DBusiness Daily Update: Tigers Set to Retire ‘Sweet Lou’ Whitaker’s No. 1 on Saturday, 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.
Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 will be retired during ceremonies at Comerica Park prior to the Tigers’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays. // Courtesy of mlb.com
Lou Whitaker’s No. 1 will be retired during ceremonies at Comerica Park prior to the Tigers’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays. // Courtesy of mlb.com

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.

Tigers Set to Retire ‘Sweet Lou’ Whitaker’s No. 1 on Saturday

Lou Whitaker, one of the greatest position players to ever wear the Olde English ‘D,’ will have his No. 1 retired at Comerica Park on Saturday, Aug. 6 when the Detroit Tigers host the Tampa Bay Rays at 6:10 p.m.

Fans can visit here to reserve their seats for the game and are encouraged to arrive early and be seated by 5:15 p.m. in order to catch all of the pregame festivities. The first 10,000 fans through the gates will receive a Lou Whitaker Replica Road Jersey, presented by Bally Sports Detroit. Comerica Park gates will open at 4:30 p.m.

“Sweet Lou” will become just the eighth player in Tigers history to have his uniform number retired, joining Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Willie Horton, Al Kaline, Hal Newhouser, Alan Trammell, and Jack Morris, the latter two of whom were his fellow teammates on the 1984 World Series champion Tigers.

“Tigers fans have eagerly waited two years to celebrate this momentous occasion for Lou Whitaker, and we’re thrilled that day is here,” says Christopher Ilitch, chairman and CEO of the Tigers and president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings. “‘Sweet Lou’ will join a distinguished club of legends, and his name will forever be etched in Tigers history as one of the best to ever wear the Olde English ‘D.’ On behalf of the entire Detroit Tigers organization, we congratulate Lou on this well-deserved honor, and we look forward to celebrating with him, his family and Tigers fans on Aug. 6.”

Whitaker is a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and was the 1978 American League Rookie of the Year. Perhaps most famously, Whitaker was an anchor of one of the best double-play duos in baseball history, teaming up with Trammell in the middle infield for nearly 20 seasons (1977-95) wearing the Tigers uniform.

Other notable Tigers who wore the No. 1 include Birdie Tebbetts in the 1940s, Ray Oyler for the 1968 World Champions, Billy Martin as a player in 1958 and as manager in the early ‘70s, and more recently Jose Iglesias.

Other events at Comerica Park in honor of Lou Whitaker include:

  • Lou Whitaker Legend Dinner: Aug. 3 (sold out).
  • Fan Q&A on Comerica Park Concourse: Aug. 5. (6-6:40 p.m.).
  • Lou Whitaker Autograph Signing in The D Shop: Aug. 6 (11 a.m.-1 p.m.)

Whitaker’s No. 1 will be permanently stenciled alongside other Tigers legends in center field at Comerica Park, and will appear on the field near second base for the Aug. 6 game. Tigers players and coaches also will wear a Lou Whitaker number retirement patch on the left sleeve of their uniforms for the game against the Rays.

Henry Ford Health Receives $2M Philanthropic Gift from A.A. Van Elslander Foundation

Henry Ford Health in Detroit has received a $2 million gift from the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation to establish the Dr. Philip C. Hessburg – Art Van Elslander Chair in Ophthalmic Research, which will constitute a permanent endowment fund to support the educational research initiatives at Henry Ford Health by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology (DIO).

“This is a remarkable gift and I can think of no better way to celebrate Dr. Hessburg’s career and legacy,” says Mary Jane Vogt, executive vice president and chief development officer at Henry Ford Health. “We are profoundly grateful to the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation for their leadership in support of growth and innovation that drives progress for Henry Ford’s elite ophthalmology program. Creating this endowed chair ensures that this will continue for generations to come.”

Hessburg is medical director of the DIO, which he co-founded in 1972. The DIO merged with Henry Ford Health in 2012 and now serves as the research education arm of Henry Ford’s Department of Ophthalmology.

“This generous gift from the A.A. Van Elslander Foundation will play a significant role in our relentless pursuit to help those who are visually impaired maintain their independence while living a satisfying and productive life,” Hessburg says. “One of these efforts is our DIO support groups, which are low-tech and can improve our patients’ lives. At the other end of DIO efforts is the very high-tech approach to artificial vision through nano-electronics. These devices implanted in the eye or the brain may restore some level of useful vision to those who are fully blind.”

To learn more about eye care and ophthalmology research at Henry Ford Health, visit henryford.com/eye.

