DBusiness Daily Update: U-M Grid Legend Charles Woodson Brings Own Whiskey to Michigan, Wayne State Awarded $2.5M Grant to Grow Graduate Training Programs, 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.
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Woodson Whiskey Bottles
University of Michigan Football and NFL legend Charles Woodson has announced the launch of his own line of spirits, Woodson Whiskey. // Courtesy of Woodson Whiskey

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.

U-M Grid Legend Charles Woodson Brings Own Whiskey to Michigan

University of Michigan football icon and Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson is introducing his own craft spirit line, Woodson Bourbon Whiskey.

With the launch of his first spirit, Woodson brings his passion for winemaking and sustainability to the whiskey market. This craft spirit is finished in the same French oak wine barrels used in the wine making process of Charles Woodson Wines Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Michigan will be the first state to offer Woodson Bourbon Whiskey to retailers and each 750mL bottle will be available for $39.99. Woodson Bourbon Whiskey will be distributed through Imperial Beverage of Kalamazoo.

“Michigan has always supported me in whatever I have done,” Woodson says. “So, I want to thank the great state of Michigan for being the first to bring in Woodson Bourbon Whiskey. The fans know that I do not just put my name on anything, so I am eager to get back to Michigan and share with you my latest creation.”

Wayne State Awarded $2.5M Grant to Grow Graduate Training Programs

Wayne State University in Detroit has received a $2.5 million Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) T32 training program grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.

This grant will aid in growing Wayne State’s IMSD R25 graduate training program in biomedical sciences and behavioral research, which existed for many years and was led by Joseph C. Dunbar, professor of physiology and director of medical student research and innovation in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, along with Rasheeda Zafar, IMSD program administrator.

The IMSD T32 program will provide 10 graduate students a year with a structured academic community, additional career-development activities, and individualized mentoring, allowing the diverse trainees to cultivate highly sought-after skills that will lead to successful careers in the biomedical sciences.

The goal of the program is to provide targeted, individualized training, and mentoring to meet the needs of a diverse body of graduate students and facilitate successful completion of their Ph.D. degrees.

“The IMSD T32 students will prepare for careers in the biomedical sciences and go on to serve as mentors to future generations because of the unique and excellent training they will receive at Wayne State University,” says Stephen M. Lanier, professor of pharmacology and vice president for research at WSU. “The IMSD T32 program will develop and enhance their academic skills and professional career development, and will integrate them into our learning community and allow them to remain active throughout their entire training at WSU, with enhanced opportunities for teaching and mentoring.”

Special features of the program include broad connectivity within and outside of the Wayne State campus, access to specialized technology resources, support for travel to professional conferences as well as opportunities for peer and near-peer mentoring, and undergraduate teaching experiences within Wayne State’s learning community.

Michigan Jobless Rate Edges Up in May Yet Workforce Gains 9,000

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate inched up by a 10th of a percentage point during May to 5 percent, according to data released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget.

Michigan employment levels increased minimally by 6,000 and the number of unemployed edged up by 3,000, resulting in a modest workforce gain of 9,000 in May.

The jobless rate for the U.S. decreased by 3/10ths of a percentage point between April and May to 5.8 percent, which was 0.8 percentage points above the Michigan rate. Over the year, the U.S. rate dropped by 7.5 percentage points, while Michigan’s rate moved down significantly by 15.8 percentage points. These annual rate reductions reflected the return to work of persons since the very high pandemic-related layoffs in May 2020.

“Michigan’s labor market remained stable during May,” says Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives. “The unemployment rate and payroll job counts both showed little change over the month.”

Michigan’s May workforce level was little changed, edging up by just 0.2 percent over the month. This was comparable to the trend nationally, where labor force levels were essentially unchanged.

Over the year, unemployment in the state dropped by 742,000, or 75.9 percent, a decrease larger than the unemployment reduction nationally (-55.6 percent).

Michigan total employment in May was 268,000, or 5.6 percent below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level. The number of Michigan unemployed remains well above pre-pandemic levels, rising by 50,000, or 27.0 percent, since February 2020. The May statewide jobless rate of 5 percent was 1.3 percentage points above the February 2020 rate of 3.7 percent.

The Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s (MSA) seasonally adjusted jobless rate was little changed in May, up by a 10th of a percentage point to 4.4 percent. The area jobless rate has been stable for four consecutive months, ranging from 4.3 to 4.5 percent. Employment and unemployment levels both advanced slightly over the month.

The Detroit MSA unemployment rate plunged by nearly 20 percentage points over the year, as workers were recalled to jobs after high levels of pandemic-related layoffs in May 2020. Employment jumped by 464,000 over the year, while unemployment fell by 384,000. The Detroit metro region labor force moved up significantly by 80,000 since May 2020.

The monthly survey of employers indicated that total nonfarm jobs remained nearly unchanged between April and May, edging down by 2,000, or 0.1 percent. Payroll jobs in Michigan totaled 4,113,000 during May.

Industry sectors with the largest percent job gains over the year included leisure and hospitality (+59.8 percent) and manufacturing (+29.1 percent). Both industries, however, have job counts well below pre-pandemic levels.

