Detroit’s ‘Hustling’ Spirit is Alive and Well on 6 Mile – Bridge Detroit

Bridge Detroit
Bryce Huffman
Nov. 23, 2021

William “Snook” Russell owns Snook’s Klassik Kutz on West McNichols. Snook wishes City officials did more to promote the businesses in the Hubbell-Puritan neighborhood. (Eric Thomas photo, The Neighborhoods)

When it comes to thriving business corridors in Detroit, downtown and Midtown too often get all the attention. Or, when highlighting Black-owned businesses, the Avenue of Fashion along Livernois gets the spotlight. However, there are active commercial centers throughout the city run by dedicated Detroit entrepreneurs.

BridgeDetroit and The Neighborhoods, which is a City of Detroit storytelling initiative, have teamed up to identify Detroit’s thriving neighborhood business corridors and highlight the entrepreneurs who power them. McNichols between Schaefer and Hubbell, near Sinai Grace Hospital in the Hubbell-Puritan and Harmony Village neighborhoods, is one of those bustling centers.   

McNichols Black Business District

The Boss Collection, a clothing store, boutique and hair salon at 14438 W. McNichols, is a destination for Detroiters on the hunt for a style change. Owner Tonisha Gasaway has run this store for almost two years, but has been doing hair since she was 15 years old.

“I really hadn’t thought about doing the clothing store-thing until people noticed these accessories I was wearing,” Gasaway said. “So that’s what pushed me to do more, because a one-stop shop is everything, and I wanted to meet that demand,” she said.

Shortly after opening, the COVID-19 pandemic changed Gasaway’s plans. Suddenly, she had to learn how to sell products outside of the store and began styling hair at people’s homes.

“During (the pandemic) I started to sell clothes off my porch, and I ended up making $20,000 during those months where the store was shut down,” she said.

One of the biggest difficulties Gasaway said she has faced is finding business support for her shop’s operations.

Not knowing what help exists is common for the businesses in this area, where some owners have said they have to be resourceful and rely on friends or family for help.

Charity Dean, president and CEO of the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance (MDBBA), said one “huge barrier” for Black entrepreneurs in Detroit is not having easy access to capital.

“Getting money into the hands of small-business owners isn’t a new challenge, but one that is consistent and widespread across metro Detroit,” Dean said.

One way that MDBBA helps these businesses is to create programs that connect Black business owners to funding partners and to help those owners create business plans. Dean said these programs can help businesses in a lot of ways.

“If they need legal assistance, we have partners that are helping with (legal matters). If they need financial statements, we have partners that we’re paying for to help them get capital and documents ready,” she said.

Another barrier for these businesses, according to Dean, is that people with the resources to help business owners need to shop or visit neighborhood establishments. Showing up helps.

“You have to come around, otherwise your good intentions won’t go anywhere,” she said.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation launched Detroit Means Business (DMB) during the pandemic. DMB is also focused on developing Detroit’s neighborhood economy by connecting small businesses with resources and helping them navigate the City of Detroit’s procedures. The organization recently offered grants to drive foot traffic to small businesses for the holidays and lists funding opportunities for Detroit’s neighborhood businesses. 

However, for some small business owners, the information isn’t reaching them.

Bradford Cross, is a barber and co-owner at E&B Salon at 14139 W. McNichols. Cross said he knows there are people working for the city that are supposed to help small businesses, but they “never come around.”

“You’re the first person to ask me about what could help my businesses, and you’re not even the person who is actually supposed to help,” Cross said. “That’s why the business owners around here find ways to make it on their own.”

Cross, who opened the salon with his brother nearly three years ago, said the pandemic was challenging in some ways and beneficial in other ways.

“A salon is something that people always are going to need, especially in Detroit,” he said. “Young guys don’t want to walk around with a bummy haircut, and women definitely always want to look nice, so we were still making money.”

Cross takes pride in running a unisex salon because he can cater to every kind of Detroiter.

“The thing about a barbershop is that everyone, young and old, comes in here,” he said. “So (me and my brother) make sure it’s a family-friendly place where everybody in the neighborhood can come.”

