1950s to Now: The History of the Supplier Diversity Business Initiatives

The origins of supplier diversity go back to the 1950s and 1960s when the civil rights movement called for an end to the struggle for justice and equality for Black Americans. Those protests ultimately paved the way for many groups to participate in the marketplace.



  • Neither of the Acts established in the 1950s required that small businesses be owned by a member of a minority group. That directive was authorized by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which called for an end of discrimination that gave greater opportunities to majority-owned companies.
  • Another boost to anti-discrimination initiatives came in 1969 when the Office of Minority Business Enterprise was established. Two years later, the scope of the OMBE was expanded to provide grants so that business groups could provide technical and operational guidance to diverse suppliers.


  • The OMBE expansion gave rise to the founding of the National Minority Purchasing Council, now known as the National Minority Supplier Development Council, in 1972. The group has a vast network that supports and facilitates minority-owned businesses into corporate and public sector supply chains.
  • The Small Business Act of 1978 redefined minority firms as socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses and required federal agencies to establish contracting goals for major federal contracts. The act also established the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization to heighten awareness among small and diverse businesses of federal contracting opportunities available within the federal government.
  • In 1979, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to promote the economic growth of Hispanic-owned businesses.



The 2000s and Beyond

  • The National Veteran-Owned Business Association was founded in 2001 to create corporate contracting opportunities for America’s veterans and service-disabled veterans’ business enterprises.
  • The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2002 to ensure the implementation of pro-business LGBTQ-inclusive policies at corporations of public entities.
  • In 2010, the Small Business Jobs Act expanded access to capital for small businesses, increased exporting initiatives and strengthened contracting opportunities.
  • Supplier diversity continues to gain momentum in the U.S. and around the world as more companies realize the benefits of an inclusive supply chain. Challenges likely lay ahead for corporations and entrepreneurs, but the path to a stronger economy and marketplace is paved with the benefits of engaging diverse suppliers.

The original article can be read here.

All You Need to Know About Becoming a Diverse-Owned Certified Business in Michigan

Diverse-owned business certifications help businesses that are owned by groups historically left out of the supply chain gain access to more opportunities and grow. The goal of these certifications is to create equity in the business community, so Black-owned, veteran-owned, and other minority-owned businesses have just as good of a chance to succeed and grow as majority-owned businesses. This reason is why getting certified as a diverse-owned business is one of the most important things a business owner can do.

Benefits of Getting Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business

1. Opportunities: Being certified makes your company more attractive to potential buyers. Both corporations and the government are looking to do business with Black-owned, minority-owned, women-owned, and other diverse-owned businesses, but you need to be certified to qualify for those contracts.

2. Connections: Joining a certified organization opens doors to make connections to both other diverse-owned businesses and the corporations who want to support them. These face-to-face and virtual opportunities, such as conferences, trade fairs, and networking luncheons connect you and your company with potential buyers, mentors, friends, and advocates.

3. Resources: Being certified through a diversity advocacy organization grants you access to numerous resources including databases, pitch competitions, grants, and educational opportunities. It’s one of the most important things a diverse supplier can do to help their business, as you must be certified by an appropriate third party to be considered a diverse supplier. It not only grants visibility to your business but makes your company more attractive to corporations.

How to Get Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business

To be considered for a diverse-owned business certification, your business should be at least 51% owned by a woman, minority, veteran, or person with a disability. There are several organizations created out of a need to level the playing field for businesses too often left out of the procurement process. They provide certification to qualifying businesses that provide required documentation and fees, which differ with each group.

Where to Get Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business in Michigan

