Crain's Detroit Business, May 6, 2024

Page 1


Economic impact of the NFL Draft is likely to surpass projections

Organizers for the 2024 NFL Draft believe the economic impact of the three-day event on the city of Detroit and Southeast Michigan will surpass projections.

An o cial report on that impact won’t be complete until

June, but Visit Detroit President and CEO Claude Molinari, who also served as co-chair of the draft organizing committee, said the draft proved to be a big week for local businesses of all kinds.

“Our initial projections were

Bidding wars are heating up market

Having worked in California, homebuying was largely out of the picture for James Wachowski. But a recent job relocation to Southeast Michigan last year changed that equation for the beverage industry sales representative and his girlfriend.

Now, Wachowski and Renee Rivers are closing on their rst home, but even in the more affordable metro Detroit market, that process still proved challenging.

Indeed, the current market — a combination of escalating prices, elevated interest rates and tight inventory — was “insanely competitive,” Wachowski said, noting they were outbid in some instances by cash buyers. Ultimately, to get an o er accepted on the three-bedroom, two-bathroom Royal Oak home they’re purchasing, Wachowski and Rivers' winning o er was about $45,000 above the asking price. e couple asked that the nal sale price not be published. Doing so meant a smaller down

between $150 million and $175 million. We expect to go way beyond that,” Molinari said April 29 during a post-draft news conference. “ e week before the draft was the region’s best hotel revenue week for 2024. It’s pos-

payment than perhaps they would have liked, but Wachowski said he’s “100% comfortable” with the outcome. e home will allow them to avoid the “horror stories” they’ve heard from others over needing to do signi cant renovations immediately after purchase.

See HOMES on Page 16


Egg shortages are coming as avian u

sible the week of the draft could be the best hotel revenue week ever for Southeast Michigan. at’s in 128 years of tracking that.”

See DRAFT on Page 16

MORE FROM THE DRAFT They came, they saw, they raved. NFL fans impressed with changes in city. PAGE 17

Commentary: Detroit shined. I hope it never stops. PAGE 6

‘Fight Club’ star backs tech startup

e brothers behind outdoor apparel and gear retailer Moosejaw and actor Edward Norton have teamed up to create Detroit-based tech startup Zeck, a cloudbased software platform that is "reimagining the board meeting."

Zeck was co-founded by brothers Robert and Je rey Wolfe — who co-founded Madison Heights-based Moosejaw —


and Norton, best known for his performance in the movie "Fight Club."

Zeck secured a $7.5 million investment in its latest funding round, which was led by San Francisco-based Salesforce Ventures, the investment arm of Salesforce.

Zeck is a software that aims to make board meetings more collaborative and e cient and that

Director of a new state-run marijuana testing lab discusses setting standards. PAGE 19

hard. PAGE 3
See NORTON on Page 15
Houses in “starter home” price ranges are increasingly seeing bidding wars in metro Detroit. | NICK MANES Edward Norton More than 775,000 people attended the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit and spent millions of dollars in the city and region. | NIC ANTAYA

Mackinac Island adds historic protections — and red tape — on island’s east side

Mackinac Island historic preservationists are celebrating an ordinance passed this week that they say will protect another segment of the island’s storied past, although some businesses anticipate it also may add extra red tape.

e Mackinac Island City Council voted 3-2 on April 17 to pass an ordinance designating an approximately ve-block-by-twoblock area east of downtown as the East End Mission Historic District, which is also known as the Mission District.

It joins other historic districts on the island, including Hubbard’s Annex formed in 2010 and the Market and Main Historic District downtown and the West End Historic District, established in 2011. e designation adds an extra layer of protection for the 87 structures within the Mission District, including several hotels, bed-andbreakfasts, retailers, churches, homes, and apartment and condominium buildings.

Nancy May, 75, a thirdgeneration resident of Mackinac Island who lives and works in the district and was part of a vemember committee appointed by the city council to study the issue, said the committee is celebrating Wednesday’s vote after years of advocacy.

“If you’re my age, our grandfathers all drove horse and carriage, whether they lived in New York City or Mackinac Island. My generation is the last generation that can say that,” she said. “If we nd that Mackinac is unique today, just think about three generations from now, how unique it will be and how much will change in the next 100 years all around us. It might be the only place left in the country with the culture that we have.

“Mackinac’s worth preserving.”

Property owners within the Mission District will now need to seek approval from the Mackinac Island Historic District Commission before making architectural or aesthetic changes to buildings or demolishing structures, especially if they are deemed historically signi cant because of their age. Not all of the buildings in the district are historical; some of the houses only date to the early 2000s.


to the future of Mackinac’

May said she is “really glad that the Mission is now a historic district” but acknowledged the close city council vote re ects some property owners’ fear it may mean extra headaches or expense.

Shannon Westblade, owneroperator of Haan’s 1830 Inn, a bed-and-breakfast at 6806 Main St. within the new Mission District, said she feels torn about the ordinance.

“ ere are de nitely two sides of the coin,” she said. “Am I pas-

sionate about historical preservation? Absolutely. at’s something that in our business, we hold very dear, and it comes with opportunities … as far as looking for grants, keeping the value of our property the way that it should be (and) keeping our neighborhood its charming self.”

But because changes now need to be approved by the historic commission, she fears it could add extra time and headaches to the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the property.

“Both sides of that (issue) are, I think, honestly inevitable,” she said. “I do think that the island is a very special place, and it’s important for us all to keep it that way.”

e committee that studied the Mission District also included Sam Barnwell, chief development o cer for Hotel Investment Services Inc., which manages the Harbour View Inn that’s located in the district and owned by Jon and Lauren Cotton.

Barnwell has been involved in preservation e orts for more than 12 years and was part of the group that formed the downtown and West End historic districts.

He acknowledged the historic designation for the Mission District “adds another layer of review and bureaucracy,” which some business owners on the island view as an unwanted burden. But he said he prefers to take a holistic view.

“In playing the long game, for

the integrity of Mackinac going forward, it’s so vital to the future of Mackinac,” he said. “Most of us that manage historic properties, you’re really a steward of that property. You’re going to continue to use wood siding, you’re going to continue to paint your building, because that’s what’s right for the integrity of that building. It’s a different mindset coming from owning, managing and operating historic resources, versus just any chunk of asset that’s there to generate a return.”

Trish Martin, owner of Bogan Lane Inn within the Mission District and a member of the Mackinac Island Planning Commission, said she thinks the extra layer of regulation is reasonable. Many building changes that property owners seek, like additions or structural changes, already have to go before the planning commission, she said, adding that she doubts it will consume much additional time for property owners.

“ e Historic District (Commission) meets on the same day as the planning commission, so we usually get things just passed from HDC down to us at planning commission, and if they’ve been given a positive review from HDC, then we don’t have to look at the architectural features or any of that sort of thing, just the regular building issues,” she said. “So I don’t see that it adds a whole lot more.”

is bordered by East Blu to the north, Lake Huron to the south, state park land encompassing Marquette Park and the Island House Hotel to the west, and Mission Point Resort to the east.

About half of the buildings in the new Mission District were deemed to be architecturally signi cant structures, dating from approximately 1790 to 1941. Some of the most prevalent architectural styles include Colonial, Greek Revival, Gothic Revival, Queen Anne and Victorian Revival style buildings.

Today, many of the former homes are now lodging establishments, such as Bay View Bed and Breakfast, Inn on Mackinac, Harbour View Inn, Haan’s 1830 Inn, the Jacob Wendell House Bed and Breakfast, Bogan Lane Inn and Pine Cottage Bed and Breakfast.

Identifying signi cant structures

Grand Rapids-based historic preservation consultant Past Perfect Inc. worked with the committee to document the inventory, architecture and history for the proposed district.

Past Perfect Principal Jennifer Metz said the entire island is already designated a National Historic Landmark, which bestows eligibility for federal preservation funding but does not prohibit landowners from making changes. is step will give local control to the process.

Metz said that as the island’s tourism industry continues to grow, development pressures are increasing, which could put structures not protected by a historic district at risk of demolition to make way for new buildings.

Past Perfect Inc. did a reconnaissance survey of the island — more than 80% of which is stateowned and already protected — to nd the highest density areas of privately owned land with buildings of historical signi cance for this project.

“We agreed on the East End, (which has) dense historic resources and the oldest properties that were not protected in any sort of (o cial) way,” Metz said. e area that ultimately was designated as the Mission District

Metz said the historic district will follow National Register and State Historic Preservation O ce criteria set by the U.S. Department of the Interior when evaluating requests for changes to buildings.

“You can still change, you can still modernize, and demolition can occur, but it usually has to have a rationale of why (it’s OK) to lose this historic resource,” she said. “It would have to be pretty extreme, or an impediment to something that is for the greater good of the community, let’s say a hospital that could not go anywhere else.”

Protecting the resource

May became interested in efforts to preserve Mackinac Island about 16 years ago, when a group of investors bought the historic McNally Cottage on Main Street downtown and announced a plan to demolish it and build a new hotel, according to previous media reports.

She went door to door collecting signatures that contributed to a moratorium on the demolition but ultimately was unsuccessful in saving the building. However, the petition drove awareness and support for historic preservation. Just a few years later, Mackinac City Council approved the creation of the downtown and West End historic districts.

May said she’s watched some of the structures in the Mission District be converted to seasonal housing that hasn’t always been kept up well. She’s hopeful this designation will ensure they are better preserved for future generations.

