Two Free New Channels Being Launched Targeting Multicultural Audiences

Black Enterprise
Jeffrey McKinney
Jan. 13, 2022

Hoping to drive away stereotypes and provide a fresh account for diverse multicultural people,  UKW Media and Urbn-TV are launching two free new channels.

Both are urban channels targeting that audience and were recently launched, according to a release provided to BLACK ENTERPRISE.

They are available on ROKU TV, a streaming service. UKW Media and Urbn-TV, will focus on audiences that are mainly Black, Asian, Latinx, indigenous, and people of color with urban lifestyle habits.

The launch of the channels is aimed to bridge the gap of diversity in entertainment.

The founder and chief executive officer of Urbn-TV and UKW Medi said, “We understand the power of images in the media. We want kids to grow up seeing people who look like them on the screen. We intend to present a robust line-up of primarily independent multicultural programming that evokes a lifestyle of wellness and productive outcomes.”

He added, “Our comprehensive line-up of fresh content will deliver a brand of broadcast excellence that will exemplify our best cultural attributes and help reshape the narrative amid the vast constellation of programming along the multicultural entertainment spectrum.”

The main audience for UKW Media is urban families. It will consist of movies, sitcoms, talk, health, animation and children’s programs.

For Urbn-TV, the target audience is urban adults. Both channels will have content produced by filmmakers of color along with content from historical libraries.

“UKW Media and Urbn-TV gives creators of color a platform to tell their stories in an authentic
and compelling manner,” Judy Kim said.

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Michigan employers won’t need to mandate vaccine-or-testing after Supreme Court ruling

Detroit Free Press
Jan. 13, 2022
Dave Boucher, Adrienne Roberts, and Kristen Jordan Shamus

Big Michigan businesses do not need to require workers be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to regular weekly testing after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling Thursday that prevents the Biden administration’s sweeping regulation from taking effect.

But state health care facilities that receive specific federal funding must comply with a vaccine mandate, the court determined in a second ruling.

The broader Biden administration proposal would have affected as many as 2.6 million Michiganders working at 5,500 businesses across the state, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity recently told the Free Press.

It comes as Michigan and the rest of the U.S. continue to battle the highly contagious omicron variant, with many COVID-19 trends reaching their worst marks of the pandemic.

By a 6-3 decision, the conservative justices agreed the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration overstepped its bounds in creating the rule, intended for any business with 100 or more employees. Chief Justice John Roberts joined justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett in the majority.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” states the majority opinion.

“Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category.”

The ruling rejecting the Biden administration’s broader mandate stymies the federal government’s ability to control a pandemic ravaging the country, wrote the traditionally left-leaning dissenting justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan.

“If OSHA’s standard is far-reaching — applying to many millions of American workers — it no more than reflects the scope of the crisis,” the dissenting justices said, referring to the federal rule as a standard.

“The standard responds to a workplace health emergency unprecedented in the agency’s history: an infectious disease that has already killed hundreds of thousands and sickened millions; that is most easily transmitted in the shared indoor spaces that are the hallmark of American working life, and that spreads mostly without regard to differences in occupation or industry.”

The rulings do not prevent individual businesses from instituting their own vaccine policies. In fact, the court previously rejected legal challenges to such vaccine rules.

In a statement, Biden said the court’s ruling on vaccinations for health care workers will save lives, but he was disappointed with its decision to reject the broader plan.

“As a result of the court’s decision, it is now up to states and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated,” Biden said.

Vaccine mandate for health care facilities

But the majority found the case is a bit different for health care workers. In a separate 5-4 ruling, the court allowed for some OSHA regulation of specific workplaces, and said federal health officials can mandate vaccinations for people working in health care facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicare payments.

Roberts and Kavanaugh joined Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in the majority on the second case.

“Vaccination requirements are a common feature of the provision of health care in America: Health care workers around the country are ordinarily required to be vaccinated for diseases such as hepatitis B, influenza, and measles, mumps, and rubella,” the majority wrote in the second ruling.

“All this is perhaps why health care workers and public health organizations overwhelmingly support the Secretary’s rule. … Indeed, their support suggests that a vaccination requirement under these circumstances is a straightforward and predictable example of the “health and safety” regulations that Congress has authorized the Secretary to impose.”

The mandate for health care workers applies to 10.4 million people nationally who work at 76,000 medical facilities that get Medicare or Medicaid funding. That includes employees of hospitals and surgery centers, dialysis facilities, nursing homes as well as contractors.

Health care workers must be fully vaccinated no later than Jan. 28 to comply with the new rule.

About a half-dozen large Michigan health systems put in place their own vaccine requirements before Biden’s proposal in September. Henry Ford Health System became the first in Michigan to announce in June it would require vaccination as a condition of employment. Soon after, Trinity Health, Ascension Michigan, Spectrum Health, Beaumont Health, Munson Healthcare, and Michigan Medicine made similar announcements.

Neither the Detroit Medical Center nor McLaren Health Care previously had vaccine requirements in place for workers, and now must work to comply with the federal rule.

DMC spokesman Jason Barczy said Thursday, “We intend to comply with the mandate.”

At McLaren, spokesman James Curtis said the health system already encourages the vaccine for its workers and also will adhere to the federal vaccine mandate.

At Michigan Medicine, about 7,800 union workers were exempt from the Ann Arbor-based health system’s vaccine mandate. Now, those workers must comply with the federal rule, spokeswoman Mary Masson said.

The American Health Care Association, which represents more than 14,000 U.S. nursing homes and long-term care facilities, said it respects the court’s ruling, but remains “concerned that the repercussions of the vaccine mandate among health care workers will be devastating to an already decimated long term care workforce.

“When we are in the midst of another COVID surge, caregivers in vaccine-hesitant communities may walk off the job because of this policy, further threatening access to care for thousands of our nation’s seniors,” said Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of AHCA.

While 83% of nursing home workers nationally are fully vaccinated, the association said, Michigan’s rate of vaccination is far lower.

As of Dec. 26, about 70.4% of health care workers at Michigan nursing homes were fully vaccinated, according to the most recent federal data.

The Michigan Health and Hospital Association has not taken a formal position on the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates and does not track which of the state’s 133 hospitals already have vaccine requirements in place for workers and which do not, said John Karasinski, a spokesperson for the industry group.

