Celebrating Juneteenth Matters for Everyone

As most of us were taught, President Lincoln declared an end to slavery in the southern states effective January 1, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation became official. However, most Americans are unaware that the enslaved population of Texas did not learn of this life-altering legislation until nearly two and a half years after the fact, on June 19, 1865, two months after Lincoln’s assassination.

The plain-spoken words of General Order Number 3, issued by Major General Gordon Granger of the Union Army, would alter the course of American history and continue to reverberate even today:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

The news was met with a mixture of shock, disbelief, relief, and anxiousness by enslaved Americans throughout the state, but most of all, a celebration of their newfound freedom.

Today, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally commemorative event celebrating the end of slavery in the United States. Its celebration can range from a day to a month, depending on the region of the country. However, it is more than a moment for celebration for African Americans. It is a time of deep reflection for our entire nation and the need for all of us to talk more completely and honestly about our history.

So, it is a time for reflection and rejoicing for all of us as Americans. This includes the business community as well.

Juneteenth is an observed holiday in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum, and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities, and thousands of businesses across America honor the event in the workplace. They range from giant multinationals such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Company, Google, Adobe, Twitter, JP Morgan, and Mastercard, to small conscientious business owners who may not have the human resources, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives or bandwidth to close for the day or offer employees a paid day off. However, they want their employees to feel valued and support a diverse and inclusive workplace.

So, how can employers observe the holiday? Ogletree Deakins, a Greenville, South Carolina-based labor and employment law firm, suggests numerous ways at minimum costs for small businesses to honor the holiday. Among them are:

  • Invite guest speakers to the workplace to speak on current issues.
  • Sponsor relevant workplace activities (on-duty and off-duty).
  • Engage in the same kinds of activities that the company engages in for other commemorations for people of color.
  • Participate in local Juneteenth events.


The fact is, honoring historical moments such as Juneteenth in the workplace can not only strengthen a company’s morale but its sense of value by illuminating its commitment to social and racial justice and quity in the workplace and community.

The celebration of Juneteenth is not merely for the liberation of people who had been enslaved for more than 200 years up to that point, but for the hope that lived in these people and all of us, who – despite it all – has kept an unwavering belief in the experiment that is America.

Instacart Announces New $1 Million Advertising Initiative to Support Black-owned Brands on the Instacart Marketplace

SAN FRANCISCO – June 10, 2021 – Instacart, the leading online grocery platform in North America, today announced a new advertising initiative, committing up to $1 million to amplify Black-owned consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands within the Instacart marketplace. This marks Instacart’s first program designed to support emerging Black-owned brands directly within the Instacart marketplace by leveraging the company’s robust advertising products and services. Today, Instacart Ads offers self-service and managed ad services for more than 2,500 CPG brands of all sizes, helping them connect with customers in the digital aisles while online grocery shopping.

Through this new initiative, Instacart is offering Black-owned CPG brands the opportunity to reach a broader audience in the digital aisles with prominent advertising placement among millions of items available from the more than 600 national, regional and local retailers, and unique brand names, featured on the Instacart marketplace. Eligible brands will receive Instacart Ads credits to use with the company’s flagship Featured Products offering throughout 2021. As part of the initiative, Instacart is also establishing new resources for brands, including a designated team focused on supporting participating brands and a monthly training series to ensure brands maximize the impact of their advertising campaigns.

“As the largest online grocery platform in North America, our marketplace features millions of products for customers to discover while they shop online from their favorite retailers. As our service grows, we believe Instacart has a unique opportunity to further amplify Black-owned and Black-led brand partners in the digital aisles,” said Seth Dallaire, Chief Revenue Officer at Instacart. “We want Instacart Ads to make a lasting impact on the CPG ecosystem by equipping emerging Black-owned brands with the tools, resources and investment needed to excel in online grocery. This is just a first step as we continue to focus on delivering equitable outcomes for historically underrepresented entrepreneurs and brands and create more opportunities for more companies to flourish.”

Instacart Ads offers a full suite of advertising products anchored around Featured Product, including Delivery Promotions, Coupons and Hero Banners. The Featured Product offering gives brand partners premium digital shelf space with browse, discovery and search placements in high visibility areas across the Instacart marketplace. With Featured Product, advertisers can boost sales, increase trial and awareness, drive higher category share and manage campaigns in a self-service portal.

