Healthy Workplaces Help Improve Communities

Businesses have influence when it comes to improving health outcomes in their community. It starts with investing in employee wellness programs and promoting healthy habits within the organization.

Sinziana Luchian, director of health care initiatives at the Detroit Regional Chamber, and speaker at The Business Case for Community Health, provided some insight about the connection between healthy workplaces and communities below.

See the full agenda and register for the event here.

Why should employers focus on the health and well-being of their employees?

The work environment can affect health factors such as weight management, sleeping habits, and stress levels which contribute to the overall well-being of employees. By investing in the workplace, employers are taking care of their employees and reinforcing their bottom line. Wellness programs deliver multiple benefits to businesses:

  • Promoting a culture of wellness within an organization reduces health care spending
  • Healthy employees are more engaged and productive in their roles
  • Businesses that offer employee incentives attract and retain talent

How can employers directly impact communities?

Business leaders have the opportunity to make health a defining factor in the workplace, inspiring their employees to evaluate and improve their own behaviors. This approach spreads healthy habits outside of the workplace and reaches families across communities. Small changes to individual health have the potential to transform the environment over time, creating healthier lifestyles within communities.

Healthy, thriving communities are an appealing place for individuals to live, work, and play. Employers can make an impact in the broader region by investing in their employees’ well-being and encouraging healthier choices within their organization and beyond.

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Member of the Month October 2019: Switch Utilizes 100% Renewable Energy to Power Its Data Centers in Michigan and Beyond

Editor’s note: The Detroit Regional Chamber’s Member of the Month designation recognizes a Chamber member working to grow the regional economy through innovative leadership in alignment with the Chamber’s programs or policy agenda.

Switch was named the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Member of the Month for October because of its commitment to sustainability and use of locally-generated 100% renewable energy to power its data centers, including its Pyramid Campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Switch has been widely recognized as a leader in sustainability. Greenpeace ranked Switch the highest in the world for sustainability among technology companies, and the company achieved all A’s in their 2017 Clicking Clean Report. In September 2019, Switch also received national recognition for its green leadership from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) when it received the 2019 Green Power Leadership Award.

Switch, a global technology company, develops and operates the world’s highest-rated data centers, and provides colocation, cloud services, telecommunications and content ecosystems. Switch was founded in 2000 by Rob Roy, with sustainability in mind. Switch is committed to ensuring the “data that runs the planet, does not ruin the planet.”

Today, Switch is known “as a world leader in the design and operation of sustainable data centers” with North American operations in Las Vegas, Tahoe Reno, Atlanta, and Grand Rapids. Switch’s clients include FedEx, Box, Amazon, eBay, MGM as well as several leading Michigan based companies.

“One of the key principles for Switch when we expand to other states, including Michigan, is to sustain on locally generated 100% renewable energy,” said Adam Kramer, Executive Vice President of Strategy for Switch.

In 2015, Switch helped to create Nevada’s first green tariff, allowing businesses in the state to purchase renewable energy. Three years later, Switch partnered with Consumer’s Energy and worked with the State of Michigan to also approve a green tariff. “The tariff is the first of its kind in Michigan,” said Kramer.

The Pyramid Campus located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is Switch’s iconic data center that will have a capacity of up to 1.8 million square feet of data center space upon completion. “Switch has used clean energy in Michigan since day one,” Kramer said. He continued, “Energy use is the nature of our business. Switch uses power 24 hours, 7 days a week. The internet never turns off. No other data center in the state is doing what we have accomplished.”

In addition, Switch publishes reports on its energy consumption and emissions. “We publish these reports to ensure that everyone can validate our claims, and to inspire others to use renewable energy,” said Kramer.

WeWork to open large coworking space near TechTown

Coworking giant WeWork, which already operates two spaces in downtown Detroit, will open up a third on Cass Avenue in TechTown. The new location will more than double its footprint in the city.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that WeWork will lease 91,000 square feet of space in the building at 6001 Cass Avenue at York Street, which is owned by developer The Platform. It will occupy part of the first floor, and all of floors two through five.

WeWork also leases four floors at 1001 Woodward Avenue and seven floors at 1449 Woodward Avenue totaling 85,000 square feet. Both downtown buildings are owned by Dan Gilbert.

