Target to open small-format store in Midtown Detroit

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 25, 2021
JC Reindl

Target intends to open a small-format store in Midtown Detroit as part of a planned new apartments development, the developer said Monday.

The 32,000-square-foot Target store would be situated at the southeast corner of Mack and Woodward avenues, near the Whole Foods. Target has been eyeing this general location since at least 2016.

Monday’s announcement did not specify a construction start or opening date for the Target.

The store and apartments would be built on what is now an empty lot, next to a newly constructed parking deck. The overall project is still subject to approvals of its site design as well as various development subsidies.

The Midtown store would be significantly smaller than typical Target stores, which average about 130,000 square feet, according to the retailer.

“I would like to thank Target for choosing Detroit, Midtown and our next new mixed-use apartment hotel community in the city,” said Jonathan Holtzman, CEO of City Club Apartments, which is developing the planned 350-unit apartment complex, known as City Club Apartments Midtown.

The planned store represents a return to Detroit for Target, which in 2003 closed its location at 8500 E. Eight Mile Road.

A Target representative at the time cited the store’s weak financial performance and said it was losing customers to Target stores at Northland Center and Eastland Center malls. Since then, the Northland and Eastland Targets have closed.

Earlier this month, Meijer opened one of its new small-format stores, a 42,000-square-foot Rivertown Market, about a mile east of downtown at 1475 E. Jefferson.

The Target would be part of the City Club Apartments Midtown development, which envisions 350 upscale apartments within a new 16-story residential tower and a six-story midrise building. Twenty percent of the units were be reserved at lower rents for tenants with below-median incomes.

Holtzman said earlier this year that a large retailer wanted to anchor the planned development, although he wasn’t at the time authorized to name Target.

Monday’s announcement does not give anticipated groundbreaking or opening dates. Holtzman does say that “we continue to be in an environment with significant labor and material shortages.”

“Midtown Detroit Inc. is thrilled that Target is coming to Midtown,” Midtown Detroit President Sue Mosey said in a statement. “This store will offer grocery, general merchandise and other amenities for our growing downtown/Midtown population of over 25,000 residents and 30,000 college students. We anticipate residents from other Detroit neighborhoods will also find this store a convenient shopping option.”

View the original article.

COVID-19 Upended Michigan’s Labor Market: Here’s Where the Workers Went

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 25, 2021
Adrienne Roberts 

Throughout the pandemic, Amanda Scully has been taking classes while working at Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Somerset Collection in Troy. The store closed when COVID-19 hit, but she received unemployment benefits and then went back to work when the store reopened in July of last year.

When Scully, 24, was called back, she worked a similar number of hours compared with before the pandemic, but the job was noticeably different.

“A lot of people are angry with us because we don’t have certain things in the store because of supply chain” issues, she said.

One day, she opened a newsletter from Oakland County that advertised a free certified logistics technician training program. The eight-week program, a partnership between Oakland County Michigan Works!, Oakland Community College and PepsiCo, promised jobs coming out of the program starting at $15-$21 per hour, with opportunities for advancement.

Scully jumped at the opportunity.

“I wanted more stability and some jobs are more in demand than others,” she said. Her current job also doesn’t offer benefits, and that’s something she’d like in her next job.

Finding something better

When she graduates from the program and starts working in a new industry, Scully will join more than a third of Michigan residents ages 18 to 29 who were employed prior to the pandemic and changed jobs over the last year and a half, a recent poll by the Detroit Regional Chamber found.

The poll, conduced by Glengariff Group Inc., illustrates just one of the many ways Michigan’s labor market has changed during the pandemic.

“The pandemic has caused people to rethink the choices that they’re making,” said Susan Corbin, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity.

“A lot of older Americans are choosing to maybe retire earlier,” she said. “And because of the labor shortage, people, particularly who were in low wage jobs previously, have a lot more options.”

The same Detroit Regional Chamber poll found there was a 5.9% drop in the labor force participation rate — a measure of people working or actively looking for work — for Michigan residents ages 50-64 throughout the course of the pandemic, and a 5.4% drop for those 65 and older. That’s the sharpest decline compared with other ages.

Overall, Michigan’s labor force participation rate is 59.3%, according to September data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which ranks Michigan at 41st out of 50 in the nation. Before the pandemic, in February 2020, the state’s labor force participation rate was 61.6%.

4 trends behind the lack of workers

Jennifer Llewellyn, the director of Oakland County Michigan Works!, said even after working in workforce development for 23 years, she has never seen a labor market like this.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Llewellyn said. She attributes it to four trends:

1. Women leaving the workforce. Primarily due to K-12 schools going online last year and continuing child care issues, 200,000 women have left the workforce in Michigan, she said, citing a report from the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information. “Quite frankly, we just we can’t afford to lose that many women in the workforce,” Llewellyn said.

2. Lack of engagement on the part of employers. Women are just one of several groups that need to be reengaged, she said. Veterans, people with disabilities, retirees and individuals doing contract work or working in the gig economy are just a few in this group. “Are employers posting jobs in a way that says these are all the benefits and opportunities that we have available?” she asked. “Are they outlining career pathways and opportunities for advancement even when they’re recruiting new employees?”