But the timing of the court’s decision — amid the nation’s worst yet coronavirus surge — will be “extremely challenging” for applicable health care facilities that previously did not have a vaccine mandate, Karasinski said.

Impact of court’s rulings on business

In a statement, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s spokesman echoed previous comments rejecting any kind of state-issued mandate.

“While we’ve never had plans to implement any sort of statewide vaccine mandate, we’ve always believed that vaccines are the best way to protect ourselves, family, and ensure that businesses and schools can remain open safely,” spokesman Bobby Leddy said.

“That’s why we continue to work with vaccine providers and the federal government to ensure that all eligible Michiganders have access to this safe and effective resource.”

Whitmer previously appeared to go back and forth on the idea of a vaccine or test mandate. She has personally rejected the idea of implementing one at the state level, and she reportedly called the federal rule a “problem” that would cause the state of Michigan to lose employees.

However, she later clarified that she was not criticizing the rule and did support it.

“I appreciate what President Biden is trying to accomplish. It’s about saving lives. It’s about getting more people vaccinated. If we’re successful on those fronts, it’s going to inure to everyone’s benefit,” Whitmer said in December.

Many large companies in Michigan were ready and prepared for the vaccine mandate to go into effect, but were waiting on the decision from the Supreme Court, business association leaders said.

Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in an interview last week that more and more Fortune 1,000-size businesses were rolling out vaccine mandates. Smaller companies with 100-250 employees were less likely to mandate the vaccine, but were also concerned about the costs that would have come with offering employees COVID-19 tests.

In an emailed statement Thursday, he said the Chamber continues to be a strong proponent of vaccines and the rights of employers to mandate vaccines, but the court’s decision, “puts the decision back where it belongs, with local health officials and individual companies.”

Other chambers and business associations also said they were pleased with the Supreme Court ruling, including the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Listen to MI Business coalition, which includes several business chambers from around the state.

“The court fully acknowledged the sweeping and disruptive nature of OSHA’s vaccine mandate and the numerous complexities associated with its implementation,” Listen to MI Business coalition’s spokesperson Wendy Block said in an emailed statement.

Maria Dwyer, a managing member of Clark Hill’s Detroit office and a labor and employment attorney, said ahead of the Supreme Court decision that some clients had gone ahead and mandated the vaccine and some had implemented the federal rule, while others were holding out. She said testing, because of supply issues, and figuring out medical and religious accommodations, were common concerns.

Detroit-based DTE Energy said Thursday the utility had already been testing employees for COVID-19 in some key work groups. Lisa Bolla, a spokesperson for the utility, said it will continue to have as many employees work remotely as possible, and DTE requires all employees to wear a mask and keep their distance regardless of vaccination status.

View the original article.

Jan. 14 | This Week in Government: Test Scores Indicate Pandemic Slowed Student Learning; State of the State Goes Virtual Again

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. Report: Test Scores Indicate Pandemic Severely Slowed Student Learning
  2. Corbin Talks Attracting Talent, Programs to Increase Labor Participation
  3. UIA’s Dale Grilled Over Fraudulent Agency Payments; Subpoenas Possible
  4. State of the State Going Virtual Again
  5. HFA Revises Revenues Upward Billions Ahead of Conference

Report: Test Scores Indicate Pandemic Severely Slowed Student Learning

Student learning was severely slowed by the pandemic as indicated through testing scores reflecting less progress made in the 2020-21 school year than in previous years, a report released Monday said.

Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative’s report collected data for K-8 students from assessments given twice a year. It also gathered data from the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress given at the end of the academic year to examine students’ knowledge of grade-level material.

The tests were required to be administered due to the “Return to Learn” law.

Looking at patterns among several demographics, the report finds the gaps in achievement growth were greater for female, Black, and low-income students and students who learned remotely. Black, Latino, and low-income students were more likely to start and end significantly behind grade level.

The report found 27% of 4th-grade students who took the Northwest Evaluation Association measures of Academic Progress math test were behind in the fall, with the number increasing to 33% in the spring. The percentage of students falling behind was higher for Black and Latino students, with the former coming in at 49% in the fall and 66% in the spring while the latter came in at 35% in the fall and 43% in the spring.

White students reported 21% behind grade-level in the fall and 24% in the spring and Asian students reported 9% in the fall and 10% in the spring.

The patterns were consistent at every level and similar disparities were found for low-income students.

In a statement, Superintendent of Public Instruction Michael Rice said the report reflected the unfortunate national trends that show the pandemic reduced the amount of learning normally expected.

“This report is further evidence that time in school matters,” he said. “Time matters, and in-school time matters. Students and staff worked hard last year when remote, but it is difficult to recreate the time and value of in-person learning when remote for many of our children, particularly those most vulnerable — children with substantial disabilities, young, fledgling readers, and English learners.”

The report also found that districts offering in-person instruction all year had students scoring better than those who were remote. Schools that offered an additional month of remote learning reported nearly one percentage point more students scoring “significantly behind grade level” for math tests in spring.

On the flip side, those with an additional month of in-person were likely to have one-half a percentage point fewer students scoring “significantly behind grade level” for reading tests.

“We are seeing the same patterns in Michigan as we are seeing across the country — the pandemic has substantially impacted student learning, and these impacts are far worse for traditionally disadvantaged students,” EPIC Director Katharine Strunk said in a statement. “Achievement gaps grew during the pandemic and students who were already more likely to perform worse on achievement tests were the hardest hit. This is a major equity concern that will have long-lasting impacts on students’ lives.”

Corbin Talks Attracting Talent, Programs to Increase Labor Participation

The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity has been working to rejuvenate the workforce participation in Michigan for a decade, and Director Susan Corbin has been highlighting programs the state has implemented during the pandemic to recruit economic investments for employers and employees.

Speaking with Gongwer News Service in December, Corbin described LEO as an expansive department, with 3,000 team members across 20 offices, bureaus, agencies, and commissions. She said despite its many moving parts, the core mission of LEO is to spread economic opportunities and prosperity to all.

Corbin was made permanent director of LEO in August after previously serving as acting director. She wants to be a strong partner to all the agencies in LEO, acknowledging that the design of certain agencies requires them to be slightly more autonomous.

In 2021, LEO focused on growing the economy by working on cultivating a more skilled and inclusive workforce, protecting the health and safety of workers and families, investing in mobility businesses and communities, and addressing child care barriers and housing insecurities.