WeWork declined to comment to Crain’s about the news, and it’s uncertain when the office will open. At its other Detroit locations, a basic floating desk membership plan starts at $300.

The Albert Kahn–designed building at Cass Avenue opened in 1927 as the Cadillac Sales and Service Building. It later housed WSU’s Criminal Justice department, but had been vacant for some years before being purchased by The Platform in 2016 for $2 million.

View from the intersection of the corner of a square, six-story limestone building. Two red “For Lease” signs hang on the side.
6001 Cass Avenue Google Street View
Other tenants in the approximately 130,000-square-foot building include Novi-based Tata Technologies and a Wayne State University art gallery. It’s slated to open this fall.

Before being put on hold earlier this year, The Platform had been working on a nearby, large-scale development plan called Cass & York that called for luxury condos.

WeWork made headlines in August before its initial public offering after releasing its S-1 filing which showed it was losing nearly $2 billion annually. The company operates more than 525 locations in more than 110 cities worldwide.

Clayton & McKervey CPA eases preparation for year-end business reporting with a roundup of filing requirements for companies

Southfield, Mich.—October 30, 2019—Clayton & McKervey, a certified public accounting and business advisory firm helping growth-driven companies compete in the global marketplace, knows this time of year brings a host of filing requirements and forms that companies need to finalize in order to file their taxes. Shareholder Margaret Amsden, CPA, who leads the firm’s tax department and is the point person for domestic tax strategies at Clayton & McKervey, says proactive preparation is half the battle in ensuring the tax filing process will go smoothly.

“Income, Social Security, Medicare tax withholding and payments that are not considered wages have to factored in for accurate reporting,” Amsden said. “It may seem a bit overwhelming, but companies that administer a system to ready their information now will have an easier time seeking the best possible financial advantages at tax time.”

Amsden offers a rundown on the key areas to consider when preparing year-end business reporting:

Form 1099’s – Depending on the nature of the non-wage payment, there are several:

Form 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) relates to services rendered which are not reportable wages on Form W-2 and includes: rents, services prizes, awards, medical and health care payments, cash paid from a national principal contract to an individual, partnership, or estate, royalties, or payment to attorney or law firm.
• For non-employee compensation, the form must be filed by January 31.
• Any other type of payment is due by February 28.
• For multiple types of payments, the IRS now requires two filing batches, one on or before January 31 and the second on or before February 28.

Form 1099-DIV (Dividends and Distributions) is required for payees who:
• Received at least $10 in dividends and other distributions on stock—not generally applicable to S Corporation distributions; had any foreign tax withheld and paid on dividends and other distributions on stock regardless of the amount of the payment; had any federal income tax withheld under the backup withholding rules regardless of the amount of the payment; or received at least $600 as part of a liquidation.
• There is also a change in exclusions on gains regarding all qualified small business stock – RICs acquired on or after January 1, 2019. If a RIC was acquired after December 31, 2018, then there will be no additional exclusions on any gain generated from that stock. If the stock was acquired on or before December 31, 2018 then the previous exclusions may apply to gains received.

Form 1099-INT (Interest Income) is required for payees who: received at least $10 in interest (or for certain payees at least $600); had any foreign tax withheld and paid on interest regardless of the amount of the payment; or had any federal income tax withheld under the backup withholding rules regardless of the amount of payment.

Form 1099-R (Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit Sharing) is currently required for each payee receiving at least $10 from profit sharing or retirement plans, any IRAs, annuities, pensions, insurance contracts, survivor income benefit plans, permanent and total disability payments under life insurance contracts, and charitable gift annuities.
• Also reports death benefit payments made by employers which are not part of a pension, profit sharing, or retirement plan, and reportable disability payments made from a retirement plan
• Special rules apply for reporting distributions to employees affected by natural disasters (refer to Pub. 976, Disaster Relief)
• Rollovers to a Roth IRA cannot be re-characterized as having been made to a traditional IRA
• Payments made to any state unclaimed property funds on or after January 1, 2019

Form W-2:
Employers must file Form W-2 for wages paid to each employee subject to income, Social Security, or Medicare tax withholding and need to consider:
• Health Insurance Premiums paid for a 2% Shareholder in an S Corporation
• Personal Use of Employer-Provided Automobiles as an excludable working condition fringe benefit
• Group-term Life Insurance Coverage included in the employee’s gross income to the extent the cost of the policy coverage exceeds the cost of $50,000 of such insurance, less the after-tax amount (if any) paid by the employee toward the purchase of the insurance.
• Disability Insurance Coverage which is not required to be included in the employee’s gross income but if it is, then the benefit (if ever claimed by the employee) will be non-taxable
• The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required on the total cost of health care coverage on the W-2 form for all employers with more than 250 W-2 forms.
• Premium Reimbursement Plans on reimbursed payments for the purchase of individual health insurance policies in employees’ compensation.

