Dickinson Wright Ranked in Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment 2022 Edition

TROY, Mich. – Dickinson Wright PLLC is pleased to announce that the firm’s labor and employment practice and its attorneys are recognized in the Benchmark Litigation Labor & Employment 2022 Edition.

Benchmark Litigation’s rankings are based on a six-month research period involving extensive interviews with labor and employment practitioners and their clients to identify the leading practitioners and firms. Firms in all 50 states, plus District of Columbia, are recognized for the gravitas of their case matters during 2020, including potential precedent set or verdicts with notably higher dollar amounts at stake. To learn more about Benchmark Litigation, please click here.

Benchmark Litigation recognized the following Dickinson Wright labor and employment practices and attorneys:

Michigan – Highly Recommended

Timothy Howlett – Local Labor & Employment Star
William Thacker – Local Labor & Employment Star
Kathryn Wood – Local Labor & Employment Star

About Dickinson Wright PLLC
Dickinson Wright PLLC is a general practice business law firm with more than 475 attorneys among more than 40 practice areas and 16 industry groups. The firm has 19 offices, including six in Michigan (Detroit, Troy, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and Saginaw) and 12 other domestic offices in Austin and El Paso, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; Lexington, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Las Vegas and Reno, Nev.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Silicon Valley, Calif.; and Washington, D.C. The firm’s Canadian office is located in Toronto.

Dickinson Wright offers our clients a distinctive combination of superb client service, exceptional quality, value for fees, industry expertise, and business acumen. As one of the few law firms with ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification and one of the only firms with ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification, Dickinson Wright has built state-of-the-art, independently-verified risk management procedures, security controls and privacy processes for our commercial transactions. Dickinson Wright lawyers are known for delivering commercially-oriented advice on sophisticated transactions and have a remarkable record of wins in high-stakes litigation. Dickinson Wright lawyers are regularly cited for their expertise and experience by Chambers, Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and other leading independent law firm evaluating organizations.

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Harvard Economist Raj Chetty: Improve Economic Opportunity Locally Through Investments in Education

By Crain’s Content Studio

Key Takeaways:

  • Professor Chetty and his colleagues use modern big data tools to examine ways to boost upward mobility.
  • Looking at improving economic outcomes should start at a hyperlocal level, as there are drastic local differences in rates of upward mobility.
  • Race matters when it comes to upward mobility – the rates are generally lower for Black Americans versus white Americans.
  • Local interventions, especially related to providing supportive housing and resources makes a difference in upward mobility outcomes.
  • In a pilot study based in Seattle, Chetty and his colleagues found that connecting families who received housing vouchers with additional support services made it more likely that these families would move to a higher-opportunity area than those who did not receive additional support services.

Professor Raj Chetty opened the second day of mainstage programming at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 22 with research and insights on how to improve economic opportunity on a national and local level. Chetty is the William A. Ackerman professor of public economics at Harvard University.

“I want to start at a much bigger picture level by talking about the American dream, which is, of course, a multifaceted, complex concept,” Chetty said. He described it as “the idea that we aspire to be a country where, through hard work, any child has the chance to rise up in the income distribution, relative to their parents.”

Chetty pointed to a fading of the American Dream over time, noting that in a study he completed several years ago, 92% of children born in 1940 went on to earn more than their parents, whereas children born in the 1980s have only a 50-50 chance as to whether they’ll be more financially successful than their parents.

Chetty and his colleagues are now focused on the big question of what is driving that fading of the American Dream, and how can we restore it through changes in policy in Detroit and throughout the U.S.?

“Our angle on it is to use the tools of modern big data to study how to increase upward mobility,” Chetty said.

Through extensive research, Chetty says that the path toward economic opportunity starts at the hyperlocal level. He points to solutions such as reducing segregation, making place-based investments that bring opportunity and ensuring that colleges and universities are better equipped to meet the needs of low-income students.

While the pandemic has led to even more extreme gaps in educational achievement, Chetty said now is the time to make effective policy changes.