“We rose to the challenge this year and continue rising to the challenge to ensure that working people have the protections they’re entitled to and that we’re providing safe workplaces,” Corbin said. “We confronted the housing crisis head-on, expanding access to state and affordable housing and protecting Michigan families from eviction through distributing federal dollars. And we continue to invest in Michigan’s economy by providing an environment where businesses can grow and thrive.”

She said the department has been traveling around the state to meet with local and state partners discussing the $2.1 billion investment in the MI New Economy Plan.

The governor has created multiple programs, including Future for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect, which provide a tuition-free pathway to a two-year college degree or a skills certificate. Corbin said more than 170,000 Michiganders have signed up for both programs.

“We know in Michigan that that’s not enough. We need to have more people in Michigan with four-year degrees if we’re going to attract high-paying jobs to our state,” she said. “That’s an area we’ll continue focusing on, but we know that the bipartisan support that Reconnect has being created by the Legislature, that that’s a critical first step to … meeting our 30 by 60 goal.”

The pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns shed more light on careers and job fields in desperate need of workers. However, prior to the pandemic, the state was reportedly having issues attracting talent. She said she knew looking at the demographics, even before March 2020, that there was a labor shortage.

“In addition to our labor shortages, we heard from employers that they were not able to identify people in their local communities with the right skills set for the jobs that they have now,” Corbin said. “I think we still have more work ahead of us in terms of attracting talent or attracting people back to Michigan. I think that a lot of the governor’s proposals in MI New Economy will work to do that.”

Corbin said the state is below the national average in terms of workforce participation. She thinks by giving people skills that can be used to transition into higher-paying jobs will attract many back to the workforce.

She also said that in order to attract people state, there must be vibrant communities people would want to move into. There are some proposals in MI New Economy related to that, Corbin said.

The director said month by month there is an increase in new jobs being created in Michigan. She also said ending pandemic unemployment assistance earlier would not have impacted the number of individuals entering the workforce, saying she noticed insignificant upticks in labor participation for states who ended the federal benefit earlier.

“If you look at the labor market information in Michigan, month over month, more people have been going into the workforce. However, we know that there are still issues out there that are preventing people from returning to the workplace,” Corbin said. “People need to know that their workplace is safe and obviously the new variant and vaccination rates have an impact on that.”

She emphasized the importance of child care and acknowledged it as a barrier for many who wish to return to work. She said during 2021, she was made aware the labor force was down some 260,000 and they knew there were some 220,000 women who had not yet returned to the workforce, saying child care was a critical factor of that.

The Legislature allocated $1.4 billion to address child care problems and LEO has a grant program available for child care providers to gift bonuses to their employees. Gov. Whitmer also has an advisor in her office exclusive to child care issues.

“I think you’re going to see some additional things at the first of the year as it relates to attracting more people into the workforce as it relates to child care,” Corbin added.

During the last year, there was criticism regarding actions of certain agencies within LEO, especially the Unemployment Insurance Agency. Corbin spoke before the Senate Advice and Consent Committee where she defended the efforts of the UIA.

The pandemic exacerbated the work UIA needed to do, with Corbin saying the workload increased some 600% during 2020, and LEO calculated in just a few months, the agency had done as much work as it had done in the preceding six years.

“I think the UIA was tested by a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. The work that was put in front of them was very challenging,” Corbin said. “Of course, unemployment insurance agencies across the country were all dealing with the same thing … I told the Legislature at my confirmation hearing what I felt was most important for the agency was to have a strong leader at the helm who would be committed to investing their time and efforts with the agency.”

She said LEO has made the right decision for a strong leader by selecting current UIA Director Julia Dale, saying she is “really getting her arms around” the agency and its staff. They continue to work on initiatives to improve UIA, aiming to improve the complicated communications between the agency and claimants.

For 2022, Corbin said LEO’s priority will be to continue working with legislators on where best to spend the American Rescue Plan federal dollars, saying it would be impactful for local communities to use the monies. She also said there are “critical things” to come in the mobility space and around high-speed internet.

UIA’s Dale Grilled Over Fraudulent Agency Payments; Subpoenas Possible

Subpoenas could be used to compel testimony from Unemployment Insurance Agency division heads, as well as its former Director Steve Gray, as indicated following a joint oversight hearing Thursday on the billions of dollars in estimated fraudulent claims sent out by the UIA.

UIA Director Julia Dale faced withering criticism from legislative Republicans on the Senate Oversight Committee and House Oversight Committee during a hearing over a recent report on the estimated $8.5 billion in fraudulent claims being paid out during the coronavirus pandemic.

Republican members were unsuccessful in repeated attempts to demand clarity from Dale and Todd Cook, director of legislative affairs for the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, on several topics related to the response to the large volume of claims filed as well as payments made on fraudulent claims during the coronavirus pandemic.

Taken up by the committees was a Deloitte report released in December 2021 detailing the payment by the UIA of about $8.5 billion in fraudulent claims between March 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021.

Of these payments, an estimated $2.7 to $2.8 billion was paid to claims involving likely imposter fraud, and an estimated $5.6 to $5.7 billion being paid to claims likely involving intentional misrepresentation fraud.

Much of the estimated fraud outlined in the report was federally funded payments through the multiple Pandemic Unemployment Assistance programs set up in response to the pandemic. About 3% of the fraudulent claims, or about $249 million, were paid out through the state program, with the rest being federal, the Deloitte report found.

It is also unclear how much overlap there is between the $8.5 billion in likely fraudulent claims and the $3.9 billion in payments to those who qualified under criteria later deemed ineligible.

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Steve Johnson (R-Wayland) told reporters following the hearing he was prepared to issue subpoenas to obtain testimony from Gray and Tim Kolar –the department’s top fraud investigator – as was done with former Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon. He said he would prefer the testimony come voluntarily.

“When you see $8.5 billion of fraud – and to find out we don’t know who was in charge of looking at the fraud at the time? That’s incredibly troubling,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen mud more transparent than this. … This agency continues to be broken, and they’re not taking accountability for their actions. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

The possibility of issuing subpoenas stemmed from exchanges by two lawmakers and Dale during the hearing: Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) and Rep. Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond).

Theis repeatedly asked who directed the agency set aside the Fraud Manager system criteria, to which she was not given a direct answer. During the early months of the pandemic the push to address the enormous volume of claims led to organizational, policy, and technological changes.

