Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce announces ‘100K by Labor Day Back to Work Plan’

5/11/2021

WXYZ Detroit 

By WXYZ Web Team

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce recently submitted a new plan to legislative leaders aimed at getting Michiganders back to work in the coming months.

President and CEO of the regional chamber, Sandy Baruah, spoke on Tuesday’s 7 Upfront segment about the plan and how both Michiganders and businesses would benefit from the proposal.

The 100K by Labor Day Back to Work Plan outlines a $400 million return-to-work proposal, which encourages workers to re-enter the workforce.

The incentives of the plan include:

• $2,000 return-to-work grant per returning/new employee: One-time grant, receivable upon 60 days of employment. (ARP funds: $200 million)

• $1,000 training grant to employers per returning/new employee: For employer use to provide training or an additional signing bonus, contingent upon eligible employee(s) remaining on the job for 60 days. (ARP funds: $100 million)

• $100 vaccine incentive for employers: Support employers covering costs associated with vaccine incentivization or compensating paid time off for employees getting vaccinated. Capping the program at $100 million could encourage one million Michiganders to get vaccinated. (ARP funds: $100 million)

All proposed incentives would expire on Labor Day 2021 or when funds are depleted, whichever comes first, a release from the Chamber states.

View original article here

Sandy Baruah Makes Appearances on The Guy Gordon Show and The Paul W. Smith Show

Sandy Baruah ~ The Guy Gordon Show

May 11, 2021 ~ Sandy Baruah, President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber, tells Guy Gordon why they are suggesting return-to-work grants.

Sandy Baruah ~ The Paul W. Smith Show

May 12, 2021 ~ The CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber talks to Paul about his proposal to get Michigan residents back to work.

Pentastar Aviation Receives Top Ranking of FBOs by Professional Pilot Magazine

WATERFORD, MICHIGAN / May 12, 2021 / AVIATION NEWS – Pentastar Aviation, a leader in the world of business aviation services, announces they have been named a top 5 Best US and Best Independent FBO (Fixed-Base Operator) in the 2021 Professional Pilot Magazine PRASE Survey.

The PRASE Survey, heralded as the gold standard of aviation ground service leaders, is an annual tabulation of customer opinions of the services they receive. Each year Professional Pilot magazine polls executives in charge of flight departments, aviation managers, chief pilots, pilots, CEOs and other qualified subscribers to recognize industry-leading service providers.

“Professional Pilot magazine is one of the most respected publications in the aviation industry, and we are so proud that their readers continue to recognize us year after year,” said Greg Schmidt, President & CEO, Pentastar Aviation. “Even during the unprecedented times we faced in the past year, our team continued to deliver on our commitment to provide world-class customer service, and we could not be more proud of this recognition.”

ABOUT PENTASTAR AVIATION
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, has been servicing regional and global travelers for over 56 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). Pentastar provides private jet charter, award-winning FBO services, aircraft management, Fivestar Gourmet®, advisory, customer interiors and maintenance services, Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S. FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Our team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to our customers.

Contact: Pentastar Aviation: Tracy Neil, Director of Marketing, 248-666-8200,
tneil@pentastaraviation.com, pentastaraviation.com, facebook.com/PentastarAviation, linkedin.com/company/Pentastar-Aviation, twitter.com/PentastarAv, instagram.com/Pentastarav

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Pentastar Aviation Receives Top Ranking of FBOs by Professional Pilot Magazine

WATERFORD, MICHIGAN / May 12, 2021 / AVIATION NEWS – Pentastar Aviation, a leader in the world of business aviation services, announces they have been named a top 5 Best US and Best Independent FBO (Fixed-Base Operator) in the 2021 Professional Pilot Magazine PRASE Survey.

The PRASE Survey, heralded as the gold standard of aviation ground service leaders, is an annual tabulation of customer opinions of the services they receive. Each year Professional Pilot magazine polls executives in charge of flight departments, aviation managers, chief pilots, pilots, CEOs and other qualified subscribers to recognize industry-leading service providers.

