DBusiness Daily Update: Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation Donates $1M to Beyond Basics, 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.
The $1 million gift to Beyond Basics from the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation will impact literacy for Detroit area K-12 students. // Courtesy Beyond Basics
The $1 million gift to Beyond Basics from the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation will impact literacy for Detroit area K-12 students. // Courtesy Beyond Basics

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.

Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation Donates $1M to Beyond Basics

Detroit-based Beyond Basics has received a $1 million gift from the Wayne and Joan Webber Foundation that is expected to “make a tremendous impact on literacy for Detroit area students in K-12 schools.”

With this gift, the Webber Foundation’s total investment in Beyond Basics is $6 million to support its literacy efforts since 2006.

The funds allow the Beyond Basics tutoring program to continue to grow during ongoing pandemic school disruptions. Despite challenges, students are making grade-level movement in reading on average in six weeks.

“We are so fortunate to have a partner help us scale during this moment of increased need,” says Pamela Good, co-founder and CEO of Beyond Basics. “The generous gift helps us to serve more students in southeast Michigan, including the hiring of many more tutors. While other students have unfortunately fallen behind due to COVID-19 school disruptions, our students can get the resources they need and make gains in reading.”

The partnership between Beyond Basics and the Webber Foundation allows students who require additional support in reading the critical opportunity to improve foundational literacy skills while also learning about the life of Wayne Webber, the former owner of highway construction company W.W. Webber Inc.

In addition to his dedication to Beyond Basics’ literacy efforts, Webber and his wife Joan supported many good works. The DIA’s Education Wing is named for the couple, and their support also extended to health care facilities including Henry Ford Macomb Hospital in Clinton Township, the Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens, and the Webber Cancer Center in Warren.

The Webbers also were dedicated to helping those in need through their support of Gleaners, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Forgotten Harvest, and the Salvation Army.

The $1 million gift establishing the Webber Foundation as a Beyond Basics Legacy Partner includes lessons about the life of Wayne Webber for the students served.

“Wayne and Joan played a pivotal role in the development of our multisensory tutoring program,” Good says. “They were among Beyond Basics’ earliest supporters, and they have continued to step forward to facilitate our growth whenever a need arises. We are indebted to their generosity, and so thankful to have received their encouragement throughout the years.”

State Offers $400M+ in Grants to Support Businesses, Boost Michigan’s Economy

The state of Michigan introduced a new grant program that begins March 1 that will provide business with additional financial support totaling $409 million to help retain or create jobs and boost our state’s economy.

Under this program, eligible businesses in operation before Oct. 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant, up to $5 million. Eligible businesses that began operating between Oct. 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020, may receive a grant equal to 25 percent of certain specified costs.

The grants may be prorated depending upon the number of businesses that apply to ensure that all eligible businesses can receive funding.

“This program will support Michigan businesses that were impacted by COVID-19 and help us build on our economic momentum,” says Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I’m focused on putting Michiganders first and growing Michigan’s economy as we work together to take advantage of our $7 billion surplus and make investments in the issues that matter most to families. Right now, Michigan’s resilient, innovative small businesses need support, and we should keep having their backs as they work to expand operations and create more jobs.”

Businesses must submit a completed online application to the Michigan Department of Treasury no later than 11:59 p.m. on March 31. Grant awardees will be notified in the spring and grant awards will be distributed by July 1, 2022.

The application will become available at 8 a.m. on March 1 here.

Businesses interested in applying are encouraged to attend one of the following informational webinars hosted by the state Treasury Department:

  • Thursday, Feb. 17 at 9-10 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 22 at 10-11 a.m.
  • Monday, March 7 at 1-2 p.m.

Details for signing up for a webinar can be found here. To learn more about the Afflicted Business Relief Grant Program, visit here.

Detroit Quality Staffing Opening Two New Locations

Dearborn-based Detroit Quality Staffing (DQS) opened two new locations in January 2022 — in Brighton and Fort Wayne, Ind. — with more to come later this year, according to the company.