Dale in response pointed to the 2020 Deloitte report in which an agency official had claimed that Gray had told UIA personnel on a call that fraud prevention was not a high priority. Gray denied that claim when interviewed by Deloitte.

Yaroch asked Dale what is being done to determine accountability for who failed during the pandemic within the agency. She replied that her top focus is on driving the agency forward and developing solutions for issues that have confronted claimants experiencing problems with the process during the pandemic.

“I’m not looking to do an autopsy,” Dale said.

Questions were also asked as to why Kolar was moved on to different responsibilities when the fraud was most rampant in the pandemic’s early months before eventually being returned to his role. Agency officials were also unable to answer those questions, as well as whether anyone replaced him during the time he was placed on other duties. Dale said she could go back and check on what happened during that time.

Dale under questioning was against having any of her eight division directors testify.

“I remain firm in my belief that it is not the responsibility of the rank-and-file to accept the responsibility to be before the Oversight Committee,” Dale said, adding she could go back to Kolar and discuss the committee’s questions with him and provide responses.

During her testimony, Dale expressed anger over the level of fraud, saying the agency is seeking to chart a better path forward.

“I share your outrage at the level of fraud and criminality that took place. Like you, I want to make sure that it never happens again,” Dale said.

Dale said most of the fraud occurred before October 2020, saying levels of fraud have been pushed down to 0.57% since that time. She added that all other states have experienced significant problems with claims during the pandemic.

“We still do need to prosecute those who defrauded the agency and claw back as much taxpayer money as possible,” Dale said.

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan), chair of the Senate panel, said he did not appreciate the emphasis on touting fraud that is being stopped now despite the billions sent out during the pandemic or the pointing to most of the money lost was federal funds.

He also did not like what he believed to be the department giving itself “a pat on the back” and pointing to other states’ problems to downplay the severity of the problem.

“To receive that kind of messaging from the department … does not reassure us that the department is putting on a new direction,” McBroom said. “It does not reassure us that anything has changed in the culture. It’s really disturbing and really frustrating.”

The focus of Democrats during the hearing, by contrast, was on those caught up in situations of having been falsely labeled of intentional misrepresentation in their claims.

“I am very concerned about our constituents who are caught up in this and who are suffering the consequences,” Rep. Julie Brixie (D-Okemos) said.

Johnson countered he believed the $8.5 billion was fraud, saying intentional misrepresentation indicates wrongdoing.

“The whole talking point of we should be sympathetic because these people were trying to put food on the table, no, these are criminals, we don’t just excuse that behavior,” Johnson said.

Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) fired back, saying he took offense to the implication that all $8.5 billion of estimated fraud in the report was criminal activity. He said he believed some of the billions in intentional misrepresentation were potentially innocent persons.

“My constituents who have been out of work and who have tried to apply for this system, they’re not criminals,” Irwin said. He pointed to the example of a constituent, a bricklayer, who made errors in his paperwork and has received a letter from UIA alleging intentional misrepresentation.

Irwin also said he considered it foolish for Congress to push such huge amounts of money through state unemployment agencies that are not set up to handle such a rush of claims.

He also attacked the Legislature’s past changes to the unemployment insurance system, saying he believed it was made difficult for people to process their claims as a method to make Michigan a pro-business state.

“Michigan’s a bad state to be an unemployed worker,” Irwin said.

At one point during the hearing, McBroom said he had received an email from a constituent who said he was disconnected from UIA after being on hold for two hours. He said the constituent claimed if he cannot address his claim, he could soon end up homeless.

Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) repeated questions he had asked during a joint hearing in November 2021 as to who at the Governor’s office spoke with UIA during communications between the administration, UIA, and LEO. As in November, he did not get a specific answer.

“I have a pretty good B.S. detector, and I’ll tell you what, it’s going off right now,” he said.

State of the State Going Virtual Again

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will deliver her annual State of the State address Jan. 26, and for the second consecutive year, the COVID-19 pandemic means she will not deliver the speech in the House chamber.

Last year, Gov. Whitmer delivered the speech from her Capitol office. The location was not announced Monday. In a statement, Gov. Whitmer’s office said it “will be held in a virtual format.”

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to hit Michigan hard with new cases and hospitalizations at record levels as of Monday.

“The State of the State address is a tradition rooted in history,” Gov. Whitmer and House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) said in a joint statement. “It is an opportunity for Michiganders to hear about the work of state government and see Republicans and Democrats come together to focus on the issues that will put Michigan families, communities, and small businesses first. This year, we’ve agreed that the State of the State address should once again be held remotely to ensure everyone can safely partake in this time-honored event.”

HFA Revises Revenues Upward Billions Ahead of Conference

The state saw $2.6 billion more in the 2020-21 fiscal year than previously forecast and is estimated to see $1.7 billion more in revenues for 2021-22, the House Fiscal Agency said in its outlook published Wednesday.

The report released ahead of Friday’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference continues the trend of revenues being revised upward after strong growth in spending and income tax, among other things. Last week, the Senate Fiscal Agency recommended increasing revenue projections as well.

The two fiscal agencies will join the Department of Treasury on Friday and iron out the differences from the May 2021 revenue conference to set final figures for the closing of the 2020-21 fiscal year and the upcoming years.

HFA said preliminary figures suggest an increase of $2.64 billion from the May 2021 adjusted consensus estimates for the 2020-21 fiscal year, due in part to continued strong growth in the components of the individual income tax, which reflects the income support provided by the federal government in response to the pandemic.

Additionally, sales and use tax revenue was strong as consumers continued to purchase taxable goods at a higher rate than untaxed services. Corporate income tax revenue reached new highs due to strong corporate profits, HFA said.

Specifically, the agency said the General Fund is $1.6 billion higher than estimated and the School Aid Fund $971 million for the last fiscal year.

For the current fiscal year, the agency said the state will see $1.7 billion more than previously estimated, driven by higher than anticipated collections from the use tax, sales tax, and corporate income tax.

Specifically, HFA is estimating $713 million more in the General Fund and $985 million more in the School Aid Fund.

HFA is projecting a $4.2 billion balance in the General Fund and $2.9 billion in the School Aid Fund for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Explainer: Why US Inflation is So High, and When it May Ease

The Detroit News
Jan. 12, 2022
Paul Wiseman, Associated Press

Washington — At first, it didn’t even register as a threat. Then it seemed like a temporary annoyance.

