September 27, 2022

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
Jenni Kayne Airstream Tour Coming to Somerset Collection Today
The Jenni Kayne Airstream Tour is coming to the South Rotunda of the Somerset Collection in Troy today, marking its first appearance in Michigan.
The Airstream will bring the Jenni Kayne store experience to life with an assortment of Jenni Kayne apparel and home goods, as well as complimentary floral bundles with purchase on opening day from Blossoms, a local florist.
The Jenni Kayne Airstream offers a chance for local patrons to immerse themselves in Jenni Kayne, with selections from Jenni’s home and apparel lines, as well as skincare line Oak Essentials. Visitors will be able to take home their purchases the same day.
On Sept. 23, the brand will be giving out mini candles in best-selling scent, Topanga, to everyone that signs up for the Jenni Kayne newsletter. Additionally, shoppers will receive a complimentary copy of Kayne’s book, “Pacific Natural at Home,” with $300 or more purchase on Saturday.
The last day of the visit is Sunday from noon-6 p.m.
SMART Reimagines Public Transit with New Brand Campaign
On a mission to reimagine public transit throughout southeastern Michigan, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) announced its “New SMART” advertising campaign and people-focused vision through new branding, a series of commercials, billboards across the region, and new vehicles to be unveiled at a later date.
As the third-largest transit system in the state, SMART says it intends to lead the region into the future of transit and re-establish reliability, accountability, sustainability, independence, and community trust.
“This is a transformational time for SMART,” says Dwight Ferrell, general manager of SMART. “Our new direction, branding, and a clear plan of action positions us for a more sustainable future as we focus not only on how service is delivered today but being transparent in how it will be delivered tomorrow.
“We want community members to be heard and excited as we continue to be the vehicle of choice to get them to whatever their life may be — movies, art fair, medical appointments, work, and more. No matter where they live, we want the public to be confident we can provide the services they need.”
The “New SMART” advertising campaign, which includes the tagline LIFE. SMART. YOU., is designed to shows SMART as the accessible transportation partner that helps current and future riders like teenagers, working professionals, couples for date night, or seniors operate their daily lives through SMART services.
SMART’s family of services aimed at increasing mobility options include SMART fixed routes, curb-to-curb advanced reservation, and Flex on-demand services, which will be key to SMART services in the future. SMART Flex provides residents with local trips and connecting first and last-mile connections with FAST and other fixed route buses.
“We are working to be an agency that is accountable, transparent, inclusive, valued, and sustainable,” Ferrell says. “SMART is there for those who have historically needed or depended on our services. As part of our new direction and new identity, we will continually reach out to people in and around the region who may have never thought to use SMART as a mobility option.”
SMART plans to unveil its first battery-electric vehicle that is rebranded soon and will continue to rebrand all buses in its fleet over the next several years.
For more information, visit smartmovesus.org.
Wisconsin Credit Union Adopts Troy’s Mahalo Banking’s Digital Platform
Mahalo Banking, a Troy-based credit union service organization that provides online and mobile banking solutions for credit unions, has implemented its digital banking platform at UnitedOne Credit Union in Manitowoc, Wisc.
The new solution delivers a consistent digital experience to UnitedOne’s members across all devices, according to Mahalo Banking.
Previously, UnitedOne leveraged its banking services with separate internet and mobile providers, but the credit union recognized a need to connect the two applications to cohesively establish a unified digital experience for its members.
UnitedOne selected Mahalo’s digital banking solution to launch an omni-channel experience that provides members with access to desired banking features, as well as information about the credit unions’ offers and services, on their device of choice.
“We are thrilled that this partnership has enabled UnitedOne to organize our products and services into an easily accessible, highly functional digital space to create a streamlined member experience,” says Aletia Novak, business systems manager at UnitedOne. “Our previous digital banking vendors were slow to make the system updates we required for ease of use. In contrast, Mahalo keenly implements the functionalities needed by our members and our team with new enhancements monthly, and they have done everything possible to make our digital banking experience the best it can be.”
Using intelligent and intuitive feature sets, Mahalo’s solutions-oriented platform functions to help credit unions of all asset sizes connect with their members, gain a technological advantage to grow membership and effectively compete in the digital age. Designed and engineered by credit union industry leaders, the digital platform is built on intuitive architecture with deep integration into the credit union cores and streamlined third-party integrations.
“Implementing omni-channel solutions is incredibly instrumental in helping credit unions match member expectations for their digital banking experience and pushing these organizations into the future,” says Denny Howell, COO of Mahalo. “Our team is proud of the continuous contributions we’ve made to the UnitedOne digital banking experience and how this has considerably improved its ease of use for both the credit union and its members. This partnership is one of many that consistently drive us to augment our platform’s functionality and continue discovering ways to enrich members’ digital banking experiences without causing disruptions.”
Small Business Association Offers Pooled Employer Retirement Plan to Members
The Small Business Association of Michigan in Lansing is offering a way for small business owners to access “a quality and affordable” retirement plan for their employees.