“We’re always looking for partners that align with our mission to inspire families of all backgrounds to eat better food and live longer, more vibrant lives. It’s important for us to connect and engage with customers in various ways – especially in the digital grocery aisles. We’re proud to partner on this new advertising initiative and see Instacart investing in a community of brands transforming the grocery industry.” – Ibraheem Basir, Founder and CEO, A Dozen Cousins

“Food is an integral part of culture and identity, and part of our mission with Capital City is to share a taste of Washington, D.C. with consumers across America. We’re looking forward to partnering with Instacart to broaden our reach and engage with even more people in the digital aisles. We’re excited to see this investment to amplify the innovative work Black-owned brands are doing in the CPG food industry.” – Arsha Jones, Founder, Capital City

“I am excited to build upon our partnership with Instacart through this initiative. To create systemic diversity, equity and inclusiveness within the CPG food and beverage space, it’s imperative that more companies show this kind of action-oriented support to underrepresented founders. I’m grateful that Instacart is taking this step and hope it inspires even more companies with similar platforms to follow.” – Denise Woodard, Founder and CEO, Partake Foods

“It’s encouraging to see companies within the grocery industry invest in Black-owned brands at scale. As a founder, I know that it can be extremely costly to start a CPG business, especially in the world of distilling, and initiatives like Instacart’s can help reduce systemic barriers to entry for brands to grow new audiences and thrive online. At a company level, Uncle Nearest consistently invests in the entrepreneurial community, and we’re looking forward to joining a group of BIPOC-owned brands to reach more people in Instacart’s digital aisles.” – Fawn Weaver, Founder and CEO, Uncle Nearest

Today’s announcement builds on Instacart’s ongoing commitment to prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Belonging and stand up against anti-Blackness and systemic racism by intentionally lifting up Black businesses within the Instacart marketplace.

At Instacart, Diversity, Equity and Belonging encompasses everything from increasing representation, career development and opportunities, to social impact initiatives uplifting our communities, and ensuring we’re designing products that are accessible to everyone.

View original article here

This Week in Government: Legislation Making Some PPE Purchases Tax Exempt Heads To Governor, Detroit Chamber Poll: Vax Intake On Rise, Workers Want To Stay Remote

Each week, the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Government Relations team, in partnership with Gongwer, will provide members with a collection of timely updates from both local and state governments. Stay in the know on the latest legislation, policy priorities, and more.

  1. Legislation Making Some PPE Purchases Tax Exempt Heads To Governor
  2. Detroit Chamber Poll: Vax Intake On Rise, Workers Want To Stay Remote
  3. Supplemental Would Use $1.5B Of Federal COVID Relief On Bridge Repairs
  4. Duggan: No-Fault Law Has Not Ended Higher Costs For Detroit
  5. As Budget Talks Continue, Whitmer Urges $450M For Preschool Program

Legislation Making Some PPE Purchases Tax Exempt Heads To Governor

Bills looking to make the purchase of personal protective equipment exempt from sales and use tax were sent to Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday as the House concurred in Senate changes.

Both HB 4224 and HB 4225 passed the full Senate last week in a unanimous vote, and were back before the House for a vote to concur changes made through an S-1 substitute, with both passing 102-7 (See Gongwer Michigan Report June 2, 2021).

The bills would exempt from sales and use tax certain PPE and supplies for businesses that had implemented a COVID-19 safety protocol plan. The Department of Treasury would determine an exact formula on the exemption.

Fiscal estimates put the potential revenue loss to the state if the bills were passed at up to $18 million for the life of the exemption.

The Department of Treasury did not have a position on either bill when passed by the Senate, and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office did not say whether or not she would sign the bills.

Whitmer spokesperson Bobby Leddy, when asked if Ms. Whitmer would sign the bills, referred questions back to Treasury.

The bills both saw broad, bipartisan support, with HB 4225 sponsored by Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing).

Speaking with Gongwer News Service after the vote, Ms. Anthony said she was optimistic the governor would sign the legislation as, “these bills do align with many of her priorities, which is about getting the economy back on track and supporting not only businesses, but also workers.”