Now, inflation is flashing red for the Federal Reserve’s policymakers — and delivering sticker shock to Americans at the used car lot, the supermarket, the gas station, the rental office.

On Wednesday, the Labor Department reported that consumer prices jumped 7% in December compared with 12 months earlier — the hottest year-over-year inflation since June 1982. Excluding volatile energy and food prices, what is called “core” inflation rose 5.5% over the past year, the fastest such pace since 1991.

Bacon prices are up nearly 19% from a year ago, men’s coats and suits nearly 11%, living and dining room furniture more than 17%. Renting a car will cost you 36% more, on average, than it did in December 2020.

“Prices are increasing broadly throughout the economy, and the Federal Reserve has been caught off-guard by the extent of inflation,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way — not with the coronavirus pandemic keeping people hunkered down at home and triggering a devastating recession beginning in March 2020. Barely more than a year ago, the Fed had forecast that consumer prices would end 2021 only about 1.8% higher than they were a year earlier, below even its annual 2% inflation target.

Yet after having been an economic afterthought for decades, high inflation reasserted itself last year with astonishing speed. In February 2021, the Labor Department’s consumer price Index was running just 1.7% ahead of a year earlier. From there, the year-over-year price increases accelerated steadily — 2.6% in March, 4.2% in April, 4.9% in May, 5.3% in June. By October, the figure was 6.2%, by November 6.8%.

At first, Fed Chair Jerome Powell and others at first characterized higher consumer prices a merely a “transitory” problem — the result, mainly, of shipping delays and temporary shortages of supplies and workers as the economy rebounded from the pandemic recession much faster than anyone had anticipated.

Now, many economists expect consumer inflation to remain elevated at least through this year, with demand outstripping supplies in numerous areas of the economy.

And the Fed has radically changed course. As recently as September, Fed policymakers had been divided over whether to raise rates even once this year. But last month, the central bank signaled that it expects to raise its short-term benchmark rate, now pinned near zero, three times this year in an effort to quell inflation. And many private economists expect as many as four Fed rate hikes in 2022.

“If we have to raise interest rates more over time,” Powell told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, “we will.”

What’s caused the spike in inflation?

Much of the surge is actually a consequence of healthy economic trends. When the pandemic paralyzed the economy in the spring of 2020 and lockdowns kicked in, businesses closed or cut hours and consumers stayed home as a health precaution, employers slashed a breathtaking 22 million jobs. Economic output plunged at a record-shattering 31% annual rate in last year’s April-June quarter.

Everyone braced for more misery. Companies cut investment. Restocking was postponed. A brutal recession ensued.

But instead of sinking into a prolonged downturn, the economy staged an unexpectedly rousing recovery, fueled by vast infusions of government aid and emergency intervention by the Fed, which slashed interest rates, among other things. By spring this year, the rollout of vaccines had emboldened consumers to return to restaurants, bars, shops, and airports.

Suddenly, businesses had to scramble to meet demand. They couldn’t hire fast enough to fill job openings — a near-record 10.6 million in November — or buy enough supplies to meet customer orders. As business roared back, ports and freight yards couldn’t handle the traffic. Global supply chains became snarled.

Costs rose. And companies found that they could pass along those higher costs in the form of higher prices to consumers, many of whom had managed to sock away a ton of savings during the pandemic.

But critics, including former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, blamed in part President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, with its $1,400 checks to most households, for overheating an economy that was already sizzling on its own.

The Fed and the federal government had feared an agonizingly slow recovery like the one that followed the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

“In retrospect, it was more than what was needed,’’ said Ellen Gaske, an economist at PGIM Fixed Income. “I point a finger very strongly at the nature of fiscal policy at this time. It was not just the size of the (relief) packages, but those direct cash payments to households added purchasing power very directly. And when you pushed that up against the supply disruptions because of COVID, the pressure valve was higher inflation.’’

How long will it last?

Elevated consumer price inflation will likely endure as long as companies struggle to keep up with consumers’ demand for goods and services. A recovering job market — employers added a record 6.4 million jobs last year — means that many Americans can continue to splurge on everything from lawn furniture to electronics.

Many economists see inflation staying well above the Fed’s 2% target this year. But relief from higher prices might be coming. Jammed-up supply chains are beginning to show some signs of improvement, at least in some industries. The Fed’s sharp pivot away from easy-money policies toward a more hawkish, anti-inflationary policy could slow the economy and reduce consumer demand. There will be no repeat of last year’s COVID relief checks from Washington.

Inflation itself is eating into household purchasing power and might force some consumers to shave back spending.

“I’m expecting it will largely work itself out by the second half of this year,’’ PGIM’s Gaske said. “Ás supply comes back on online, I think some of those pressures will get alleviated.’’

COVID’s highly transmissible omicron variant could muddy the outlook — either by causing outbreaks that force factories and ports to close and thereby disrupting supply chains even more or by keeping people home and reducing demand for goods.

How are higher prices affecting consumers?

A strong job market is boosting wages, though not enough to compensate for higher prices. The Labor Department says that hourly earnings for all private-sector employees fell 1.7% in November from a year earlier after accounting for higher consumer prices. But there are exceptions: After-inflation wages were up nearly 14% for hotel workers and 7% for restaurant employees.

Partisan politics also colors the way Americans view the inflation threat. With a Democrat in the White House, Republicans were nearly three times more likely than Democrats (47% versus 16%) to say that inflation was having a negative effect last month on their personal finances, according to a survey of consumers by the University of Michigan.

View the original article.


Statewide Poll Reveals Opinions on Underlying Economic Concerns, Inflation, COVID-19 and Vaccination Perceptions, Voting Rights, Political Landscape

11 Events and Activities in the Detroit Region to Honor Civil Rights Activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day  

How are you reflecting on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy this MLK Day? Check out 11 ways to get involved, both at home and in person.

United We Walk – West Bloomfield

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022 | 1-3 p.m. | In Person

Join West Bloomfield United We Walk for its 28th annual event celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With the theme of “Dream, Believe, Do,” the free walk will begin at West Bloomfield High School. Learn more.

