Oct. 29 | This Week in Government: Senate Debate Precedes Passage of Mask, Vax Mandate Bills; Craig Leads GOP Campaign Fundraising Field

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. Bitter Senate Debate Precedes Passage of Mask, Vax Mandate Bills
  2. Craig Leads GOP Field at $1.4M Raised; Whitmer Continues Using Recall
  3. House Panel OKs HBCU Bills, Reviews Personal Finance Credit Changes
  4. Upping County Commissioner Terms to 4 Years Debated at House Panel
  5. ICRC Discusses Legal Memos in Closed Session After Threat Delay

Bitter Senate Debate Precedes Passage of Mask, Vax Mandate Bills

Senators divided along party lines Tuesday on votes to bar schools from requiring the wearing of masks or to receive vaccines lacking full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.

Republicans in support of SB 600, SB 601, SB 602, and SB 603 said the proposals would allow equal access to education for all students, calling mandates an infringement on people’s rights.

Democrats were opposed, citing public health concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic while accusing the GOP of playing political games in pushing such proposals. All four bills passed 19-15.

Tuesday’s votes were the latest move by legislative Republicans to attempt to rein in emergency powers or ban COVID-related local or statewide requirements. The governor has repeatedly blocked such efforts when bills have been sent to her desk and it is expected she would veto the package if it were to reach her.

The bills if signed would bar local schools from enacting policies requiring coronavirus vaccination for admission to facilities or to participate in events and the same for mask mandates.

Prior to final passage, S-1 substitutes were adopted for three of the bills. The substitute for SB 600 would expand the policy to cover all COVID-19 vaccines, not just ones receiving emergency use approval from the FDA. Language in SB 603 was added to include local health departments to the list of entities banned from issuing emergency orders requiring students to get vaccinated for COVID-19, the wearing of masks, or taking a COVID-19 test to enter school or participate in school-sponsored activities or riding a bus. Technical changes were made in the substitute for SB 602.

Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) said the bills were not just about vaccines but about treating children fairly when it comes to access to education and not treating children or parents differently for having opposing views.

“Just because you disagree with another parent’s decision, you have no right to make that decision for them,” Theis said.

Theis then said there is data to show that mask mandates have not led to better outcomes compared to districts that have not put any such mandates in place. That, however, flies in the face of state epidemiological data showing the exact opposite, that districts with at least some type of mask requirement for students and staff are seeing significantly fewer cases of the virus.

Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) countered by referencing multiple media reports citing studies disputing Theis’ claim.

Democrats sharply questioned the Republican majority’s insistence of bringing forward partisan pandemic policy bills which they said are dangerous.

Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) said she felt at times when in the Senate as if she were on a merry-go-round and her head was spinning by the political rhetoric from the majority party.

“Vaccines and masks slow the spread of COVID. They reduce severe illness, reduce long-COVID and reduce deaths. This isn’t up for debate anymore,” Bayer said. “Opinions are not equivalent to facts. This pandemic is not a political game. We’re talking about real people suffering.”

She went on to call the bills anti-vaccine nonsense that is perpetuating the ongoing crisis.

“People are believing what you’re telling them,” Bayer said. “People are drinking your Kool Aid. These bills are dangerous.”

Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) went further, saying bills like those before the chamber Tuesday are an example of a legislative body that he believes actively “is putting Michigan citizens in danger.”

He went further, taking direct aim at the operations of some of the committees from which many of the bills dividing the Senate in recent months were coming from.

“I have now watched for week after week the Health Policy Committee, the Education Committee, turn into a place where conspiracy theories, lies, and nonsense reign,” Hertel said. “This body, the official record of the Michigan Senate, is being used to espouse things that are absolutely false, and dangerous, and lead to questions about the basic medical recommendations that will help stem this pandemic.”

In response, Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said the words of the previous Democratic speakers were evidence of why the package needed to pass.

“We have seen time and time again parents stepping up on behalf of their own children to make their own decisions on behalf of their kids, and see nothing but the government intrude on them, to stand in their way,” Barrett said. “That’s why we need legislation that protects and defines, clearly draws a line in the sand, and says these are our rights as parents that the government cannot cross.”


Craig Leads GOP Field at $1.4M Raised; Whitmer Continues Using Recall

Republican gubernatorial candidate James Craig lapped his competitors for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in funds raised for the past quarter while Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continued to seize on a contested mechanism she says allows her to raise unlimited sums from donors because of attempts to start a recall against her.

Monday’s deadline to file campaign finance reports for activity between July 21 and Oct. 20 was much anticipated because it was Craig’s first as well as to see if Gov. Whitmer would continue the surprise fundraising tactic that allowed her to raise $2.66 million during the period from Jan. 1 through July 20 that she otherwise could not raise.

This time, Gov. Whitmer’s use of the unlimited donor provision for officeholders subject to recalls (which Republicans are contesting in court) was less robust at $692,102 raised from 39 donors who gave more than the $7,150 limit on individuals or $413,252 more than she otherwise could have raised. In total, Gov. Whitmer raised $3.1 million, to bring her to $17.3 million raised for the cycle.

The Governor’s campaign committee, Whitmer for Governor, greatly escalated its spending during the quarter, reporting $1.2 million in expenditures, almost half of the $2.8 million the campaign has raised for the cycle. The Whitmer campaign did not immediately respond to a message asking how much of the approximately $3 million raised over the $7,150 limit as a result of recall attempts had been spent. The campaign will have to spend, return or donate that money before Jan. 1 if a recall committee fails to file the necessary signatures by that date.

Gov. Whitmer’s campaign has $12.65 million in the bank.

“The campaign is grateful for the support of Michiganders in every single county as we work to re-elect Gov. Whitmer so that she can continue to fight for Michigan families, small businesses, and communities,” Preston Elliott, Whitmer campaign manager, said.

On the Republican side, Craig had a strong fundraising debut at $1.43 million raised. Still, at $966,873 cash on hand, he has a long way to go to cement a major advantage over his competition for the Republican nomination.

The Craig campaign received donations from the two living former Republican governors, John Engler and Rick Snyder.

“I’m humbled and honored at the outpouring of support we are seeing from Michiganders across this state,” Craig said in a statement. “Whitmer and the Democrats will be well-financed by the permanent Washington political class and coastal elites, but our message of personal liberty and leading from the front is resonating with Michiganders. All the money in the world cannot cover for Whitmer’s failed pandemic response, poor leadership, and hypocrisy.”

Of the other 10 contenders, it’s rapidly becoming clear who is going to lack the resources to gather the minimum 15,000 signatures for ballot access.

Two candidates, Articia Bomer and Austin Chenge, have filed waivers indicating they will spend less than $1,000. Four others – Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, Ralph Rebrandt, and Ryan Kelley – raised less than $50,000 for the period and all have less than $40,000 in the bank.

Second behind Craig was the anti-COVID protections activist Garrett Soldano, who raised $495,979 for the period, bringing his total for the campaign to $1.12 million. However, that was down from Soldano’s first period and his high burn rate left him with $473,615 cash on hand.