  • The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to driving economic growth within minority communities. It is a part of the larger National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), which has a network of 12,000 minority-owned businesses and 1,400 large corporate members and holds a lot of weight in the government industry. To apply for an MMSDC certificate, visit https://minoritysupplier.org/for-mbes/mbe-certification/. The application process can take up to 90 days, including the pre-certification briefing, online application, and site interview.
  • The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive. WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States (more than 1,000 corporations accept it) with 14 Regional Partner Organizations who are also able to issue the certification. To apply for a WBE certificate, visit https://www.wbenc.org/certification/apply-now-for-wbenc-certification/.
  • The Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, operating out of Michigan and Indiana, is one of WBENC’s regional partners. GLWBC has trained over 15,000 business owners and entrepreneurs in the region, certified 1,400 women-owned businesses, and worked with 90+ corporate members. To apply for a Women’s Business Enterprise certificate through the GLWBC, visit https://www.greatlakeswbc.org/certification/get-certified/. The process starts with a certification orientation seminar and includes an online application and site interview.
  • Disability:IN is a nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion around the world. It has a network of more than 220 corporate partners, 27 affiliates, and alliances with other diverse groups—all of which serve as a collective voice to effect change for people with disabilities in business. Disability:IN’s DOBE, or disability-owned business enterprises, certification is nationally recognized, including by the Billion Dollar Roundtable. It provides many benefits for those certified and for corporations who work with them. To apply for a DOBE, V-DOBE, or SDV-DOBE certificate, visit https://disabilityin.org/what-we-do/supplier-diversity/. The process includes an online application and site interview.
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is a veteran-owned business certification organization that recognizes small, medium, and large businesses in the U.S. Its NVBDC/VOB certification is accepted by the Billion Dollar Roundtable. To apply for a Veteran Owned Business Certificate, visit https://nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page/. The process includes an online application and site interview. Businesses that have a diverse-owned certification already can qualify for the VOB certificate in 30 days through the fast track. For businesses without an existing certification, the process can take up to 60 days after the application and required documents are submitted.
  • National LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for the LGBT business community around the world. It is the exclusive third-party certifying body for Certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) companies. Over one-third of Fortune 500 companies recognize its LGBT-Owned Business Enterprise Certification. In addition to the LGBTBE certificate, the Chamber also has specific task forces and initiatives for transgender and non-binary business owners and LGBT business owners of color. To apply for the LGBTBE certificate, visit https://www.nglcc.org/get-certified. The process includes creating an online business profile, submitting supporting documents, completing a site visit, and getting accepted by the National Certification Committee.
  • The Michigan Unified Certification Program (MUCP) is responsible for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) certification in the state of Michigan. The program gives diverse-owned businesses the opportunity to do one-stop-shopping for transportation DBE certifications in the State of Michigan.
  • Businesses can submit an application for certification to one of the three certifying agencies (Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Wayne County, and Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT)) and undergo one review to achieve DBE status. If approved, the company will become eligible to work on any federally funded airport, highway, or transit contract as a DEB/ACDBE. Businesses can apply for certification with MDOT online here. To apply for certification through Wayne County or DDOT, contact either location to learn how to apply through their organizations. Find their contact information here.
  • The Detroit Business Opportunity Program (DBOP) annually certifies and recertifies a variety of businesses, including Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBE). Certain qualifications through DBOP will qualify businesses for appreciation events, networking and capacity-building opportunities, equalization credits, and visibility on their online business register. To certify as an MBE or WBE under DBOP, visit https://detroitmi.gov/departments/civil-rights-inclusion-opportunity-department/detroit-business-opportunity-program.

Plunkett Cooney attorneys selected as 2021 ‘Rising Stars’

Michigan Super Lawyers magazine has named 14 attorneys from Plunkett Cooney, one of Michigan’s oldest and largest law firms, to its 2021 list of “Rising Stars.”

New to the list this year are Rochelle L. Clarke, Katherine M. Nighswander and Michele Dunsky Adams. A Bloomfield Hills attorney and co-leader of the firm’s Governmental Law Practice Group, Clarke was selected for her civil litigation defense experience. Both Nighswander, an attorney in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, and Dunsky Adams, a member of Plunkett Cooney’s Grand Rapids, were selected for their insurance coverage expertise.

Published by Thomson Reuters, Michigan Super Lawyers compiles its annual list based upon a patented selection process that involves peer nominations, independent third-party research and peer evaluation by a highly-credentialed panel of attorneys.

To be considered a Rising Star, candidates must be either 40 years old or younger or licensed to practice for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of eligible attorneys receive the “Rising Star” designation.

Below is a list of Plunkett Cooney attorneys who have received the 2021 Michigan Super Lawyer Rising Star designation:

Bloomfield Hills office members:

*Hilary A. Ballentine – Appellate
*Abe Barlaskar – Personal Injury: Defense
*Ryan P. Bourjaily – Estate & Trust Litigation
*Rochelle L. Clarke – Civil Litigation: Defense
*Ashley S. Dickey – Personal Injury: Defense
*Patrick C. Lannen – Banking
*Scott W. Malott – Civil Litigation: Defense
*Courtney L. Nichols – Employment & Labor
*Katherine M. Nighswander – Insurance Coverage
Nicole C. Ruggirello – Insurance Coverage
*Jesse A. Zapczynski – Insurance Coverage

Detroit office member:

*Kimberly K. Seibert – Civil Litigation: Defense

Grand Rapids office member:

*Michele Dunsky Adams – Personal Injury: Defense

Petoskey office member:

*Matthew W. Cross – Civil Litigation: Defense

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of business and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.

For more information regarding Plunkett Cooney’s 2021 Michigan “Rising Stars,” contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell, at (248) 901-4008; jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

– End –

Flint-Native One of 20 Black Entrepreneurs Selected for Hennessy’s $1m ‘Never Stop, Never Settle’ Program

In 2014, Flint, Michigan, became the U.S. epicenter of the global water crisis with more than 100,000 residents being exposed to highly elevated lead content. In 2019, Jonathan Quarles, a Flint resident, learned about Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) technology during a trip to Israel. One year later, he launched Quartz Water Source using AWG to help his hometown.

AWG uses technology to produce potable water from the air. Individual generators for the home can produce one to 20 liters of water daily; commercial-scale units like the ones Quarles uses for his business can produce upwards of 10,000 liters daily. Quarles saw the potential in this technology to serve as a recurring, scalable source of clean drinking water for the people of Flint and other American cities suffering from polluted water.

When Quarles launched Quartz Water Source, he did so with the commitment to providing a clean water source to communities in need, giving back through a donor-advised fund, and raising awareness about the global water crisis. He is also working to raise awareness about the importance of restoration, wellness, and overall health in 2021 and beyond by selling apparel and donating a portion of the proceeds to Flint’s “Water to the People” fund.