Esperovax, Life Magnetics to Deliver New Oral Therapeutic to Colorectal Patients

Esperovax, an Ann Arbor developer of oral mRNA biologics, and Life Magnetics Inc. in Detroit, creators of RNA stabilization technology, have signed an agreement to co-develop a new oral RNA therapeutic delivery system for colorectal cancer patients that can be stored at room temperature.

Oral and room temperature delivery of RNA therapeutics is a holy grail for the pharmaceutical industry. RNA therapeutics are safer, easier to design, and have far more targets than small molecule drugs. To date, the major limitation of RNA therapeutics is product shelf life. For example, the lifetime of mRNA is only around seven hours at room temperature.

Esperovax was founded in 2019 to advance development of its oral mRNA platform, a transformative technology for delivering mRNA treatments to the abundant population of immune cells in the gastrointestinal tract via a small oral capsule.

Life Magnetics, in turn, has developed a carbon coating that stabilizes RNA for shipping and transport. Esperovax began evaluating Life Magnetics’ technology in March for therapeutic delivery. Prior to this, it had only been tested in diagnostics and wastewater surveillance where Michigan labs were using it to stabilize RNA in environmental samples collected in the field for transport back to the lab.

“One of the tricks to fighting cancer is to have technologies that target a specific type of cell,” says David O’Hagan, CEO of Esperovax. “Our new Hercules circular RNA technology platform will trigger the active therapeutic payload only inside colorectal cancer cells. This means we can deliver RNA that kills these specific cancer cells but is harmless in any other cell.”

Kevin Hagadorn, co-creator of Life Magnetics’ carbon coating technology, says: “Our 24-month goal is demonstrating the technology is viable in animal models and protects RNA for months. A delivery platform that protects RNA and is compatible with encapsulation technologies is very valuable. We are confident this new partnership will accomplish exactly that.”

Grants for Testing Grants at Detroit Smart Parking Lab to Drive Mobility Ecosystem

The state of Michigan Monday announced grants totaling $156,000 to four mobility companies that will help to improve pedestrian safety, fine-tune last-mile mobility solutions, and enhance electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure through testing and deployments at the Detroit Smart Parking Lab (DSPL).

Michigan Mobility Funding Platform Grant recipients through the DSPL are as follows:

It’s Electric ($7,000) — Offers curbside EV charging solutions purpose-built for cities, with a goal of unlocking access to clean vehicles for the millions of drivers who park their cars on the street.

Skyfii ($50,000) — Offers omnidata intelligence solutions built for improving venue operations and visitor experiences. With the company’s cloud-based software solutions, users can monitor a venue’s analytics — from visitor behavior and traffic data to guest WiFi usage — and adjust operations based on provided insights. Skyfii, in partnership with LIDAR technology company, Ouster, will implement LIDAR technology at the DSPL’s campus to monitor human behaviors for security purposes.

Voltpost ($65,000) — A New York and San Francisco startup, decarbonizes mobility and democratizes charging access by retrofitting lampposts into smart electric vehicle charging stations. This technology provides drivers with convenient curbside charging. Voltpost reduces the cost, timing, and footprint of charger installation. Voltpost will deploy its product within the DSPL to simulate a curbside charging environment.

Yoshi ($34,000) — A customer-centric last-mile delivery platform that is focused on car care services. The company provides gas or EV charging delivery and car care services to wherever its customers are parked and has already fully integrated with several connected car platforms, including General Motors’ OnStar program. To date, Yoshi has raised more than $46 million with investments from GM Ventures, Bridgestone, and ExxonMobil.

Leveraging data from a network of Bosch cameras with built-in deep learning video analytics — a type of artificial intelligence — and in partnership with Bridgestone, Yoshi will provide an end-to-end mobility solution for electric and autonomous vehicles that will offer charging, tire check and tire change solutions. By integrating with Bosch camera interfaces, Yoshi will ultimately be able to improve wayfinding for its bundled mobility service.

Specifically, Yoshi will demonstrate a first-of-its-kind consumer EV use case in the DSPL. A consumer driving a Ford electrified vehicle will schedule a mobile EV charging and tire check service in the Yoshi app. The Yoshi technician will be notified of the consumer’s location in the Assembly Garage. Once the Yoshi service vehicle arrives, the technician will be alerted to the exact location of the vehicle with real-time data from the Bosch cameras. Once the technician has completed the EV charging service, the data on the tire depth and tread is relayed to Firestone Direct for actionable analysis. A recommendation will be provided to the consumer allowing them to dispatch the Firestone Direct service vehicle to fix the tire.

