Jan. 22 | This Week in Government: MI COVID Recovery Plan Released; Going PRO Awards $39M in Grants

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. Whitmer Proposes $5.6B COVID Recovery Plan to Aid Biz, Schools
  2. Going Pro Talent Fund Awards $39M in Grants to Train 30K MI Workers
  3. Dems Choose Koleszar as Whip, Anthony as Caucus Chair
  4. Whitmer K-12 Supplemental Funding Details Released
  5. Report Includes Several Recs for Racial Equity in Cannabis Industry

Whitmer Proposes $5.6B COVID Recovery Plan to Aid Biz, Schools

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is proposing adding $575 million in state funds to about $5 billion in federal coronavirus relief in a supplemental appropriation aiding K-12 schools, small businesses, and the state’s response to the virus.

Gov. Whitmer will formally send the bill request to the Legislature on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Gov. Whitmer outlined her proposal at a news briefing.

Among the major highlights:

  • $2 billion in additional federal Food Assistance funds that will cover a 15% increase in those benefits as well as increased numbers of people using those benefits;
  • About $2 billion for K-12 schools, $1.7 billion federal and $300 million in state school aid revenues;
  • $660 million in federal aid for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, aiding persons struggling to pay rent and utilities;
  • $575 million in federal aid to support coronavirus testing and tracing, and $90 million in federal funds to administer, distribute and track vaccines; and
  • $225 million in a variety of business relief measures.

The proposal also includes $5 million to pay for the enforcement of a yet-to-be-implemented ban on weapons at the Capitol. The Michigan State Capitol Commission recently banned the open carry of firearms in the building, but persons with a concealed pistol license can still bring a firearm into the building if it is concealed. These funds would pay for costs like metal detectors and the personal to operate them, though there is no indication the Republican leadership in the Legislature supports a full ban on firearms in the building.

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group, issued a statement discouraging support for the program, saying it amounts to “handouts to large, politically connected companies” and a “slap in the face” to small businesses.

Another item in the proposal is $22 million so that businesses and residents unable to pay their summer 2020 property taxes can avoid interest and penalties if they pay by Feb. 26, 2021 (editor’s note: this article has been changed to use the correct date).

The proposal’s business aid measures include $125 million for a Michigan Mainstreet Initiative to help businesses survive the pandemic, $25 million for businesses with nine or fewer employees to assist them through the pandemic, and $75 million in additional grants to help businesses grow.

“Our small businesses are fixtures in our communities,” Gov. Whitmer said. “They’re working around the clock to stay afloat while trying to keep their communities safe from COVID-19, and they deserve as much support as we can give them.”

Gov. Whitmer also called for the Legislature to reauthorize a business incentive program that expired in 2020 known as the “Good Jobs for Michigan” law that enabled authorized businesses to capture state income taxes withheld from certified new employees in varying amounts depending on wage and the number of jobs created. Opposition in the Senate killed the legislation last year amid concerns it amount to government favoritism in the economy.

The Governor’s proposals immediately ran into criticism from the Republican-controlled Legislature. They have called for her to lift restrictions on businesses the Department of Health and Human Services imposed to slow the spread of the virus.

“Clearly there is a need to help struggling Michiganders, but I am disappointed the governor’s plan does not appear focused enough on getting help to where it is most needed effectively and efficiently,” said Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, in a statement. “I am already working with my colleagues in the Senate on the best way to help Michigan’s recovery from COVID-19, including the distribution of the latest installment of critical federal COVID relief funding. These resources must be used more effectively and responsibly than the Whitmer administration has done so far during this pandemic. I will not hand the governor a blank check to continue mismanaging our state’s response to COVID-19. She has a poor track record with the money she’s already had available and allocating more money without proper legislative oversight would be negligent.”

Albert said the state’s expense of funds for field hospitals early in the pandemic that went almost totally unused was an example of what he said was the administration’s bad track record. He also slammed the administration’s management of the unemployment benefits system, which has been wracked by fraud.

Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth), chair of the Senate Economic and Small Business Development Committee, questioned the sincerity of Gov. Whitmer’s concern for small businesses.

“Small family businesses aren’t asking for her handouts; they simply want to open back up and earn a living. It’s what they were promised last summer,” he said in a statement. “After today, it’s clear that what the Governor wants for main street businesses has little relationship to what main street businesses want for themselves.”

Current DHHS orders prohibit dine-in at restaurants and bars, though they can offer takeout and drive-thru. Some businesses, such as water parks, night clubs, and strip clubs, remain ordered closed under DHHS orders.

All other employers can be open though many with capacity restrictions and others, like bowling alleys and movie theaters, cannot offer food and beverage.

Gov. Whitmer, asked about Republican opposition, objected to characterizing the state’s economy as closed and said she doubted Republicans would oppose passing the aid.

“I know that sometimes – especially in this political environment – that people want to draw firm lines,” she said. “I know that the Republican Legislature would never want to stand in the way of making sure that these federal dollars get to our kids’ schools. Or to our ability to build up our apparatus to get people vaccinated, our public health. I know that the Republican Legislature wouldn’t stand in the way of aid for businesses that are struggling right now. …The economy’s not been shut down. I know that there are unique parts of our economy that have struggled because of the nature of how this virus spreads.”