This growth comes from providing quality staffing for a wide range of industries including automotive, logistics, manufacturing, and more, DQS says. In the last year, DQS hired more than 1,700 people, experiencing 711 percent growth.

Like all DQS locations, these new branches will connect local employers with quality candidates, creating matches that benefit both parties. DQS ensures a lower-than-average turnover rate for partner companies by performing a risk analysis of employees and working to foster a mutually beneficial relationship between employee and employer.

For those looking for work, DQS helps applicants get their foot in the door of new job opportunities. DQS has a network of local businesses in both Brighton and Fort Wayne, and this is part of what sets them apart from larger staffing agencies.

Detroit Quality Staffing also has launched Pop’s Program, a community effort that provides those experiencing homelessness with the resources that they need to get back on their feet. For more information, visit here.

DQS also works closely with each individual seeking work to help them identify their skill and how those skills can be applied to a new job opportunity. DQS has placed applicants in everything from mid-career level to executive and C-level careers. More so, DQS provides coaching and resources beyond the job placement to ensure that members find success in their new job.

Beyond helping match qualified workers with companies providing fulfilling careers, Pop’s Program provides anyone who needs it with interview clothes, transportation to the job interview site, help with resume building, and more. DQS is a different type of staffing agency and whether a person was recently released from prison, lives in a halfway house, or is experiencing homelessness, DQS staff is always available to help.

National Register of Historic Places Adds 27 Michigan Sites in 2021

Twenty-seven historic Michigan properties were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“This year’s nominated historic properties span the history and geography of both of Michigan’s peninsulas, recognizing places and people who are significant in our communities, our state, and our nation,” says Mark A. Rodman, state historic preservation officer. “National Register listing promotes our shared history, fosters a sense of pride in our communities, provides public recognition of our historic places, and generates economic investment and activity.”

The following Michigan properties were listed in the National Register in 2021:

  • Gwen Frostic Studio, Benzonia Township
  • Nettleton-Cond House, Constantine
  • Alpha House, Detroit
  • Birwood Wall, Detroit
  • Detroit Savings Bank Southwest Branch, Detroit
  • New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit
  • Rosa L. and Raymond Parks House, Detroit
  • Shrine of the Black Madonna of the Pan African Orthodox Christian Church, Detroit
  • S. Postal Service Roosevelt Park Station, Detroit
  • WGPR-TV Studio, Detroit
  • Fulton Manor, Grand Rapids
  • Grosse Pointe Central Library, Grosse Pointe Farms
  • Hickory Lodge No. 345, Hickory Corners
  • Malcolm X House, Inkster
  • Ishpeming Downtown Historic District, Ishpeming
  • Ishpeming Fire Tower, Isle Royale NP
  • Minong Copper Mining Historic District, Isle Royale NP
  • New Feldtmann Fire Tower, Isle Royale NP
  • Ojibway Fire Tower, Isle Royale NP
  • State Theatre, Kalamazoo
  • Bailey Buildings, Lansing
  • North Lansing Historic Commercial District (Boundary Increase, Lansing
  • South Fox Island Light Station, Leelanau Township
  • Mount Clemens Public Library, Mount Clemens
  • Negaunee Historic Commercial District, Negaunee
  • Camp Black Lake, Ocqueoc Township
  • Whitcomb Hotel, Saint Joseph
  • Wayland Historic Commercial District, Wayland

To obtain copies of any of these National Register nominations, or high-resolution photos, contact preservation@michigan.gov.

Report: Detroit Ranks 5th in U.S. in Flex Office Space Growth

The North American flex-office sector has evolved through the pandemic into a more sophisticated version of itself, gradually shifting to rely more on large companies as users of flex space than on startups and individuals, according to a new report from CBRE.

Detroit’s flex market, according to the report, expanded by 3 percent, bringing its total flexible office space footprint to 786,228 square feet in the year ended September. The metro is the 40th-most penetrated, with flex representing 1 percent of the overall office supply.

