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.
State Lifts Mask Requirements for Outdoor Gatherings
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its COVID-19 Gatherings and Face Masks epidemic order, lifting the mask requirement for outdoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people starting May 6.
In addition, anyone who is fully vaccinated and not experiencing symptoms is not required to wear a mask at residential gatherings, including indoors. New guidance for organized sports no longer requires routine COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated participants if they are asymptomatic.
Masks continue to be required for contact sports but are no longer required outdoors during active practice and competition for non-contact sports. For example, softball and baseball players will be required to wear a mask in the dugout but not when at bat or playing in the field.
MDHHS continues to urge Michiganders to follow CDC guidance, even where not specifically required by an epidemic order. For people who aren’t yet fully vaccinated, that means masking up whenever around other people not from your household.
“The commitment by Michiganders to receive the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is allowing us to move toward a return to normal,” says Elizabeth Hertel, director of MDHHS. “The vaccines work. That means once Michiganders are fully vaccinated, they do not have to abide by as many health guidelines because of the protection the vaccine provides from the spread of the virus.”
To date, 39.3 percent of Michigan residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and 50.6 percent had received at least a first dose.
Updates to the Gatherings and Masks Order encourage outdoor events with larger capacities permitted for entertainment and recreational facilities and for sports stadiums and arenas that host events outdoors.
Large outdoor events, including festivals, fairs, and golf tournaments will be able to exceed the current 1,000-person limit as long as they create and post a safety plan consistent with the MDHHS Large Outdoor Event Guidance, and no more than 20 persons per 1,000 square feet are gathered in any space available to patrons.
Stadiums complying with enhanced protocols will continue to be allowed to operate at 20 percent of their fixed seating capacity. For example, a stadium with a maximum capacity complying with enhanced protocols would be permitted to host 8,000 patrons.
Otherwise, for stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,000 patrons may be gathered (previously 750).
For stadiums or arenas with a fixed seating capacity of 10,000 or greater without enhanced protocols 1,500 patrons may be gathered.
Residential outdoor gatherings are allowed up to 50 people. Or, where density does not exceed 20 persons per 1,000 square feet of usable outdoor space, up to 300 people may be gathered.
Baker College and Oakland Community College Announce Articulation Agreement
Owosso-based Baker College and Oakland Community College, Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college, have signed an official articulation agreement that enables OCC students to transfer into one of several bachelor’s degree programs at Baker College.
The agreement also provides students with resources for a simplified and streamlined pathway to complete their studies. It also ensures a smooth curriculum transition, minimizing loss of credits and duplication of coursework.
Additionally, Baker will waive any new student application fees for eligible students admitted in connection with the OCC articulation agreement. Baker College also offers specific scholarships for transfer students, including the Trustees Transfer Scholarship, with up to $9,000 per year available to eligible students.
“Between Baker College and OCC, we share a passion for our students’ success, and our new partnership demonstrates one more step we’re taking to ensure that success,” says Bart Daig, president of Baker College. “We look forward to welcoming even more OCC transfer students to our Baker campuses and are ready to provide them with exceptional academic opportunities.”
Under the new arrangement, any student who has successfully completed coursework and/or programs at OCC may transfer the course credits as indicated in transfer guides toward their degree at Baker. The associate degree to bachelor’s degree pathway will be available across a variety of programs including business administration (management), computer science, game software development, information assurance, information systems, information technology and security and psychology.
These new pathways allow OCC graduates to earn between 80 to 90 credits prior to transferring to Baker College for the completion of their bachelor’s degree.
In related news: Macomb Community College in Warren is partnering with Western Governors University in Utah in which Macomb’s graduates with an associate of applied science degree in nursing to transfer their coursework to the fully online university.
“Our mission at WGU is to create pathways between talent and opportunity that will allow potential to thrive,” says Alison Bell, regional vice President for WGU. “We have built strong relationships with community colleges throughout Michigan to create those pathways for students and are excited to welcome Macomb Community College graduates to WGU.”
