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.
Whitmer Plan: Lifting Pandemic Restrictions Tied to Vaccination Rates
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced a plan to lift pandemic-related restrictions based on the percentage of state residents who receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Called the MI Vacc to Normal plan, the governor says the four-phase plan is Michigan’s path out of the pandemic that has gripped Michigan and the world for more than a year.
“The MI Vacc to Normal challenge outlines steps we can take to emerge from this pandemic as we hit our vaccination targets together,” Whitmer says. “On our path to vaccinating 70 percent of Michiganders 16 and up, we can take steps to gradually get back to normal while keeping people safe.”
In the first phase of the plan, the state will lift the requirement for remote work when it’s feasible two weeks after 4.5 million residents, or 55 percent of the adult population, receive their first dose of vaccine.
The 55 percent threshold could be reached in the next seven to 10 days, according to Whitmer.
Phase two will kick in two weeks after 4.9 million residents, or 60 percent of the adult population, receive their first vaccine dose. At that point, the administration will increase capacity limits on stadiums, banquet centers, and funeral homes to 25 percent capacity, and lift the current 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants. The capacity limit at gyms would go from the current 30 percent to 50 percent.
Phase three comes 14 days after 5.3 million residents, or 65 percent of the adult population, get their first dose. The administration will lift all indoor capacity requirements and relax restrictions on residential social gatherings. Restaurants are currently limited to 50 percent capacity.
The fourth phase would go into effect two weeks after 5.7 million residents, or 70 percent of the adult population, gets their first dose. Then, the state will lift its gathering and face mask orders.
Whitmer says she took input from members of the Legislature while formulating the new plan.
“If you haven’t already, I encourage you to rise to the challenge and be a part of the solution, so we can continue our economic recovery and have the summer we all crave,” Whitmer says.
Dewitt’s DENTCO Acquired by Texas Construction Services Firm
Exterior services management company DENTCO in Dewitt, north of Lansing, has been acquired by Texas construction services company Powerhouse. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Founded in 1977, DENTCO’s services include landscape management, snow and ice removal, parking lot maintenance, power sweeping, and dark store maintenance. The company utilizes a network of contractor partners across all 50 states and services over 8,000 active sites.
“I’m excited to begin this partnership with Powerhouse as it will build upon our strong position in the exterior services industry,” says Scott Milnes, president of DENTCO. “The significant customer overlap between our organizations creates opportunities for DENTCO and Powerhouse to expand the breadth of services we provide to our valued customers.”
Charter Capital Partners in Grand Rapids advised DENTCO.
WeatherGard Relocating Factory and Corporate Office to Farmington
WeatherGard, a manufacturer and installer of custom windows, doors, and other home improvement products, is relocating its factory and corporate office from Oak Park to Farmington.
“For nearly 35 years, we’ve been proud to call southeast Michigan our home,” says Shlome BenEzra, vice president of WeatherGard. “We’re grateful for our time in Oak Park, and excited for new beginnings in Farmington.
“Our new headquarters will be the largest window factory in southeastern Michigan, which will help us manage our continued growth and better service our customers throughout the state of Michigan.”
WeatherGard’s daily production operations will begin at the new Farmington location in early May, with front office employees remaining in Oak Park until the full staff transition is completed this July.
In the coming months, the company plans to introduce new window technology as well as increase personnel by adding sales representatives, installers, factory personnel, and clerical specialists to the WeatherGard staff.
For more information, visit here.
Bank of America Provides $675M+ in COVID-19 Small Business Relief
Bank of America has delivered more than $675 million in federal PPP funding to over 7,600 of its small business clients in Michigan.
The bank has also distributed 410,600 masks through its local partners including Detroit Means Business and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.
Nationally, Bank of America has increased its $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity to $1.25 billion over five years. This effort further accelerates work already underway to address racial equality and opportunity through direct actions, investments and work to catalyze similar efforts across the private sector. The additional funds will further support investments to address racial justice, advocacy and equality for people and communities of color, including those of Asian descent.