“Similar to how in the Great Depression, there were fundamental changes in U.S. policy that led to decades of inclusive growth afterward … I think we’re well poised to do that at present.”

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Walgreens Boots Alliance CEO Brewer: ‘Anything That Happens in Those Stores is My Responsibility’

By Crain’s Content Studio 

Key Takeaways

  • “Diversity of thought” is an imperative for hiring today. “Lay race and gender diversity on top of that, then every time, the thought process in the room is richer,” Brewer said.  
  • Focus training of retail employees on personal empathy and customer interaction. A pharmacist, for example, is often the first person a customer meets after an unwelcome diagnosis. 
  • Speak up to your leaders – and leaders, listen up – as workplace pressures continue to mount, triggering troublesome declines in workforce retention.  

Rosalind “Roz” Brewer, the youngest of five children born to General Motors workers in a Detroit family, shared stories and lessons from her rapid career rise Wednesday at the Mackinac Policy Conference in an interview with Detroit Public Television anchor Christy McDonald.

Brewer held executive posts at Kimberly-Clark, Walmart, and Sam’s Club before attracting national attention at Starbucks for her adept handling of the 2018 Philadelphia incident as chief operating officer. She joined Amazon’s board of directors in 2019 and was named chief executive officer of Walgreen Boots Alliance in March of 2021.  

Brewer said Walgreen Boots is “all in” as a leading outlet for COVID-19 vaccines, with 9,100 U.S. locations providing them to 30 million people already, working with partners ranging from interfaith churches to Uber drivers to get as many people vaccinated as possible.  

“Our footprint,” she said, “provides stores within five miles of 75% of the U.S. population.” 

Walgreen Boots is also in the process of boosting wages of all its employees to $15 an hour or more and has plans to offer more flexible work arrangements to help stem the decline in workforce retention, especially among women. 

Brewer said in today’s world of instant social media impact, leaders faced with crises must respond immediately and forcefully, as Brewer did by closing all Starbucks stores for a “day of reckoning” and instituting racial bias training in all Starbucks locations addressing community uproar over the arrest of two young Black men in in a Philadelphia store.  

Brewer encouraged business leaders to consider “diversity of thought” in addition to racial and gender diversity when making decisions.  

 “Putting a techie in the room with the financial team and a communications person leads to a better outcome,” she said.  

 This session was sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference. 

Business Leaders Encourage Uncomfortable Conversations to Advance Workplace Equity

By Crain’s Content Studio

Key Takeaways:

  • Research indicates that by 2050 there is a $92 billion economic gain to be had if business embraces diversity and closes the racial gap.
  • The U.S. will be minority white by 2045.
  • Panelists agreed there has to be a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at every level of an organization.
  • Discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion need to expand beyond talking about only women and people of color: the LGBTQ and disabled communities also need to have a seat at the table.

Business leaders need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable — and they need to create opportunities for these uncomfortable but courageous conversations.

That was a sentiment shared by panelists participating in a Racial Equity in the Workplace panel at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 22. The panel, moderated by Dennis W. Archer Jr., chief executive officer of Ignition Media Group and founding partner of Archer Corporate Services, featured Hussein Berry, vice president for airport operations at DTW for Delta Air Lines; Matthew B. Elliott, president of Bank of America Michigan; and Carla Walker-Miller, founder and chief executive officer of Walker-Miller Energy Services LLC.

Elliott said diversity, equity, and inclusion is part of the bank’s business strategy and is the force behind its $1.25 billion commitment to breaking down barriers to economic mobility in communities of color. This strategy includes support of a free financial education curriculum, investment in VC firms that are managed by women and people of color, and also an internal effort to host “Courageous Conversations.”

But Walker-Miller pointed out that the most courageous conversations that need to happen are among those who are blocking opportunities for people of color or women to be on boards and in leadership roles.

“What we need more than anything else is that we need powerful men to lend their social capital and social equity, and to be courageous enough to talk to other powerful men. This is how change is really made,” she said.