MLK Day at The Wright

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 9 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m. | Virtual and In Person

Explore the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event will include a virtual keynote speech at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. from Andrew Young, a former United Nations Ambassador and civil rights activist. It will also feature an in-person documentary screening of Andrew Young at noon. Registration and a COVID-19 test are required for the in-person portion of the event. Find more information here.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day at The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | In Person

Celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders for free at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. View the Rosa Parks Bus and listen to the story of her brave act. Engage with the interactive Minds of Freedom program that highlights the contributions of Dr. King, Mrs. Parks, and other civil rights champions. Explore the challenging evolution of American freedom in the With Liberty and Justice for All exhibit. Registration is not required, but capacity will be limited. Learn more.

U-M 2022 MLK Memorial Keynote Lecture: This Is America

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 10-11:30 a.m. | In Person with livestream available

Join the University of Michigan’s Office of Multicultural Initiatives at Hill Auditorium for its 2022 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium keynote speech. Moderated by Dr. Patricia Coleman-Burns, the keynote will be provided by Rashad Richey, university professor, Emmy-nominated broadcaster, and political analyst, and Maria de Lourdes Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of Latino USA on National Public Radio. The event is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. All attendees will need to complete the University of Michigan’s COVID-19 symptom check tool before entering the auditorium, and masks are required. For those unable to attend in person, the speech will be livestreamed here. Learn more.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Virtual Health Equity Symposium

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | Virtual

Join Trinity Health for a virtual symposium honoring the life, legacy, and work of Dr. King. The symposium will feature keynote speaker Roslyn Brock, chief global equity officer at Abt Associates, as well as an expert panel that will discuss the importance of disrupting systems that create health inequities and call leaders to action, both personally and professionally. Learn more.

19th Annual Detroit MLK Day Virtual Rally and March

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Virtual

In commemoration of the 93rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., join the MLK Detroit Committee for a virtual rally and march for jobs, peace, and justice while protecting water, climate, and communities. The rally will be held over Zoom and accessible live on YouTube and Facebook. Registration is required. Learn more.

You Can Keep the Mule: Let’s Explore Reparations Models

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 12:30-2 p.m. | Virtual

Join the University of Michigan Detroit Center for a panel discussion on reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans. The panel will explore the varying concepts of what is owned and what reparations might look like. It will also discuss the Crafting Democratic Futures project, which aims to tackle the complex histories surrounding race by working with colleges and universities around the country to develop suggestions for research, community, and racial reparations solutions. Registration is required. Register here.

2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration and Driver for Freedom, Justice, and Equity

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. | Virtual and In Person

Join the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Task Force for the 37th annual MLK Day Celebration and Drive for Freedom, Justice, and Equity. With the theme of “Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding leads to Freedom, Justice, and Equity,” the commemorative program will begin at 10 a.m. with the drive (registration for the drive is now closed). The virtual program will start at 1 p.m., and registration is not required. Learn more.

King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery to Memphis

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 1 p.m. | In Person

Join the Detroit Institute of Arts on Monday, Jan. 17, at the Detroit Film Theatre to view one of the most well-known documentaries depicting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s civil rights activism. Assembled from archived footage, the documentary follows Dr. King from 1955 to 1968, as he rose from regional activist to world-renowned leader of the civil rights movement. Admission to this screening is free. All attendees must provide proof of full vaccination. Learn more and register here.

Honoring the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: MLK and The Lighthouse Effect

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 2-3 p.m. | Virtual

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an opportunity to look inward and ask ourselves what we can do to bring about a more equal world and what tangible actions we can take to ensure that all voices are heard – and valued, according to Steve Pemberton, bestselling author and business leader. Hear more from Pemberton during his inspirational presentation on Monday, Jan. 17, from 2-3:10 p.m., during one of the many events hosted as part of the University of Michigan’s Office of Multicultural Initiatives’ Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. Find more information and registration details here.

MLK Day Conversation with Critical Race Theory Artist, Jonathan Harris

Monday, Jan. 17, 2022 | 3-6 p.m. | In Person

Irwin House Gallery, Chene Parc, and the City of Detroit Office of Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship for a conversation with Detroit artist, Jonathan Harris, about his artistic practice, rapidly evolving journey in the arts, and now famous, Critical Race Theory painting. A reception will follow the conversation from 5-6 p.m. While the free event will be held in person at Chene Park in the First National Building, the event will be livestreamed on Detroit A&E, City Channel 22 in Detroit, YouTube, and the Detroit Ace Facebook page. Masks are required. Space is limited, so registering online is recommended. Learn more.

Black Entrepreneur Offers Alternative Funding Through ‘Barter Black’– No Money Needed

Black Enterprise
Jeffrey McKinney
Jan. 11, 2022

Entrepreneur Nicole Murphy’s new venture is not a funding option for businesses that need loans.

The founder and CEO of Barter Black, Murphy says a critical survival issue for Black businesses is lack of funding. She tells Black Enterprise that her business is set to reduce that challenge by normalizing bartering. Her platform offers a funding alternative for Black-owned businesses.

She points out Barter Black addresses the unfortunate statistic that Black entrepreneurs are the most likely group to request funding. Yet, they are the least likely to receive it. She maintains that her concept will allow Black business owners to trade their services or goods with other Black entrepreneurs. It also will allow them to barter such services as websites, skincare, coaching, and graphic design.

Murphy says Barter Black now includes a network of more than 300 Black entrepreneurs who believe they can benefit from the bartering relationships. She says you don’t have to worry if someone is willing to barter because everyone on the platform is.

“This is historic, and this is going to be a game-changer on how Black entrepreneurs and business owners do business today,” Murphy says.

Her concept is intriguing because lack of capital is a huge hurdle many Black proprietors face when trying to start, run, or expand a business.

“By using our platform, businesses free up monetary resources to be re-channeled to other vital parts of their business operations while ensuring they get the goods or services they need by leveraging their experience and expertise,” Murphy says.

So how do they accomplish that?

Murphy says Barter Black is an online bartering network for just about any service that Black entrepreneurs need. It operates on a subscription business model, allowing business owners to post their services. The platform offers three subscription packages that run from $49 to $99.

“When using Barter Black, you have to ask yourself what do you need a loan for? Is it for marketing, administrative assistance, or accounting?” she points out.

“These are the types of services you will be able to get on the Barter Black platform through bartering. No money is exchanged!”