Budget Director Dave Massaron said the use of state funds to supplement the federal money for schools will allow all districts to receive help, not just those with greater Title I eligibility who benefit from federal aid. Under the plan, $1.5 billion would be distributed according to Title I while another $150 million in federal aid over which the state has discretion plus $300 million in state school aid would be allocated on a 50-50 split of per-pupil funding and based on the district’s special education and at-risk student populations.

Further details are expected Wednesday.

“It was really designed to get a balance of funding to school districts across the state,” Massaron said.

Gov. Whitmer has asked the state’s school districts to offer an in-person learning option by March 1 and many are moving in that direction if they do not already do so.

“This crucial action will provide our students and educators with the support they need as we return to in-person learning this spring,” she said.

School groups hailed the announcement.

“We continue to appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s leadership and recognition of the devastating impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on schools, students, and families,” said Mark Greathead, president of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, in a statement. “Providing schools an additional $330 per-pupil on average for this current academic year would represent a significant step forward in our efforts to move our students through this pandemic and begin their recovery, but we know much more will be required in both the months and years to come. We look forward to working with the legislature to not only move this plan forward, but to begin the work necessary to give our students that long-term support they both need and deserve.”

Tina Kerr, executive director of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, said in a statement that the funding should be swiftly approved so districts can begin making plans.

Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association, and David Hecker, president of AFT-Michigan, praised the plan, particularly the emphasis on funding for special education and at-risk pupils.

Amber Arellano, executive director of The Education Trust-Midwest, said the plan will help but also warned of the systemic needs in the state’s schools.

“The funds announced today will help Michigan meet student needs this school year and next, but systemic inequities remain,” she said in a statement. “By targeting resources to vulnerable student groups now and in the future, Michigan can make important headway in addressing systemic inequities, working to ensure they do not endure for another generation or more. State legislators and the governor should use this time to correct underlying funding inequities and ensure that the needs of every student, regardless of income, ability or English learner status, will be met over the long term.”


Going Pro Talent Fund Awards $39M in Grants to Train 30K MI Workers

More than $39 million in grants from the Going PRO Talent Fund will be used to employ nearly 30,000 workers at upwards of 850 Michigan businesses, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday.

The move furthers her Sixty by 30 initiative to see 60% of Michigan’s adult-age population equip with some sort of post-secondary degree or a skills certificate by 2030.

“Now more than ever, we need to invest in our talent and businesses to ensure strong economic recovery and growth,” Gov. Whitmer said in a statement. “Programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund allow us to put Michiganders on the path to good-paying jobs while helping Michigan employers develop the critical talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

Bridgewater Interiors in Eaton County, and another Bridgewater Interiors located in Macomb County, each saw the largest grant funding allocation at $150,000 apiece.

TechSmith Corporation in Ingham County received the next largest allotment at $105,852.

An entire list of grant recipients and the amount they received can be found online.

“With 545,000 professional trades job openings expected through the year 2026, this fund plays a vital role in helping Michigan employers meet their talent needs by investing in homegrown workers,” said Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Acting Director Susan Corbin.

Since the program’s inception in 2014, more than 3,000 in-state businesses have received Talent Fund awards to assist in training, developing, and retaining newly hired or current employees.


Dems Choose Koleszar as Whip, Anthony as Caucus Chair

Rep. Matt Koleszar will serve as the House Democratic whip while Rep. Sarah Anthony will spend another term as caucus chair, a statement said Wednesday.

Anthony (D-Lansing) was also caucus chair last term. Koleszar (D-Plymouth) was an assistant minority leader.

“Rep. Koleszar is an experienced leader in the House Democratic Caucus, and as its elected whip, has the strength of relationships to ensure we focus on supporting policies that move Michigan through this pandemic,” House Minority Leader Donna Lasinski (D-Scio Township) said in a statement. “Rep. Anthony’s return as House Democratic caucus chair is a clear statement on her strong leadership and her ability to unify our caucus as Michigan faces unprecedented challenges.”

Both Koleszar and Anthony are entering their second terms in the House.

Koleszar was a teacher before seeking office in 2018 and defeating a Republican in what had been a relatively reliable GOP district.

“I am honored to have been chosen by my Democratic colleagues to fulfill this role and I’m excited to take on this leadership opportunity,” he said in a statement. “Working together to put Michiganders first is and always has been my top priority and I’m looking forward to continuing that work as the House Democratic whip.”

Anthony is the first Black woman to represent Lansing in the House and a former Ingham County commissioner and legislative staffer.

“After a year unlike any other, my fellow House Democrats and I are looking forward to continuing our important work on behalf of hardworking Michiganders everywhere,” Anthony said. “I’m humbled to have been elected to serve as caucus chair for another term. I look forward to buckling down to pass legislation that uplifts working families and provides real economic relief for our state.”