Cross, with the help of his brother, also owns a home improvement business, party bus rental service and a home health care business. He says those businesses struggled during the pandemic.

“Some of the other businesses we run just weren’t as easy to do remote or with social (distancing), but we still made it through,” he said.

Despite the challenges, Cross said he takes pride in having “a lot of different hustles.”

“Detroit is a city of hustlers and people who grind all day,” he said. “But even then, it feels like no one notices all the work. Maybe they do and just don’t care.”

Tremon Gougisha is another Detroit business owner with multiple hustles and revenue streams. Gougisha owns the Infinite Clouds Hookah Shop  at 13715 W. McNichols and Model Life Fashion and Infinite Designs at 13703 W. McNichols.

Gougisha said he takes a lot of pride in being a business owner in Detroit.

“I’m from the city, and I want to give back,” Gougisha said. “So I try to keep everything in the city. I don’t want people to have to go out to the suburbs to shop or to find a job. There’s jobs right here.”

William “Snook” Russell owns Snook’s Klassik Kutz next door to Gougisha’s Model Life Fashion and Infinite Designs. Russell said he loves having his shop in an area with so many other Black business owners.

“I like it because it doesn’t feel like it’s just me and my shop, it feels like we’re all getting this money together,” Russell said.

Russell, who started cutting hair at people’s houses last year during the COVID-19 shutdowns, said he has had his shop on McNichols for about six years.

“This one spot has so many businesses that just need some promotion,” he said. “If people from (the city) came around more they would see it the way we see it.”

McNichols Black Business District Businesses

Beatrice Bar and Restaurant (14444 W. McNichols) A family-owned restaurant that specializes in home-cooked finger foods.

Bob Farr’s Florist (14149 W McNichols) A florist that has been around for 50 years, the business makes floral arrangements for occasions from funerals and weddings to parties and anniversaries. 

Boss Collection (14438 W. McNichols) A clothing and accessory boutique with a small salon inside. A one stop shop for fashionistas. 

E&B Salon (14139 W. McNichols) A family-owned and family-friendly barbershop and hair salon for people of all ages and walks of life. 

Families Barber Salon (14137 W. McNichols) A family-friendly salon for anyone looking for a new look.

Fred’s Barbershop (14331 W. McNichols) A barbershop fit to give Detroiters of any age a fresh haircut.

Infinite Clouds Hookah Shop (13715 W. McNichols Rd) A hookah lounge and smoke shop for anyone looking for a relaxing place to vibe out.

JQ Creative (14309 W. McNichols) A small gallery that does custom graphic designs.

Lash Lounge (14432 W. McNichols) A small nail salon that can get your nails looking good for any occasion. 

McNichols Electric (13729 W. McNichols) Store that sells microwaves, vacuums and other small home appliances. 

Model Life Fashion and Infinite Designs (13703 W. McNichols) Store that sells custom clothing designs and apparel. 

Modish Salon (14141 W. McNichols) Detroit beauty salon that does hair style, braiding and replacement. 

New Beginnings Childcare and Academy (14015 W. McNichols) Daycare and afterschool programming for children from 6 weeks old to 12 years old. 

Pro Tax (14311 W. McNichols) A resource to help people file taxes and get the most from their tax returns.

Rono’s Caribbean Family Dining (14001 W. McNichols) A family-owned restaurant and dining hall for anyone who wants traditional Caribbean food. 

Runaway Styles Salon (13814 W. McNichols) A barbershop, salon and spa for Detroiters who want to look and feel good. 

Safari African Hair Braiding (14305 W. McNichols) A hair salon that specializes in hair braiding. 

Snook’s Klassik Kutz (13705 W. McNichols) A barbershop for people who want a haircut with Detroit style.

So Unfair Wig Bar (14440 W. McNichols) A wig shop and salon for anyone looking to try a new hairstyle. 

Southern Smokehouse (14340 W. McNichols) A Southern-style restaurant that specializes in smoked soul food. 

Sweet Soul Bistro (13741 W. McNichols) A restaurant with nice soul food style dining right in the neighborhood. 

Teresa’s Place (14000 W. McNichols) A bar and grill for Detroiters who want to get food and drinks in the neighborhood.