Murphy says one of her biggest obstacles is educating entrepreneurs on the concept of bartering because they are not used to it in today’s money-driven society.

She will have a Black Carpet Affair that will exclusively launch Barter Black this year Feb. 18-19 at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Hyattsville, MD.

View the original article.

Meet the Founder of an App That Simplifies the College Admissions Process for Black Students

Black News
Jan. 11, 2022

Shawntia Lee, a former Admissions and Enrollment Counseling professional, has developed and launched the College Thriver Education app to help facilitate the college admissions process for students of color. Her Orlando, Florida-based non-profit organization aims to help minority students to reach their full potential.

The college admissions process can be very daunting, especially for students do not have access to mentorship and advice. Moreover, research conducted by UNCF found that only 57% of black students have full access to college-ready courses. Sadly, those who are fortunate to secure a place often drop out before completing their course of study.

In fact, a report published by Education Data, statistics revealed that students of color had the highest dropout rate at 54%. The report also revealed that one-third of those students dropped out before their sophomore year, with financial pressure cited as the top reason.

College Thriver Education’s new app is designed to help bridge the gap and increase college readiness retention among students of color. The app simplifies the college admissions process from start to finish by connecting grades 6-12 students to data-driven feedback to help them adequately prepare and meet college admission standards. Students can use the app to find community-based solutions for the resources needed such as housing, funding, testing, tutoring counseling, mentoring, and transportation.

But it’s not just about preparation and retention, College Thriver Education’s new app also caters to life after graduation. According to a report conducted by CNBC, student debt greatly affects black borrowers. The report also found that 66% of Black borrowers regret having applied for a student loan. To reduce the college debt burden among Black students, the College Thriver Education app also offers a debit card rebate program that rewards students with financial savings throughout their college journey. Ultimately, this will help eliminate college debt and reduce long-term stress for students after graduation.

College Thriver Education was founded in 2020 by Shawntia Lee and offers a range of services including Higher Education Consulting, Internship Placement, Enrollment Management, ACT/Sat Prep, and more. When asked about the motivation for creating the app, she explained: “I became tired of the systemic injustice that is created in higher education for students of color; so I created the app to close the equity gap and offer equality to higher education for all despite their socioeconomic status in life.”

The College Thriver app is available for free download in the Apple and Google app stores.

For more information about the app or the organization behind the app, visit

View the original article.

Meet the Founder of an App That Simplifies the College Admissions Process for Black Students

Black News
Jan. 11, 2022

Shawntia Lee, a former Admissions and Enrollment Counseling professional, has developed and launched the College Thriver Education app to help facilitate the college admissions process for students of color. Her Orlando, Florida-based non-profit organization aims to help minority students to reach their full potential.

The college admissions process can be very daunting, especially for students do not have access to mentorship and advice. Moreover, research conducted by UNCF found that only 57% of black students have full access to college-ready courses. Sadly, those who are fortunate to secure a place often drop out before completing their course of study.

In fact, a report published by Education Data, statistics revealed that students of color had the highest dropout rate at 54%. The report also revealed that one-third of those students dropped out before their sophomore year, with financial pressure cited as the top reason.

College Thriver Education’s new app is designed to help bridge the gap and increase college readiness retention among students of color. The app simplifies the college admissions process from start to finish by connecting grades 6-12 students to data-driven feedback to help them adequately prepare and meet college admission standards. Students can use the app to find community-based solutions for the resources needed such as housing, funding, testing, tutoring counseling, mentoring, and transportation.

But it’s not just about preparation and retention, College Thriver Education’s new app also caters to life after graduation. According to a report conducted by CNBC, student debt greatly affects black borrowers. The report also found that 66% of Black borrowers regret having applied for a student loan. To reduce the college debt burden among Black students, the College Thriver Education app also offers a debit card rebate program that rewards students with financial savings throughout their college journey. Ultimately, this will help eliminate college debt and reduce long-term stress for students after graduation.

College Thriver Education was founded in 2020 by Shawntia Lee and offers a range of services including Higher Education Consulting, Internship Placement, Enrollment Management, ACT/Sat Prep, and more. When asked about the motivation for creating the app, she explained: “I became tired of the systemic injustice that is created in higher education for students of color; so I created the app to close the equity gap and offer equality to higher education for all despite their socioeconomic status in life.”

The College Thriver app is available for free download in the Apple and Google app stores.

For more information about the app or the organization behind the app, visit

View the original article.

State of American Business is ‘Competitive’ says U.S. Chamber President

On Tuesday, Jan. 11, U.S. Chamber President and Chief Executive Officer Suzanne P. Clark shared the State of American Business. In her keynote address, Clark highlighted the innovation and resilience of American business while warning against increasing government overreach that could stifle competition and our fragile economic recovery.

“The state of American business is competitive,” said Clark. “Businesses are not simply competing to win today, but to build a better tomorrow … to propel our country and world toward a brighter future of growth, solutions, and opportunity.”

In a slightly more than hour-long presentation the U.S. Chamber highlighted the diversity, resilience, and strength of the American economy. Centered around the theme, “Competition for the Future,” Clark addresses three key challenges.

Worker shortage:

  • She called for doubling the number of people legally immigrating to the U.S.; a permanent solution for the “dreamers;” and the removal of barriers to work facing parents, those without broadband access, and formerly incarcerated individuals.
  • “Let’s ensure everyone in this country has the skills, the education, and the opportunity to go as high and as far as their hard work and talent will take them—for the 11 million jobs that sit vacant today,” she said. “And for the jobs of tomorrow that haven’t even been invented yet.”


  • The U.S. is falling behind on trade, Clark warned. “While other economies race to ink new deals, the U.S. hasn’t entered an agreement with a new trade partner in a decade.”
  • Global partners like Europe have 46 trade deals with 78 countries, while the U.S. only has 14 trade deals with 20 countries.
  • “We must compete vigorously around the world,” Clark said. “We must stand up for our values and security and against unfair trade and regulatory practices. And we must cooperate on critical global challenges such as sustainability and public health. We have to do all three—and doing so deftly will be one of the defining features of American leadership in this era.”