“We don’t want to lose our resources,” she said. “We’re not against people buying new pieces of property and building houses on it or new units on it. at’s happening right now in a couple places in the district — that’s not the thrust of the preservation. We’re into preserving, not preventing development.”

Haan‘s 1830 Inn on Mackinac Island. Harbour View Inn on Mackinac Island. The Inn on Mackinac on Mackinac Island. The view from Marquette Park looking east to the Mission District. PHOTOS BY NANCY MAY

Egg shortages coming as bird u spreads

For the past few years, Michigan farmers have pro ted during outbreaks of H5N1 — the current strain of bird u — as they have back lled losses from farms with sick birds in other parts of the country.

Now, it’s come full circle as the bird u is hitting ocks and stocks in Michigan.

ere’s a new wrinkle in the avian u outbreak that farmers are contending with as well: It’s not just chickens and turkeys that are getting sick. For the rst time ever, cows are, too — and agriculture o cials are scrambling to take action.

e last major avian u outbreak struck Iowa, the country’s largest egg-laying hen producer, in 2022 and early 2023, infecting

District Detroit seeks partners for 3 sites

e Ilitch family’s real estate arm is seeking co-developers for three of its properties around the District Detroit area.

Developers have until June 26 to submit their quali cations to co-develop with Olympia Development of Michigan the former Fine Arts Building façade property on West Adams that faces Grand Circus Park, the Blenheim Building along the Columbia Street pedestrian walkway near the Fox eatre and the Woodstock Apartments on Peterboro across from the Detroit Shipping Co. food hall.

e Fine Arts Building façade property has two parcels totaling about 0.52 acres, and Olympia is looking for a co-developer to help turn it into residential and retail space. e Ilitch family purchased the Fine Arts Building

and the adjoining Adams eatre in 1993 for $500,000, according to city property records. e theatre and all but the façade of the Fine Arts Building were torn down in 2009, according to Historic Detroit.

e Blenheim, which has about 17,500 square feet and originally had 19 apartments, is eyed for residential or hotel space, or retail. e two-building Woodstock Apartments has 71 units across about 47,500 square feet, and Olympia is aiming for that property to be rehabbed as multifamily space.

According to a document on the District Detroit website, there is a May 8 information session at 2 p.m., and RSVP to that was due by May 3. A question-and-answer period runs through June 19. After developers submit their qualications by June 26, Olympia will send invitations to quali ed de-

more than 16 million birds in the state. As Michigan farms worked to replenish the nation’s egg stocks, they saw new pro ts as retail egg prices drastically skyrocketed, reaching a peak of $4.82 for a dozen in January 2023 before falling to $2.14 in November, according to consumer price index data.

Now it’s Michigan’s turn, and the latest outbreak has hit the local industry hard: More than 6.5

million of the state’s 15 million egg-laying hens have been decimated.

e virus, which is transmitted by wild migratory birds, is fatal to bird species. Farmers also euthanize infected birds to alleviate their symptoms and, frankly, put them out of their misery while also protecting non-infected stocks.

“ ere’s no doubt that the high

egg prices (from the last outbreak) de nitely bene ted our egg producers,” said Ernie Birchmeier, the livestock and dairy specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “Now the shoe is on the other foot.”

e national average price for a dozen Grade A eggs is $2.41, up about 10% year-to-date.

velopers for each potential project. ose invited to respond to each RFP will receive information on the development program and deal structure. Once a developer for each property is selected, formal negotiations on development agreements will begin.

e U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to reclassify marijuana, shifting the legal federal framework around the drug for the rst time in more than 50 years.

e DEA’s proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House O ce of Management and Budget, would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs, according to reporting by the Associated Press.

Moving marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug doesn’t make it federally legal, but it would be a significant change for cannabis businesses and their employees: It would mean instant cash ow with access to banking opportunities, as well as loan oppor-

tunities which could lead to much faster expansion of the industry in Michigan and other states where marijuana is legal.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and look forward to doing our part to keep Michigan as a national leader in the cannabis industry,” said Brian Hanna, executive director of Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency.

It would also open the door to research grant opportunities and, most importantly, end a rigid tax regime that until now has sti ed growth in the highly regulated industry.

“A reclassi cation of marijuana from Schedule I to a lower schedule or full legalization would represent a signi cant victory for the industry,” Jonah Folbe, CFO of Birminghambased Quality Roots, said in an

BIRD FLU on Page 18
An outbreak of bird u has hit Michigan’s agriculture industry hard. | BLOOMBERG
See DISTRICT on Page 15
The Blenheim Building at 81 W. Columbia St. sits at the corner of the pedestrian gateway along Columbia near the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. OLYMPIA DEVELOPMENT OF MICHIGAN
Marijuana shift would equal instant cash ow See MARIJUANA on Page 14
Dustin Walsh

Online auctions aren’t just for distressed properties anymore

Afew weeks ago, a large Troy o ce building sold for over $6.8 million.

But selling the 123,500-squarefoot 901 Tower Drive in the North Troy Corporate Park wasn’t done through traditional marketing methods. Instead, it was listed in an online auction, a tool that not all that long ago was pretty much reserved for distressed properties.  at’s no longer the case, as online auction platforms like Ten-X, RealINSIGHT Marketplace and Crexi all compete to sell properties of all stripes, not just those with owners that are, for example, behind on their loans.

“Exposure was a key factor for the sale of 901,” said Barry Swatsenbarg, an executive vice president in the Royal Oak o ce of brokerage house Colliers International Inc. which handled the 901 Tower Drive auction. He said he has been auctioning properties since 2012 and has noticed the evolution of the auction landscape.

“Ten-X ... coupled with our reach, was an ideal joint approach to sell this asset,” Swatsenbarg said.

For some brokers who regularly use those services, they address shortcomings that can arise in the transaction process.

“ e traditional approach to sales is inherently awed,” said Steven Silverman, senior vice

president of investment advisory and brokerage services for Farmington Hills-based Friedman Real Estate. He said he uses all three platforms. “Typically, brokers offer only partial information to potential buyers, prompting o ers. en, sellers release the remaining due diligence materials after a contract is signed. is process often results in price adjustments, prolonged negotiations, or even failed deals.”

e auction approach tends to provide more due diligence documents at the outset.

e auction process isn’t for every buyer or every seller, Silverman said. For example, single-tenant properties with long-term leases can extract more value from a traditional sales method, while owners “prioritizing certainty of closing over maximizing value” may nd the auction process to be the way to go. ose owners could include landlords with properties with shorter leases, vacancies, capital improvement needs or slightly higher cap rates, Silverman said.

It’s not been a strictly upward trajectory in auctions and sales, instead following the peaks and valleys of the commercial real estate market the last several years.

Michigan auctions on Ten-X, which is owned by the Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service CoStar Group Inc., have uctuated since 2017, in part due to the pandemic and the ripple e ects it had on the commercial real estate market.

ere was a high of 104 auctions in Michigan in 2019, falling to 78 in 2020 and 73 in 2021. But in 2022, the number of auctions increased to 97, plunging back down to 67 in 2023, according to data provided by the company.

ose are just listings, however. Not all of those properties formally sold, and there was a low of 46.15% of auctioned properties actually selling in 2019 — 49 of 104 for a total sales value of $127.26 million — and a high of 70.51% closing in 2020 (55 of 78 auctioned) for a total sales value of $84.31 million, Ten-X says.

“I don’t think Michigan is any di erent than the rest of the country,” said Victor Gutierrez, vice president at Ten-X, said in an interview on April 30. “Transaction volumes were steadily increasing right up until the pandemic, hit pause in the pandemic and then with all the cheap money that came from the pandemic, transaction volume skyrocketed. In 2021 and 2022, we saw tremendous volume nationwide and then, as interest rates started to increase in 2023, that’s where you see that steep decline.”

So far through 2024, there have been 15 auctions, with 11 properties sold (73.33%) for a total sales volume of just over $28 million. at, e ectively through just one quarter, Gutierrez noted, puts sales volume at more than half of what the platform did in Michigan in all of 2023 ($54.72 million).

Michigan auctions tend to be a bit more insular than in other states.

Case in point: According to Gutierrez, 55% of bidders on Michigan properties are from the state, compared to a national average of 48%, while buyers who close on the purchase of Michigan properties auctioned on Ten-X are from Michigan in 61% of the cases, compared to 54% of in-state buyers nationally.

Gutierrez said between 2010 and 2018, distressed and bankowned real estate made up a large concentration of its listings, but that has been shifting as the company has “actively been pitching ourselves for the past few years as just another way of disposing or selling real estate.”

In the next few years, Gutierrez said he expects nationally the pendulum to shift back to distressed assets starting in the second half of this year as more properties come to market as their di cultto-re nance loans come due to challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and a dicult interest rate and lending environment.

In the next few days, bidding

Here are the Hatch Detroit nalists vying for

A beauty products maker, custom clothier, food pop-up and an entertainment space have made the nal cut for the 2024 Comerica Hatch Detroit contest.

e group of entrepreneurs moves to the nal round of public voting and will have the opportunity to present their business plans at the annual Hatch O , set for 6 p.m. May 9 at the Wayne State University Industry Innovation Center at 461 Burroughs St. Public voting opens at noon May 1 and runs through the end of the Hatch O competition. Votes can be made once each day.

e winner gets $100,000 in startup funds from Comerica Bank along with a package of accounting, legal, IT and public relations assistance from Hatch Detroit and its partners. e support will help the winning business open a brickand-mortar location in Detroit, Hamtramck or Highland Park.

e winner will be chosen from a combination of the public vote and judges’ determination.

e four nalists are:

◗ Amarra Beauty Products/ G.L.A.M. Body Scrubs: A certied woman- and minority-owned Detroit-based business specializing in natural, organic body scrubs.