Untouchable Empire Unisex Salon (13711 W. McNichols) A unisex salon for Detroiters of all ages and backgrounds who want to look good. 

Work and Wear Uniform Plus (14135 W. McNichols) A store that sells work uniforms for Detroiters. 

View the original article.


Legal publication names Gross among 2021 ‘Unsung Heroes’

Longtime Plunkett Cooney Controller Karin Gross was recently selected as a member of the Class of 2021 “Unsung Heroes” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly (MiLW), an industry publication serving the state’s legal community.

Gross, along with 26 other law firm employees, was selected for consistently going above and beyond the call of duty, often behind the scenes. This honor is reserved for the state’s most talented and dedicated legal support professionals from accounting to firm administrators to legal marketers to paralegals.

Profiles of the honorees will appear in a special digital section later this month. In addition, they will be featured on the publication’s website and in the Daily Alert, a subscriber-based email focusing on the latest legal news.

Gross, who is Plunkett Cooney’s unsung hero in accounting, has been with the firm for over 30 years. After graduating from Walsh College in December 1985, she began her career with the firm as an accounting clerk. She then took on the role of accounting supervisor before she left the firm in 1996 for an opportunity in the health care industry. She returned shortly after to become the firm’s controller, a position she has held since late 2000.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in seven Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms.

For more information about Karin Gross’ selection as a 2021 Unsung Hero, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or via email at jcornwell@plunkettcooney.com.

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Detroit Breaks Ground on First Healthy Housing Center for Homeless

Click on Detroit
Ken Haddad
Nov. 30, 2021

DETROIT – The City of Detroit has broken ground on the second and final phase of the city’s first Healthy Housing Center (DHHC), that will offer shelter and other services to people experiencing homelessness.

Neighborhood Service Organization (NSO) and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan were among those at the groundbreaking ceremony at the site, located at 3426 Mack Ave.

The 22,000-square-foot facility is the second and final phase of NSO’s Healthy Housing Campus, a comprehensive site with a holistic service delivery model that is part of a $22 million vision offering an innovative approach to end chronic homelessness in the city of Detroit.

The first of its kind in the state, the DHHC will deliver solutions not only for the homeless but for the entire Detroit community.

The DHHC will provide low-barrier emergency shelter to 56 adults, focusing on the medically at risk, and will offer transformative health and social services for its residents and neighbors.

It will offer services to help homeless individuals transition into permanent housing, a 17-bed medical respite for homeless individuals to receive continuing care post-hospitalization, a fully integrated health care clinic open to the public and other on-site wraparound services, including job readiness training.

The health care clinic will be accessible to the community for primary care, behavioral health, dental services, and a pharmacy.

The first phase of the DHHC – the Clay Apartments – opened in September 2020. It included 42 affordable housing units, which are fully occupied.

“The NSO has been a tremendous partner and its new facility will help more people get out of and stay out of homelessness,” Mayor Duggan said. “The Healthy Housing Center will provide health services to the most vulnerable in our city and, with the Clay Apartments next door, offer a full range of services to support these residents’ transition out of homelessness and into a better, more stable life.”

“Access to safe, stable housing plays a critical role in a person’s health over the course of a lifetime. Lack of housing and a permanent address is also often a barrier to the basic economic stability that could help individuals and families access other resources such as health care, healthy food options, transportation and more,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director, MDHHS. “I am excited that Detroit’s first Healthy Housing Center will take a comprehensive approach consistent with MDHHS’ priorities to prevent recurrence of homelessness and ensure people have access to the wraparound services they need.”

View the original article here.

 

Eaze Launches On-Demand Cannabis Delivery in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, MI With Detroit Delivery Launching In Coming Weeks

Eaze Launches On-Demand Cannabis Delivery in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, MI With Detroit Delivery Launching In Coming Weeks

Eaze’s Low Prices, Fast Delivery, and Huge Product Selection Ushers In a New Era of Convenient Cannabis Delivery to Michigan’s Thriving Adult-Use Market

October 21, 2021 09:00 AM Eastern Daylight Time
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Eaze, the nation’s largest cannabis delivery marketplace, today announced the launch of its adult-use delivery service in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The move brings Eaze’s delivery expertise, convenience, and selection to Michigan’s thriving recreational market for the first time. Eaze’s to-the-doorstep delivery will launch in Detroit in coming weeks.