Whitmer K-12 Supplemental Funding Details Released

Bill language outlining more details of a proposed supplemental appropriations for education was delivered to lawmakers late Wednesday afternoon, with a few more specifics on how recommended appropriations would be doled out to school districts.

Initial details of the education funding Tuesday were that $1.5 billion would be distributed according to Title I and another $150 million in federal aid over which the state has discretion and $300 million in state school aid funding would be directed on a 50-50 split of per-pupil funding and based on a school district’s special education and at-risk student populations.

The $5.6 billion overall proposal revealed Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the state’s coronavirus response included $5 billion in federal funding and about $575 million in state funds.

More specific language released Wednesday in the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 education supplemental called for total federal spending of more than $1.656 billion to K-12 schools to address the impact of COVID-19. Of that amount, $157.35 million-plus another $300 million in state school aid revenues will be disbursed to districts through a different formula than the usual proportionate share of Title I federal funding for districts based on levels of poverty.

Of that $457.35 million:

  • $10 million would go to intermediate school districts, half based on the number of special education pupils in the district and the other half disbursed on an equal per-pupil basis with no ISD getting less than $25,000;
  • Half of the remaining $447.35 million would be distributed to districts based on the number of special education pupils in each district in the 2020-21 school year;
  • The other half would be distributed on an equal per-pupil basis with no district receiving less than $25,000; and
  • $8.3 million would go toward the Department of Education for administration and oversight purposes.

Districts could use the funds for the same purposes permitted under the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Unspent education funding would carry into the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Title I funding is provided to local education agencies for children from low-income families to help all children meet educational standards.

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Standards states that there are four main grants through which Title I funds are allocated. Each of these grants use complex mathematical formulas based on the number of formula-eligible children and several other provisions to determine allocations.

Gov. Whitmer’s proposal on Tuesday was greeted by pushback from Republicans, including Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Earlier this month Albert suggested he could not see the Legislature having further discussions with the administration on allocating federal funds for the pandemic response until the remaining shuttered businesses including bars and restaurants were reopened.

Albert in a Tuesday statement said he was disappointed with the Governor’s plan, which he said he believed was not focused enough on getting assistance to the proper sources nor efficiently enough.

“I am already working with my colleagues in the Senate on the best way to help Michigan’s recovery from COVID-19, including the distribution of the latest installment of critical federal COVID relief funding,” Albert said. “These resources must be used more effectively and responsibly than the Whitmer administration has done so far during this pandemic. I will not hand the governor a blank check to continue mismanaging our state’s response to COVID-19. She has a poor track record with the money she’s already had available and allocating more money without proper legislative oversight would be negligent.”

The GOP-led Legislature has had to approve the spending of all federal and state funds related to the coronavirus thus far. In fact, besides the supplemental in December, budget-related bills were one consistent area where the Legislature and the administration appeared able to come to agreement in 2020.

Messages left Wednesday with Albert regarding the specifics of the Governor’s plan and what he meant by his work with senators on addressing the pandemic were not immediately returned.

Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland), chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said as of late Wednesday afternoon, he had not seen more specific details of Gov. Whitmer’s proposal.

“We look forward to seeing the details of her plan,” Stamas said.

Last week Stamas called on the Senate to reject Gov. Whitmer’s appointments to state boards and commissions in an effort to get her to reopen the remaining closed businesses and work more actively with lawmakers.

Stamas said he believes the public health aspect of the next supplemental is the top priority, especially funding for vaccination efforts as well as testing and contact tracing.

He said he could not commit to supporting Gov. Whitmer’s proposals on education “without seeing what she is proposing” in more detail. Stamas added that for him, education is probably in the top three priorities for him along with getting people back to work and public health.

The senator was unsure of the timeline for negotiating a supplemental but said it will likely be lengthy and that it will “not (be) a one-sided conversation” without significant legislative input.

OTHER SUPPLEMENTAL DETAILS: Along with several major proposals originally outlined in the supplemental, several smaller items not involving K-12 education or public health were included.

A total of $10 million General Fund was recommended for the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration for restaurants and the safe reopening of food service establishments.

Gov. Whitmer also proposed $6 million to provide wraparound services to Futures for Frontliners or Michigan Reconnect grant program recipients. These services would include on-campus child care as well as academic services including tutoring and career counseling.

Another $5 million General Fund was included for a pre-apprenticeship program to help connect the unemployed or underemployed with education or training for careers in the energy sector.

The bill also provides more than $1.08 million General Fund to create an Office of Rural Development within the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development for grant opportunities in areas including rural broadband development, housing, infrastructure, and workforce development. One new full-time equivalent staff position would be created to oversee the program.


Report Includes Several Recs for Racial Equity in Cannabis Industry

A recently released report from the Marijuana Regulatory Agency contains more than a dozen recommendations, including rule changes to help increase racial equity in the state’s marijuana industry.

The report was produced by the agency’s Racial Equity Advisory Workgroup, which noted that as of December 2020, about 3.8% of licensed marijuana establishments in the state have ownership interests that include Black investors and 1.5% having ownership stakes that include Hispanic individuals.

