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.
Weiss Distilling Co. Opens in Clawson
Weiss Distilling Co., a distillery and speakeasy, has opened at 34 E. 14 Mile Road in Clawson.
Open Thursday through Sunday from 5 p.m.-midnight, the 5,300-square-foot establishment features a menu of more than 25 cocktails, mocktails, and proprietary spirits offered to-go.
Owned Dennis Weiss, WDC includes a distillery, speakeasy, retail shop, and soon-to-open theater/event space. Weiss distills its own spirits, including Vanishing Vodka and Straitjacket Gin, both made with 100 percent organic wheat, along with 91 Proof Rum and Weiss Lightning Whiskey. In addition to its spirits-forward menu, Weiss also offers a list of spiritless “mocktails.”
Weiss Distilling Co. offers what it calls a “somewhat whimsical approach” to its spirits, with a tagline of “Magical Spirits with Legendary Quality.” It offers guests an “intimate spirits experience” with low and neon lighting, wood tones, and brass, copper, and gold assets. Many of the design elements, including custom liquor lockers were envisioned by Weiss and his wife, Amanda.
Bar seats are available first come first serve while booth reservations are available via Resy. Expanded hours, a food program and the event/theater space will debut later this year.
IHS Markit Names GM Top Manufacturer for Seventh Consecutive Year
IHS Markit, the Southfield-based information, analytics, and solutions company, announced the winners of the 26th annual Automotive Loyalty Awards, recognizing General Motors Co. in Detroit for its leadership as top manufacturer for automotive loyalty in the U.S. in 2021.
This is the seventh consecutive win for GM in the Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer category and 18th in the last 26 years. Despite inventory constraints throughout the year, GM retained 64 percent of its customers due to continued strong demand for its utility and pickup lineup.
Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn took top honors in the Overall Loyalty to Make category, winning its 12th consecutive award. This marks 21 wins for the brand in this category since its inception. Ford’s leadership in pickups contributed to its industry leading loyalty level of 60 percent, with F-Series accounting for 38 percent of the brand’s make loyal volume while new entries like the Bronco, Bronco Sport, Maverick, and Mustang Mach-E contributed a combined 10 percent in their first full year in the market.
In recognition of the continued investment in electrification throughout the automotive industry, IHS Markit has expanded its award categories acknowledging brand retention among hybrid and electric vehicle owners. New for 2021 is the Most Improved Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make award, recognizing an OEM’s improvement in its ability to retain an owner of a hybrid or electric vehicle to the brand, and also have them purchase another alternative powertrain vehicle upon returning to market. This year’s inaugural winner is Volkswagen, which saw a 17 percentage-point improvement in alternative powertrain loyalty, compared to the previous year, due to the launch of the ID4.
“Given the unique nature of 2021, with the challenges of both the pandemic and inventory shortages, retaining customers is more important than ever,” says Joe LaFeir, president of Automotive Insights at IHS Markit. “This year’s winners have certainly demonstrated effective marketing strategies that have resonated with customers and led to more return to market activity.”
Recognizing the importance of ethnic loyalty since 2008, IHS Markit has acknowledged three brands for their efforts in retaining their diverse customer base. Ethnic consumers represented 34 percent of all new vehicle registrations in 2021, reinforcing the importance to manufacturers of appealing to these constituencies. For African American Loyalty to Make, Toyota led the field with a 61 percent retention rate among African Americans. The Asian Loyalty to Make award was captured by Tesla for the second consecutive year, with 53 percent loyalty. Toyota was recognized for the Hispanic Loyalty to Make award for the ninth time since the award’s inception, with 61 percent loyalty.
IHS Markit also analyzed brands for year-over-year improvement in their loyalty rates. For 2021, Genesis was honored with the Most Improved Make Loyalty award, increasing brand loyalty by 17 percentage-points for 2021 vs. 2020. Continued success of the G80 redesign, combined with strong demand for the newly launched GV70 and GV80 utility vehicles, contributed to Genesis’ gains in loyalty for the year.