“This bill really does both of those: it provides some support for business to actually make sure that their employees still have personal protection equipment – facemasks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectant – which, again, aligns with what she’s been talking about with making sure we’re opening up and opening up safely,” Ms. Anthony said, adding that the legislation did include several safeguards including a sunset so that this would not be available in perpetuity.

Detroit Chamber Poll: Vax Intake On Rise, Workers Want To Stay Remote

While more than two-thirds of individuals have received at least their first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, an overwhelming number of workers want to have at least some portion of their job stay remote when transitioning back to a pre-pandemic routine.

That’s according to a poll released Monday by the Detroit Regional Chamber – which surveyed 600 registered Michigan voters between May 22 and May 26 – covering a multitude of issues including businesses’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting rights and people’s plans regarding a return to in-person work.

“After conducting multiple polls in 2020, the Chamber wanted to reassess how voters feel about Michigan’s health, economy, and political situation,” Sandy Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber, said in a statement. “Fifteen months into the pandemic, voters are seeing clear progress in controlling COVID-19 and are broadly receptive to vaccinations but are still reserving judgment about the speed with which they want to return to ‘normal’.”

The Chamber found that while 54.1 percent have been working at their job site during the pandemic, more than two-thirds (77.4 percent) would prefer at least some portion of their job to be remote. About 50.4 percent indicated they would prefer a combination of working at the office and from home.

Regarding COVID-19, 77 percent of respondents said they have received a vaccine or plan to – up from the 53 percent of responders in December 2020. About 75 percent of respondents, however, noted that they still planned to use COVID mitigating items like masks while in public places, leading the Chamber to suggest that businesses consider phasing out COVID-19 precautions “as a majority of employees and customers will need time to adjust.”

It was also found that opinions on voting rights have stayed strongly polarized, though the majority of people do believe in making it easier to cast a ballot. Those who strongly leaned Democratic (96.5 percent) believed Michigan’s elections to be safe and secure while those who strongly leaned Republican (56.6 percent) did not. By a 2-1 margin, however, most voters older than 65 believed it should be easier to cast a ballot; 51.8 percent of all individuals surveyed also believed it should be easier to vote.

On the topic of voting rights, it was found 71.3 percent of respondents had not heard of the 39-bill package brought forward by Republicans and making its way through the Legislature currently, which seeks to curb access to voting through a series of reforms rooted in the belief that the 2020 presidential election was rife with improprieties.

Of the bills within the package, however, it was found that four have a majority of bipartisan support including requiring voters to present a government ID when voting in person, allowing young adults applying for their driver’s license to pre-register to vote so that they are already registered when they turn 18, that local clerks should be allowed to prepare absentee ballots for counting as they are returned – similar to what is already in effect in places like Florida – and that clerks should be required to be open for voting hours the second Saturday before Election Day.

There were also strongly polarized feelings on the current job approval of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, with more than 90 percent of individuals identifying as strongly leaning Democratic approving of her work while more than 90 percent of individuals identifying as strongly leaning Republican did not. Men were more likely to disapprove of Ms. Whitmer than women, the chamber’s polling indicated.

Supplemental Would Use $1.5B Of Federal COVID Relief On Bridge Repairs

The sponsor of a supplemental appropriations bill that would repair or replace severely damaged bridges using federal coronavirus relief funding said the investment would be able to resolve a significant infrastructure need and provide decades of benefits.

Introduced Wednesday by Sen. Wayne Schmidt (R-Traverse City) was SB 529, which would allocate $1.626 billion in federal coronavirus relief funding mostly for repairing bridges in poor condition in the state.

Of the federal funding, $1.5 billion would be directed to the bundling of local agency bridges program while the remaining funds provided to the local rail grade separation program.

The bill requires bridges included in the program to be subject to available funding according to three priority areas. The first priority is locally owned vehicle bridges currently closed to traffic. Second would be locally owned bridges currently posted or restricted from Michigan legal loads and the third would be locally owned bridges in need of repair or replacement as rated by the Regional Bridge Councils to ensure safety and unimpeded commercial traffic.

“When we look at those monies, this is what, talking to constituents throughout the state, this is what they want to see done with those COVID dollars: actual infrastructure projects,” Mr. Schmidt said in a Wednesday interview.

