DBusiness Daily Update: WCCCD Launches Rocket2Work Tuition-free Training for Skilled Trades, 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.
Wayne County Community College District has launched its Rocket2Work initiative that provides tuition-free training for skilled trades programs. // Courtesy of WCCCD
Wayne County Community College District has launched its Rocket2Work initiative that provides tuition-free training for skilled trades programs. // Courtesy of WCCCD

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.

WCCCD Launches Rocket2Work Tuition-free Training for Skilled Trades

Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD) has launched its Rocket2Work initiative, which provides tuition-free training for skilled trades programs, connecting students and hiring employers with jobs paying a minimum of $15 per hour.

Programs included in Rocket2Work involve careers in CDL licensed professional truck driving, skilled construction, advanced manufacturing and mechatronics, and technology and technical careers, and more. All programs included in the initiative are in high demand with thousands of open positions across the region.

“Our mission is completely focused on helping people create better lives through higher education,” says Curtis Ivery, chancellor of WCCCD. “Our Rocket2Work initiative is aimed at removing the friction points in connecting students with the skills and knowledge they need to grow a well-paying career with employers that have open opportunities.

“We know that if we can make that connection successfully, the student will benefit, the organization will benefit, and our region will benefit and thrive.”

Drivetrain Testing Provider ATESTEO Establishing Headquarters in East Lansing

ATESTEO North America, a global provider of testing services for electric vehicle drivetrains and components, is establishing its North American headquarters in East Lansing with support from the Michigan Strategic Fund. This investment is expected to create up to 46 well-paying jobs and add $27.8 million to the state’s economy.

The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $27.8 million and create up to 46 well-paying jobs with the support of a $400,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant from the Michigan Strategic Fund. Michigan was chosen for the project over competing sites in Ohio and South Carolina.

ATESTEO North America is a subsidiary of ATESTEO Group, a German testing services provider for automotive drivetrains. The company began serving the e-mobility industry in 2008 and provides testing services for hybrid and fully electrified auto drivetrains and components. ATESTEO North America was established in 2022 to better serve existing and future customers in the U.S.

ATESTEO plans to establish its North American headquarters in an existing building in East Lansing, where it will install test benches to test drivetrain systems and components. This facility will be the company’s first location in the U.S. With the assistance of LEAP, the company chose the East Lansing location because of its proximity to future automotive customers, and the promising partnerships with Lansing Community College and Michigan State University.

“We are extremely excited to soon be part of East Lansing, Michigan,” says Tim Willers, CEO of ATESTEO. “With drivetrain testing at an early point in time, we support automobile manufacturers and automotive suppliers to develop new, modern drive systems.

“We have consistently expanded our international operations in recent years to be on site wherever transmission development takes place. The strong automotive industry in the USA and the increased focus on electric and hybrid drive systems make it very sensible for us to have our own testing location in the United States. By establishing our North American headquarters, we are close to the automakers and automotive suppliers in Michigan and the United States.”

The Driveway Co. Pursues Expansion in Michigan

The Driveway Co., a Texas-based franchise for concrete driveway repair and maintenance, is looking to expand its presence in Michigan by opening three new locations by the end of 2022.

“Michigan’s snowy and windy weather makes concrete driveways more susceptible to peeling, chipping, and cracking over the years,” says Courtney Harmon, president of The Driveway Co. “The constant wear from the environment provides a unique need and opportunity for The Driveway Co.’s services in this market.

“Our franchisees’ hard work and quality service continue to push the brand to new heights and strengthen our presence in the concrete repair industry. We are excited to continue on this journey of exceptional growth as we expand into new territories.”

The Driveway Co. has been in business for 30 years. It has developed proven techniques for extending the life of concrete including crack and joint repair, concrete sealing, overlays, lifting, leveling, and more.

The company currently operates in more than 40 locations and is expanding into new markets across the country. In the next three years, the company intends to expand to 125 locations. The total investment estimate for a franchise ranges from $88,765 to $168,980. Honorably discharged veterans are eligible to receive $7,000 off their first franchise fee. Potential prospects don’t need any experience prior to joining the profitable and growing $19 Billion U.S. paving contractor industry.

To learn more about franchising opportunities in Michigan visit here.