To date, the company has made more than $350 million in various investments from its initial $1 billion four-year commitment, announced in June 2020, across its primary focus areas of health, jobs/reskilling, affordable housing and small business.
Report: Auto Insurance Shopping Surged during Pandemic in 2020
A 55 percent decrease in the average number of miles driven and a record 15 percent unemployment rate sent many auto insurance customers shopping for a new policy after the onset of the pandemic in 2020, according to a report from J.D. Power in Troy.
What consumers found, says the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, was an increasingly homogenized marketplace differentiated primarily by price.
“The pandemic has revealed a lot about insurance shopping behaviors in 2020, as there was a significant surge in shopping activity among customers who were financially affected and many gravitated to big, well-known brands and offers for lower rates,” says Tom Super, head of property and casualty insurance at J.D. Power.
“The experience shines a spotlight on the need for more sophisticated acquisition and retention tools,” he continues. “Ironically, while the industry’s estimated annual ad spend now nears $10 billion, consumers say they see less differentiation among the top brands. Following a period of massive disruption and a prolonged, uneven recovery, auto insurance customers have a heightened expectation about factors such as price, flexibility, and coverages. Insurers need to get more creative around customer service and delivery because the current incremental changes are missing the mark.”
Liberty Mutual and State Farm rank highest in a tie among large auto insurers in providing a satisfying purchase experience, each with a score of 872 (on a 1,000-point scale). The segment average is 871.
American Family ranks highest among midsize auto insurers, with a score of 899. Amica Mutual (891) ranks second, and Erie Insurance (882) ranks third. The segment average is 858.
For more information about the U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, visit here.
Lee Group to Host Virtual Small Business Workshop Series
The Lee Group will conduct its seventh annual Small Business Workshop, presented by Fifth Third, starting May 5 at 10 a.m.
The kickoff session will be followed by one-hour sessions May 12, May 19, and May 26. The weekly event is free and will focus on business recoverability and building a solid foundation.
This year’s theme is “Re-emerging from the Abyss.”
On May 5, Fifth Third Economist Jeffrey Korzenik will discuss economic projections for 2021, overall prospects for the future, and its impact on small businesses across the Detroit region and beyond as businesses prepare to emerge from COVID-19 challenges.
Other participants include Mark S. Lee of The Lee Group, Kala Gibson, executive vice president at Fifth Third; Ray Waters, president, of the Detroit Development Fund; Alexis Dishman, chief lending officer at Michigan Women Forward; and Regina Ann Campbell, president and CEO of the Build Institute.
To register for the May 5 kickoff event, visit here.
C3 Industries in Grand Rapids Converts from Medical Cannabis to Adult-use
C3 Industries’ Grand Rapids High Profile location has converted from medical to adult-use cannabis sales.
The location, which first opened in October of last year, is one of five High Profile stores in Michigan, with six more Michigan openings planned for 2021. High Profile recently opened its first store in Oregon and plans to expand to Massachusetts and Missouri soon.
Royal Oak Organization Aims to Strike Out Depression and Suicide
Chris Newell, a native of metro Detroit and current manager in the New York Mets organization, has founded a nonprofit called the I Love You More-Homers for Help Foundation to raise awareness and funds in the fight against depression and suicide.
The group provides financial help for individuals and their families who cannot afford mental health care or don’t have insurance. Newell says the group also will contribute to burial expenses in instances where families who have lost a loved one to suicide don’t have the money for a proper burial and memorial.
Newell is donating anywhere from $20 to $200 each time one of his players in the Mets organization hits a home run. The highest amounts come for a grand slam or inside-the-park homer. Newell is asking other coaches throughout Michigan and the rest of the country to support the foundation by instituting the same program. People not directly involved in baseball also are asked to donate by visiting homers4help.org.