Mr. Schmidt said out of about 7,000 locally owned bridges, about 400 are in severe condition and in need of repair or replacement in line with the priorities laid out in the bill.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer earlier this year proposed supplemental appropriations to the tune of $300 million in one-time General Fund spending to address 120 of the state’s most deteriorated bridges, including 59 that are currently closed (See Gongwer Michigan Report, February 11, 2021).

Mr. Schmidt said the governor and the House have both discussed putting a few hundred million into unsafe bridges but said the state should go further.

“We have these COVID dollars. Let’s address these issues once and for all and put that money into infrastructure, specifically bridges,” Mr. Schmidt said. “I think it’s high time we do it. That’s a really good use of these one-time dollars, something that’s going to last 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 years down the road.”

Mr. Schmidt said he has been a member of the Senate Transportation Committee since joining the Legislature and as the Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee Trackchair he saw it as the right thing to do.

As to rail grade separations, he said the funding could improve safety for school buses as well as make it more efficient for emergency responders to get to a location more quickly.

Under the bill the Department of Transportation would be required to provide a biannual progress report to the House Appropriations Committee Trackand Senate Appropriations Committee Track, with the first report due October 31, 2021.

In the report, data to be included would be a list of bridges under the bridge bundling program in which repairs have been completed, a list of scheduled bridge repairs through the program for the current fiscal year, the amount spent to date and the amount of funds remaining.

Funds for projects under the program would be considered work project funds and would not lapse at the end of a fiscal year but be available until a project is completed.

Overall, the state is set to receive about $10.1 billion under the federal American Rescue Act. Of this, $4.4 billion will go to local governments.

Republicans have expressed an interest in making significant infrastructure investments with the federal funding, which they have said would be a great investment to resolve major infrastructure needs.

A message left Wednesday with a Department of Transportation spokesperson was not immediately returned.

The bill was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee Track.

Duggan: No-Fault Law Has Not Ended Higher Costs For Detroit

EAST LANSING – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who championed the 2019 no-fault law changes as bringing significant relief to city residents long charged far more than others in the state, said Tuesday that the law did not eliminate the geographic differences in auto insurance rates.

It was a notable admission from Mr. Duggan, one of the law’s leading champions, that the law did not deliver on a measure legislators and the Whitmer administration insisted at the time it did: remove one of the leading non-driving factors in rate-setting. The use of ZIP codes in setting auto insurances rates was barred. However, it was well-known at the time that the legislation still allowed insurers to use “territory” as a rating factor and critics said that mechanism would be used to continue charging Detroit motorists far more than residents elsewhere in the state.

The law did provide rate relief to all motorists, including those in Detroit, but a large difference in rates remains.

“The one thing I think the governor and I would probably agree on that we did not get in the first round of legislation we’d like is to eliminate the territorial differences. Geographically, Detroiters are still being charged more,” Mr. Duggan said at a Tuesday news conference with Governor Gretchen Whitmer on an unrelated topic.

In 2019, as Ms. Whitmer signed the no-fault bill, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II wrote a column for The Detroit News extolling what it would mean for his fellow Detroit motorists.

“It’s clear this is a tremendous opportunity for all 7 million drivers in our state, but it’s drivers in southeast Michigan who really seek to benefit from this deal,” he wrote. “Under the previous law, insurance companies could use non-driving factors, such as ZIP code, gender, marital status, occupation, education, home ownership, and credit score to determine insurance rates. This led to rampant redlining that targeted neighborhoods across southeast Michigan, took money out of the pockets of hardworking families and kept drivers in poverty.”

Mr. Duggan made the remarks when he and Ms. Whitmer, together at a news conference on preschool, were asked for their thoughts on calls from providers of treatment and care for those catastrophically injured in traffic crashes for the state to amend the auto insurance law to delay or change the new fee schedule that limits them to charging 55 percent of what they previously charged insurers.

The mayor said he would support changes if the higher charges for Detroiters are first addressed.

“I have said to those folks, ‘Before you start making changes to raise the rates, let’s get everybody’s rates level,’ and I would fully support what they are proposing, if it’s coupled with a provision that everybody in Michigan pays the same geographic rate,” he said. “I think that’d be a fair solution. I told them if they can get that, I’ll support them. But I don’t think it’s right to be raising rates on Detroiters when they’re still higher than the rest of the state.”

