DTE, Michigan Department of Corrections Launch First of its Kind Tree Trim Program for Inmates

The program strives to decrease the unemployment rate of returning citizens and create more trained tree trimmers amid shortage

DETROIT, July 9, 2019 — DTE has partnered with the Michigan Department of Corrections to develop and launch a unique program to train returning citizens for careers in tree trimming, helping to fill open, in-demand positions.

“I’ve learned from my peers – both in Michigan and in other states – that returning citizens who are looking for a second chance in life can be among your very best and most loyal employees. They just need to be given a chance. A criminal record shouldn’t be a life sentence of unemployment,” said Gerry Anderson, DTE executive chairman.

The first class of 24 tree trimmers began on June 10, and they will finish in the next 6-9 months. Within the program, students will learn to safely climb trees, use tree trim equipment and obtain a Commercial Driver’s License.

DTE Energy depends on 1,300 skilled tree trimmers to keep trees away from power lines, but Michigan continues to face a critical shortage of qualified people. At the same time, people coming out of prison have an unemployment rate of 60 percent – more than 15 times the overall state rate – and without stable employment roughly one-third will reoffend.

“We have an opportunity here to make Michigan an example for the country and set a nationwide standard for criminal justice reform,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “I’m proud to partner with DTE Energy as we take a new approach to preparing inmates for successful lives after incarceration by creating the nation’s first vocational tree trim program. This skilled trades program will improve outcomes of the folks going through our criminal justice system, save taxpayer dollars on recidivism, and make our communities safer.”

Once released on parole, the students who have completed the tree trim program in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC)’s Vocational Village at Parnall Correctional Facility will be eligible to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 17 Union and fill an open role with a local tree trim supplier.

“We are excited to bring this program to Parnall’s Vocational Village with DTE to give our participating prisoners more career options upon their release,” said Heidi Washington, MDOC director. “If we equip them with skills and point them in the right direction, they will be much more successful in supporting themselves and their families, and much less likely to re-enter the criminal justice system.”

The DTE Energy Foundation has provided the initial grant of $100,000 to create the program and purchase training equipment for the learning lab. DTE worked closely with IBEW Local 17 to design and install a climbing structure and training curriculum for the program.

For more information on DTE’s tree trimming efforts click here.

About DTE Energy
DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric company serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a natural gas company serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan. The DTE portfolio includes energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects, renewable natural gas, natural gas pipelines, gathering and storage, and energy marketing and trading. As an environmental leader, DTE will reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions by more than 80 percent by 2040 to produce cleaner energy while keeping it safe, reliable and affordable. DTE is committed to being a force for good in the communities where it serves through volunteerism, education and employment initiatives, philanthropy and economic progress. Information about DTE is available at dteenergy.com, empoweringmichigan.com, twitter.com/dte_energy and facebook.com.

For further information, members of the media may contact:
Sara Craig, DTE Energy, 313.235.5555

Virginia economic development guru to head new Southeast Michigan business attraction group

November 1, 2018

Crain’s Detroit

By: Annalise Frank

The still-nameless nonprofit formed by a group of CEOs that’s looking to attract business to Southeast Michigan named its leader, and he’s coming from Virginia.

The regional CEO group led by among others DTE Energy Co. and its top executive, Gerry Anderson, has been planning to launch an economic development organization. The group made news for its regional transit push in the spring and its assertions that Southeast Michigan is lagging behind other regions that have concerted, united attraction efforts in place.

To run the new organization, Barry Matherly comes from a job as president and CEO of the economic development organization for the Richmond, Va., region. The 53-year-old starts in January and leaves his current job Dec. 31.

“… We wanted to get someone with deep proven experience in a peer organization elsewhere in the country with a strong track record of success,” said Anderson, who is also chair of the new nonprofit’s board. “We wanted someone who understands deeply and believes in regionalism.”

The economic development professional with 24 years experience will lead an effort to create a single point of entry for those looking to invest in Southeast Michigan. The CEO group wants to be able to respond more efficiently and cohesively to requests for regional data.

“One of the big things is to … ramp up the marketing of this region and get a bigger pipeline of potential deals and companies coming in, said Matherly, who was born in Connecticut and grew up in Virginia.

Anderson declined to disclose Matherly’s salary.

A selection committee chose the CEO after a national search for someone who knows this model and can quickly implement it in Southeast Michigan. The region is catching up to those in other states that have been at it for a decade or more, Anderson said.

Among those on the committee were Anderson; Ray Telang, Detroit Regional Chamber board chair; Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah; and Matt Cullen, chair of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

In essence, the new nonprofit will spin off from the Detroit Regional Chamber, Baruah said. The five employees staffing the chamber’s business attraction unit, Destination Detroit, will move to work under Matherly. He expects to have a staff of 20-21 when at full strength.

The group is expected to need $5 million-$6 million per year once it is up and running, Anderson said. He declined to disclose specific donors or contributors.

The threads of the nonprofit are still coming together. It is waiting for official approval for 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) nonprofit status.

