DBusiness Daily Update: Texas Auto Writers Give Top Honors to Stellantis’ Ram and Jeep Brands, and More

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies.
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Ram trucks
Stellantis’ Ram brand took home five awards from the annual Texas Truck Rodeo.
// Photo courtesy of Ram

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Texas Auto Writers Give Top Honors to Stellantis’ Ram and Jeep Brands

Ram and Jeep vehicles earned top honors at last weekend’s annual Texas Truck Rodeo, hosted by the Texas Automotive Writers Association (TAWA). Collectively, these brands secured the most awards of any manufacturer at the event.

“Ram trucks brought their A-game again this year, winning several consecutive awards, including the Full-size Pickup Truck of Texas, and scoring the highest for overall personal appeal, which is significant because Texas is the truck capital of the U.S.,” says Teia Collier, president of TAWA. “We also enjoyed the lineup from the Jeep brand, with several vehicles that were the stars of their categories offering incredible performance, craftsmanship and capability.”

Members cast their votes after a full day of on- and off-road vehicle evaluations, including 218 drives on the event route. Consideration is given to everything from exterior/interior styling and off-road capability to the entrant’s overall utility, value, and performance.

Overall, Stellantis brands took home nine awards, including:

  • Full-Size Pickup Truck: 2023 Ram 1500
  • Off-Road Pickup Truck: 2023 Ram 1500 TRX
  • Luxury Pickup Truck: 2023 Ram 1500 Limited
  • Heavy Duty Truck: 2023 Ram Heavy Duty Rebel
  • Highest Personal Appeal: 2023 Ram 1500
  • Mid-Size SUV: 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Off-Road SUV: 2024 Jeep Wrangler
  • Best Performance: 2024 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392
  • Best Feature Award: Stellantis Uconnect 5 Nav System

Brilliant Detroit Named 2023 Catalyst Impact Partner by Stand Together Foundation

Brilliant Detroit was selected to join Stand Together Foundation’s Catalyst Impact Grant Program to accelerate its impact and transform how society thinks about ending poverty in America.

Established in 2016, Brilliant Detroit increases “kid success” families by establishing and operating homes in high-need neighborhoods to offer diverse and flexible programming designed to meet the unique needs of each community. With 60 percent of Detroit’s children under the age of five living in poverty, Brilliant Detroit works with families with children ages 0-8 to have what they need in order to be school-ready, healthy and stable.

Catalyst Impact Grant Program participants will receive Principle Based Management coaching and consulting and a grant for as much as $300,000 over three years to grow their impact. This grant program is part of a $30 million initiative to support 100 nonprofits fighting poverty by 2025. Each organization will also receive access to and participate in a new customer-first measurement approach Stand Together Foundation has created to understand and differentiate their impact.

“We are honored to be joining Stand Together’ Foundation’s Catalyst Impact Grant Program, which will provide intensive support to help us scale our efforts at Brilliant Detroit,” says Cindy Eggleton, co-founder and CEO of Brilliant Detroit. “We are among an amazing group for this cohort and look forward to getting started.”

Brilliant Detroit was identified and selected to participate in the Catalyst Impact Grant Program for its demonstrated commitment to bottom-up empowerment rather than top-down control to advance new and better approaches to breaking cycles of poverty. Working “with, for and by” neighbors, Brilliant Detroit coordinates partners to deliver evidence-based programs focus on school readiness, 3rd grade reding, health and family stability. Neighbors come together in these homes, forming the bonds and building the knowledge needed to make anything possible for their children.

Impact Partners will be expected to:

  • Build the movement toward empowerment. Reject one-size-fits-all and pioneer a future driven by empowerment among philanthropists and nonprofits.
  • Advance a vision and management culture that empowers rather than controls. Impact Partners will focus on leveraging Principle Based Management (PBM) to empower their employees to empower the people they serve. PBM provides a holistic approach to making decisions, solving problems, and creating value for individuals and society.
  • Model a “customer-first” impact vision. Impact Partners will participate in Stand Together Foundation’s pioneering measurement approach to understand impact through customer feedback.