Ms. Whitmer, who has taken some heat from allies for signing the no-fault bill, said she is open to discussions on changing the fee schedule.

“I have indicated to the legislative leadership that I am open to having a conversation around narrowly addressing some of the rate issues,” she said. “I know that some have suggested maybe they pause before these go into effect and have that conversation to determine if there’s something that makes sense here. I’ve not gotten indication yet that there’s interest in doing that but that is something I’m open to. I’m concerned about it as well.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clarklake) has said he opposes changing the law before it takes effect.

As Budget Talks Continue, Whitmer Urges $450M For Preschool Program

EAST LANSING – The latest funding proposal from Governor Gretchen Whitmer as she and the Legislature negotiate a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as how to spend the billions in federal aid the state has received, is to use $450 million to assure all children eligible for Great Start Readiness Preschool have access to the program.

In recent weeks, Ms. Whitmer has announced her funding priorities in a series of public events as she and her administration work behind closed doors to work out a budget framework. Those have covered the economy and education.

Currently, one-third of the children eligible for the Great Start Readiness Program, a state-funded preschool program, are unable to attend based on available funding, but Ms. Whitmer on Tuesday proposed using federal funds and surplus state monies to assure sufficient capacity so all eligible children can attend.

Ms. Whitmer, at a news conference with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and the Democratic leadership in the Legislature, proposed using $255 million federal money and $150 million in state funds for the next three years to enable the estimated 65,400 eligible 4-year-olds to attend the program.

The Great Start Readiness Program provides full- or part-day preschool to families at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

Ms. Whitmer and the Legislature, both majority Republicans and minority Democrats, are in discussions about finalizing the 2021-22 fiscal year budget, and the expansion Ms. Whitmer proposed would require legislative approval.

“We have a unique opportunity right now to make the type of investments in early education and preschool that will pay massive dividends by improving health, educational, and social outcomes for our children decades down the line,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “Parents across our state are aware of the importance of early education and now we have to seize this chance to eliminate waitlists for eligible children. The investments announced today provide access to all eligible children and will help narrow the achievement gap between high-income and low-income students. As we put Michigan back to work, parents can go about their workday knowing that their children are learning in a safe and productive environment.”

Ms. Whitmer’s proposal would use another $50 million in federal funds for grants to providers to ensure sufficient capacity, access to transportation, scholarships to early educators and expanding outreach efforts to inform parents of program availability in their area.

Mr. Duggan, on hand at Tuesday’s news conference, said it looked like this proposal would come to fruition last year for the current fiscal year, but the budget turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans.

“There is nothing we could do more to give our children a better start to their education than as a 4-year-old to have full-day pre-K,” he said. “The amount of nurturing and education that goes on in a quality pre-K is life-changing.”

There are 4,000 Detroit children in preschool in Detroit, but more than 1,500 do not have a spot, he said.

Ms. Whitmer said she is confident that while these funds would cover the expansion of the program for the next three fiscal years, revenues will keep growing to sustain it beyond then.

The proposal was welcomed by a cross-section of business groups and child advocates.

“Manufacturers support the use of American Rescue Plan funds for long-range investments that spur growth for residents and businesses – and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to expand the Great Start Readiness Program will do just that,” said John Walsh, president and CEO of the Michigan Manufacturers Association, in a statement. “Our state’s largest and most impactful sector needs the best and brightest talent to compete globally. This investment in high-quality preschool programming will help improve learning outcomes, increase student achievement and enrich Michigan’s talent pool for years to come.”

Matt Gillard, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, said the group is “over the moon” about the governor’s proposal.

“This is not only the right thing to do for Michigan families and the state’s most at-risk children who have been shut out of preschool education though legally eligible, but it marks a momentous and historic point in the evolution of needed expanded public education to ensure a highly literate population and productive future workforce,” Mr. Gillard said in a statement. “Unless all at-risk Michigan children receive the targeted support they need to enter school ready to learn, develop reading skills and thrive, they and our state’s future will continue to be compromised compared to other states.”