It formed its board this summer, Baruah said, and within the last month added new members: Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. Phil Bertolini, Oakland County’s deputy executive and CIO, is signed on in an advisory role.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has been invited, Baruah said. Anderson said he’s confident Oakland County will be eager to contribute when it sees “good work being done.”

Patterson incensed many in the community in August when he said he’d “rather join the Klan” than pay dues to the new business attraction group. For him, the organization appears to represent a threat to county autonomy and its ability to lure companies. But economists argue a united regional strategy is more efficient, Crain’s has reported.

Patterson hasn’t said yes or no to joining the board, Bertolini told Crain’s. “Mr. Patterson is going to keep an eye on it … and see where it goes,” he said. “We want to see how the organization gets formed, where it goes, its mission and how it operates before he becomes part of the board.”

The county leadership was concerned about the group advocating for Detroit over other communities, Bertolini said. It is supportive of the group acting as “neutral broker for the region,” though, he said.

As a united front and marketer of the region’s potential, the entity needs a catchy name.

A “public partner council” made up of leaders of economic development organizations has started that process, Baruah said. Matherly will also weigh in.

Matherly earned a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech University, according to the Richmond-area development group, the Greater Richmond Partnership. He is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma. Now teaches regional economic development there, is on the institute’s board and is head of its curriculum.

He was also chair of the International Economic Development Council, and aims to implement his global experience while traveling often for the new role.

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Detroit Drives Degrees Kicks off Annual Challenge to Connect More Students with College Financial Aid

By Tiffany Jones

In an effort to put more of the $90 million in federal aid that went unclaimed in Michigan last year into the hands of students, Detroit Drives Degrees kicked off its second annual “Race to the FAFSA Line” Challenge, which promotes the completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Challenge offers incentives to students, counselors and high schools to complete the form and runs through Feb. 28, 2018. Detroit Drives Degrees, an initiative of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Forward Detroit strategy, works to strengthen the talent pipeline by increasing the number of adults with postsecondary degrees in the region.

The goal of the Challenge is to increase FAFSA completion among high school seniors in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to 65 percent. In its inaugural year, the Challenge and a variety of other efforts boosted the completion rate to 59 percent in 2016, up from 55.6 percent.

The National College Access Network states that high school graduates who complete the FAFSA are 63 percent more likely to enroll in college and by 2025, 70 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary credential.

In order to participate, high schools must register at DetroitDrivesDegrees.com. More than 85 schools participated in the 2016 competition. The school with the highest completion rate will win a senior all-night party, courtesy of Emagine Entertainment. Additional prizes from Emagine and the Detroit Pistons will be awarded to participating schools and student teams across the region.

The Challenge is sponsored by Chemical Bank, DTE Energy, Grand Valley State University Charter Schools Office, Independent Bank, Kerkstra Precast and University of Michigan-Dearborn. In addition to Emagine Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons, other Challenge partners include: Detroit College Access Network, Frank FAFSA, Macomb Intermediate School District, Michigan College Access Network, Oakland Community College, Oakland Schools, University of Michigan, Wayne County Regional Education Service Agency, and numerous local college access networks.

Cleveland Site Selectors: Data Center Legislation Driving Investor Interest in Southeast Michigan

Through its effort to educate national site selectors about the Detroit region’s world-class manufacturing assets and talent, the Detroit Regional Chamber, together with its public partners, took its message on the road to meet with site selectors in Cleveland in September.

The trip, held in conjunction with Ann Arbor SPARK, DTE Energy, Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC), builds on the Chamber’s goal of promoting the region in secondary markets across the country. In addition to information gathering, the team also met with 21 site consultants from seven firms representing clients in industrial and manufacturing industries that are considering expanding into the Michigan market.

“We’re seeing a big need for areas that accommodate everything from skilled trades to food manufacturing. That’s right in our wheelhouse,” said Brian Bilger, senior representative for business development at the Chamber.

One of the biggest interests, however, is in Michigan’s tax-reform legislation that gives data centers an exemption on sales and use taxes. The legislation’s passage in 2015 was a key collaborative effort between the Chamber, The Right Place, and the MEDC.

“That legislation takes out all the uncertainty for site selectors working with data center clients and puts Michigan at top of mind for prospective investors,” Bilger said.

Economic development collaboration, led by the Chamber, remains a hallmark for the 11-county region, said Justin Sprague, director of business development for the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce.

“The Flint & Genesee Chamber was pleased to join the Detroit Regional Chamber and other local economic development partners representing the Detroit region in Cleveland. Through this partnership, we were able to … develop valuable relationships that can help drive economic growth throughout Flint and Genesee County. We look forward to participating in many more missions in the near future in collaboration with the Chamber,” Sprague said.

Bilger said the Chamber and its partners are following up with four companies considering Southeast Michigan.

“The good news is that we’re seeing more awareness about Detroit’s economic comeback and questions on what’s going on in that space,” Bilger said.