“I’m incredibly proud of this campaign and grateful to our supporters who contribute to our vision for a better Michigan,” Soldano said in a statement. “We are seeing a groundswell of Michiganders who are sick and tired of Gretchen Whitmer’s failed leadership, who want their freedoms back, their elections secure, and their kids back in school without endless mandates. Establishment politicians won’t get the job done – our grassroots movement will.”

There were two surprises in Monday’s filings. Tudor Dixon, who has hired some top staff people, again turned in an underwhelming report. She reported raising $215,116 for the period, bringing her to $347,651 total. She has just $165,743 cash on hand. The other surprise is that business executive Kevin Rinke, who is considering a run for governor, reported raising and spending no money. Rinke is expected to self-fund if he runs.

The Dixon campaign tried to downplay the candidate’s total by saying a super PAC supporting her, Michigan Strong, “received seed funding of $200,000,” thus bringing “Team Tudor” to more than $415,000 for the quarter. The campaign announced that Anne Minard has joined the Dixon campaign to “begin rapidly expanding Dixon’s finance operation in southeast Michigan.”

The Rinke campaign did not indicate why he had no expenses for the period. He has said he is exploring a run for governor. In a late September interview, he said he anticipated a decision in two to three weeks. That time has passed. A Rinke source, speaking on background, said he continues to explore a bid and sees the fundraising numbers filed by the candidates as evidence only he would have the resources to defeat Gov. Whitmer. He has said he is prepared to start his campaign with $10 million of his own money.


House Panel OKs HBCU Bills, Reviews Personal Finance Credit Changes

A pair of bills setting standards for a school to label itself a historically black college or university was unanimously reported out of the House Education Committee Tuesday amid positive testimony.

The bills, HB 5447 and HB 5448– sponsored by Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit) and Rep. Pamela Hornberger (R-Chesterfield), respectively – would define what an HBCU is and then set provisions allowing for a private college to apply with the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity to reopen a defunct educational operation.

Current law dictates that a person, society, association, or corporation cannot use the name of a benevolent, humane, fraternal, or charitable organization or an imitation or deceptive version of that name. If two such entities claim a right to the same or a substantially similar name, the one that first used the name is entitled to its exclusive use.

In HB 5447 language would be added that an educational corporation also falls under those restrictions on use. It would also add that a person, society association, or corporation cannot assume, adopt or use the HBCU designation unless it was a Part B institution as defined under federal law or is an educational corporation that was reopened under PA 327 of 1931.

A Part B institution, under federal statute, means any historically Black college or university whose principal mission is the education of Black Americans, that was established by 1964, and meets certain accreditation requirements.

Provisions in HB 5448 then amend that 1931 act to let a private college apply with LEO to reopen an educational corporation if all the following conditions are met:

  • The private college is in a city with a population of 500,000 or more;
  • Before ceasing operations, the educational corporation to be reopened was designated by the U.S. Department of Education as a historically black college, and
  • Before ceasing operations, the educational corporation to be reopened was in a city with a population of 500,000 or more.

A private college would mean a Class Y educational corporation – meaning it has capital of at least $1 million – authorized by LEO to offer degrees. Further, due to the way the bill is written, Detroit would be the only city in Michigan eligible for this opportunity.

“I think it’s a historic opportunity for Detroit, for our students,” Hornberger said. “And, quite honestly, I’m super excited … that kids are going to have this immersed, hands-on experience and be able to step into that space (and) immediately design clothing, shoes, furniture. It’s a world-class opportunity that we’re going to have right here in Detroit.”

An applying college seeking designation as an educational corporation would have to include an attestation from an officer of the educational corporation to be reopened that it has capital of at least $500,000 and a list of proposed fields of study its offering in its application.

It must also possess an attestation from the private college that the educational corporation to be reopened would be managed and operated by the private college in accordance with an operating agreement and that the proposed facilities, equipment, and staff are adequate for the proposed fields of study.

Within 30 days after receipt of the information in the application, LEO would have to approve the educational corporation to be reopened to conduct business in Michigan for the purpose of operating as a private postsecondary educational institution. That would include offering bachelor’s and associate’s degree programs, as well as certificate and diploma programs.

An educational corporation that received this approval would be considered Michigan’s first HBCU. It’s looking likely that honor will go to the Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design, which is eyeing setting up shop in Detroit through reopening the Lewis College of Business.

The college originally operated from 1939 until 2013 and received its HBCU designation in 1987.

D’Wayne Edwards, founder of Pensole Design Academy, during testimony stressed the need for such an opportunity for HBCUs, saying that when he first entered the design industry in 1989, he was “only the second African American in the entire industry to design footwear.”

Less than 5% of Black individuals work in all design industries, Edwards added, noting that the lack of access begins for many in middle or high school due to their schools cutting art programs.

Of those the 9% of Black students that do go on to one of the country’s 96 traditional design schools, half of those students drop out after either their sophomore or junior year, leaving for only about a 2% graduation rate. With Pensole Lewis College of Business and Design coming to Detroit – and the company bringing along a footwear company in the next four years – Edwards said the academy would be able to offer “the whole cycle from the beginning side of business … the design, and all the way through to manufacturing.”

OTHER BUSINESS: Lawmakers Tuesday also took testimony on HB 5190, sponsored by Rep. Diana Farrington (R-Utica). The bill would amend the Revised School Code to add a 1/2-credit personal finance requirement and reduce the foreign language requirement from 2 credits to 1-1/2 credits in the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

The Department of Education would have to develop subject area content expectations for the personal finance course, and current requirements would apply for the last time to students entering 8th grade in 2022. New requirements would then apply to all subsequent students.

Currently, the half a credit economics requirement in the curriculum may be satisfied with at least a half-credit course in personal economics. Under the bill, that provision would last apply to students entering grade 8 in 2022 and would apply to personal finance.

No vote was taken on the legislation.


Upping County Commissioner Terms to 4 Years Debated at House Panel

Whether to extend county commissioner terms from two years to four was the subject of much debate Wednesday when a package to make such a change came before the House Local Government and Municipal Finance Committee.

Before the body was SB 242 and SB 245, sponsored by Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), respectively (editor’s note: this story changed to correct Moss’ title). The bills would make it so that county commissioners elected in 2024 and beyond would serve four-year terms rather than their current two-year stints.

If a vacancy on the board occurred more than a week before a nominating petition for the even-year “midterm” election of that term – meaning that, if the bill takes effect, a vacancy was to occur in the 2026 election cycle with the body already operating under four-year terms – an election would be held for the commission seat during that year’s general election. The person appointed to fill that vacancy would serve only until that successor was elected.

Should the vacancy occur after that time, the appointee would serve out the remainder of the time – in the prior example, meaning until 2028.

The package also removes a provision that makes individuals who were convicted of providing or possessing test answers for a county civil service examination ineligible to serve as a county commissioner for a period of 20 years. (This was a provision added following an investigation in the 1980s regarding allegations of that nature in Wayne County).

“We feel that a four-year term is a proper amount of time to ensure that all the things that come before a county commission can get done within a member’s term,” Moss said.