HAP adds BHSH Spectrum Health West Michigan to Statewide Provider Network

Health Alliance Plan (HAP), a Detroit-based nonprofit health plan, has added today BHSH Spectrum Health West Michigan physicians and advanced practice providers and facilities to its statewide provider network effective July 1.

BHSH Spectrum Health West Michigan is part of BHSH System, the not-for-profit health system created by the integration of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health earlier this year.

“HAP is committed to providing the most exceptional consumer experience and that includes unobstructed access to care for our members,” says Dr. Michael Genord, president and CEO of HAP. “By adding these doctors and hospitals affiliated with Michigan’s largest health system to our network, we are making it easy for our members to seek affordable care when and how they need it, no matter where they are.  We are pleased to be adding these high-quality providers to HAP’s extensive network.”

Adding BHSH Spectrum Health West Michigan to HAP’s provider network means HAP members now have access to an additional 11 hospitals, 128 outpatient locations, and several post-acute facilities, as well as 2,300 physicians and advanced practice providers.

These BHSH Spectrum Health West Michigan physicians and APPs are now considered in-network for HAP members in HAP’s Commercial (employer group and individual), Medicare Advantage, and self-funded plans, including those managed by HAP’s wholly owned subsidiary ASR Health Benefits. BHSH Beaumont Health facilities and providers already were part of HAP’s network, and BHSH Spectrum Health Lakeland facilities and physicians and APPs participate with HAP’s Medicare Advantage lines of business and with ASR’s self-funded plans.

Office Evolution Flexible Workspace Provider to Open Troy Location in June

Colorado-based Office Evolution, a provider of locally owned and operated flexible workspaces across the U.S., is opening a location at 801 W. Big Beaver in Troy in June. This adds to the company’s location in Ann Arbor.

“Office Evolution’s goal is to help our members get the most out of their day,” says Mark Hemmeter, founder and CEO of Office Evolution. “That means we need to be where they live so they can create deeper connections in their own communities. We are constantly looking at new markets like Troy so that we can help local small businesses and entrepreneurs grow and prosper.”

Office Evolution’s national network provides remote workers and business owners alike with access to affordable workspace close to home with flexible terms. Demand for these spaces, located in diverse markets throughout the U.S. including San Francisco, Indianapolis, Portland, OR, and Atlanta, have increased substantially in recent months.

This demand has been experienced as businesses of all sizes continue shifting their focus toward flexible workspaces to get out of the home while avoiding the expenses and restrictions inherent in traditional office leases. This transition from traditional workspaces to more flexible options in suburban markets has positioned Office Evolution perfectly for ongoing growth.

“It’s clear to us that remote working is not going anywhere anytime soon, but there will always be a need for people to meet and work face-to-face,” says Hemmeter. “Working professionals want to get out of the house a few days a week and need a professional space other than local coffee shops or libraries. It’s becoming more and more apparent that even with remote working, people will always need a designated workplace that allows them to focus.”

For more information, visit here.

State Treasury: Fraudsters Using Fake Letters to Prey on Taxpayers with Past-due Tax Debts

Michigan taxpayers with past-due tax debts should be aware of an aggressive scam making the rounds through the U.S. Postal Service, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

In the scheme, taxpayers receive a letter about an overdue tax bill that requests individuals to immediately contact a toll-free number to resolve an outstanding state tax debt. The letter aggressively threatens to seize a taxpayer’s property — including bank accounts, wages, business assets, cars, real estate, refunds, and cash — if the debt is not settled.

“We have received reports that taxpayers are receiving these letters,” says Deputy State Treasurer Glenn White, who oversees Treasury’s Revenue Services programs. “Taxpayers have rights. If you have questions about an outstanding state tax debt, please contact us through a verified number so we can talk about options.”

The piece of correspondence appears credible to the taxpayer because it uses specific personal facts pulled directly from publicly available information. The scammer’s letter attempts to lure the taxpayer into a situation where they could make a payment to a criminal.

The state Treasury Department corresponds with taxpayers through official letters that use state of Michigan letterhead that embody both the names of the governor and state treasurer. These official letters are sent through the U.S. Postal Service, provide several options to resolve an outstanding debt and outline taxpayer rights.