Harry Rich Clothier: A Detroitbased creator of custom garments using fashion as a tool to inspire, liberate and educate people to think beyond the status quo.

◗ Khana: A Pakistani-inspired food pop-up based in Detroit.

◗ Roller Skate Detroit: Adults-only roller rink aiming to provide metro Detroiters with an entertainment facility focused on healthy fun.

e four nalists were chosen from a group of 10 semi nalists.

Public voting to cut the eld to four ran April 12-18.

e Hatch contest has played a role in the startup of some noteworthy Detroit businesses, including La Feria restaurant in Midtown (2012), Sister Pie bakery in West Village (2014), Meta Physica Massage in Corktown (2016), Baobab Fare in New Center (2017) and 27th Letter Books in downtown Detroit (2019). Event business Bouncing Around the Motor City took home the grand prize last year.

With this year’s investment, Comerica Bank and the Comerica Charitable Foundation will have committed more than $1.1 million

begins on the Raleigh O centre in South eld, a Credit Acceptance Corp.-owned o ce building with 297,000 square feet at 25300-25330 Telegraph Road between West 10 Mile Road and Civic Center Drive. at is being coordinated by Farbman Group, which is based in South eld but is moving to Farmington Hills.

So far this year, the highest sale price for a Ten-X-auctioned property was for $6.8 million for the Tower Drive building in Troy.  Since 2017, the highest sale price for a property in Michigan overall was close to $13.5 million for a Fruitport building on Apple Drive south of Muskegon o I-96. Crexi says on its website that its auctions have resulted in $615 billion-plus in property sales, and marketed properties have totaled more than $7 trillion in value. RealINSIGHT Marketplace says in a 2023 report that more than $4 billion in real estate has been sold through its auctions. In Q2 2023, RealINSIGHT Marketplace had 69 auctions, and 53 deals closed, the company says.


to Hatch Detroit since the partnership began in 2012. is is the fourth Hatch contest with the $100,000 cash grand prize, up from $50,000 the rst seven years of the competition.

Just making the nals is an accomplishment, Meghan Storey, Comerica Bank senior vice president and Michigan director for small business, said in a news release.

“... these businesses already have the community’s support behind them and have accomplished an incredible entrepreneurial feat,” Storey said. “Each nalist has demonstrated innova-


tion, creativity, and resilience — skills that will take them far and leave a mark on the city of Detroit’s small business landscape.”

Hatch Detroit supports existing and new retail initiatives in Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Hatch Detroit was founded in 2011 to give residents and aspiring entrepreneurs an opportunity to have a voice in neighborhood retail development and joined TechTown in 2022. Hatch Detroit provides funding, exposure and mentoring in support of its alumni entrepreneurs. With support from Hatch Detroit, 50 alumni have opened businesses.

From left: Harry Richmond of Harry Rich Clothier, Amarra Beauty Products/G.L.A.M. Body Scrubs, Keith Walker of Roller Skate Detroit and Maryam Khan of Khana. PHOTOS BY HATCH DETROIT
Kirk Pinho The 901 Tower Drive of ce building in the North Troy Corporate Park fetched just over $6.8 million in an online auction in March. COSTAR GROUP

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Detroit shined in NFL Draft. I hope it never stops.

Recently, a friend and I attended a concert in downtown Detroit. Walking around in search of a cold pint and a burger, we approached the fencing plotting the NFL Draft.

My friend, a lifelong metro Detroiter, immediately dogged the city. A lifetime of disappointment can do that to a fella. He pointed to an overowing trash can, and buildings in disrepair in Cadillac Square, a mere block away from the draft.

“People are gonna come here and think this city sucks,” he bristled. “We always do this to ourselves.”

is isn’t just a negative man with a negative outlook. He’s speaking from experience. is “once great city” and its inhabitants have seen major events come and go, many just dying on the vine. For instance, the Detroit Auto Show — once home to spectacle so remarkable ranchers drove cattle down the city streets and Chrysler smashed a Jeep through Cobo Hall’s glass walls — has withered for years, becoming now more of regional auto show. Grand, but much meeker.

e 2006 Super Bowl amounted to bupkis for Detroit; a big event, to be sure, but amid a city that people knew was failing.

We all wished the other major events


worked out di erent, and held more than a weekend or a week of positive headlines for Detroit. A wish is just a dream without hope.

But for the three days of the NFL Draft, the city showed out. Records were smashed. On the rst two nights, ursday and Friday, o cials closed down the entry gates because the area covering Campus Martius to Hart Plaza was completely full.

Detroit was on top ... again, but di erent. What is this feeling? Is this hope?

It’s the same hope brought by something as silly as a bunch of muscle-bound men playing a children’s game and actually winning at that game.

See, the 2006 Super Bowl at Ford Field was supposed to be the city’s landmark moment. e second chance it deserved that would push the city toward its proper

station as the jewel of the Midwest.

But that Super Bowl fell in the midst of Detroit’s — and Michigan’s — lost decade. e state was plagued by cratering car sales and general economic malaise. Only months before the big game, General Motors announced several plant closures and would later cease many more operations alongside Ford Motor Co. and the thencalled Chrysler.

Michigan was in a single-state recession before the national Great Recession pushed the region over the edge in 2008. And the Lions? ey went 0-16 that year to record the worst-ever season in NFL history. It’s really hard to escape from a nightmare when your chosen form of escapism brings on the night terrors.

By 2010, the state ranked dead last in the nation for economic growth and employment. Detroit’s bankruptcy followed only a few years later.

But maybe this time IS di erent. Detroit is a di erent city. Most would even say it’s thriving. e Detroit Lions are good. Really good. Missing the Super Bowl by only one game.

e Pride of Detroit have, in fact, returned pride to the city.

ursday night’s rst round of the draft completely proved my friend wrong. It was a night of rsts even beyond the NFL attendance records.

See NFL DRAFT on Page 19

A new way to reinvent mobility in Southeast Michigan

Southeast Michigan is at a crossroads in building the future of mobility for this region, one with two paths: e old way and the smart way. e old way is strewn with geographic silos, political division, racial tension, zero-sum games over funding, and no central vision or plan.  e new way embraces technology, innovation, public engagement, accountability, transparency, regional cooperation, and bold leadership. At the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation or SMART, Southeast Michigan’s regional transit system, we consider these attributes to be the SMART way to 21st century mobility and economic development.

Nearly three years ago, I came to SMART with a career’s worth of experience transforming mobility for some of the nation’s largest public transit systems in Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. I’ve seen it done the wrong way. I’ve seen it done the right way. As general manager of SMART, I am proud to say our enterprise is driving innovation in metro Detroit mobility.

With cooperation from our regional partners and guidance from our riders, SMART’s newapproach goals include:

Building a better core product with a huge emphasis on bus safety, recruiting and training drivers, and making buses cleaner and more reliable. We must be a performance-based enterprise that people can trust enough to invest in.

Making on-demand transit and ride sharing options a permanent feature. While the SMART Flex program operates much in the way private services like Uber work, Southeast Michigan residents need more options, more exibility and better integrated mobility as they change the ways they live, work, and play. Creating a user-friendly app for all area mobility services, allowing people to plug in the location they want to go and immediately be o ered their options for getting there.

◗ Integrating and expanding public transit within new service areas.

SMART is about mobility, not just buses. We’re an all-purpose, high-tech solution for picking you up where you are and

getting you where you want to go. We are partnering to build a network of regional mobility options, all the while reinvesting $49 million per year in metro Detroit businesses that are integral to our operations. Our next step is the biggest one.

Earlier this year, SMART announced a series of public meetings in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties to better understand our riders’ destinations, preferences, and priorities. ese online and in-person sessions are part of a major study we’ve commissioned to determine exactly how to build a smarter system. With the SMARTer Mobility study, we’re not merely seeking change; we’re inviting collaboration and engagement from our riders and partners to co-create a transit system that works for everyone. Because even if you never step foot on a bus, you rely on the people who do.  is is possible because of regional leaders like David Coulter, Mike Duggan, Warren Evans, and Mark Hackel, who I have been proud to partner with over the past two-and-a-half years. And it is possible thanks to 62% of voters in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties who, in 2022, approved county-speci c millage requests supporting public transit.

As somebody who has been in the public transit business since I got behind the wheel of a bus for the rst time in 1980, I can tell you that every successful mass transit system has been supported by regional funding. Also, smart regional systems consider innovations like bus rapid transit, which features roadways dedicated to buses and gives priority to buses at intersections. BRT combines the capacity and speed of light rail transit and mass rapid transit systems with the exibility, simplicity, and a ordability of a traditional bus system.

Can Southeast Michigan eliminate funding silos and reshape the future of mobility in the region that reinvented mobility a century ago?

Can Southeast Michigan eliminate funding silos and reshape the future of mobility in the region that reinvented mobility a century ago? I honestly don’t know; a lot depends on what we hear from riders and stakeholders in the SMARTer Mobility study. But I do believe there has never been a better time for smarter thinking.