“Shopping with Eaze means Michiganders get the best selection of cannabis products and deals, delivered quickly and safely to their doorstep,” said Eaze CEO Rogelio Choy, “Michigan is a national leader in cannabis normalization, so we’re excited to expand Eaze’s footprint and bring our extended hours, fast delivery, and great prices to customers statewide.”

Eaze’s Ann Arbor delivery launches in partnership with leading Michigan licensees D & K Ventures, owners of Detroit Edibles and Cannalicious Labs brands, and in Grand Rapids with partner Fluresh, a modern cannabis company dedicated to designing premium cannabis products for the diversity of life. With Eaze delivery, customers have access to a huge menu of beloved Michigan-made products alongside trusted multi-state brands already on Eaze’s California menu and made with care in Michigan.

All new Eaze customers will get $30 off their first two orders when using this link to register: https://eaze.com/invite/eazefirsttime. All Eaze customers in Michigan will get 15% off orders $75+; 20% off orders $125+; and 25% off orders $200+.

Michigan customers aged 21+ can shop a large and diverse range of brands and products via Eaze.com and the Eaze App, the first-of-its-kind for iPhone users. Eaze customers will have access to beloved local brands including Apothecare, Cannalicious Labs, Church Cannabis Company, Clout King, Common Citizen, Detroit Edibles, Exclusive, Fluresh, Gud Nuff, Hazy Farms, High Life Farms, Kaneh Company, LivWell, Mitten Extracts, MKX Oil Co, Pleasantrees, Select Oil, RedBud Roots, Terpene Tank, and Viola. These products will be available alongside popular brands already on Eaze’s California menu, including Kiva Confections, Dixie Brands, and Mary’s Medicinals. Availability may vary depending on delivery address.

“The emergence of technology in our industry has continued to evolve and adding a platform like Eaze for the Adult Consumer in the state of Michigan will continue to accelerate an already growing industry by bringing our products to Adults in their home. We are honored to partner with a brand like Eaze to share our delicious Detroit Edibles and our amazing concentrates from Cannalicious Labs that will be distributed from People’s Choice, our Retail location in Ann Arbor,” said Tim Schuler, President and COO of D & K Ventures LLC, owners of Detroit Edibles, Cannalicious Labs, and People’s Choice Ann Arbor.

“At Fluresh, we are leading the way for cannabis innovation and elevating the industry by redesigning the cannabis experience to be more approachable and customizable for not only new consumers, but experienced consumers as well,” says Tom Benson, CEO, Fluresh. “Eaze, through its leading software platform and marketplace, strives to also enhance this consumer experience and we are excited to partner with them. Even more, we are proudly aligned with Eaze’s commitment to develop diverse leaders for the future of the cannabis industry; Eaze’s Momentum Incubator is the best-in-industry model for programs such as Fluresh’s Accelerator and we look forward to working with Eaze to promote a more diverse and equitable industry.”

“BellRock is proud to build upon its partnership with Eaze and help replicate the proven success of marrying best-in-class delivery services and brands,” said Andrew Schweibold, Executive Chairman of BellRock Brands, parent company of Mary’s Medicinals and Dixie Brands. “Since entering Michigan’s Medical market in October 2018, our portfolio has expanded to include edibles, tinctures and topicals. Today, on Eaze’s platform, Michiganders now have broader access to our diverse set of brands and products.”

Eaze anticipates creating at least 250 jobs in Michigan, and is actively hiring drivers in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Detroit to meet consumer demand. Michiganders should click here to learn more about the perks of driving with Eaze, including competitive hourly pay, mileage reimbursements, and healthcare benefits + paid time off for full time drivers.