So, You Want to Buy a Blockchain Company: Considerations for Corporate Transactions; Butzel Long hosts free webinar on June 15

DETROIT, Mich. – Everyone is getting into the blockchain game. Companies like Disney are filing patents in the area and Fox is jumping on the NFT bandwagon. EY has invested in research while automaker Renault is developing blockchain for supply chain compliance. As blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) continue to proliferate, corporate transactions involving these blockchain businesses are on the rise. But it’s not just the cutting-edge technology at issue. These deals can present unique challenges in terms of valuation, legal and regulatory due diligence, and technological integration.

Given these points, Butzel Long is hosting a free webinar titled, “So, You Want to Buy a Blockchain Company: Considerations for Corporate Transactions,” from 12-1 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Presenters will offer practical guidance regarding the sale and acquisition of DLT companies, from identifying key issues and risk, preparation, negotiation and memorialization of key terms. To register online, visit https://www.butzel.com/events.

Featured speakers include:

• William J. Kraus represents individuals and businesses involved in governmental and regulatory investigations, U.S. state and federal litigation, and alternative dispute resolution. He concentrates his practice on disputes relating to the financial industry, with a particular focus on legal and regulatory issues related to digital assets and blockchain technology.

• Jennifer Dukarski focuses her practice at the intersection of technology and communications with an emphasis on emerging and disruptive issues: digital media and content, cybersecurity and privacy, infotainment and shared mobility, and connected and autonomous cars.

• Laura E. Johnson practices primarily in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, nonprofit organizations, corporate governance, entity formation and general corporate and business law. She advises clients in venture capital and private equity transactions.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long 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 Long on Twitter: https://twitter.com/butzel_long

A different focus: Japan-based photographer shares communication expertise through TrineOnline

Trine University faculty bring a breadth of experience to the classroom, and the advent of high-speed internet has allowed the university to increase the expertise available to students through TrineOnline.

One faculty member literally teaches from halfway around the world.

Ben Weller, an adjunct faculty member with TrineOnline, is a journalist who has lived and worked in east Asia for 15 years. Based in Nagoya, Japan, since 2015, Weller has had recent work published in National Geographic Traveller (UK).

“Japan is a beautiful country, and I’ll never tire of exploring here, camera in hand,” he said.

Weller grew up in North Manchester, Indiana. He spent a few years teaching in South Korea after finishing college, then returned to attend graduate school in journalism at Indiana University, intending to become a writer.

“A visual communication class really inspired me and I changed trajectories, putting the focus more on photography,” he said. “By the time I finished grad school, I was shooting regularly for a magazine in Bloomington, and had shot assignments for The Washington Post and The Chronicle of Higher Education.”

He worked for a while as a communication intern for an energy cooperative in Bloomington, shooting photos and writing for several of its publications. While it was valuable experience, he said he was “itching for travel.”

He moved back to South Korea, where he taught photography, image editing, film studies, business communication and English conversation at a university.

At the same time, he was building his freelance portfolio, shooting photos for Reuters, the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and multiple travel and trade publications.

He met his wife, a college professor, while both were living and working in Busan, South Korea. After they married, they moved to Nagoya for her work.

Besides photography, his loves include teaching, and when he moved to Japan, Weller wanted to continue working with students. Teaching through TrineOnline provided the flexibility he needed to grow his journalism career while teaching classes that align with his education, work experience and interests.

“Keeping one foot in the teaching world and the other in the media world is synergistic,” he said. “Through my teaching, I’m able to keep up with trends, topics and theories in the world of media and communication. My work as a journalist enhances my skills and provides real-world experience that I can take back to the classroom to share with students.”

A typical day sees him up at 5 a.m., starting a pot of coffee and checking email.

“Student emails get priority, and I flag other important emails for follow-up later in the day,” he said.

He is currently taking a Japanese class, so he tries to get an hour of study in before his kids wake up. From 9 a.m., he’s in the office grading, checking discussions, recording videos and working on course development.

Any hours left in the afternoon are spent working on story pitches, editing and research. In the evening, once his children are asleep, he goes through emails again and watches a movie if he has time.

“I teach Film Appreciation through TrineOnline, so watching movies is a job requirement,” he said.

He noted this schedule “goes out the window” during midterms and finals, and that he may work out of a hotel or on the train when he’s on assignment.

“I’ve recorded weekly videos for my students from Seoul, Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo,” he said.

Though he may be in a far different location than many of his TrineOnline students, he said he has much in common with many of them.