6 | CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS | MAY 6, 2024 Sound off: Crain’s considers longer opinion pieces from guest writers on issues of interest to business readers. Email ideas to Managing Editor Michael Lee at
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Dwight Ferrell Dustin Walsh Lions fans cheer on the rst night of the 2024 NFL Draft Thursday, April 25, in downtown Detroit. | NIC ANTAYA

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Please visit us at to learn more and become involved today.


How law rms are harnessing AI and weighing its risks

e rise of arti cial intelligence threatens to upend work practices across virtually all industries, and the legal eld has a bird’s eye view of the potential disruption to come.

Lawyers are riding the AI wave in two ways. First, they are scrambling to understand what impact the emergence of generative AI will have on clients in practices ranging from automotive and technology to labor and M&A. It’s a nascent space without any real case law setting out guideposts, they say, which makes it even more complex.

e other challenge for attorneys is how they should incorporate AI into their own work ow — or how they should shut it out. e technology is showing promise in streamlining administrative functions, easing the discovery process and aiding in case development. At the same time, the pitfalls, such as privacy violations and “hallucinations,” could be career-ending. at’s why attorneys in metro Detroit and around the U.S. generally are treading carefully when it comes to AI.

“It is a complicated, huge conundrum in many ways because everybody wants to play in that sandbox and grab some kind of opportunity from it,” said Claudia Rast, attorney at Detroit-based


Butzel Long specializing in data protection and emerging technologies. “ e folks like lawyers are in the background saying wait a minute, you have to have guardrails.”

Rast and her colleague Angela Shapiro, a litigator at the rm, have been closely tracking what AI means not just for their own practices, but for the legal industry in general. When generative AI and ChatGPT burst on the scene a little more than a year ago, law rms around the country were put on alert, with many forming working groups to address it. e stances that rms have since taken on the emerging technology vary widely.

“We are certainly middle of the road o cially, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have experimentation going on,” said Lance Ander-

son, who helps lead the AI focus group for Detroit-based Dickinson Wright. “We’re just not going to jeopardize our clients’ information for purposes of getting the brand new shiny toy.”

e potential for that shiny toy to be the new gold standard, however, is not lost on Anderson or other attorneys. In a recent study conducted by analytics giant LexisNexis,

nearly half of the 3,752 lawyers surveyed said they expect generative AI to “signi cantly transform” the practice of law, while 77% believed it would improve e ciency in the profession.

Arti cial intelligence has been part of the legal industry for decades, primarily in the form of predictive analytics, Rast said. When case les evolved from

reams of paper to electronic documents, analytics software from companies including LexisNexis and Westlaw allowed lawyers to pore through data more e ciently during the e-discovery process. What has changed recently is the “generative” aspect of machine learning, or the computer’s ability to create content. “ e thing that made all of this

Two prominent players in Detroit real estate and development are entangled in a dispute over an unpaid loan tied to their purchase of a high-rise apartment tower along the Detroit River.

Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren ruled Joe Barbat must pay Arie Leibovitz $2.77 million — $2.1 million in principal and unpaid interest of nearly $651,000 — on a December 2017 loan that matured ve years later in December 2022.

Court lings say Leibovitz loaned Barbat the money because Barbat “disclosed that he did not intend to fund his 50% share of the required cash payment to Leibovitz’s dismay” for the 30-story, 410-unit apartment building that became known as the Je ersonian Houze. It’s now under di erent ownership

and management, called e Je erson.

Also named as defendants in Leibovitz's December 2022 complaint are Barbat's wife, Nora, the Nora Barbat Living Trust and Barbat Holdings LLC.  Nonetheless, the two investors ultimately became the tower’s co-owners before Fannie Mae foreclosed on it and bought it at auction with a $46.4 million credit bid.

Barbat is appealing the judgment and his daughter, Jules, posted a surety bond of a little more than $3 million as the judgment is stayed pending appeal.

e parties are also ghting over the validity of the bond.

In court lings, Leibovitz's Bodman PLC attorneys question whether Barbat's daughter, a 2021 high school graduate and a property manager with Barbat Holdings, has the assets to cover the judgment.

Barbat’s attorneys with Plunkett Cooney PC contend in lings that Acqua Holdings LLC, a Florida LLC controlled by the daughter, owns a 4,600-square-foot, three-bedroom, seven-bathroom residential unit between Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is currently on the market for $7 million.

Warren determined that there should be a hearing next month because “there is su cient basis of concern about the validity of the bond (including what appears to be an extremely recent transfer of the assets at issue … )” to Jules Barbat. e asset transfer was effective as of April 3, according to exhibits attached to court lings.

Barbat and Leibovitz bought e Je ersonian in late 2017 through River Houze LLC's ownership structure. Ambler, Pa.-based Berkadia Commercial Lending

LLC originated a $35.919 million, 15-year Fannie Mae loan at 3.84% to River Houze.

But in a February 2021 complaint in Wayne County Circuit Court, Leibovitz alleged mismanagement, self-dealing — which is not a crime but a breach of duciary trust — and accounting and nancial reporting failures by Barbat since they bought the complex. at case is now in arbitration.

Both Leibovitz and his Bodman attorney declined to comment.

Fannie Mae said in April 2021 that Leibovitz's February 2021 lawsuit "has laid bare the severe mismanagement and failed operations of the property, including an obvious dispute between borrower's members as how to properly and e ectively manage and operate the property."

Barbat, for his part, has denied mismanagement and said the apartment tower was well managed and current on its loan payments.

8 | CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS | MAY 6, 2024 Developer ordered to pay $2.77M over loan for riverside apartments LAW
wants to play in that sandbox,” Claudia Rast, an attorney at Butzel Long, said about AI. PROVIDED Kirk Pinho The 30-story apartment building called The Jefferson on the Detroit River. | COSTAR GROUP

pop was this generative capability of predicting and using these large language models,” Rast said.

Generative AI has stirred up all sorts of issues from intellectual property ownership disputes to “deep fakes,” or digitally manipulated media that can appear authentic. For example, deep fakes of President Joe Biden and celebrity Taylor Swift proliferated online

earlier this year and brought AI into the spotlight.

For lawyers, the perils of generative AI have manifested in “hallucinations,” or instances when AI tools generate fake information. It is happening in U.S. courtrooms, though no incidents in Michigan have come to light. In New York, lawyers have been caught accidentally including fake, albeit

convincing, case citations in briefs that were generated with chatbots and submitted to the court.

at has led some courts in Michigan to explore new policies related to AI, and some jurisdictions are considering implementing mandatory disclosures if the technology is used, Shapiro said. Banning it outright has also been a consideration, but in Shapiro’s eyes, that would be the wrong move.

“ at’s letting fear lead the process, rather than practicality or reality at the moment,” she said.

e American Bar Association last year adopted several guidelines for the use of AI, with a focus on transparency and accountability. Developers of AI should be subject to human oversight and control, and they should ensure the traceability of their product to protect intellectual property, according to the ABA.

Given the wide reach and potentially massive implications of AI, there’s been a general expectation for a cascade of related legal disputes. While that could happen, lawyers told Crain’s that it is generally still too early to gauge how litigious of an issue it will be, and the legal industry is waiting for legislators to put up the guardrails.

e EU Arti cial Intelligence Act is being closely watched as the “world’s rst comprehensive AI law.” Passed in March, the law establishes rules for AI systems based on their level of risk and mandates certain transparency requirements, including the disclosure of content generated by AI, prevention of generating illegal content and publishing summaries of copyrighted data.

At Dickinson Wright, the rm began testing earlier this year third-party, fully generative AI in “data lakes,” or instances discon-

Founders Fund names new leader

Michigan Founders Fund has named Rishi Moudgil, former head of Greenlight Fund Detroit, as its new executive director.

He succeeds founding executive director Trista Van Tine who left at the end of last year.

Washington, D.C.-based Nonpro t Professionals Advisory Group LLC led the search.

Moudgil brings social impact and entrepreneurial experience to the Michigan Founders Fun role. He was the founding executive director of Greenlight Fund Detroit for its rst ve years before departing nearly a year ago. He led e orts to raise two community investment funds to support an inclusive and scalable approach to locally-led problem-solving designed to improve the lives of families in Detroit.

e initial $3 million raised through philanthropic and corporate commitments when GreenLight came to Detroit leveraged $8

million or more in commitments from three national groups that have come into the city to work on helping returning citizens get jobs, improving teacher training and retention and boosting young children's reading prociency and at-home learning. A second fund raised $5 million by the time Moudgil left the organization last year.

Earlier in his career, Moudgil launched tech and communitybased ventures in Southeast Michigan. He also ran the Great Lakes Entrepreneurs Quest, Michigan’s rst statewide entrepreneurial support program, and founded the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Impact at the Ross School of Business.

“Rishi has a unique and distinct record of successful organizationbuilding and commitment to social impact that perfectly matches the aspirations of MFF, and with his val-

nected from real client information, Anderson said, declining to name the software supplier. Although the technology is far from real world application, leaders at the law rm want to be prepared for when it is ready.

“Some rms are being more visible than others, but they are all very conscious of the opportunities and the risk that go with this,” Anderson said.

