DBusiness Daily Update: State Offers Clean Fuel Grants to Upgrade Commercial Vehicles, Clawson’s GSH Group Acquires Properties in Lansing and Grand Blanc, 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 Feb. 23

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 Offers Clean Fuel Grants to Upgrade Commercial Vehicles
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on Tuesday announced $30 million in grants for the replacement of commercial, mass transit, and transportation support vehicles that move products with new models, including electric, alternative fuel, and diesel vehicles.

The request for proposals covers medium- and heavy-duty local freight trucks, transit and shuttle buses, freight switchers, tug and ferry boats, port cargo handling equipment, forklifts, and airport ground support equipment. Funds also will be available in the future to install shore power for vessels that operate within the Great Lakes.

“The transition to electric vehicles is gaining momentum,” says Liesl Clark, director of EGLE. “It’s important that all types of vehicles make the move to alternative fuels or clean diesel. This will mean healthier work environments for employees and communities across the state.”

The funding will be awarded through EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program, which is funded by Volkswagen diesel settlement money allocated to Michigan. The FTP’s goals are to reduce oxides of nitrogen emissions and maximize air quality benefits statewide, reduce diesel emissions from school buses and increase adoption of zero emission and alternative fuel vehicles and equipment.

The application period for the first round of funding is open for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, and shuttle and transit buses (Classes 4-8). A total of $16 million is available for alternative fuel or diesel vehicles with at least $8 million of the total earmarked to fund replacement of older vehicles with electric models. Grants range from $100,000 to $5 million. School buses are not eligible for funding. The request for proposals information is posted on the Fuel Transformation Program website.

The other two categories of vehicles that will qualify for future grants are:

  • Freight switchers, Great Lakes tugs and ferry boats, and shore power. $9 million available. Vehicles can be replaced or repowered with new electric, alternative fuel or diesel vehicles. Additionally, power for shore-side systems can be installed for vessels that operate within the Great Lakes. Grants range from $100,000 to $5 million.
  • Airport ground support equipment, port cargo handling equipment, and forklifts. $5 million available. Replacements must be electric vehicles or equipment. Grants range from $50,000 to $3 million.

A webinar has been scheduled for 1 p.m. March 9 to explain all three funding opportunities and answer questions potential applicants may have. Click here to register.

Clawson’s GSH Group Acquires Properties in Lansing and Grand Blanc
The GSH Group, a real estate investment firm based in Clawson, has added multifamily properties in Lansing and Grand Blanc to its portfolio for a combined $36.8 million.

The Lansing property is BLVD West, a 144-unit property in Lansing, and the Grand Blanc acquisition is The Landings on East Hill, a 148-unit property.

Both properties are in neighborhoods with convenient access to local amenities and benefit from strong ecosystems supported by major regional employers.

“Worth noting is the properties, built in 2004 and 2005, are newer communities relative to the older product available today,” says Gideon Pfeffer, managing partner at GSH. “These properties stand out in comparison to ground-up workforce housing developments which are not economically viable. The addition of these two modern communities to GSH’s portfolio offers unique housing that aligns with our mission to provide clean, safe accommodations in wonderful neighborhoods.”

GSH successfully closed on these properties by raising more than $14 million in investor equity.  GSH says it recognizes the opportunity to substantially increase both properties’ value by elevating current rents to market rates and achieving a projected more than 95 percent occupancy stabilization after a redevelopment plan. The plan includes capitalizing on management efficiencies through the firm’s vertical integration programs.

Valentine Distilling Co. Enrolls in DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower Program
Valentine Distilling Co. a small batch, handcrafted spirit maker in Berkley has enrolled in DTE Energy’s MIGreenPower program, a voluntary renewable energy program that enables DTE Electric customers to reduce their carbon footprint by matching their energy use to the company’s wind and solar projects.

Building on Valentine’s 10-year, $500,000 sustainability initiative, the distillery’s MIGreenPower clean energy commitment will offset 9.3 tons of CO2, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from driving nearly 21,000 miles.

“We have a goal to be a part of the solution, not a contributor to the problem,” says Rifino Valentine, founder of Valentine Distilling. “We can and should create superior spirits and be able to do so without depleting our natural resources.”

When he founded in his company in 2007, Valentine wanted to do two things: make a superior product and have a positive impact on the environment. Recognizing that distilling is an energy-intensive process, Valentine sought ways to build sustainability into all facets of his operation.

Achieving carbon neutrality is one of Valentine’s goals.

“When I learned about DTE’s MIGreenPower program, enrolling was an easy decision,” Valentine says. “I want my company to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Supporting more clean energy helps me achieve that goal.”