Click here to view a full list of Catalyst Impact Partners. Click here to learn more about the program.

To read a DBusiness article about Brilliant Detroit and its work, visit here.

Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital to Open Separate Pediatric Emergency Department

The new Shery L. Cotton Pediatric Emergency Department will open at Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital in January 2024 to better meet family needs and enhance the patient care experience.

To kick off the opening, a ribbon-cutting and donor recognition event will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 21. Top donors, Ascension St. John Foundation board members, hospital executives, local dignitaries, and community leaders will be in attendance.

This level II pediatric emergency department is separate and distinct from the level I adult/trauma emergency center at Ascension St. John Hospital – with its own entrance, waiting room, and treatment areas to help enhance privacy, comfort, and wait times for young patients and their families.

While the emergency center at Ascension St. John Hospital has been caring for pediatric patients since the hospital opened in 1952, a level I trauma center sees everything from minor injuries to critical gunshot wounds.

“Visiting the ER can be traumatic enough for anyone – adult or child,” says Dr. Marcus DeGraw, chief of pediatrics at Ascension St. John Hospital. “We do not want young children and their families in the waiting room with adults in serious distress. Neither should we treat them in proximity.”

  • Features of the new pediatric emergency department include:
  • Pediatric triage and exam rooms in their own location, separate from adult patients.
  • A dedicated ambulance entrance and trauma rooms specifically for children.
  • 13 exam rooms, including three child/adolescent behavioral health rooms, one sensory exam room, and two procedure rooms.
  • Board-certified pediatric emergency specialists and specially trained nurses available 24/7.
  • New state-of-the-art equipment.

Over the last five years, the hospital has averaged nearly 15,000 pediatric emergency visits annually. Having a dedicated pediatric emergency department will allow Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital to care for an increased number of patients.

The launch of the Shery L. Cotton Pediatric Emergency Department marks the completion of the first of four construction phases for the multi-million-dollar expansion and renovation of pediatric services at Ascension St. John Children’s Hospital. Construction on phase 2 is expected to begin in January. Phase 2 will create the dedicated Van Elslander Women’s and Children’s Entrance to Ascension St. John Hospital to provide comfort and convenience, focusing on family-centered care. Phases 3 and 4 — the renovation of The Carls Foundation Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Mary Ann Van Elslander Pediatric Inpatient Unit — will follow.

Lansing’s Auto-Owners Insurance Partners with Carpe Data to Streamline the Underwriting

Lansing-based Auto-Owners Insurance has selected California’s Carpe Data, a provider of small commercial data solutions, to enhance its underwriting workflow and revolutionize its approach to small business underwriting.

Auto-Owners sought solutions to refine its appetite for straight-through-processing (STP) while maintaining balanced loss ratios. The insurer turned to Carpe Data’s Minerva commercial data solution.

Carpe Data’s Minerva business intelligence team worked with Auto-Owners to find ways to inject the current Auto-Owners underwriting processes with new data and illuminate key indicators of business strength and loss propensity, such as online customer rating and visibility indexes, evidence-based risk characteristics and classification insights, and aggregated scores that combine these attributes and more to drive business value.

“Our partnership with Carpe Data will improve our underwriting processes, allowing us to make more informed decisions with greater speed and efficiency,” says Chad Reyher, assistant vice president of commercial lines underwriting for Auto-Owners. “We are looking forward to seeing the results yielded and the possibilities our collaboration presents in the coming months.”

Curana Health, Ciena Healthcare Partner to Improve Care for Michigan Medicare Beneficiaries

Texas-based Curana Health is pleased to announce it will be expanding its partnership with Ciena Healthcare in Southfield to bring its I-SNP (Institutional Special Needs Plan) model to residents in Ciena’s 31 facilities throughout Michigan.

Through the new collaboration, Align Senior Care, a fully owned and operated subsidiary of Curana Health, will offer enhanced benefits and onsite preventative clinical care for Medicare eligible residents within the Ciena Healthcare communities.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Ciena Healthcare to create superior health outcomes for people in Michigan,” says Mark Price, CEO of Curana Health. “Our I-SNP delivers a model of care that helps operators reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and bring better health, happiness, and quality of life to residents.”