For Detroit-based Miller Caneld Paddock and Stone PLC, the approach is more wait and see. e rm is looking into generative AI’s

ues and his voice to guide the next phase of MFF’s growth,” said MFF cofounder and chair Dug Song, the co-founder of Duo Security, which sold to Cisco Systems Inc. in 2018 for $2.35 billion. Song and Bhushan Kulkarni, who co-founded InfoReady Corp. and in 2021 cybersecurity company SensCy with former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, launched MFF in 2019 as an initiative within the Ann Arbor Community Foundation. It spun o in 2021 to become an independent nonpro t platform that provides education and networking for its highgrowth company members and serves as a philanthropic vehicle for them and other venture capitalist members.

Since 2019-20, MFF has grown to more than 150 members and hosted events attracting more than 1,500 attendees, including Michigan Tech Week in 2022 and 2023.

tial tact and response has been one of prohibition and limitation on use unless there’s either agreement by clients or a clear review for accuracy.”

Shapiro, with Butzel Long, said machine learning tools have made legal research and e-discovery exponentially more e cient. For that reason, she sees big potential for AI in litigation, including for story development.

“Your case is a story,” she said. “You go through and nd all the documents and relevant information for the case, but you still have

“Some rms are being more visible than others, but they are all very conscious of the opportunities and the risk.”
Lance Anderson of law rm Dickinson Wright

possible utility, but the software is cost-prohibitive and too risky to implement, said Ashley Higginson, principal at the rm specializing in employment and labor.

“We really at this point are focused on learning and understanding its utility perhaps in the future but in the short-term protecting from any misuse of it,” Higginson said. “In that way, the ini-

to go in and nd out how to put it all together …You have to nd the whole story from the sea of potential evidence.”

e technology is full of possibilities but still not quite ready for prime time, Shapiro added.

“Generative AI has a lot of promise. It is starting to come through on that promise, but there’s still a lot of areas where it’s not there just yet.”

MAY 6, 2024 | CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS | 9 A Fee-Only Wealth Management Group Michigan’s #1 Financial Advisor by both Barron’s* and Forbes** Charles C. Zhang CFP®, MBA, MSFS, ChFC, CLU Founder and President 101 West Big Beaver Road, 14th Floor Troy, MI 48084 (248) 687-1258 Minimum Investment Requirement: $1,000,000 in Michigan $2,000,000 outside of Michigan. Assets under custody of LPL Financial and Charles Schwab. *As reported in Barron’s March 11, 2023. Rankings based on assets under management, revenue generated for the advisors’ rms, quality of practices, and other factors. **As reported in Forbes April 4, 2023. e rankings, developed by Shook Research, are based on in-person and telephone due diligence meetings and a ranking algorithm for advisors who have a minimum of seven years of experience. Other factors include client retention, industry experience, compliance records, rm nominations, assets under management, revenue generated for their rms, and other factors. See zhang for full ranking criteria. www.zhang Charles is the highest ranked Fee-Only Advisor on Forbes’ list of America’s Top Wealth Advisors**
Rishi Moudgil

New boardwalk to open as part of Detroit RiverWalk

e next pieces of the Detroit RiverWalk are set to open early this summer.

Once open, visitors will have access to a boardwalk 17 feet out from the river’s shore west of downtown Detroit.

“It’s going to be a beautiful stretch of the RiverWalk,” said Marc Pasco, director of communications for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. “People are going to be able to see more of the west riverfront … views that (they) aren’t used to seeing as much.”

Currently, the RiverWalk stops just before the Riverfront Towers apartment complex just west of the former executive parking lot site for the razed Joe Louis Arena. e 930-foot boardwalk is on the other side of a wall there.

It was completed in 2020 but was awaiting construction of an 1,800-foot, on-land stretch just west of it that’s now being built to give pedestrians and bikers a way to exit the boardwalk.

e conservancy decided not to open the boardwalk out over the water until the land connector was done, Pasco said.  “We didn’t want to have a dead end and have people backtracking in front of Riverfront Towers,” he said.

e Downtown Development

Authority owns the on-land connecting piece and prepped it for construction that’s now underway, he said. Construction led by general contractor Warren Contractors & Development Inc. with subcontractor Santos Cement is putting in place planter-type seating along with the pathway to create a place for people to congregate, Pasco said. SmithGroup did the design for that stretch of RiverWalk.

e short but important tract will open this summer with the boardwalk. Once construction at the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park is completed next year, the new RiverWalk connection will continue right into the park. Until then, it will connect to a temporary paved asphalt path to Je erson Avenue so people can continue along the street west to Riverside Park or the nearby Southwest Greenway to Michigan

UWM CEO’s compensation surged in 2023 as company posted loss

Billionaire mortgage mogul Mat Ishbia saw his total compensation grow by nearly 75% in 2023, a year in which his company posted its rst net loss as a publicly traded rm.  e annual proxy ling by UWM Holdings Corp. (NYSE: UWMC), the publicly traded parent of United Wholesale Mortgage, shows that Ishbia, the company’s president and CEO, saw his total compensation grow from just under $7 million in 2022 to more than $12.1 million last year.

e vast majority of Ishbia’s compensation last year — more than $9 million — came in the form of UWM’s Captains Annual Bonus Plan, “an integral component of our compensation program,” which applies to about 600 executives at the company, according to the proxy ling.

A UWM spokesperson declined to comment for this report.

Ishbia’s annual salary of $600,000 has been steady since 2021, but his bonus has bounced around over the last three years. In 2021, he earned a bonus of $6.6 million, which then fell in 2022 to about $5.2 million before accelerating last year.

In addition to his salary and incentive bonus, Ishbia received $1.15 million in stock awards last year, as well as $1.26 million in additional compensation, largely

“for security services and equipment,” per the ling.

While Ishbia’s total compensation grew considerably last year, not all UWM executives experienced the same.

◗ Chief Operating O cer Melinda Wilner saw her total compensation fall from about $5.1 million in 2022 to about $2.86 million last year, largely a result of her incentive bonus declining from $4.66 million to $2.37 million.

Chief Strategy O cer Alex Elezaj also saw his compensation decline year over year, falling about 46% to $2.76 million.

Chief People O cer Laura Lawson’s total compensation fell slightly year over year, about 7.3% to $1.8 million.

Chief Financial and Accounting

O cer Andrew Hubacker — who assumed that role in February

2023 — did see a signi cant bump in pay of about 156% to just over $1.2 million.

In addition to his compensation as the company’s top executive, Ishbia and members of his family are also the largest shareholders of UWM stock, which pays a 10 cent quarterly dividend. SFS Corp., the holding company through which the Ishbias own their stock, receives a quarterly distribution payment of approximately $150 million.

Rival lender, Detroit-based Rocket Companies Inc., reported its executive compensation gures in mid-April.

In February UWM reported its rst full-year loss as a public company of about $69.8 million, largely attributed to uctuating interest rates, which can decrease the value of mortgage servicing rights a lender holds.

Last month, UWM was targeted by a new activist short-selling hedge fund and its affiliated media arm which alleged that the wholesale mortgage lender has worked to attract “loyalist” brokers who send the vast majority of their business to UWM, allegedly to the detriment of consumers.

An a liated lawsuit was also led, laying out much of the same allegations. UWM’s stock has fallen about 14% over the last year, and shares were trading at over $6 per share April 25.

nial Park, is on track to open next year, Pasco said. Swings, a climbing station and other features that are part of the Delta Dental Play Garden in Centennial Park are rising from the ground. Finishing touches on the roo ng and skylight for the William Davidson Sports House are underway. And the footprint of the Huron Clinton Metro Parks Water Garden is visible from Je erson.

Central, Corktown and Mexicantown, he said.  ose pieces and completed pathway on property along the former Joe Louis VIP parking lot area owned by e Platform Group are part of the 2-mile span planned for the west RiverWalk, running from the former Joe Louis Arena site to Riverside Park just west of the Ambassador Bridge. e next piece of the West RiverWalk development, Centen-

“ is year we are making tremendous strides on progress on the west riverfront,” he said. e Detroit Riverfront Conservancy last year completed the city’s east RiverWalk, a 3.5-mile span with a connected system of seven parks after 20 years and an investment of more than $300 million. It also opened the Southwest Greenway, connecting Centennial Park to Southwest Detroit and providing another piece of the developing, 29.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway.

Joint e orts to raise an additional $210 million with the Joe Louis Greenway Partnership to complete the west RiverWalk and the greenway and to fund a joint, $100 million permanent endowment continue, Pasco said, as do conversations with the Moroun family to gain access to the last mile of land needed to complete the west RiverWalk.

Real estate consultancies combine forces in

A prominent environmental consulting rm has sold to a local site design consulting company.

Brighton-based ASTI Environmental — shorthand for Applied Science & Technology Inc. — sold in February to Auburn Hillsbased PEA Group Inc., omas Wackerman, founder and president of ASTI, said. He owned 89% of the company while Dianne Martin, ASTI’s director of its Resource Assessment and Management Group, had the other 11%.

A sale price was not disclosed. PEA, Wackerman said, o ers what he called “better back ofce” support within accounting, human resources and other business operations. In addition, PEA Group o ers services ASTI did not like landscape architecture, geotechnical, engineering,

design and civil engineering. PEA, on the other hand, with the ASTI purchase expands its environmental and ecological practices, according to a press release.

Daniel Stys, vice president of PEA Group, said in the press release that the ASTI purchase allows it to “strengthen our multidisciplinary project approach and reinforce our commitment to delivering exceptional results.”

