Michigan Awarded Economic Development Grant from U.S. Commerce Department

On Oct. 21, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks.

“The Biden Administration is giving states and territories the unprecedented opportunity to bring all their communities together to develop comprehensive plans to build back better and stronger,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The $1 million Statewide Planning grants will be used to lay the groundwork for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda to build resilient economies and increase U.S. Competitiveness.”

“Planning is the backbone of economic development and Building Back Better,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “EDA is proud to partner with state and territory leaders as they begin to tackle a wide range of challenges—including climate change, broadband, electric vehicle infrastructure, and pandemic recovery—and develop a comprehensive plan for their entire state or territory that ensures communities work together toward a common economic development vision for the future.”

The Chamber and MICHauto advocated on behalf of Michigan to secure this initial grant and several more rounds of grants in a letter to Commerce Secretary Raimondo.

“The Chamber is pleased to support the Detroit Regional Partnership’s (DRP) application for the grant, which supports communities through the exploration of neighborhood-based infrastructure projects, 21st Century talent programs, and innovation inclusive of historically excluded populations.  As an economic development partner of the DRP, the Chamber is committed to working collaboratively to ensure initiatives resulting from a successful DRP application are inclusive of the varied interests and demographics of our region, address long-standing equity gaps and leverage the resources of existing entities driving economic growth. Of particular interest to the Chamber is building and leveraging Michigan’s competitive advantage in the global automotive and next-generation mobility sphere. Increased economic development of the mobility sector will spur innovation and can drive more equitable growth of Southeast Michigan’s regional economy.”

The funds will flow into the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF), where they can be deployed to tackle a wide range of economic challenges faced by communities, from infrastructure, job training, small business support, and more. At the Mackinac Policy Conference, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out her $2.1 billion MI New Economy plan to grow Michigan’s middle class, support small businesses and invest in communities.  In response to the news of the grant the governor released the following statement.

“Today’s grant will build on the bipartisan budget I signed, and the MI New Economy plan I proposed to put Michiganders first and uplift families, communities, and small businesses,” said Gov. Whitmer. “I am laser-focused on tackling the big, structural economic challenges we face and will work with anyone to drive down costs for families, put more people on a path to prosperity, and invest in critical infrastructure. Together, we can usher in a new era of prosperity for our state while continuing to deliver on the kitchen-table fundamental issues.”

Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Drops in Sept. But Labor Market Remains Tight

Detroit Free Press
Oct. 20, 2021
Adrienne Roberts

Michigan’s unemployment rate declined only slightly in September, dropping to 4.6% last month, the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget said Wednesday, even as enhanced federal jobless benefits in Michigan expired.

The jobless rate is down from 4.7% in August, and is significantly lower compared with the same month last year, when the state’s unemployment rate was 8.2%.

Last month marked the expiration of enhanced federal unemployment benefits that added $300 to claimants’ weekly benefit amount and expanded benefits to cover freelancers and gig workers who traditionally wouldn’t be eligible for regular jobless benefits.

Even though Michigan reinstated its work search requirement in May, many business owners and Republican leaders said the enhanced benefits were disincentivizing people from going back to work. Many Republican-led states ended the federal benefits program early, but data shows those states saw about the same job growth as the states that didn’t end the programs early.

Even after the benefits expired after Labor Day in Michigan, the state’s labor market was considered “stable” in September, and “the unemployment rate and payroll job counts both showed minimal change over the month,” said Wayne Rourke, associate director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives.

While the state and the U.S. have seen significant progress since the early days of the pandemic, there are still 226,000 fewer people employed in Michigan compared with February 2020, representing a 4.8% decline.

There are also 36,000 more Michigan residents who are unemployed compared with pre-pandemic February 2020 levels, a 19.4% increase.

Most industries in Michigan saw employment gains in September, but they were minor. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the leisure and hospitality industry saw the largest monthly increase, with employment levels rising by nearly 2% compared with August.