Eaze is a recognized industry leader in social justice programs to address the War on Drugs, including the award-winning Momentum business accelerator for underrepresented founders; its Social Equity Menu, which to-date has sold over $6.5 million in brands owned by social equity licensees; and the EazeCompassion program to provide free cannabis to low-income patients. Tre Hobbs, founder of Detroit’s Neighborhood Essentials brand, is a member of Momentum’s class of 2021. In July, Primitiv co-founders and retired NFL Stars Calvin Johnson Jr. and Rob Sims joined Eaze and national edibles brands Kiva and Mary’s Medicinals to donate $25,000 to Detroit Homegrown Fund.

About Eaze

Eaze delivers good with the goods. As the nation’s largest cannabis delivery marketplace, we bring enjoyment and convenience to our customers, break down barriers to access, and cultivate community in everything we do. With nearly eight million cannabis deliveries to date, we are committed to creating a more diverse and sustainable industry through our Momentum business accelerator and Social Equity Partners Program. www.eaze.com.

Get a Global and Local View into the Trends, Developments, and Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry on Dec. 15


Gain valuable insight into the current and future landscape of the cannabis industry at the first Cannabis Live Global Summit on Wednesday, Dec. 15. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn, network, and virtually connect with over 17,000 attendees, 30 panel hosts, and 50 panelists from more than 77 countries, all with various backgrounds, including entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, government officials, and health professionals care workers, academics, and consumers

The summit will feature one-on-one video networking, virtual booths, main stage segments, and breakout segments. It will also be conducted in several languages.

The schedule will be separated into core regions, allowing participants to choose which countries’ cannabis industry to learn about, including their trends, developments, and opportunities. 

The summit will start with a global welcome at 7 a.m. EST. North and South Asia will be the first region discussed at 8 a.m.; the Middle East, 9 a.m.; Europe, 10 a.m.; Africa, noon; Northern North America (Canada), 1 p.m.; Eastern North America, including Michigan, 2 p.m.; Latin America, 4 p.m.; the Caribbean, 5 p.m.; Central and Mountain North America, 6 p.m.; Pacific North America, 8 p.m.; Oceania; 9 p.m.; Eastern Asia, 10 p.m. 
Find out which region each state or country falls into here.

Tickets to attend Cannabis Live Global Summit are available on cannabiscolloquia.com.Ticket prices are currently on sale, starting at $97. Learn more about the ticket options here. To access the free introduction only, secure a ticket here.

 

Explore the Intersection of the Beauty and Struggle of Being Black at Detroit Art Exhibit Until Jan. 8

Explore the multilayered narratives of Blackness at the art exhibition, Multifaceted: A Retrospective of Work by Jason Philips. Curated by Chelsea Flowers, the exhibit showcases the work of Philips, a Black Detroiter who creates paintings, mixed media, murals, and tattoo art to show the intersection of beauty and struggle when it comes to being Black.  

“As we’ve heard time and time again, ‘Blackness isn’t a monolith.’ And when we get to tell our own stories, we get to show the multifaceted nature of Blackness,” Flowers said. “While we as Black people may have similar experiences of home, community, and the manners in which we navigate the world, we are still complex, multifaceted individuals.” 

According to the event page, the exhibit will feature Philips’ multidisciplinary fine art, illustration tattoo work, and social entrepreneurial endeavors. 

The exhibit is open until Jan. 8, 2022, and is located in The Carr Center Gallery in Detroit’s Midtown Cultural District (15 E. Kirby St.). The gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m. Part of the exhibit can also be enjoyed online via The Carr Virtual Center Gallery 

Proof of vaccination and masks are required to enter the gallery, and social distancing and registration for timed tickets will be monitored. Learn more and get free tickets for the exhibition here.

 

Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive to Continue Ongoing Expansion of High-Speed Internet Access  

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Nov. 29, issued an executive directive (ED) to state departments and agencies to collaborate with the legislature and ready the state to continue expanding high-speed internet access. This is in preparation for the federal funding Michigan is expected to receive over the next five years specifically for high-speed internet from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In a press release, the Governor’s office shared the state will continue working to lower the cost of internet service, and help families, communities, and small businesses get and stay connected to affordable, reliable high-speed service.

