DBusiness Daily Update: Wilson Foundation Grants $500K to Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Edmunds Projects Rise in Q1 New Vehicle Sales, 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.
graph of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge

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.

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation Grants Additional $500K to Detroit Riverfront Conservancy
The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation today announced a gift of $500,000 from the trusts of Mr. Wilson’s late daughters, Edith “Dee Dee” Wilson and Linda Bogdan, to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to support the development of the future Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park, including the creation of a garden in recognition of the two women.

The foundation also will recommend an estimated $150,000 annually from the daughters’ endowed donor advised fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to the conservancy to support the maintenance and seasonal plantings in the future 22-acre park on Detroit’s west riverfront.

The foundation also will honor Dee Dee and Linda’s shared love for the game of tennis, which also was enjoyed by Wilson throughout his entire life, by recommending an estimated $125,000 annually from the donor advised fund to support youth tennis programming, general and capital maintenance of courts throughout the region. Grants from the fund will be announced later this year.

“Ralph’s daughters held a very special place in his heart, and each bonded with him over their shared passions,” says Mary Wilson, life trustee and board chair of the foundation. “Dee Dee and Linda both loved to play tennis, spend time outdoors, and enjoyed gardening. When identifying how to allocate this generous gift from their estate, we knew it would be most appropriate to honor these passions in a way that will live on through the park, along with sustaining these spaces and investing in future programing that community members can enjoy,”

These gifts add to the $40 million capital gift and $10 million endowment made by the foundation to the conservancy for the park in October 2018 when celebrating the 100th anniversary of its namesake and founder Ralph Wilson’s birth.

“The tremendous generosity of the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has made our vision for a world-class park along the west Riverfront possible, and we are grateful for their continued support,” says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “We are excited about the opportunity to create a colorful and engaging garden in recognition of his beloved daughters Dee Dee and Linda. These gifts will help us to maintain Ralph Wilson Park into the future.”

A virtual meeting is being hosted by the conservancy on Thursday, April 8 at 5:30 p.m. to update members of the community on the status of Ralph Wilson Park and other projects.

Edmunds Projects Rise in Q1 New Vehicle Sales
Automotive sales information provider Edmunds, which has an office in downtown Detroit, expects 3,818,503 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2021. This is an 8.6 percent decrease in sales from the fourth quarter of last year but an 8.9 percent increase in sales from Q1 of 2020.

“First-quarter sales are starting off on a strong note,” says Jessica Caldwell, executive director of insights at Edmunds. “The fact that we’re surpassing last year’s numbers when the pandemic didn’t even hit the industry until the last two weeks of March 2020 is no small feat. As the vaccine rollout continues, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re still very much in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Seeing sales continue at such a strong rate despite all of the challenges presented by COVID-19 is an ongoing testament to the strength of the automotive industry and the confidence of the American consumer.”

According to Edmunds, General Motors Co. in Detroit will lead the way with 645,516 new vehicle sales for a 16.9 percent share of the market. Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn will contribute 511,510 sales for a 13.4 percent share, and Auburn Hills’ Stellantis will sell 480,915 vehicles for a 12.6 percent share.

Edmunds notes that limited inventory created by pandemic-related production issues and chipset shortages continue to present challenges for the industry. According to Edmunds days-to-turn (DTT) data, vehicles are selling at a much faster pace because inventory is in such short supply: In March, 17 percent of all new vehicles sold within five days of arriving on a dealer lot, compared to 14 percent last year. Edmunds’ analysts note that older new vehicle inventory is harder to come by as well. Data reveals that just one in five new vehicles sits on the lot for more than 100 days before selling, compared to nearly one in three last year.

“Some consumers seem to be catching on to the microchip shortage and are responding by making more aggressive purchasing decisions,” says Caldwell. “Although we’ve seen calls for legislative action, and automakers taking creative approaches to address the shortages, there doesn’t seem to be a resolution for these supply constraints in the immediate future. Shoppers with their heart set on a high-demand truck or SUV need to do a bit of extra research and be prepared to pull the trigger on their car purchase as soon as they can find inventory, because those vehicles are flying off the lots.”

Despite the ongoing challenge of inventory shortages, Edmunds notes that a rise in the average transaction prices in the first quarter is a positive trend in terms of profitability for automakers and dealers. Analysts anticipate that the ATP for new vehicles will climb to $40,320 in Q1, the highest Edmunds has on record for any quarter.

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found here.

Olive Labs in Ferndale Partners with Boston Company for K-12 COVID Testing
Olive Labs Inc. in Ferndale today announced a partnership with Concentric by Ginkgo of Boston to provide a scalable, accessible, and simple testing modality for COVID-19 — pooled testing — to serve schools operating hybrid or in-person learning.

Olive Labs Inc. is a women- and minority-owned laboratory that serves businesses, long-term care facilities, and individuals providing accurate, 24-hour-turnaround COVID-19 testing. Concentric by Ginkgo is the public health and biosecurity effort at Ginkgo Bioworks, which currently runs testing in more than 800 schools in 15 states.