SBAM’s Pooled Employer Retirement Plan is designed to help small businesses take on the responsibilities for 401(k) plans without significant costs. The plan was created after the federal SECURE Act of 2019 made it possible for employers to band together to create a Pooled Employer Plan (PEP) instead of sponsoring a traditional, standalone 401(k) plan.
“The SBAM Pooled Employer Plan will help small businesses save money while outsourcing the liability of retirement plans, making it easier to offer high-quality retirement plans to employees,” says Scott Lyon, senior vice president of SBAM. “SBAM is excited to have this innovative plan available to our members, which is already helping them realize savings on employee retirement, which will hopefully help attract and retain staff.”
The SBAM Pooled Employer Retirement Plan is powered by TAG Resources, Transamerica, and Graystone Consulting Services in Farmington Hills, a business of Morgan Stanley, which handles all fiduciary aspects of the plan.
Small businesses are encouraged to learn more about how this plan could benefit their organizations whether they currently sponsor a plan now or have never offered a retirement plan to employees.  he SECURE Act has made tax credits available to businesses who have never offered a retirement plan. Those who currently offer a SIMPLE IRA plan may want to take action before Nov. 2, the annual deadline to convert simple IRAs into a 401(k). Small businesses interested in receiving a proposal can visit here.
CoverTree in Detroit Announces $10M in Funding, Launches New Insurance Product
Detroit-based CoverTree, one of the first digital insurance solutions for residents of manufactured homes, has launched insurance coverage in Michigan, Arizona, Indiana, New Mexico, Ohio, Illinois, and Tennessee after raising a total of $10 million in venture funding.
The $10 million seed round was co-led by AV8 Ventures and Distributed Ventures with participation from Detroit Venture Partners, Ludlow Ventures, and Annox Capital.
CoverTree will use funding for team growth, state and product line expansion, expansion of technology that includes distribution portals and further automated underwriting, as well as investment in the company’s major partners.
A manufactured home is a prefabricated home, built in a factory and subsequently installed on-site. The category also includes modular homes, tiny homes, ADUs, and stationary travel trailers. They are no different than traditional homes in that both need insurance coverage. Signing up for manufactured home insurance, however, is not only more expensive, but it’s also more difficult due to the structural differences between the two.
“Insurtechs and major carriers have historically ignored middle America, specialty insurance, and manufactured homes,” says Adarsh Rachmale, co-founder and CEO of CoverTree. “Specialty insurance is difficult to underwrite and distribute. A specialty insurance policy often passes through multiple pairs of hands before it ends up with the consumer — who ends up overpaying and getting the worst experience. We believe manufactured home insurance should be easy, modern, and affordable.”
In response, CoverTree’s Manufactured Home Program works from data that the company itself compiled.
“Our systems are built toward optimizing data network effects, learning from historical loss data,” says Divyansh Sharma, co-founder and CTO of CoverTree. “Many of our competitors have not updated their insurance products in over 10 years — our dynamic systems allow for rapid product expansion.”
To apply for coverage, visit covertree.com.
Shelby Township Five Iron Golf Location to Host Hiring Event Sept. 22-23
The new Shelby Township Five Iron Golf (50773 Corporate Dr.) is conducting open interviews from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 22-23 for golf and customer service attendants, bartenders, line cooks, shift leads, and training managers.
Applicants interested in joining the Five Iron Golf Team are invited to interview at any time during either day and should expect interviews to last between 20 and 30 minutes. Applicants may bring a copy of their resume, but they are not required.
“We are looking forward to meeting all of the applicants for these positions,” says Jason Sproat, general manager of the Shelby Township location. “We are hoping to find motivated individuals who have a passion for golf and entertainment, interested in working at an exciting, refreshing, and growing company like Five Iron Golf.”
In addition to offering technology to help golfers of all skill levels improve their game, Five Iron Golf provides guests hospitality, including a full bar, food menu, and event space.
The Shelby Township location is slated to open in early October and will be the first in metro Detroit with another scheduled to open in early 2023.
Easterseals Michigan Adopts Eleos Health’s Behavioral Health AI
Eleos Health in Boston announced that Easterseals Michigan will roll out Eleos CareOps Automation, powered by proprietary voice-based AI, to its providers and clinical leadership team.
Overlaying mainstream electronic health records (EHRs) and operating ambiently, Eleos can reduce clinical documentation burden by more than 30 percent, freeing care providers and clinical leadership to focus on care delivery and overall staff well-being. Easterseals Michigan will be the first in the state to use Eleos Health in its day-to-day operations.
Eleos will equip Easterseals Michigan with augmented intelligence, helping to accelerate its focus on innovation for the benefit of their health professionals and those they serve, including reducing time spent on documentation, thereby allowing clinicians more time to treat.
Eleos also serves as a skill development tool for staff and supervisors, to allow for better guidance immediately after sessions, and to help their health professionals utilize the data with service recipients to identify potential key needs and themes. This data helps inform better and more personalized treatment.