He later added that Michigan was one of only five states to continue utilizing two-year terms for county commission, and this legislation would bring the role in line with other four-year county titles such as county prosecutor, drain commissioner, and sheriff.

Some on the panel, however, were concerned about how the change could affect a constituent’s ability to offer some sort of check-in on how they believed a commissioner was doing in their position. Rep. Julie Alexander (R-Hanover), Rep. Gary Howell (R-North Branch), and Rep. William Sowerby (D-Clinton Township) each shared this opinion.

The commission did not vote on either bill.

OTHER BUSINESS: The panel unanimously reported HB 4833 and HB 4834, each with H-1 substitutes. Under the first bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Ellison (D-Royal Oak) would amend the General Property Tax Act to exempt qualified heavy equipment rental personal property from taxation under the act beginning Dec. 31, 2022.

The second bill, sponsored by Rep. Mark Tisdel (R-Rochester Hills), would then create a new act called the Qualified Heavy Equipment Rental Personal Property Specific Tax Act which would – beginning Jan. 1, 2023 – levy a qualified heavy equipment rental personal property specific tax on each transaction of a qualified renter for renting eligible personal property. The tax would be a state-specific tax imposed directly on the customer of a qualified renter in an amount equal to 2% of the rental of the property price, net of any customer credits given at the end of the rental.

Supporting the bills were United Rentals, American Rental Association, the Michigan Municipal League, and the Michigan Association of Counties. Opposed were Operating Engineers 324 and the Department of Treasury. The Michigan Chamber of Commerce was neutral on the package.


ICRC Discusses Legal Memos in Closed Session After Threat Delay

A first-ever closed session of the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission was held Wednesday to discuss two legal memos surrounding Voting Rights Act compliance and the history of racial discrimination in Michigan as it relates to voting.

However, some argued the closed session may violate the constitutional language that guides the commission’s work, as it states that all meetings and business shall be conducted in public. Constitution Article IV, Section 6 (10) says that the commission must use technology to provide “contemporaneous public observation and meaningful public participation” in the process and during all meetings or hearings.

Others said even if the commission was allowed to go into closed session under the Open Meetings Act – which was up for debate as the session was called to discuss legal advice on a pair of memos and not active litigation or personnel matters – the state statute does not supersede the Constitution.

Reporters were shuttled out of the commission’s meeting area in the Michigan State University Union after it voted 11-2 to hold the closed session. The doors were shut with the windows papered to obscure the view inside. The commission remained in closed session for an hour before returning to adjourn the meeting without much of a word other than another brief explanation of why it held a closed session.

Commissioner Rhonda Lange rebuffed the motion to adjourn, noting that the commission was scheduled to work until 8 p.m. and that, based on public comment collected over the last week, there was much more work to be done. Lange and fellow Republican Erin Wagner both voted against entering a closed session.

During a press conference following the meeting, Woods and General Counsel Julianne Pastula doubled down on the commission’s right to enter a closed session to discuss memos and seek legal advice.

Pastula said, to questions from reporters, said there was no other business discussed during the closed session and that she would have not advised her clients to so openly violate the OMA.

Her interpretation OMA was rejected by another attorney following the process Wednesday.

“The Michigan Constitution requires the MICRC to conduct ALL of its business at open meetings. (Const 1963, art 4, sec 6(10)),” Dykema attorney Steven Liedel wrote on Twitter. “Under FOIA, closed OK ‘to consult with its attorney regarding trial or settlement strategy in connection with SPECIFIC PENDING LITIGATION, but only if an open meeting would have a detrimental financial effect on the litigating or settlement position of the public body.’ While OMA permits a closed session to ‘consider material exempt from discussion or disclosure by state or federal statute’ a memo from lawyer to public body is not ‘exempt’ under any statute.”

Liedel added that the Freedom of Information Act exempts information or records subject to attorney-client privilege but does allow disclosure.

“I have never advised a public body client to enter closed session to discuss a legal memo except when the memo relates specifically to a specific litigation (or other employment-bargaining exception under OMA),” he wrote. “In my view, the public has a right to know what the legal guidance – provided to the Commission at taxpayer expense – is, so the public can understand how it will affect the decisions of public officials.”

Condemnation over the closed session swiftly followed.

“Voters were promised that handing redistricting over to an ‘independent commission’ would guarantee a fair and transparent process. Sadly, as many of us predicted would happen, we’ve gotten only secrecy and incompetence,” FAIR Maps Executive Director Tony Daunt said in a statement. “There is no reason, let alone statutory authority, that provides this Commission and their attorneys the ability to discuss one of the most important aspects of redistricting – the Voting Rights Act – behind closed doors. They should immediately cease this nonsense and produce the memos they are so desperately trying to hide.”

Michigan Republican Party spokesperson Gustavo Portela similarly questioned the legality of the move, calling it a “gut punch for Michigan voters.”

“Michiganders were sold on a commission that would be transparent and accountable in the creation of fair state and federal districts under the Constitution,” Portela said in a statement. “Today, after repeated violations of the Michigan Constitution, the redistricting commission entered a new low in holding a closed-door discussion about the applicability of the Voting Rights Act. It’s another gut punch for Michigan voters who were lied to about how this commission would conduct its business and create fair maps for which Michiganders could choose their representation in Lansing and in Washington, D.C.”

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes also questioned why a closed session was necessary.

“Last week, hundreds of people stood up in Detroit during the MICRC’s first public hearing demanding changes to the maps to ensure fair representation for Black and Brown voters. We have yet to hear the Commission’s debrief on the public hearings,” Barnes said in a statement. “Instead of having an open and transparent discussion, the Commission retreated behind closed doors to discuss VRA. This process cannot move forward until the Commission addresses what they’ve heard from the public, what was discussed in closed session, and how they plan to fix the maps accordingly.”

Public comment was cut short Wednesday because the meeting was delayed several hours due to a death threat received via email Tuesday but opened just before the meeting began on Wednesday. The body was scheduled to meet today at 1 p.m., but ICRC Communications Director Edward Woods III said the commission received the death threat at around 1:06 p.m., leading the group to alert law enforcement.

MSU Police Captain Chris Rozman said in an email that there was a report taken of a threatening email and that detectives are conducting a follow-up investigation.

“We do not believe there is any safety concern for the community and we have not determined the threat to be credible at this time,” Rozman said.

When the commission was evacuated from the room, a reporter who was present at the time noted the body was shuffled into a separate room for an extended period.

The same reporter asked Pastula how the public and the press could be sure the body was not discussing business during the closed session that was abruptly placed on the agenda following the evacuation.

Pastula said she would not put her reputation nor the commission’s at risk over an OMA violation.

When asked why the commission would ding its reputation to go into a closed session to discuss a sensitive matter with pressure mounting from all sides over the mapmaking process, Woods was adamant that the commission’s reputation was in good standing with the public even after Wednesday’s meeting.

There was also a discrepancy on when the doors of the meeting room were papered over. Woods said that was done after members were made aware of a safety threat, but did not definitively say whether that was done at the suggestion of MSU police or the commission.