Walker-Miller said she has been fortunate to have received calls to be on publicly traded company boards and has been invited into rooms and discussions that she did not know existed a few years ago. But she said there is more work to be done. “If you want a Black woman on your board, you can have one. People act like finding a talented Black woman is like finding a Siberian tiger in Detroit.”

She encouraged businessmen and businesswomen to be more welcoming to women and people of color in business settings. “One thing you will learn is that there are Detroiters who won’t come downtown – they think that the city only wants 23-year-old white guys in skinny jeans downtown. We have to invite people in so they know they are welcome.”

Hussein grew up in the Arab-American community of Metro Detroit and has worked to advance his career at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. He said Delta Airlines has put its arm around him to shield he and other Arab-American employees “from assumptions that we were all terrorists.”

In a keynote address that began the conversation, Archer, the son of former Detroit Mayor and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Dennis Archer, recounted several stories of prominent businessmen, including his father, being mistaken for hired help at community or business events.

He also detailed objectives of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Racial Justice and Economic Equality Task Force, which include taking a look, internally, at its own board composition and supplier diversity efforts; supporting community organizations that are advancing equity; and developing programming with equity as a focus.

This session was sponsored by Consumers Energy.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Opinion: Economic recovery comes from redefining ‘healthy’ communities

The Detroit News
Sep. 21, 2021 
Wright L. Lassiter III

Actual medical care only accounts for 10-20% of a person’s overall health.

People are often shocked when they hear me say that, considering I serve as president and CEO of a major health system. I am not downplaying the critical mission we undertake as health care providers; it simply reflects the fact that social and economic conditions have a far-reaching impact on people’s wellbeing.

There are many lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, but one of the major ones needs to be an enduring understanding that accelerating business growth starts with redefining what it means to be “healthy” as a region, state and country.

It’s clear 18 months into the pandemic that for economies to thrive, communities need to thrive. Simply put, people need access to healthy food and clean water, safe and vibrant neighborhoods, gainful employment, affordable housing, transportation, unfettered access to the right to vote — and yes, health care and health coverage.

When any of these elements fail, the health of individuals and communities fails. Our business landscape has been shaped by the impact of ignoring basic challenges faced by people who have been historically left behind. That hurts economic growth for everyone. The reverse is equally true — when we lift up the underserved, we all benefit.

Creating a healthier Michigan and stronger economy requires a long-term commitment that moves beyond dialogue, band-aid solutions and pilot programs — toward authentic, scalable and systemic change. That is going to require all of us to own our collective failures and make foundational investments in our vulnerable communities, rural and urban.

We must all humbly embrace the role we play in improving people’s lives through fostering opportunities and removing barriers, addressing racial justice and equity in an intentional, meaningful and durable way. The businesses and regions that tackle those challenges as an authentically committed group will not only recover quicker and grow faster, they will thrive, and the communities they serve can begin to thrive as well.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the task we have as economic stewards to also address this new uncertain era in which we find ourselves — in the war for talent filled with remote work and hybrid schedules, burnout effects and relentless turnover, as well as unprecedented health protocols in our workplaces. It’s top of mind for every employer, many of whom struggle day to day to get enough staff to keep their doors open or maintain full pre-pandemic operations.

Every economic sector will have to think differently and more comprehensively about employee and community health to operate safely and successfully as we transition from a pandemic to an endemic. Not every trend may stick over the long term, but it’s clear there’s a paradigm shift.

These are the conversations I look forward to at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference as we harness this unprecedented opportunity we have to reimagine healthy Michigan communities. Do that successfully, and the increased business growth and prosperity we all want to see will follow.

View the original article.

Preparing K-12 for Postsecondary Success

Key Takeaways

  • On the other side of education, the system needs to offer students meaningful career opportunities. The business community needs to connect with these institutions to make this happen.
  • Supports need to start early and persist throughout a student’s education journey. This includes economic and societal resources to support the adults and communities surrounding students.
  • The influx of funding coming from the American Rescue Plan must be allocated thoughtfully. The decision makers must connect with educational systems to find the core issues that need to be addressed to impart lasting results.