A Special Needs Plan (SNP) is a Medicare Advantage plan specifically designed to provide targeted care for Medicare beneficiaries with special needs. I-SNPs provide a highly coordinated level of care for Medicare Advantage members that require long-term care in senior living communities and skilled nursing care facilities.

Align Senior Care’s provider-led I-SNP was curated exclusively for long-term care residents, with the direct input of the communities where they live. The specialized Medicare Advantage Plan recognizes the contribution skilled nursing providers make toward improvements in care, by ensuring they have a voice in creating the best care plan for residents. With an emphasis on in person clinical rounding, the I-SNP ensures residents receive the right care at the right time, affording members a personalized care team dedicated to their complete health.

I-SNPs provide effective care management for nursing home residents, while rewarding providers for the avoidance of resident hospitalizations. These innovations have resulted in a 39 percent average reduction in 30-day hospital readmission rates, and 37 percent average in total hospital admissions among Medicare Advantage I-SNP members.

MMTC Supporting Area Students at MiCareerQuest Today in Novi

The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC) in Plymouth Township is joining MiCareerQuest Southeast today at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi to support the next generation of Michigan workers.

The day-long event is an interactive career exploration for regional high school students with 119 exhibiting organizations showcasing 180 in-demand jobs. MMTC is available to discuss career paths in Michigan manufacturing, including work in cybersecurity, advanced technology, business leadership, and more.

“Manufacturing is an ever-changing sector that offers a variety of career opportunities in fields like cybersecurity, technology, business and more,” says Ingrid Tighe president of MMTC. “Michigan continues to be a leader in American Manufacturing, and we’re thrilled to join MiCareerQuest to discuss these exciting career options with area students.”

Eight thousand students from 100 high schools throughout southeast Michigan are expected to participate, joined by more than 1,000 working professionals.

The event is taking place between 8:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m.

Detroit Pistons, Kroger Tipoff Season of Giving with Private Event for 800 Families

Kroger, Henry Ford Health, Michigan State University, and the Detroit Pistons are hosting a Thanksgiving giveaway event outside of the Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center on the evening of Nov. 15.

More than 800 preselected families will receive Thanksgiving food items and 800 gallons of milk on behalf of Kroger as well as other shelf-stable food and household essentials. Additionally, the families will receive toothbrushes and floss, a Wing Stop voucher, Coca-Cola product, hand sanitizer, and beauty products.

Pistons players, coaches, employees, and season ticket holders will be distributing the products.

Inaugural Ferndale Underground Holiday Market Runs Nov. 18-19

The first Ferndale Underground Market will take place in the basement level of the Ferndale parking structure Nov. 18-19.

The market includes 85 artists, makers, authors, and bakers with a focus on uncommon and edgier items for the holiday season.

“For years people have loved the Funky Ferndale Art Fair and asked us what is next,” says Mark Loeb, manager of the market. “Underground Ferndale is set to be a mixture of Funky Ferndale and the DIY Fair with a holiday gift overlay. We love traditional holiday markets, and this is the funkier take on them.”

The Underground Market will be on the bottom level of the new ‘dot’ Ferndale parking garage.  Patrons can park and take the elevator to the underground.

The event is produced in conjunction with the city of Ferndale and the Ferndale DDA, and is designed to emphasize small creative businesses and encourage shoppers to spend their holiday dollars close to home.

Ferndale’s Jingle and Mingle event will be conducted alongside, featuring music and refreshments. Patrons are encouraged to bring boxed and canned food to donate.

For more information, visit undergroundferndale.com.

SBAM Encourages Michiganders to Shop Small on Small Business Saturday Nov. 25

The Small Business Association of Michigan in Lansing is urging Michiganders to participate in Small Business Saturday, which will take place on Saturday, Nov 25.