While Woods maintained the windows were papered following the threat, reporters on social media had only mentioned the papered windows once the commission had resolved to go into a closed session.

VH1 Explores What it Means ‘Growing Up Black’ in Detroit for Digital Series

The Detroit News
Oct. 26, 2021
Maureen Feighan

Detroit poet Jessica Care Moore is one of several artists and business owners featured in VH1’s “Growing Up Black: Detroit.” Daniel Mears, The Detroit News

An array of Black artists, poets and entrepreneurs are sharing their experiences growing up in Detroit on the latest installment of VH1’s Youtube series, “Growing Up Black.”

“Growing Up Black: Detroit” premieres at 4 p.m. Tuesday, featuring Detroit poet and author Jessica Care More, rapper Payroll Giovanni, Detroit Vegan Soul co-owner Erica Boyd, artist Sheefy McFly and others.

A digital series, “Growing Up Black” first debuted in December 2020 with “Growing Up Black: New Orleans.” Since then, it’s also focused on New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The show describes itself as an unfiltered and “in-depth look at the differences in the Black experience from one city to the next across the country by interviewing locals, community members and leaders to explore issues like their personal experiences around systemic racism, what it is like growing up Black in America.”

In a trailer, Detroit vs. Everybody founder Tommey Walker Jr. said the way Detroit can preserve its culture is by staying “authentic to ourselves as Detroiters.”

“I like to say Detroit makes the best people. It’s a balance here,” said Walker.

Moore, the poet, said everything that’s great about Detroit came from Black people.

“That’s why it’s still sexy,” she says in the show’s trailer. “That’s why people still want to live here because we have the concentrated Black population.”

The show premieres at 4 p.m. here.

View the original article.

Kresge Foundation Among First Annual City of Detroit Arts and Culture Honorees

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 27, 2021
Duante Beddingfield

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan commemorated International Artist Day this week with an announcement of the inaugural Detroit ACE Honors, which salute achievement by artists and arts patrons who have contributed more than 25 years of service to the Detroit arts and culture scene.

A ceremony, to be held in January, will present each honoree with a Detroit ACE medal of excellence. The event will also unveil the members of the Detroit Council of the Arts, who will choose recipients in subsequent years.

The first Detroit ACE Medal recipients, announced Monday, are:

  • Elizabeth (Betty) Brooks, board member of the Detroit Historical Society, Motown Museum, Detroit Jazz Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Michigan Opera Theatre. Brooks chaired the 150th anniversary celebration for the Detroit Public Library and the second annual Eastern Market Harvest Celebration, and is an appointed member of the Board of Police Commissioners for the City of Detroit.

    David DiChiera was founder of the Michigan Opera Theatre. Mandi Wright, Detroit Free Press

  • Robert S. Duncanson, a prolific painter known for sweeping, large-scale landscapes. He established a studio in Detroit in 1849, where he would become the most accomplished African American painter of the 1850s and 1860s. A collection of Duncanson’s work hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts. He is considered to be the first African American artist to gain international recognition and has been proclaimed by American media as “the best landscape painter in the West.”
  • LeRoy Foster, fine portrait painter and muralist known for public commissions, including “The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” for the Frederick Douglass Branch of the Detroit Public Library, “Kaleidoscope” for the lobby of Southwest Detroit Hospital and “Renaissance City” for the old Cass Technical High School Building. Foster was a graduate of Cass Tech, the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts School (now the College of Creative Studies), L’Academie de la Grand Chaumeire in Paris and Heatherly School of Art in London. In 1958, he co-founded the Contemporary Studio with Charles McGee, Harold Neal and Henri Umbaji King.

    Tyree Guyton is the creator of Detroit’s Heidelberg Project. Jessica J. Trevino, Detroit Free Press

  • Tyree Guyton, neo-expressionist artist, 2009 Kresge Artist Fellow and creator of the internationally renowned Heidelberg Project. Guyton studied at the College for Creative Studies and was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine art. He has been featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Studio Museum of Harlem as well as in the Emmy Award-winning documentary “Come Unto Me: The Faces of Tyree Guyton.”
  • Vera Heidelberg, co-chair of the first Classical Roots Celebration, an annual concert sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra recognizing African American contributions to classical music. Heidelberg is a graduate of the Detroit Institute of Technology and Wayne State University. She is a member of the Greater Wayne County Chapter of the Links and has served as chairwoman of the Women’s Committee of the United Negro College Fund.
  • Artis Lane, portrait artist and sculptor known for works featuring President John F. Kennedy, Frank Sinatra, Henry Kissinger, Barbara Bush, Rosa Parks, Michael Jordan and Aretha Franklin. Lane was the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Cranbrook Art Academy. She has been recipient of the Women of Excellence Award by the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles and the Women for Women Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr. General Hospital Foundation.
  • Charles McGee, prolific painter and sculptor with work featured at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum of American Art. McGee, who died in February, was founder of the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit and the first Kresge Eminent Artist in 2008. Over the years, he also advised the State of Michigan, City of Detroit and numerous local arts institutions on cultural initiatives.

    Artist Charles McGee, 84, in his studio in Detroit on Nov. 26, 2008. McGee won the first annual Kresge Foundation Eminent Artist Aware. SUSAN TUSA, Detroit Free Press

  • Carlos Nielbock, master architectural ornamental metal and design artist, engineer and craftsman, whose work was featured in the Fox Theater restoration. Inventor of the Detroit Windmill, the first and only fully upcycled, low-level wind turbine, Nielbock is a UNESCO Detroit City of Design Ambassador and Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects. He is also founder of C.A.N. Art Handworks, an ornamental architectural metals handcrafting studio on Detroit’s east side.
  • Dudley Randall, the City of Detroit’s first poet laureate. Randall was founder of Broadside Press and was once called “the Father of the Black Poetry Movement” by Black Enterprise Magazine. In addition, he was the author of “A Litany of Friends: New and Selected Poems” and “More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades,” as well as editor of “The Black Poets and For Malcolm: Poems on the Life and Death of Malcolm X.”
  • Gretchen Valade is patron of the Detroit Jazz Festival. Elaine Cromie, Special to the Free Press

    Gretchen Valade, philanthropist and leading patron of numerous Detroit arts institutions, including the Detroit Jazz Festival and Wayne State University’s jazz program. She is the founder of Grammy Award-winning Mack Avenue Records and the Gretchen C. Valade Endowment for the Arts. Valade is also chairwoman of Carhartt Inc. and owner of Grosse Pointe Farms’ Dirty Dog Jazz Café and Morning Glory Coffee.

  • Marilyn Wheaton, longtime director of the City of Detroit’s Cultural Affairs Department, Concerned Citizens for the Arts in Michigan and the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum on the Saginaw Valley State University campus. Wheaton helped orchestrate art for the Detroit Tricentennial Celebration, including the International Memorial to the Underground Railroad on the Detroit riverfront. Throughout her career before retiring in 2018, she worked to make Detroit a cultural destination through raising funds for art programs in the city.
  • Debra White-Hunt, co-founder and artistic director of the Detroit-Windsor Dance Academy. White-Hunt has choreographed more than 50 ballets and directed more than 100 dance concerts. A 2020 Kresge Arts Fellow, she has been commissioned to create works for stage, television, and film and is recipient of numerous local and national awards for her excellence in arts and education.