Under the terms of this agreement:
- Graduates and staﬀ of Macomb Community College will be eligible to apply for scholarships oﬀered through the WGU Institutional Partner Fund. Scholarships are valued up to $2,500.
- The partnership will create a 3+1 transfer option for Macomb Community College nursing graduates who possess a Michigan RN license.
- WGU and Macomb use the National Student Clearinghouse to oﬀer reverse transfer. The reverse transfer program will permit Macomb College students, who may transfer to WGU without an associate degree, to obtain an associate degree from Macomb while enrolled in a WGU bachelor’s degree.
- Macomb graduates can apply free using a unique code, MCCA, that will waive the $65 application fee.
For more information on WGU, visit here.
In related news: Davenport University announced it will once again offer a free, seven-week career-focused class to individuals who have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus. The online course, Communications 120 – Presentation Techniques, will give each participant an opportunity to hone their presentation skills, build their resumes, enhance their LinkedIn profiles, and earn three college credits. The class will begin May 10 and is now accepting applications.
For more information, visit here.
Mayville Engineering Co. Expanding Production Capacity in Michigan
Wisconsin-based Mayville Engineering Co. is expanding its presence in Michigan to align its production capacity with a new strategic customer relationship.
Mayville Engineering provides prototyping and tooling, production fabrication, coating, assembly and aftermarket services.
“Expanding our manufacturing capacity in Michigan this year is an integral part of our long-term plans,” says Bob Kamphuis, chairman, president, and CEO of Mayville Engineering. “We are in the process of reviewing several sites, and are focused on the greater Detroit area due to the availability of a highly skilled manufacturing workforce. We are grateful for the support of the state of Michigan and look forward to our future success together.”
The company currently is considering potential facilities, each of which include approximately 250,000 square feet of manufacturing space. It plans to hire up to 390 employees in the coming years with full production planned to commence in early 2022.
As part of the agreement, the company received a $2.5 million incentive package from the state of Michigan. In addition to the new facility in the greater Detroit area, MEC maintains five other Michigan based facilities with more than 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space in the cities of Byron Center, Vanderbilt, and Wayland.
State of the Great Lakes report Highlights 2020 Initiatives
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Office of the Great Lakes has released the 2020 State of the Great Lakes report, which provides a deep dive into efforts underway by the state and its partners to drive progress toward addressing the challenges facing the lakes and Michigan water resources.
The annual report, which is posted to the OGL website, looks at issues that affected the Great Lakes and the state’s residents in 2020. Among the topics examined are preventing the introduction of Asian carp, coping with high water levels, addressing nutrients and harmful algal blooms, the threat that climate change poses to lakes and other water resources, and local and regional long-term resiliency initiatives for coastal community planning to increase community resiliency and sustainability.
“While 2020 had its many challenges, our team didn’t lose its focus on the important work they do related to the health of our Great Lakes,” says Liesl Clark, director of EGLE. “From high water levels to coastal resiliency to testing wastewater for clues to COVID outbreaks to stopping Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes, EGLE and its partners went to great lengths to protect our valuable water resources under trying circumstances.
“EGLE remains committed to partnering on efforts that include protecting the Great Lakes, promoting equity for all residents and planning for the impacts of climate change.”
Other articles in the report address environmental justice efforts in disadvantaged communities; the successful delisting of the Lower Menominee River Area of Concern; an analysis of the important connections between the Great Lakes, manufacturing and recreational jobs and the state’s economy; a call to action for mapping the Great Lakes bottomlands; and an examination of extensive collaborative efforts to restore reefs as a way to improve fish and aquatic life habitat.
ASTI Environmental to Move to New Grand Rapids Office
ASTI Environmental, which provides environmental assessment, remediation, compliance, restoration, and incentives services, says it plans to move to a larger office on East Beltline in Grand Rapids later this spring.
ASTI Environmental has more than 400 clients on the west side of the state. Most recently, ASTI was selected to provide professional environmental services to the city of Grand Rapids to conduct lead-based paint inspections, risk assessments, and clearance examinations of lead paint, dust, and soil. Other local projects include The Shops at Centerpoint and the Grand Rapids Commerce Center (GRCC), the former Steelcase campus and one of the largest brownfield redevelopment projects in the state.