Detroit added a net of 23,076 square feet, ranking it fifth among the 15 markets that recorded a net expansion. The metro’s growth is in line with the trend of flex office providers expanding in non-gateway markets, particularly the suburbs. Detroit’s flex office space contracted by 6,400 square feet in the downtown core but expanded by 29,476 square feet in the suburbs. The shift underscores the resilience of flex space in markets supporting a new base of talent because of business growth or new work patterns.

“The new demand for an agile work environment is driving the growth of flex space’s footprint in the Detroit area,” says Dan Morse, first vice president, CBRE. “At this point, flex space is more than a buzzword. CBRE’s research and my conversations with clients confirm this. Prospective new hires fresh out of college and seasoned employees alike are asking companies about flexible work arrangements, and it’s resulting in genuine interest and movement in this sector.”

Having reset itself, the flex sector is poised for growth this year in both physical occupancy levels and square-footage gains as big companies increasingly embrace the format’s versatility to handle changing staffing levels and fluctuating office attendance.

A CBRE survey of 185 U.S.-based companies found that large companies anticipate adding more flex space to their office portfolios. Last year, nearly a quarter of the survey’s respondents had a significant portion (more than 10 percent) of their office portfolio in flex space. By 2023, half expect to be at or past that threshold.

To view the full report, visit here.

Detroit Pistons, Code313 to Host ‘STEAM SLAM’ Tech Event for Students

The Henry Ford Detroit Pistons Performance Center in Detroit will come alive with drone simulators, robots, LED lights, 3-D printing, Brainpads and more during STEAM SLAM 2022, a hands-on technology event for students hosted by CODE313 and the Detroit Pistons.

The event will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Feb. 18.

“It’s crucial that we continue our mission of providing equitable access to STEAM education,” says Bartel Welch, founder and executive director of CODE313. “Having our event in person again will give our youth the opportunity to engage with STEAM professionals and participate in hands-on activities in a way that’s nearly impossible to duplicate in a virtual environment.”

The event, sponsored by DTE, Everstream, and General Electric, will include more than 20 different workshops with instruction from local STEAM experts. The activities expose students to analytical problem solving, a foundational skill that can help them build anything they might imagine as they pursue high-tech jobs of the future.

“We are proud to partner with CODE313 to use the game of basketball as a vehicle to provide STEAM programming, events, and activities to students across metro Detroit, and give them the opportunity to discover new areas of learning,” says Chris Economeas, community and social responsibility director for the NBA team.

Following the event, CODE313 and the Detroit Pistons will host STEAM SLAM mini-camps throughout the year in partnership with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department. The free camps will take place inside the city’s recreation centers for the rest of the year, along with long-term workshops to continue to engage Detroit’s bright young minds.

Majorel USA Announces New Customer Service Location in Detroit

Majorel USA, a provider of next-generation end-to-end customer experience (CX) solutions, announced it is opening a new location in downtown Detroit to support its work with a global digital native client. Majorel selected Detroit out of more than 50 cities and will bring hundreds of jobs to the area over the next several months.

The company will hire approximately 200 full-time employees to start and has plans to grow to more than 500 employees at the new site, which is located in the Campus Martius Park area. Employees will fill roles in customer service, human resources, and operations at levels ranging from entry-level to manager.

“Working in close collaboration with our client, we selected Detroit due to the positive impact we believe we can make on the community as we bring hundreds of career opportunities to residents,” says Gus Gikas, vice president of operations North America at Majorel. “We look forward to providing our future staff with extensive training and education as we support them with career development opportunities.”

Hiring is currently underway with a virtual launch planned for April. For those interested in career opportunities with Majorel, a career fair will be conducted Feb. 25-27 at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center, located at 400 Renaissance Drive West.

Michigan Sportsbooks Set Wagering Record for 5th Straight Month

Action at Michigan’s sportsbooks surged to more than $530 million in January, the fifth consecutive month the state’s sports betting handle has set a record, according to PlayMichigan, which tracks gaming developments in the state.

“Momentum in Michigan for online sports betting and casino games continues to grow,” says Matt Schoch, lead analyst for PlayMichigan.com. “Spring is coming, which means a seasonal slowdown in sports betting. But the fall and winter have proven that Michiganders are increasingly comfortable with online gaming in its various forms.”