The unemployment rate in metro Detroit, which includes Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties, also declined slightly to 3.9%, down from 4.1% in August. The U.S. jobless rate, meanwhile, saw a large decrease, dropping to 4.8% in September, down from 5.2% the month prior.

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Stellantis, National Business League Launch Black Supplier Development Pilot

Stellantis and the National Business League have started a supplier development program intended to boost 13 Black-owned businesses initially and 3 million in the long term.

The pilot of the National Black Supplier Development Program, announced in the spring, commenced Wednesday and will run through the first quarter of 2022, the automaker said in a news release.

The first round of businesses includes seven based in the Detroit area and companies with a range of backgrounds, from those launched by local entrepreneurs, such as Detroit-based Ace Petroleum, to enterprises with considerable name recognition, such as former Pistons “Bad Boy” Isiah Thomas’ Isiah International, based in Chicago.

The program aims to help Black-owned suppliers refine procurement strategies to land future contracts “in pursuit of greater racial equity in the marketplace,” the release said.

“The Stellantis-National Business League Black Supplier Development Program is an idea whose time has come,” Mark Stewart, COO of Auburn Hills-based Stellantis North America, said in the release.

Stewart announced the pilot launch Wednesday during a kick-off event at the company’s Conner Avenue assembly plant in Detroit.

“An idea that addresses the need to take direct, decisive and intentional action to bring economic opportunity to communities that have been denied equal access to the marketplace for far too long,” Stewart said. “To confirm, in a very intentional way, that our ability to realize the full promise of our country is to ensure that its economic systems are open to all, equally.”

As part of the program, Stellantis will lead the creation of a virtual training and development portal over the next three years, Automotive News reported in June. It will provide access to capital, mentorship, executive coaching, supplier training and development, bid posting, match-making, supply chain solutions and talent placement and acquisition.

Officials say they are viewing the pilot as the beginning of a program that will eventually help more than 2.9 million Black-owned companies around the country and world to win business with the federal government, as well as public and private sectors.

“As national trade associations pivot toward a post-COVID-19 economy, the National Business League is launching this critical program to achieve economic equity and justice for Black communities and millions of Black businesses, fulfilling the organization’s 121-year-old legacy, founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900,” Kenneth Harris, president and CEO of the National Business League, said in the release. “It is vital that corporate leaders take decisive and measurable steps outside of empty promises and platitudes to bring about commerce-driven activity in Black communities that have been historically denied access to economic opportunities for far too long.”

Companies selected for the pilot program are:

  • Ace Petroleum, based in Detroit
  • Coltrane Logistics & Trucking, based in Wixom
  • Devon Industrial Group, based in Detroit
  • Dunamis Clean Energy Partners LLC, based in Detroit
  • GS3 Global, based in Livonia
  • Multi-Training Systems, based in Southfield
  • Ryan Industries Inc., based in Wixom
  • Simontic Composite Inc., based in Greensboro
  • TEN35, based in Chicago
  • TKT & Associates Inc., based in Louisville
  • Assured Quality Systems, based in Dallas
  • Isiah International and One World Pharma, based in Chicago
  • Russell Westbrook Enterprises, based in Los Angeles

View the original article here.

Michigan Women Forward’s Annual WomanUp & Pitch Competition Returns, Apply by Nov. 10

Michigan Women Forward (MWF), the only public, statewide foundation devoted to Michigan women and girls’ economic and personal well-being, is looking for women entrepreneurs who want to start or grow an existing for-profit business that is at least 51% women-owned. Its annual WomanUp & Pitch competition is back, and applications are now open.

Women entrepreneurs are invited to submit entry applications consisting of a concept paper and a $20 application fee by Nov. 10.  Selected applicants will then pitch to a live audience in one of four virtual pitch competitions: West Michigan, Mar. 3; Mid-Michigan, Mar. 10; Southeast Michigan, Mar. 24; and Statewide, Mar. 31.

