DBusiness Daily Update: Women’s Development Initiative Established to Level the Playing Field, 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 Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative Inc. is a new nonprofit that supports emerging women of color who are commercial real estate developers. // Stock Photo
The Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative Inc. is a new nonprofit that supports emerging women of color who are commercial real estate developers. // Stock Photo

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.

Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative Established to Level the Playing Field for Women

The Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative Inc. (WSDI) is a new nonprofit organization that supports emerging women commercial real estate developers who are working on projects in low-income communities and that include environmental, social, and governance (ESG) components.

WSDI is designed to leverage its founders’ experience and resources to provide financial support, education, and access to decision-makers for emerging women commercial real estate developers throughout the United States. The organization’s priority focus is on Black, indigenous, and other women of color developers who have the skills and tenacity to complete their own development projects but may not have the family and friend connections or generational wealth to move capital intensive projects forward.

“We will assist experienced women from across the spectrum of commercial real estate – contractors, attorneys, architects, those who have government experience, and others – who have solid ideas for development projects,” says Karen A.D. Burton, WSDI board president and co-owner of SpaceLab Detroit and a partner in A/E Collaborative. “They are working to secure a site, assembling their professional team, or putting together their capital stack, WSDI will help them get their project built.

“Finding equity investors that believe in women developers is very difficult,” says Jill Ferrari, a commercial developer, licensed attorney, and vice president of WSDI. “Investors don’t often equate women with commercial real estate development. WSDI will help women build their existing toolbox of skills and resources to be successful commercial real estate developers. Because women don’t just build buildings – they build communities.”

Rounding out WSDI’s founding board are Brinda Devine, a corporate real estate director and owner of P8 Real Estate Solutions; Rachele Downs, vice president at Dominion Real Estate Advisors and founder of Downs Diversity Initiatives; and Lisa Berden, founding attorney at Linchpin Legal and an angel investor. All five women currently are business owners in the commercial real estate industry.

More information about the Women’s Sustainable Development Initiative can be found here.

School Buses with Roush CleanTech Power Receive EPA and CARB Certification

All Blue Bird propane and gasoline school buses have received Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board certification for the 2022 heavy duty refueling standard, significantly reducing emissions from escaping the tank during refueling.

On gasoline fuel systems, EPA tests show that the new refueling emissions regulations can reduce harmful emissions by up to 93 percent.

“Blue Bird is the first school bus manufacturer to receive this emissions-reducing certification for a gasoline-powered bus, thanks to our strong partnership with Roush CleanTech,” saya Jeff Sanfrey, senior vice president of engineering for the Georgia-based Blue Bird Corp. “The new refueling emissions standard compliance is excellent news for the environment, our customers and communities across America.”

For propane buses, the requirement is met by using a low-emissions quick-connect fill valve, which limits fuel vapors in the atmosphere. For gasoline buses, the requirement is met by implementation of an onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) system.

ORVR is a vehicle emission control system that collects fuel vapor generated during a vehicle’s refueling process. ORVR helps reduce harmful emissions like volatile organic compounds from escaping the tank. An on-board carbon/vapor canister captures and stores the fuel vapors. Stored fuel vapors are then consumed by the engine during combustion.

“Our cost-efficient, advanced vehicle solutions for the school bus market just got even cleaner with the new refueling emissions compliancy,” says Todd Mouw, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Roush CleanTech in Livonia. “Every child deserves to have a safe, clean, healthy ride to school, and we will keep innovating with the latest technologies to reduce harmful emissions.” In the past decade, Blue Bird has sold nearly 30,000 school buses with Roush CleanTech fuel systems.

U-M Study: Rising Wages Drives Both Consumer Optimism, Pessimism on Inflation

Consumers voiced much more positive views in April, rising 9.8 percent above March, according to the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers.

Most of the surge was concentrated in expectations, with gains of 21.6 percent in the year-ahead outlook for the economy and an 18.3 percent jump in personal financial expectations, says Richard Curtin, a U-M economist and director of the surveys.

The cause was a sharp drop in gas price expectations, falling to just 0.4 cents from last month’s 49.6. The declines in gas prices may be reversed by ongoing developments in Ukraine, he says. The overall impact on sentiment trends, however, was quite small: Other than the last two months, the Sentiment Index in April was still lower than in any prior month in the past decade.

