DBusiness Daily Update: Michigan Distilleries Bring Home Awards from National Craft Spirits Competition, and More

Jene J. Long
Detroit City Distillery’s Railroad Gin brought home a silver medal at the American Craft Spirits Association competition. // Courtesy of Detroit City Distillery

Our roundup of the latest news from metro Detroit and Michigan businesses as well as announcements from government agencies, including updates about the COVID-19 pandemic. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Michigan Distilleries Bring Home Awards from National Craft Spirits Competition

Four members of the Michigan Craft Distillers Association (MCDA) — Detroit City Distillery, Iron Fish Distillery in Thompsonville, Long Road Distillers in Grand Rapids, and Wonderland Distilling in Muskegon — brought home a collective 15 medals from the annual judging of craft spirits at the American Craft Spirits Association in Charleston, S.C.

More than 30 expert judges evaluated 400 plus spirits from 37 states and Washington, D.C., in seven main categories: brandy, distilled specialty spirits, gin, read to drink (RTD), rum, vodka and grain spirits, and whiskey.

Medalists from Michigan include:

Silver:

  • Detroit City Distillery Railroad Gin
  • Detroit City Distillery Four Grain Bourbon
  • Detroit City Distillery Homegrown Rye
  • Long Road Distillers Dry Gin
  • Long Road Distillers Raspberry Liqueur
  • Wonderland Distilling Pot Still Gin

Bronze:

  • Detroit City Distillery Four Grain Bourbon – Cognac Barrel Finish
  • Detroit City Distillery – Butcher’s Cut Bourbon
  • Iron Fish Distillery Mad Angler Whiskey
  • Iron Fish Distillery Slightly Lost Barrel Rested Gin
  • Long Road Distillers Red Amaro
  • Long Road Distillers Amaro Pazzo
  • Long Road Distillers Aquavit
  • Wonderland Distilling Co Winter Series – Balsam Fir & Citrus Gin
  • Wonderland Distilling Single Malt White Whiskey

For the complete list of medals awarded, visit here.

MCDA currently represents 30 craft distilleries with nearly 50 tasting room locations around the state, as well as a handful of distillery in-planning members and nearly 30 allied members providing goods and services.

Shinola CEO Shannon Washburn Retires

Shannon Washburn has decided to retire from her role as CEO of Shinola, capping a 10-year tenure at the company and a successful career in fashion, retail, and management.

Washburn is among the original Shinola employees, having taken a job at the Detroit-based company in the summer of 2012 after a brief break from full-time work.

She says she plans to relocate to Santa Fe, N.M. but remain actively involved in Shinola’s development as a member of parent company Bedrock Manufacturing Co.’s board.

“I joined Shinola 10 years ago to support a vision which has become the journey of a lifetime,” Washburn says. “There are many people that made this possible, exciting, rewarding and life-changing, but no one more than Tom Kartsotis. Tom gave me this amazing opportunity to be a part of something special. The management team is starting a search for a division president to take over my current responsibilities and I will be supporting the team through the transition and beyond.”

Kartsotis says: “Shannon has been a tremendous partner for decades. It has been rewarding to grow up in the business with her and to work alongside her. The way she guided our ship through the pandemic will never be forgotten. Sometimes the hardest parts of the business are simply not things that can be managed from spreadsheets. It requires heart. Shannon has heart.”

PXG Partners with DAPCEP, Rocket Mortgage Introduce Students to Science of Golf

PXG, a golf company dedicated to developing high-performance equipment and apparel, partnered with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) and Rocket Mortgage to provide 24 local high school students with a first-hand look at the STEM fields associated with golf.

Hosted at PXG Detroit in Troy, the PXG Detroit STEM Experience included four interactive experiments developed and led by PXG engineers and fitting specialists. Activities ranged from measuring smash factor and solving C.O.R to a putting challenge and getting the chance to swing away in the TrackMan golf simulator.