After the first pitch competitions, Michigan Women Forward will select 40 finalists (10 in each location) and divide them into two categories per location. The first category, Idea Phase/Startup, will include businesses open for less than three years with a revenue of less than $250,000. The second category, Established/Growth, will consist of businesses open for three years or more and have a revenue greater than $250,000.

The finalists will also pair up with advisers, business coaches, and mentors to create viable business plans and prepare to take the stage to pitch their ideas to a panel of business experts and an audience of entrepreneurs, small business owners, potential investors, and business and community leaders. The business plans, reviewed in advance by each judge, will account for 60% of the final score; the pitch, 40%.

First, second, and third place and audience-choice winners will be selected from each category and location. They will receive a cash prize of $10,000, $5,000, $2,500, and $1,000, respectively.

“WomanUp & Pitch is an amazing opportunity for budding female entrepreneurs to develop their presentation skills, think strategically to create a strong business plan, and make connections with peers and business leaders,” said Carolyn Cassin, president and chief executive officer of Michigan Women Forward.

Learn more about the WomanUp & Pitch competition and apply here.

Black Silicon Valley CEO Eric Kelly’s New Tool Could Bridge the Tech Diversity Gap

Silicon Valley CEO Eric Kelly has always been frustrated by the myth among corporate executives that finding Black talent in the tech industry is a challenge.

Kelly fortified the staff of his hybrid Cloud IT infrastructure firm with minority talent and told NBC News it wasn’t hard to do.

“The problem for others has been either they didn’t really know where to look or that they didn’t look hard enough or that they didn’t really look at all,” Kelly said.

Kelly saw an opportunity to change the narrative and has created Bridge 2 Technologies (B2T), an online platform bridging the divide between corporate America, minority talent and minority-owned businesses. The platform is designed to make Black and minority talent accessible to corporations and connect Black-owned businesses with large corporations.

The platform, which launched last Friday, will also help young employees entering the workforce connect with experienced employees for mentorship opportunities. The platform will also show small business owners how to raise capital and make valuations of their companies.

“B2T understands that despite well-meaning intentions,” Kelly said, “the right tools and technology have not existed to support diverse talent, find opportunities with companies that value economic inclusion and equality — until now.”

It’s no secret that minority talent in the tech industry is lacking. Girls Who Code CEO Tarika Barrett said at an Axios virtual event Tuesday that diversity in tech is badly needed.

We need to empower a pipeline of young people and girls of color to pursue the tech careers of the future,” Barrett told Axios. We always say that you can’t be what you can’t see.”

Additionally, Fast Company reported that a lack of diversity is a significant reason behind the Great Resignation in the tech industry. According to MarketWatch, less than 10% of workers at Google, Facebook and Uber last year were Black.

“Over the last 30 years, the diversity as it relates to Black professionals in technology and the workforce in general has been lacking, to say the least,” Kelly said. “If we are serious about closing this gap, technology has to be at the forefront.”

Kelly added B2T’s main goals are to build economic equity, create a pipeline of minority workers and companies to connect with organizations across the globe and provide mentors and sponsors for young professionals entering the workforce to come too.

Dell, AT&T, Hewlett Packard and Nasdaq have been granted early access to the B2T app along with Morgan State University, Howard University, Morehouse College and nonprofit organizations.

GoogleFacebook and Amazon have all made pledges to boost diversity and donate money to create or benefit diversity programs in tech in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd.

View the original article here.

Coalition brings neighborhood, downtown Detroit park groups together to collaborate

Crain’s Detroit Business
Oct. 17, 2021
Sherri Welch 

Can collaboration among Detroit park conservancies and “friends groups” bring new resources, joint programming and cost efficiencies?

Ten groups caring for neighborhood parks and downtown public spaces have banded together to find out.

Operating as the Detroit Parks Coalition and with a memorandum of understanding, the group is looking at opportunities to share costs, collaborate on programming and jointly fundraise, while also establishing a consolidated body to work with the city of Detroit on funding and improving the parks.