Hennessy liked how Quarles was invested in uplifting the Black community and selected him along with 19 other Black entrepreneurs to participate in its “Never Stop, Never Settle Society” (NsNs). Hennessy created the $1 million program in March 2021 to support a more equitable landscape for inclusive business growth and development.

“Hennessy recognizes the tenacity and resilience each selected member embodies as they push the limits of potential to carve their path, address social and economic challenges and make a lasting impact on their community. Hennessy has always supported the Black community. We are honored to continue this legacy through the ‘Never Stop, Never Settle Society’ by celebrating extraordinary individuals and championing the vision of their businesses,” Jasmin Allen, senior vice president of Hennessy U.S., said.

Quarles and each of the 19 additional Black business owners selected for the program will be provided $50,000; access to professional development sessions with Moët Hennessy executives; access to the physical NsNs HQ and amenities in New York City, starting late 2021; membership to The Gathering Spot Connect, a Black-owned digital community offering culturally relevant content; networking opportunities; and business development resources.

The 2021 members of Hennessy’s “Never Stop, Never Settle Society” include:

Going PRO Talent Fund Supports Employer-Led Training and Upskilling

The Going PRO Talent Fund, an annual competitive grant program that awards businesses funds that can be used on training and apprenticeships to attract and retain current and newly hired employees, is re-opening its application this fall.

The grant application will open Sept. 20, 2021, and close Oct. 15, 2021. Awards are expected to be announced mid-December with the training and retention period beginning Jan. 1, 2022, until Dec. 31, 2022.

Interested applicants must work with their local Michigan Works! Agency (MWA) to apply. MWAs provide extensive resources and technical assistance around the Going PRO application and project implementation. While employers will apply through the State’s Going PRO portal, they will need to participate in an initial discussion with a business service representative from their local MWA.

To assist businesses in learning more about the process and applying, many Michigan Works! Agencies are hosting information sessions. Featured below are MWAs in the Southeast Michigan region including, Detroit at Work, Macomb-St. Clair Michigan Works!, Oakland County Michigan Works!, and SEMCA Michigan Works!.

Upcoming Information Sessions:

Detroit at Work (Serving the City of Detroit)

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, 2-3 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, 2-3 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021, 9-10 a.m.

Employers will receive Zoom credentials upon registering. To RSVP for an information session or with general questions, contact Layna Gardner-Lott, work-based learning consultant, by calling (313) 407-2199 or emailing lgardnerlott@detempsol.org.

Macomb-St. Clair Michigan Works!

Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, 9-11 a.m. | Register Here

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, 2-4 p.m. | Register Here

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, 9-11 a.m. | Register Here

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, 2-4 p.m. | Register Here

Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, noon to 2 p.m. | Register Here

Macomb-St. Clair Michigan Works! provides specialized support through business account managers. For more information or questions, contact Jennifer Taylor, who can be emailed at jrtaylor@macomb-stclairworks.org.

Oakland County Michigan Works!

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021, 9-10:30 a.m. | Register Here

Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, 9-10:30 a.m. | Register Here

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, 2-4 p.m. | Register Here

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, 2-4 p.m. | Register Here

Oakland County Michigan Works! provides specialized support through its business services team. For more information or questions, contact Denise Van Hee at dvanhee@troy.k12.mi.us

More information can be found at: https://www.oakgov.com/workforce/employers/Pages/Going-Pro-Talent-Fund.aspx.

SEMCA Michigan Works! (Serving Western Wayne and Monroe Counties)

Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, 3 p.m. | Register Here

SEMCA Michigan Works! provides specialized support through business solutions staff. For more information or questions, contact Colleen Mallory at colleen.mallory@semca.org.

More information can be found at: Going Pro Talent Fund – SEMCA.

The Detroit Regional Chamber encourages businesses to take advantage of this opportunity to earn financial resources to provide credentialed training to workers. Learn more about the Going PRO Talent Fund here.

How Detroit election workers scored a win in face of criticism, threats

The Detroit News
Aug. 29, 2021
Craig Mauger

Detroit — Janice Winfrey, a former math teacher who’s now the top election official in Michigan’s largest city, received threats, criticism and national attention as supporters of former President Donald Trump attacked the 2020 election.

At one point, police said they needed to surveil her house, she said.

Winfrey thought about quitting, not seeking another term as Detroit’s clerk, but ultimately decided she wanted to stay on the job, she said.

“This is not what we signed up for,” said Winfrey, sitting at a table in her second-floor office last week after detailing a story of someone threatening to blow up her neighborhood.

“I see myself as the keeper of democracy for this city. You don’t hand that away. That’s the only reason that I didn’t walk.”

After the Nov. 3 election, Winfrey and her team dived into implementing new processes designed to improve key aspects about how the vote is administered in Detroit. There’s already evidence their ideas are working.

For years, one of the most discussed problems with elections in Detroit has been the city’s inability to balance tallies of voters with tallies of ballots in the same precincts.

But in Detroit’s municipal primary election earlier this month, none of the city’s 120 absentee voter counting boards were out of balance without an explanation, an achievement that’s been touted by Democratic and Republican officials. Three of the boards, 2.5%, were off by one vote with explanations, meaning workers had determined what caused the variation.

In the November 2020 election, which brought protests outside the TCF Center, where Detroit’s absentee ballots were counted, about 70% of the city’s counting boards were out of balance.