3. Fear of getting sick. COVID-19 also is a reason Michigan residents may be out of the labor force, especially if they have preexisting health conditions or are caring for a child that can’t be vaccinated or a parent at home. Llewellyn said this could especially affect people at retirement age, who may have realized with the threat of themore easily transmissible delta variant that it’s not worth risking their own or their family’s health to continue working.

4. Working conditions. Finally, Llewellyn is seeing that workers want better jobs and more flexibility. “They want to work in a better environment, they’re looking for higher wages, they’re looking for more work flexibility, the opportunity to work from home or work in a hybrid model,” she said.

Changing personal priorities

That idea of looking for better work is affecting both younger adults, like Scully, and executives and older workers.

Peter Bridges, senior managing director at the Townsend Search Group in Birmingham, an executive search firm, said the pandemic has been an opportunity for people to self-reflect.

“Executives are no exception,” Bridges said. He said in 2020, the firm saw a “surprising” number of people choose to retire.

“We also saw people take roles that maybe were a bit more modest relative to their prior career trajectory,” Bridges said.

Gina McKague, owner and founder of McKague Financial in Livonia, is also seeing clients who are choosing to retire for personal reasons, such as not wanting to be stuck on Zoom calls all day working remotely, and have enough money to retire.

One of her clients, a 65-year-old woman in metro Detroit who said she wanted to remain anonymous because she didn’t want to disparage her former employer, retired from being a nurse manager in August after she was left with few resources in the pandemic.

“I liked my job but it became harder to do because I didn’t have nurses,” she said, citing examples of nurses quitting, nursing schools not graduating as many students compared with prior years and struggling to compete with staffing agencies who hire travel nurses and can pay as much as $100 per hour.

“I thought, ‘You know, you have worked for 43 years and it is time to hand over the baton,’ ” she said.

She said she probably would have worked for longer if conditions were different, but she said her house and other debts are paid off, and she and her husband have saved for retirement.

Corbin said that’s a missed opportunity to keep a qualifiedperson who isn’tquite ready for retirement yet, but who may be ready for a transition, in the labor force.

Forced to leave the job

But McKague said in many cases in the pandemic, she has had clients say they were forced into retirement because their role was eliminated, the company was going out of business, they feared getting COVID-19 at work, or they were unwilling to get a company-mandated vaccine.

“They are having a hard time getting another job because (employers) don’t want to put money into training them and don’t want to pay wages that they were earning,” McKague said.

View the original article.

Dearborn Symphony Orchestra presents “Mini Masterpieces from Around the World”

The Dearborn Symphony Orchestra presents “Mini Masterpieces from Around the World” on November 19, 8 p.m. at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center. Travel to Italy, France, and even Romania with orchestral masterpieces that include Debussy’s Clair de Lune and Petite Suite, Bartok’s lively Romanian Folk Dances and Rossini’s Cinderella Overture. For tickets, go to

$50 Million Minority-Owned Cannabis Facility Breaks Ground in Detroit

Former NBA All-Star Chris Webber broke ground on a $50 million cannabis operations and training center in Detroit’s trendy Corktown neighborhood.

Players Only, a Black-owned business that Webber co-founded with entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, will focus on cannabis cultivation and retail, brand partnerships and content development.

Cookies U, part of California-based Cookies’ social impact program, will provide training and job placement services that focus on minorities and underrepresented communities, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Detroit marijuana facility marks the first major announcement from Webber and Willis since February, when they and JW Asset Management founder Jason Wild launched a $100 million private equity cannabis fund to invest in underrepresented cannabis entrepreneurs.

The 180,000-square-foot facility will feature 60,000 square feet of cultivation space, an 8,000-square-foot dispensary and a private cannabis consumption lounge.

Webber announced an exclusive product distribution partnership with Michigan-based Gage Growth, which is in the process of being acquired by New York-based TerrAscend. Wild is TerrAscend’s executive chair.

“We will create, foster and provide a cannabis ecosystem that celebrates diversity, creates jobs, and benefits this community – focusing intensely on those who are being left behind,” Webber, a Detroit native, said in a news release.

“As social equity programs struggle in many states, we are here to support legacy operators who created the foundation for this industry so that they are included in future iterations of it while we wait on the politics to catch up.”

View original article.

Panel: How Black- and Diverse-Owned Small Businesses Can Access Funding


Key Takeaways

  • Start building a relationship with financial institutions and lenders before you need capital. According to Jones, “waiting until you need capital to build that relationship is too late.”  
  • Find a financial institution with a good track record of working with good borrowers and businesses, who will take time getting to know your small business and provide advice on what is best for your business—not their company. 
  • Businesses of all sizes sought out capital during the pandemic, but Black and Latinx businesses struggled to gain access. This led to non-traditional lending sources stepping up to assist those businesses. 
  • Small business owners should talk to lenders and let them know what they need. According to Dunn, “As small business owners, you are the truth in this story. It’s about making sure you have the resources that you need.” 

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, the Detroit Regional Chamber and Pure Michigan Business Connect partnered to host the first webinar in the Chamber’s 2021-2022 Black- and Diverse-Owned Business Series – How to Access Small Business Funding.   