Taxpayers who receive a letter from a scammer or have questions about their state debts should call Treasury’s Collections Service Center at 517-636-5265. A customer service representative can log the scam, verify outstanding state debts, and provide flexible payment options.

MorningSide Commons Reopens with 64 Units of Affordable Housing After $11.9M Investment

MorningSide Commons, located along Wayburn Street and Alter Road in the east side Detroit MorningSide neighborhood, has 64 renovated units of affordable housing, which has been extended for the next 30 years.

Funding for the $11.9 million renovation included $2 million in federal HOME funds through the Detroit Housing and Revitalization Department (HRD). The development also received $6.7 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The LIHTC tax credit syndicator is Cinnaire.

The complex, owned and developed by U-SNAP-BAC, features 13 townhomes at 50 percent area median income (AMI) and 51 at 60 percent AMI. Because the affordability is guaranteed for at least the next 30 years, residents will not have to worry about being priced out of their homes.

“Today is an exciting day for the MorningSide Community, as we dedicate 64 rental townhomes to remain affordable for the next 15 years in this community,” says Linda Smith, who has served as executive director of U-SNAP-BAC since 1995. “U-SNAP-BAC and our partners are committed to ensuring that quality housing is available and affordable for families of all incomes.”

Each of the 32 buildings in the complex received new HVAC; new kitchen appliances, cabinets and sinks and faucets; new bathroom vanities, toilets, sinks and shower fixtures; new flooring; new paint; and new lighting and ceiling fans. The apartments now meet MSHDA’s Affordable Green Standards for efficiency.

The exterior also saw major upgrades, including new roofing, new windows, new gutters and downspouts, new siding, new front and rear entry doors, new or repaired steps on the front and back of each unit, new lighting and garage door replacement or repair.

“I would like to congratulate and thank U-SNAP-BAC for its continued dedication to helping the residents of the east side,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “This renovation and extension of its affordability mean residents will have a beautiful and affordable and beautiful place to call home for years to come without having to worry about being displaced.”

Metroparks Working with Partners to Offer Free Swim Lessons for Children

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks are partnering with other organizations in the region to break down barriers to learning how to swim facing children in southeast Michigan.

Last year, the Metroparks worked with consultant Counsilman-Hunsaker to conduct a regional survey to identify the barriers to swim instruction and the gaps in water safety. The results showed that one of the biggest barriers to more people in the region learning to swim were the fees for swimming lessons being too high, particularly for people of color and for city of Detroit residents, where studies have shown that 70 percent of children have little to no swim experience.

“Southeast Michigan has some of the best water recreation opportunities available, and we want everyone to have full access and feel safe when they visit the parks, so we are grateful for the opportunity to partner with organizations throughout the region to improve swim safety for the children who live here,” says Amy McMillan, director of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks. “We can accomplish more together than we can by working individually.”

Last year, the Metroparks partnered with the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to start addressing gaps in water safety. The Swim in the D program registered more than 500 Detroit children for free swim lessons at city of Detroit pools.

This year, the Swim in the D partnership continues by offering lessons to an additional 578 children in Detroit. Lessons will be taught by American Red Cross certified instructors in four pools (Brennan, Heilmann, Butzel, and Patton) throughout the summer, and participants also will receive a free swimsuit, goggles, and bag. Registration opened Monday on the Detroit Parks and Recreation website.

Metroparks also is partnering with Macomb Family YMCA in Mount Clemens to offer swim lessons at their location to 175 students. Swimmers are evaluated on first day of class and placed into four different groups based on swim level, and will follow the YMCA National Swim Lesson Curriculum. Each swimmer receives a swimsuit, goggles, swim cap, and bag. Registration is not yet open, but those interested can call 586-468-1411 for more information.

To serve families in Washtenaw county, a partnership was forged with Friends of Rutherford pool in Ypsilanti. Its location is offering free swim lessons to 300 youth in the 48197 or 48198 zip codes. Registration is open with information on its website.

To serve families in Wayne County, the Metroparks are partnering with Wayne County Parks at Chandler Park. Details are still being finalized.

Metroparks also is working to finalize details of at least three other partnerships to serve youth in Pontiac, Detroit, and Livingston County with details of those coming soon.