    Shirley Woodson in her Detroit studio. Patrick Barber

  • Shirley Woodson, a painter known for large-scale figurative work featured in the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The longtime Detroit Public Schools teacher and supervisor of fine arts was Kresge’s 2021 Eminent Artist. She is also co-founder of the Michigan Chapter of the National Conference of Artists, the longest-running national arts organization dedicated to nurturing, developing, and promoting opportunities for Black visual artists.

An award will also be presented to the Kresge Foundation, which since 2008 has awarded more than $6.7 million through Kresge Arts in Detroit’s Kresge Eminent Artist Awards, Kresge Artist Fellowships and Gilda Awards. Kresge has also sustained the City of Detroit’s Office of Arts, Culture and Entrepreneurship (ACE) through its first two years.

Detroit ACE director Rochelle Riley told the Free Press, “As the mayor said, it is past time for us to honor the iconic genius that we have in this city. We have created amazing artists, and they are heralded around the country. I want us to embrace them at home the way they’re embraced elsewhere.”

View the original article.

Report: Black Women Most Likely to Take Advantage of Educational Options Offered By Employers

Essence
Oct. 27, 2021
Jasmine Browley

Knowledge really is power, especially in the workplace. Fortunately, Black women are well aware of this and are taking full advantage of the resources needed to advance their careers, a new survey says.

According to a new report released by Pearson, over one in 10 Black women plan to explore additional educational options offered by their employers in the next 12 months. This is more than any other race of women in the survey.  It was also reported that 74% of Black women surveyed believe that women are using the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and careers.

Also, despite work challenges, 29% of Black women said that they are more confident in their career paths than they were pre-pandemic.

The Pearson Global Learner Survey, a poll of 6,000 women in six countries, found that 68% of employed women worldwide say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them rethink their career paths, with 48% of all women planning to change jobs or start working in the next six months. A massive 90% of women say they will make at least one move in the next 12 months to boost their job prospects or change careers, doing things like searching for new opportunities, updating their resumes, or submitting job applications.

“Women are taking control of their own fate, making deliberate moves to be successful–even while continuing to face both traditional and COVID-era hurdles,” said Vicki Greene, president, GED Testing Service, part of Pearson’s Workforce Division. “Despite mental health challenges, gender bias, and a pandemic, women are bravely forging ahead to seek out the opportunities they want and deserve.”

Women are betting on themselves for successful futures.

Twenty percent of women across the globe report that they plan to start their own business in the next year.

A whopping 88% of women job seekers say they want to improve their professional skills. Communication skills top that list with 19% looking to improve in that area. Another 18% of women are seeking to improve leadership skills and 17% want to improve time management skills.

While women are optimistic, they are fighting more barriers than just the pandemic.

Seventy-four percent globally believe bias and discrimination are still holding women back from finding work.

Sixty-five percent of women worry that age discrimination is a barrier to finding a new job, while 53% are concerned about gender discrimination and 40% worry about racial discrimination.

In addition, 77% of women have concerns about finding a job that pays them enough to support their families financially, while 56% are concerned about finding a job that will allow them to fulfill family care duties.

Women also want more employer support to cope with life’s stressors.

With the strain of the pandemic, 38% of women globally cited lack of financial stability as their biggest current stressor, followed by avoiding COVID at work (33%) and maintaining their mental health (31%).

They are asking employers to help. Thirty-two percent of women cited a competitive salary as their most important employer-provided benefit, followed by flexible schedules (25%), mental health services (18%), professional or technical skill development (18%), and remote work options (15%).

Notably, Gen Z women are less concerned than other generations about a competitive salary, with only 22% citing that as their most important benefit. Instead, just as many want flexible schedules (21%) and mental health resources (22%). More than any other age group, they also want employers to offer training to prevent sexual harassment (15%) and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (16%).

Now in its third year, Pearson’s Global Learner Survey is the leading poll of learners on education issues in the world, offering a deeper understanding of trends in education and providing key data to help further discussions on many important issues.

View the original article.

Report: Black Women Most Likely to Take Advantage of Educational Options Offered By Employers

Essence
Oct. 27, 2021
Jasmine Browley

Knowledge really is power, especially in the workplace. Fortunately, Black women are well aware of this and are taking full advantage of the resources needed to advance their careers, a new survey says.

According to a new report released by Pearson, over one in 10 Black women plan to explore additional educational options offered by their employers in the next 12 months. This is more than any other race of women in the survey.  It was also reported that 74% of Black women surveyed believe that women are using the pandemic as an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives and careers.

Also, despite work challenges, 29% of Black women said that they are more confident in their career paths than they were pre-pandemic.

The Pearson Global Learner Survey, a poll of 6,000 women in six countries, found that 68% of employed women worldwide say the COVID-19 pandemic has made them rethink their career paths, with 48% of all women planning to change jobs or start working in the next six months. A massive 90% of women say they will make at least one move in the next 12 months to boost their job prospects or change careers, doing things like searching for new opportunities, updating their resumes, or submitting job applications.

“Women are taking control of their own fate, making deliberate moves to be successful–even while continuing to face both traditional and COVID-era hurdles,” said Vicki Greene, president, GED Testing Service, part of Pearson’s Workforce Division. “Despite mental health challenges, gender bias, and a pandemic, women are bravely forging ahead to seek out the opportunities they want and deserve.”

Women are betting on themselves for successful futures.

Twenty percent of women across the globe report that they plan to start their own business in the next year.

A whopping 88% of women job seekers say they want to improve their professional skills. Communication skills top that list with 19% looking to improve in that area. Another 18% of women are seeking to improve leadership skills and 17% want to improve time management skills.

While women are optimistic, they are fighting more barriers than just the pandemic.

Seventy-four percent globally believe bias and discrimination are still holding women back from finding work.

Sixty-five percent of women worry that age discrimination is a barrier to finding a new job, while 53% are concerned about gender discrimination and 40% worry about racial discrimination.

In addition, 77% of women have concerns about finding a job that pays them enough to support their families financially, while 56% are concerned about finding a job that will allow them to fulfill family care duties.

Women also want more employer support to cope with life’s stressors.

With the strain of the pandemic, 38% of women globally cited lack of financial stability as their biggest current stressor, followed by avoiding COVID at work (33%) and maintaining their mental health (31%).

They are asking employers to help. Thirty-two percent of women cited a competitive salary as their most important employer-provided benefit, followed by flexible schedules (25%), mental health services (18%), professional or technical skill development (18%), and remote work options (15%).

Notably, Gen Z women are less concerned than other generations about a competitive salary, with only 22% citing that as their most important benefit. Instead, just as many want flexible schedules (21%) and mental health resources (22%). More than any other age group, they also want employers to offer training to prevent sexual harassment (15%) and foster diversity, equity, and inclusion (16%).