The terms of the ED include:

  • Putting Michigan workers and businesses first, prioritizing in-state businesses and workers as the state continues building up high-speed internet infrastructure.
  • Helping local communities build more efficiently, using the “dig once” principle to complete work on water, high-speed internet, the road, and other utilities simultaneously wherever possible. 
  • Prioritizing the improvement of high-speed internet infrastructure in communities with the slowest speeds first to ensure we are making equitable investments.
  • Collaborating with local service providers to develop an even more granular, comprehensive map of internet coverage in Michigan to strategically close the digital divide. 
  • Developing a digital equity plan to identify barriers to internet access, make long-term plans with counties and communities to improve access, and assess how enhanced access improves a range of other social, economic, and health-related outcomes.

Chamber Perspective

The expansion and improvement of broadband access for all Michiganders is among the Detroit Regional Chamber’s legislative priorities and vision for Michigan’s equitable, global competitiveness. As part of the Chamber’s long-term advocacy framework, it will continue to promote private investment, along with state and federal grants, to further statewide broadband expansion and improvement for education and employment opportunities. This will help create a more business-friendly environment in the state and foster a stronger education system and more robust, diverse talent pipeline.

View the full executive directive.

FAQ: What we know and don’t know about the omicron COVID variant

Crain’s Detroit Business
Nov. 29, 2021
Dustin Walsh 

While most of us were eating pumpkin pie and ignoring dad’s snoring from the couch, a new coronavirus variant was detected by scientists in South Africa.

The variant — B.1.1.529, colloquially named omicron — is spreading fear across the globe following the speedy identification and classification by the World Health Organization as a “variant of concern.”

Omicron cases have already been identified in Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada and a handful of European countries.

There are far more questions than answers as the virus quickly makes it way across nations. Here’s what is known and a few open ended questions that should be answered in the coming days and weeks:

Pronunciation

Aa – muh – kron. Our brains want to put an N in the middle. It’s not there.

Transmissibility

The scientists in South Africa, where the virus was first detected, believe the variant is more easily transmissible. Omicron is likely going to outpace the delta variant in South Africa, said Dr. Dennis Cunningham, medical director of infection prevention at Henry Ford Health System. In the Gaunteng province of South Africa, which includes the country’s largest city of Johannesburg, researchers estimate omicron accounts for more than 90 percent of new cases.

“Omicron has more mutations than anything we’ve seen with COVID so far,” Cunningham said. “The spike protein, which is how the virus gets into human cells, attaches to a certain receptor and infects other cells.”

Omicron has 32 mutations in the spike protein where the highly-transmittable delta variant only had eight mutations.

While the number of mutations is not an exact indication of how dangerous the variant is, it does suggest that our immune system may find it harder to fight the new variant.

Deadliness

Early indications from South Africa seem to show the symptoms may be mild for the omicron variant. Doctors in the country are reporting extreme fatigue and short-term body aches and headaches related to the variant but not major symptoms that attack a patient’s lungs. However, the variant is far too new for concrete evidence that it’s less deadly than previous variants.

“We still don’t have a whole lot of data whether it’s going to cause more severe infection,” Cunningham said.

Dr. Teena Chopra, director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at Detroit Medical Center and the director of the Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases at Wayne State University, warns early evidence isn’t enough to say the variant isn’t as deadly.

“We still need to look at real world data on severity, because most of the cases in South Africa were among young people,” Chopra said. “We need to wait a few weeks for clinical data. I’m not yet comfortable saying it’s less dangerous.”

Chopra expects better data on the dangers of the variant to emerge from South Africa next week.

Cunningham, however, said the identified mutations appear to point to the variant being less susceptible to monoclonal antibody therapies, which have been critical in preventing serious illness in certain infected populations. The therapy, used in hospitals and clinics across the region and U.S., is shown to reduce hospitalizations in at-risk groups by as much as 70 percent.

Cunningham also urges universal mask wearing in public indoor spaces to protect from the current fourth surge and to slow the spread of the omicron variant.

Vaccines

Cunningham said it’s too early to fully understand whether omicron evades vaccine protection, but early indications suggest vaccines do provide at least some protection, if slightly reduced.

“The vaccines might not be as good at protecting for omicron as other variants, but it’s still the best protection we have and we urge everyone to get a vaccine,” Cunningham said.

