9.9 percent in 2020.
  • Michigan’s January workforce total of 4,736,000 was the lowest recorded labor force level since May 2020 (4,695,000).
  • Over the year, total employment in the state fell by 6.1 percent, which was a 0.7 percent higher decline than registered nationally over this period.

The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate dropped in January 2021 to 5.2 percent due to a monthly cut in the size of the area workforce. The jobless rate reduction was not primarily due to more employed residents, as employment moved up by only 14,000. The Detroit metro area workforce fell by 100,000 in January. As a result of the annual revision process, the unemployment rate in December was revised up by a tenth of a percentage point in December to 10.3 percent.

Over the year, the Detroit metro region jobless rate rose by a full percentage point. Employment receded by 148,000 while the number of unemployed moved up by 15,000, resulting in a net workforce reduction of 133,000 since January 2020.

The monthly survey of employers indicated that seasonally adjusted payroll jobs edged up by 24,000 over the month, or 0.6 percent, resulting in a job count of 4,052,000.

The largest January seasonally adjusted industry job gains occurred in the state’s leisure and hospitality sector (+9,000), as well as the government sector (+8,000).

On an unadjusted basis, January job change was minimal in leisure and hospitality (+1,500), so the seasonally adjusted increase overstated actual job additions.

Industry employment trends and highlights:

  • Since the pandemic-related low point in jobs in April 2020, Michigan payroll employment advanced by 654,000, or 19.3 percent.
  • Total nonfarm employment fell significantly by 398,000, or 8.9 percent, over the year.
  • Michigan’s leisure and hospitality industry exhibited the most pronounced employment decrease since January 2020, with jobs plunging by 149,000, or 34.3 percent.
  • On a percentage basis, jobs in the state’s “other services” sector exhibited the second largest over-the-year decline, with employment down by 14.5 percent.

Macomb Community College, LIFT Partner to Deliver Advanced Manufacturing Training
LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, is partnering with Macomb Community College in Warren to provide advanced manufacturing training opportunities through the institute’s “Operation Next” program.

“Operation Next” is a self-paced, manufacturing-focused training and credentialing program that blends hands-on with virtual learning available to employees of Detroit-area small and medium-sized manufacturers and displaced workers to help them recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program also is open to members of the Michigan National Guard and Reserve and to civilians in the Detroit area, providing students the opportunity to earn industry recognized, nationally portable credentials for their next careers.

Through funding provided through the CARES Act and awarded to LIFT by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as from a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Manufacturing Engineering Education Program, training will be provided at no cost to the individual or their employer.

MCC will serve as a performance-based training provider offering hands-on training for the Industrial Technology Maintenance and Robotics Technician majors in “Operation Next.” The performance-based training for the Welding and CNC Machining majors will be conducted at the LIFT Learning Lab in Detroit.

Both ITM and Robotics Technicians are some of the most in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs in the country, with nearly 40,000 combined job openings annually over the next eight years.

“We are proud to collaborate with LIFT on ‘Operation Next,’ connecting our residents to growing opportunities in the region’s advanced manufacturing sector while building the talent pool for local business and industry,” says Don Hutchison, dean of engineering and advanced technology at MCC.

“It takes partnerships like this one in order for programs such as Operation Next to succeed and have the intended impact,” says Nigel Francis, CEO and executive director of LIFT. “Manufacturing is key to our economic and national security, and it starts with having the workforce ready, willing and able to succeed.”

Companies and individuals can get more information on how to become a part of Operation Next by visiting here.

Oakland County to Enhance Public Safety Radio System
Oakland County is planning to enhance its new public safety radio system with the goal of making first responders safer on the job.

The county will add an emergency activation button to its portable and in-vehicle radios that will send an alert along with a GPS signal back to their dispatch center, which will immediately map their location.

“Our first responders are looking out for us, so we need to look out for them,” says Dave Coulter, Oakland County executive. “This important safety feature was not a part of the initial radio system upgrade. My administration and the Board of Commissioners, however, decided it would be sensible to add this life-saving feature now while we are in the early stages of installing the radio system.”

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the communications upgrade will benefit the entire county.

“This advanced network uses GPS satellite technology to locate first responders during an emergency,” Bouchard says. “Before, if an emergency button was actuated, it would not give us a precise location for that first responder, which cost us valuable time and perhaps even a life. With this upgrade, we can pinpoint the location, which allows us to better serve the public while protecting our first responders.”

The county also is purchasing additional portable radios for non-first responders such as animal control officers, courts and corrections deputies, and assistant prosecutors. Together, the county will invest about $4.5 million from its general fund for these public safety radio system enhancements. The Oakland County Board of Commissioners approved the funds at its meeting Thursday night.

Oakland County’s new public safety radio system will replace its 16-year-old system. The new Motorola P25 radio system will provide coverage for all law enforcement, fire, and EMS agencies in the county and improve interoperability with Oakland County’s neighbors and state agencies. It will include more than 5,400 radios, 31 towers, and 76 dispatch consoles at 19 dispatch centers.

Along with the $4.5 million from the general fund, Oakland County will fund the new $61 million public safety radio system with an $18.5 million Oakland County Building Authority Bond from 2020. A 911 surcharge will cover the principal and interest. The radio system is expected to be in full operation sometime in 2022.