SpartanNash Enhances Our Family Cheese Line as Category Growth Expands
Grand Rapids-based SpartanNash has given its Our Family cheese products — including shreds, slices, snack bars, bites, and parmesan — a new design and taste that now are available in the dairy section of SpartanNash-supplied retailers.
“During the pandemic, Americans had to get creative to keep meals at home interesting,” says Amy McClellan, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at SpartanNash. “Given the versatility of cheese, as both an integral ingredient and nutritious snack, we’ve seen an expansion of cheese consumption over the last two years.
“We leveraged insights from shoppers and food retailer customers to develop new products in our test kitchens, and we will continue to find innovative ways to improve Our Family products.”
Many of the new Our Family cheese offerings have been reformulated to optimize taste. The shredded cheese features a new recipe that delivers “a richer, more satisfying taste,” according to the company. All Our Family cheeses are rBST-free and use premium ingredients, aligning to the Company’s mission to deliver the ingredients for a better life.
Shoppers will be able to identify the new packaging by the bright colors and window shapes designed to integrate the actual product with artwork. The new packaging also offers a QR code that links directly to a web page featuring a recipe that uses the product as an ingredient.
With products available for every aisle, Our Family is the company’s most popular brand for more than 2,100 independent grocery store customers.
For more information, visit here.
Michigan Graduation Rate Decreases Following National Trend
Michigan’s statewide high school graduation rate declined in 2020-21, according to data released by the Michigan Center for Educational Performance and Information in Lansing. This is the first time the statewide rate has decreased since 2015-16.
The 2020-21 school four-year graduation rate decreased to 80.47 percent, a 1.6 percentage point decrease from 2019-20. The dropout rate fell to 7.65 percent, a 0.12 percentage point decrease from the 2019-20.
“While the data show that a smaller percentage of high school students graduated last school year, they also show that fewer students dropped out,” says Tom Howell, executive director of CEPI. “During the second year of the pandemic, students in the class of 2021 who fell behind are choosing to remain in school, working toward completion.”
In fact, 10.52 percent of students expected to graduate in 2021 were “off-track continuing,” meaning they were still enrolled in high school and working toward a diploma, compared to 8.87 percent in 2020.
“As in many different ways and areas, the pandemic has had an adverse impact on four-year graduation rates for most but not all groups of students and especially so for certain groups of students: economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, Black and Native American students, and homeless students,” says Michael F. Rice, state superintendent. “Graduation rates had increased in eight of the last nine years. While we remain considerably higher at 80.5 percent than we were a decade ago at 74.3 percent in our four-year graduation rate, we have a particular need to make sure that graduation delayed is not graduation denied and that our students graduate and do so with the requisite knowledge and skills to continue in some form of postsecondary education.”
CEPI also reports graduation rates for students who remain in high school five and six years. The five-year rate increased .14 percentage points to 84.58 percent and the six-year rate grew to 85.09 percent percent, a .61 percentage point increase.
Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corp. Launches Free Salesforce Skills Course
Beginning March 8, Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corp. in Detroit is launching its Project: Upskill initiative, which starts with a four-week basic-skills boot camp that leads to an eight-week course on the Salesforce software.
The course is free and open to anyone in the metro Detroit area. Participants in the program also will receive job placement assistance, interview coaching, resume assistance, and life-coaching sessions. At the end of the course, participants will have the opportunity to work with nonprofit organizations to implement Salesforce in those organizations.
An optional bootcamp will begin on March 8. Participants will get instruction in Excel, Word, Zoom/Google Meet, and more. Those participating in the bootcamp must register here by March 5.
The eight-week Salesforce course starts on April 4 will be delivered online via simultaneous lecture, with office hours and study sessions available both in person and online. This course is the first part of a planned series that culminates in Salesforce certification readiness. Enrollees in Salesforce Skills Course only must register by March 28. Spots are limited and admission is on a first come, first served basis.