The webinar brought together a panel of financial and business experts from the Detroit region to discuss traditional and non-traditional funding opportunities and resources that small businesses can take advantage of to expand. The panel was moderated by Paul Jones, business support director at Invest Detroit, and comprised: 

  • Aileen Cohen, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC)
  • James Dunn, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, First Independence Bank 
  • Derron Sanders, Strategic Advisor, Grow Michigan Fund II; Chief Executive Officer, SG Companies 
  • Shannon Smith, Vice President, Siebert Williams Shank Capital Management 

Cohen participated in the panel from the perspective of the state of Michigan, which helps all businesses; Dunn, small, startup businesses; Sanders, minority businesses; and Smith, Black and Latinx businesses.  

View responses to audience Q&A.

When to Start Building a Relationship with Lenders

Dunn shared that small business owners should start building a relationship with financial institutions before seeking capital. While a pre-existing relationship does not guarantee loan approval, it helps lenders get to know the business they are working with and provides referrals to other resources that could be useful for growth. 

“And then also, it gives the banker an opportunity to know who you are, what your business plans are, and how you’re preparing for them, what your business plans look like, and sometimes, they can direct you to into what you need to do to put your business on the ground and get it going,” Dunn said. 

Dunn also shared that small business owners should consider working with smaller banks like First Independence Bank before going to larger banks for capital. 

“One of the benefits of working with a smaller banking institution is that they’re a little more focused on smaller loan relationships, and it’s kind of their core business. They’re going to pay more attention,” Dunn said.  

According to the Small Business Administration, 71% of small business applications submitted to smaller banks were approved, whereas the approval rate at larger banks was 58%.  

Wraparound Services for Small Businesses

Sanders discussed different services that small business owners should proactively look for from their bank or lending relationships. The main thing he suggests is looking for advice. 

“When you look at Grow Michigan II, one of the taglines we promote is bridging the economic gap for all with capital and advice. The thing I like to highlight is the ‘all’ and the ‘advice,’” Sanders said. “Capital is one factor, but what they [small business owners] lack sometimes is advice, and sometimes that’s more important than the capital,” Sanders said. 

Sanders believes banks, capital sources, and non-traditional lending sources like Grow Michigan II should build a relationship with borrowers because it gives them insight into the businesses they are looking to fund, including why they started their business, how they are running their business, and what their short-term and long-term goals are. Having this knowledge helps them tailor advice to best help businesses grow. 

According to Dunn, financial institutions that do not provide advice and will lend based on a credit score could be a sign of predatory lending. Predatory lending is when a lender offers a loan with few barriers except for a high interest rate, making it easy money.  

“People will create a lending model based on a FICO score and earnings, and they’ll throw money at you. It’s not a high decision type of lending. What’s missing sometimes with that type of lending is there’s no consulting role. They’re not helping you as a businessperson to guide you into those questions you should be asking,” Dunn said. “You need a consulting role to help small businesses succeed.”   

In addition to finding a lender that provides advice, Sanders also stressed that borrowers should not start a relationship with lenders with a “beggar mentality.”  

“Know that we are going in with a great business plan, [and] that they are looking for us as much as we are looking for them,” Sanders said. “You want to make sure you work with an institution that has developed a track record. You want to do your research and know that you have options. There’s a lot of liquidity out there, and banks, financial institutions, and mezzanine debt funds like ours are looking for good borrowers,” Sanders said. 

The New Lending Environment

Smith shared what financial lending looks like today, amid COVID-19 and new FinTech developments, compared to what it looked like pre-COVID-19.  

“A lot of innovation happened,” Smith said, “Specifically, I think we saw a unique time where no matter the company, who ran the company, the revenue size—everyone was looking for capital to survive the shutdown.”  

Even though almost every business felt the pinch of the pandemic, Smith said that minority-owned businesses faced a unique but unsurprising barrier—one that was not caused by the pandemic but was highlighted by it. They faced the challenge of accessing capital, especially regarding receiving Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding. 

“We saw the emergence of what I’ve been labeling as the ‘robot banker.’ The silver-lining will show what automation could do to benefit minority-owned businesses by removing some human involvement that could perhaps explain some of the disparities we’re seeing in the businesses of the same types, similar revenues, but different colored founders,” Smith said. 

Another thing that came out of the pandemic was that foundations switched their funding criteria and made exceptions to get businesses through the pandemic outside of their objectives and pillars. 

“Before, during, and after COVID, we started to see intentional funds like ours, a non-traditional lender, the Clear Michigan Impact Fund, that said, ‘You know what, we believe the U.S., below-the-middle market businesses, especially Black- and Latinx-owned businesses, represent a large, attractive lending opportunity,’ so we stepped in,” Smith said. “Especially, if you look at the gap in GDP in a region like Michigan, where we could’ve been $29 billion stronger in the 2014 study—a 13% increase in GDP—if the racial gap in income had been closed.”  

Advocacy for Small Businesses

Cohen shared that there is ample funding coming into the state of Michigan at the local, state, and federal levels. However, without the assistance of technical service providers and lenders who share what is needed from businesses, organizations like MEDC will not know how to structure these funds to make the most significant impact.  

“We want to hear from the ground level what’s needed out there. That’s where the activity comes in. We recognize as a state that we are not on the ground. We’re one step removed from what the market conditions are right now, what borrowers and lenders actually want,” Cohen said. “We have been constantly reaching out to each and every one of those groups to figure out what is needed and how.” 

Ultimately, Cohen shared that the best advocacy comes from making sure small business owners stay in touch with local service providers. 

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to utilize this funding to make an impact…to make sure we are going to use this money in the most impactful way we can,” Cohen said.  