Online sportsbooks accepted a record $496.8 million in wagers in January, up 2.5 percent from $484.6 million in December, according to official data released Wednesday by the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Combined with $36.6 million in retail wagering at Detroit-area casinos, which was released earlier this week, Michigan’s online and retail sportsbooks tallied $532.7 million in wagering for the month. That was up 3.5 percent from the previous record of $514.6 million, which was generated in December.

Online sportsbooks won $34.7 million in gross revenue in December, which was down slightly from $34.8 million in December. Combined with $1.2 million in retail revenue, Michigan’s sportsbooks won $35.9 million for the month, essentially even with December. After promotional credits, taxable revenue for both online and retail wagering hit $21.1 million, which yielded $2.1 million in state taxes.

Sportsbooks benefited greatly in January from an additional week of NFL regular season games, an expanded playoff, and college football’s national championship game. Combined with consistent bettor interest in the NBA, it led to a record-breaking month.

“The extra week of regular season football was a boon for sportsbooks, giving them five full weekends of football in January,” says Eric Ramsey, an analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, which includes PlayMichigan.com. “As the only state with five consecutive months of record wagering, no state has capitalized on this football season more than Michigan.”

FanDuel edged DraftKings with $132.7 million in online wagers, up from $119.9 million in December. Those bets generated a market-best $12.3 million in gross revenue. DraftKings followed with $132.03 million in bets, up from $120.3 million in December. That resulted in $5.9 million in gross revenue.

BetMGM was third, accepting $110.9 million in online wagers, up from $108.7 million in December. Those wager yielded $10.9 million in gross receipts.

“FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM remain in a tight battle for market share,” Schoch says. “Each continues to pour significant investment into Michigan, showing that this is still one of the prized markets in the U.S.”

SpotOn Named a Preferred Technology Partner of MRLA

The SpotOn software and payments provider has been recognized as a preferred technology partner by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA).

SpotOn will provide MRLA members with insights into the latest advances to help Michigan restaurants, event venues, and more grow their businesses.

SpotOn, according to MRLA, offers the tools and resources operators need to create exceptional guest experiences. With SpotOn, operators have access to software and hardware they need to streamline operations and grow their business, including:

  • Fast cloud point-of-sale
  • Reservation and waitlisting capabilities
  • Online, in-app, and QR ordering
  • Back-of-house management
  • Marketing tools and loyalty programs
  • Contactless payments
  • SMS order alerts for customers
  • Third-party delivery
  • Kitchen display system
  • Labor management tools

In addition, SpotOn offers technology that enables operators to take payments anywhere, reach more customers with digital solutions, and grow revenue while reducing costs.

This partnership with SpotOn is expected to allow MRLA members to stay up to date on the payments, software, and point-of-sale solutions they need to unlock the potential of their business. As a result, business owners of all sizes can use the industry-best POS solution to streamline operations, cut labor costs, and create new revenue streams.

“The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association works tirelessly to help our members reduce operating costs and improve their bottom line with practical, relevant business solutions,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA. “Our partnership with SpotOn will help us continue that mission.

“SpotOn’s technology is indispensable and will be a one-stop resource for our members. We are thrilled to begin this partnership, and I have no doubt it will empower our members to stay ahead of changing consumer demand and industry challenges.”

Veterans Resource Fair Offers No-cost Dental Services, Other Assistance

Oakland County veterans can receive a free dental consultation with the Gary Burnstein Clinic at the county’s first Veterans Resource Fair of 2022, from 9 a.m.-noon Feb. 24 at the American Legion Post in Clarkston. Eligible veterans will then be able to schedule an appointment for no-cost dental services.

“Our veterans served Oakland County and our country and now we serve them,” says Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “Our goal is to remove all barriers to quality healthcare and other resources to help them and their families.  This includes dental care, which struggling veterans may not have access to, no matter their ages.  We appreciate the health clinic stepping up for them.”