Form 1095-C and 1095-B:
• Employers with more than 50 full-time employees need to report information regarding the health care eligibility and coverage for their employees on Form 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage).
• Employers with less than 50 full-time employees sponsoring self-insured group health plans will be required to file Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) to report information regarding the health care coverage for their employees.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts (TCJA) updates:
• Qualified Moving Expense Reimbursements Exclusion is no longer allowed during the tax years 2018-2025.
• Donated Leave–the allowance for employees donating their personal, sick or vacation leave days to qualified tax-exempt organizations helping victims of some specified, recent natural disasters, still applies in 2019.
• Qualified Equity Grants Reporting–The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 83(i) covers “qualified equity grants” but comes with increased reporting requirements for eligible corporations with qualified plans. Generally, when stock from an exercise of a stock option or a stock grant is substantially vested, employees are required to recognize taxable income, and income tax withholding requirements apply. Note: In the case of a start-up business, this withholding burden often falls on the employee, which counteracts any incentive of the initial stock option or grant. Complex rules stipulate what companies are covered, employee notification requirements, and penalties if employees are not notified in a timely manner.

Amsden has written more in depth on reporting requirements and exceptions, and says that consulting with the appropriate accounting specialists can alleviate confusion and expedite the reporting process.

About Clayton & McKervey
Clayton & McKervey is a full-service CPA firm helping middle-market entrepreneurial companies compete in the global marketplace. The firm is headquartered in metro Detroit and services clients throughout the world. To learn more, visit


Nemeth Law partner Deborah Brouwer named to Crain’s Detroit Business 2019 Notable Women in Law

Detroit, Mich.— October 29, 2019 — Nemeth Law, P.C., a Detroit-based labor and employment law firm, announced that Deborah Brouwer, a partner in the firm, has been selected for inclusion in the Crain’s Detroit Business 2019 Notable Women in Law list, featuring 22 acclaimed women attorneys working in the private and public sector, including law firms, general counsel, non-profits, and government.

Attorneys were selected based on their reputation for excellence in the law, track record of success in their field, involvement with the community, and mentorship of other attorneys. Crain Content Studio worked with advisors in the legal field to review nominations and select the final honorees. Brouwer’s profile for the Notable Women in Law can be viewed here.

Brouwer’s labor and employment practice includes the defense of lawsuits against employers involving claims of race, age, religion, national origin, gender and disability discrimination, and harassment and retaliation, as well as FLSA, FMLA and non-competition suits. She also provides employer training and conducts discrimination and harassment investigations on behalf of employers. Brouwer has extensive experience appearing before administrative agencies, including the EEOC, MDCR, MIOSHA, OSHA and the NLRB, and also appears frequently before the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Brouwer is active in professional and community organizations. She is Treasurer, Board of Directors, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel; Member, State Bar of Michigan Appellate Section and Labor and Employment Law Section; Member, American Bar Association, Litigation Section; Member, DRI; Chair of the Board of Directors of Assured Family Services; and Vice President, Board of Trustees, Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation. Brouwer holds a Juris Doctor from the Wayne State University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree, both from the University of Michigan.

The Crain’s Detroit Business recognition of Notable Women in Law comes on the heels of Brouwer being named a Michigan Super Lawyer in employment litigation defense in September 2019; in September 2018, she was named a Woman in the Law honoree by the legal trade publication, Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

About Nemeth Law, P.C.
Nemeth Law specializes in arbitration, mediation, workplace investigations, employment litigation, traditional labor law and management consultation/training for private and public sector employers. It is the largest woman-owned law firm in Michigan to exclusively represent management in the prevention, resolution and litigation of labor and employment disputes.