Overcoming Barriers to Access Capital: Action Items

According to Dunn, the first thing small business owners should prepare before asking for financial assistance is a strong business plan. 

“When the lender is looking at ‘Can I support this business?’, but most importantly ‘How carefully considered is the business, how well-planned out, what’s the likelihood of success?’, I would suggest that with a very solid business plan, the likelihood that your business will be successful, it goes up tremendously as compared with ‘I have an idea. I’m just going to launch this,’” Dunn said. 

The business plan can include various details, such as the past, present, and future of a business, what it has made to date, what the projections are, and assumptions to those projections. According to Smith, the latter is one of the most essential details. He believes being able to walk lenders and investors through the assumptions is key. It will show them that you are being considerate about making sure you’re in a place to grow your business and have people around you who can help you build your business. 

Another important thing to consider when seeking capital is knowing what you are asking for and why. 

“Are you able to explain how you will spend every single penny? Even if those assumptions aren’t all the way true, it just shows that you have an understanding of how you’re going to invest capital into your business to grow to your next step,” Smith said. 

Sanders also recommends business owners remember to share their personal stories and personal credit when developing a relationship with lenders and not only to highlight their business accomplishments.  

“Your personal story, your personal credit, all the things—when you’re a small business, until you get to a certain level of scale, we are looking at you as an individual, separate and distinct to some extent from the business,” Sanders said. “We are looking at who the jockey is riding the horse, with the horse being the business.”  

This step includes making sure you are creditworthy by keeping a score in the high 700s or low 800s. It also means making sure when someone Googles you or your business that nothing derogatory comes up. 

“Let’s not forget how important the personal aspect of you tied to the business is, as well,” Sanders said. 

According to Cohen, one of the last things small business owners can do to find capital is take advantage of existing resources available with organizations like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). They will be able to provide insight into grant programs and resources across the state of Michigan. 

Overcoming Systemic Challenges for Minority-Owned Businesses

“We are seeing this shift in sentiment from corporate America and just institutions around the importance of racial equity, especially as it relates to the credit market,” Smith said.  

Organizations like the Clear Michigan Fund, Grow Michigan Fund II, First Independence Bank, Invest Detroit, and MEDC provide opportunities for Black- and diverse-owned businesses to overcome institutional barriers to accessing capital. 

At the Clear Michigan Fund, Smith shared they focus on the “network effect,” which is when a small Black or Latinx business comes to them with a plan on how they want to grow, and the Fund identifies companies they are trying to build a bridge to and helps them connect.

“A lot of large corporates are also making these intentional efforts to diversify their supply chains. Their procurement departments are really taking it serious. There’s this relationship that’s starting to build on both sides for lenders, for companies, as well as those large corporates looking to give opportunities to more minority-owned businesses,” Smith said. “And it’s not a charitable act. It’s an act of just finding these businesses and giving them the contracts. These businesses have been doing the work, continue to do the work, and they just need the capital and that bridge to be built to then show that they can do the work.” 

Grow Michigan II and First Independent Bank are also working to provide capital to more minority-owned businesses through a partnership. To close the equity gap, Sanders shared how Grow Michigan II put forth $40-$50 million, with at least 50% being targeted to minority-owned businesses. 

Jones also shared how Invest Detroit provides capital to businesses located in Highland Park, Hamtramck, and Detroit, or cities with a large minority population. In addition, Cohen shared there is a significant focus on providing federal funds to socio- and economically disadvantaged businesses in Michigan.   

“We’re in a really unprecedented time where we have institutions, corporates, and a lot of players that are starting to shift their focus and understand the value of closing this equity gap,” Smith said. “As a minority-owned business across the country, especially in this region, it’s really a great time to tap into those resources, find those capital sources, but also come ready with your plan to be funded, because there’s a lot of investors and a lot of funds that are looking to invest in some great businesses.” 

View the How to Access Small Business Funding webinar here.

Audience Q&A Responses

The panelist also answered several questions from the audience after their presentation. See some highlights below.

Where can I find resources and contacts discussed?

In addition to the “ask” what are the typical repayment terms?
Terms are flexible as we (CVIF) work with our portfolio companies. For example, we’ve offered six months interest-only terms to start and then principal/interest payments for the remainder of the term.

Are there any grants as opposed to loans?
Check with your local EDO (Economic Development Organization) or Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for further information on grants.

How can we get help with our business financials?

Many small businesses were effectively left out of the many programs available because at the local level, the organizations responsible for allocating funds made decisions based on their own organizational biases. As a result, a LOT of small businesses, solo-preneurs, and seeds of potential were left out and many went under. What do you envision doing differently going forward so we don’t continue to see the sparks of great potential snuffed out by rigid rules and metrics that perhaps unintentionally but systemically discriminate and crush innovative visionaries?
With new programming, MEDC will be making intentional efforts to focus a large share of its programming on micro-businesses (less than nine employees) and socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Prior to programming being developed, we are still awaiting guidance from the federal government on how the funding is to be used.

Are there any capital resources that support low credit score individuals, lack of collateral, lack of 10% down, or that can’t support high interest rates? Mainly these are less than 10 employees, needing an average of $25,000. These are underserved individuals mainly.
Invest Detroit is a potential option since it has removed credit scores from its review. Opportunity Resource Fund is also a great resource.

