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.
Vaccination Required for September Mackinac Policy Conference
The Detroit Regional Chamber will convene the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference on Mackinac Island, as scheduled Sept. 20-23, but COVID-19 vaccinations are required to attend.
Although the conference is four months away, the chamber is issuing preliminary provisions for its operations to help attendees prepare.
The provisions issued by the chamber are based on what is known today and have been developed in collaboration with chamber leadership, Conference Chairman Wright L. Lassiter III, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System (HFHS); a HFHS clinical advisory team, Grand Hotel, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, and Mackinac Island businesses and government leaders. These provisions are subject to change as public health conditions and official guidance evolve.
“The chamber takes its responsibility hosting Michigan’s top leadership seriously,” says Sandy K. Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “The Mackinac Policy Conference will be among the first large high-profile events to occur as restrictions ease, and the chamber as a business organization, has the responsibility to handle the event properly.”
The changes outlined favor caution and, in some cases, may go beyond official health and safety guidelines. Both the chamber and Grand Hotel are private entities and are able to establish rules that go beyond government requirements.
The 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference issued the following provisions, but are subject to change:
Vaccinations are required to attend. The CDC defines “fully vaccinated” as two weeks after receiving a second shot of a two-dose vaccine, or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This requirement includes on-site vendors and chamber staff supporting the conference. Grand Hotel staff are currently fully vaccinated. The chamber is exploring utilizing a third-party technology partner to assist with verifying vaccination status.
Participant density will be reduced by more than 30 percent. Total attendance will be limited to 1,300 attendees. As a result, the chamber anticipates general attendee registration will close by the end of May. Once registration closes, the chamber will establish a waiting list for those still interested in attending. As in prior years, access to nearly all of the conference’s content will be available for live and on-demand online viewing through the chamber’s partnership with Detroit Public Television.
Masks. The chamber expects the vaccination requirement and reduced capacity to offer a safe environment where wearing face masks will be optional. It will ask all attendees to carry masks with them as they still may be required for ferry service (as regulated by federal government agencies), by individual businesses on the island, and for situations where crowding may occur.
Spot Lite Detroit Art Gallery and Music Venue Opens in Villages Neighborhood
Spot Lite Detroit — an art gallery, bar, record store, and music venue —has opened in Detroit’s Villages Neighborhood.
Mayor Mike Duggan and Andrew Lucco, senior small business development manager at the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., joined owner Roula David for the grand opening.
The 5,000-square-foot Spot Lite Detroit (2905 Beaufait St.) was the recipient of a $40,000 Motor City Match grant and currently has 10 employees with plans to soon double that number.
“Motor City Match grantees like Roula are following through with their plans to open their businesses, even though COVID-19 has made it more difficult,” says Duggan. “We are extremely thankful to Detroit’s small business community for their commitment to the City. Now we ask residents to come out and support great local businesses like Spot Lite Detroit.”
David’s vision was to build a creative space where people who are passionate about art, music, and performance could share a common experience. The venue will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
“MCM opened the door for this space to become a reality,” says David. “In addition to the cash grant, MCM connected us to lenders and helped us navigate all the requirements to bring our business to life. In partnership with neighboring businesses, I see this this area becoming a creative corridor filled with art.”
Community Foundation, Wilson Foundation Award Nearly $2M in Grants
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation have awarded nearly $1.9 million in grants to 71 organizations through the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Legacy Funds.
Since the inception of the funds in 2016, more than 305 grants totaling nearly $7.5 million have been awarded.
Endowed funds at the Community Foundation are designed to grow over time and provide funding in perpetuity for charitable causes according to a donor’s wishes. The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation established endowment funds at the Community Foundation to provide support to issue areas that were important to Wilson during his lifetime: caregiving, design and access, youth sports, and the Grosse Pointe community.
“The innovative programs in the areas supported by the Wilson Legacy Funds are a testament to the power of philanthropy and endowment,” says Mariam C. Noland, president of the Community Foundation. “Mr. Wilson’s impact continues to grow every year with our ability to support more projects on an increasing list of inspiring organizations that are meeting today’s challenges.”
Grants were awarded in the following areas through an open, competitive application process:
- 13 for caregivers ($300,000 total)
- 19 for design and access ($825,150 total)
- 29 for youth sports ($604,645 total)
- Four for the Grosse Points ($70,000 total)
Visit here for the list of all 71 grants and learn more about the endowment.
GameAbove Funds Autonomous Vehicle Research Engineer Position at EMU
GameAbove announced a $500,000 gift to the GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti to fund a senior research engineer position and expand exploration for the advancement of autonomous, connected-vehicle technologies, and mobility solutions.
The donation will enable the senior research engineer over a three-year period to expand and align curriculum, lead connected-vehicle research, and prepare students for future jobs in a rapidly expanding marketplace.
Additionally, the new position strengthens EMU’s opportunities to work with industry partners and create research projects for real-world solutions and applications. The senior research engineer will lead a team of faculty and students to collaborate directly with private companies and the American Center for Mobility on autonomous vehicle projects.
“Southeast Michigan is fast becoming a dynamic hub for advancements in mobility and all forms of autonomous vehicle development,” says Khalid Walton, an advisory board member of GameAbove. “Engineering is at the heart of connected vehicles, so it is natural that a university like Eastern Michigan houses a key research position in this field.