“Professional Pilot magazine is one of the most respected publications in the aviation industry, and we are so proud that their readers continue to recognize us year after year,” said Greg Schmidt, President & CEO, Pentastar Aviation. “Even during the unprecedented times we faced in the past year, our team continued to deliver on our commitment to provide world-class customer service, and we could not be more proud of this recognition.”

ABOUT PENTASTAR AVIATION
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, has been servicing regional and global travelers for over 56 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). Pentastar provides private jet charter, award-winning FBO services, aircraft management, Fivestar Gourmet®, advisory, customer interiors and maintenance services, Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S. FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Our team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to our customers.

Contact: Pentastar Aviation: Tracy Neil, Director of Marketing, 248-666-8200,
tneil@pentastaraviation.com, pentastaraviation.com, facebook.com/PentastarAviation, linkedin.com/company/Pentastar-Aviation, twitter.com/PentastarAv, instagram.com/Pentastarav

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MassMutual Great Lakes and First Independence Bank Announce Strategic Alliance Expanding Insurance and Investment Access

MassMutual Great Lakes (MMGL), a Southfield-based firm offering a wide range of financial products and services, is pleased to announce a strategic alliance with Detroit-based First Independence Bank (FIB), the only African American-owned bank headquartered in Michigan and the 7th largest in the country.

The alliance will enhance FIB’s ability to provide comprehensive financial services to its retail and commercial clients in Detroit and nationwide, many of whom have been historically underrepresented when it comes to accessing these services.

“At MassMutual Great Lakes, we believe every individual, small business owner and corporation deserves the right to financial services and strategies designed to create stability,” said Manuel Amezcua, president and CEO of MassMutual Great Lakes. “Our commitment is to develop meaningful relationships that reshape the financial well-being and success of a diverse group of individuals and institutions in the communities we serve.”

MassMutual Great Lakes helps protect the needs of individuals, families and businesses through insurance, wealth accumulation and investment planning, business, retirement and estate planning, trust services and more. MMGL Wealth Management Advisor, Maurice Miller, Jr. CFP®, ChFC®, and Detroit resident, will serve as an onsite advisor at the 7 Mile branch location. Starting in May, he will be available virtually 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on weekdays and by appointment on Saturdays.

To kick off this partnership, an initial series of virtual financial wellness sessions is being offered throughout the month of May. These complimentary sessions are open to FIB employees, clients and the broader community. Topics include: Understanding Life Insurance; Envisioning Retirement; and Setting Financial Goals. Interested participants can register directly here.

“We are thrilled about our new partnership with MassMutual Great Lakes. Together, we will help move the financial literacy, stability and mobility of our Detroit community and beyond,” said Kenneth Kelly, chairman & CEO of First Independence Bank. “This ongoing partnership, where MassMutual Great Lakes holds equal measure of commitment and lends its resources to serve FIB customers and our surrounding community, will add value to all involved.”

“The investment and advisory products that will be made available through this alliance will complement our current product offerings to our retail and business banking customers,” added Dimitrius Hutcherson, executive vice president, CAO, CTO, First Independence Bank.

First Independence Bank opened its doors nearly 51 years ago in May of 1970. While many things have changed, there is still a significant racial wealth gap in the U.S. According to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances conducted by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the 2019 median wealth of Black households in the U.S. was $24,100, compared to $189,100 for white households.

“For more than five decades, First Independence Bank has played an important role in addressing economic inequality and helping to create economic stability,” said Gina Coleman, MMGL Chief Sales Officer. “We are excited to form this alliance with FIB to increase financial education opportunities and access to financial products and services while enhancing the level of convenience offered to the bank’s clients and the surrounding community.”

About MassMutual Great Lakes

At MassMutual Great Lakes, we believe every individual, small business owner and corporation deserves the right to a comprehensive financial services and strategies designed to create stability. Our commitment is to develop meaningful relationships that reshape the financial wellbeing and success, for both individuals and institutions, in the communities we serve. Visit us at greatlakes.massmutual.com.

Local firms are sales offices of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), and are not subsidiaries of MassMutual or its affiliated companies.