The effort began with five groups that came together in 2018-19: Chandler Park Conservancy as fiduciary, Belle Isle Conservancy, Clark Park Coalition, Friends of Rouge Park and People for Palmer Park.

In January, five more joined: Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Downtown Detroit Partnership, Friends of Patton Park, Midtown Detroit and Sidewalk Detroit.

The expanded membership brings to the coalition both neighborhood groups and major downtown park conservancies with operational and fundraising expertise and ties to business leaders who’ve been supporting parks in the city and looking at best practices for sustaining them for years.

There’s huge value for both the prominent downtown park conservancies and the neighborhood parks in collaboration, said Sigal Hemy, a former program officer of the Erb foundation, hired by the coalition in August to serve as its interim, part-time director. It’s good for the big downtown park conservancies to be seen as sharing resources and knowledge, Hemy said.

“It’s not this constant narrative of downtown vs. the neighborhoods. They are supporting the neighborhood parks.”

Conversely, if some of the neighborhood groups can springboard off of some of the knowledge and experience the large conservancies bring, “that’s a big win for them,” she said. The neighborhood groups also have their own knowledge to share about managing volunteers, for example, that downtown park conservancies can learn from.

In the planning phase since 2018-19 with a $30,000 grant from the Erb foundation, the Detroit Parks Coalition is now at a nascent point.

It’s attracted more than $2 million in planning and operating grants from the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.

It’s also gained the attention of business leaders at the regional CEO group who are engaged with its work through the DDP. Three years ago, the CEO group convened stakeholders to look at development and maintenance of parks in Detroit, many supported by its members.

The committee looked at best practices, efficiencies in services and how parks can be sustained. A 2019 study commissioned from the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Land Institute echoed earlier research, reinforcing the need for a citywide parks coalition.

Businesses and foundations have put a lot of money behind public spaces, including the Detroit riverfront, Campus Martius and Beacon Park, over the past 20 years since work on the riverfront began, said Jack Entertainment Chairman Matt Cullen, who is chairman of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s board, a vice chairman of DDP and a member of the regional CEO group.

“The CEO group is very enthusiastic about the work that the parks coalition is doing,” he said. “It’s very much aligned with what we are hoping to happen and want to be supportive of.”

Building the coalition

Though the CEO group is not a member of the coalition, it’s very much at the table through the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and DDP, Hemy said.

Libby Levy, who did the original strategic plan for the five initial parks, is an at-large member of its leadership team, as is Laura Trudeau, retired managing director of the Kresge Foundation’s Detroit program.

Recently, the coalition secured its first joint allocation, a $500,000 designation in the state’s 2022 budget.

“That’s a big win for us already … instead of the state picking and choosing specific projects, they are allocating the (funds) to parks coalition and the 10 members will work out how it is (split),” Hemy said.

“It’s the people who are using the parks every day making decisions about that funding.”

The coalition has also been approved for an $180,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to stand up the organization with paid staff, a business model and a governance committee to figure out if we should spin out to our own 501c3, Hemy said. It will fund a pilot for the coalition to cover “planning and doing,” with efforts launching in January and running through June 2023, Hemy said.

Initial work will include allocating the state funding among the membership parks, developing collaborative programming, hiring a full-time coalition leader, exploring 501(c)3 status for the group and coordinating communication and marketing efforts, leaders said.

“One of the things we’re thinking about is having tours for the various parks (members) so they can get a sense of the different programming and amenities,” like the new skate park at Chandler Park, Hemy said.

“That’s best-practice sharing but also gives them a sense of who has what and where they can ask questions.”

The coalition expects to hear on two other pending grant applications before the end of the year, one to support the group’s pilot and the other to fund programming across its member parks.

While membership includes only major parks in the neighborhoods and downtown now, the goal is to grow to eventually serve conservancies, block clubs and neighborhood groups across the city’s parks, Hemy said.

“We’re starting with this tight group that has a lot in common, and our hope is we can find a way to expand and benefit everyone as we grow,” she said. Already, the coalition is working with smaller organizations, sharing how members improve safety in parks and program them. The Detroit Pistons Foundation is making mini-grants to those groups to help them implement some of those practices, Hemy said.