“With our continued focus on rising technologies such as cybersecurity for connected and autonomous vehicles and select aviation specialties, the addition of this position is another step forward in having these dynamic programs recognized nationally as the best in the country.”
The research position follows similar contributions by GameAbove to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in the greater southeastern Michigan region.
“This senior engineer position will play a critical role to both inspire our students as well as develop the level of collaboration with private industry that results in real-world solutions,” says Mohamad Qatu, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology. “The future of urban mobility and driverless technologies will come to life at EMU.”
Suburban Collection Presents Lease Vehicle to Utica’s Top Educator
Utica Community Schools announced that Mike Satawa, a special education teacher at Eisenhower High School in Shelby Township, is its 2021 Teacher of the Year and will receive a lease vehicle of his choice from The Suburban Collection.
“The teachers in our communities give so much of themselves to ensure their students — our children — can succeed and reach their full potential,” says David Fischer Jr., president and CEO of The Suburban Collection. “We feel so fortunate we can help recognize and show our gratitude to these extraordinary individuals who leave a lasting impact on the lives of their students.”
According to the district, Satawa works hard so his students have the tools they need to be successful both academically and emotionally, according to the district. He works closely with Eisenhower teachers to drive academic achievement for his students, and partners with families to provide consistency and understanding of student expectations.
He also serves as the school’s Work Study Coordinator to provide students real-world experiences and previously served Eisenhower as the girls’ basketball coach, during which time he led them to MAC White Championships and was twice named coach of the year.
“Mr. Sawata has a tireless commitment to every student in his care,” says Robert S. Monroe, superintendent of schools for Utica Community Schools. “He exemplifies the excellence, leadership and service that is embodied in the culture of Utica Community Schools.”
This year marks the 19th anniversary of The Suburban Collection’s partnership in the Teacher of the Year program throughout the communities in which it serves.
Butzel Long to Host Webinar on Crypto Currency and Cybersecurity May 25
The Butzel Long law firm in Detroit is hosting a free webinar titled, “The Dark Side of Crypto: Navigating Cybersecurity Incidents and Ransom Demands,” from noon-1 p.m. on Tuesday, May 25.
Presenters will discuss practical guidance for businesses regarding this issue, and offer suggestions on how to prepare for, deal with, and remediate a cybersecurity event. To register online, visit here.
Despite the positive impact and promise of digital assets, history has shown this technology can be used to facilitate illegal activity. In particular, digital assets often are in the news for their connection to high-profile data breaches or ransomware events, with bad actors demanding payment in Bitcoin or Monero.
With the recent uptick in ransomware events, industry experts are now calling for additional efforts to regulate digital asset markets, and government agencies are sharing analytic tools that track cryptocurrency payments.
Features speakers at the Butzel Long webinar include:
- William J. Kraus, who represents individuals and businesses involved in governmental and regulatory investigations with a particular focus on legal and regulatory issues related to digital assets and blockchain technology.
- Claudia Rast, practice cepartment chair of the firm’s Intellectual Property, Cybersecurity and Emerging Technology Group.
- Scott Bailey, a forensic expert and managing partner at cyber security company N1 Discovery.
Everyday Heroes Needed for Annual 5K Race and Walk in Rochester Hills
The sixth annual Everyday Heroes Needed 5K Race and Walk will take place in person on June 26 from 9-11:30 a.m. at Bloomer Park (345 John R. Rd.) in Rochester Hills.
The event is a fundraiser that benefits therescue and rehabilitation of children who are victims of child human trafficking.
The early bird rate is $30 for runners and walkers through May 25, and $35 after that until race day. Participants receive $5 off for every person they refer and can run for free if they refer six people. Registration is now open here.
Participants may also create and join teams to have a more social or competitive experience. In each age category, the top male and top female finisher will win medals, and the top overall male and female finishers will win a prize worth $50. A safety mitigation plan is in place with the park, which recognizes the most up to date requirements.
“So much as changed, but the trafficking of children hasn’t stopped during this unprecedented time,” says Laurie Bradshaw,, coordinator of the event. “Vulnerable children need your help.”
There is also is a virtual option for those who prefer to run and walk in their favorite space between now and June 27. The virtual challenge is for both runners and walkers. Every participant will receive a ticket to enter a drawing for prizes worth $25 or more. Virtual runners are invited to sign up and post their best time on the Everyday Heroes Needed Virtual Page. The overall top male and female finishers will win prizes worth more than $50.
The event is accepting donations and sponsors to help support their cause. Sponsors are promoted in various ways at each event, on social media, and throughout the year. All proceeds are donated to Dayspring Ministries International, a non-profit 501c3 organization that helps raise funds to aid in rescuing victims of trafficking, building and staffing safe houses, providing medical and psychological care, hosting awareness events, communicating through media to share information, and educating and empowering teachers, children, and parents to help prevent child trafficking.
Local businesses sponsoring the event so far include:
- University Dental Associates in Rochester
- Poirier Chiropractic in Shelby Township
- Skaff Furniture Carpet One in Flint
- Super Dave DJ com in Shelby Township
- Fifth Circle Martial Arts in Shelby Township
- Ann Charles Media in Rochester
- High Point Hybrid Academy in Rochester
- Rise Up Nutrition & Fitness in Chesterfield Township
- Grand Traverse Pie Co. in Rochester Hills
- Target in Shelby Township
- Meijer in Washington Township
- Athens Theatre Co. of Troy Athens High School