Securities offered through registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC (MMLIS), Member SIPC® (www.SIPC.org), or a broker-dealer that has a selling agreement with MML Distributors, LLC (MMLD), Member SIPC®, or MML Strategic Distributors, LLC (MSD). MMLIS, MMLD, and MSD are subsidiaries of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001, all members of FINRA (www.FINRA.org).

Strategic Alliances are not exclusive relationships. You are free to choose your own professional for these needs. Strategic Alliance firms are not affiliated with MML Investor Services, LLC. And are solely responsible for their own products and services provided.

Investments and/or insurance products offered

ARE NOT insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
ARE NOT bank deposits or other obligations of or guaranteed by the bank
ARE subject to investment risks, including the possible loss of principal amount invested

About First Independence Bank

First Independence Bank is the 7th largest African-American-controlled commercial bank in the United States. It offers a variety of high-quality banking services from managing accounts to personal loans, mortgages, consumer education and investments. First Independence bank has three locations and offers banking solutions online and digitally through its mobile app. Established in 1970, the bank continues to be a responsible leader, efficiently serving the financial needs of its community, its businesses, and its customers nationwide. First Independence Bank is a member of FDIC and Equal Housing Lender. For more information visit firstindependence.com.

First Independence Bank is not a subsidiary or affiliate of MML Investors Services, LLC.

Michigan hits first vaccine threshold for Whitmer’s restriction plan

5/10/2021

The Detroit News 

By Craig Mauger, Beth LeBlanc and Kaela Hall

Lansing — Michigan hit the first trigger for easing COVID-19 restrictions under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vaccination plan Monday, an achievement that will soon allow businesses to return more employees to in-person office work.

Michigan had 4.45 million residents with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, equaling just above 55% of the population age 16 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state’s tracking page confirmed the federal data at about 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Under Whitmer’s “Vacc to Normal” plan, which ties easing restrictions to vaccination rates, the administration will allow in-person work for all business sectors to resume two weeks after 4.44 million residents, or 55% of the adult population age 16 and old, have received their first dose.

Whitmer called the benchmark a “huge milestone” for the state and encouraged unvaccinated individuals to get their shots. The restriction on in-person work is set to ease May 24, according to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard.

“I’m excited to announce that 55% of Michiganders have gotten their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine,” Whitmer tweeted Monday. “This is a huge milestone in getting #MIVaccToNormal and means that on May 24 we can return to in-person work.”

Because the state has hit the 55% benchmark, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration expects two weeks from now to remove a policy from emergency and draft permanent rules that prohibits in-person work where it is feasible for the employee to work remotely, said Sean Egan, COVID-19 workplace safety director for the agency.

“MIOSHA’s rule-making is flexible in that the agency has the ability to modify or rescind all or parts of each rule set to best protect Michigan workers as the pandemic moves closer to ending,” Egan said.

Employers who bring employees back to the workplace after May 24 will still need to comply with other mitigation strategies in the rules, he said.

Current COVID-19 emergency workplace rules establish safety protocols for industries including health care, restaurants, retail, construction and manufacturing. The rules direct employers on a variety of issues including employee safety training, sick employee reporting, face mask use and social distancing.

The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration is working to develop permanent rules for the workplace that would go into place in October in the event that COVID is still a threat at that time.

Whitmer announced her “Vacc to Normal” plan on  April 29, 11 days ago.

Remote work imperils some small firms

A potential loosening of restrictions comes after some larger employers, including the Detroit Three automakers, say they will have a more flexible working culture that mixes remote and in-person work.

Most recently, Stellantis NV said under its “New Era of Agility” plan that it expects employees to work remotely on average 70% of the time instead of at its Auburn Hills North America headquarters. General Motors Co. in its “Work Appropriately” plan gives teams the choice to decide where to work, and Ford Motor Co.’s hybrid model enables employees to structure where they work.

The approach varies from workplace to workplace, said Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy and member engagement for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

“Some employers have decided they’re going to keep employees home through Sept. 1 or even Jan. 1, and others are saying … we want to start phasing and bringing back people a few days a week two weeks after we hit the 55% mark,” Block said. “A lot of that has to do with the nature of the work being done, what they’re hearing from employees.”