Curtin said the first quarter decline in overall GDP came as no surprise to consumers. Consumers, however, continued to modestly advance their spending by 2.7 percent due to a strong labor market and rising wages.

“The pandemic created a sense of uncertainty, which has only increased due to rising inflation and the growing consequences of the war in Ukraine,” he says. “Just when supportive government policies are needed, consumers have lost confidence in economic policies. Fiscal actions will increasingly be hampered by partisanship in the runup to the Congressional elections. Monetary policy aims at tempering the strong labor market and trimming wage gains are the only factors that support optimism.

“A soft landing will be difficult to achieve given the heightened uncertainties, raising prospects for a halt or a temporary reversal by the Fed. The probability of reaching a tipping point will depend on maintaining a strong labor market and robust wage gains. The cost of that renewed strength may be an accelerating wage-price spiral.”

To review the full results of the survey, visit here.

John Shippen Shoot-Out Announces Player Commitments

Intersport, the Detroit-based entity that administers The John Shippen Shoot-Out Presented by Cognizant, has announced the players committed to compete in the May 9 event for Black women at Mountain Ridge Country Club in New Jersey.

The winner of the 18-hole stroke play competition will be awarded an exemption into this year’s LPGA Cognizant Founders Cup being played May 12-15 in Clifton, N.J.

“Intersport is proud to announce that we continue to attract highly talented Black golfers from around the country to play in our event,” says Jason Langwell, executive vice president of Intersport and executive director of the Rocket Mortgage Classic. “We are excited to expand John Shippen to the New Jersey market and provide an additional platform on which these deserving players will compete, in order to impact the imbalance of access, opportunities, and equity for Black golfers that has long existed in the golf industry.”

To ensure that any financial barriers are removed, The John Shippen will cover all travel costs (airfare and hotel) for participating players.

Among the players committed to play are:

  • Sadena Parks (Professional)
  • Allyn Stephens (Amateur)
  • Lakareber Abe (Professional)
  • Breanne Jones (Professional)
  • Amber Kuykendall (Professional)
  • Micaa Thomas (Professional)
  • Tiana Jones (Professional)
  • Jade Sanders (Professional)

Following The John Shippen Shoot-Out, The John Shippen National Golf Invitational women’s tournament will take place June 1-2 at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids, home of the Meijer LPGA Classic. The winner of the event will earn an exemption into the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give (June 16–19), as well as an exemption into the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, the LPGA tournament scheduled for July 13-16 in Midland.

The men’s field of The John Shippen National Golf Invitational presented by Rocket Mortgage will compete in a 36-hole stroke play competition at Detroit Golf Club July 23-24, and the winner will receive an exemption into the Rocket Mortgage Classic (July 28-31).

New Lawrence Tech Student-produced Documentary Focuses on Science Trailblazer

Bettye Washington-Greene was a pioneer in research chemistry, earning a Ph.D. and becoming the first Black woman to work in the research labs at Midland’s Dow Chemical. Now, her life has been chronicled by Logan Daniher, a graduating senior in the media communication program at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

Daniher wrote, produced, and directed “Inclusive Stories in Science: Celebrating Dr. Bettye Washington Greene,” an eight-minute documentary video. It was produced through a grant to LTU from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, focused on providing research activities to students from historically underrepresented communities. It’s narrated by LTU media communication student Elizabeth Coon.

The film can be viewed here.

Busch’s Market Fights Hunger with ABC Food Drive

Today through May 15, 15 Busch’s Fresh Food Markets will be hosting the All About Children (ABC) Food Drive to help reduce childhood hunger in its local communities.

Busch’s has partnered with metro Detroit’s largest food rescue organization, Forgotten Harvest, along with other local food banks, like Food Gatherers, to make sure that we are able to help needy children in all of the communities we support. A list of communities and the organizations being supported include:

  • Ann Arbor and Dexter: Food Gatherers
  • Brighton: Gleaners
  • Canton, Novi, Plymouth, Rochester, South Lyon, and West Bloomfield: Forgotten Harvest
  • Clinton: Clinton I92 and Clinton Community Schools
  • Dexter: Food Gatherers
  • Farmington and Livonia: Forgotten Harvest and C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills
  • Pinckney: Pinckney Community Schools and Gleaners
  • Saline: Food Gatherers and Saline Social Services
  • Tecumseh: Tecumseh Community Schools

There are several different ways to make a contribution: Guests can donate their bottle/can return slips, they donate cash in any amount, or they can purchase a $10 “Ready to Go” bag that contains 13 staple items. Any donation is appreciated and will help feed a hungry child in your local community. And, while Busch’s is partnering with a number of charities, it’s important to note that all donations will only be used in the community where they were generated.