Also left out grant and financing programs are business service companies in Michigan with over $10M in revenues and 250 employees. What is available for such companies?

What does CDFI stand for?
Community Development Financial Institution. They are a community-based lender that generally has more lenient credit standards while offering more technical assistance than a traditional lender.

Does Grow Michigan 2 fund or loan to math tutoring businesses?
Yes; Grow 2 would consider providing a loan to a math tutoring business.

How does a micro business that also is community driven access these capital streams?
Visit ProsperUS Detroit.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the sponsor of the event series. 

Oct. 22 | This Week In Government: Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Decreased Slightly In September; Detroit Dump Site Limits The Focus During Hearing On Trash Dumping Bill

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. Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Decreased Slightly In September
  2. Detroit Dump Site Limits The Focus During Hearing On Trash Dumping Bill
  3. Timeline Still Unclear On Moving $2.5B Water Infrastructure Supplemental
  4. A Redistricting Unknown: The Court Of Appeals
  5. EPA Plans To Regulate PFAS; Moving To Set Drinking Water Limits

Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Decreased Slightly In September

Michigan’s seasonally adjusted jobless rate declined by 0.1 percentage point, to 4.6 percent, in September, date from the Department of Technology, Management and Budget data released Wednesday showed.

Statewide employment grew by 16,000, while the number of unemployed inched down by 4,000. Michigan’s labor force increased by 12,000 over the month.

“Michigan’s labor market was stable in September,” Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. “The unemployment rate and payroll job counts both showed minimal change over the month.”

The state’s total employment level inched up by 0.4 percentage point over the month, similar to the national rate of growth, while it – and the country at large – saw a significant total unemployment decline since September 2020 as individuals returned from pandemic-related layoffs.

Michigan’s September 2021 unemployment rate remained above pre-pandemic levels, however, with total unemployment in the state being 36,000 – 19.4 percent higher than in February 2020. The September 2021 jobless rate of 4.6 percent was above the pre-pandemic rate of 3.7 percent.

DTMB’s data also showed that the Detroit-Warren-Dearborn Metropolitan Statistical Area’s seasonally adjusted September jobless rate decreased by 0.2 percentage point to 3.9 percent. The Detroit region employment level increased by 12,000, while unemployment receded by 4,000, resulting in a workforce gain of 8,000 since August. Joblessness in the Detroit metro area has declined significantly since last September.

As for nonfarm jobs, the monthly survey of employers indicated that total payroll employment rose slightly by 8,000 in September – up 0.2 percent – resulting in a September job level of about 4.2 million. The state’s leisure and hospitality sector had the largest monthly job gain, and though this industry historically sees some decline in September, the drop in September 2021 was smaller than usual.

September was the fifth month in a row to exhibit an over-the-month payroll employment increase, although job gains in the last two months have been modest. Statewide payroll employment moved up by 99,000, or 2.4 percent, over the year. Michigan nonfarm jobs were 272,000, or 6.1 percent, below the February 2020 pre-pandemic level.

The statewide education and health services sector, however, exhibited the largest over-the-month job decline – down by 6,000, or 0.9 percent. Manufacturing jobs, though, edged up slightly for the second consecutive month.

Michigan’s professional and business services sector exhibited the largest over-the-year numeric job growth, adding 30,000 positions since the prior September.

Detroit Dump Site Limits The Focus During Hearing On Trash Dumping Bill

Dumping limitations at a municipal trash site in Detroit and the inaccessibility of a second site within the city are partly to blame for the city’s trash and illegal dumping problem, which Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) told the House Judiciary Committee is worsening by the day.

Johnson said her HB 4048, reintroduced from last session, would provide stiffer criminal penalties and civil fines for unlawful dumping by amending the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.

Johnson said her bill has support from city officials and was inspired by the city’s growing trash problem. She said trash is piling up on the sides or roadways and highways, in neighborhoods and sometimes in residents’ front or back yards, and is attracting rats. The representative said Tuesday that she’s even seen dead rats outside of her own home, one of which she said she ran over recently while driving.

She added that it appears a large portion of the trash problem isn’t being generated by city residents but rather companies like construction contractors and in some cases non-residents.

Johnson legislative director Chris Wardell said that he has also seen trash piling up in and around Kalamazoo.

Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland), a member of the committee, said he’s seen trash dumped along roadways and nature trails on which he runs and hikes. While he acknowledged the problem and the need to stop it, Johnson wondered how many individuals were actually caught dumping. He said the bill would not help if violators were not being prosecuted.

Johnson said she did not have figures on prosecutions in front of her but did say those who have attempted to clean illegal dump sites, whether city employees or good Samaritans, have taken to digging through trash bags to find addressed envelopes that are then turned over to law enforcement.

The city has also begun installing cameras at frequently flagged illegal dump sites in an attempt to catch violators in the act.

When Johnson asked whether the dumping was a product of laziness by individuals and companies or a problem with waste management within the city, Johnson said it was a bit of both. She said Detroit has two dump sites for residents, one of which is free and one managed by a third-party contractor. The free site indicates that it can take up to 1,000 pounds of acceptable waste from any city resident per day, but Johnson said the actual amount it can take was far less. The second site charges a fee, which she said discourages its use.

Jon Cool, president of the Michigan Railroads Association, testifying in support of the bill Tuesday, said the trash problem harms rail operations, and debris blocking rail yard entry points could pose problems if medical or law enforcement first responders need access during an emergency.