Grand Rapids is one of three offices in Michigan for ASTI Environmental also has offices in Brighton and Detroit.
For more information, visit here.
Shake Shack Coming to The Village of Rochester Hills in Fall
Shake Shack will be opening its fifth Michigan location this fall at The Village of Rochester Hills.
Shake Shack is a modern-day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100 percent all-natural Angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches, and flat-top Vienna beef dogs, spun-fresh frozen custard, crinkle-cut fries, craft beer and wine, and more.
The Village of Rochester Hills Shake Shack will include a 600-square-foot outdoor patio and will feature the “Shack Track Walk-Up Window.” Shack Track is Shake Shack’s digital preordering and fulfillment experience that allows customers to preorder via app or web and pick up by way of the walk-up window, curbside pickup, or in-Shack pickup shelves. Shake Shack at The Village will include a Shack Track window that will accommodate not only social distancing requirements but will also allow for quick and easy pickup.
“We are so excited to bring another Shack to Michigan and join The Village of Rochester Hills community,” says Andrew McCaughan, chief development officer at Shake Shack. “The Rochester Hills Shack is going to have amazing energy, and our team can’t wait to open our doors and serve up our classic burgers and shakes later this year.”
Storm Guard Roofing and Construction Opens New Office in Rochester Hills
Chris Parker of Oakland Township has opened a new Storm Guard Roofing and Construction franchise office in Rochester Hills.
Storm Guard assess roofs for potential damage, works with insurance companies, and completes the build to restore the home.
“I chose Storm Guard because they are the industry leaders in this space,” says Parker. “Storm Guard has been helping homeowners identify damage and navigate insurance for decades. From across the country, they’ve seen everything, and we get tremendous benefits from our corporate support staff and from a community of almost 40 franchise owners.”
Michigan homeowners have one year to file a wind or hail damage claim. That means time is running out if they had storm damage in 2020.
“Michigan homeowners aren’t acutely aware of the damage Mother Nature does to their roof,” says Parker. “While we don’t have hurricanes or massive tornadoes, significant storms impact our area each and every year. Our goal is to help homeowners identify storm damage and get the coverage they deserve from their homeowners policy instead of paying entirely out of their own pocket.”
For more information, visit here.
Folktellers Tap III Worlds Music, Death by Lipstick for TV Series Soundtrack
Folktellers has chosen award-winning composers Allen Lynch and Randy Lynch of III Worlds Entertainment and Music Group (3WM) and Johanna “Jaunty” Meek of Death by Lipstick Productions (DBL) to compose music for its new television series.
The series is adapted from Folktellers’ Excerpts from an Unknown Guidebook young adult novels. Singer-songwriter Lexi Jones has been selected to sing the theme song, “The Story of Us All.”
“Our vision at Folktellers has always been work with top artists who are willing to share their talent, creativity, and depth of spirit to bring this universe to life,” says Josef Bastian, creator and executive producer at Folktellers. “Randy, Allen, Jaunty, and Lexi are doing just that with their music. This song is the first of many wonderful sounds to come from our universe and represents how all stories are important as we make our way along this wonderful, collective journey together.”
Good Sports, Ralph C. Wilson Foundation to Donate $1.2M in Sports Equipment
The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation in Detroit and Boston-based nonprofit Good Sports are renewing their partnership for an additional three years to provide $1.2 million in new sports equipment, apparel, and footwear to youth sports organizations and school sports programs in need throughout southeast Michigan and western New York.
The equipment will enable these organizations to address budget limitations, improve programming and reach more youth.
“Active play is vital for a child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social health,” says Christy Keswick. “The pandemic has only increased the financial barrier children in need face in access to youth sports. Loss of local sponsorships and families unable to pay participation fees remain key challenges right now.
“Through a shared philosophy around the importance for equitable play opportunities, we are thrilled to continue working with the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation to give a significant number of children the equipment they need to play.”
Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications for the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, says, “Our local Project Play initiatives have found that the lack of access to sports equipment is a barrier that keeps many kids from sampling new sports and the high cost of equipment is a significant burden on youth sport organizations that aim to keep their fees low for families. We encourage eligible organizations across southeast Michigan and western New York to take advantage of this expanded opportunity for resources through Good Sports.”
Good Sports will identify southeast Michigan and western New York youth organizations and school programs who are providing access to sports and physical activity for high-need youth between the ages of 3 to 18. More specifically, eligible programs in southeast Michigan include Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. In western New York, the counties include Allegany, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.
Any qualifying youth organizations interested in receiving equipment support can submit an application here.
Council Re|Sale Thrift Store Offers Shopping Workshop on Zoom
Council Re|Sale in Berkley is presenting a series of Zoom workshops for budget-conscious fashionistas starting May 11.
The “Dressing is a Puzzle: Let’s Put it Together” series is designed to help shoppers get the best value from the Berkley thrift store at 3297 W. 12 Mile Road.
The three upcoming “Dressing is a Puzzle: Let’s Put it Together” workshops are:
“How to be a Smart Resale Shopper,” May 11 at 7 p.m., which offers a virtual tour of the Council Re|Sale shop. Register here.
“AM to PM, The Knack of Dressing in Black,” May 25 at 7 p.m., which teaches viewers how to transform a black outfit from day to night, creating different looks for a vast variety of occasions. Register here.
Tuesday, June 1 at 7 p.m. – “Accessories, Accessories,” June 1 at 7 p.m., in which viewers will learn how to create entirely new outfits from existing clothes by accessorizing. Register here.
“We have all opened our closets and thought we had nothing to wear,” says Susie Jacob, a vice president at the National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan, which operates the Council Re|Sale shop. “Our workshops will help everyone spruce up and reimagine their outfits and help solve the puzzle of what to wear. For fashion-forward metro Detroiters on a budget, there’s no better place to shop.”
For more information, visit here.
Great Lakes Water Authority Recognized for Facility Optimization
The Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit has received the Presidents Award from the Partnership for Safe Water, a volunteer initiative developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, American Water Works Association, and associated partner organizations.
The national award recognizes water suppliers that represent a superior level of performance and has been developed by industry experts to showcase their commitment to delivering safe water to their community. The Presidents Award honors treatment facilities that achieve very stringent individual filter performance goals for turbidity. The authority is one of only three water treatment facilities in the U.S. that have achieved this level of performance in their facility processes in the partnership’s 2021 award year.
“Receiving the Presidents Award in GLWA’s fifth year of operations is a significant milestone and testament to our team’s ongoing commitment to providing water of unquestionable quality to the people of southeast Michigan,” says Cheryl Porter, COO of water and field services at GLWA. “This award is a tangible example of the authority’s dedication to maintaining high standards for water quality and exceptional operations.”
In the past five years, four out of five of GLWA’s drinking water treatment facilities – Lake Huron, Northeast, Southwest, and Water Works Park – have also been recognized by the partnership with its Directors Award.
For more information, visit here.
Lawrence Tech Launches Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence
Lawrence Technological University in Southfield has created a new degree, the Master of Science in Artificial Intelligence (MSAI), in response to the growth in the use of artificial intelligence technologies in a wide variety of industries, such as automotive, health care, retail, finance, science, and manufacturing.
The new program will be a joint effort between of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in LTU’s College of Engineering and the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“The MSAI program will join the fundamental computer science concept of artificial intelligence with applications that mimic human intelligence such as describing and recognizing qualities, as well as understanding of meanings in different contexts in robotics, connected vehicles, data science and cybersecurity,” saya Tarek Sobh, provost of LTU.
The program also will leverage new and reengineered laboratories in LTU’s Taubman Engineering, Life Sciences, and Architecture complex. The Industry 4.0 Connected Enterprise Facility will include the use of the Robotics Engineering Automation Lab on the second floor of the Taubman complex, and the Electrical and Computer Engineering for Embedded Systems and Artificial Intelligence Lab on the first floor of the complex.
Entry to the program will begin in the 2021 Fall semester. A bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field is required.
For more information, visit here.