Only about 25 percent of South Africans are vaccinated, which may have contributed to the 592 percent increase in cases the country saw between Nov. 20-27.

Travel restrictions

The U.S. joined Canada and the European union Monday by restricting travel from seven African nations — South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Only U.S. residents will be allowed to travel to and from those nations. In Canada, foreign citizens are banned from entering the nation if they had traveled to those countries in the past two weeks.

However, with cases already in Canada, it’s likely cases will be identified in the U.S. in the coming days and weeks, much like the delta variant, which quickly became the dominant variant in a matter of weeks earlier this year.

There is no indication, yet, that Canada will once again shut its border to the U.S. as it did last year. Critical workers on TN visas, allowing them to live in Canada and work in the U.S. and vice versa, were never restricted.

Economic shutdown

As of Monday morning, there were no indications from the governor’s office or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services that the state would enact new rules around masking, business closures or the like. And given Gov. Whitmer’s recent distaste for embracing restrictions, it may be unlikely. Neither the state health department nor governor’s office immediately responded to inquiries.

At an event in Taylor Monday morning, Whitmer said: “We are learning to live with this virus.”

“What we have tried to do is educate the public so everyone can do their part,” the governor said. “We know that mandates with the population aren’t as persuasive and that’s part of the issue that we’re confronting here.”

The MDHHS isn’t yet raising red flags either.

“Details on the B.1.1.529 variant are still emerging, and we are following the international data closely,” Lynn Sutfin, public information officer for MDHHS, said in a statement to Crain’s. “No additional precautions or protective actions have been identified at this time. The MDHHS lab is monitoring for the Omicron variant and has not identified any cases to date.”

However, a massive surge in the new variant could lead to further isolation and quarantining and impact business operations. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 905 points as investors bailed on riskier bets following the identification of omicron. It’s likely the variant will continue to impact what had been shaping up to be a near record fourth quarter for many businesses.

More variants

Cunningham said more variants are likely on the way with the low vaccination numbers across the world — Michigan is only about 55 percent fully vaccinated, including children 5 and up who can get the Pfizer-BioNTech injection.

“We’re going to be living with COVID for a long time, possibly forever,” Cunningham said. “The infection rate would have to come down for this to be considered an endemic. It’s still a pandemic. But if I were in Las Vegas, I would be betting for periodic outbreaks for a very long time. So please stay home if you’re feeling sick. Wear a mask. Get vaccinated.”

View the original article.

US Commerce Secretary Shares the Urgent Need to Re-Invest in American, Michigan Manufacturing

Listen to a podcast recording of the presentation.

 

In a discussion hosted by the Detroit Economic Club on Monday, Nov. 29, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo discussed the critical role the manufacturing industry plays in the state and national economic recovery and the imperative to invest domestically in the R&D and production associated with semiconductor chips. While such investment is a priority across the country, Raimondo acknowledged the particular benefits to be reaped in Michigan.

“It [Michigan] is the epicenter and the beating heart of America’s manufacturing industry,” said Raimondo. “Manufacturing is vitally important to America’s well-being. You cannot have a great economy if you don’t make things as a core part of that economy.”

Competing Globally by Investing Domestically

Raimondo touted the success of the bipartisan passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that will allow the largest ever EV investment in Michigan, along with a host of other improvements to roads, replacement of lead pipes, expansion of broadband, and more – creating thousands of jobs in the process. The next step to make the most of this investment, she said, is passing the Build Back Better bill which will support workforce training, universal pre-k, affordable child care, and more.

“That bill is an investment in our people; It’s an investment in the workforce,” said Raimondo.

As Secretary of Commerce, Raimondo’s focus is on enhancing America’s competitiveness in the global economy. Citing many examples of the manufacturing industry taking hits and losing jobs to other countries, “those are millions of jobs people deserve to have,” here in the U.S.

“In order for our economy to thrive and compete internationally and globally, we need to invest domestically,” said Raimondo.