For six months the workgroup studied the topic, with subcommittees looking at issues such as social justice, business development, and local equity.

“The MRA is committed to making Michigan the model agency in the country, including being a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the marijuana industry,” MRA Executive Director Andrew Brisbo said in a statement. “As the agency responsible for implementing and administering the laws governing commercial licensure, the MRA recognizes the importance of equity in opportunity for businesses operating in this newly legalized industry.”

One proposal was to create a new Class A marijuana microbusiness license that would expand the existing microbusiness license to allow for the growing of up to 300 plants rather than up to 150 plants, the purchase of mature plants from licensed growers and to use outside licensed processors.

These changes, the workgroup stated, would allow protection against crop failures, provide microbusinesses a continuous supply and protect licensees from issues with their processing systems. The proposed changes could also lower costs.

A crowdfunding platform called the Michigan Marijuana Market was also proposed for local investors and marijuana businesses located in what was referred to as disproportionately impacted communities. The platform would help promote entrepreneurship and local ownership.

The creation of an intra-licensee transaction tax was also recommended, as was reinstatement of the Medical Marijuana Excise Tax on provisioning center sales.

Michigan Cannabis Industry Association board member Anquinette Sarfoh in a statement said the group supports all of the recommendations except for the tax proposals.

“The MiCIA unequivocally opposes any tax increases on the retail and medical markets,” Sarfoh said. “We should be focusing on reducing costs and this proposal will only serve to drive patients to the illicit market. As a cannabis patient with multiple sclerosis, the idea of creating another financial barrier between patients and their medicine is abhorrent.”

Another recommendation was the creation of a Joint Venture Pathway Program and a Social Equity Employment to Ownership program. This would allow for social equity and other program applicants to work with corporate partners for the licensing, capitalization, and operational development of social equity businesses.

In the areas of education, it was recommended to mandate continuing education on cannabis studies for Public Health Code professionals. Under the recommendation, license owners, operators, and employees would be required to complete certification to obtain licensure and maintain competency through continuing education requirements.

Another educational recommendation was to create a manual and webinar for municipalities so local officials can learn about social equity programs.

The MRA under one recommendation would create more time for individuals to attend social equity presentations and create more bilingual content.

Integrating commercial marijuana businesses with local economic development agencies and land banks was also recommended.

Establishment of a social equity model under the Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act was also recommended, as was the implementation of corporate spending plan requirements for licensees.

Also recommended was the allocation of funds from the Marijuana Registry Fund for social equity grants and the creation of a voluntary survey and data collection tool to identify barriers for existing licensees and prequalified applicants of color for both medical and adult-use marijuana licensing.

Other recommendations included improving the value of event organizer licenses and the creation of a licensee exit interview and annual assessment survey for social equity applicants. Having a Michigan version of state-based marijuana medical and clinical research pass the Legislature was recommended as well.

Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee Evaluates Political Endorsement Criteria in Response to Election Challenges

Members of the business community in Michigan and nationally are carefully evaluating their political engagement in light of the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol. Entities ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Fortune 500 firms based in Michigan have expressed dismay not just at what happened inside the Capitol, but also the actions of many that enabled this unprecedented act of sedition.

The Detroit Regional Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) joins these leading business interests in the grave concern that too many of our elected leaders not only did too little to thwart the violence at the Capitol but propagated the falsehood that the 2020 election was not valid or somehow stolen. The Chamber respects leaders with different policy approaches, but expects all leaders not to traffic in falsehoods, to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, to respect the will of Michigan voters, to uphold enduring American fundamental values, and to support federalism; including the right of states to conduct and certify their elections.

Therefore, while the Chamber remains committed to its long tradition of bipartisan political endorsements, going forward in our process, we will weigh heavily any candidate’s past or future actions that do not align with these principles.

UHY Advisors appoints ten new managing directors, two from Great Lakes region

UHY Advisors, Inc. (“UHY Advisors”), one of the nation’s leading professional services firms, announced the appointment of ten new managing directors from four regions: Patrick Farrelly, Don Felmlee, Eric Hennessey, Nancy Johnson, Daniel Jones, Jody Lurk, Denise Pisciotta, Eric Ribachonek, Stephanie Rosenbaum and Kate Vasiliev. Felmlee and Rosenbaum are both based in Michigan, where the firm is headquartered.

Additionally, UHY Great Lakes promoted 63 other employees, including four principals: Amanda Bertelsen, Greg McEvoy, Larry Stoklosa and Amber Sutter.

The firm’s Michigan practice is the fifth largest accounting firm in southeast Michigan with over 400 employees and is rapidly growing. Most recently the firm has expanded in Ann Arbor with the addition of Pietrasiuk Kelley & Kelley P.C. One year ago, it was the merger with Stewart, Beauvais & Whipple P.C. in Port Huron.