The imbalanced numbers don’t indicate there was fraud but do point to accounting problems that could, under state law, prevent at least some of the precincts from being included in potential recounts.

Last year, the mismatches also provided an opportunity for Trump and others to slam Detroit’s election. In November, the then-president tweeted there was “rampant” fraud in the city and there were “far more votes than people.” The Michigan Republican Party also called for an audit of Wayne County’s results.

On Nov. 17, the Republican members of Wayne County Board of Canvassers initially refused to certify the county’s results because of the Detroit tallies before changing course and approving the numbers.

“Based on what I saw and went through in poll books in this canvass, I believe that we do not have complete and accurate information in those poll books,” GOP canvasser Monica Palmer said in November.

But during a meeting earlier this month, Palmer called the results from August a “huge improvement.”

‘Make sure that it happens’

Instead of simply taking the 2020 certification as a win and moving on, Daniel Baxter, a Detroit election official who works for Winfrey and oversees the absentee voting process, vowed in December to do better.

“In August of 2021, all 120 of our boards are going to balance,” Baxter said he told Winfrey. “And I’m going to make sure that it happens.”

He essentially achieved that goal with 0% of the absentee voter counting boards out of balance without explanations, and nearly 98% of the city’s absentee voter counting boards balanced.

While there were 48,058 absentee ballots cast in the primary compared with 174,384 in the 2020 general election, Michigan’s longtime former elections director Chris Thomas said it’s likely Detroit officials will be able to replicate their August success in future elections.

“They just need to stay at it,” said Thomas, who works as a consultant for the city’s elections. “There’s no reason that if they stay with the program that they shouldn’t be able to accomplish the same thing.”

Baxter, who began working for the city 36 years ago, agreed.

A template for handling absentee ballots is what led to the results in August and that template will work with a larger number of ballots, he said.

How they did it

The noise surrounding the last presidential vote, nearly 300 days ago, was in the background Wednesday as 40 election workers in Detroit quietly went about their jobs at folding tables on the fourth floor of the election department’s office building. The fourth floor is now dedicated to the city’s absentee ballot-tracking system.

Baxter’s process is based on keeping ballot applications and ballots in small batches of 50 and regularly checking to ensure the numbers reconcile. The strategy is to prevent small mistakes early in the process as well as imbalances on Election Day.

Applications for absentee ballots are opened and checked into the state’s qualified voter file, which tracks registered voters, in groups of 50. When the ballots are mailed and returned, workers continue to track and reconcile the information in groups of 50.

The ballots are placed in bundles of 50, so when the counting boards tally the results on Election Day, they handle groups of 50. Four bundles of 50 are ultimately sent to the tabulators together. If there aren’t 200 ballots there, election workers have to resolve what happened.

The work involves checking for imbalances throughout the process and having subject-matter experts do specific jobs. Previously, at satellite voting locations where absentee ballots could be cast ahead of Election Day, workers would enter information into the qualified voter file. Now, that responsibility is happening at a centralized location.

Plus, the Clerk’s Office has created a specific job of “balancer” to work with absentee voter counting boards on Election Day to ensure the numbers are exact. There are 12 balancers, one each for 10 counting boards.

What’s ahead?

Thomas said he also noticed many younger election workers who did the job for the first time in November returned for the August primary. There seemed to be an “us versus them” mentality, he said, referring to the criticism that was levied against Detroit’s 2020 election.

“There is some pride there,” Thomas said.

Baxter knows about that pride. As a kid, he had a summer youth job working for the city and an internship in 1984 before getting his first full-time position with the city a year later.

“When someone or something has been that kind and gracious to you, you want to do everything you can to make sure that it is the shining example of excellence,” Baxter said. “Because of the gift the city has given me, I want to reciprocate in some form or fashion.”

Baxter said he never thought about quitting after the 2020 election but acknowledged frustration with the criticism levied against Detroit.

Winfrey said she did think about quitting. She said she got a call from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a fellow Detroiter, in the weeks after the election.

“She said, ‘If you give up now, that’s exactly what they want you to do,'” Winfrey recalled. “She said, ‘Janice, hang in there. We’re a good team. We’ll get through it together.'”

Winfrey, who was first elected in 2005, is now seeking another four-year term as clerk. In the August primary, she finished first in a four-way primary with 70% of the vote. She will face Denzel McCampbell, a Detroit charter commissioner, in the November general election.

View the original article.

Michigan’s largest public companies ‘encouraged’ by second-quarter rebound

Bridge Michigan 
Aug. 30, 2021
David Wilkins 

Michigan’s largest publicly traded companies have mounted a strong comeback since the COVID-19 pandemic sent them reeling last year.

The latest corporate financial filings from the state’s biggest employers show their revenues in the second quarter (Q2) of this year rebounded to levels achieved in the same period in 2019 — before the coronavirus devastated the global economy.

Combined, revenues for 30 of these firms dropped 40 percent last year — from $128 billion in Q2 2019 to $77 billion in Q2 2020 — then rose 60 percent to $123 billion this year.

Many of the companies have demonstrated optimism that the recovery will continue by reinstating share buybacks, increasing dividends, paying down debt, and issuing improved financial outlooks for the remainder of the year.