The Michigan chamber continues to have concerns about inconsistencies in the Whitmer administration’s statements.

“Although we are inclined to believe the news today is entirely positive and clears the way towards the resumption of in-person work in late May, we continue to question how the ‘Vacc to Normal’ plan meshes with MIOSHA’s announcement that it plans to promulgate permanent COVID-19 workplace safety rules, including a rule that requires employers to create policies promoting remote work for employees,” Block said.

“The governor’s announcement today doesn’t mesh with MIOSHA’s ongoing activities and actions.”

Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, noted on Monday that “a strong majority of businesses have been anxious for a return-to-the-office green light. And they’re ready to go.”

A concern is how smaller service-based businesses from restaurants to coffee shops will be affected if larger businesses occupying office space in downtown Detroit and elsewhere decide remote work is the future.

“It’s really important for the larger businesses to start bringing back their employees because the small businesses around them are largely dependent upon that kind of foot traffic,” Baruah said.

Next easing steps loom

After 55%, the next step in the “Vacc to Normal” plan occurs when 4.85 million residents, 60% of the adult population, have had their first dose. Two weeks after that, the Whitmer administration said it would lift the 11 p.m. curfew on restaurants and bars and further relax restrictions on sports stadiums, gyms and conference centers.

The other triggers occur two weeks after the state hits 65% and 70% for first dose vaccinations.

Two weeks after 65%, or when 5.26 million residents have had their first dose, the administration would lift all indoor capacity limits and further ease policies for residential gatherings. Two weeks after 70%, or when 5.66 million have had their first dose, the administration would lift the gathering and face mask order.

Michigan’s COVID-19 infection rates have been trending downward for about three weeks after a surge of the virus hit in March and April. Last week, the state reported 18,248 new cases, the lowest total in seven weeks. Likewise, the number of adults hospitalized with COVID-19 dropped to 2,206 on Monday, a 36% drop from two weeks earlier.

Michigan still leads the nation in new coronavirus per population, but the number is decreasing and the gap between Michigan and other states has also declined.

Last week, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services began tracking vaccination rates based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which include some populations that were not featured in the state’s own numbers previously.

The federal data include residents vaccinated through Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons and most out-of-state providers, meaning someone from Michigan who traveled to Ohio, Indiana or Wisconsin for their doses.

“Today marks an important milestone that office-based businesses and downtown business districts have been looking forward to for a long time,” said Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, in a statement to The Detroit News. “Small businesses have proven their ability to manage their own businesses while protecting employees and customers.”

View original article here

Biz group floats work grant; federal aid higher than thought

5/11/2021

AP News 

By David Eggert 

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s biggest local chamber of commerce floated a plan Monday in which $400 million in federal COVID-19 relief money would be spent on incentivizing people to return to the workforce and to get vaccinated, while officials learned the state’s overall aid package will be larger than expected.

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s proposal would cost the same as a plan pending in the Republican-led state House but would be structured differently. Rather than pay up to 400,000 unemployed workers $1,000 to go back to work instead of collecting benefits, as the House suggests, the state would give $2,000 to as many as 100,000 people.

Employers would get $1,000 for each returning or new employee, to use as a signing bonus or for training. They would receive $100 for each employee who is vaccinated in the future, offsetting the costs of clinics or paid time off to get a shot.

“Building on your strong proposal, the chamber believes a bipartisan solution to accelerate employment growth, economic growth, support vaccine efforts, and replenish our (unemployment) fund is possible,” Sandy Baruah, president and CEO, wrote in a letter to the chairmen of the House and Senate budget committees.

Industry groups say a “return-to-work” incentive would help businesses find desperately needed workers who, due to supplemental federal pandemic aid, can get $662 a week in unemployment funding, which is the equivalent of more than $34,000 a year. Others say businesses, including restaurants, need to raise wages.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, has vetoed the GOP-led Legislature’s previous attempts to soften future higher taxes on employers by depositing general funds into the unemployment fund.

Also Thursday, the U.S. government said Michigan’s state government will get $6.5 billion in coronavirus funding, which is nearly $900 million more than had been anticipated. Billions more will go to local governments and schools.

