Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour Expects 700 Participants July 28-31
Nearly 700 cyclists hope to raise $1.5 million to help grant wishes for Michigan kids during Make-A-Wish Michigan’s 35th annual Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour (WAM) July 28-31.
WAM 300 riders will travel across Michigan during the three-day WAM 300 tour, which covers 300 miles of Michigan countryside. On July 28, riders will be transported by bus from the Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall to Traverse City. The next day, nearly 550 cyclists will depart from Traverse City and ride 100 miles daily with stops in Big Rapids and Grand Ledge.
WAM 300 concludes with a finish-line celebration at the Eaton Proving Grounds on July 31. The end of the tour coincides with the WAM 50, a one-day, 50-mile ride and WAM Jr. More than 100 riders are expected to bike the WAM 50 that starts and finishes at Eaton complex.
The single-largest fundraising event for the Michigan chapter, WAM started in 1987 with four friends who challenged each other to ride 300 miles from Canton to Mackinac. WAM has continued to grow into a journey including more than 900 dedicated cyclists and volunteers.
Little Liberia Afro-fusion Restaurant Wins $100K Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest
Little Liberia, an Afro fusion pop-up restaurant, has been crowned the winner of the 2022 Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest, taking home the $100,000 grand prize from Comerica Bank to open a brick-and-mortar business in Detroit.
In addition to the $100,000, Little Liberia will receive a package of pro bono support and counsel from Hatch Detroit and its partners to bolster its opportunity for success. The annual contest supports brick-and-mortar business growth in Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck.
Little Liberia serves authentic Liberian dishes, a cuisine whose heritage is a mixture of African, Caribbean, and Antebellum-South African-American influences and would serve as the first ever Liberian restaurant in Michigan.
Owner and founder of Little Liberia, Ameneh Marhaba, decided to open a business back in 2016 when she started hosting pop-up dinners as a means to pay bills. She continued to pursue her business and love of cooking and hopes to open a storefront in Midtown, Greek Town, or Corktown. Marhaba draws business inspiration from Hatch Detroit alumnus Mamba Hamasi after his success in the Detroit small business community with Baobab Fare.
“We are eager to support and spotlight Little Liberia as the newest addition to the city’s growing small business environment,” says Vittoria Katanski, executive director of Hatch Detroit. “After 10 years of the Comerica Hatch Detroit Contest, it is so evident how strong and deep the entrepreneurial spirit in Detroit runs, and Little Liberia is a prime example of tenacity and hard work paying off. As an organization, Hatch Detroit continues to support its alumni and winners even after the competition, and we look forward to seeing where this victory takes Little Liberia.”
To learn more about Little Liberia and the Hatch Detroit contest, visit HatchDetroit.com.
Motor City Match Recipient Detroit Dance Center Opens Doors
Detroit Dance Center on Thursday celebrated the opening of its new brick-and-mortar location at 831 Seldon St. The new enterprise was the recipient of a $35,000 Motor City Match Round 18 Cash Track award.
The Dance Center’s new permanent home comes after years of operating in shared and temporary spaces. It focuses on students ages 2 to teen and offers individual classes or a full year program. The center also sells a full selection of leotards, tights, ballet shoes — including brown ballet shoes designed to match with darker skin tones – and DDC branded apparel.
The dance studio is operated by partners Linda Hendricks, Jasmine Woods, and Dominique Hamlett offering dance classes and lessons to anyone.
“The bulk of our students are under the age of 7 with the hope that they will grow with us,” says Hendricks. “We hope to keep them long-term and hope that they enjoy it.
“Detroit Dance Center started as Detroit Dance Studio in 2009. I was laid off from my job in New York during the recession where I was an auditor while simultaneously taking dance classes. I felt nostalgic towards my years as a student and wanted to start a studio to fill the void.”
Acrisure Acquires Leading MSPs to Expand Cyber Services Offering
Acrisure, a fintech company based in Grand Rapids, has acquired two managed service providers (MSP) within its Cyber Services division: Catalyst Technology Group and ITS Inc.
Catalyst Technology Group, based in Indianapolis, offers small- and medium-size businesses enterprise-class IT support with a specialty in streamlining processes for greater customer ease. ITS Inc., based in Bar Mills, Maine, provides IBM system design, integration and consulting services to industries including manufacturing, distribution, health care, and education.
“Catalyst and ITS are entrepreneurial organizations with strong leadership and deep customer relationships,” says Greg Williams, co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Acrisure. “Our clients will greatly benefit from an expanded Cyber Services offering with these capabilities added to our solution.”
Since officially launching earlier this year, Acrisure Cyber Services has expanded its capabilities to offer complete cybersecurity protection to existing and new Acrisure clients. As part of Acrisure’s “high-tech human” approach of marrying client relationships and advisory with best-in-class technology, this offering further solidifies Acrisure’s ability to help protect and grow what its clients have worked so hard to build.