“We’re looking forward to rolling out Eleos to our clinical team, aiding us in focusing on what truly matters: serving our community,” says Brent Wirth, CEO of Easterseals Michigan. “Being able to gather key insights, develop clinical notes and work seamlessly across EHR systems will improve the number of people we can help at a time when the need for mental health care is at an all-time high.”
FÜL Beverage Partners with Forgotten Harvest
FÜL Beverage, a maker of healthy drinks, is joining forces with Forgotten Harvest in its September Hunger Action Month mobile pantry distribution.
“Forgotten Harvest distributes millions of pounds of food annually to other Detroit area nonprofit agencies and residents,” says founder and president of FÜL. “As a proud Detroit company, FÜL is thrilled to partner with them in their efforts. September is National Hunger Action Month so now seemed like the right time for us to get involved in helping Forgotten Harvest in its mission of relieving hunger and preventing nutritious food waste.”
FÜL team members will be on-site today to assist Forgotten Harvest mobile pantry distribution in Oak Park. Forgotten Harvest expects to provide nutritious food to more than 250 families experiencing hunger and food insecurity during the event. The Rieth Family Foundation also is supporting Forgotten Harvest with a $5,000 donation.
“The need for our services continues to grow, especially as food and commodity prices continue to rise,” says Christopher Ivey, director of marketing and communications at Forgotten Harvest. “We’re appreciative of the community support we receive and look forward to working with FÜL Beverage. It’s nice to see that Michigan’s sports drink enthusiasts will now have a healthier alternative produced by a local company.”
To learn more about FÜL Beverage, visit here.
Nonprofits Work to Bridge Racial Divide Between Citizens and Law Enforcement
Local nonprofits from Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties united recently at barbecue with the goal to bridge the racial divide between citizens and law enforcement at Shadyside Park in Mount Clemens.
SAY Detroit, Fightin’ the Good Fight, and Neway Works, Inc. joined forces on SAY Detroit’s Better Together program, an initiative that seeks to bridge the gap between citizens and local police, one meal and neighborhood at a time.
The initiative’s primary activity is hosting “Willin’, Grillin’ and Healin’” lunches that gather small groups of off-duty law enforcement officers, at-risk youth, former inmates, and local activists, each without knowing who the other guests are.
After grilling and sharing a meal together, attendees begin to talk honestly about their respective experiences in full transparency and more important, to listen.
“Some of the biggest obstacles to rid our city of systemic racism is the will to come together,” says Darryl Woods, founder of Fightin’ the Good Fight. “This is not the time to turn on each other but the time to support each other. We can’t get anywhere without first having a conversation and identifying what the problems are.”
The barbecue brought together prominent individuals who serve and protect our local communities, including two Michigan State Police commanders, Macomb County Judge of the 41B District Court in Clinton Township Carrie Fuca, Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido, Chief Assistant Donn Fresard, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Steven Fox, Oakland County Sheriff and Pontiac school board president Gill Garret, former Agent in Charge of an FBI Multi-Agency Task Force, and Terence Mekoski, a former Oakland County Sherriff and current Senior Financial Investigator for the DEA Opioid Strike Force.
The next Better Together Community Youth Grilling Event is Sept. 24, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at Living Waters Church in Detroit. All youth ages 10-17 years old are welcome to attend.
Next up for Neway Works is its annual Let Your Light Shine Charity Gala, Nov. 17, 6-10 p.m., at Villa Penna in Sterling Heights. For tickets and sponsorship, visit here.
AoE Esports Partners with Troy School District to ‘Change the Game’
AoE Esports in Troy recently partnered with Troy Public Schools to help children and teens put their gaming skills to the test and join the growing number of esports competitors across the country and around the globe.
More than 350 universities in the U.S. currently offer esports scholarships — a number expected to rise to more than 1,000 schools by 2024. This comes as educators are discovering that the teamwork, strategy, and collaboration that make live sports such a positive factor in young lives is present in esports teams and leagues as well and can be a rewarding experience for all students, including those who may not normally join school activities.
To help foster this growth in competitive gaming locally, AoE Esports owners Harry Greenspan and Surab Deb have moved their esports center to Troy School District’s Continuing Education Building in Troy, creating a bigger, better, and more competitive facility for online gamers.
“The Troy School district has been inviting and accommodating and really want this for their students, too,” says Deb. “They hear the demand for it every day and see the value of what esports can contribute to a student, if operated properly.”
AoE and the new center mark an opportunity for kids and teens interested in competitive gaming, allowing them to put their skills to the test by joining a team and going up against national and international gamers. They gain the skills and team experience they need to compete for college scholarships and other funding opportunities in the future.
AoE offers in-person and remote youth and adult leagues for ages 7 to 18 as well as lessons, team training, tournaments, coaching and more, including parties and event rentals.
Current esports leagues offered are Fortnite, Rocket League, Overwatch, Valorant, Smash Bros., and Apex Legends.
Editor: R.J. King
Associate Editor: Jake Bekemeyer

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