“As a working parent, I understand the challenges that come with raising kids, holding down a job and going to school,” he said. “Having lived and taught overseas for close to 20 years, I’m familiar with diverse learning and communication styles. I understand that all our students have strengths and face challenges, and I think my experiences help me identify those and work with each learner to help them succeed.”

Through his own experiences learning online, he is conscious of being responsive to students. Although he initially worried about the time difference between Japan and the U.S., he said it has been an asset.

“I’m typically settling into my office in the morning,” he said. “That’s the evening back in Indiana, when a lot of my students are getting home from practice or work, and they’re just logging into Moodle. I’m able to answer any of their emails in real time or jump on a Zoom call to talk them through a question or an assignment.”

He appreciates the investment TrineOnline makes in its faculty.

“I’ve taken the Online Faculty Certification Course (OFCC) and the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshop, both of which increased my value as an educator and benefited my students,” he said. “We have faculty development meetings on Zoom, which are a great source of ideas for increasing student engagement, getting the most out of Moodle, etc. I’ve worked at other universities where there isn’t this focus on continual growth. Trine invests in its educators, and I feel valued here.”

Trine University’s online criminal justice program ranked among best in the nation

Trine University’s online criminal justice degree program is one of the top 15 in the United States, according to a national college ranking website.

Best Value Schools lists the criminal justice degree program offered through TrineOnline among its “Best 15 Online Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement in 2021,” released May 17.

The website notes that Trine’s online criminal justice degree program offers three specialization options, and that students may also opt to work toward a Master of Science with a major in criminal justice while completing the bachelor’s program.

Lists at Best Value Schools factor tuition and enrollment into rankings. Located at bestvalueschools.org, the website offers resources in addition to rankings to help prospective students find the school that meets their needs at the best possible price.

View Online: http://trine.meritpages.com/news/Trine-Universitys-online-criminal-justice-program-ranked-among-best-in-the-nation/20573

Mayor Mike Duggan Joins the 2021 Detroit Policy Conference Lineup

Mayor Mike Duggan will take the stage at the 2021 Detroit Policy Conference on Tuesday, July 13, to discuss the city’s ongoing resilience and outlook. This year’s conference will be held at the Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre, a unique outdoor venue that will allow the Chamber and local business community to gather safely to celebrate what’s ahead for Detroit.

This session is sponsored by the DTE Energy Foundation.

View additional conference updates.

Poll: Detroit Regional Chamber Releases Findings from New COVID-19 Survey



By Jake Bekemeyer

The Detroit Regional Chamber (DRC) released its finding from a statewide poll of registered voters in Michigan that provide insight on reactions to the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the ongoing public health and economic challenges, and critical political issues facing the state.

“After conducting multiple polls in 2020, the Chamber wanted to reassess how voters feel about Michigan’s health, economy, and political situation,” says Sandy K. Baruah, president and chief executive officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “Fifteen months into the pandemic, voters are seeing clear progress in controlling COVID-19 and are broadly receptive to vaccinations but are still reserving judgement about the speed with which they want to return to ‘normal.’”

The DRC’s polling partner, The Glengariff Group Inc., conducted the poll of registered Michigan voters between May 22 and May 26. The new results reflect some continuity with previous DRC polls conducted throughout 2020 regarding priorities as vaccinations become available and business face a labor shortage.

A majority of voters believe the pandemic is largely under control — 72.2 percent — while 75.5 percent say they still plan to follow some precautions to keep themselves safe. Nearly 60 percent of voters plan to continue wearing masks in some public indoor scenarios, with just over a third saying they will only wear a mask indoors if required.

The DRC’s December 2020 poll showed 52.5 percent of surveyed voters planning to get vaccinated, while the new poll shows 77 percent of voters have received at least one shot.

Of the 20 percent of voters who said they do not plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine, 47.5 percent said there was no reason they would get vaccinated. Another 21.5 percent said they would if their work or school required it, 12.4 percent if their friends and family told them they had to get it to spend time with them, 5.1 percent if it was required for travel, and 0.6 percent if it was required for concerts or sporting events.

During the pandemic, 54.1 percent of workers remained on the job site, but 77.4 percent would prefer at least some portion of their job to be remote. The study showed 50.4 percent of workers would prefer a hybrid model of home/office work, with 27 percent preferring full-time work-from-home, and 22 percent preferring full-time job site work.