“At our core, PXG is a research and development company with a passion for golf,” says Brad Schweigert, chief product officer at PXG. “That passion motivates us to be an advocate for innovation and to help advance the game. This partnership has been a fun opportunity to introduce students, who have an appetite for STEM, to some of the amazing career opportunities in golf and get them excited about the game.”

Following the experience at PXG Detroit, the group traveled to Detroit Golf Club as special guests of Rocket Mortgage. There, from the comfort of the 18th Green Hospitality Chalet, students were able to witness the science of golf executed in a real-life setting during the Delta Dental Pro-Am. As an extra benefit, NFL Hall of Fame running back and Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders stopped in during his round for a quick meet-and-greet and autograph session with the students. Rocket Mortgage also gifted each student two tickets to return to the 2022 Rocket Mortgage Classic later in the week to watch the PGA pros put their STEM and athletic skills to the test on the course.

MEDC Awards 23 Grants to Small Manufacturers Adopting Industry 4.0 Technologies

Twenty-three small manufacturers around Michigan have been awarded a total of nearly $500,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to help them adopt Industry 4.0 technologies. The funds are from the first round of awards as part of the $3 million Industry 4.0 Technology Implementation Grant program.

Grants will be reimbursement-based and will cover up to 50 percent of eligible technologies, including additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics and automation, and more. The amount of increased revenue as a result of implementing these technologies will be approximately $29.9 million, with an estimated 93 jobs created and 283 jobs retained.

“Michigan has always been ahead of the curve, from putting the wheels on wheels to Motown and creating the snowboard among other innovations,” says Quentin L. Messer Jr., CEO of MEDC and president and chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund board. “These grants are yet another way that we demonstrate our innovation spirit as we help prepare manufacturers to adopt new and innovative technologies for the future.

“By working with Automation Alley, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, our local partners, and communities, we are strengthening advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship, thereby creating jobs in this innovative sector for future generations of Michiganders.”

Grants were awarded to the following companies:

  • Amigo Mobility International Inc. in Saginaw County ($5,000).
  • Bay Motor Products in Grand Traverse County ($25,000).
  • Century in Grand Traverse County ($25,000).
  • Clips & Clamps Industries in Wayne County ($25,000).
  • Drake Enterprises Inc. in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Elite Mold & Engineering in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Great Lakes Fabrication and Machining in Shiawassee County ($25,000).
  • I F Metalworks in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Legends Manufacturing Inc. in Jackson County ($25,000).
  • Leon Speakers in Washtenaw County ($12,059).
  • Metalworks in Mason County ($25,000).
  • Nicolai North America in Kent County ($2,500).
  • NTL Industries Inc. in Macomb County ($15,000).
  • Nuvar Inc. in Allegan County ($25,000).
  • Prestige Stamping in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Prosper-Tech Machine & Tool in Macomb County ($12,000).
  • Regency Plastics in Huron County ($25,000).
  • Sequoia Applied Solutions in Washtenaw County ($25,000).
  • Synergy Additive Manufacturing in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Tooling and Equipment International Corp in Wayne County ($25,000).
  • TubeCo Inc. in Macomb County ($25,000).
  • Tube Fab Roman Engineering in Cheboygan County ($25,000).
  • Zero Tolerance in Macomb County ($25,000).

Grant applications will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis until all funds are allocated. To learn more about the requirements of the program and to view the grant application, visit here.

The funding is part of an MEDC-led effort to ensure that 50 percent of Michigan manufacturers — or 6,200 businesses — are prepared to adopt Industry 4.0 technologies by 2025. Through the Industry 4.0 initiative that MEDC launched in 2020 in partnership with Automation Alley and Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, the state aims to help small and mid-sized manufacturers prepare for the future of manufacturing.

Burton-Katzman Secures $17.5M in Financing for Chesterfield Township Project

Bingham Farms commercial real estate company Burton-Katzman has secured a $17.5 million construction-to-permanent loan for a speculative industrial property in Chesterfield Township.

The loan was secured from the New York-based commercial real estate (CRE) financing platform Lev.

