Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Detroit Opera Presents Eco-conscious ‘Swan Lake’ in February
French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj will bring his take on Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” to the Detroit Opera House Feb. 17-19.
The contemporary reinterpretation of the classic ballet addresses the questions: “How can we protect swans and keep our lakes clean?”
Prelijocaj’s version bridges ballet and modern dance and sets the timeless tale of love and betrayal against the backdrop of a dystopian ecological tragedy, with industry tycoons set against eco-conscious heroes. The performances are a co-presentation by Detroit Opera and University Musical Society in Ann Arbor.
Tickets, starting at $29, are available at detroitopera.org or by calling 313-237-7464 and at ums.org or 734-764-2538.
Pre-concert talks will take place at Detroit Opera House one hour before each performance and Detroit Opera will offer a Ballet Master Class with Ballet Preljocaj from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Feb. 18. The class is open to the public and free with a corresponding ticket stub or $25 without a ticket stub and will take place in the Margo V. Cohen Center for Dance in the Ford Center for Learning at the Detroit Opera House. Pre- registration is required.
Rochester’s EAFocus, Studio Five Nineteen in Detroit Announce Alliance
EAFocus Communications, a Rochester-based public relations and communications firm, has entered into a professional alliance with Detroit-based graphic design and digital marketing firm Studio Five Nineteen.
“Our clients look to us to provide full-service communications, and increasingly, that includes sophisticated messaging through digital marketing and stand-out graphic and website design,” says Barbara Fornasiero, founder and principal of EAFocus. “After working with Studio Five Nineteen owner Suzie Boyd on a few projects, we noted a shared focus on client service, responsiveness, exceedingly high-quality work and trust-based relationships. We’re now thrilled to formalize our relationship by establishing a professional alliance that provides clients with easy access to a talented designer of visually appealing creative services that resonate with targeted audiences.”
Studio Five Nineteen offers branding, graphic design, social media, and SEO/SEM, and works with clients in an array of industries, including professional services, nonprofits, and retail. She brings more than eight years of graphic design and branding experience to the alliance with EAFocus.
“Having EAFocus Communications as an alliance partner allows me to provide my clients with a broader repertoire of offerings and ultimately creates a one-stop-shop for both branding and a portfolio of communication services,” Boyd says.
For more information about EAFocus, visit https://eafocus.com/.
Three Affordable Housing Projects Receive Funding Approval from MSHDA Board
The Michigan State Housing Development (MSHDA) Board approved bonds and loans for the rehabilitation of three affordable housing developments during its January meeting.
“These rehabilitation projects are part of our efforts to increase the availability of safe, attainable housing to Michigan residents across the state,” says Chad Benson, rental development director for MSHDA. “The rehabilitation activities will including general repairs and appliance upgrades aimed at making these developments more energy efficient and safe —contributing to the overall well-being of the residents and the community.”
Brainard Street Apartments II in Detroit will receive a tax-exempt bond mortgage loan from MSHDA in the amount of $11.1 million, and a permanent mortgage loan in the amount of $7.2 million, to conduct extensive rehabilitation to 120 multifamily units. The funds will be used to upgrade kitchens, baths, HVAC systems and more. Additionally, the development set up a rent subsidy reserve account in the amount of $192,750 to protect existing residents from rent increases above 5 percent for up to five years.
The MSHDA board also approved a tax-exempt bond construction loan of $19.5 million and a permanent mortgage loan for $10.8 million to redevelop 200 housing units at Manchester Place Apartments in Highland Park. The funds will go toward the rehabilitation of one- and two-bedroom apartments and two- and three-bedroom townhomes at the site.
The board approved the issuance of bonds to finance a $12.7 million loan for 800 East Court Street Village, a $23.6 million development in Flint, which will be equipped with 149 rehabilitated senior units. All units, including 111 one-bedroom and 38 two-bedroom units, will be targeted to households at or below 60 percent of the area median income. The building – which includes a federally qualified health center – will be remodeled with updates of major building systems, elevators, interiors, common areas, windows, roofing, and more.
A two-part development in Ypsilanti, 845 W. Clark Rd. Family and Senior Apartments, offering 156 and 152 units respectively, has been approved by the board to receive an extended lapse date regarding their issuance of housing revenue bonds. The deadline for the sale and delivery of the bonds has been extended from Jan. 31 to March 31.
Goldfish Swim School Earns National Recognition for Entrepreneurship, Franchising
Goldfish Swim School Franchising in Troy was recognized as No. 1 in the swimming lessons category for the seventh consecutive year on the Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500 and by Franchise Business Review as one of the Top Franchises of 2023.
Entrepreneur is a comprehensive franchise ranking and Franchise Business Review is recognized as the leading independent franchise research firm.