Pooled classroom testing, which combines swabs from all consenting individuals in a classroom and runs them as a single test, can significantly increase testing capacity and lower the cost of testing programs. As more and more schools work to support in-person learning environments, communities across the country have turned to routine COVID-19 testing to monitor the virus. In recent days, the Biden Administration has announced billions of dollars of funding to support this testing, which can help interrupt potential chains of transmission and provide confidence to students, teachers, staff, and school communities.

“Olive Labs is pleased to be chosen as a partner for this important project,” says Dr. Heather Heine, founder and CEO of Olive Labs. “Right now there is a lot of uncertainty for children. Having them participate in this simple pooled testing process, whereby they swab themselves inside their lower nostrils with teacher supervision, gives them a sense of empowerment and engages them in the science that’s involved. Every child now has a chance to be part of the solution.”

Olive Labs says it is committed to high-quality PCR testing, which it says is generally considered the most accurate form of COVID-19 testing available. The company also has scaled its testing equipment and has the capacity to potentially test all the schools in the state.

Grand Rapids’ Fluresh Invests in Future of Cannabis Industry with Fluresh Accelerator
Fluresh, a Grand Rapids-based cannabis cultivator and processor, is ushering in the next wave of cannabis professionals with the launch of its new business incubator, the Fluresh Accelerator.

In an effort to create a more inclusive industry statewide and beyond, the cannabis brand has selected four diverse, existing Michigan-based businesses, along with three individuals to participate in an educational mentorship program that provides skills, knowledge, and resources to community members seeking opportunity through cannabis. They are:

  • GanjaGirl MI, a women-owned cultivator.
  • Wormies Vermicompost, a Latino-owned company.
  • Aqume Enterprises, a woman-owned company.
  • Alvin Hills, a Grand Rapids native, community leader and recreational cultivator interested in expanding his family’s agriculture business.
  • Erica Tyler, a Grand Rapids native with a passion for chemistry, compliance, and community.
  • Roberto Gonzalez, a longtime Grand Rapids resident.

The Fluresh Accelerator collaborates with community partners, educators, and governmental agencies to create an end-to-end curriculum that will develop the next leaders in the industry. This curriculum includes focus areas such as state and local licensure, entrepreneurship, finance, cultivation and processing, retail operations, environmental sustainability, marketing, and more, all aimed to give participants the arsenal to grow their own cannabis businesses upon completion of the program.

“The Fluresh team is proud to launch this unique program in the state of Michigan, whose market is experiencing incredibly rapid growth,” says Tom Benson, CEO of Fluresh. “We’re excited to be a part of this trajectory, due in part to the dedication of our nearly 200 employees operating across facilities in Grand Rapids and Adrian. That said, with this growth, comes a responsibility to the communities we operate in, and a need to take what we’re learning and share it with those that wish to join our company in this competitive field.”

Fluresh opened applications for the incubator program in December 2020, with eligibility open to any individual who is a legal resident of Michigan and 21 years of age or older as of Jan. 1, 2021. Among other considerations, the company strongly considered applications that aligned with Fluresh’s goal to make the cannabis industry more diverse and equitable for victims of the War on Drugs, the industry appeal, potential of business services or products, history within the cannabis industry and/or general professional experience, as well as the potential impact the applicant and its visions can have on the industry.

For more information, visit here.

Automation Alley Contributes to the World Economic Forum’s 2020 AMHUB Annual Report
Automation Alley, the Troy-based Industry 4.0 knowledge center and World Economic Forum (WEF) Advanced Manufacturing Hub (AMHUB), provided insight to the WEF’s Global Network of Advanced Manufacturing Hubs: Annual Report 2020.

Cynthia Hutchison, the organization’s vice president, and Nicole Kampe, manager of global content strategy and development, also were contributors to the report, both writing and editing significant content.

Launched in 2019, the Global AMHUB Network, which tapped Automation Alley as its first North American member, now represents manufacturing ecosystems in 12 regions around the world. These regions share best practices and case examples while learning how each one addresses similar manufacturing challenges.

The 2020 Annual Report summarizes this regional network, highlights specific initiatives in which they are engaged, outlines collaborative outputs in 2020, and delineates ongoing, planned and future cross-collaborative opportunities to advance manufacturing innovation.

“Capturing unique perspectives from 12 worldwide regions identified by the World Economic Forum as major industrial hubs can encourage and help small- to mid-sized manufacturers keep pace with the rapidly transforming technological advances that will disrupt their industry,” says Hutchinson. “The 2020 AMHUB Annual Report emphasizes that these regional manufacturing powerhouses have locally unique and globally relevant resources for manufacturing stakeholders eager to gain insights on how to adopt and advance the positive impact of Industry 4.0.”

To download the report, visit the World Economic Forum website.

Children’s Miracle Network Grants $1M to Beaumont Children’s Programs
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has announced $1 million in financial support for programs of Beaumont Children’s to enhance pediatric programs at Beaumont locations for spring/summer 2021.

“For nearly 40 years, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has been a valued fundraising partner of the Beaumont Health Foundation,” says Margaret Cooney Casey, president of the Beaumont Health Foundation. “In that time, CMN donations of more than $75 million have helped Beaumont Children’s pioneer new health care solutions for children and provide access to the latest research and technology.”