Veterans who are current residents of Oakland County and present a copy of their DD214 are eligible to receive a free $50 gift card to Meijer. Other resources and community organizations at the event include:

  • Gleaners Food Bank will offer free boxes of food (while supplies last).
  • The Detroit VA Healthcare System will administer first, second and booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Oakland County Veterans’ Services will provide veterans benefits information and claims assistance.
  • Oakland County Housing & Neighborhood Development Division will help residents with housing counseling and more.
  • Oakland Community Health Network will address behavioral health issues and concerns, including health screenings.
  • Oakland County Michigan Works! will make available career planning assistance, training programs, job search resources, and employment specialists for veterans and their families.

“We launched the Veterans Resource Fairs last year in response to calls from veterans seeking help with food assistance and other needs that were exacerbated during the pandemic,” says Garth Wootten, manager of Oakland County Veterans’ Services. “Veteran participation was strong then and, while we seem to be turning the tide in regard to the pandemic, the need to continue providing assistance is still there today.”

Veterans, active-duty military, national guard, and reserves are welcome to attend with their families. The event is free, but registration is required here.

LTU and TRAILS Team to Promote STEM Education in Royal Oak

Lawrence Technological University’s Marburger STEM Center in Southfield is working with the Royal Oak Schools to bring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to a group of uniquely abled young adults.

Marburger STEM Center staff conducted an educational outreach program for Royal Oak’s Transitioning Responsible Adults in Life Skills (TRAILS) program. TRAILS is for students ages 18-26 with disabilities who require special education services beyond high school.

Under the guidance of Jay Jessen, assistant director of the Marburger STEM Center, the TRAILS students built paper circuits that made an LED light bulb light up.

“The students from the TRAILS program were engaged in the STEM learning from beginning to end,” says John McAskin, a TRAILS teacher. “Students were able to engage in meaningful discussions related to how they use electricity leading up to the hands-on lesson.

“This workshop was particularly successful in that it was able to be accessed by students of all functioning levels. The students were amazed with what they were able to accomplish with the simple circuit project. They were equally excited to share their learning with their families as soon as they got home.”

Ally and PBS’s Roadfood Highlight Detroit Food Culture, Address Food Insecurity

Detroit’s food culture will be featured this Saturday on an episode of the PBS show “Roadfood,” thanks to some help from Detroit-based Ally.

With actor Misha Collins as host, the series aims to discover America one dish at a time and help food lovers find delicious meals across the country. On the menu for the Detroit episode is a focus on collard greens, a soul food staple, and the story of how the Black community has shaped and continues to shape the Motor City, one farm and one restaurant at a time.

As the local episode airs, Ally also is hoping to raise support for addressing food insecurities in Detroit communities. The show highlights the Oakland Avenue Urban Farms, which Ally supported with a $10,000 donation along with an additional $45,000 in donations to Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan and Forgotten Harvest, through Feeding America.

Roadfood’s Detroit episode airs at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 19 this Saturday on Detroit Public TV (DPTV).

Michigan Community Colleges Boosting Efforts to Support Students

Michigan’s 28 community colleges are strengthening their support for community college students’ basic needs outside of the classroom, thanks in part to new grants received by the Michigan Community College Association.

“Providing extra resources and support to ensure our students are successful is a key focus of Michigan community colleges,” says Brandy Johnson, president of Michigan Community College Association. “Addressing obstacles that students face will lead to more completed degrees and successful futures.”

To bolster their basic needs resources, MCCA has been awarded grants from the Consumers Energy Foundation (CEF) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). The $100,000 Consumers Energy Foundation grant will help develop training resources for college faculty and staff to expand awareness and understanding of how to help students struggling to complete their education. The ACCT grant will help students who are Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients build their skills in order to increase their ability to secure employment and career pathways.

These efforts are supporting the MI-BEST (Michigan – Building Economic Stability Today) basic needs initiative launched in early 2020. The initiative aims to provide support for non-academic needs of students, which have been amplified by the pandemic. MCCA expanded its focus in this area after a survey of students showed that increased needs in the areas of stress/anxiety, housing and food insecurity and financial stability.