Orchard Lake Boat Launch to Host Boat Wash Event July 28
The Clinton River Watershed Council (CRWC) is partnering with Oakland County Parks and Recreation and MSU Extension to host a boat wash at the Orchard Lake Boat Launch in West Bloomfield Township from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. July 28 to raise awareness about preventing aquatic invasive species from entering waterways.
Michigan law requires boaters to remove all aquatic plants from watercraft, watercraft equipment, and trailers before placing them into Michigan waters. Violation of the law is a state civil infraction, and violators may be subject to fines up to $100. The event offers free boat washes.
Oakland County Parks is operating two mobile decontamination stations across the county. The stations can be used on any watercraft, are waterless, user-operated, and completely self-contained. MSU Extension has joined the effort and is hosting free mobile boat washes across the state. Its trailer-mounted boat cleaning systems use heated, high-pressure water that is effective in cleaning most invasive species from boats and trailers. A containment mat prevents runoff back into lakes and rivers.
The following are steps boaters can regularly take to prevent aquatic invasive species from spreading:
- Clean boats, trailers, and equipment, and remove all mud, debris, and aquatic plant material from trailers and watercraft before launching or retrieving a watercraft. Use a hose or power washer when available.
- Drain live wells, bilges, ballast tanks, and all water from boats before leaving the access site. Consider disinfecting live wells and bilges with a bleach solution (1/2 cup bleach to 5 gallons of water) when possible. Fish diseases and microscopic life stages of aquatic invasive species can be hiding in seemingly clean water, so draining is an important step.
- Dry all boats and equipment thoroughly before leaving an access area and prior to relaunching in a new waterbody.
- Dispose of bait in the trash. Do not release bait into the water. Release of bait and minnows can lead to the unintended introduction of diseases and aquatic invasive species.
Northwestern Mutual-Troy Donates $50K to Camp Casey
In recognition of the 10-year anniversary of Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Program, the company’s Troy-based firm announced a $50,000 donation to Camp Casey to support get-away vacations and trips for children and families affected by childhood cancer.
These trips are often a final vacation for families whose children are terminally ill.
“At Northwestern Mutual, we firmly believe in the power of transforming the communities around us and improving the lives of others,” says Dominic Mirabella, managing partner of Northwestern Mutual-Troy. “We cannot think of a more worthy cause to rally around than children battling cancer. We are pleased to support Camp Casey’s efforts to provide safe and fun experiences for children and families affected by childhood cancer.”
Camp Casey is a nonprofit organization that provides horseback riding programs, camps, and equine therapy to children with cancer, rare blood disorders, and other life-threatening illnesses.
Buddy’s Pizza Presents $7,400 to Chesterfield Township Library
The new Buddy’s Pizza restaurant in Chesterfield Township raised $7,400 for the Chesterfield Township Library on its opening day July 11.
Buddy’s newest location, a carryout-only establishment, donated all if its opening-day sales to the library.
The Chesterfield restaurant is the company’s 22nd location and its 18th location in southeast Michigan.
The in-store design features a layout specifically engineered for the customer carryout experience, including a grab-and-go system for online orders and a redesigned kitchen optimized for carryout. It also includes decor elements that incorporate the Chesterfield Township community.
New Partnership Helps Small Businesses Recover from COVID-19 Impact
The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) in Lansing is partnering with Employee Retention Credits (ERC) to ensure small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic receive all of the assistance for which they are eligible.
ERCs were created in 2020 to incentivize businesses to keep staff on the payroll during the pandemic. It gives eligible employers payroll tax credits for wages and health insurance paid to employees. Originally companies were only eligible for ERC or the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), not both. Those guidelines changed in 2021 and now businesses could be eligible for PPP and ERC.
“At SBAM, our goal is simple — to raise awareness of all the resources available to small businesses, including the Employee Retention Credit,” says Scott Lyon, senior vice president of the SBAM. “Eligible business owners negatively impacted by COVID-19 can claim refundable tax credits for employees on their payroll in 2020 and 2021. ERC Today offers a no-risk opportunity to see if your company qualifies for this program.”
ERC Today, an accounting firm that specializes exclusively in ERC recovery, is providing a free ERC analysis for SBAM members. It helped more than 1,500 businesses receive nearly $170 million in payroll tax refunds from the IRS in 2020 and 2021. Businesses can take an online qualification questionnaire to determine whether a business is eligible for the tax credit. A second questionnaire can estimate the amount of recovery.
“We worked with a lot of business owners to secure their credits during the ’20-’21 pandemic period,” says John Galles, of ERC Today. “Now we want to help ensure that all eligible Michigan businesses recover the tax credits they earned by retaining their team members through difficult times.”
For more information, visit here. Small businesses also can consult their accountant or CPA.