Small Business Saturday is an opportunity to celebrate and support small businesses and the important role they play in our communities. Michigan small businesses make up 99 percent of Michigan’s businesses, with more than 900,000 small businesses operating in the state. This accounts for nearly half of the state’s workforce. Additionally, more than 10 million Americans have formed small businesses in the last two years.

“Small Business Saturday is a great way to kick off holiday shopping and support small businesses at the same time,” says Brian Calley, president and CEO of SBAM. “Patronizing small businesses shows our appreciation for the critical role they play in our communities and helps them succeed.”

Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 and has also been cosponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration since 2011. This day has become an important part of small businesses’ success during the busy shopping season and many businesses have promotions and sales to celebrate the date.

For more information about Small Business Saturday, visit here.

Zekelman Holocaust Center Celebrates 39th Anniversary at Gala

The Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills celebrated its 39th Anniversary Benefit Dinner Nov. 12 at Detroit’s Huntington Place. Lifelong Detroiters Cynthia and Marvin Zucker were honored for their support of Holocaust education as an antidote to counter rising antisemitism.

The Center’s flagship fundraising event brought together a diverse community united in solidarity, including Holocaust survivors and their families, business and educational leaders, philanthropists, and war veterans.

Over the course of the evening, attendees remembered the past, celebrated achievements, and looked toward a hopeful future. In January 2024, The center’s new permanent exhibit opens with updated scholarship and technology, further centering personal stories of those who experienced the Holocaust to humanize history’s darkest period.

Keynote speaker Ben Sasse, president of the University of Florida and a former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, addressed antisemitism on college campuses and more broadly in the context of U.S. history.

“Liberty assumes people have shared principles,” he says. “In the case of free speech, we defend engaging with ideas — wrestling with them is how we learn restraint and self-control. We open ourselves to being wrong. This is how a republic, as George Washington said in his Farewell Address, doesn’t rely on any single individual. What the Holocaust Center ultimately teaches strengthens our democracy.”

During the evening, the center announced a major gift from the William Davidson Foundation in support of the exhibit renovation.

“The William Davidson Foundation gift supports our center as a premier destination in southeast Michigan where people can learn the lessons of the Holocaust in a meaningful and relevant way,” says Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO of the Holocaust Center. “We are so fortunate for the support of our incredible community to advance work that has been shown to influence communities to resist acts of hate and discrimination.”

For more information, visit holocaustcenter.org/.

The Skillman Foundation and Parade Company Announce Student Float Design Winner

The Skillman Foundation and The Parade Company today announced 4th grade student Aaliyah Crowder, from University Prep Art & Design Elementary in Detroit, as grand-prize winner of the 32nd Annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest.

The float designed by Crowder, titled “Together We Shine,” will make its way down Woodward Avenue during America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White on Nov. 23. Five Detroit students were awarded honorable mentions, and their work will be displayed around the border of the float.

“Today we get to see incredible student art, we get a special preview of this year’s Skillman float, and we meet the brilliant young Detroiters who have shared their talents and vision with us,” said Angelique Power, president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation. “Getting a glimpse into how young people envision the future is a true kickoff to the holiday season, reflecting on what is and designing what could be.

This year’s Skillman Foundation Float Contest theme, “Kids Can Change the World!” encouraged students to design the change they’d like to make for the world. Crowder’s float, “Together We Shine” features a 10-foot globe, colorful rainbow and a nearly 10-foot beautiful representation of the artist herself. The float highlights positive messages like Be Brave, Shine, Love, We are a Community and We Work Together. All Honorable Mention drawings are displayed on a skirt encircling the float.

“The Skillman Foundation float unveil is one of our favorite days every year,” says Tony Michaels, president and CEO of The Parade Company. “It is so exciting to celebrate the creativity of these talented young student artists from our city. We can’t wait to debut the ‘Together We Shine’ float on Woodward Avenue this Thanksgiving morning.”

Hundreds of Detroit middle school students in grades four through eight entered this year’s Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the partnership between The Parade Company and The Skillman Foundation which inspires young artists by giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see their vision come to life as a parade float.