“At the end of the day, we want people to have really good experience in our parks, to make good memories,” said Alex Allen, executive director of the Chandler Park Conservancy and chairman of the Detroit Parks Coalition.

“When we think about parks, we have to think about a citywide system,” he said.

“We gain a lot of perspective from things happening in other parks … as far as programs, fundraising, as far as our relationship with the city of Detroit.”

The coalition gives members the ability to go to the city with one voice to address issues they all face, like trash, Allen said. It also brings opportunities to jointly pursue new revenue. Funders are getting requests from individual parks, he said. “From their vantage point, it’s a lot easier and maybe more efficient to make a (grant) to one entity to support parks.”

The coalition has something to offer for members big and small, downtown and in the neighborhoods, Hemy said.

Smaller organizations have a lot to learn about capacity and structure, she said. At the same time, “the larger organizations have a lot to learn from smaller organizations about how they mobilize volunteers.”

“The Detroit Parks Coalition is a clear demonstration of what can happen when nonprofits and community stakeholders are working collaboratively and in partnership with one another,” said Michele Hodges, president and CEO of the Belle Isle Conservancy.

“Already we have made strides with fundraising, in furthering a solid relationship with the city of Detroit, in coordinated programming, impactful marketing and communications, in establishing a vision for the long-term sustainability of our parks and, perhaps most significantly, equity and access to opportunity for all parks and their visitors.”

Right now member parks are funded through a mix of city of Detroit parks and recreation resources, philanthropic support, endowments, business sponsorships and volunteer labor, Hemy said. The city owns the majority of park land and does ongoing maintenance like picking up trash and mowing grass, though that doesn’t always happen to the extent it’s needed — especially during the pandemic when the city lost revenue while park use skyrocketed.

Philanthropy tends to help with a specific capital project or program, while endowments benefit larger organizations like the DDP and riverfront conservancy, as opposed to the smaller People for Palmer Park, for example. Some park groups also have membership fees, and rely on volunteer work.

Best practices

The collaborative model for park conservancies is new to Detroit but not other cities like New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, said Trudeau.

Trudeau benchmarked efforts in those cities during her time at Kresge and produced a report on models for long-term sustainability of parks and public spaces with Brookings Institution. “One of the observations was that collaboration and cooperation can lead to more resources and a lot of synergy in terms of knowledge-sharing and cost-sharing,” Trudeau said.

A decade later, the DDP, on whose board Trudeau serves, and its CEO Eric Larson tapped her again to do research on the sustainability of parks and public spaces.

By the spring of 2018, the DDP was testing the waters for an endowment campaign while also seeking to increase earned revenue and sponsorships to create sustainable revenue for the ongoing upkeep of Campus Martius and other parks it oversees, including: Cadillac Square, Campus Martius, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park and Beacon Park.

And by summer of that year, the regional CEO group was looking closely at the issue, led by Cullen and a committee that included Trudeau, Larson and others.

“Cities can do a lot, but there are things the private sector — foundations, nonprofits, companies and individuals — can do to make the parks even better,” by working to grow the pot of resources available to parks, building on the city’s investments, Trudeau said.

The coalition “allows us to think about the entire network of parks as a whole and try to ensure equity,” she said.

As with Campus Martius, there is always a lot of excitement and funding available for the creation of great ideas, Larson said. Raising the capital to build the park was not easy, but it was successful. But what often isn’t looked at is the ongoing sustained funding.

“If we’re going to continue to represent a network of parks that are best-in-class for public spaces … the last thing you want to do is fall short on operating needs,” he said.

Funding requests that aren’t coordinated are going to get harder and harder to justify for public-private partners, Larson said.

“There are investment opportunities that are out there, whether it’s the dollars potential available through (the American Rescue Plan Act), the new infrastructure spending bill or just a better way to approach a potential funder. Having a united and collective voice often is more compelling and can be a stronger voice as we advocate for … sustainable operation of these public spaces.”

