November 30, 2023

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DBusiness Daily Update: Fifth Third Foundation Awards $750K Grant to LifeBUILDERS for Regent Park, and More

The Fifth Third Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to LifeBUILDERS to support the organization’s revitalization work in Detroit’s Regent Park neighborhood. // Courtesy of LifeBUILDERS
The Fifth Third Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to LifeBUILDERS to support the organization’s revitalization work in Detroit’s Regent Park neighborhood. // Courtesy of LifeBUILDERS

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Fifth Third Foundation Awards $750K Grant to LifeBUILDERS for Regent Park

The Fifth Third Foundation has awarded a $750,000 recoverable grant to LifeBUILDERS to support the organization’s continued revitalization work in Detroit’s Regent Park neighborhood.

The grant will be used to renovate eight to 10 homes over the next three to five years. Regent Park is located within the Gratiot-7 Mile (G7) neighborhood, which is part of the Detroit Strategic Neighborhood Fund program that Fifth Third has invested in since 2019.

The dollars are provided to LifeBUILDERS in the form of a Program Related Investment, or PRI, administered by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Unlike a traditional grant, PRI dollars will be paid back at below-market rate – in this case, zero percent. This $750,000 recoverable grant is the second largest awarded by the Fifth Third Foundation to date.

“It’s a privilege to partner with LifeBUILDERS and support the organization’s impactful work in the Regent Park neighborhood,” says David Girodat, regional president of Fifth Third. “Since 2005, LifeBUILDERS has brought hope and restoration to a community that had suffered disinvestment for nearly 20 years. Today there are new parks, an early childhood education facility and 81 houses that have been rehabbed and either rented or sold because of the organization’s commitment.”

Regent Park is bordered by Kelly Road, Gratiot Avenue, 8 Mile, and 7 Mile. LifeBUILDERS already has selected the first two homes and will start the renovation work in early 2023; it’s expected to take six to nine months to complete each home. The turnkey homes then will be sold at both a market/affordable rate, which has been a vital aspect to attracting new homeowners to the community.

“Having the Fifth Third Foundation’s support is a tremendous acknowledgement of our efforts and commitment to Regent Park. This grant will allow us to continue our life-changing work in Regent Park and provide hope and encouragement to its residents and the city of Detroit,” says Larry Johnson, co-founder of LifeBUILDERS. “Also, the Fifth Third gift adds to the continuing support from the city of Detroit thereby accelerating the redevelopment and affordable home ownership opportunities.”

With 81 properties renovated to date, LifeBUILDERS says it’s on track to reach or exceed its goal of rehabilitating 100 total homes in 2023.

J.D. Power: EV Owner Satisfaction Gets a Boost from New Models as Market Grows

As more battery electric vehicle (BEV) models become available for purchase, owners’ satisfaction with their overall experience is shifting to more traditional factors such as quality and styling, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Experience (EVX) Ownership Study.

The shift, the study shows, is most evident in the respective premium and mass market segment award recipients, Rivian R1T and MINI Cooper Electric.

In its first year of eligibility, the Rivian R1T ranks highest overall with a satisfaction score of 794 (on a 1,000-point scale). Owners have high levels of satisfaction with the driving enjoyment and interior/exterior styling factors. MINI Cooper Electric ranks highest in the mass market segment with a score of 782, supported by the highest satisfaction score of any EV model in the study’s highest-weighted index factor, quality, and reliability.

“The electric vehicle landscape is changing quickly, and newer models are bringing in more mainstream, first-time EV buyers,” says Brent Gruber, executive director of the EV practice at J.D. Power. “Recent vehicle launches from both new brands and traditional automakers have had a profound effect on what factors are most important in the ownership experience. Today’s EV owners are looking for quality, reliability, driving enjoyment, safety, and technology features.”