Bethany Thayer

Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Henry Ford Health System

Bethany Thayer is director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health System (HFHS) in Detroit. She oversees a team of health professionals who provide wellness services to more than 33,000 employees of HFHS, patients, work sites, and community groups.

Thayer was a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics for nine years and served three years as a national leader for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a past-president of the Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MI Academy). She was named the MI Academy 1993 Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year, received the MI Academy Media Award in 2004 and 2006, and was recognized in 2012 as the Michigan Outstanding Dietitian of the Year.

Thayer graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in dietetics, completed her dietetic internship at Henry Ford Hospital, and earned a master’s degree in exercise science from Oakland University.

Kathy Forzley

Director, Department of Health and Human Services, Oakland County

Kathy Forzley was appointed by former Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson as director of the Oakland County Department of Health and Human Services in 2017. In this role, she provides oversight of the Health Division, Children’s Village, and Homeland Security divisions.

As a recognized public health expert, Forzley’s leadership has focused on population health improvement through numerous collaborative efforts that comprehensively align community partners and resources around complex health issues. Under her oversight, Forzley has created and sustained numerous award-winning community initiatives such as Healthy Pontiac, We Can!, Homeless Healthcare Collaboration, and a countywide health improvement initiative known as Energizing Connections for Healthier Oakland (ECHO).

Prior to her current position, Forzley was the Health Officer of the Oakland County Health Division, Administrator of Oakland County Health Division’s Environmental Health Services, and worked as a Registered Environmental Health Sanitarian. Forzley has a master’s in public administration and a dual Bachelor of Arts in biology and Bachelor of Science in environmental health from Oakland University.

Cindy Bjorkquist

Director, Health and Well-being, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

With more than 36 years of experience in various roles in the health and well-being industry, Cindy Bjorkquist is the director of health and well-being at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Prior to her current position, Bjorkquist served as executive director and chair of the Foundation for a Healthy Community at Allegiance Health System.

Bjorkquist previously held instructor positions at Michigan State University and Jackson Community College, and was president and owner of High Voltage, a consulting company specializing in worksite program development and evaluation.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and biology from Spring Arbor University and holds a master’s degree in kinesiology with a double major in biology and exercise in sports science from Michigan State University.

Jay Brown

Director, Corporate Social Responsibility and Economic Relations, RPM — The Driving Force in Logistics

Jay Brown is director of corporate responsibility and economic relations at RPM, a freight brokerage firm specializing in supply chain and transportation solutions in vehicle, freight, and bulk commodities. Brown has a pivotal role in increasing employee well-being, forging mutually beneficial relationships with community agencies, and ensuring that RPM offers progressive and consistent demonstration of customer service to its clients.

Prior to joining RPM, Brown was general manager of the largest LA Fitness in Michigan in Royal Oak. Brown is a graduate of the University of Michigan where he earned his bachelor’s degree in organizational communications and political science.

Jacques: Translate ‘Free College’ Into More Graduates

October 29, 2019

The Detroit News

Ingrid Jacques 

Wayne State University’s recent announcement that it will offer free tuition to Detroit freshmen is no doubt welcome news to students and families throughout the city.

Yet simply growing enrollment does not necessarily translate to more students with degrees.

Cost is certainly a barrier for many low-income students. But it’s not the only one.

Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent for the Detroit Regional Chamber, understands the roadblocks facing Detroit youths. Since 2013, the chamber has administered the Detroit Promise program that offers taxpayer-funded scholarships to city high school graduates for community college. The program also runs a separate four-year college scholarship. More than 3,500 students have participated to date.

When it got off the ground, the program had a difficult time attracting students to apply, and ones that participated didn’t often stick around for a second year.

Those numbers are starting to improve, as the chamber has begun matching students with campus coaches and other assistance. Handel says 67% of four-year students are still enrolled by the third year. Plus, the Detroit Public Schools Community District has hired 20 college transition advisers, which he says is hugely helpful.

The chamber, along with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and business leaders, is pushing for 60% of residents to have a post-high school degree or certification. The state average is currently about 45%, but in Detroit it’s lower.

“There is more awareness around opportunities for higher ed,” Handel says. “It helps us to our ultimate goal of increasing the number of individuals with a post-secondary degree.”

And it seems locally-run programs like Detroit Promise are best suited to understand the needs of students in their communities. That’s something for the governor, who has called for more intervention at the state level, to consider.

Read the full article here