Don Felmlee is a managing director of UHY Advisors in the Great Lakes. Felmlee specializes in assisting companies in developing and implementing strategic plans to improve operations, protect assets and maximize profitability. He has built his practice across a broad spectrum of industries, but has extensive subject matter knowledge in the manufacturing and distribution, and petroleum spaces. He is a leading member of the national petroleum practice and is called upon to speak at seminars and other thought leadership events. Felmlee received his B.A. in Accounting from Northwood University and is a licensed CPA in the state of Michigan.

Stephanie Rosenbaum is a managing director of UHY Consulting and is a leader of the Resource Solutions Group in the Great Lakes. Rosenbaum specializes in both providing upper-level and executive accounting and finance support to companies with interim and permanent placement needs, as well as generating new assurance, tax, and consulting clients within the region. She has more than 15 years of development and recruiting experience in the finance and accounting industry. Rosenbaum received her B.S. in Finance and Marketing from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
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About UHY Advisors
UHY Advisors provides tax and advisory services to entrepreneurial and other organizations, principally those enterprises in the dynamic middle market. UHY LLP, a licensed CPA firm, provides audit and other attest services to publicly traded, privately owned and nonprofit organizations in a number of industry sectors. UHY Advisors, operating in an alternative practice structure with UHY LLP, forms one of the largest professional services firms in the US. While that scale might provide confidence for some clients, others tell us our greatest value is the way we bring these resources to bear to help address today’s evolving business challenges. It’s a philosophy we call “The Next Level of Service”. To learn more visit www.uhy-us.com.

All of the above entities are members of Urbach Hacker Young International Limited (“UHYI”), a worldwide network of independent professional services firms that provide audit, tax and advisory services around the globe. UHYI is ranked among the top international accountancy networks and a proud member in good standing of the Forum of Firms. Collectively, the US operating entities (UHY Advisors and UHY LLP) are the largest independent members of UHYI with significant participation, bringing the power of the international network to serve the individualized needs of US clients.

UHY Advisors, Inc. provides tax and business consulting services through wholly owned subsidiary entities that operate under the name of “UHY Advisors.” UHY LLP is a licensed independent CPA firm that performs attest services in an alternative practice structure with UHY Advisors, Inc. and its subsidiary entities. UHY Advisors, Inc. and its subsidiary entities are not licensed CPA firms. UHY Advisors, Inc. and UHY LLP are US members of UHYI, a UK company, and form part of the international UHYI network of legally independent accounting and consulting firms. “UHY” is the brand name for the UHYI international network. Any services described herein are provided by UHY Advisors, Inc. and/or UHY LLP (as the case may be) and not by UHYI or any other member firm of UHYI. Neither UHYI nor any member of UHYI has any liability for services provided by other members.

OCC Board of Trustees Welcomes New Trustee, Elects Officers at First Meeting of 2021

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Jan. 14, 2021—Susan Gibson was sworn in as a newly-elected trustee at the first OCC Board of Trustees meeting for the New Year. A Lake Orion resident, Gibson is a regional director of client services and business development with Rehmann, a financial services and business advisory firm; she previously served as the executive director of sales and community initiatives for Corp! Magazine.

“Susan brings deep business and community experience to our board with more than 30 years working in media and business, including nearly 20 years as a business owner and entrepreneur,” said OCC Chancellor Peter Provenzano, Jr. “I look forward to working with her, and the College’s newly elected officers and returning trustees, as we continue to expand OCC’s mission to empower our students to succeed and advance our community.”

“It is an extreme honor to be elected and I’m very excited about serving the College as a Trustee,” Gibson said. “I plan to bring my experience to OCC’s Board to assist with continually improving the institution in its ability to provide exceptional educational experiences to its students, while the College remains a valued employer in this region.”

In addition to her work experience, Gibson has also been involved in a number of community organizations, including Leadership Oakland, the Michigan Diversity Council and the Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce.

Officers Elected

Pamela Jackson of Commerce Township was elected chair of the Oakland Community College Board of Trustees by her fellow board members during the board’s first meeting of the New Year. Other officers elected at the meeting included Kathleen Bertolini of Clarkston, vice-chair; Susan Anderson of Royal Oak, treasurer; and newly elected Trustee Susan Gibson of Lake Orion, secretary. The elections are for two year terms for each office, respectfully.

Jackson, a trustee since 2016, is a retired OCC faculty member and consultant/owner of Fresh Perspectives specializing in construction, historic restoration, renovations and prison education.

Bertolini is an HR trainer with Oakland County and retired middle school teacher and has been a trustee since 2016.

Anderson was elected to the board in 2016, and owns SE Anderson & Associates LLC, which provides computerized accounting, bookkeeping and tax services to small and medium-sized businesses.

Gibson was newly-elected to the board in the November, 2020 election and is the regional director of client services and business development for Rehmann.

Other board members continuing as trustees at large are:

Shirley Bryant of Farmington Hills, a retired executive director of community relations for the Birmingham Public Schools, who has been a trustee since 2008; Pamala Davis of Clawson, a retired code enforcement officer for the City of Royal Oak and a trustee since 1994; and Christine O’Sullivan of Madison Heights, a business manager with O’Sullivan Moving & Storage Company, who has been a trustee since 2012.