Supporting Democratic Norms and Pro-Business Leaders:

  • We need more politicians who are focused on winning over voters to their ideas, and then building broad coalitions to turn those ideas into good policy, Clark explained.
  • “The U.S. Chamber is calling for a new movement of bold—and I mean bold—business advocates committed to defending those elected officials who dare to find the common ground necessary to enact durable policies to move our country forward.”
  • “If bureaucrats and elected officials don’t stop getting in the way, we will stop them. We will challenge overreach and defend the rule of law at every turn, in every agency, and with every tool at our disposal … in Washington, in statehouses, and in the courts.”

Clark emphasized that political leaders should be competing with their ideas and not simply stoking division by appealing to fringe parts of their base. She also encouraged all Americans to play their part in supporting democratic norms.

“My message to all the citizens of this great nation: Let’s get on the same side in this competition for our future,” she continued. “The U.S. has enough enemies. Let’s stop being our own worst enemy. Let’s stop the infighting and show the world that our democracy supporting our American enterprise system is what made the U.S. dynamic, diverse, resilient, and strong.”

Additional State of American Business Presentations

Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer, discussed with Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president & CEO of BIO, how the medical industry innovates for a healthier and more prosperous world. Dr. Bourla’s remarks zeroed in on how innovations made in the pursuit of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine have led to new, broader advancements in health care.

He said, “We are working on next-generation medicines for cancer, including vaccines against cancer and MRNA drugs against cancer that are going to be able to evade the mechanism cancer uses to create resistance to treatments.”

Dr. Bourla said that much of this innovation was the result of a healthy competitive environment in the life sciences: “The new wave of innovation can only be supported if we support this ecosystem of thousands of small biotech companies that exist—particularly in this country—and academia and institutions like ours. Our ability to collaborate and maintain a vibrant life sciences sector is what will make a big difference.”

Watch Dr. Bourla’s discussion with Dr. McMurry-Heath here.

Carol Tomé, CEO of UPS, sat down with Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and explained how innovation and supply chain resiliency keep commerce and economies moving. Tomé emphasized that it is the company’s workforce that drives UPS’ success.

“It’s because we have career opportunities, and not just job opportunities, that we are able to bring people into our workforce in this tight labor market,” Tomé said.

“There’s a war on talent for sure. But our people are working on cool things too. When you think about people who are in the IT space, you can work on automating your facilities or drones or battery-powered aircraft. We’ve got some really cool things for people to work on.”

Read more about Tomé’s leadership and thoughts on the supply chain crisis and more here.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) discussed with Chamber Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley the state of Congress and how policymakers can help promote a strong economy and business environment.

“What we do is identify common ground. Neither of us thinks that coming together, discussing issues, and trying to find compromise is the wrong approach. I think it’s the right approach,” said Sen. Collins. “We’re both pragmatic and want to produce results.”

Sens. Collins and Shaheen discussed at length how their approach to lawmaking, focusing on the needs of the American people and willing to reach across party lines, yields result for their constituents.

“The best example of that is the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which represents the greatest investment in infrastructure in this country since the construction of the interstate system,” Sen. Collins noted.

“There were times during the infrastructure negotiations when things might have fallen apart,” Shaheen said. “But when they did one person or another – people on both sides of the political spectrum – said, ‘We can’t fail. We have to get this done.’ And I think that commitment allowed us ultimately to reach agreement and find solutions.”

For more on the Senators’ conversation with Neil Bradley read here.


Urbangeekz Partners With Finance Savvy CEO to Provide 5 Scholarships Support Women-Owned and Minority Businesses

The Black Enterprise
The Black Enterprise Editors
Jan. 11, 2022

UrbanGeekz has teamed up with Finance Savvy CEO in a new partnership to support women and minority-owned startups.

The Atlanta-based firms are collaborating to boost the financial health of this growing demographic. It comes as research increasingly shows that founders who benefit the most from business financial literacy skills are also the same groups that face the biggest barriers.

In this brand-new alliance, UrbanGeekz will provide five full-ride scholarships to the Finance Savvy CEO™ 2022 winter cohort of Your Profit Playbook™. The hands-on program helps underserved founders build the financial roadmap for their business and provides them with a sustainable future for their ventures.

“I’m thrilled to be partnering with Finance Savvy CEO,” said Kunbi Tinuoye, founder and chief executive officer of digital news platform UrbanGeekz.

“At the end of the day, the difference between a hobby and a business is cash flow. Every startup founder and savvy entrepreneur should be focusing on financial profitability to build a sustainable business.”

“I’m so excited by this collaboration,” said Marguerite Pressley Davis, founder and chief executive officer of Finance Savvy CEO.

“Once again it shows UrbanGeekz’s commitment to making an impact in the community.”

“From 2007 to 2020, women-owned businesses grew an impressive 58%,” said Davis.

“During the same period, the number of firms owned by Black women grew 164%. That’s nearly three times the growth rate for women-owned businesses. Despite starting businesses at a high rate, only a startling 7% of black women are running ‘mature businesses’.”

“Some of the biggest obstacles to success are confidence and practical know-how regarding the financial side of business,” said Davis, a former Wall Street analyst and financial strategist.

“The top reason that businesses fail is financial issues and cash mismanagement. In fact, 60% of operating small businesses are not profitable.”

Your Profit Playbook™ is a six-week business financial plan creation and implementation program that guides founders on how to create realistic financial plans and projections for their business. It also teaches them business strategies to increase revenue, optimize expenses, and maximize profits.

At the end of six weeks, business owners create a comprehensive financial plan, financial goals, realistic key performance indicators, and strategies to assist with profit maximization.

To date, Your Profit Playbook™ had directly created a $9.9 million in economic impact. The pilot group launched in 2018 and are still in business three years later. Typically, 20% of businesses fail within the first two years, 45% will fail within the first five years, and 65% will fail in the first 10 years.

Your Profit Playbook™ alum reported an average increase in profitability of 42% in just 12 months. Upon program completion 96% of business owners identified as “financially competent” or “financially confident” and 98% of business owners identified as “more confident in their CEO abilities.”

Finance Savvy CEO’s goal is to help 24,000 underserved businesses owners by 2024 to improve their business financial literacy and financial health, increase their profitability, build generational wealth, and increase their projected business longevity.

Join UrbanGeekz and founder and CEO Kunbi Tinuoye in taking a pledge to make this happen

Scholarship applications are now open and will close on Jan. 20. All scholarship recipients will be announced by Jan. 25. The Your Profit Playbook™ 2022 program winter session begins on Jan. 31Apply here.

View the original article.