Five honorable mention winners were also selected and include:

  • Simone Dixon, 4th grade, Bates Academy, “World Peace”
  • Kayla Gadie, 8th grade, Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, “Kids Can Change the World”
  • Genesis Pope, 7th grade, Bates Academy, “Peace World”
  • Trinity Russell, 8th grade, Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, “Kids Can Change the World”
  • Skylar Sowell, 4th grade, John R. King Academic and Performing Arts Academy, “You Can Change the World

The Skillman Foundation is a private philanthropy that has granted out over $750 million across its 63-year history. Its grantmaking and advocacy is shaped by the rising Generation Z and their calls to transform the education system. The Foundation locks arms with Detroit youth and their allies to design an education system that nurtures the genius and well-being of all students — a system of schools and out-of-school programs where all young people are supported to be creative and collaborative problem solvers who forge a new destiny for us all.

Voted as America’s No. 1 Holiday Parade by USA TODAY, America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White takes place on Thursday, November 23. This year’s Parade theme is “A Heart of History.”

WDIV-Local 4’s live coverage begins at 6 a.m. with pre-parade coverage, followed by a parade pre-show beginning at 9 a.m. America’s Thanksgiving Parade presented by Gardner White will air live on WDIV-Local 4 from 10 a.m. – noon, including a one-hour syndicated national broadcast from 10 a.m. -11 a.m. reaching more than 185 television markets across the country. 760 WJR and Audacy WOMC 104.3 also broadcast parade shows.

For more information, visit https://theparade.org/.

Gesher Human Services Offers Tips on How to Land a Holiday Job

Gesher Human Services in Southfield is offering free help to those who want a job for the holiday season from 1-2:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 at its headquarters (29699 Southfield Road).

The nonprofit organization has certified professional resume writers on staff to ensure participant’s resumes are professional and compelling for potential employers and offers career advisors who can guide job applicants on their marketable skills and job search tips. LinkedIn experts can assist participants in developing networking skills.

The workshop will teach participants how to use the online job site Indeed, set up job alerts, complete an online job application, and upload resumes and cover letters. No registration is required for the workshop and more information is available here or by going to the events page at geshermi.org.

Traverse City’s Great Wolf Lodge Preparing for Annual Snowland Celebration

Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City is gearing up for its annual Snowland celebration Nov. 24-Jan. 8, when families will be immersed in a winter wonderland, with daily snow showers, visits from Santa, seasonally themed crafts, holiday stories and songs, and a variety of other festive activities.

During this seasonal celebration, families can enjoy an escape from the chilly winter weather at the resort’s 84-degree indoor water park.

Great Wolf Lodge will transform into a wonderland with twinkling lights, ornaments and garland, shimmering holiday trees, and other cheerful decorations. Much of the holiday décor is centered around the Grand Lobby, where snowflakes suspend from the ceiling and snow blankets cover the resort’s famous fireplace.

The lobby also is home to the nightly Snowfall Celebration, an interactive show that provides holiday joy as families gather to ring jingle bells, sing seasonal melodies, and participate in a festive dance party to conjure magical snow flurries.

Guests also can capture their memories at Snowland Selfie Stations in the Grand Lobby with various props to help create a festive family photo. There will be other activities included as part of an overnight stay including:

  • “Twas the Night Before Snowland” Yoga Tails — Start your day with a flex and stretch in our fun-filled yoga class that celebrates the holiday season.
  • Seasonal Games — Make merry with a round of Bingo, learn the reasons for the season with our holiday Trivia, or see if you can create the ultimate wonderland experience by completing the Great Wolf Lodge Snowland Scavenger Hunt.
  • Visits with Santa — Don’t forget to bring your list! From November 24 until December 23, there will be surprise visits from Santa himself.
  • Seasonal Crafts — Grab your family and prepare to get your creative juices flowing with a DIY jingle bell craft kit, color your own picture frame and make your own one-of-a-kind snowflake.
  • Frosty Fest Family Dance Party — Shake the snow off your shoes and have a holly jolly time boogying down at our joyous holiday dance party.

For more information about Great Wolf Lodge or the upcoming Snowland celebration, guests are encouraged to visit greatwolf.com.