The seven members of the OCC board of trustees are elected on a nonpartisan, at-large basis by voters living within the college district, an area that generally coincides with the boundaries of Oakland County. Trustees serve as volunteers and are not paid for their services.

For additional information on the board visit, oaklandcc.edu/about/board-of-trustees.

About OCC
Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and No. 1 transfer institution in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven-person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.

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UHY LLP CPAs Grows Footprint in Ann Arbor with Addition of Pietrasiuk, Kelley & Kelley P.C.

UHY LLP, certified public accountants, with over 400 employees in Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, has acquired Pietrasiuk, Kelley & Kelley P.C. (PKK), of Ann Arbor. After doubling in size from its opening in 2017, the Ann Arbor office grows again with the addition of PKK. Todd Kelley, Managing Director of PKK has been well known in the community for more than 30 years.

“Expanding in Ann Arbor is a strategic move for our firm, it improves campus recruiting in the area and our ability to serve clients,” said Tom Callan managing director of UHY’s Great Lakes region. “Adding staff to the Ann Arbor office will help serve our growing client base in Washtenaw County and beyond.”

Jerry Grady, office managing partner of the Ann Arbor practice has seen exponential growth (even through the pandemic) and with a heavy interest from employees to be a part of their success story. Jerry and his team are heavily involved in the local community, and with campus recruiting at the area’s major universities.

We are thrilled to be part of the UHY team, said Todd Kelley, managing director. “UHY’s dynamic organization will allow us to provide expanded services to our clients and professional growth opportunities for our staff.”

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About UHY Advisors
UHY Advisors provides tax and advisory services to entrepreneurial and other organizations, principally those enterprises in the dynamic middle market. UHY LLP, a licensed CPA firm, provides audit and other attest services to publicly traded, privately owned and nonprofit organizations in a number of industry sectors. UHY Advisors, operating in an alternative practice structure with UHY LLP, forms one of the largest professional services firms in the US. While that scale might provide confidence for some clients, others tell us our greatest value is the way we bring these resources to bear to help address today’s evolving business challenges. It’s a philosophy we call “The Next Level of Service”. To learn more visit www.uhy-us.com.

All of the above entities are members of Urbach Hacker Young International Limited (“UHYI”), a worldwide network of independent professional services firms that provide audit, tax and advisory services around the globe. UHYI is ranked among the top international accountancy networks and a proud member in good standing of the Forum of Firms. Collectively, the US operating entities (UHY Advisors and UHY LLP) are the largest independent members of UHYI with significant participation, bringing the power of the international network to serve the individualized needs of US clients.

UHY Advisors, Inc. provides tax and business consulting services through wholly owned subsidiary entities that operate under the name of “UHY Advisors.” UHY LLP is a licensed independent CPA firm that performs attest services in an alternative practice structure with UHY Advisors, Inc. and its subsidiary entities. UHY Advisors, Inc. and its subsidiary entities are not licensed CPA firms. UHY Advisors, Inc. and UHY LLP are US members of UHYI, a UK company, and form part of the international UHYI network of legally independent accounting and consulting firms. “UHY” is the brand name for the UHYI international network. Any services described herein are provided by UHY Advisors, Inc. and/or UHY LLP (as the case may be) and not by UHYI or any other member firm of UHYI. Neither UHYI nor any member of UHYI has any liability for services provided by other members.

Miller Canfield Announces 11 New Hires in 7 Offices

Miller Canfield is pleased to announce that nine associate attorneys have joined the firm in six of the firm’s key practice groups: Corporate and Transactions, Employment and Labor, Energy and Environmental, Financial Institutions, Litigation and Dispute Resolution, and Real Estate. Miller Canfield’s new associates are:

Joanna Dreaver, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group, Troy, Michigan. She comes to the firm after working as a contract attorney at Perdue Law Group in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In 2015, Dreaver was a summer intern for U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Judge Helene White. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Michigan.

Michael Fisher, Energy and Environmental Group, Lansing, Michigan. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and he earned his Master of Public Administration from Central Michigan University and his Bachelor of Science in environmental biology from Ferris State University. He was a legal extern at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Environmental Appeals Board in Washington, D.C. Fisher was a law clerk for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and interned at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Before law school, Fisher worked for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, where he was an environmental response program specialist and a water resources technician.

Kareem Gibson, Financial Institutions Group, Detroit. He is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and the University of London, where he earned a Graduate Diploma of Law. He earned his Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of South Carolina. While studying in London, Gibson was a student advisor at the Start-Ed Legal Clinic, where he helped clients with contractual and other business issues.

Dominique Giordano Gonzales, Real Estate Group, Chicago. She comes to Miller Canfield from Cook County Circuit Court, where she was a clerk for Judge Celia G. Gamrath. Prior to her clerkship, she worked as a corporate counsel extern for Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts, with double majors in political science and Spanish, from Villanova University.

Arthur Griem, Corporate and Transactions Group, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned his Bachelor of Science in leadership and management studies from New York University. Griem worked as a legal extern for TI Automotive in Auburn Hills. While at NYU, he was a captain of the university’s ice hockey team, which won the ACHA Division II national championship in 2015.