Workers in the later stages of their careers make up a significant portion of people employed before the pandemic no longer looking for a job. The study showed 76 percent of workers employed before the pandemic are employed in the same job, and 4.2 percent who are not working or actively looking for work, with a smaller group citing unemployment benefits as their reason for not returning to work.

The Detroit Regional Chamber has served the 11-county Southeastern Michigan region for more than 100 years.

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Michigan increasingly accepting of COVID-19 vaccine and hybrid work, new survey shows


FOX 2 Detroit

By Jack Nissen

More Michigan citizens are open to getting the COVID-19 vaccine while workers are increasingly interested in working from home.

About 77% of voters in the state plan to get the shot or already have, while more than half would prefer a hybridized work schedule that includes both remote and office work.

Those are the results of a Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce survey that found notably ways the pandemic has shifted attitudes about work, vaccines, and the direction of the state.

“Fifteen months into the pandemic, voters are seeing clear progress in controlling COVID-19 and are broadly receptive to vaccinations but are still reserving judgment about the speed with which they want to return to ‘normal’,” said Sandy K. Baruah, president of the chamber.

The survey was conducted from May 22 – 26 that included 600 registered voters.

Also tallied support for a recent package of voting legislation that has galvanized criticisms that it would make it harder to vote in Michigan. Here’s what else it found.

Changing vaccine perceptions

The number of Michigan voters interested in getting vaccinated rose by almost 25% in May, compared to the chamber’s previous survey. But there is still a significant number of voters that don’t plan on getting the shot.

However, a minority of those surveyed did offer reasons why they would get the vaccine. They included if businesses or schools required it and if their friends or family told them needed to get one.

Currently, about 59% of the state has gotten at least one shot.

But the rate of new vaccinations has declined in recent weeks, making the state’s goal of 70% vaccine coverage still a lofty one.

The survey found that incentives like lotteries offered in Ohio and New Mexico would do little to convince citizens not already vaccinated to get the shot.

So far, 47.5% of those who were included in the poll said there was no reason that would convince them to get the vaccine.

Hybrid work schedules becoming more popular

What may become one of the biggest imprints left by the pandemic is the desire for a different work routine. A little more than half – 50.4% – said they would prefer a combination of working from home and in the office.

Some companies like Ford have already leaned into this new approach to business, which would feature a staggered schedule for most office-based employees.

Broader evidence about the post-pandemic workplace suggests that what was long called tele-commuting will remain far more common than it was a year ago.

Another 27% say they would prefer working from home and 22% said they would prefer working at their job site.

A changing labor group

Another impact of the pandemic far from being fully felt is the shifting labor patterns in Michigan businesses.

Companies are still facing significant staffing issues, even as the economy continues to rebound from a brutal 2020 forecast. Of those that have not returned to their original job or found a new one, the biggest barrier continued to be not feeling safe due to the pandemic.

The second reason was a lack of good pay or benefits. Others included age and health as well as a need for child care.

Further investigation into these results was fleshed out in a focus group of 15 respondents, which found one participant cited generous unemployment benefits as a reason for not returning to work.

The largest group no longer working that were before the pandemic were older people.

Support and opposition for new voter legislation

Opinions on a new package of voter and election reforms introduced by state Republicans were also polled, which found strong support and opposition for many of the measures.

Bills requiring voters to show a government-issued ID when they vote, registering young adults who are getting their driver’s license, and allowing clerks to process absentee ballots ahead of time all received more than 70% support.

But bills limiting dropbox access, prohibiting the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications, and requiring all counting of ballots be done by noon the day after the election regardless of whether they’ve been fully completed were opposed.

More motivation to vote

The survey also identified a growing interest in participating in elections. Both Democrats and Republicans of all ages reported a strong motivation for casting a ballot in the next state election.

“Eight months after the Presidential race, it is clear voters have not moved on. The same dynamics we saw in 2018 and 2020 continue to hold in mid-2021,” said Richard Czuba, president of Glengariff Group Inc. which conducted the survey. “And perhaps most telling, motivation to vote in the 2022 election already comes in at a strong 9.2 indicating that the 2022 election is likely to continue to see the high levels of turnout we saw in 2018 and 2020.”

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