25 Small Businesses Share $1.2M Grant from Kresge Foundation

The New Economy Initiative announced a $1.2 million grant from The Kresge Foundation for a new Anchor Business Grant Program, aiming to impact underserved small businesses and communities located in key commercial corridors in Detroit.

The program will provide grant support and practical assistance to 25 anchor businesses located in six commercial corridors recovering from the pandemic.

“The goal of this program is to strengthen key anchor businesses, stabilizing the corridors in which they operate to encourage the continued operation of current businesses and attract new businesses,” says Don Jones, associate director of New Economy Initiative. “The Kresge Foundation’s support demonstrates their understanding that the smallest businesses, those with 25 employees and less, are the backbone of the economy, and are key to equitable economic growth.”

Six community development organizations will provide support and services to each of the four to five businesses in their respective commercial corridor. Of the 25 small businesses receiving grants, 21 are minority-owned.

“Commercial corridors are barometers of community health. When they are productive and vibrant, they lift up surrounding neighborhoods both economically and socially,” says Wendy Lewis Jackson, managing director of Kresge’s Detroit Program. “The grants announced today signal that community development organizations across the city recognize just how much these businesses have been battered through the pandemic and how much key anchor establishments can contribute to community recovery and advancement.”

Additionally, the program will strengthen the ability of community development organizations to connect and support underserved small business owners to gain greater exposure to resources, capital, and social networks that can advance business stability and growth goals. This will lead to a stronger local economy, retaining and creating jobs and individual and community wealth building.

The six community development organizations receiving grants are Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation, Jefferson East Inc., Live6 Alliance, Midtown Detroit Inc., Osborn Neighborhood Alliance, and Southwest Detroit Business Association. Each will receive $50,000 to assist in the COVID-19 recovery in their commercial corridor.

The program management and coordination will be done by ProsperUs Detroit, which is receiving a grant of $825,000. ProsperUs will grant $25,000 to each of the 25 anchor businesses. In addition, ProsperUs will handle coordinating additional practical assistance for each business and will provide staffing for the support program.

BCBSM and Dedicated Senior Medical Centers Announce Locations of Six New Locations

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Dedicated Senior Medical Centers are partnering to provide health care to seniors at six new primary care centers in metro Detroit.

The new facilities, which will open next month, are located in:

Wayne County

  • 6150 Cadieux Road in Detroit
  • 20001 W. 7 Mile Road in Detroit
  • 13210 E. Jefferson in Detroit

Macomb County

  • 21811 Kelly Road in Eastpointe
  • 1921 E. 8 Mile Road in Warren

Oakland County

  • 21832 West 11 Mile Road in Southfield

Nationwide Video in Wixom Expands into Sales for Rental Staging Market

Nationwide Video in Wixom — a wholesale Pro AV rental company providing high end rental equipment to Pro AV staging — is expanding into equipment sales for the rental staging market.

This expansion creates a new Pro AV Gear Sales Division within the company, which has locations across the U.S. and Canada.

The Pro AV Gear Sales Division will be an authorized representative for several leading brands of professional AV equipment. This new division will offer clients a complete purchasing solution for Pro AV equipment including projection, LED, cameras, media Servers, and displays.

Nationwide will represent top industry brands including Christie, Panasonic, and INFiLED, with plans to add more.

Leading this new sales division is Tim Morin, director of technology sales, who will work closely with Mark Ouwerkerk, the senior national sales manager.

For more information, visit here.

Ann Arbor’s Swift Biosciences Offers Expanded Research Tools

Swift Biosciences in Ann Arbor, developers of library preparation and targeted sequencing solutions for next-generation sequencing in research applications, has announced the availability of expanded Swift Normalase Unique Dual Indexing Plates up to 1536-plex.

Swift’s design provides high multiplexing capacity for Illumina sequencers. Conveniently pre-plated for time savings at the bench, Swift’s UDIs are less than $6 per sample and are compatible with Swift Normalase technology for streamlined library normalization.

Swift’s UDI plates are stocked and available for prompt delivery.

“In response to the pandemic, we are seeing an unprecedented number of core labs, genome centers, government agencies, and academic institutions running high-sample volumes, so Swift’s R&D team met the demand to support higher throughput sequencing,” says Laurie Kurihara, senior vice president of product development at Swift. “Swift’s automation FAS team is available for virtual deployment to assist with implementation on a number of platforms.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is increasing efforts through genomic surveillance to track SARS-CoV-2 variants to understand how they are circulating nationally as well as by region and state. This allows identification of new and emerging variants and offers important information to assist researchers in identifying strategies for future exploration.

Winning Futures Golf Fundraiser Seeks Players and Sponsors

Winning Futures, the workforce preparation and mentoring program for metro Detroit high school students, is looking for players and sponsors for its 23rd annual golf fundraiser.

Set to be played Sept. 13 at Indianwood Country Club in Lake Orion starting at 9 a.m., the day includes an 18-Hole scramble, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks.

It will be hosted by event co-chairs Mindi Fynke, president and CEO of EHIM, and Frank Orsini, executive vice president and president of Lear’s Seating business. All proceeds support Winning Futures students in the 2021-2022 school year.

To register for a sponsorship package or foursome, visit here. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, visit here.

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