Vera Hansen, Corporate and Transactions Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned her Bachelor of Arts in political science and law at the University of Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany. She was a legal intern at Lear Corp. in Southfield ad at Tata Motors in Pune, India.

Alyssa Hussein, Litigation and Dispute Resolution Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of University of Detroit Mercy Law School and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law and earned her Bachelor of Arts in women and gender studies, political science and history from the University of Toronto.

Erica Jilek, Employment and Labor Group, Detroit. She is a graduate of Wayne State University Law School and earned her Bachelor of Science in political science from Central Michigan University.

Barbara Moore, Employment and Labor Group, Kalamazoo, Michigan. Moore comes to Miller Canfield from Varnum in Grand Rapids, where she was an associate in the firm’s employment and labor practice. Before joining Varnum in 2018, she was a legal intern at the United Community Housing Coalition in Detroit. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Michigan State University.

In addition to the nine new associates, the firm announced that senior counsel attorneys Howard Weissman has joined the firm’s Corporate and Transactions Group in Washington, D.C., and L. Steven Platt joined the Employment and Labor Group in Chicago.

Platt was previously a partner at the Chicago firm of Robbins, Salomon & Patt, where he headed the labor and employment practice, with a special focus on employment litigation and class action wage and hour litigation. He has decades of experience that will certainly bolster our powerhouse Employment and Labor Group.

Weissman comes to Miller Canfield from Baker & McKenzie, where he was part of the firm’s compliance and investigations practice since 2014. He had previously served as vice president and associate general counsel at Lockheed Martin Corp.

$39M in Going PRO Talent Fund grants awarded to train 30,000 workers at more than 850 Michigan businesses

Funds help Michigan employers prepare the talent they need to compete and grow; workers gain skills needed for in-demand career paths

LANSING, Mich. – Through $39,015,052 in grants from the Going PRO Talent Fund, Michigan is helping nearly 30,000 workers across the state to secure employment, industry-recognized credentials and strong wages by providing training grants to more than 850

Michigan businesses to support their high-demand, high-skill talent needs.

“Now more than ever, we need to invest in our talent and businesses to ensure strong economic recovery and growth,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said. “Programs like the Going PRO Talent Fund allow us to put Michiganders on the path to good paying jobs while helping Michigan employers develop the critical talent they need to compete in the global economy.”

Since the program’s launch in 2014, over 3,000 Michigan businesses have received Talent Fund awards to assist in training, developing and retaining newly hired and current employees. Training must fill a demonstrated talent need experienced by the employer and lead to a credential for a skill that is transferable and recognized by industry.

The Going PRO Talent Fund has supported more than 94,000 workers with training over the years, including new hires and current workers.

“With 545,000 professional trades job openings expected through the year 2026, this fund plays a vital role in helping Michigan employers meet their talent needs by investing in homegrown workers,” Susan Corbin, acting director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) said.

LEO makes Going PRO Talent Fund awards to employers through Michigan Works! Agencies (MWAs). Participating employers play an integral role in defining their key training needs, then work with the local MWAs and other partners to develop appropriate, realistic training plans.

The Going PRO Talent Fund aligns with Governor Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal to increase the number of working-age adults with a skill certificate or college degree to 60 percent by 2030.

To learn more about the Going PRO Talent Fund, visit Michigan.gov/TalentFund.

Detroit Regional Chamber CEO’s Statement on the Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Kamala Harris

DETROIT (Jan. 20, 2021) – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s President and CEO Sandy K. Baruah released the following statement on the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

The peaceful transfer of presidential power is a hallowed American tradition, although a tradition with unprecedented pressures in 2021. While America’s political discourse has seldom been coarser and perspectives more polarized, the inauguration of Joe Biden as our 46th president offers hope. Hope that this public official who has devoted his long life to public service, a man of sincere faith, a husband and father who has experienced tragic loss, will be the leader that America needs at this unique time. Certainly, our nation faces a series of substantial challenges on the social, health, and economic fronts. Any leader, regardless of their gifts and experience will undoubtedly experience bumps along the way. But if Joe Biden is able to begin a process that allows our nation to heal – to begin again to see each other as Americans first and not political opponents – he will have done our citizens a great service.

Vice President Harris brings welcome energy and an important perspective to the role of Vice President. She serves as an inspiration for young women, Black Americans, and those of Asian descent as Vice President Harris ticks off a list of historic “firsts” we can all be proud of. Personally, as the son of a mother who graduated from Howard University, I am gratified to see a Howard alumnus elected to the second-highest office in the land.

As with every administration, the business community won’t always see eye to eye. The Chamber is committed to follow our new President’s lead in practicing the art of disagreeing, when necessary, but not being disagreeable. The Biden-Harris Administration can expect early support from the business community in tackling the COVID-19 crisis, investing in infrastructure, and efforts to restore American stability abroad and stability at home.

On behalf of the Detroit Regional Chamber, I wish our new President and Vice President Godspeed.