Beyond Basics Planning May 6 Annual Gala at Detroit Athletic Club
Beyond Basics, a literacy-focused nonprofit, is planning its Annual Gala May 6 at the Detroit Athletic Club and is looking for individuals and companies to sponsor the event.

Board member Stuart Dow has committed to being an event presenting sponsor and Globe Midwest Adjusters International is a literacy champion sponsor.

Sponsorships, at various levels from $3,000 to $25,000, are still available.

For more information, contact Katie Nienstedt at 248-321-0448 or nienstedt@beyondbasics.org.

EMU Aviation Program Begins Flight Training at Willow Run Airport
The Eastern Michigan University Aviation Program is now open for student flight training at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti Township. Students of the EMU aviation program also have access to airports for flight training in Howell, Pontiac, and Flint.

The program’s Willow Run airplane hangar is owned and operated by Odyssey Aviation, a fixed base operations and ground handling station serving the private aviation community throughout the Bahamas and the United States. The program’s base of operations now is located at Willow Run. The facility includes offices, flight planning areas, and an FAA approved flight simulator.

“We’re thrilled to have student flight training and our operations base both up and running at Willow Run Airport,” says Jerard Delaney, program coordinator of the EMU Aviation program. “Our aviation program has made great strides over the years, particularly under our new partnership with Crosswinds Aviation, and we’re excited to continue growing and enhancing the program for current and future students interested in the aviation field.”

Currently there are two Diamond DA 20 aircraft and two Diamond DA 40 aircraft based at Willow Run Airport, along with five full-time and two part-time flight instructors, with further instructional expansion likely. Student flight training is ongoing, using the appropriate protocols for aircraft disinfecting and COVID-19 safety.

In addition to the Willow Run aircraft, EMU aviation students also have access to: two Cessna 172s, two DA 40, and five DA 20 aircraft at Howell; one Cessna 172, two DA 40, and four DA 20 at Pontiac; and one DA 40 and two DA 20 at Flint. There are a total of 25 full-time flight instructors in the EMU aviation program.

Classes are currently being conducted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with plans to resume in-person classes in Roosevelt Hall on the EMU campus during the fall 2021 semester. The aviation program is part of the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology.

Last fall, EMU signed a five-year partnership agreement with Crosswinds Aviation, a flight training school that says it’s dedicated to having a transformative impact on the lives of youth beginning careers in aviation.

For more information, visit here.

Oakland County Crowdfunding Campaign Gets $10K Boost from ITC Michigan
The Main Street Oakland County crowdfunding campaign to support small businesses in various downtown districts struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic has raised more than $300,000 thanks to a recent $10,000 boost from Novi-based ITC Michigan.

The countywide campaign, launched in the early days of the pandemic last year, is the first of its kind in the nation to be sponsored by a Main Street program. The funds were generated from 21 of Main Street Oakland County’s 25 designated communities. The campaign surpassed its original $100,000 goal due to contributions from the general public, local governments and corporations, like ITC.

Funds raised were utilized by downtown management organizations to provide grants for more than 200 small businesses independently owned and operated with 30 employees or less, including retailers and restaurants in county downtown districts.

Burns & Wilcox Sponsors PGA Golfer Max Homa
Burns & Wilcox, a Farmington Hills-based wholesale insurance brokerage and underwriter, announced its sponsorship of professional golfer and two-time PGA Tour winner Max Homa.

The company also is extending its sponsorships of seven-time winner Webb Simpson and six-time winner Jimmy Walker.

“Burns & Wilcox is proud to welcome Max Homa to our team of champions,” says Alan Jay Kaufman, president, chairman and CEO of H.W. Kaufman Group, parent company of Burns & Wilcox. “Max, along with Webb and Jimmy, share our core values of integrity, hard work, competitiveness, and professionalism. Importantly, they serve as global ambassadors for Burns & Wilcox, which elevates our brand even further.”

As part of the sponsorship, Homa will wear the Burns & Wilcox logo on his right chest and participate in events featuring Burns & Wilcox associates, clients, and partners. He also will be involved with the company’s signature philanthropic initiative, Champions & Charities.

“I am honored to join Team Burns & Wilcox and be in the company of major-winning golfers, Webb Simpson and Jimmy Walker,” says Homa. “Joining a winning team is energizing and motivating, especially as this new season begins.”

In related news: The PGA of America honored long-time Detroit golf supporter Reneé Fluker, in a video series called “Standouts: Black Women in Golf” as part of February’s Black History Month.

Fluker founded the Midnight Golf Program 20 years ago and still serves as its president, helping mostly inner-city teenagers advance their place in life via the game of golf.

Fluker oversees daily program operations and manages all phases of donor relations. Her evenings are spent mentoring 250 metro Detroit high school seniors each week, with the help of other business professionals, alumni from the program and PGA teaching pros who give of their time teaching the finer points of golf. Those points include discipline, etiquette, and respect for the rules.

Since 2001, more than 2,500 students have progressed through the program, with 90 percent enrolling in college.

To view the PGA video, visit here.

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