The ability for neighborhood parks and downtown parks to work together on a unified basis is much more strategic and equitable, he said.

“I’m very excited about a more formal working relationship with the network of parks … (and) hope the city would feel more comfortable that there is a collective voice,” Larson said.

“That doesn’t mean we’ll all always agree, but it does mean we are aware, working and driving toward the same outcome.”

Right now, fundraising for parks is done by individual parks, Cullen said. By definition, making one-off park investments isn’t necessarily the best approach.

“You’d like to have a consistent funding mechanism with sufficient capacity. That’s what we are aspiring to and continue to work on,” Larson said.

The goal “is to make sure our community can support those types of spaces in a more consistent and broad-based way.”

The Detroit Parks Coalition is a great example of organizations working together to share resources, scale services and collaborate, said Paul Trulik, CEO of Apparatus Solutions and CFO of the DDP.

It’s also a notable example of how long it takes to bring groups together, said Trulik, who is consulting one-on-one with nonprofits to help them do scenario-planning through a program hosted and funded by Detroit-based Co.act Detroit.

“Perhaps the pandemic (and) current environment will expedite some of these conversations” among other nonprofits, Trulik said.

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Butzel immigration law attorney Bushra Malik named to 2022 edition of Best Lawyers® in the Midwest ‘Lawyer of the Year’

TROY, Mich. – Bushra Malik, Butzel attorney and shareholder, has been named to the 2022 edition of Best Lawyers® second annual Best Lawyers in the Midwest publication. Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected guide to the legal profession.

Using information excerpted from the 2022 editions of The Best Lawyers in America® and the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, this stand-alone publication features more than 10,000 lawyers recognized for their top legal talent in the Midwest. For research purposes, smaller and more rural cities located within a reasonable distance to larger cities are combined into single geographical regions called “metro areas” to help collect as much feedback and data as possible. The Midwest region, as defined by Best Lawyers, includes metro areas located within six states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

In addition to the lists of recognized lawyers, the publication includes regionally relevant editorial content, information on the award methodology process, a brief company overview, the Best Lawyers metro area map and a section recognizing the “Lawyer of the Year” awards designated through these metro area distinctions.

“Lawyer of the Year” honorees are based on extremely high overall feedback within specific practice areas and metropolitan regions. Notably, the 2022 edition of Best Lawyers in the Midwest “Lawyer of the Year” section includes a feature on Malik.

Malik, based in Butzel’s Troy office, practices in the area of immigration law, focusing on the representation of multinational and domestic clients’ inbound and global migration needs. Her experience includes Employment based (Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researcher, Multinational Manager, and PERMs) and Family based Permanent Residence Petitions, Non-Immigrant Petitions (H-1B/Specialty Occupation, J-1/ Exchange Visitor, L-1/Intracompany Transfers, O-1/Extraordinary Ability, TN/ NAFTA); Employer Compliance (I-9 Audits and H-1B Public Access File Audits); J-1 waivers; Compliance under the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiate (WHTI); U.S. Passports; complex naturalization matters; and currency seizures.

Malik currently serves on the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Department of State National Liaison Committee. Malik previously served as the Chair of the AILA Michigan Chapter; is the past Chair of AILA’s Global Migration Section; and speaks regularly at AILA national and international conferences.

About Butzel

Butzel is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as an alliance office in Beijing. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting www.butzel.com or follow Butzel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

Macomb County Wins Top Award for Green Infrastructure Project

A project by the Macomb County Public Works Office that uses green infrastructure to improve water quality has earned the top award from the Michigan chapter of the American Public Works Association.

The “daylighting and green infrastructure retrofit” of the Sterling Relief Drain in Sterling Heights was awarded Project of the Year in the category of Quality of Life/$1 Million to $5 Million, by the Michigan chapter of the APWA.