“We are honored to be recognized by Entrepreneur and Franchise Business Review, these rankings and recognition is a testament to the hard work our team does to ensure all of our franchisees are supported and given the tools they need for success,” says Chris McCuiston, co-founder and CEO of Goldfish Swim School. “We are excited for the year ahead as our existing franchisees continue to expand their portfolios, and we add new entrepreneurial-minded individuals to our system.”
In 2022, Goldfish awarded 16 franchise agreements comprised of 37 schools alongside 16 new school openings. The swim school also has achieved high performance marks, now exceeding its pre-COVID enrollment numbers — teaching more than 200,000 children each week how to be safer in and around the water.
Goldfish Swim School has set expansion goals to open 25 schools in 2023 as it seeks franchise partners throughout the United States and Canada.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Awards $270K+ in Maternal Health Grants
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation announced more than $270,000 in grant awards to seven organizations through the Advancing Maternal Health Equity grant program.
Funds will support Michigan community-based organizations implementing sustainable initiatives that advance health equity and reduce a birthing person’s risk of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity (SMM).
Area organizations receiving grants include the Southeast Michigan Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaborative (SEMPQIC) ($11,173.75) and Alternatives for Girls ($50,000).
The Advancing Maternal Health Equity grant program was targeted toward community-based organizations located within the five Regional Perinatal Quality Improvement Collaboratives (RPQIC) regions of the state identified by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as having the highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rates with a goal of advancing maternal health equity by addressing disparities-related factors in maternal health.
This grant program is part of BCBSM’s multi-year health equity strategy to address disparities and aligns with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association goal to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by 50 percent in five years.
“The opportunity to collaborate with these outstanding organizations in bettering health outcomes for those on their pregnancy journeys is key to improving the overall health of Michigan,” says Ken Hayward, vice president and special assistant to the president for Community Relations at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. “Through the ‘Advancing Maternal Health Equity’ program, grantees will have the resources and tools to help improve accessibility to resources and services, target birth equity disparities in communities and ultimately, identify systems to reduce maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity.”
Lake Trust Credit Union Donates $54K+ to Michigan Housing Nonprofits
Lake Trust Credit Union in Brighton announced that more than $54,000 in donations were awarded to two Michigan housing nonprofit organizations — Isabella County Restoration House and Advent House Ministries — through its 2022 Home Loan Giveback Program in collaboration with the Lake Trust Foundation.
“We’re honored to be able to support nonprofit organizations providing housing assistance as the rising cost of living and persistent inflation continue to be a barrier to exiting homelessness for many Michigan residents,” says David Snodgrass, president and CEO of Lake Trust. “This donation is just one way our organization is acting on our commitment to create stronger communities and empower financial well-being for our friends and neighbors.”
As part of an ongoing effort to provide economic relief to businesses and community organizations, Lake Trust donated up to $100 for every completed home loan, home equity loan and home refinance transaction to the home loan program. As a result, more than $54,000 was accumulated and distributed to two local housing nonprofit organizations — Isabella County Restoration House in Mt. Pleasant and Advent House Ministries in Lansing.
Community Foundation’s Michigan Justice Fund Announces Nearly $2.8M in Grants
The Michigan Justice Fund, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, announced nearly $2.8 million in grants to improve the economic mobility of individuals with criminal convictions and to support grassroots organizations working to advance justice reform throughout the state.
“The Michigan Justice Fund is committed to justice and equity in our grantmaking,” says Ashley Carter, director of the MJF. “We must invest in innovative ideas and strategies so we can transform the way our society prioritizes and addresses these issues.”
The $2,750,300 of grants was made to support two key areas of MJF’s strategic vision — supporting returning citizens and building capacity for grassroots organizations. The full list of grant recipients follows.
Re-entry grants, which prioritize advancing innovative, scalable strategies that increase opportunities for formerly incarcerated Michiganders to achieve increased economic mobility, include:
Grassroots advocacy grants, support work focused on grassroots organizing, organizational capacity, and innovative approaches to addressing issues across the criminal legal system, include:
“The Michigan Justice Fund is proving to be a vital vehicle for funders to resource grassroots organizations and innovative initiatives that advance economic mobility for justice-impacted populations across Michigan,” says Melanca Clark, president and CEO of the Hudson-Webber Foundation and steering committee chair of the Michigan Justice Fund. “This work is essential to moving our state forward.”
Holocaust Center to Offer Free Admission for Holocaust Remembrance Day Jan. 27
The Zekelman Holocaust Center in Farmington Hills will be waiving the admission fee to the museum for International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the date on which the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp was liberated.
Additionally, at noon there will be a Holocaust survivor speaking. At 1 p.m. there will be a docent-led tour.
“At The Zekelman Holocaust Center, we welcome everyone to learn the events that led to the extermination of European Jewry,” says Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, CEO of the center. “They come to understand that every individual person has the power to choose between evil and good, and that by remembering the Holocaust, they are empowered to respond to hatred and intolerance in our world to create a better future.”
Editor: R.J. King
Associate Editor: Jake Bekemeyer