Key findings of the 2023 study include a gap in satisfaction between premium and mass market EVs. For a third consecutive year, owners of mass market BEVs cite infotainment as the most problematic category (19.2 problems experienced per 100 vehicles, or PP100). Among premium BEV owners, the most problematic categories are squeaks and rattles (17.5 PP100) and exterior (13.6 PP100). The largest gap in satisfaction between owners of premium and mass market BEVs is availability of public charging, which is greatly influenced by the Tesla network of chargers. Among premium BEV owners, satisfaction with public charging availability is 589, while satisfaction among mass market BEV owners is 341.

“The EV marketplace is dynamic and the important factors that manufacturers need to watch will vary based on their history and experience,” Gruber says. “First-time EV buyers who are more mainstream will compare their EV’s build quality to what they know about gas-powered vehicles.”

New to the study this year are survey questions specific to EV trucks regarding towing. Satisfaction is higher among EV truck owners who have used their vehicle for towing (779) than among owners who have not towed (753). Satisfaction with driving range is higher among owners who have towed (635) than among those who have not towed (617), and satisfaction with accuracy of stated range also is higher (707 vs. 680, respectively). Truck manufacturers that proactively communicate the effect that towing has on range — like they do with gas mileage — seems to help set owner expectations.

The study shows an increase of 11 percentage points from 2022 in the rate of first-time BEV ownership, rising to 85 percent from 74 percent. With a host of new product offerings, however, the mass market BEV segment is attracting new owners at a more rapid rate, as the percentage of first-time BEV owners in the segment jumped to 89 percent from 67 percent in 2022.

While more vehicle shoppers are being drawn to EV ownership, satisfaction among first-time BEV owners is higher than among veteran BEV owners in only one category: vehicle quality and reliability (756 vs. 749, respectively). In the mass market segment, 68 percent of first-time BEV owners say that expected lower running costs and tax credits/incentives were the primary reasons for purchase, while driving performance is the most frequently cited purchase reason (75 percent) among first-time premium BEV owners.

Rivian R1T ranks highest overall and highest in the premium BEV segment with a score of 794. Tesla Model 3 (759) ranks second. MINI Cooper Electric ranks highest in the mass market BEV segment with a score of 782. Kia EV6 (762) ranks second and Ford Mustang Mach-E (742) ranks third.

The number of award-eligible models in the premium segment has grown from four to five year over year, while award-eligible mass market models have nearly doubled (from six to 10). Satisfaction among owners of premium EVs averages 756, while satisfaction among mass market EV owners averages 730.

For more information about the study, visit here.

Hours Changing at MGM Grand Detroit Food, Beverage Outlets

MGM Grand Detroit is announcing new hours and days of operation for the following food and beverage venues effective immediately.

D.PRIME Steakhouse and lounge: Wednesday through Sunday, 4:30 p.m.-midnight (last seating 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Reservations strongly encouraged).

TAP Sport’s Bar: Full-service breakfast now available from 8-11 a.m. (previously breakfast was only offered via express takeout) featuring a breakfast buffet Saturday and Sunday and a late-night bar menu Friday and Saturday 11 p.m.-1 a.m.

Detroit Central Market: Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday, 5 p.m.-midnight; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

Breeze Dining Court: Monday through Thursday and Sunday, 12 p.m.-3 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 12 p.m.-4 a.m. Hours vary by outlet.

Roasted Bean: Sunday through Thursday, 6 a.m.-2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, open 24 hours.

Hours and days of operation are also changing at MGM Grand Detroit’s High Limit Lounge, which will now be open Monday through Friday from 5-11 p.m., Saturday from 3 p.m.-midnight, and Sunday from 3-10 p.m.

Topgolf Swing Suite: Thursday through Saturday from 3-11 p.m. and Sunday from 1-9 p.m.

More Than 500 County Jobs Available at Oakland County’s Virtual Job Fair

Oakland County is conducting a Virtual Job Fair Virtual job fair from 1-4 p.m. March 7 featuring more than 400 summer jobs and internships and more than 80 full- and part-time positions.