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Gov. Whitmer Proclaims Jan. 19 as Day of Racial Healing

LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proclaimed Jan. 19, 2021 as the National Day of Racial Healing in Michigan, in conjunction with others throughout the United States.

“After the events over the past few weeks, we must take a hard look at the state of rising racial tensions in our country to enact change and begin healing and transformation,” said Gov. Whitmer. “We each have a role to play in changing this state and country for the better. So, today I challenge you to leave Michigan a better state than where you found it, and make Michigan a more welcoming place for all.”

“On this day, we encourage Michiganders to examine ways in which they can promote racial healing in our communities,” said Lt. Gov. Gilchrist. “This past year has reminded us that racism is not easily removed from our communities, but we must continue to work towards a more just and equitable Michigan. As we look to heal our nation through unity, our opportunity right now as leaders is to respond to this anxiety with action, to address this pain with purpose, and to recognize and restore the respect that all Michiganders deserve.”

Earlier this year, Gov. Whitmer took steps to ensure that everybody has a seat at the table by creating the Black Leadership Council and the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities. The Governor also signed an Executive Directive recognizing racism as a public health crisis and requiring all state employees to take implicit bias training to understand the unconscious preferences we experience without intentional control and how it can impact others.

Since day one, Gov. Whitmer has been committed to using every tool at her disposal to create a more equitable and just Michigan. There is no denying the sustaining wounds this country’s history has left on racial equity systemically and socially. Observance of this day aims to encourage reflection, conversation, and action.

View the proclamation.

 

 

Transportation Economic Development Grant Will Support 2,200 New Jobs in Detroit

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has awarded a state transportation economic development grant that will support 2,200 new jobs in the city of Detroit. The grant will help fund infrastructure improvements related to General Motors Co.’s (GM) Factory ZERO plant that straddles the Detroit-Hamtramck border.

“This is good news for our families, our businesses, and our economy as a whole. Every Michigander deserves to drive on our roads safely, without blowing a tire or cracking a windshield, and this partnership with GM will help us reach that goal while creating good jobs for Michigan workers,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “I am pleased that we were able to work with this long-standing company and the City of Detroit on the road improvements necessary to support GM’s Factory ZERO, and I will continue working with everyone who wants to create Michigan jobs and improve our state’s infrastructure. Let’s get to work.”

“General Motors appreciates the support from MDOT and the City of Detroit for these much-needed road improvements,” said Jim Quick, plant director at Factory ZERO, Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center. “Factory ZERO is an important piece of our journey to an all-electric future and these road improvements will greatly help our employees and the community as we prepare to build electric trucks and the Cruise Origin.”

“This strategic investment from the state will help the city upgrade the road infrastructure around GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which will create 2,200 new jobs at a plant that was once expected to close. Instead, it will produce the vehicles of the future and provide tremendous opportunity for hundreds more Detroiters to join our city’s growing middle class. I’m deeply appreciative to the state and GM for their commitment to this project and their investment in our city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

GM designs, builds, and sells cars, trucks, crossovers, and automobile parts worldwide. Its core brands include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac. GM recently announced that 40% of its U.S. entries will be battery electric vehicles by the end of 2025. Factory ZERO is a key part of GM’s transition to electric vehicles and will be the launchpad for GM’s multi-brand electric vehicle strategy. The company’s largest investment in any plant in its history, GM is investing $2.2 billion in Factory ZERO, reconfiguring it to an all-electric vehicle assembly plant.

GM chose its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center as the location for the center of its electric vehicle strategy, but the surrounding infrastructure was a concern. The roads around the plant are all in poor condition and have reached the end of their service life. GM was concerned that the poor condition of the roads could provide a problem with their just-in-time manufacturing processes. The company was also concerned with the possibility of receiving damaged parts and potential damage to delivery trucks.

Work funded in part with this grant will involve rebuilding and repaving with concrete Mt. Elliott Street from Conant Street to Harper Avenue, Conant Street from Mt. Elliott Street north to the city limit just south of Miller Street, Hamtramck Drive from E. Grand Boulevard north to the Detroit city limit, and E. Grand Boulevard from Trombly Street to Hamtramck Drive.

The total project cost is $11,686,313. The TEDF Category A share of the project is $6,000,000, with the City of Detroit providing $5,686,313 in matching funds. Total participating building costs are $9,109,051. The City of Detroit will provide $2,577,262 for non-building project-related costs. In addition, the City of Detroit will provide $1,262,060 for non-participating work costs for rebuilding sidewalks.  Enacted in 1987 and reauthorized in 1993, the TEDF helps finance highway, road and street projects that are critical to the movement of people and products, and getting workers to their jobs, materials to growers and manufacturers, and finished goods to consumers.

TEDF “Category A” or “Targeted Industries Program” grants provide state funding for public roadway improvements that allow road agencies to respond quickly to the transportation needs of expanding companies and eliminate inadequate roadways as an obstacle to private investment and job creation. Eligible road agencies include MDOT, county road commissions, cities, and villages. More information about the program is available online at www.Michigan.gov/TEDF.