“We’re encouraged by the healthy sales pipelines and new wins we’re seeing across all of our businesses,” Peter Quigley, CEO of Troy-based staffing company Kelly Services, said in a statement. “Our reinstatement of a dividend for the quarter reflects the progress we’re making . . . and our confidence in the economic recovery.”

On Kelly’s quarterly call with industry analysts, Quigley noted that “the temporary labor market is approaching pre-COVID levels, the unemployment crisis in the US has eased with three months of strong job growth, and demand for staffing and other workforce solutions continues to grow.”

Michigan’s recovery mirrors the national picture: in Q2 2021, U.S. economic output surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time. Gabe Ehrlich, an economic forecaster at the University of Michigan, said the U.S. government’s $5.2 trillion fiscal response to the pandemic bolstered household incomes and helped fuel the recovery — but the comeback is not complete.

“We have had a strong recovery so far. Big business has done well,” Ehrlich said. “That’s great news, but it’s not the whole picture. Small businesses have had a harder time during the pandemic and there is still a jobs shortfall.”

The state’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent in July but, compared with February 2020, the labor force has shrunk by 213,000 people and 256,000 fewer Michigan residents are working, according to data from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some people who left the labor force during the pandemic won’t return to work, Ehrlich said, including individuals who retired earlier than they planned and women who quit to care for children and manage other family responsibilities.

Meanwhile, some Michigan-based public companies are concerned that the recovery is susceptible to inflation, supply chain vulnerabilities, and the resurgence of COVID.

The international microchip shortage is particularly concerning to the auto industry. Ford reported that its quarterly profits fell by half largely due to the shortage of computer chips, and GM CEO Mary Barra said the impact on production will likely extend into 2022. Production shutdowns cost Cooper Standard, a supplier based in Northville, $200 million in Q2.

As consumer demand drives the economic recovery, supply chain issues will continue to create bottlenecks — and this disconnect between demand and supply is expected to cause moderately higher inflation, Ehrlich said.

Economists are optimistic about blue collar employment, he added, noting that the construction sector is strong, logistics jobs are rebounding, and the warehousing and utilities sectors have surpassed pre-pandemic levels.

Hiring for jobs requiring a college degree will be less robust than the blue-collar segment, he said, but better than the service sector. Bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues may continue to struggle as working-from-home and reduced business travel become the norm.

“Due to COVID and how it’s changed the way we do business, (the hospitality sector) remains at risk,” said Ehrlich, who directs the U-M Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE).

Overall, forecasts suggest the U.S. economy won’t fully rebound until at least the end of 2023. “Closing that last-mile gap is going to take some time,” he said.

The revenues of the 30 companies cited above show variations by industry sector:

  • Automotive: At GM, Ford, Gentex, Lear, Visteon, Meritor, and Cooper Standard, Q2 revenues nearly rebounded to 2019 levels. At Gentherm, Borg Warner, and Penske Automotive, they surpassed them by 75 percent to 95 percent.
  • Office Furniture: Herman Miller and Steelcase fell short of 2019 levels by 7 percent and 32 percent, respectively.
  • Food: Kellogg’s and SpartanNash, a grocery distributor and retailer based in Byron Center, did not experience a Q2 pandemic dip in 2020. Their revenues were flat across the second quarters of 2019, 2020, and 2021.
  • Fast Food: Grand Rapids-based Meritage Hospitality Group operates more than 300 Wendy’s and other restaurants in 16 states. Its revenues were flat in Q2 2020 and grew 20 percent this year. Domino’s second-quarter revenues grew 13 percent in 2020 and 9 percent this year.
  • Footwear: Wolverine Worldwide, whose brands include Merrell, Saucony, and Sperry, saw Q2 revenues drop from about $570 million in 2019 to $350 million last year – and climb to $630 million this year.
  • Financial Services: Ally Financial and Flagstar delivered steady Q2 growth in both 2020 and 2021. For Ally, quarterly revenues climbed 11 percent in 2020 and 19 percent in 2021. Flagstar was up 80 percent last year and 27 percent this year.
  • Building Supplies: Masco and Universal Forest Products were flat in Q2 2020 and grew revenues  22 percent and 125 percent, respectively, this year.

Rounding out the list ( all results are Q2 revenues for 2019, 2020 and 2021):

  • Dow (chemicals): $11 billion, $8.4  billion, $13.9 billion.
  • Whirlpool (appliances): $5.2 billion, $4 billion, $5.3 billion.
  • Stryker (medical devices): $3.7 billion, $2.8 billion, $4.3 billion.
  • Universal Logistics (transportation and logistics): $383 million, $258 million, $423 million.
  • Kelly Services (staffing): $1.4 billion, $975 million. $1.3 billion.
  • Perrigo (consumer self-care products):  $1.1 billion, $949 million, $981 million.
  • Trimas (consumer goods): $191 million, $200 million, $219 million.
  • Neogen (food and animal safety): $110 million, $109 million, $127 million.
  • Sun Communities (manufactured housing communities, RV parks, and marinas): $312 million, $303 million, $604 million.

While most of Michigan’s publicly traded companies are heartened by the comeback, they also are acutely aware that COVID remains a cloud on the economic horizon.

“The most important thing from here,” Ehrlich said, “is what the pandemic is going to do. It’s still in the driver’s seat.”