“We have incredibly talented people who make up our workforce at Oakland County,” says Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “Whether you are beginning your career or advancing it, Oakland County has a broad range of positions available in a welcoming work environment.”

County departments and divisions that are hiring include Oakland County Parks and Recreation, Health Division, Children’s Village, Community Corrections, Workforce Development, Human Resources, Equalization, the Sheriff’s Office, and Water Resources Commissioner. Some of these will have virtual booths at the job fair to answer questions about the various departments that make up county operations, the diverse career opportunities that are available, and what it takes to get hired and succeed.

Other positions include campground worker, lifeguard, chemist, civil engineer, public health nurse, sheriff deputy, custodial worker, office support clerk, skilled maintenance mechanic, youth specialist, and more. To explore the available jobs or for more information about working at Oakland County, visit here.

Registration is required to participate in the Virtual Job Fair. To do so, visit here.

Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan in Urgent Need of Donations

The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan is urgently seeking donations of gently-used furniture to help more than 100 families waiting for at least 700 items, including mattresses, box springs, dressers, dining sets, and sofas. This is double the number of families waiting for furniture compared to the same period just a few years ago.

According to Robert Boyle, executive director of the Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan, “The referrals of families needing furniture always increase significantly as we head into the spring. We have seen a rise in the number of families waiting for furniture, and this is due to high inflation, which affects families living in poverty harder than most.

“Ninety-percent of the households we’re helping have annual incomes of $20,000 or less. When you consider that most of these households have children, it’s easy to understand why furniture isn’t affordable for families struggling to keep up with rent, groceries, utilities, and transportation costs. Providing for your family and getting ahead is even more difficult if you aren’t getting a good night’s rest in a warm bed or living in the comfort and stability of a furnished home.”

The Furniture Bank of Southeastern Michigan provides furniture to families in need, creating a stable living environment and restoring dignity to those facing tough times. The organization serves Southeastern Michigan and is dedicated to improving the lives of families in need by providing furniture assistance.

Those interested in making a tax-deductible furniture donation can call 248-332-1300 or visit here.

Detroit Pistons to Host Girls Dream Big Summit

The Detroit Pistons are hosting their annual Girls Dream Big Summit on Wednesday, March 1 to tipoff Women’s Empowerment Month. The event, presented by Ally, begins at the Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center at 3:45 p.m. and will conclude at Little Caesars Arena as participants take in the Pistons game vs. the Chicago Bulls at 7 p.m.

More than 125 high school and middle school students from Wayne Westland High School, Center Line High School, Alternative for Girls, A Girl Like Me, Pure Heart Foundation, and Metro Detroit Girl Scouts will take part in the Girls Dream Big Summit, which will highlight the successes of local women leaders while empowering those in attendance by incorporating current trends in leadership, communication, financial literacy, and diversity during enriching breakout sessions.

The Girls Dream Big Summit, which is supported by Consumers Energy and Priority Health, will begin with an Inspiring Leaders Panel from 3:45-4:15 p.m.

Panelists and mentors include:

  • Stacey Lovelace, assistant general manager of the Motor City Cruise.
  • Bridget Sponsky, executive director of brand and sponsorship marketing at Ally.
  • Angela Thompkins, vice president and chief diversity officer of CMS Energy Corp. and Consumers Energy Co.
  • Joyce Chan Russell, senior vice president of government markets at Priority Health.
  • Mama Sol, hip-hop and spoken word artist
  • Additional mentors from the Detroit Pistons, Ally, Consumers Energy, Priority Health, and TACOM.

Attendees will then break into a rotation of speed mentoring, basketball, and dance clinics and a financial literacy game before bussing to Little Caesars Arena for the game.

Exotic Matter, The Refinery to Host Zalympix Cannabis Competition

Exotic Matter and The Refinery are partnering with Greenwolf, an award-winning cannabis retailer in California, to host Michigan’s second “Zalympix” cannabis flower competition.