Detroit Public Television and The Detroit News’ Nolan Finley led a conversation with regional higher education, philanthropic, and government leaders to address actionable accountability in postsecondary education to ensure student success.

Henry Ford College President Russell A. Kavalhuna, Davenport University President Richard Pappas, The Skillman Foundation’s President and Chief Executive Officer Angelique Power, and the City of Detroit’s Group Executive of Jobs, Economy, and Detroit at Work Nicole Sherard-Freeman, cited coordination with employers, wrap-around student resources and engagement starting in K-12, and societal supports for students’ families and communities as integral to improve educational and economic outcomes once and for all.

Seeing the Path Through 

The state, Detroit Regional Chamber, and statewide educational institutions have adopted a goal to reach 60% postsecondary attainment by 2030. What will it take to achieve that?

Kavalhuna says it’s going to take a restructuring of our educational system. 46 out of 100 students that enter higher education, do not leave with a college credential, which include bachelor’s and associate degrees, or certificates. To support students getting to the end of that pipeline programs like the Detroit Promise are making that happen, and Henry Ford College has the most Detroit Promise students. On the other side of education, the system needs to offer students a meaningful career.

Though K-12 catches much of the blame for failures in the education system, Pappas acknowledged the need for postsecondary to take more accountability. Thirty percent of his students at Davenport University are students of color and 40% are first generation, and peer mentoring has proven essential to ensuring their success.

“We found that the students that come to us who don’t use peer mentoring retain at 69%, but the ones who come to us and do peer mentoring – first-generation students – retain at 91%,” he said.

Reestablishing the Expectation for Student Success
Success for students of color should not be extraordinary, Power said. Current systems have never been built for Black and brown students.

“The exquisite design of racism is everywhere,” she said.

Antiracist policies will ensure that not only the exceptional make it through and that systems are there to serve Black and brown children – especially in Detroit. Power also shared that a Skillman Foundation survey found that there is a great deal of optimism and agency among these students. The reason, she said, is that we don’t have to empower young Black and brown students.

“They are powerful people, and they know it,” Power said. “They are not necessarily being set up for success.” She continued: “It is on us at this moment to tap into this existing power and channel it for our collective benefit.”

Supports Need to be Comprehensive and Consistent  

Keeping and ushering students through the education system requires active attention and consistent, wrap-around academic and personal supports. Pappas cited the importance of assigning students the same advisor throughout college.

“That’s really part of retention,” he said. “They [students] drop out early if they’re not paid attention to.”

This preparation for a “college-going culture,” as Kavalhuna noted, requires setting that expectation early on, providing opportunities like early enrollment for high school students to start earning credits and get acclimated. Power stated this should start even earlier with kindergarten readiness, literacy improvement, after school programs, and investing in leadership development for principals who manage these deeply complex systems. Sherard-Freeman extended this sentiment outside the classroom.

“We are kidding ourselves if we believe that we are going to prepare K-12 students for postsecondary success absent considering what’s going on in the home,” she said.

Supports need to apply to the parents, guardians, community leaders as well as ensuring the circles children come up in and network in. Not all parents and guardians have the privilege of being accessible and available to participate in their children’s education while they’re working to support them, so they need resources too.

Harnessing Immediate Resources in the Short-Term 

A tremendous amount of funding is coming to our state’s education system through the American Rescue Plan, and how this money is allocated will be critical, said Sherard-Freeman. Power noted it costs $9,500 to educate a child in Michigan compared to the $38,000 it takes to incarcerate someone.

“Those that are most marginalized, most impacted by the systems, are not the designers of the solutions,” Power said.

Policymakers and philanthropic figures with the least proximity to these needs are making the calls and need to be more strategic about targeting funding to create long-term solutions.

In the short term, Pappas acknowledged that online learning is only getting started, and investments in ensuring broadband and technology – and the respective training – is accessible to all students.

Power sees moment as an opportunity to make our communities into living laboratories.

“Invest your time, your intellectual capital, and make possibility happen.”

This session was sponsored by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. 