DSPL is located at the Assembly Garage in Corktown and provides an open innovation platform and real-world testing site for parking-related mobility, logistics, and EV charging technologies. Sponsored and developed by Bedrock, Bosch, Ford Motor Co., and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), the DSPL is operated by the American Center for Mobility (ACM) and offers a collaborative, neutral platform for mobility innovators to examine ways to improve customer experiences as well as the efficient movement of vehicles and goods in defined spaces.

Applications for funding through the platform are accepted on a rolling basis here.

MRLA Accepting Nominations for ‘Stars of the Industry’ Awards

The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association (MRLA) is accepting nominations for its annual Stars of the Industry Awards, which recognize outstanding individuals within Michigan’s hospitality industry who have demonstrated professionalism and creativity while going above and beyond their role to contribute to the positive image of the industry.

“Michigan’s hospitality industry is one worth celebrating and we are proud to be able to recognize some of Michigan’s finest leaders and contributors within our industry,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of MRLA. “So many within our industry make a positive impact for guests and on the industry as a whole despite having experienced one of the most challenging times in recent memory. We look forward to coming together as an industry to celebrate in November.”

Honorees are nominated by their peers and then selected as winners by a panel of industry leaders. Entering or nominating someone for the Stars of the Industry Award is free, and all nominees must have worked in the hospitality industry for at least two years and be employed by restaurants, hotels or other supporting businesses that are MRLA members. The awards nomination form should be completed and submitted with a letter of recommendation and support materials. All nominations must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 9. Nominees will be notified by Oct. 15.

The winners of each award will be announced at the Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner on Nov. 9 at St. John’s Resort in Plymouth Township.

For nomination forms and a complete list of the categories, visit here.

Lawrence Tech Named ‘Champions of Character Five-Star Institution’ by NAIA

The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has named Lawrence Technological University in Southfield as one of the winners of its Champions of Character Five-Star Institution Award.

Each year, the NAIA uses its Champions of Character scorecard to measure the pursuit of character-driven athletics in its 252 member institutions. Institutions are measured on character training for athletes and coaches, conduct in competition, academic achievement, character recognition, and character promotion. Institutions earn points for having exceptional student-athlete grade point averages, and by having minimal to no ejections during competition throughout the course of the academic year.

“We are proud that the conduct of our LTU athletes in competition and in the classroom has earned this prestigious award,” says LTU President Tarek M. Sobh. “It is a tribute to the work we do every day to ensure that our athletic programs fit properly in the framework of a quality education. Truly, our student-athletes are students first.”

Adds LTU Athletic Director Scott Trudeau: “LTU coaches and athletes work hard every day to embody the NAIA’s five core values of athletic competition — integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship, and servant leadership. This award is recognition of those efforts, which are an integral part of our athletic program.”

LTU reintroduced intercollegiate athletics in the 2011-2012 academic year, allowing its students the chance to continue playing sports while getting an education ranked among the best in the nation. Athletics have since become an integral part of Lawrence Tech student life, with more than 600 student-athletes on campus.

Men’s and women’s sports include basketball, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, volleyball, cross country, golf, bowling, track and field, Esports, and tennis. Men’s only sports include football and baseball. LTU also offers women’s softball.

Child Safe Michigan’s Legends of Tomorrow Gala to Feature Global Theme

Child Safe Michigan in Royal Oak, an affiliate of human services agency Judson Center, is inviting supporters to join it for a trip “around the world” at its 2022 Legends of Tomorrow gala at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 9, 2022 at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

This year’s event features a global theme and includes culinary delights and music from around the world. The fundraiser benefits Child Safe Michigan’s foster care, adoption, and mentoring services for neglected and abused children in southeast Michigan.

The celebration of diverse cultures at the 2022 Legends of Tomorrow gala includes entertainment by Sean Blackman In Transit, which brings together musicians of different ethnic groups for a multicultural performance. The evening also includes an afterglow with a Mexican/Latin theme and the live auction of a trip to Mexico.

“Child Safe Michigan is an award-winning agency that helps children who have gone through traumatic experiences change their lives and their future,” says Lenora Hardy-Foster, president and CEO of the Judson Center. “The money raised from the Legends of Tomorrow gala will enable us to reach more children who need a safe, nurturing home and hope for the future.”

Each year, the Angel Award is presented at the event to recognize individuals for their compassion and dedication to the children of Child Safe Michigan. The 2022 award recipient is Jim Wolfe, a longtime advocate of the agency.

For more information, visit here.

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