View the original article.

Aug. 27 | This Week in Government: Budget Targets Set; Subcommittee Chairs Begin Work

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Budget Targets Set; Subcommittee Chairs Begin Work
  2. Congress Probing Shirkey-Chatfield Trump Meeting For Any Jan. 6 Ties
  3. Will $1B+ New Revenue Factor Into FY22 Budget?
  4. Pfizer Vax Gets Full FDA Approval; Michigan’s COVID-19 Cases Still Rising
  5. Gov: Spend $2.1B In Federal Relief For Economy; Signs Of Budget Life?

Budget Targets Set; Subcommittee Chairs Begin Work

Work to finalize the 2021-22 fiscal year budget picked up substantially in the past week with top legislative appropriations members and the administration of Governor Gretchen Whitmer agreeing to a target agreement that sets spending levels for each department and major budget area.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in an interview that chairs of the Appropriations subcommittees in the House and Senate, along with departmental officials, began work Tuesday on finalizing budgets.

In recent years, most of the budget decisions have been made at the top between the budget director and top legislators. Mr. Stamas said Tuesday he is hopeful “as much as possible it’s handled with the departments and the chairs” this time, as was the case for many years.

“It’s what we’ve been working for to have that,” he said.

When the Legislature adjourned in late June, it was unclear when behind-the-scenes budget work would resume amid the deadline to complete the upcoming fiscal year budget before that year begins October 1.

What got things moving, Mr. Stamas was asked.

“We’ve had I think an opportunity to just have some space and work with our respective chambers and departments. I think last week went very well between Director Massaron and Chairman Albert and myself,” he said, referring to Budget Director Dave Massaron and Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “Time away to get things moving again.”

Mr. Stamas said he does not anticipate it will go to the wire in September to wrap up the budget based on the work that has taken place lately.

Mr. Stamas’s depiction of the situation was confirmed by other sources.

Asked what areas of the budget would be the toughest to reconcile, Mr. Stamas quipped he didn’t want to jinx anything by getting specific.

As to what stakeholders might anticipate given the huge surplus in state revenues, Mr. Stamas said, “We’re going to look at one-time dollars as one-time opportunities and ongoing dollars are part of the consideration for ongoing programs.”

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing), minority vice chair of Senate Appropriations, said he’s cautiously optimistic about where talks stand. He concurred with Mr. Stamas about what got discussions moving.

“There’s a deadline,” he said. “There are real consequences to not solving it by the date. A little of time away and a little bit of deadline makes things easier.”

Congress Probing Shirkey-Chatfield Trump Meeting For Any Jan. 6 Ties

A meeting between former President Donald Trump and leaders of both the Michigan House and Senate last year is being probed by a congressional committee focused on the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to see if there are any links between the two events.

In a 12-page letter sent Wednesday to United States Archivist David Ferreira, Committee Chair U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) renewed a request for record which the body sent back in March with several new requests for documents, including any planning done by the White House and others for legal purposes or for purposes of delaying, halting or otherwise impeding the Electoral College count.

Under that heading, Mr. Thompson specifically requests all documents and communications spanning from November 3, 2020, through January 20, 2021, “referring or relating to the 2020 election results between White House officials or officials of state governments.”

While the requests are not limited to just the individuals he lists, among the names written are Former House Speaker Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), current Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) and Wayne County Board of Canvassers member Monica Palmer.

The request also extends to the staff and subordinates of those named.

In addition to those records, Mr. Thompson’s request includes the following topics:

  • Recruitment, planning coordination and other preparations for the rallies leading up to and including January 6 and the violence on January 6;
  • Information Mr. Trump received following the election regarding the election outcome, and what he told the American people about the election; and
  • Responsibilities in the transfer of power and the obligation to follow the rule of law, and
  • Any other materials relevant to the challenges to a peaceful transfer of power.

Mr. Chatfield and Mr. Shirkey were invited to the White House last November at the behest of Mr. Trump, who at that time sought to overturn Michigan’s 2020 presidential election results. Following that meeting, both Mr. Shirkey and Mr. Chatfield claimed that no improprieties had occurred and that local media outlets had blown the gathering out of proportion (See Gongwer Michigan Report, November 20, 2020).

Mr. Shirkey also claimed that Mr. Trump never solicited any type of election interference from the Michigan delegation, and that the former president was simply interested in what the state’s processes were in tabulating votes and absentee ballots (See Gongwer Michigan Report, November 24, 2020).

Now, however, that meeting is being eyed with some skepticism by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol, whose chair is now seeking records of said meeting – along with records of the former president’s phone call with Ms. Palmer, which occurred shortly after commissioners certified the county’s election results – from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Mr. Trump personally called Ms. Palmer following the board’s vote to certify the county’s local election results. She had also been the subject of threats following her lone vote to not certify the election results within her jurisdiction (See Gongwer Michigan Report, November 24, 2020).

A request for comment from Mr. Shirkey’s office regarding the congressional probe was not returned in time for publication.

Will $1B+ New Revenue Factor Into FY22 Budget?

Legislative appropriators and Governor Gretchen Whitmer already had an incredible $3.5 billion in unanticipated state revenues to handle when building the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, and now they have even more money as they finalize the budget in the coming weeks.