Upon construction completion, the property will encompass approximately 180,000 square feet of high-demand industrial space. The property was purchased, and is being constructed, through a partnership controlled by Burton-Katzman. Dominion Realty Services is serving as the developer and the property is being marketed by Dominion Real Estate Advisors.

The development project is spearheaded by Burton-Katzman’s Peter Burton, Kris Korvun, and Conrad Schewe, along with Dominion’s COO and CFO Andy Boyce. The construction-to-permanent financing package allows the firm to lock in the interest rate at the outset of the deal to minimize interest rate risk.

Detroit ACE Announces Plans to Activate Neighborhood Arts Alleys

The Detroit Arts, Culture, and Entrepreneurship Office (Detroit ACE) announced a new initiative to transform commercial and residential alleys in five neighborhoods across the city into community gathering spaces where residents can exhibit and experience art.

The project, called the Arts Alley Initiative, is funded with $3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and approved by Detroit City Council. The Arts Alleys project, which is part of Mayor Mike Duggan’s “Blight to Beauty” campaign, also is supported by the Ford Foundation.

The Art Alleys project is being conducted first as a pilot for possible future neighborhood alley activations by residents in neighborhoods throughout the city.

The project will build on work already being done by community groups and neighborhood associations that have activated alleys in their neighborhoods with art and creativity. It also builds on the work being done by the city to clear brush and trash from thousands of alleys across the city. Over the past two years, alleys behind nearly 2,000 residential blocks have been cleared and reclaimed.

“Alleys in our city for years have been havens for illegal dumping and overgrowth and we’re steadily changing that,” Duggan says. “Activating neighborhood alleys in this creative way is going to help turn them into real community assets and attractions.”

The Detroit ACE will execute community engagement throughout key areas in the city. The five pilot Arts Alleys will be in:

  • Jefferson Chalmers
  • Old Redford
  • Schulze
  • NW Goldberg
  • Springwells

For more information, visit www.detroitmi.gov/ace.

Citizens Business Conditions Index Moderates from Q1 Peak

Citizens Bank announced that its national Citizens Business Conditions Index (CBCI) dropped to 52.9 in the second quarter of 2022, down from its eight-year peak of 59.5 at the end of the first quarter but extending its streak to seven straight quarters above 50, indicating continued growth conditions for businesses.

Business activity remains healthy but is clearly cooling from the prior quarter. This could reflect an economy returning to a more sustainable level or it could indicate that conditions are poised to worsen.

Consumer inflation continued to trend higher throughout the quarter, reaching an annual pace of 9.1 percent in the report for June. The Federal Reserve (Fed) increased interest rates twice during the quarter. The Treasury market flashed a recessionary signal as the gap between 2-year and 10-year bond yields fell below zero. Consumer sentiment touched new lows. Yet, spending held steady, as pent-up demand from COVID restrictions continued to drive economic activity.

“We are seeing several cross currents in the environment,” says Eric Merlis, managing director of global markets at Citizens. “Concern levels are high, but individual outlooks are still good. Companies are still experiencing growth and maintaining positive momentum, and consumers are showing resilience. We see markets trying to calibrate expectations with these conflicting signals.”

Three of five components of the Index were additive in the second quarter, another sign of moderating activity after five-of-five were positive in Q1. Both the manufacturing and non-manufacturing indexes from the Institute for Supply Management trended in expansionary territory. They also showed moderation from Q1, however. The manufacturing index peaked around the first quarter of 2021, when the COVID rebound was in full swing. The non-manufacturing index peaked in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The index saw continued strength in the proprietary activity of the bank’s commercial banking clients, another underlying component of the CBCI. On the other hand, applications for new business formation were down in the period, detracting from the CBCI and indicating a pause from Q1.

For more details, visit here.

The Mint in Lathrup Village to Host C3 Summit Aug. 25

The Mint at Michigan First Conference Center in Lathrup Village is hosting the C3 Summit (Cleantech, Climatech, and Circular Economy) from 1-7 p.m. on Aug. 25.