ASTI’s 40 or so employees have merged with PEA Group. ey will operate as a division of PEA but retain the ASTI Environmental name. e combined companies now have about 230 employees, Wackerman said last month.

In addition, ASTI gets a foothold in areas like Lansing and Houston, where PEA has a strong presence, while PEA gets a presence in Grand Rapids, Wackerman said.

A 900-foot-long boardwalk will open this summer as part of the west Detroit RiverWalk. | JOANN CASTLE, COURTESY OF DETROIT RIVERFRONT CONSERVANCY Nick Manes UWM CEO and Phoenix Suns owner Mat Ishbia attends a Suns vs. Oklahoma City Thunder game in 2023. | BLOOMBERG Kirk Pinho deal ASTI Environmental’s of ce in Brighton in an undated photo. | COSTAR GROUP

From auto show to Milford Proving Grounds, GM’s new North American chief has a very Detroit story

About 10 years ago, Wayne McConnell asked Marissa West where she wanted to end up at General Motors.

McConnell, the automaker’s vice president of total vehicle integration, had supervised West at multiple stops in her career, including while she directed the Global Noise and Vibration Center. eir conversation that day was to gauge West’s longer-term goals.

He doesn’t remember her exact answer, but “when she told me, I said, ‘You are not shooting nearly high enough. You do not know how good you are,’” McConnell recalled.

“I knew when I was three levels above her that I was going to work for her someday.”

West, 42, is now in charge of the company’s largest and most profitable region. In January, she was promoted to president of GM North America, succeeding Rory Harvey, who moved into a new position as president of global markets. She got the assignment while living with her husband and four children in Toronto as head of GM Canada, where she gained deeper experience with sales, marketing and dealer relations.

“ e timeline was a surprise to me,” she told Automotive News. “It was an honor to be even considered for it.”

West, who has two mechanical engineering degrees, is overseeing North American operations as GM takes a more exible approach to its electric vehicle transition. While the automaker still envisions a zero-emission lightvehicle lineup by 2035, GM plans to bring plug-in hybrids to the U.S. and is working to strike the right balance in its manufacturing strategy between the internal combustion vehicles that generate most of its pro ts and the EVs that will shape its future.

Among her priorities is getting out of the o ce and into dealership showrooms at least once a month so she can get to know the company’s U.S. retailers better. As president of GM Canada, West discovered that her product development background proved useful when thinking about how to present vehicles to customers.

“I love being on this side of the business,” West said in an interview near the automaker’s Global Technical Center in suburban Detroit. “I love the product side as well, but I think this is where all of it comes together. Because everything starts in this business when you build and sell a new car.”

GM always ‘front and center’

West had always imagined working for GM.

ree generations of her family — her father, both grandfathers,

Marissa West

Title: Senior vice president and president of GM North America, General Motors

Age: 42

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and master’s degree from the University of Michigan, both in mechanical engineering

Career highlights: President of GM Canada, executive chief engineer of midsize pickups and medium-duty trucks, chief engineer of full-size pickups, director of Global Noise and Vibration Center.

Family: Married, four children

Source: GM

a grandmother and a greatgrandfather — preceded her there. Growing up, she said, only GM vehicles were allowed in the family’s driveway. As a child, she would attend the Detroit auto show, collect vehicle brochures and then go home to pretend she

worked at a car dealership, selling the vehicles pictured.

“To say that it was always kind of front and center in my background is completely truthful, and really focused on GM,” West said. “I was always very interested in the product, always very interested in the company.”

After earning her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, West was hired into GM as a body sealing engineer at the Milford Proving Ground. She went on to serve as chief engineer of fullsize pickups and executive chief engineer of midsize pickups and medium-duty trucks.

To people who have worked with her, West’s rise to become the rst female president of GM North America is not surprising. Colleagues describe her as a steady leader who exhibits con dence and calm and who empowers people to solve problems. Her honest approach to communication has instilled trust, they said.

“It’s like the baseball player that sees the ball slow down. Marissa

had that ability to take everything and kind of boil it down, and was never overwhelmed by anything,” McConnell said. “I have no idea what was going on in her head at any of that time, but at least on the surface, it was just, ‘I got this. I can gure it out. I’m not going to be overwhelmed.’ And it didn’t matter how much more we gave her.”

Meeting with dealers

Within 24 hours of her promotion to North America president, West was on the phone with GM’s U.S. retailers to introduce herself, said Andy Guelcher, chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer Council, who called it “an incredible gesture.”

In meetings with dealers, West listens intently and takes notes, Guelcher said, showing she’s willing to engage, gather feedback and follow up.

“Her actions thus far have said she is willing to work with the dealer body” to achieve shared goals, said Guelcher, dealer prin-

cipal at Mohawk Chevrolet in Ballston Spa, N.Y. “It’s really encouraging.”

Such two-way dialogue is important, West said, as she aspires to both familiarize herself with U.S. dealers and show that she respects their role in the sales process.

“ is is a relationship business, whether we’re talking about our internal relationships and how we get things done within General Motors, and whether we’re talking about our dealerships and their relationships with our end customers,” she said. “Our dealers are a competitive advantage for us.”

And GM has opportunities to gain a competitive advantage, she said, from its vehicle portfolio, its software and technology, and a modernized retail strategy being rolled out that includes a digital sales platform.

“We have all of the tools to meet the customer where they are at,” she said, “and so one of my priorities is really to continue to drive a customer- rst culture.”

From left: West with her husband and four children. West and her father, Doug Kinsman, who was a GM instrument cluster design release engineer. West running with her father. | COURTESY OF MARISSA WEST Marissa West as GM’s Global Noise and Vibration Center director in 2017. | GENERAL MOTORS


Ranked by 2023 revenue


FORD MOTORCO. (12/31/2023) One American Road, Dearborn48126 313-322-3000;

2 GENERAL MOTORS CO. (12/31/2023) 300 Renaissance Center, Detroit48265 313-667-1500;



DOW INC. (12/31/2023) 2211 H.H. Dow Way, Midland48674 989-636-1000;

PENSKE AUTOMOTIVE GROUPINC. (12/31/2023) 2555 Telegraph Road, Bloom eld Hills48302 248-648-2500; RogerPenskeSr. chairman and CEO RobertKurnickJr. president


LEARCORP. (12/31/2023) 21557 Telegraph Road, South eld48033 248-477-1500;

6 STRYKER (12/31/2023) 1941 Stryker Way, Portage49002 269-385-2600;

7 APTIV PLC (12/31/2023) 5725 Delphi Drive, Troy48098 248-813-2000;


WHIRLPOOL CORP. (12/31/2023) 2000 North M-63, Benton Harbor49022 269-923-5000;

9 ADIENT (9/30/2023) 49200 Halyard Drive, Plymouth48170 734-254-5000;



BORGWARNER INC. (12/31/2023)

3850 Hamlin Road, Auburn Hills48326 248-754-9200;

DTE ENERGY CO. (12/31/2023) One Energy Plaza, Detroit48226 313-235-5555;

SPARTANNASH CO. (12/30/2023) 850 76th St., SW, Byron Center49315 616-878-2000;

ALLY FINANCIAL INC. (12/31/2023)

Ally Detroit Center, Floor 10, 500 Woodward Ave., Detroit48226 866-710-4623;

MASCO CORP. (12/31/2023) 17450 College Parkway, Livonia48152 313-274-7400;

(12/31/2023) One Energy Plaza, Jackson48201 800-477-5050;

UFP INDUSTRIESINC. (12/31/2023) 2801 East Beltline, NE, Grand Rapids49525 616-364-6161;

(12/31/2023) 1840 Holbrook Ave., Detroit48212 313-758-2000;

(1/2/2023) 999 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy48084 248-362-4444;

(12/31/2023) 515 Eastern Ave., Allegan49010 269-673-8451;

20 DOMINO'S PIZZA INC. (1/2/2022) 30 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Ann Arbor48105 734-930-3030;


AUTOMOTIVE GROUP LIMITED (12/31/2023) 1272 Doris Road, Auburn Hills48326-2617 248-340-8200;

RobinMilavec,president, CTO, CSO and executive board director;HerveBoyer,SVP, global COO and North America division president

SOURCES:S&PGlobalMarketIntelligence,( lings|ThislistofpubliclyheldcompaniesisacompilationofthelargestcompaniesinMichiganthathavestock tradedonapublicexchange.Forcompaniesnotonacalendar scalyear,revenueandnetincome guresareforthemostrecentlycompleted scalyear.52-weekhighsandlowsareforperiodending April 29, 2024. NA = not available. 1. Succeeded Jeffrey Brown as CEO on April 29. Want the full Excel version of this list — and every list? Become a Data Member:

Top Michigan executive(s) Revenue ($000,000) 2023/2022 Percent change Net income ($000,000) 2023/2022 Exchange/ Ticker symbol Stock price 52-week high/lowType of industry
Company; scal year end Address Phone; website
JamesFarleyJr. president, CEO and director $176,191.0 $158,057.0 11.5%($1,981.0)NYSE F $15.42 $9.63 Automobile manufacturer
MaryBarra chairman and CEO $171,842.0 $156,735.0 9.6%$9,934.0NYSE GM $46.17 $26.30 Automobile manufacturer
JimFitterling chair and CEO $44,622.0 $56,902.0 -21.6%$589.0 $4,582.0 NYSE DOW $60.69 $47.26 Materials science
$29,527.4 $27,814.8 6.2%$1,380.0NYSE PAG $180.84 $133.72 A diversi ed international transportation services company and an automotive and commercial truck retailer
director $23,466.9 $20,891.5 12.3%$572.5 $327.7 NYSE LEA $157.91 $117.79 Automotive supplier
president, CEO and
KevinLobo chairman and CEO $20,498.0 $18,449.0 11.1%$3,165.0 $2,358.0 NYSE SYK $361.41 $249.98 Medical technology company
KevinClark president, chairman and CEO $20,051.0 $17,489.0 14.6%$2,938.0 $594.0 NYSE APTV $113.60 $68.84 Automotive supplier
MarcBitzer chairman and CEO $19,455.0 $19,724.0 -1.4%$481.0 ($1,519.0) NYSE WHR $160.62 $91.90 Home appliance company
JeromeDorlack president and CEO $15,395.0 $14,121.0 9.0%$205.0 ($120.0) NYSE ADNT $46.51 $27.73 Automotive seating supplier
FredericLissalde president and CEO $14,198.0 $12,635.0 12.4%$944.0NYSE BWA $47.05 $29.51 Manufacturing company of components and systems solutions for electric vehicles
chairman, president and CEO $12,745.0 $19,228.0 -33.7%$1,083.0NYSE DTE $116.73 $90.14 Energy company 12
TonySarsam president, CEO and director $9,729.2 $9,643.1 0.9%$52.2 $34.5 NasdaqGS SPTN $24.55 $18.57 Food distribution and grocery retail 13
MichaelRhodes CEO 1 $8,200.0 $7,943.0 3.2%$1,200.0 $1,714.0 NYSE ALLY $41.56 $22.54 Digital nancial services company 14
KeithAllman CEO, president and director $7,967.0 $8,680.0 -8.2%$908.0 $844.0 NYSE MAS $78.94 $47.66 Manufactures products for the home improvement and new-home construction markets 15 CMS
GarrickRochow president, CEO and director $7,462.0 $8,596.0 -13.2%$887.0 $837.0 NYSE CMS $63.76 $49.87 Energy provider 16
MatthewMissad chairman and CEO $7,218.4 $9,626.7 -25.0%$514.3 $692.7 NasdaqGS UFPI $128.65 $76.89 Manufacturing 17 AMERICAN AXLE
DavidDauch chairman and CEO $6,079.5 $5,802.4 4.8%$33.6 $64.3 NYSE AXL $9.55 $6.29 Automotive supplier 18 KELLY SERVICES INC.
PeterQuigley president, CEO and director $4,835.7 $4,965.0 -2.6%$36.4 ($62.5) NasdaqGS KELY.A $25.27 $15.53 Staf ng, employment, workforce solutions
PatrickLockwood-Taylor president and CEO $4,655.6 $4,451.6 4.6%($12.7) ($140.6) NYSE PRGO $40.28 $25.77 Consumer goods
RussellWeiner CEO $4,479.4 $4,537.2 -1.3%$452.3NYSE DPZ $539.99 $285.84 Restaurant franchisor
$4,206.8 $3,839.7 9.6%$36.7 $58.0 HKSE 1316 $6.32 $3.08 Advanced steering,
software solutions
driveline and


Company; scal year end Address Phone; website



855 E. Main Ave., P.O .Box 302, Zeeland 49464;

VISTEON CORP. (12/31/2023) One Village Center Drive, Van Buren48111 734-627-7384;

ROCKET COMPANIES INC. (12/31/2023) 1050 Woodward Ave., Detroit48226 313-373-3000;

TI FLUID SYSTEMSPLC (12/2023) 2020 Taylor Road, Auburn Hills48326 248-296-8000; ti

STEELCASE INC. (2/2023) 901 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids49508 616-247-2710;

SUN COMMUNITIES INC. (12/31/2023) 27777 Franklin Road, Suite 200, South eld48034 248-208-2500;

JACKSON FINANCIAL INC. (12/31/2023) 1 Corporate Way, Lansing48951 517-381-5500;

COOPER-STANDARD HOLDINGS INC. (12/31/ 2023) 39550 Orchard Hill Place Drive, Novi48375 248-596-5900;

30 WK KELLOGG 2 (12/30/2023)

One Kellogg Square, Battle Creek49016 269-961-2000;


755 West Big Beaver Road, Suite 1000, Troy48084 248-614-8211;

LA-Z-BOYINC. (4/2023)

One La-Z-Boy Drive, Monroe48162 734-242-1444;


GENTEX CORP. (12/31/2023) 600 North Centennial St., Zeeland49464 616-772-1800;

WOLVERINE WORLD WIDEINC. (1/1/2023) 9341 Courtland Drive NE, Rockford49351 616-866-5500;

CREDIT ACCEPTANCE CORP. (12/31/2023) 25505 W. 12 Mile Road, Suite 3000, South eld 48034 248-353-2700;

ALTA EQUIPMENT GROUP INC. (12/31/2023) 13211 Merriman Road, Livonia48150 248-449-6700;

LOGISTICS HOLDINGS INC. (12/31/ 2023) 12755 East Nine Mile Road, Warren48089 586-920-0100;

GENTHERM INC. (12/31/2023) 21680 Haggerty Road, Northville48167 248-504-0500;


26600 Telegraph Road, Suite 400, South


40 UWM HOLDINGS CORP. (12/31/2023) 585 South Blvd. East, Pontiac48341 800-981-8898;


Fluid-handling systems, noise- and

products, body-sealing systems

Food manufacturer of Kellogg's cereal brands including Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Special K, Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, Kashi and Bear Naked

Top Michigan executive(s) Revenue ($000,000) 2023/2022 Percent change Net income ($000,000) 2023/2022 Exchange/ Ticker symbol Stock price 52-week high/lowType of industry
AndreaOwen president, CEO and director $4,087.1 $3,946.0 3.6%$42.1 ($27.1) NasdaqGS MLKN $31.33 $13.20 Furniture and related solutions design and manufacturing 23
SachinLawande president and CEO $3,954.0 $3,756.0 5.3%$486.0 $124.0 NasdaqGS VC $159.87 $105.19 Automotive supplier of digital cockpits and electri cation 24
chairman $3,799.3 $5,838.5 -34.9%$46.4NYSE RKT $15.19 $7.17 Fintech platform company consisting of personal nance and consumer technology brands 25
HansDieltjens president, CEO and executive director $3,753.5 1 $3,442.8 9.0%NALSE TIFS $172.25 $106.20 Supplier of automotive uid systems technology
VarunKrishna,CEO; DanGilbert,founder and
SaraArmbruster president, CEO and director $3,232.6 $2,772.7 16.6%$35.3 $4.0 NYSE SCS $14.54 $6.39 Of ce furniture 27
GaryShiffman chairman and CEO $3,224.6 $2,937.7 9.8%$242.0NYSE SUI $141.52 $102.74 Real estate operations
LauraPrieskorn CEO, president and director $3,159.0 $9,863.0 -68.0%$5,697.0NYSE JXN $70.97 $26.70 Financial services provider 29
JeffreyEdwards chairman and CEO $2,815.9 $2,525.4 11.5%($202.0) ($215.4) NYSE CPS $22.74 $9.87
GaryPilnick chairman and CEO $2,763.0 $2,695.0 2.5%$110.0 ($25.0) NYSE KLG $24.63 $9.65
MarkYost president, CEO and director $2,606.6 $2,207.2 18.1%$401.8 $248.0 NYSE SKY $86.71 $52.12 Manufactured homes
MelindaWhittington president, CEO and director $2,349.4 $2,356.8 -0.3%$150.7 $150.0 NYSE LZB $39.87 $25.12 Furniture manufacturer and retailer
StevenDowning president, CEO and director $2,299.2 $1,919.0 19.8%$428.4 $318.8 NasdaqGS GNTX $39.87 $25.12 Auto-dimming mirrors and aircraft windows, re protection products 34
ChristopherHufnagel CEO 3 $2,242.9 $2,684.8 -16.5%($39.6) ($188.3) NYSE WWW $17.85 $7.21 Military and uniform footwear
KennethBooth CEO $1,901.9 $1,184.4 60.6%$535.8NasdaqGS CACC $616.66 $379.77 Financial institution 36
RyanGreenawalt CEO and chairman $1,876.8 $1,571.8 19.4%$9.3NYSE ALTG $17.98 $8.76 Heavy construction equipment, material handling equipment, industrial equipment, cranes 37
TimPhillips CEO and president $1,662.1 $2,015.5 -17.5%$168.6NasdaqGS ULH $48.63 $20.85 Logistics and transportation 38
PhillipEyler president, CEO and director $1,469.1 $1,204.7 21.9%$40.3 $24.4 NasdaqGS THRM $66.54 $38.21 Thermal management technologies for heating and cooling applications
MajdiAbulaban CEO, president and director $1,385.3 $1,639.9 -15.5%($92.9) $37.0 NYSE SUP $4.93 $2.49 Auto parts and equipment
MathewIshbia chairman, president and CEO $1,311.3 $2,088.5 -37.2%$41.7NYSE UWMC $7.75 $4.49 Mortgage lender 41 HAGERTY INC. McKeelHagerty CEO and director $1,000.2 $787.6 27.0%$32.1NYSE HGTY $10.33 $7.52 Insurance company
Suite 400, Novi48377 JamesZizelman 4 president, CEO and director $975.8 $899.9 8.4%($5.2) ($14.1) NYSE SRI $24.51 $14.18 Auto parts and equipment
(12/31/2023) 121 Drivers Edge, Traverse City49684 800-922-4050;
INC. (12/31/2023) 39675 MacKenzie Drive,
Ranked by 2023 revenue 1. Convertedfromeuros.FromannualreportendinginDec.31,2023. 2. BegantradingasanindependentpubliclytradedcompanyonOct.2,2023aftertheformerKelloggCo.separatedintotwodistinct businesses. 3. Succeeded Brendan Hoffman as CEO on Aug. 10, 2023. 4. Succeeded Jonathan DeGaynor as president and CEO, effective Jan. 31, 2023.