Because Michigan’s unemployment rate is not significantly higher than its pre-pandemic level, the state is eligible to receive just half of its allotment immediately, with the rest being provided one year later. That could change if Michigan waits to request its money after new jobless figures are released.

Municipalities will get half their funding in May and half a year later. Detroit, the state’s largest city, will receive nearly $827 million total. Wayne, the biggest county with 1.7 million residents, will get almost $340 million while Keweenaw, the smallest at 2,100 people, will receive $411,000.

Governments can use funds to support the coronavirus public health response, address the pandemic’s economic pain, replace lost tax revenue, boost pay for essential workers and upgrade water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

View original article here

Letter: Chamber Proposes $400M Plan to Incentivize Workers to Reenter the Workforce Amid Increasing Demand

The Detroit Regional Chamber sent a letter to Michigan Sen. Jim Stamas (R-Midland) and Rep. Thomas Albert (R-Grattan Township) outlining a $400 million proposal for the 100K by Labor Day Back to Work Plan. Without spending additional American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds, the plan extends the fundamental principles of a Michigan House proposal to address the critical need for employees to reenter the workforce amid growing customer demand.

Michigan businesses have told the Chamber that this is the number one issue they are facing right now, and the Chamber plan offers additional provisions to further incent both employees and employers to bolster Michigan’s recovering economy.

This plan suggests the use of $400 million in one-time ARP funds to be used for the following:

  • $2,000 return-to-work grant per returning or new employee: One-time grant, receivable upon 60 days of employment.  (ARP funds: $200 million)
  • $1,000 training grant to employers per returning or new employee: For employer use to provide training or an additional signing bonus, contingent upon eligible employee(s) remaining on the job for 60 days.  (ARP funds: $100 million)
  • $100 vaccine incentive for employers: Support employers covering costs associated with vaccine incentivization or compensating paid time off for employees getting vaccinated.  Capping the program at $100 million could encourage one million Michiganders to get vaccinated.  (ARP funds: $100 million)

Additionally, the letter suggests efforts to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Agency Compensation Fund without taxing employers by dedicating $150 million of American Rescue Plan funds for this purpose, which is a suggestion that Gov. Whitmer has made in the past.

View the full letter below.

Pentastar Aviation Appoints Mark Schenkel to Vice President of Finance

WATERFORD, MICHIGAN / May 10, 2021 / AVIATION NEWS–Pentastar Aviation, a leader in the world of business aviation, announces the appointment of Mark Schenkel to the position of Vice President of Finance.

Schenkel, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and member of the Michigan Association of CPAs, joined Pentastar in 2015 as Controller, reporting to President & CEO Greg Schmidt. In his new role, Schenkel will be responsible for all strategic financial initiatives and oversee all financial operations and information technology activities of Pentastar Aviation and Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc.

“Mark’s contributions to Pentastar over the last 6 years and his roots in the world of accounting and finance have brought Pentastar invaluable management perspective,” said Schmidt. “His leadership will allow us to continue to grow strategically and profitably and ensure the highest levels of accuracy in our financial reporting to internal and external customers.”

ABOUT PENTASTAR AVIATION
Pentastar Aviation, wholly owned by Edsel B. Ford II, has been servicing regional and global travelers for over 56 years and is headquartered at Oakland County International Airport (PTK). Pentastar provides private jet charter, award-winning FBO services, aircraft management, Fivestar Gourmet®, advisory, customer interiors and maintenance services, Air charter transportation services are provided by Pentastar Aviation Charter, Inc., a U.S. FAR Part 135 on-demand air carrier, or by other U.S. FAR Part 135 certificated on-demand air carriers arranged by Pentastar Aviation, LLC. Our team is committed to delivering the highest standards of safety and service excellence to our customers.

Contact: Pentastar Aviation: Tracy Neil, Director of Marketing, 248-666-8200,
tneil@pentastaraviation.com, pentastaraviation.com, facebook.com/PentastarAviation, linkedin.com/company/Pentastar-Aviation, twitter.com/PentastarAv, instagram.com/Pentastarav

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