The C3 Summit is a Showcase of cleantech, climatech, and circular economy technology companies and leaders.  The event will feature more than 30 exhibits including this year’s pitching companies, ventures who pitched in the inaugural C3 Showcase last year, as well as other prominent Michigan-based companies that are making a positive impact on climate.

Among the features speakers will be Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), and Ashley Grosh, vice president of Breakthrough Energy Fellows.

For more information and to register, visit here.

Northwood University Wins National Esports Program of the Year

Northwood University in Midland this week celebrated a historic milestone as its Timberwolves esports team won Program of the Year honors by the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

“This award means so much to the students and myself,” says Cody Elsen, e-sports coach. “The hard work everyone has put in resulted in a dream scenario for us.”

Northwood has had much success this year, capturing a world championship; a North American championship; three national titles; and countless league and tournament wins.

“Northwood had one of the most dominant years in collegiate esports history,” says Elsen. “The support from Northwood has enabled us to have a wildly successful year.”

As a student helping with team operations, Aden Frosch said this latest award is very special.

“The award is not just about those playing but everyone involved keeping the program heading forward,” says Frosch, who hails from Coppell, Tex.

The Timberwolves look to build on this great success heading into this fall with high expectations across eight esport tiles. Elsen was named Director of the Year and “Rocket League” Coach of the Year.

“I truly feel blessed to be named Director of the Year and Rocket League Coach of the Year,” says Elsen. “If it weren’t for the student-athletes and student workers, this would not have been possible. We are a student-first program and I have those hard workers to thank for this.”

This is the second consecutive year Elsen has been named Rocket League Coach of the Year, and his first time being named Director of the Year.

“We are looking ahead and seeking to capitalize on the momentum we built this year,” Elsen said. “We are grateful for Northwood’s support and will continue to make Timberwolves nation proud.”

Northwood fields teams in 11 different esports games. For more information about the program, visit northwood.edu/esports.

Ally Charitable Foundation Invests in Black-led Organizations

The Ally Charitable Foundation is investing $1.5 million over the next two years to provide transformational grants to 16 Black-led grassroots organizations in Detroit and Charlotte, N.C., Ally’s home markets.

The commitment builds on the original $400,000 investment and brings the total investment in these organizations to $1.9 million since 2021.

“Many of these organizations operate on very tight budgets to provide critical, on-the-ground support, and we wanted to make the funding process simpler and more accessible,” said Mike Rizer, president of the Ally Charitable Foundation. “These unrestricted grants will put game-changing funds in the hands of organizations aiming to close the opportunity and wealth gaps in their areas. This targeted, yet agile, approach to community giving starts to meet the pressing needs of smaller organizations led by Black leaders that are often overlooked by other funders.”

The Detroit organizations include:

Romanian Classical Rock Group Amadeus to Make U.S. Debut at Meadow Brook Hall

Amadeus, the Romanian all-female classical rock ensemble, will make its U.S. debut on stage at Meadow Brook Hall Aug. 4.

This event is part of the hall’s Summer Concert Series that typically features popular metro Detroit musicians at the National Historic Landmark, located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester.

“Amadeus brings so much talent and energy to each performance, no matter where they are around the world,” says Shannon O’Berski, director of external relations at Meadow Brook Hall. “We are thrilled to host this incredible ensemble as part of our summer concert series. Each concert brings its own atmosphere, and no place is a better setting for entertaining than Meadow Brook. We look forward to welcoming guests from near and far for this amazing performance.”

The crossover music ensemble has performed all over the world, released six records, and garnered more than 200 million hits on its YouTube channel.

The show is set for 7-9:30 p.m. on Aug. 4. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $35 each. More details are available here.

This evening includes a cash bar, snacks, and a self-guided touring of the historic mansion during the break. Guests are invited to come early to explore the estate and bring a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.

For information on other summer concerts at Meadow Brook Hall, visit here

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