Now in its third year, Pearson’s Global Learner Survey is the leading poll of learners on education issues in the world, offering a deeper understanding of trends in education and providing key data to help further discussions on many important issues.

View the original article.

CLEAR Health Pass Instructions

The Detroit Regional Chamber announced that CLEAR Health Pass will be used to confirm in-person event attendees’ proof of vaccination. Download or log in to the free CLEAR app and complete these steps to prepare for your attendance.

NOTE: All attendees must be fully vaccinated and confirm their vaccination status via CLEAR Health Pass in order to attend in-person events. If you are not fully vaccinated or do not want to complete the CLEAR Health Pass process, do NOT register for an in-person event.

 

  1. Download the free CLEAR app on your Apple/iOS or Google/Android device and tap “Get Started” on the white Health Pass tile.
  2. Select Events on the top bar and select “Have a Code?” and enter MPC21.
  3. Tap “Enroll or verify in CLEAR” to create your CLEAR member account. New to CLEAR? When prompted, enter your email address, phone number, and have your government-issued photo ID ready to complete enrollment. Already a CLEAR member? Use the email address associated with your membership and snap a quick selfie to verify your identity.
  4. Tap “Add COVID-19 Vaccination” and follow prompts to securely confirm your proof of vaccination.

  1. Open the CLEAR app and tap on the white “Your Pass” tile.
  2. Confirm your identity with a quick selfie.
  3. Tap “Open Health Pass” to show your Green result at registration. Individuals that don’t have a Green Health Pass won’t be admitted into the event Conference.

Chamber staff will be in touch to check in and assist as needed. For immediate or technical help, call 855-CLEAR-ME or contact clientservices@clearme.com.

NOTE: The CLEAR app is available in the Apple App Store on iOS or the Google Play Store on Android. You must have a smartphone to use CLEAR Health Pass. If you can’t complete CLEAR Health Pass due to lack of access to a smartphone or your vaccine card is lost or damaged, please contact Wendy Nodge at wnodge@detroitchamber.com. 

CLEAR will not share your specific answers to any questions with the Chamber. CLEAR may provide reporting to the Chamber on your usage of Health Pass with the Chamber, including your green, amber, or red status.   

Capital Impact Partners Celebrates a Decade in Detroit and $300 Million in Investments for Social and Economic Justice

(DETROIT, MI/ARLINGTON, VA) Capital Impact Partners, a mission-driven Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), is celebrating 10 years of working with Detroit. The company also marked a milestone of $300 million in investments to expand economic, social and racial justice for underestimated communities through an inclusive growth strategy.

These investments include affordable, mixed-use housing projects, high-quality health care, education, and healthy food efforts as well as community development enterprises. Through these efforts Capital Impact has:

● Served more than 4,000 Detroiters—of whom 31% are living with low-to-moderate incomes
● Financed the creation of nearly 2,000 homes in Detroit to support increased density and affordability. Nearly 800 of these homes are maintained for individuals and families earning low incomes.
● Supported Detroit’s next generation of leaders by serving more than 2,000 students, of whom 1,695 identify as Black and 731 live in households earning low-to-moderate-incomes. Students supported have achieved a 100% graduation and post-high school attendance rate.

Capital Impact came to Detroit at the invitation of the Kresge Foundation as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative. Capital Impact was the only national lender joining with a broad array of local partners, including the City of Detroit, Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc., Skillman Foundation and Vanguard Community Development Corporation. In the wake of the Great Recession and massive population decline, the goal was to drive reinvestment along the Woodward Corridor and generate benefits for area residents.

Now, with an office in the heart of Detroit and a local team of 11, Capital Impact continues to manage a broad array of financing efforts and programs that support inclusive growth and generational wealth building.

“In the beginning, Detroit chose us due to our national expertise in driving financing into disinvested neighborhoods. Over the past decade, we have learned as much from Detroit as we have contributed,” said Elllis Carr, President and CEO of Capital Impact and CDC Small Business Finance. “Working closely with Detroiters, local nonprofits, CDFIs, government agencies and investors has taught us what it truly means to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the community to create trust and uplift their solutions. We’ve learned what it means to invest in people and address systemic barriers to success.”

Capital Impact’s strategy evolved as a result of its experience in Detroit to create a holistic approach that involves financing affordable, mixed-use housing projects, providing capacity building to emerging Black developers and creating tailored loan products for those individuals and partnering with local organizations, supporting small business entrepreneurs and engaging with government agencies.

“Capital impact has been in a leadership position in the city for a while because of their very early success and their willingness to plant a flag here and be very committed to the work in the city in a very city-based context as opposed to being a delivery mechanism for sort of like national tools,” said Aaron Seybert, managing director of the Social Investment Practice at The Kresge Foundation.

Below are a few highlights of Capital Impact’s work over the last decade.
Mission-Driven Financing that Supports Inclusive Growth

The Auburn represented Capital Impact’s first catalytic, mixed-used development as part of the Living Cities Integration Initiative to encourage revitalization of the Woodward Corridor. This new construction 56,000 square-foot facility on the corner of Cass Avenue and Canfield Street in the heart of Midtown Detroit is just one block from the (then proposed) M-1 rail line and just a few blocks from area anchor institutions including Wayne State University, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit Medical Center.

It includes space for 11 businesses, such as the iconic Source Booksellers owned and operated by a Black female entrepreneur. Twenty percent of the residential space was reserved to ensure affordability for local residents. Project partners included Invest Detroit, Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Roxbury Group.

You can learn more about the Auburn project in this story and this video.
Argonaut Building | A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education
Built in 1928, the 12-story Art Deco-style building known as the Argonaut in Detroit’s New Center has had several lives, including General Motors’ Research Lab. After sitting dark for 10 years, Capital Impact provided New Markets Tax Credit financing in support of a larger $145 million renovation.

Rechristened as the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, it now houses the College for Creative Studies, a leading institution for art and design education; University Prep Art & Design, a charter middle school and high school with design-focused curricula; and Shinola’s Detroit manufacturing operation. The transformation has been hailed as one of the most important downtown redevelopment projects in Detroit’s New Center neighborhood.

You can learn more about the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education in this story, and meet one of the Henry Ford Academy (now known as University Prep Art & Design) students in this profile.

As part of its then $100 million commitment to Detroit, JPMorgan Chase supported Capital Impact’s Detroit Neighborhoods Fund. The goal of this effort was to work across a variety of Detroit neighborhoods to return vacant properties to productive use, underwrite “missing middle” projects that fill gaps in the neighborhood fabric, increase access to neighborhood retail and provide housing for residents across the income spectrum.

The Coe represented a significant project for Capital Impact’s strategy to support smaller-scale projects embedded in neighborhoods. The once vacant lot was turned into a 12-unit, mixed-use development with both retail and affordable homes. Located directly between the Kercheval and Agnes Street commercial areas, the Coe supports a larger vision to revitalize the West Village into a mixed-use, mixed-income, walkable neighborhood.

