DBusiness Daily Update: Vroom Opens Car Delivery Hub in Flat Rock, First U.S. PizzaForno Locations Open in Jackson, 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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map of Michigan coronavirus cases by county
Courtesy of Bridge, as of April 24

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.

Online Car Retailer Vroom Opens Delivery Hub in Flat Rock
Online car retailer Vroom has opened a new local delivery hub in Flat Rock, west of Grosse Ile.

The new last mile hub delivers a more customized driveway experience for 3.4 million people in 740 zip codes and within a 40-mile radius of Flat Rock. Vroom has delivered to Detroit since the company was founded in 2012 and now provides a more personalized concierge service, where customer advocates transport cars directly to buyers’ driveways on Vroom-branded trucks and show them how to use their new vehicles.

Since opening an office in downtown Detroit in 2019, Vroom Detroit nearly tripled and hired 30 new employees in 2020 alone, with more planned this year. Composed of engineers, designers, and data scientists, Vroom’s local team works on improving the digital customer experience, sitting at the intersection of Detroit’s automotive industry legacy and its newer evolution as an innovative tech hub.

The COVID pandemic has increased consumer appetite for remote car buying and selling over the past year. Car purchases by Detroit-area Vroom customers increased by 163 percent year-over-year from 2019 to 2020, and cars sold to Vroom by consumers increased by 189 percent.

Top 10 most popular cars purchased on Vroom by customers in Detroit in the past year:

  1. Jeep Grand Cherokee
  2. Dodge Grand Caravan
  3. Jeep Compass
  4. Ford Fusion
  5. Jeep Wrangler
  6. Nissan Rogue
  7. Jeep Cherokee
  8. Ford Escape
  9. Mazda CX-5
  10. Ram Pickup 1500

Local Entrepreneurs Open First U.S. PizzaForno Locations in Jackson
Two local entrepreneurs have opened two PizzaForno automated pizza oven locations in Jackson with a third planned.

Two 24/7 locations available to the public are at 1319 E. Michigan Ave. and 100 South Cooper St. The third unit is slated to be located in Henry Ford Allegiance Health Hospital.

PizzaForno is an automated pizza oven concept with the ability to deliver an artisanal pizza in less than three minutes.

The first U.S. PizzaForno locations are owned and operated by local entrepreneurs Adam Page and Tim Ekpo. Page works in the medical device space and Ekpo is an orthopedic surgeon.

Created to meet consumers’ immediate needs, PizzaForno provides a quick, gourmet food option, whenever they want it. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and as dine-in continues to decline with ongoing restrictions, consumers have increasingly sought out choices that promote contact-free offerings.

The low-touch, automated pizza ovens only require about 80-square-feet of space and can be up-and-running within four to six hours of proper installation.

For more information, visit here.

State Land Bank Seeks Proposals Ypsilanti Township Property
The State Land Bank Authority has released a Request for Qualifications for the redevelopment of the former Forbes Dry Cleaners property at 923 Ecorse Road in Ypsilanti Charter Township.

Submissions are requested from any qualified developer in good standing with the state of Michigan and the township.

“The State Land Bank strives to have a positive economic impact on communities throughout Michigan by recycling land to productive use,” says Emily Doerr, executive director of SLBA. “We look forward to the exciting new opportunities for economic growth and revitalization that this project will bring.”

In addition to the SLBA and the Township, partners in this project include: The Washtenaw County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, who will undertake response activities for preparation of redevelopment.

This RFQ is open to all qualified developers with urban corridor and redevelopment experience. Actual brownfield experience is preferred. View the full RFQ here.

Questions from potential developers must be received via email no later than 3 p.m. on May 4 at landbank@michigan.gov.

Proposals must be submitted by June 4. Proposals should be submitted electronically here.

Today is World Intellectual Property Day
Celebrated every year on April 26, World Intellectual Property Day is sponsored by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and aims to educate the public on the role that intellectual property (IP) rights play in encouraging innovation and creativity.

Dickinson Wright PLLC intellectual property attorney Bill Honaker says World IP Day takes on new meaning this year when reflecting on pandemic-induced innovation.

“I talked to many business leaders as pandemic restrictions took effect, but instead of hearing defeat, I heard them talk of taking action,” Honaker says. “They were focused on helping the situation, protecting their employees, and creating solutions to address new challenges presented by the pandemic. That’s what we’re celebrating on World IP Day 2021.”

With a different focus each year, World IP Day 2021 looks at small and medium-sized enterprises around the globe who drive business development, economic development and recovery, and human progress by bringing a product to market.

Small to medium-sized enterprises in particular stepped up to the plate when the pandemic hit, repurposing existing innovation for use in a socially distanced, work-from-home world or creating something entirely new to fulfill an emerging or anticipated need.

The tools of the IP world include trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and design rights. Individually and collectively, they allow individual inventors, SMEs or multi-national corporations to transform an idea into a viable business opportunity, create jobs, generate value and enhance the number and type of products available to consumers. Further, according to information noted by the WIPO, companies that protect their intellectual property are financially stronger than those who do not.

“Regardless of size, companies who protect the value of their intellectual property are companies that nurture, cultivate and inspire innovation,” Honaker says. “In my experience, these are dynamic work environments that can’t help but excite their team members about what’s coming next. In that spirit, they continue to push forward for further innovation and new business opportunities.”

DIA Invites Artists to Submit Día de los Muertos Proposals by June 25
The Detroit Institute of Arts, in partnership with the Mexican Consulate of Detroit and the Southwest Detroit Business Association, is extending an open call for proposals to create ofrenda altars, or offerings, honoring the life and memory of lost loved ones as part of a celebration of the traditions of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).

This is the ninth consecutive year the DIA has presented “Ofrendas: Celebrating el Día de Muertos” consisting of ofrendas created by local artists. This year it is scheduled to be on view Sept. 25 –Nov. 7. For the second year, visitors will be able to view the exhibition from home through a 3-D virtual exhibition.

In Mexico and other Latin American countries, the Day of the Dead celebrates the lives of close relatives, friends or community members who have died. Objects important to lost loved ones, such as favorite foods, drinks, mementos, and pictures are collected and incorporated into elaborate displays that often include pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls, candles, flowers, papel picado (paper cutouts), and other decorations.

Proposals are due by Friday, June 25 at 5 p.m. Submissions will be reviewed by a committee of museum staff and local community members. Selected artists will be notified by Friday, July 2.

Artists who wish to submit their proposals can do so here.

To participate, artists must be available to completely install their altars Sept. 8-12 and to deinstall on Nov. 7-10. Strict scheduling will be required to maintain safe social distancing practices. Selected artists will also be required to participate in a Q&A session, either in a face-to-face program Sunday, Nov. 7, 2-3 p.m. or using an online platform should public gatherings not be considered safe at that time.

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