John Rakolta Jr.: Making an Impact as a U.S. Diplomat in Tense Middle East

By Crain’s Content Studio

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. power in the world – economic, military, and cultural – is “massive. We have all this hard power, but we don’t always use it well.”
  • A diplomat should help open doors rather than resort to lecturing or threatening sanctions on other nations. That approach made UAE a closer partner after it had been miffed about not being consulted on the prior administration’s U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.
  • What you think you know about other people and other countries may be way off base. Keeping an open mind changed Rakolta’s view of Donald Trump and the image of the U.S. and China around the world.
  • Seek to improve and normalize relations with other nations; the Middle East is filled with failed states – Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya – that have failed to do so.

 John Rakolta Jr., longtime chairman of Detroit-based construction firm Walbridge and an active Republican, didn’t know Donald Trump in the early run-up to the 2016 presidential elections. He favored candidate Marco Rubio then and had been a longtime supporter and fundraiser for Mitt Romney in 2012.

In an interview by Detroit Regional Chamber President and Chief Executive Sandy K. Baruah at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference Wednesday, Sept. 21, Rakolta said he initially resisted when approached to chair Trump’s Michigan campaign after Rubio dropped out.

He only knew Trump as “The Apprentice” reality TV star, and he worried about Trump bashing Detroit’s auto companies for making cars and parts in Mexico. But when he met Trump in person, he was impressed that Trump was “respectful” and asked good, penetrating questions, then thanked Rakolta for explaining automotive trade issues to him. When Trump asked later for his thoughts on a vice-presidential candidate, Rakolta advised picking a person with strong Republic Party ties and someone who would be “loyal” when political fortune turned sour. Trump later confided that he was considering Mike Pence, long before it was announced.

Upon being named ambassador to the UAE after Trump’s election, Rakolta learned quickly that people with big names and U.S. cabinet posts were less important than others, such as Trump son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who suggested that he help the UAE by having the U.S. become a big supporter of the upcoming World’s Fair in the UAE.

UAE leaders opened up to Rakolta’s how-can-I-help approach to U.S. relations at a time when China was emerging as American’s main rival on the international stage.

“Everybody likes China’s money, but nobody wants to be like China,” Rakolta said during the morning session, “Coffee and Conversation: A Diplomat’s View of America from Abroad.”

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.

Investing in Minority Entrepreneurship is not Philanthropic, It’s Business

Key Takeaways:

  • 60% of Black-owned businesses were in distress during the pandemic compared to 30% of white-owned businesses.
  • The rate of success of securing PPP funding for white-owned businesses was 60% and for Black-owned businesses 30%.
  • The economic recovery of disadvantaged businesses does not mirror top-line economic statistics.
  • Detroit is an 80% Black city whose biggest asset is human capital.
  • Black business owners are not looking for an advantage but opportunities.

In early 2020, 60% of Black-owned businesses were in distress and at risk of closing. By March 2020, 40% were in the process of closing.

According to Candice Matthews Brackeen, executive director of Lightship Capitol, this was not a surprise. The distress rate for Black-owned businesses during the pandemic was 60%, compared to white counterparts whose distress rate was approximately 30%.

“That’s a lot of companies closing (nearly) all at once, and that happened because of the wealth gap. They didn’t have enough money to stay open. They didn’t have any leverage to get those companies to stay open,” Brackeen said.

This topic of venture capital among minority entrepreneurs, including people of color and women, was explored through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and sustainability during High Expectation, High Returns: Investing in Minority Entrepreneurship at Mackinac Policy Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Vickie Thomas, communications director of the City of Detroit, moderated the panel that included Brackeen, who explored the topic from a national perspective; Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan, who approached the subject from a statewide perspective; and Hiram Jackson, chief executive officer of Real Times Media, who discussed with a local lens.

Minority entrepreneurship and difficulty in accessing capital has been a hot topic over the past year, particularly when examining the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, which were given to businesses to help them sustain their workforce. According to Bracken, the success of securing funding from PPP for white businesses was around 60%. Black-owned businesses had a success rate of 30%.

This disparity was not unusual. In fact, it only highlighted the challenges Black-owned businesses faced before the pandemic.