Through July, the state had about $1.65 billion in revenues that exceeded the May Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference forecast. That means, depending on how the Whitmer administration and lawmakers want to handle it, they could have $5.15 billion in additional state revenues to consider as they build the budget.

More of the unanticipated growth occurred in General Fund revenues. Since May, revenues are running $1.1 billion above the forecast, according to the Senate Fiscal Agency ($1.2 billion according to the House Fiscal Agency).

The agencies are a little farther apart on the surge in School Aid Fund revenues with the SFA saying the School Aid Fund has seen $604 million more than the May forecast and the HFA saying the amount is $413.6 million above the forecast.

There are differing views on how to handle this money, which is separate from the billions in federal coronavirus aid that will likely be handled through supplemental appropriations bills separate from the budget.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), the Senate Appropriations Committee chair, said he intends to have the May revenue forecast guide the finalization of the 2021-22 fiscal year budget. Should the next revenue conference, scheduled for January, confirm revenues exceeded the May forecast, then lawmakers and the administration should deal with those new revenues at that time.

That could mean supplemental bills in 2022 or making those revenues a part of the 2022-23 fiscal year budget.

Kurt Weiss, spokesperson for the State Budget Office, said the administration is taking the same approach.

“We will build the budget based on the (May) revenue conference,” he said. “We know revenues are volatile given the pandemic. Then we will move quickly to work on the remaining federal funds and revenues with an eye toward ensuring long term sustainability of the state budget.”

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing), the Senate Appropriations minority vice chair, said he prefers to move at least some of the additional money now.

But he also said he is willing to look at other timetables.

“It’s OK to have two conversations as long as both conversations are moving forward,” he said. “The longer we hold onto it the worse it is for people, but that doesn’t mean we have to rush a decision either. I’m open to a reasonable timeline.”

Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), the House Appropriations Committee chair, said he is open to moving some of the unanticipated revenues but also urged caution.

“I don’t think we have to close the door completely on that,” he said. “Any additional spending, we do above baseline for the current year, we have to be cautious of. I don’t want to raise spending to a level that’s unsustainable, so we have to cut funding next year.”

Mr. Albert said there’s “an opportunity to look selectively at one-time investments” but also noted it will add more complexity to an already layered, complex budget cycle.

“I’m willing to have a conversation on what that balance is but keeping in mind the farther we go down that road the harder it will be to get a budget done early,” he said.

Pfizer Vax Gets Full FDA Approval; Michigan’s COVID-19 Cases Still Rising

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday gave the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine full approval – it had been given just emergency use authorization prior – as the state continues to see an uptick in cases.

Michigan is still struggling with an increase in cases and positivity rate as the virus spreads. For Saturday, Sunday and Monday, there were 2,690 cases reported. The seven-day average is now 1,543 cases. On Friday, it was 1,491. A week ago, it was 1,357.

From August 16-22, the state averaged 21,058 tests per day with a positivity rate of 8.6 percent. It was 8.3 percent from August 13-19.

Hospitalizations were up again since Friday with 1,136 with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus admitted to hospitals compared to 999 on Friday.

As cases continue to increase in Michigan and nationally, the FDA granted full approval to one of the three vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer praised the approval of the Pfizer vaccine, and for those who are not yet vaccinated, said she hopes it encourages them to do so.

“Today, the FDA granted full approval to Pfizer’s safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured right here in Michigan,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “The FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine has already saved countless lives in Michigan and around the world, so if you have already gotten your shots, thank you for doing your part to keep yourself, your family, and your community safe.”

Speaking to reporters, Ms. Whitmer said she would not offer predictions on what the decision could mean for increasing vaccinations but she said it should help.

Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief deputy for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, called the FDA’s approval an important milestone.

“Michiganders can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety and effectiveness as required of approved products by the FDA,” Ms. Khaldun, who is also the state’s chief medical executive, said in a statement. “While more than 5.2 million Michigan residents 16 and older have already received their first dose, we recognize that for some the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. We urge all eligible Michiganders to get vaccinated as soon as they are able.”

Gov: Spend $2.1B In Federal Relief For Economy; Signs Of Budget Life?

Governor Gretchen Whitmer offered her latest proposal Monday on how to deploy the huge windfall in federal aid the state has received through the American Rescue Plan, proposing a $2.1 billion mix of spending on developing affordable housing and expanding programs designed to improve residents’ job credentials, boost start-up companies and aid businesses damaged by the pandemic.

Ms. Whitmer outlined a series of proposals at a news conference in Lansing. All would require approval by the Legislature.

Talks on the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, which are being handled separately from how to spend the federal aid, are reportedly progressing well, multiple sources said Monday. Sources, speaking on background, said numbers have been circulated to members that resemble what would usually constitute budget targets for departments and major budget areas. The expectation remains, these sources said, that the federal aid will be handled in supplemental appropriations bills separate from the regular budget bills.

Ms. Whitmer cited several positive pieces of economic data on the state, but she also warned they paint an incomplete picture.

“We have a lot left to do,” she said. “Rosy topline statistics sometimes hide the full context of what is happening.”

Ms. Whitmer added that while the unemployment rate is near pre-pandemic levels, labor force levels are not.