“Busch’s is your local supermarket and we feel it’s so important to directly help those in need in our communities,” says Doug Busch, the company’s community director. “Working together with these local food banks we can make a real difference and, with the addition of the ABC Food Drive, we definitely will.”

For more information, visit here.

In-person Artist Demonstrations Return to DIA

The Detroit Institute of Arts has announced that live and in-person artists demonstrations have returned to the museum’s art-making studio after more than two years on hiatus.

These free drop-in style programs give visitors a chance to see a local artist in action and ask questions about their process and artwork. Visitors will also have a chance to work on a project themselves and take home a unique piece of art.

Each month a different local artist will host the program, in addition to the DIA Art Making Studio’s usual Drop-in Workshop and Drawing in the Galleries programs.

“This program is really a wonderful opportunity for museum guests to meet artists from the area and see how they make their work,” says Zachary Frieling, studio coordinator for DIA. “We try and showcase a variety of interesting techniques as well as making sure to highlight artists at all different stages in their career. It’s always great getting to connect with local artists and I am proud that the DIA can provide this program for the community.”

The program kicked off in March with printmaker Melissa Dettloff who allowed guests to try their hand at screen-printing, creating colorful multi-layered prints that were then transformed into notebook covers. April’s program featured the letterpress printmakers of Signal Return, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and teaching traditional letterpress printing.

The next guest artists are as follows:

  • May 21-22: Weaver and fibers-based artist Kayla Powers
  • June 4: Collage artist Judy Bowman

Face masks, proof of vaccination, or negative test are required to attend events in the studio, DFT Auditorium, or lecture hall and for all private events. Masks are not required but encouraged throughout the rest of the museum.

Alzheimer’s Association Provides Relief for Caregivers

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, two thirds of Alzheimer’s patients are women. Additionally, one third of dementia caregivers are daughters caring for a parent, putting an unbalanced burden on women at work and home.

Alzheimer’s Association Michigan Chapter has respite care scholarships available that provide short-term relief for primary caregivers of individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease. This funding of up to $1,000 can be used to help cover the cost of adult day programs, in-home care, or overnight care.

The stress and strain of caregiving can take a significant toll on one’s mental health, and is associated with a 30 percent increase in depression. Caregivers also have less time to socialize with friends. It’s critical that caregivers take time for themselves, to improve their overall well-being and the individual care of Alzheimer’s patients.

For more information, visit here.

Council Re|Sale in Berkley Offers Mother’s Day Sale May 5-7

Council Re|Sale in Berkley, one of the oldest thrift shops in metro Detroit, is conducting a Mother’s Day Sale May 5-7 to make spring fashion affordable for everyone, plus discount vouchers for local dry cleaners on clothing sales more than $40.

The Mother’s Day Sale offers 25 percent off all merchandise, including the home décor area and The Council Collection, a new room dedicated to designer wear and upscale fashion brands.

May 26-28 there will be a Memorial Day Sale with 25 percent off clothing and accessories in The Council Collection men’s and women’s departments. Local cleaners participating include Dubin Cleaners and Laundry located in West Bloomfield and Farmington Hills, Daisy Cleaners located in Farmington Hills, and Janet Davis Cleaners in Berkley. Proceeds from all the sales at Council Re|Sale go to benefit the programs and services of the of National Council of Jewish Women, Michigan (NCJW|MI).

“Everyone wants to refresh their wardrobe at this time of year but with inflation being so high, we know that many families can’t spend a lot of money on new clothes,” says Amy Cutler, president of NCJW|MI. “Our sales will help metro Detroiters have a spring in their step with affordable, sustainable, fashion in the warmer months to come, plus our Mother’s Day sale ensures that, whatever your budget, you can afford a treat for mom.”

Council Re|Sale proceeds support the many projects of NCJW|MI, benefiting Detroit area women, children, and families in need. These include the annual Back 2 School Store, Backpack Project for homeless children, blankets for children in hospital and foster care, Kosher Meals on Wheels, Literacy Outreach, and social action initiatives such as voter advocacy programs.

For more information, visit here.