“The pandemic had an exaggerated impact on those who already faced major challenges,” Calley said. “So, all the things that were true pre-pandemic was true to a larger scale after the pandemic.”

When looking at the top-line economic statistics, Calley said how easy it is for people making important decisions about loan distributions to think businesses and the economy are back on track. However, that is not true for everyone, especially businesses that started off disadvantaged. Their recovery does not mirror those top-line statistics.

“It takes a really intentional decision that you’re not going to rely on the fact that the unemployment rate has come down, that the housing market is hot, and that our mainstays and manufacturing, they’ve got more demand than they could possibly need. The smaller businesses…the industries that were most negatively impacted by the pandemic also are the ones that are bounded by smaller companies, and that has really created a scenario where the world is kind of moving on and leaving a lot of people behind,” Calley said.

One approach Brackeen shared that many banks, financial institutions, and other people are using to try and overcome this urgent issue of minority-owned businesses shuttering is mentorship. But she does not believe that is the best approach.

“People are kind of pushing mentorship. Mentorship is great. Let’s mentor this company and eventually they’ll be profitable. That is wonderful to have lots of great mentors, but we’re very intelligent people. We have a disparity of opportunity, and many of that is financial opportunity. Mentorship is not going to pay a purchase order from Target, Walmart, or anywhere else. Until we figure that out, there’s no sense of urgency,” Brackeen said.

Jackson agrees with that, especially when talking about the lack of investments in Black-owned businesses in Detroit—a city that is 80% Black.

“If you can’t develop a sense of development around Black entrepreneurship in Detroit, where can you do it? Detroit is 80% Black. If our greatest asset is human capital, wouldn’t it make sense from a business perspective to invest in the largest asset class in Detroit?” Jackson said.

The mistake many investors are making, according to Jackson, is looking at investments in minority-owned businesses as philanthropic. Minority business owners are not looking for a handout.

“We’re all trying to make a profit to reinvest in our businesses and communities. Those of us that are Black and in business, we’re not looking for an advantage. The sophistication of our approach, our education, our experience —we feel like we already have an advantage if you give us an opportunity. The whole conversation around having corporations and investors give Black people or minorities something without the expectation of return, that’s not how entrepreneurship works,” Jackson said.

This session was sponsored by Delta Dental.

Detroit Month of Design Exhibits to Attend Sept. 23-28

Every September, creative partners across Detroit come together to show off their latest artworks and ideas during Detroit Month of Design. This month-long event is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the community to celebrate the city’s role as a national and global design capital. Programmed by Design Core, a department within the College for Creative Studies, Detroit Month of Design is back for its 11th year, with events and experiences that attendees can enjoy outside, indoors, or from the comfort of their homes.

We will highlight some of the events and experiences hosted during Detroit Month of Design that celebrate Detroit’s unique culture and diversity throughout the month. Learn more about Detroit Month of Design here.

Diversity in Design Collaborative: Creating an Inclusive Design Ecosystem

Thursday, Sept. 23

Join the Diversity in Design (DID) Collaborative, a panel of collaborators, and Detroit community members for an engaging discussion exploring issues around lack of diversity in the design industry, specifically the underrepresentation of Black creatives.

The hosts hope for an open conversation about how DID is developing means to increase the representation of Black creatives in the design industry from awareness at the high school level to equity in college programming to transforming the systems for recruitment and retention of Black designers across their careers.

The panel will include Forest Young, Head of Design, Wolff Olins; D’Wayne Edwards, Founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy; Keisha Golding, Head of Belonging, Gap.

The event will be held in the General Motors Auditorium at the College for Creative Studies (460 W. Baltimore Ave., 11th floor, Detroit) on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m.


Saturday, Sept. 25

Shop and sip at Detroit businesses while seeing beautiful murals created by local artists on Sept. 15, from noon to 6:30 p.m. Along the way, you’ll learn about Detroit neighborhoods and experience living murals that will come to life before your eyes through augmented reality. There are four different tour routes, all departing from Downtown Detroit: North/Northwest, Southwest, Cross Section, and Eastside. Tours are free and hosted by the Detroit Experience Factory, who encourages tips. Learn more about each tour route and RSVP for Shop, Sip, and See here.