Johnson said a planned substitute would allow rail companies – which are experiencing the brunt of illegal dumping across the state, rail officials said – to seek reimbursement for the cost of cleanup from the offenders. Rail company officials Tuesday said it would not be safe for violators to clean areas like electrified tracks that service rail cars in both directions.

Johnson suggested allowing any company, not just railroads, to be reimbursed for costs incurred during clean-up, which Ms. Johnson said she was willing to entertain.

OTHER BUSINESS: The committee reported a package of bills aimed at protecting residents against sexual abuse from physicians by increasing penalties and ensuring the protection of medical records referencing any supposed treatment involving vaginal or anal penetration. The package, inspired by the fallout from the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, includes HB 4853, HB 4855, HB 4857and HB 4858, each of which was the subject of previous testimony.

The committee also reported HB 5368, after adopting a substitute, that would make birth dates publicly accessible information in court proceedings. Rep. Graham Filler (R-DeWitt), committee chair and the bill sponsor, said the substitute makes two minor but important language changes – swapping the word “defendant” with “individual” so that only a defendant’s name and date of birth is prohibited from redaction and striking the phrase, “all court documents must be open to the public” from the bill.

Timeline Still Unclear On Moving $2.5B Water Infrastructure Supplemental

Initial testimony on a multibillion-dollar water infrastructure supplemental appropriations package was unanimously positive Wednesday but the timeline for movement and what an amended formula for a lead line replacement component might look like were not immediately clear.

The $2.5 billion supplemental, SB 565, before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, provides for extensive investments in water infrastructure including lead line replacements and dam repairs.

There has been no opposition to the proposal thus far, with supporters saying using the once in a generation infusion of federal funding, via the federal coronavirus relief package, would be a significant long-term investment in the state’s infrastructure needs.

Of the $2.5 billion the bill contains, $2.21 billion is federal relief funds and $290 million is state restricted funds. That funds would also break down to $2.485 billion for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and $15 million for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

“I believe SB 565 is a huge step in ensuring that our state water infrastructure undergoes transformational improvements that will benefit every Michigander for generations to come,” Sen. Jon Bumstead (R-Newaygo), the bill’s sponsor, told the committee.

Included in the bill is $650 million for a dam risk reduction revolving loan fund, $600 million for lead line replacements, $400 million for the state’s drinking water program, $235 million for clean water infrastructure and $200 million for wastewater-clean water infrastructure grants.

Another $100 million would go toward the PFAS remediation program, with $100 million allocated for stormwater, asset management and wastewater program grants.

Bumstead said a substitute is being crafted to make changes to the proposed lead line replacement formula.

Under the original bill, EGLE would be able to approve grants for costs related to service line replacement to water suppliers that meet the state’s lead and copper rule standards. Applicants would be required to put up a 50 percent match. A total of 25 percent of the annual grants would be required to be spent in rural communities with a population of less than 10,000 people.

What the formula for the lead line replacements funding might look like is still being discussed, Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), the committee chair, told reporters after the hearing.

“We want to find the right balance,” Stamas said. “That’s going to come with our ability to work with our stakeholders.”

When asked about the timeline for getting the money out the door, he said the issue was, again, finding the right balance as well as identifying the right targeted investments.

“I do feel that there is a pressure to move something forward, but we want to make sure that we get this right,” Stamas said, and that involves working with stakeholders and the governor’s administration.

He emphasized the need to not move too quickly and make sure the state gets it right when it comes to a generational opportunity for investment.

Beyond the match in the original language for the lead line replacements, there are other stipulations for some of the pots of money within the bill.

For the $200 million in wastewater-clean water infrastructure grants, at least $40 million would be for communities of 5,000 or fewer people.

The $100 million in PFAS mitigation grants would have to be awarded by EGLE for remediation projects with no identified responsible party and would be meant to address drinking water, groundwater or surface water contamination.

Another $85 million in the bill would be for a healthy hydration program to provide grants to schools to install filtered drinking water stations. Applicants would have to provide a 30 percent match and the funds would be contingent on the passage of SB 184 and SB 185.

Members of the committee were all on board with the bill and the need for major investments, although multiple members suggested that further discussions may be needed on provisions such as the local matches, especially for the lead line funding.

A Redistricting Unknown: The Court Of Appeals

Proposal 2 of 2018 left the Legislature and governor still in charge of one aspect of redistricting: the reapportionment of the four state Court of Appeals districts.

However, it has been quiet in the House and Senate on starting work on a bill to redraw the lines.

The 25 judges of the Court of Appeals are elected from four different districts.

Under the 2011 map, the first district has judges from Branch, Hillsdale, Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Monroe, St. Joseph, and Wayne. The second district has judges from Genesee, Oakland and Macomb counties. The third district has judges from Allegan, Barry, Berrien, Calhoun, Cass, Eaton, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, Mason, Montcalm, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Ottawa, Van Buren, and Washtenaw. All other counties are in the fourth district.

Of particular interest in 2022 is that Judge David Sawyer of East Grand Rapids in the third district cannot seek reelection because of the age limit on judicial candidates. That creates a rare open seat on the court.

Another aspect to watch is that two of the judges up for reelection in 2022 (Judge Michael Gadola of Lansing and Judge Brock Swartzle of Okemos) are from a smaller county – Ingham – which could conceivably be moved away from the large number of northern, smaller counties into something closer and then potentially shake up who is running where.