Valentine Distilling Co. joins more than 200 other businesses who are using MIGreenPower to help meet their sustainability goals, including companies such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., and University of Michigan. The company also has installed energy-efficient lighting, a higher efficiency steam boiler, and a rooftop free chiller that takes over for the glycol chiller anytime the outdoor temperature drops below 45 degrees.

Detroit Pistons to Host Black History Month Scholarship Event Feb. 26
The Detroit Pistons Foundation and former Pistons “Bad Boy” Rick Mahorn will host the 16th annual Black History Month Scholarship Event on Thursday, Feb. 25.

The event, which will be held virtually from 1-2:30 p.m., will see seniors from various Detroit high schools participating in a slam poetry competition in front of a panel of judges comprised of Detroit community leaders and notable figures.

The grand prize winner will be named the Earl Lloyd Award recipient and will receive a scholarship offering of $25,000. The student that finishes in second place will receive $20,000, while third place will receive $15,000.

In addition to Thursday’s live poetry slam event, the Black History Month Scholarship Event will also have a poster contest that will see students designing a “Power Humanity” themed poster. Each submission will be posted across Pistons digital platforms, where the public can vote on which design best reflects the theme. The first-place winner of the poster contest will receive $20,000, while second place will be given $15,000, and third place will receive $10,000.

Participating schools include:

  • Jalen Rose Leadership Academy
  • Loyola High School
  • Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School
  • Cass Technical High School
  • University Prep High School
  • Cody High School
  • Renaissance High School
  • Detroit International Academy for Young Women

Judges for the Black History Month Scholarship Event include:

  • Rick Mahorn, former Piston
  • Earl Cureton, former Piston
  • Evrod Cassimy, WDIV morning anchor/reporter
  • Lauren Williams, MLive Media Group
  • Josh Landon, FOX 2 morning anchor/reporter
  • Joni Thrower Davis, McDonald’s owner operator
  • Darrius, 97.9 WJLB radio personality
  • Kenneth Mathies, assistant vice president, chief diversity officer CDP, AAA
  • Shannon Wilson, vice president state markets east, Priority Health; and executive director, Total Health Care Foundation

Oakland County and Flagstar Bank Announce Financial Literacy Art Contest
For the 10th year in a row, Oakland County and Flagstar Bank are hosting the Financial Literacy Multimedia Arts Contest, featuring the work of Oakland County public high school students.

Each year, students are eligible to submit 2-D and multi-media/video pieces of art related to the importance of financial literacy. Winners from each grade will receive cash prizes and college scholarships from a prize pool totaling $10,000. More than $90,000 has been awarded in the past nine years of this contest.

At the conclusion of the contest, COVID permitting, all student artwork will be placed on display at the Oakland County Treasurer’s Office for one year.

There are many areas in which a student may choose to explore. Topic suggestions include aspects of financial literacy as it pertains to them including credit card debt, student loans, personal/family money management, financial planning, or other subjects. Acceptable entries include 2-D (drawing, painting, photography, mixed media, and illustration) and video. Entries are judged on creativity, artistic execution, and the incorporation of the financial literacy theme.

To qualify for the art contest, a student in grades 9-12 must attend a public high school in Oakland County. All art must be submitted online no later than March 19 at 4 p.m., and the reception for all participants will take place April 19 either virtually or in-person, depending on public health circumstances.

For more information and to submit entries, visit here.

New Day Foundation for Families to Host Happy Hour for Hope March 23
The New Day Foundation for Families in Rochester Hills is hosting a Happy Hour for Hope on Tuesday, March 23 from 6-8 p.m. at Granite City Brewery in Troy featuring comedian Chris Turner.

The event is available in person or via Zoom with tickets costing $50 per person. The virtual ticket option includes a carry-out dinner and craft beer from Granite City, along with a Zoom link to the live event which begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are available here.

The in-person event will be socially distanced throughout the entire restaurant. Proceeds from the event will go to the foundation for Families, which is dedicated to reducing the financial burden and emotional stress caused by cancer.

“Families facing cancer have been hit hard during the pandemic,” says Gina Kell Spehn, co-founder and president of New Day Foundation for Families. “All of us at New Day are addressing both the emotional and financial impact of COVID-19 on our community this year.  From loss of income and delayed treatment to food instability and increased risk of contracting the disease, our families are facing more obstacles than ever before.”

The annual Happy Hour for Hope also provides a chance for New Day to bring awareness to its Bridge Builder program for monthly giving, which generates a constant, reliable source of funding for family grants. With individual monthly contributions starting at just $10 per month, a small commitment can make a large impact.  One hundred Bridge Builder members would generate at least $12,000 in just one year – enough to provide grants for housing, transportation, utilities and food for multiple families facing cancer.

To become a Bridge Builder, visit here.

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