Salesforce is a customer management platform that works to build and strengthen relationships between companies and their customers. The software helps a business’s marketing, sales, e-commerce, service, and IT teams work together from anywhere. Companies use Salesforce for a multitude of reasons including launching e-commerce, business growth, and digital marketing.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this course to our community,” says Katrina Watkins, founder and CEO of the Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corp. “This course can help someone learn a new skill, start a new career or increase their earning potential in their current job. It could be life changing. We encourage the community to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Ally Financial Supports Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Scholarship Program
The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Inc. announced its legal and public policy scholarship program with Ally Financial Inc. to create career pathways for diverse candidates is now open.
In honor of Black History month, the financial services company is launching the scholarship program for a second year, furthering its commitment to fill opportunity gaps and expand career options for Black candidates.
“In its second year, the relationship between the CBCF and Ally Financial has grown exponentially not only in financial support but also in Ally’s steadfast dedication to investing in Black futures and creating pathways for the next generation of legal and public policy practitioners,” says Paul Dumars, co-interim president of CBCF. “Together, with this program we are directly impacting, diversifying, and enhancing pipelines of young Black talent in legal and public service careers.”
Ally launched the legal and public policy scholarship program last year and has committed to fund more than $250,000 in scholarships annually. Through the program, Ally will sponsor six scholarships in collaboration with the CBCF this year to support increased Black representation in the legal and public policy professions. Ally, working with CBCF, will provide four law school scholarships up to $20,000 per year, renewable up to three years, to students entering their first year at an accredited law school. Each year four new, three-year scholarships will be awarded to additional recipients. Ally also will continue to award one-year, non-renewable $10,000 scholarships to two undergraduates pursuing degrees in public policy or a related area of study.
The CBCF scholarship application is open through April 30. For more information, visit here.
Detroit Figure Skating Group Hosts ‘Skating with the Stars’ Fundraiser
Figure Skating in Detroit (FSD), a nonprofit that combines academics and figure skating for girls ages 6-18, will host “Skating with the Stars” on March 5, in partnership with Downtown Detroit Partnership at The Rink at Campus Martius Park presented by Visit Detroit.
The annual event is FSD’s major fundraiser of the year and aims to raise $20,000 to go toward academic programming, field trips, uniforms, equipment, and ice time.
Event attendees will have the opportunity to experience live on-ice performances by the girls of FSD, special appearances by Olympic Gold Medalist Meryl Davis, Figure Skating Champion Starr Andrews, and Miss Michigan Teen 2020 Aneesa Sheik, along with other special guests.
Attendees also can experience music, live performances, hot chocolate, ice skating, and more.
“This event is a showcase of our girls who will one day be future leaders in our community, nation, and the world,” says Lori Ward, executive director of Figure Skating in Detroit. “With the help of Downtown Detroit Partnership, we are proud to bring ‘Skating with the Stars’ back to our community and celebrate five years of impacting the lives of youth in Detroit.”
FSD is the first and only chapter outside of New York City’s Figure Skating in Harlem, and now is in its 5th year. It serves a combined 200 girls through its after school, summer camp, and workshop programming. Kameryn Everett, an FSD skating instructor, was profiled in National Geographic’s short-form documentary series, “IMPACT with Gal Gadot.”
“‘Skating with the Stars’ is an exciting opportunity for the girls to put their performance skills to the test on the same ice rink where the world’s best Olympic and U.S. champion athletes perform and skate annually, as well as inspire others to shoot for the stars.” says David Cowan, chief public spaces officer for the Downtown Detroit Partnership.
Tickets for Skating with the Stars range from $15-$50 and can be purchased online here. During the event, FSD will be honoring Kiko Davis for setting the standard for young women of color with the Trailblazer Award. Davis is a global entrepreneur, orator, advocate and author, as well as the only Black female bank owner in the U.S. Jerod Swallow, an American ice dancer who won five U.S. national championships, competed in two Olympic Winter Games and is the managing director at Detroit Skating Club, also will be honored for his contributions to the sport.