Spring/summer 2021 CMN grants will benefit:

  • Pediatric neurology and epilepsy – Specialized bikes and equipment, sanitizing toy shelving system, trained staff.
  • Pediatric rehabilitation –Rifton feeding and activity chair, acrobat swing, head pod device, wheelchair.
  • Speech, vision, and audiology – Hearing screening tools, assessment materials, service scholarships for in-need families.
  • Mother baby units – Phototherapy system, donor human milk bank, Halo bassinets, glider rocking chair, bereavement program expansion.
  • NICU – Giraffe omnibed, teaching dolls.
  • Pediatrics – Infant CPR kits, Panda warmers, phototherapy equipment, infant resuscitator, spacer devices for asthma.
  • Education – Materials for trauma literacy program, laptops for adolescent health, reading materials, diabetes and epilepsy education videos.
  • Child life services – specially trained therapists, art therapy equipment.

The success of the Beaumont Children’s/CMN partnership relies upon the generosity of the entire community including support from corporate partners, individuals, and Beaumont team members. Corporate partners often reach out to their employees and customers through retail promotions, generating donations gathered $1 at a time. Major corporate partners include: Speedway, Costco, Walmart and Sam’s Club, Rite Aid, Ace Hardware, RE/MAX, Panda Express, Dairy Queen, and Marriott International.

In 2020, the generosity of CMN’s corporate partners extended beyond their fundraising programs to include donations of personal protective equipment, hot meals and snacks, iPads, tablets, and other essential supplies to help Beaumont teams care for the community during the on-going pandemic.

Detroit-area Nonprofits Get Funding to Break Down Racial and Health Barriers
Three Detroit-area nonprofits — Detroit Life is Valuable Everyday (D.L.I.V.E.), Peaches and Greens, and Keep Growing Detroit — have received $330,000 in funding from the American Heart Association and KLA Social Equity Fund to sustainably address community health equity.

Financial support from the KLA Social Equity Fund will help D.L.I.V.E. deliver mental health services to low-income young adults in Detroit and develop the infrastructure and evidence base to provide patients with custom therapeutic plans. This approach will be replicated in other trauma centers.

Peaches and Greens will be able to expand its program to provide healthy, nutritious food to between 600 and 800 individuals on a monthly basis via food-as-medicine contracts with health systems. The initiative aims to reduce food insecurity and improve health outcomes within several of Michigan’s lowest-income zip codes.

The support will help Keep Growing Detroit secure market outlets for more than 60 growers to work cooperatively and increase access to fresh, healthy, and sustainably produced food.

In Detroit, the public health department is working to address the social determinants of health with a focus on social needs, such as limited access to food, housing instability, transportation needs, and interpersonal violence. According to the Detroit Community Health Needs Assessment, Detroit has the highest percentage of poverty in any major U.S. city and this has likely worsened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about the American Heart Association’s Social Impact Fund and future funding opportunities, visit here.

JVS Human Services Webinar Designed to Help Job Candidates with Interview Process
JVS Human Services in Southfield is offering a free webinar to Michiganders searching for employment who are hampered by the fear of the interview process. The virtual event will take place on Tuesday, April 6, at 10 a.m.

The webinar will address the reasons why job candidates often can become nervous before their interview, signs the interviewer can pick up on in the candidate that do not showcase a job seeker to the best advantage, and ways that fear can be managed.

“There’s a feeling they are being judged, and that the interviewer might sense that their back is against the wall, that they are desperate for the job,” says Phyllis Scripsick, career counselor at JVS Human Services. “Many people have catastrophic thoughts in their head – the ‘what ifs’ – and then others just simply aren’t prepared enough, so they feel anxious.”

Scripsick added that more than 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, and that an employer will sum someone up in the first 30 to 90 seconds by their body language. “If you are smiling and confident, as opposed to fumbling with items you may be carrying and stumbling over your words, that can be a big factor in the hiring process,” she explained.

A few of Scripsick’s tips she will be sharing in the webinar to overcome interview fear include:

  • Being anxious ahead of time is not a bad thing if you can channel it into preparation. Think of yourself as an athlete preparing to race; you have been practicing for the big moment. Make sure you have all the knowledge you need at your fingertips.
  • Be kind to yourself the night before and get a good night’s sleep and avoid dinking too much caffeine before the interview which can make you jittery.
  • Avoid negative cognitions by putting positive visualizations in your head; imagine the success you are going to have in the interview.
  • Instead of focusing on angst and anxiety, try to make yourself feel excited – think of it as a positive feeling.
  • Stop thinking of yourself as being deficient. Know your worth and see the interviewer as being an equal, and someone you are interviewing to get information from as much as they are interviewing you.

No registration is necessary for the webinar, which will be streamed on the JVS Human Services Facebook page. For those that miss the live interactive webinar, it will be recorded and can be accessed on the Facebook page for later viewing. Job seekers who need help preparing for an interview or putting together a resume or searching for employment also can email employmenthelp@jvshumanservices.org or call 248-233-4245.

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