House Republican spokesperson Gideon D’Assandro, asked when the Legislature would begin work on redistricting, said with the census data having come in later, the House is “still collecting input on the population shifts and whether changes are needed.”

He said the court redistricting is not on the same strict timeline as the U.S. House and Legislature, which now is constitutionally mandated under Proposal 2.

Messages left with the Senate Republican Caucus were not returned.

EPA Plans To Regulate PFAS; Moving To Set Drinking Water Limits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced they are moving to set enforceable drinking water limits on PFAS, chemicals which do not break down naturally and often end up in water supplies in communities all around the country.

This is the first time the EPA is attempting to address PFAS. The chemicals can be found in cosmetics, dental floss and cleaning supplies. Several companies, including 3M, are facing lawsuits for contamination. The U.S. Department of Defense has also faced public outcry and military leaders have begun assessing the problems caused by military bases.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has dedicated MPART, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, to handle the situation in the state. Hugh McDiarmid Jr., EGLE communications manager, said in a statement that the department is aware of the EPA announcement, and staff is reviewing its potential impact on Michigan.

John Dulmes, Michigan Chemistry Council executive director, said in a statement the council looks forward to reviewing the EPA’s PFAS Roadmap and continuing to work with regulatory agencies on science-based policies.

“We have long held that the federal government – rather than individual states – is best-positioned to develop consistent and comprehensive regulations,” Dulmes said in a statement. “Still, many of the proposals outlined in the EPA PFAS Roadmap, including drinking water and cleanup standards, have already been undertaken by Michigan EGLE, so we will have to see how EGLE and EPA harmonize their approaches.”

Dulmes told Gongwer News Service that the Department of Defense hasn’t conformed to Michigan’s standards and with the EPA’s announcement, it would potentially be the most affected in the state.

“Michigan has been pretty aggressive and conservative in setting those standards,” he said. “It will impact other states probably more so than Michigan because Michigan has already taken those steps.”

Michigan Awarded Economic Development Grant from U.S. Commerce Department

On Oct. 21, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds. The grants will assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. Michigan has received a $1 million grant to lay the groundwork for additional economic development.

“The Biden Administration is giving states and territories the unprecedented opportunity to bring all their communities together to develop comprehensive plans to build back better and stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The $1 million Statewide Planning grants will be used to lay the groundwork for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to build resilient economies and increase U.S. Competitiveness.”

“Planning is the backbone of economic development and Building Back Better,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “EDA is proud to partner with state and territory leaders as they begin to tackle a wide range of challenges—including climate change, broadband, electric vehicle infrastructure, and pandemic recovery—and develop a comprehensive plan for their entire state or territory that ensures communities work together toward a common economic development vision for the future.”

The Chamber and MICHauto advocated on behalf of Michigan to secure this initial grant and several more rounds of grants in a letter to Commerce Secretary Raimondo.

“The Chamber is pleased to support the Detroit Regional Partnership’s (DRP) application for the grant, which supports communities through the exploration of neighborhood-based infrastructure projects, 21st Century talent programs, and innovation inclusive of historically excluded populations.  As an economic development partner of the DRP, the Chamber is committed to working collaboratively to ensure initiatives resulting from a successful DRP application are inclusive of the varied interests and demographics of our region, address long-standing equity gaps and leverage the resources of existing entities driving economic growth. Of particular interest to the Chamber is building and leveraging Michigan’s competitive advantage in the global automotive and next-generation mobility sphere. Increased economic development of the mobility sector will spur innovation and can drive more equitable growth of Southeast Michigan’s regional economy.”

The funds will flow into the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), where they can be deployed to tackle a wide range of economic challenges faced by communities, from infrastructure, job training, small business support, and more. At the Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out her $2.1 billion MI New Economy plan to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities.  In response to the news of the grant the governor released the following statement.

“Today’s grant will build on the bipartisan budget I signed, and the MI New Economy plan I proposed to put Michiganders first and uplift families, communities, and small businesses,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am laser-focused on tackling the big, structural economic challenges we face and will work with anyone to drive down costs for families, put more people on a path to prosperity, and invest in critical infrastructure. Together, we can usher in a new era of prosperity for our state while continuing to deliver on the kitchen-table fundamental issues.”

Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Drops in Sept. But Labor Market Remains Tight

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 20, 2021
Adrienne Roberts

Michigan’s unemployment rate declined only slightly in September, dropping to 4.6% last month, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget said Wednesday, even as enhanced federal jobless benefits in Michigan expired.

The jobless rate is down from 4.7% in August, and is significantly lower compared with the same month last year, when the state’s unemployment rate was 8.2%.

Last month marked the expiration of enhanced federal unemployment benefits that added $300 to claimants’ weekly benefit amount and expanded benefits to cover freelancers and gig workers who traditionally wouldn’t be eligible for regular jobless benefits.

Even though Michigan reinstated its work search requirement in May, many business owners and Republican leaders said the enhanced benefits were disincentivizing people from going back to work. Many Republican-led states ended the federal benefits program early, but data shows those states saw about the same job growth as the states that didn’t end the programs early.