In the coming months, the Chamber team is evaluating a site selector trip to Greenville, S.C.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.

Economic Advantage of a Healthy Workforce

Companies help employees lead fit lifestyles

By Noah Purcell

Page 42

Even the best trained, most talented workers can only do so much for their employers from the constraints of a hospital bed. In an effort to address rising health care costs, Michigan companies are creating a competitive edge as they help their employees enjoy better lifestyles.

“We care about our employees from the perspective that we want them to be healthy and well so that they can be happy and productive,” said Susan Morgan Bailey, manager of wellness and health promotion at DTE Energy.

The national averages reflect a yearly health care cost growth of seven to eight percent, which makes the conversation of pairing health and wealth even more important. One undertaking of the St. John Providence Health System, SmartHealth, has effectively addressed spiraling costs.

“Our health care expenditure costs, instead of the national average of an eight percent increase a year, we’ve been less than two percent, that speaks for itself,” said Andrew Vosburgh, M.D., corporate medical director of St. John Providence Health System. “People are healthier; they’re getting the help that they need and we’re leading by example. We’re helping the sickest and that’s what a health care organization is supposed to be about.”

Made into a statewide program in 2009 and currently being turned into a national initiative within the Ascension Health Ministries, SmartHealth has focused on bringing down costs for those who need the most health care. Before the launch of the program, St. John Providence was spending 50 percent of its total dollars on 3.4 percent of its employees.

For Dr. Vosburgh, who is responsible for health and wellness, and SmartHealth, helping this group of individuals began with identifying obstacles.

“For me, it is letting me see what your barrier to care is and then let me see if I can knock down that barrier for you to get you to be healthier. In my program, we’ll cover what you need to get you to the optimum health and when we did that, with the people who participated — and it was completely voluntary — we saw a 25 percent reduction in how much they spent,” Dr. Vosburgh said. “And when you’re talking about 50 percent of your money, 25 percent can be a huge amount of money.”

Whether the individual’s barrier is lacking a ride to the doctor or their co-pay is too high, the SmartHealth program addresses needs first instead of being yoked to what is covered as part of the insurance provision.

“[SmartHealth] is separate from the insurance plan. There is a separate budget to do this, and we’ve probably recognized a $9- $10 million dollar savings on just doing it,” Dr. Vosburgh said.

For employers throughout the state, efforts to streamline costs through improved health stretches beyond the workplace. Both DTE Energy and Chrysler point to their efforts in involving not just their employees, but also their employees’ families.

“One of the things we thought about very earnestly back in 2010 was what could we do to go to the next level of program and what could we do to engage families because we know sometimes that the health care decision maker is not an employee, it might be a spouse,” said Chrysler’s Director of Integrated Health Care and Disability, Kathleen Neal.

For example, at Chrysler, weight management through heightened activity is a point of emphasis for both employees and their families.

“Our salary population for 2013 has the opportunity to engage in some fitness challenges and that involves exercise, walking and nutrition. We’ve been able to see visible wellness at Chrysler,” Neal said. “With the onset of this program in January, our salaried employees are wearing pedometers. They are up, they are walking, they are challenging their colleagues and their family members to walk with them.”

In addition to stoking behavior change through competition, Chrysler has also struck at barriers to care. An on-site fitness center, clinic and pharmacy ease access to everyday health needs while a registered nurse on staff and an annual ‘Day of Wellness’ event, at which employees can have bio-metric screenings administered, help shape employees’ overarching health plans.

DTE Energy’s recent initiatives were helped by fortuitous pairing. In late 2011, the company began overhauling office space to promote a more open and collaborative work environment which lent itself to integrating health and wellness into a worker’s daily process.

“Because we were in the process of overhauling the office environment and even some of our field locations, I was able to say ‘If we’re going to be redoing a floor, then on that floor I’d like it to be a pre-specification that we put a walk station in,” Bailey said.

The walk stations, a treadmill with a workspace sitting over it with a phone and a computer, coupled with standing desks are all part of efforts to promote health and wellness by crafting an environment that promotes movement throughout the day. This focus is also seen at Chrysler as the company has mapped out indoor walking trails through the corporate headquarters.

“We are very focused on encouraging the behaviors that we know contribute to long-term health. We want them to be connecting with a physician and building a relationship with a physician that will help them be healthy for a long time,” Bailey said.

Along with on-site health coaches and office enhancements, DTE is furthering these connections and behaviors through the structure of their benefit packages as well.

“We do have an expectation that you’ll start out at the beginning of the year at the enhanced level of benefits, and the expectation is that to maintain that enhanced level of benefits you will see your physician for a health screening, you will complete a health-risk assessment online,” Bailey said.

“If your numbers are out of range, you’ll take an extra step toward action, which is either connecting with a health coach or completing physical activity training. If they miss any of those markers — they ultimately have six months to do all of that — then they move down to the standard level of benefits which would mean that they pay more for health care,” Bailey said.

Noah Purcell is a metro Detroit freelance writer.