The governor proposed three buckets of funding include:

  • $722 million for educating more workers with a goal of boosting the size of the middle class;
  • $651 million to support businesses and create better jobs; and
  • $800 million to build housing and invest in communities.

Among some of the specific items, Ms. Whitmer called for pumping $215 million more into the Michigan Reconnect and Future for Frontliners programs designed to facilitate degrees and skills certificates for more people and $100 million more for the Going PRO program that enables employers to provide greater training for their workers.

There would be an additional $200 million – on top of the $300 million Ms. Whitmer proposed already – to offer grants to restaurants, place-based businesses and small businesses. Another $200 million would go toward growing high-tech start-up businesses, with $100 million allotted for preparing manufacturers and the workforce for future job opportunities.

On communities, Ms. Whitmer already had proposed $100 million toward building 2,000 housing units. Now she’s proposing to expand that by $50 million, plus another $100 million to rehabilitate vacant buildings and $200 million to redevelop brownfield sites.

The governor’s proposals were met with praise from several organizations.

“Let there be no doubt about it, COVID has changed our economy,” Jared Fleisher of Rock Central said at the news conference. “We could not stand in stronger support. We could not believe that the investments that are being announced are more critical to the future of our state, our future prosperity.”

John Walsh, president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, said the group is thankful for Ms. Whitmer’s willingness to address the industry’s biggest challenges.

“The proposed investments in training and education will create opportunities for our citizens and growth in manufacturing. We look forward to working with the Whitmer Administration and the legislature as they finalize their recommendations,” he said.

Jeff Donofrio, Business Leaders for Michigan president and CEO, urged the governor and Legislature to come together to use the onetime funds for transformational change.

“This is a monumental opportunity to accelerate talent development, job creation and strengthen communities so that Michigan can emerge from the pandemic as stronger and more competitive,” he said in a statement. “With states across the country using onetime dollars to upskill and attract their workforce and create new jobs, we can’t afford to waste this chance to invest in our future.”

GM requires U.S. salaried employees to disclose vaccination status

Crain’s Detroit Business
Aug. 26, 2021
Hannah Lutz

General Motors Co. has required all salaried employees in the U.S. to disclose their coronavirus vaccination status to help guide its safety protocols, the automaker confirmed Thursday.

“The reporting of our employees’ vaccination status is helping GM Medical assess the overall immunity of our employee population and determine when GM should relax or strengthen certain COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the CDC and OSHA, such as mask wearing, physical distancing and facility occupancy rates,” spokeswoman Maria Raynal said.

Employees who said they were vaccinated through a confidential online tool were required to submit proof of vaccination by Aug. 23. GM has 42,000 salaried employees in the United States. The requirement was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

GM has not yet required its 46,000 hourly workers to report their vaccination status, though they can disclose their status voluntarily, Raynal told Automotive News.

“In an effort to improve our data collection, we took the first step with our U.S. salaried employees to put a process in place for mandatory reporting. We will maintain the voluntary reporting of vaccine status and encourage our hourly employees to continue to report in the voluntary system,” she said.

Since vaccines have become available, GM has encouraged its workforce to get vaccinated and hosted drives at assembly plants.

Many employees have returned to the workplace after working remotely for part of the pandemic. The company hasn’t outlined a definitive return-to-work plan. Instead, GM launched a remote work standard called “work appropriately.” The guideline is designed to give employees the flexibility to work from wherever they are most efficient, GM said, and it gives the Detroit-based automaker access to a broader talent pool beyond its office locations.

View the original article.

Plunkett Cooney attorneys named to Michigan ‘Super Lawyers’ 2021 list

Michigan Super Lawyers magazine has named 12 attorneys from Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, to its 2021 list of “Super Lawyers.”

Receiving special recognition by the magazine with inclusion among the state’s top 50 women lawyers are Mary Massaron and D. Jennifer Andreou. Massaron, one of Michigan’s most accomplished appellate attorneys, has been included among the top 50 for the 15th consecutive year. Andreou, who serves as a leader of Plunkett Cooney’s Medical Liability Practice Group, once again joins the top 50 list of women attorneys, her seventh such honor during the past 12 years.

Below is a list of Plunkett Cooney partners who have received the 2021 Michigan Super Lawyer designation:

Plunkett Cooney’s Bloomfield Hills office members:

Michael P. Ashcraft, Jr. – Professional Liability: Defense
Douglas C. Bernstein – Bankruptcy: Business
Charles W. Browning – Insurance Coverage
Robert G. Kamenec – Appellate
Mark S. Kopson – Health Care
Mary Massaron – Appellate
Scott H. Sirich – Construction Litigation
Thomas P. Vincent – Business Litigation
Plunkett Cooney’s Detroit office members:

Jennifer Andreou – Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
Laurel F. McGiffert – Personal Injury Defense: Medical Malpractice
Matthew J. Stanczyk – Personal Injury Defense: Products
Plunkett Cooney’s Flint office members:

Audrey J. Forbush – State/Local/Municipal
Super Lawyers selects attorneys using a patented multiphase selection process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with independent research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis. Those named to the annual list represent only the top five percent of the state’s licensed practitioners.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of business and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Indianapolis, Indiana and Columbus, Ohio. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading international directory of law firms.

For more information about Plunkett Cooney’s 2021 “Michigan Super Lawyers,” contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008; jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

– End –