Even after the benefits expired after Labor Day in Michigan, the state’s labor market was considered “stable” in September, and “the unemployment rate and payroll job counts both showed minimal change over the month,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

While the state and the U.S. have seen significant progress since the early days of the pandemic, there are still 226,000 fewer people employed in Michigan compared with February 2020, representing a 4.8% decline.

There are also 36,000 more Michigan residents who are unemployed compared with pre-pandemic February 2020 levels, a 19.4% increase.

Most industries in Michigan saw employment gains in September, but they were minor. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest monthly increase, with employment levels rising by nearly 2% compared with August.

The unemployment rate in metro Detroit, which includes Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties, also declined slightly to 3.9%, down from 4.1% in August. The U.S. jobless rate, meanwhile, saw a large decrease, dropping to 4.8% in September, down from 5.2% the month prior.

View the original article.

Stellantis, National Business League Launch Black Supplier Development Pilot



Crain’s Detroit Business
Kurt Nagel

Stellantis and the National Business League have started a supplier development program intended to boost 13 Black-owned businesses initially and 3 million in the long term.

The pilot of the National Black Supplier Development Program, announced in the spring, commenced Wednesday and will run through the first quarter of 2022, the automaker said in a news release.

The first round of businesses includes seven based in the Detroit area and companies with a range of backgrounds, from those launched by local entrepreneurs, such as Detroit-based Ace Petroleum, to enterprises with considerable name recognition, such as former Pistons “Bad Boy” Isiah Thomas’ Isiah International, based in Chicago.

The program aims to help Black-owned suppliers refine procurement strategies to land future contracts “in pursuit of greater racial equity in the marketplace,” the release said.

“The Stellantis-National Business League Black Supplier Development Program is an idea whose time has come,” Mark Stewart, COO of Auburn Hills-based Stellantis North America, said in the release.

Stewart announced the pilot launch Wednesday during a kick-off event at the company’s Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit.

“An idea that addresses the need to take direct, decisive and intentional action to bring economic opportunity to communities that have been denied equal access to the marketplace for far too long,” Stewart said. “To confirm, in a very intentional way, that our ability to realize the full promise of our country is to ensure that its economic systems are open to all, equally.”

As part of the program, Stellantis will lead the creation of a virtual training and development portal over the next three years, Automotive News reported in June. It will provide access to capital, mentorship, executive coaching, supplier training and development, bid posting, match-making, supply chain solutions and talent placement and acquisition.

Officials say they are viewing the pilot as the beginning of a program that will eventually help more than 2.9 million Black-owned companies around the country and world to win business with the federal government, as well as public and private sectors.

“As national trade associations pivot toward a post-COVID-19 economy, the National Business League is launching this critical program to achieve economic equity and justice for Black communities and millions of Black businesses, fulfilling the organization’s 121-year-old legacy, founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900,” Kenneth Harris, president and CEO of the National Business League, said in the release. “It is vital that corporate leaders take decisive and measurable steps outside of empty promises and platitudes to bring about commerce-driven activity in Black communities that have been historically denied access to economic opportunities for far too long.”

Companies selected for the pilot program are:

  • Ace Petroleum, based in Detroit
  • Coltrane Logistics & Trucking, based in Wixom
  • Devon Industrial Group, based in Detroit
  • Dunamis Clean Energy Partners LLC, based in Detroit
  • GS3 Global, based in Livonia
  • Multi-Training Systems, based in Southfield
  • Ryan Industries Inc., based in Wixom
  • Simontic Composite Inc., based in Greensboro
  • TEN35, based in Chicago
  • TKT & Associates Inc., based in Louisville
  • Assured Quality Systems, based in Dallas
  • Isiah International and One World Pharma, based in Chicago
  • Russell Westbrook Enterprises, based in Los Angeles

View the original article here.

Michigan Women Forward’s Annual WomanUp & Pitch Competition Returns, Apply by Nov. 10

Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the only public, statewide foundation devoted to Michigan women and girls’ economic and personal well-being, is looking for women entrepreneurs who want to start or grow an existing for-profit business that is at least 51% women-owned. Its annual WomanUp & Pitch competition is back, and applications are now open.

Women entrepreneurs are invited to submit entry applications consisting of a concept paper and a $20 application fee by Nov. 10.  Selected applicants will then pitch to a live audience in one of four virtual pitch competitions: West Michigan, Mar. 3; Mid-Michigan, Mar. 10; Southeast Michigan, Mar. 24; and Statewide, Mar. 31.

After the first pitch competitions, Michigan Women Forward will select 40 finalists (10 in each location) and divide them into two categories per location. The first category, Idea Phase/Startup, will include businesses open for less than three years with a revenue of less than $250,000. The second category, Established/Growth, will consist of businesses open for three years or more and have a revenue greater than $250,000.

The finalists will also pair up with advisers, business coaches, and mentors to create viable business plans and prepare to take the stage to pitch their ideas to a panel of business experts and an audience of entrepreneurs, small business owners, potential investors, and business and community leaders. The business plans, reviewed in advance by each judge, will account for 60% of the final score; the pitch, 40%.

First, second, and third place and audience-choice winners will be selected from each category and location. They will receive a cash prize of $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000, respectively.

“WomanUp & Pitch is an amazing opportunity for budding female entrepreneurs to develop their presentation skills, think strategically to create a strong business plan, and make connections with peers and business leaders,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and chief executive officer of Michigan Women Forward.

Learn more about the WomanUp & Pitch competition and apply here.