“I have lost friends and young men I have coached to suicide over the years and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about them and their families,” Newell says. “The thing about depression is that unlike physical injuries, we can’t see it and therefore, treatment often comes too late or never comes at all. I vowed that if ever I was in a position to shine a light on this dark area, I would do so.”
Davenport University Announces Beyond Future for Frontliners Scholarships
Davenport University in Grand Rapids has created a scholarship program to help Future for Frontliners graduates further their education. Davenport’s new Beyond Future for Frontliners Scholarship provides up to $8,000 per year for up to four additional years of education.
“We applaud the state’s efforts to support our frontline heroes and want to extend additional support for these individuals,” says Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “We stand ready to further their education with degree programs, professional development, and career services to help them quickly take the next step in their education and career.”
The Beyond Future for Frontliners Scholarship will support students who graduate from a community college with the Future for Frontliners scholarship and are looking to earn a bachelor’s degree, pursue a master’s degree, or explore additional professional development programs or certificates to enhance their skills.
This is the second offering the university has put together to support those affected by COVID-19. Last year, Davenport introduced the Launch Scholarship, offered to anyone who had lost their job due to the pandemic. The Davenport University Career Services Department also provides career assessments and transition strategies to those unemployed because of COVID-19, training for interviews, and resume and cover letter development.
Henry Ford Health Launches Digital Inclusion Competition
Henry Ford Innovations in Detroit, in partnership with Google Cloud and Miracle Software Systems, will launch an international competition, inviting entrepreneurs to propose ideas for reducing health inequities through the use of digital technology.
The Digital Inclusion Challenge, which runs through the summer, will kick off with a virtual conversation about the need for culturally sensitive and unbiased patient-centric solutions to be developed that bridge the gap between health care and technology.
The winner will receive $75,000 in cash and in-kind support toward developing their digital solution at Henry Ford Health System.
“Through cross-industry partnerships, our ability to adopt technologies designed to end the disparities in health outcomes due to race, ethnicity, or gender increases exponentially,” says Carladenise Edwards, executive vice President and chief strategy officer of Henry Ford Health System. “We have achieved amazing advances in digital enablement in health care, especially over the last year, as the COVID-19 pandemic challenged us to think and act differently on behalf of our communities. But — if the populations experiencing the worse health outcomes aren’t benefiting from those achievements, then our journey is far from over.”
Entries are due by June 24. Entrepreneurs, clinicians, engineers, designers, and other innovators are invited to participate. The challenge team also plans to partner with international and Detroit-based organizations to actively recruit women and minority applicants. Twenty finalists will be announced in July. That list will be narrowed in late summer to five, who will then participate in a live pitch competition.
For more information and to register for the kickoff event, visit here.
In Related News: Henry Ford Health System today launched an appreciation and giveback program dubbed Grub with Gratitude that will support multiple restaurants across Michigan that have donated meals to its hospitals and facilities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while celebrating its team members for their heroic efforts caring for patients.
Henry Ford has purchased 500 $50 gift cards from 25 restaurants that will be randomly awarded to its team members from a weekly drawing. The names of 50 team members will be drawn to receive a gift card to one of the participating restaurants.
“We are eternally grateful to our team members who, despite exhaustion from the ongoing pandemic, continue to give their absolute all caring for patients under conditions that we have never seen in our lifetime,” says Bob Riney, president of Healthcare Operations and COO at HFHS. “This is also an opportunity to show our appreciation and support for our local restaurants who have generously donated food for our team members throughout the pandemic.”
The participating restaurants from metro Detroit and Jackson area are locally owned and operated and feature a variety of cuisine that ranges from Italian and Polish to Middle Eastern and American. Henry Ford plans to expand Grub with Gratitude adding additional restaurants in the future.
Gift card winners will be randomly selected from a drawing of Henry Ford team members who are nominated by a co-worker or self-nominated. Grub with Gratitude kicks off May 7 with the first drawing and continues for at least 10 weeks.
Customers of the restaurants and the general public can donate to Grub and Gratitude here.