Saturday, Sept. 25

View the “First Dance” mural featuring former President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama dancing at the 2009 inauguration on Sept. 25 between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Created by local artist Chazz Miller, the mural was once prominently exhibited atop the once-dilapidated build in Detroit’s Old Redford neighborhood known as The Obama Building.

In 2020, The Platform completed a full renovation of the building, bringing four residential apartments and nearly 9,000 square feet of retail space to the corner of Grand River and Lahser. They kept the name, The Obama, to celebrate the building’s history and honor the wishes of community stakeholders who engaged in a design process to formalize its identity. They also gave the “First Dance” a permanent home inside the new art gallery inside the building.

View the mural and other rotating art installations by local artists on Sept. 25 during the gallery’s first exhibition, debuting a series of work by Chazz Miller titled “Yes, We Can.” It will occur during the first annual Old Redford Neighborhood Festival, featuring food trucks, music, and family activities. Register for the exhibition.


Tuesday, Sept. 28

The Alley Activation Station event will showcase several activities and installations designed to bring back alleys into the foreground of urban neighborhood life. It will be hosted at The Neighborhood Association Alley Network (5821 W. Outer Drive, Detroit) on Sept. 28, from 4-8 p.m. Event attendees will see displays of proposed alley designs and completed alley murals and installations, as well as experience virtual reality (VR) alley designs and participate in generating new ideas for alleys using VR technology. The Neighborhood Association, Detroit Ain’t Violent It’s Safe (DAVIS), and the University of Michigan-Dearborn will also provide guided walking tours of the four-block alley network, food, and entertainment. Register here.

COVID-19 Brings Best and Worst of Times to Michigan Business

By Crain’s Content Studio 

Key Takeaways 

  • In the future, governmental units need to be more coordinated in adopting protocols while dealing with outbreaks such as COVID-19.
  • The health care industry will have serious staffing shortage issues, and potential solutions include importing nurses from abroad to address the shortage.
  • Technology seemed to help ease transitions during COVID-19 both in terms of services and workforce

As the chief executive officer of Henry Ford Health System, Wright L. Lassiter III has seen the worst of times up close during the COVID-19 pandemic, including nurses retiring in droves and more than 100 hospital beds unoccupied due to staffing shortages.

Despite all the sickness, death, and stresses on patients, staff and families, though, Lassiter has also found silver linings. The number of virtual doctor-patient consultations at Henry Ford has increased 2,600% year-over-year, he said, as staff and the public have smartly deployed technology.

“I’m heartened by the power and resilience of the health care workforce,” said Lassiter, who added that that same workforce needs more emotional support.

Similar stories of business challenges and resilience during COVID-19 were shared during a panel discussion Tuesday, Sept. 21, at the Mackinac Policy Conference by Ryan Maibach, president and chief executive officer of Barton Malow Holdings, and Sandy Pierce, senior executive vice president, private bank and regional banking director and chair, Huntington Michigan. Moderator for the panel discussion was Rick Albin, political reporter for WOOD-TV 8.

“I was astounded from a technology standpoint at how seamless” the switch from office to work-at-home for certain bank employees was, Pierce said. On the flip side, the pandemic made it painfully clear that information technology talent “can work from anywhere,” and therefore retaining IT talent may become more difficult.

Pierce noted that the bank moved quickly to develop approaches for all branches regarding masking up, etc., but then implementation was complicated by different Michigan counties imposing different rules.

While Huntington’s bank branches did a fine job of using technology to provide essential services to customers, Pierce said the industry faces a culture challenge going forward. “How do we keep the personal connection going forward with our customers?” she asked.

Maibach said the order pipeline for Barton Malow’s major construction projects is very strong, and that his firm has made several strategic hires from areas outside its usual business locations.

This session was sponsored by Business Leaders for Michigan.

This article was written by Crain’s Content Studio for the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.