“We’re proud and honored to receive this award from the APWA,” Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice S. Miller said. “Like we always say, ‘Water quality equals quality of life,’ and this project has been a notable and innovative effort to improve both.”

The Sterling Relief Drain – located south of Metropolitan Parkway, from west of Ryan Road to east of Schoenherr Road — was built in the 1960s and drains the stormwater from 20% of Sterling Heights. It outlets to the Red Run Drain to the east, and the flow eventually reaches Lake St. Clair.

The project’s primary goal was to improve water quality by redesigning and retrofitting two miles of open channel drain by forcing the flow into a naturalized green corridor after “daylighting” – or exposing – two lateral storm drains and removing a 300-foot stretch of pipe to make it appear more like an intermittent stream. The ground then acts as a sponge, soaking up harmful nutrients and sediment before they have a chance to reach the Red Run Drain during normal rain events.

Approximately 135,000 native perennial plant plugs were planted on the slope and bottom of the open channel including native pollinator plants to create a 2.5-mile-long butterfly flyway. Additionally, more than 1,000 shrubs were planted in the bio-retention areas. Hundreds of 1- to 2-inch caliper native species trees were planted to establish a tree canopy.

The project started in 2018, with most of the work performed in 2019. It was funded by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.

“This project is all about water quality and improving our environment, which improves our quality of life,” said Miller.

Macomb County Public Works is joined in the award by engineering consultant Hubbell, Roth & Clark, and contractor T.R. Pieprzak Company.

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Register for AssuredPartners of Michigan Ask Me Anything: Employee Benefits Compliance and Laws Edition

Join a compliance and legal expert, Jennifer Young, Compliance Director for AssuredPartners of Michigan (formerly JS Clark Agency) and James M. Reid, IV, Employment Attorney, Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, for a live Q&A on employee benefits laws and regulations.

Everything is up for discussion including, but not limited to:

• Affordable Care Act (ACA)
• American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA)
• Cafeteria Plans – Section 125
• Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA)
• Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
• COVID-19 and ADA – GINA
• COVID-19 and Employee Benefits
• COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives
• COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates
• COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates under OSHA
• Employee Benefits – Medical, Dental, Vision, Life, Disability and more
• Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
• Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
• Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
• Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
• Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
• High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)
• Any other Employee Benefit related question you may have!

Submit your questions in advance or ask them live during the virtual event! Register at http://bit.ly/AskMeAnythingEmployeeBenefits

Coulter Puts Out Call To Young Leaders Who Embody Oakland Together

Applications are now open for the Oakland Together 40 Under 40 class of 2022, County Executive Dave Coulter announced today. The award program seeks individuals who live or work in Oakland County, are under the age of 40, and who have shown high achievement in their professional field, exemplified creative innovation, or have provided significant and essential service to their communities.

“We’re looking for people who are not only passionate about their jobs, but also committed to giving back to their communities and making the county and the world a better place,” Coulter said. “These are the future leaders of the business world and our communities and it’s important to recognize and celebrate them.”

The 40 finalists, who will be featured on the Oakland County Oakland Together 40 under 40 website,  will receive invitations to the 2022 State of the County Address and pre-reception and the Oakland Together 40 under 40 Award celebration. They will also receive tickets to attend Leadership Oakland’s Breakfast of Champions, Personal Leadership – Young Professionals Panel.

The application period closes at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15. Applicants must be born after Dec. 31, 1981. For more information or to apply, go to oakgov.com/40under40.

Coulter introduced the theme of Oakland Together in his 2020 State of the County speech at the Flagstar Strand Theatre in Pontiac: “I believe the fact that Oakland does well means we have an opportunity – indeed a responsibility – to do even better. We can leverage our strengths to tackle our challenges before they become problems. We can lead and innovate. We can be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s money and forward thinking. To do that we must be Oakland Together. Together as public servants working for the public good, together with our residents and businesses, and together with our region.”

The last 40 Under 40 class was 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The award program was formerly known as the Oakland County Elite 40 Under 40.

View the original article.