The project was led by Woodburn Partners’ Clifford Brown, a Black developer with strong relationships throughout Detroit. The company has a mission of “Building Lives, Communities, and Wealth” in neighborhoods that have historically been overlooked for development. Brown also played a key role as a mentor in Capital Impact’s Equitable Development Initiative.

Invest Detroit, Broder & Sachse Real Estate and Sachse Construction also served as key partners.

“As part of JP Morgan Chase’s Detroit initiative, we committed $40 million in flexible, long-term capital, and 10 million in grants to two leading nonprofit CDFIs, one of those being Capital Impact Partners. Capital Impact was already a longstanding client and partner and had the local market presence and know-how, along with the critical community-based financing expertise and products to bring more flexible development financing for affordable housing and mixed use projects in Detroit like the Coe and other projects financing through their Detroit Neighborhoods Fund,” said Michael Rhodes, Vice President of Equity Capital Markets for JPMorgan Chase. “Capital Impact is also a mission-driven organization committed to equitable inclusive community development and social and economic justice.”

The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood
A first of its kind, The Weinberg Green Houses® At Thome Rivertown Neighborhood provides integrated care in a community setting. This innovative project created a national model by offering integrated service delivery including: Program for the All-Inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE), expansion location for The Center for Senior Independence (CSI); affordable assisted living (AAL) apartments with home health services; affordable senior independent living apartments; and Green House® permanent supportive housing with 20 nursing care professionals.
Capital Impact’s financing helped to complete the final phase of the project, which serves a number of seniors living with low-incomes and those eligible for Medicare. This first-of-its-kind partnership between PACE and a Green House® operator expects to save approximately $130,000 a year over institutional nursing care.

Located along the Detroit River just east of Detroit, Thome Rivertown residents are able to live in a vibrant area close to shopping and restaurants.

This unique project included a variety of community partners, including Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan’s Detroit Neighborhood Fund, Detroit Housing Commission, Detroit Area Agency on Aging, City of Detroit, Wayne County, The Kresge Foundation and The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Direct financing of projects that support equitable access to critical social services is a key strategy of Capital Impact. Through its participation in the Michigan Good Food Fund, Capital Impact also invests directly in intermediary lenders who help amplify support for healthy food systems and enterprises across Michigan.

One key example of this strategy was an investment in Northern Initiatives to administer loans less than $250,000 to grocery stores, food growers and entrepreneurs. In addition, Northern Initiatives used the investment to increase its technical assistance capabilities. As part of Capital Impact’s support, Northern Initiatives has made a number of high impact loans to small businesses run by individuals of color, including Placita Olvera – Supermercado Mexico, Forty Acres and Abeshi Ghanian Culture.

The Michigan Good Food Fund core partners include Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Programs Driving Equity and Opportunity in Detroit
Equitable Development Initiative

In 2017, Capital Impact conducted an analysis that revealed much of their lending, while achieving positive outcomes, was not serving real estate developers of color. In a majority Black city, Capital Impact recognized the need to develop solutions to see the kind of developer level outcomes it had hoped to achieve.

With local guidance, the Equitable Development Initiative (EDI) was created to provide emerging developers of color with training, mentorship and connections to secure financing. Since inception, the EDI program has trained 86 developers, many who have gone on to create their own organizations, build local projects and develop peer-to-peer networking circles.

JPMorgan Chase was an instrumental financing partner to help build the program.

“In addition to creating ‘developers,’ Capital Impact’s EDI program has created people who are more knowledgeable within the real estate space,” said Cliff Brown, a managing partner at Woodborn Partners and mentor in the EDI program. “The program has taken an underrepresented population and taught them how real estate development works, how capital works, how equity works and how wealth works. The EDI program has brought different voices to the table.”

“Capital Impact’s focus on helping us and up-skilling us Black and Brown developers, is actually paying off because you’re seeing a lot of the participants from that program being a part of these newer developments that are happening across the city,” said Edward Carrington, Founder of Flux City and EDI cohort graduate.

With feedback from EDI participants who still felt there was a barrier to accessing capital due to stringent underwriting standards, Capital Impact developed the Diversity in Development – Detroit Loan Fund. This initiative is designed to increase access to flexible and low-cost construction financing for real estate developers of color spearheading multifamily and mixed-use projects throughout Detroit. Nearly $100 million in applications were received with announcements forthcoming by Capital Impact on projects it intends to support.

Capital Impact Partners is one of the founding members of the Michigan Good Food Fund, a statewide loan fund that invests in good food enterprises working to increase access to healthy food and spark economic opportunity in places that need it most.

Since inception, this initiative has provided more than $17 million in loans and grants supporting over 300 Michigan-based food businesses that grow, process, distribute and sell healthy food. Fifty-three percent of the loans went to businesses led by people of color and 61% went to businesses led by women.

Some of the businesses the Michigan Good Food Fund have supported include Torti Taco, North Flint Food Market, Zilke Vegetable Farm and Country Style Marketplace. Key partners include the Fair Food Network, Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Capital Impact joined with Midtown Detroit, Inc. in to launch Stay Midtown, an initiative designed to address the housing supply gap for long-term residents living in Detroit’s rapidly redeveloping Midtown neighborhood. Due to the economic status amidst the growth of the city, these residents were at risk of displacement. The objective of Stay Midtown was to help Detroit residents maintain housing security during this period of high demand and limited supply, which was anticipated to lessen given increases in affordable housing options across all income levels.

The program provided up to $1,500 annually in rental assistance for three years to help reduce housing cost burdens and help reach targeted levels of housing affordability for that area of the city. An evaluation of the program found that it provided rental assistance to 152 households and supported an additional four households with relocation services. Stay Midtown helped participants reduce their average housing costs from 42% of household income to 37%. Twenty-two percent were able to reduce their housing costs to 30% of their household income.
Restore North End

With support from Capital Impact and The Kresge Foundation, Vanguard Community Development Corporation and Michigan Lending Solutions launched the Restore North End: Owner-Occupied Home Rehab Program. The goal was to offer financial assistance to homeowners in Detroit’s North End neighborhood to repair and rehabilitate their residences with the main purpose of eliminating blighted conditions by increasing the attractiveness, marketability and viability of the neighborhood’s most stable residential blocks.

A Powerful New Enterprise for Communities and Small Business

Most recently, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance, the nation’s leading mission-based small business lender to innovate how capital and investments flow into historically disinvested communities. This new enterprise expands Capital Impact’s traditional offerings to include support for small businesses to develop and implement high-touch, scalable solutions that support economic empowerment and equitable wealth creation. Detroit is one of three place-based pilot locations where the organization will actively engage with community members to understand regional barriers to opportunity and work together to create tools, programs, and services that are strategically customized to address those high-priority issues.

To learn more about Capital Impact Partners, please visit www.capitalimpact.org.

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About Capital Impact Partners

Through capital and commitment, Capital Impact Partners helps people build communities of opportunity that break barriers to success. We work to champion key issues of equity and social and economic justice by deploying mission-driven financing, capacity-building programs, and impact investing opportunities.

A nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $2.5 billion since 1982. In 2020, Capital Impact launched a new enterprise with CDC Small Business Finance under one leadership team and national strategy to reinvent traditional and mainstream financial systems. Our goal is to ensure these systems equitably serve communities of color to drive community-led solutions that support economic mobility and wealth creation.

Our leadership in delivering financial and social impact has resulted in Capital Impact being rated by S&P Global and recognized by Aeris for our performance. Headquartered in Arlington, VA, Capital Impact Partners operates nationally, with local offices in Austin, TX, Detroit, MI, New York, NY, and Oakland, CA.

Learn more at www.capitalimpact.org and www.investedincommunities.org.

Butzel attorney Michael C. Decker named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s ‘Leaders in the Law’

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel attorney and shareholder Michael C. Decker has been named to Michigan Lawyers Weekly’s “Leaders in the Law” Class of 2021. Honorees will be recognized at a luncheon and awards celebration on December 2, 2021, at the Detroit Marriott Troy. “Leaders in the Law” are honored, among other things, for:

• Significant accomplishments or achievements in law practice;
• Outstanding contributions to the practice of law in Michigan;
• Leadership in improving the justice system in Michigan;
• Seeking improvements to the legal community and their communities at large; and,
• Setting an example for other lawyers.

Decker practices in Butzel’s Detroit and Lansing offices.
He concentrates his practice in the areas of construction and construction litigation and business and business litigation.

He represents and counsels construction companies and contractors on all aspects of both public and private projects, from inception to completion of those projects. Decker has substantial experience drafting and negotiating contracts, subcontracts, and other agreements and prosecuting and defending performance, payment, and delay related claims on behalf of construction companies and contractors, as well as owners and sureties. He also has substantial experience prosecuting and defending claims concerning the Miss Dig Act and violations of the Miss Dig Act on behalf of construction companies and contractors. Decker has prosecuted and defended such claims before state and federal courts, state and public agencies, and arbitration and mediation panels.

Moreover, Decker has substantial experience assisting owners and contractors with residential construction related matters. Specifically, he has assisted owners and contractors drafting and negotiating residential construction contracts, subcontracts, and other agreements and resolving performance and payment related issues, as well as prosecuting and defending claims arising from such issues.

Decker represents and counsels businesses and business professionals with day-to-day business related issues. Such day-to-day business related issues routinely find him assisting with contract disputes and bankruptcy, corporate, collection, labor and employment, real estate, and trade secret related issues.

Decker has been recognized as a Rising Star in Business Litigation in 2013-2021 by Super Lawyers. Rising Stars are attorneys who are 40 years old or younger or who have practiced for 10 years or less. Notably, only 2.5 percent of Michigan lawyers are named to the list of Super Lawyers each year. Decker also has been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Construction Litigation in 2017-2021 by DBusiness.

He earned a Juris Doctorate from Wayne State University Law School in 2011 and a Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University in 2007. During law school, he served as an associate editor of The Journal of Law in Society.

Since 2015, he has been a member of the Central Michigan University Alumni Association Board of Directors. He represents the interests of alumni by providing meaningful opportunities and connections for maintaining involvement with the University.

Decker is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the State Bar of Florida. He is admitted to practice in various courts in both Michigan and Florida.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Troy, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Thomas McNeill Named a “2021 Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly

DETROIT, Mich., – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that Thomas G. McNeill (Member, Detroit) has been named a “2021 Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

Tom brings four decades of battle-tested experience and skill to representing private and public companies, and their owners, officers and directors, in state and federal trial courts in Michigan. In addition to all manner of contract and tort based business to business litigation, Tom specializes in complex financial litigation, including in the areas of securities (particularly class action defense), the purchase/sale of the business, private equity ownership and purchase/sale, and financial statement-based litigation. He is recognized for excellence in the niche fields of automotive supply litigation, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements, and trade secret theft. Tom is delighted to join the Michigan Lawyers Weekly “2021 Leaders in the Law,” and he is grateful for the highest peer-based recognitions conferred by Chambers USA (“Band 1”); The Legal 500 United States; Best Lawyers in America (in five litigation disciplines), Benchmark Litigation (“Litigation Star”); and Michigan Super Lawyers (“Top 100”). Tom is the Vice Chair of the State Appellate Defender Commission (nominated by the Supreme Court, appointed by three Governors), a Fellow of the State Bar of Michigan, a past President of the Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Michigan Chapter, a member of the International Society of Barristers, and co-author/editor of Michigan Business Torts, a leading ICLE publication, now in its 2020 edition.

Each year, Michigan Lawyers Weekly selects 25 lawyers to honor as “Leaders in the Law,” those who exemplify the noble tradition of the legal profession, are passionate and active on behalf of clients and the community, have a record of success in the legal profession, and have a record of achievements that display a strength of character and ability to be a leader in the Michigan legal community. The “2021 Leaders in the Law” will be honored at an annual luncheon and awards ceremony on December 2, 2021 at the Troy Marriott.

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

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Browning named among 2021 ‘Leaders in the Law’

Plunkett Cooney partner Charles W. Browning was recently selected a 2021 “Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (MiLW), an industry publication serving the state’s legal community. This is the second time that Browning has been selected for this honor, having also been named a Leader in the Law in 2015.

Browning and the other class of 2021 honorees were selected for, among other things, their significant contributions to the practice of law in Michigan, their expertise and leadership, as well as for setting an example for other lawyers.

The annual Leaders in the Law awards ceremony will be held on Dec. 2 at the Detroit Marriott Troy. The “Lawyer of the Year,” as selected by a vote of the class, will be announced during the event. All of the 2021 honorees will be profiled in a special section of the Dec. 6 issue of MiLW.

Browning is a partner and Co-leader of Plunkett Cooney’s Insurance Coverage Practice Group, overseeing the firm’s national practice as coverage counsel for numerous major insurance companies.

In addition to this honor, Browning has been designated annually for several years as a Michigan Super Lawyer and has been annually recognized by The Best Lawyers in America since 2010. He is a Fellow in the American College of Coverage Counsel. Browning is also the 2016 recipient of Defense Research Institute’s (DRI) prestigious Albert H. Parnell Award, which is presented annually to honor members who created a particularly dynamic educational program.

Browning is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel (Casualty Insurance Committee (Chair 2006-2008) and Reinsurance and Excess and Surplus Lines Committee); Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Insurance Committee) and the American Bar Association (Litigation Section and Torts and Insurance Practice Section). He is also a member of the Board of Editors of the Defense Counsel Journal.

Browning has been admitted to practice law in the state courts of Michigan and several federal courts, and he has been admitted to practice law pro hac vice in more than 34 states. He received his law degree from the University of Detroit School of Law and his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University.

Plunkett Cooney is recognized as one of the nation’s leading law firms for insurance coverage litigation. They routinely handle cutting-edge coverage litigation, including such issues as COVID-19 business interruption and emerging environmental contaminants like polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS).

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

For more information about Charles Browning’s selection as a 2021 Leader in the Law, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or via email at jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

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