Taking Back the Semiconductor Industry

The U.S. needs to be investing domestically in bolstering its supply chains, manufacturing sector, and specifically, in revitalizing the semiconductor industry, which was invented in American. Over time, the manufacturing of semiconductor chips was moved overseas. Thirty years ago, the U.S. produced 40% of all chips domestically. Today, we make 0% of leading-edge chips in America and are experiencing a critical shortage of these semiconductor chips. This shortage has particularly damaging impacts in Michigan because of how essential these are to the automotive and electric vehicle (EV) industries. The solution? Create more chips in America.

By making these chips and better semiconductors domestically, the U.S. can make better EV batteries and capture a larger share of the global EV market and create more American jobs. Chips also support innovation in industries beyond automotive. Raimondo stated that strengthening America’s electronics supply chains and manufacturing will boost its GDP by up to $55 billion and add 95,000 jobs.

On what needs to be done to activate this solution, Raimondo called for legislative support of the CHIPS Act, which includes $52 billion that would allow the U.S. Department of Commerce to create a semiconductor fund to incentivize the domestic manufacturing and R&D of semiconductor chips. This cause is urgent.

“We can’t wait, because the rest of the world isn’t waiting,” she said. “American is the best place on earth to do business and start a business. We have the best entrepreneurs, the best scientists, and the best innovators in the world, but we’ve got to get to work making investments. Investing in our infrastructure, investing in American manufacturing, investing in job training, and making sure we do all that with an eye toward equity. If we do do that…we will shore up our economic security and our national security.”

Solving Problems, Expanding Broadband, and Securing the Supply Chain

In a follow-up discussion with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Raimondo reflected on the lessons learned and best practices from her time as governor of Rhode Island that influence her approach to her current role in the Commerce Department. She reached solutions to economic problems by first facing hard truths.

“I didn’t have it in me to be dishonest about the problem,” said Raimondo. “This is math, not politics.”

With American Rescue Plan allocations and funding from the infrastructure plan, Duggan asked Raimondo if a portion will be put toward increasing broadband access and fiber installation programs. She responded with an emphatic “yes.”

“Broadband is no longer a luxury,” Raimondo said. “It’s the difference between working and not, going to school and not, going to the doctor or not.”

Sixty-five billion dollars is coming to the Commerce Department to cities and states to support programs that will enable access to affordable broadband across the country. Michigan will receive at least $100 million and can apply for more.

The conversation shifted to the chip shortage and the fragility of our nation’s international supply chains. Duggan shared insight from conversations with automotive executives, that despite years of rewarding procurement directors for price and timeliness, they weren’t rewarding them for the security of the supply chain or longevity of connections.

“There’s been an obsession for a long period of time around ‘just in time,’” said Raimondo. “But then they leave out ‘just in case.’”

Part of the legislation is an initiative to create a department within the Commerce Department committed to supply chain management to help reduce the vulnerabilities that currently exist for a variety of critical components.

Audience Q&A

In an audience Q&A, Raimondo addressed several more workforce issues, like the current labor shortages the nation is facing. She suggested getting everyone vaccinated, investing in workforce training to fill vast openings in fields like education, advanced manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals, and expanding the labor pool to underrepresented groups like women and people of color, will help businesses fill lingering vacancies. On helping young professionals entering the in-person workforce for the first time, she called on businesses to offer opportunities for students, interns, and entry-level workers to get in-person experience or get creative with remote training to prepare them for the in-person workforce. She also addressed federal support for cybersecurity, citing a new set of standards and best practices for businesses to follow and again emphasizing the need for training and investment in that field. In conclusion, on the question of whether bipartisanship is dead, she said no, and shared the key to success is compromise, finding a middle ground, and staying committed to solving problems.

The Underwater Bubble Show

The Underwater Bubble Show will take place at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center on March 5 at 6 p.m. This modern fairy tale features Mr. B, our overworked and always busy hero, who finds himself transported to a special, colorful, happy place called Bubblelandia. During his imaginary journey, Mr. B meets the inhabitants of Bubblelandia — seahorses, dragon fish, starfish, mermaids, clown fish and others — in this family-friendly show, full of spectacular special effects. For tickets, visit http://www.dearborntheater.com/events/10004301-the-underwater-bubble-show