Dubbed “The Culture’s Choice Awards,” the 2023 Zalympics Michigan competition will welcome highly favored cannabis retailers and brands as sponsors, including JARS Cannabis, Herbology, and Hytek.

Customers interested in judging the competition will be able to purchase Zalympix  judge kits on a first-come, first-served basis beginning March 3, exclusively at select locations of participating retail sponsors.

Retailing for $400 + tax, each Zalympix judge kit will be stocked with a total of 40 grams of cannabis flower from 20 top-shelf brands for Michigan cannabis connoisseurs to rank across six categories, including Best Looking, Heaviest Hitting, Gassiest, Best Tasting, Best Terps, and Best Overall.

“We’re stoked to be joining forces with Greenwolf LA in partnership The Refinery to bring the best strains in Michigan to the forefront for the second year in a row,” says Tyler Decoeur, marketing manager at Exotic Matter. “Zalympics is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that is put into every aspect of the cannabis growing trade, and I look forward to bringing the Michigan cannabis community together to celebrate some of the finest growers and strains in the state.”

Judge kits purchased from participating cannabis retailers will come in limited-edition Zalympics Michigan boxes that are equipped with a unique QR code for participants to scan and start voting. Voting will open beginning March 10 and close on April 12.

Winners are set to be announced during an invitation-only Zalympics Award Show that will feature exclusive brand activations from JARS Cannabis and other participating Zalympics retailers.

For more information and contest rules, visit here.

Participating Zalympics retailers include:

  • JARS Cannabis – Center Line
  • JARS Cannabis – Oxford
  • Herbology – Jefferson St.
  • Herbology – Burke St.
  • Herbology – Detroit
  • The Refinery Kalamazoo
  • High Profile – Buchanan
  • Nobody’s Home – Benton Harbor
  • Urb – Monroe
  • Timber – Muskegon
  • House of Danke – 8 Mile
  • Wayne Releaf – Wayne
  • Mind Right – New Baltimore
  • Quality Roots – Hamtramck
  • Da Cut – Detroit

Southfield Parks & Rec to host Winter Fest March 5

The Southfield Parks & Recreation Department will host Winter Fest from 2-4:30 p.m. on March 5 at the Southfield Sports Arena (26000 Evergreen Road).

This free community event will feature an afternoon of indoor and outdoor fun for the entire family. Guests can enjoy free ice skating, a ropes course and climbing wall, as well as horse-drawn carriage rides and marshmallow roasting. The Southfield Police Department and Southfield Public Library will be inside the Southfield Sports Arena with crafts and information for kids and adults.

Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit here.

New MCC Lorenzo Cultural Center Program Highlights Post-World War II Societal Change

Creative Michigan: Making the Mitten Modern, a program at Macomb Community College’s Lorenzo Cultural Center, examines Michigan’s pivotal role in the post-World War II era. The program runs through April 29.

Creative change impacted everything from furniture, architecture, car design, and music following the war.

“The Lorenzo Cultural Center’s Creative Michigan program showcases the state as innovator and incubator of modern design and music in the post WWII era,” says William Wood, director of cultural affairs and community engagement at Macomb Community College. “We are offering a great slate of presentations, performances, artifacts and exhibits that will immerse visitors into this intense period of creative advances.”

Nearly 20 presentations and performances are complemented by the exhibits in the cultural center’s 8,500-square-foot Discovery Hall. Topics range from the evolution of Motown and revolutionary automotive design to Detroit’s magnificent movie palaces. Highlighting the program series is Museum Theater, featuring an original play commissioned by the cultural center, “In the Driver’s Seat – The Female Innovators of Auto Design,” which will be performed by local professional actors, March 11 at 1 p.m., March 29 at 11 a.m., and April 28 at 11 a.m.

For a complete schedule of presentations, visit here. While presentations are free to attend, registration is required.

The Lorenzo Cultural Center is located on Macomb Community College’s Center Campus, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township.