To place your listing, visit or, for more information, contact Debora Stein at 917.226.5470 /


Gresham Smith

Charlie Poat, AIA, has been named an Owner at Gresham Smith. Charlie is a vice president in the rm’s Industrial market. He leads the growth of the Detroit of ce, which includes recruiting new staff, building a strong culture, engaging with the local business community and organizing community engagement activities. Additionally, Charlie uses his more than 30 years of experience in the Industrial sector to expand the rm’s presence in the Midwest.



Western Governors University


From Page 3


Honigman LLP

Western Governors University (WGU) hires Matthew Warren as Strategic Partnership Manager (SPM). Warren will be responsible for creating pathways to opportunity through education partnerships with community colleges, corporations, and school districts throughout Detroit and surrounding areas. “I’m thrilled to launch this new chapter of my career with WGU,” said Warren.

“I look forward to leveraging my background and experience in higher education to further promote WGU in Michigan.”


J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Wightman is proud to appoint Steve Carlisle as president. With 27+ years’ experience at the rm, he’s served as Director of Engineering, Government Sector Leader, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. The appointment re ects Wightman’s continued commitment to delivering client-centered solutions, fostering client relationships, and maintaining the rm’s position as a leader in the AEC industry. Carlisle’s strategic vision and dedication to excellence make him ideal to lead Wightman forward.

Kurt Tech has joined J.P. Morgan Private Bank in Birmingham as Vice President and Banker. Kurt offers strategic counsel to highly successful business owners and family of ces, guiding them in navigating the sophisticated opportunities afforded by substantial wealth. Most recently, Kurt joins the rm from Huntington National Bank.


Corporate Cleaning Group


Corporate Cleaning Group Franchise Systems LLC (CCG), a Michigan based Franchisor, has promoted Andrea Lilly, CFE to Vice President of Finance and Compliance. Andrea has been part of the CCG family since 2018, serving as the Director of Finance and has over 20 years of experience in nance. Andrea has been an integral driving force in CCG’s national franchise growth over the past few years, always leading with integrity, honesty, and trust.

Marsh McLennan Agency

Jamey Kozierowski, AAI, CIC, CRM, CAWC, LIC, joins Marsh McLennan Agency’s Michigan Business Insurance practice based in Troy. With over 20 years of experience, Jamey takes a boutique consultant approach to help organizations achieve their risk management objectives. Jamey specializes in organizations with a heavy Professional or Workers’ Compensation Exposure.

Honigman LLP welcomes Joshua W. Damm to its Corporate Department as a partner in the rm’s Public Company, Securities and Governance Practice Group. Based in Detroit, Damm specializes in securities offerings, ongoing securities laws compliance, public company reporting and corporate governance counseling. He advises companies and boards of directors on day-to-day SEC and stock exchange reporting and compliance requirements, as well as corporate governance policies and practices.

email to Crain’s. “It would bring substantial relief in terms of cash ow, a ecting all aspects of the organization, including taxes, banking, marketing, payroll, and more."  e DEA's proposal comes after President Joe Biden called for a review of federal marijuana law in October 2022, and has moved to pardon thousands of Americans convicted federally of simple possession of the drug.

Classifying marijuana as Schedule III drug is the most consequential regulatory move the DEA has made on marijuana since classifying it as having "no currently accepted medical use and high potential for abuse" under the Controlled Substance Act in 1970. It would also eliminate a tax code law that was put in place in response to a clever drug dealer nding a loophole on his taxes in 1974.

Rescheduling marijuana eliminates the IRS Tax Code 280E, which prevents individuals from writing o business expenses involved in the tra cking of narcotics translating to a 70% or sometimes higher e ective tax rate for marijuana dispensaries instead of the regular 21% corporate rate.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon and founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has argued that 280E is a catalyst for marijuana companies to cut corners and adjust their business practices for tax avoidance. e representative has introduced the Small Business Tax Equity Act several times in recent years.

Ankur Rungta, CEO of Ann Arborbased C3 Industries, which operates 13 retail stores under its High Pro le Cannabis Shop brand, said in an email to Crain's last fall that eliminating 280E would cut his company's tax bill by more than half.

Rescheduling would open doors to banking

Rescheduling could, though, lead to some unknown conundrums in the future for the industry. Technically, Schedule III drugs are pharmaceutical products like ketamine and testosterone regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. ere is fear the FDA could upend the industry with new rules, though there is no evidence that is on the horizon.

Vaco is pleased to announce that Michele Scott Etters and Ray Quizon have joined the Detroit of ce, expanding Vaco’s ability to deliver critical talent solutions across nance and accounting for clients. As Managing Director, Michele is responsible for generating sales, developing client relationships and matching talented consultants with outstanding opportunities. Michele brings more than 15 years of staf ng experience and is a member of the Detroit chapter of Financial Executives International (FEI). As a Senior Associate, Ray is responsible for sourcing candidates, managing consultants on contract engagements and business development. He brings over 20 years of extensive recruiting experience at international rms.

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“Facially, this is a monumental development,” said Benjamin Sobczak, partner at Detroit law rm Dickinson Wright and former counsel of cannabis operator Pleasantrees. “Looking deeper, the nuanced implications of rescheduling marijuana in this manner are unknown. Certainly, 280E tax relief will be a welcomed bene t, but the new classi cation is also sure to bring new challenges and obstacles to which operators will need to quickly adapt. ose concerns, however, are for another day. Today, we should celebrate this symbolic event for what it is: validation for the cannabis community and a showing of accountability by the federal government.”

Game-changer for cannabis industry

Given an epic marijuana price collapse in Michigan — wholesale prices have fallen from more than $500 per ounce of ower in early 2020 to less than $100 per ounce today — caused by oversupply, margins for cannabis operators have evaporated. Marijuana not falling under 280E means instant cash ow for the industry.

e industry has been battling in Washington, D.C., to rid legal-state operators from 280E to no avail.

In 2017, the Congressional Budget O ce estimated that repealing 280E for cannabis businesses would mean the feds would lose out on $5 billion in taxes over 10 years. But legislators from weed-legal states and industry insiders argue that's a shortsighted view.

e rescheduling would also open up the marijuana industry to banking, more than it is already. Traditional large banks have avoided nancing or even holding accounts for marijuana businesses or their employees.

“ is encouraging news could mean positive things for our licensees in the form of greater access to banking services and a reduced tax burden on their businesses," Hanna said. "It could also make it easier to conduct research on marijuana and could open up safe access for more consumers."

Congress has spent nearly four years kicking around the SAFE Banking Act, which would provide certain protections to banks that choose to provide nancial services to the legal marijuana industry. e law passed the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021 but has advanced no further.

Besides instant liquidity, the rescheduling could open up loans, which could lead to much faster expansion of industry in states where marijuana is legal.

Boost for a booming Michigan market

Michigan’s weed industry is effectively the top market in the country already.

Last year, the industry sold $3.05 billion worth of product and is projected to top that record this year. Statewide sales hit another all-time record in March, recording more than $288.8 million, up nearly $28 million, or 11%, from February, according to data from the Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency.

Given the current pace, the industry would surpass $3.17 billion in sales this year.

It's hard to imagine the industry could continue to grow at that clip, but positive cash ow would likely cause consolidation of troubled players and further maturation of the industry, standing it up to compete nationally as companies grow inside and outside the state.

Vaco Quizon Etters STAFFING / SERVICES
Advertising Section
Marijuana grown at Common Citizen in Marshall. | DUSTIN WALSH

e co-developer program is aimed at including Detroit-based or Detroit resident-owned developers of color in what has been a 10-plus-year e ort to build out a large swath of the downtown area, and areas immediately outside of the central business district that are largely controlled by the Ilitch family as they assembled properties over decades.

e RFPs were required as part of a Community Bene ts Agreement for the Ilitch family’s Olympia Development of Michigan’s and Stephen Ross’ New York Citybased Related Cos.’ roughly $1.53 billion in new construction and rehabbed buildings that are proposed as part of a revived vision for the District Detroit.

ey were required to be issued within a year of the state’s April 25, 2023, approval of a $615 millionplus transformational brown eld package that is going toward what the development team says consists of some 1.2 million square feet of new o ce space, 695 residential units (nearly 140 of which would be considered a ordable), 146,000 square feet of retail and 467 hotel rooms. e properties involved in the RFPs are not part of the transformational browneld incentive program.

e Community Bene ts Agreement calls for the RFPs to be result in joint venture agreements with Olympia and the co-developer that are “fair and commercially reasonable” to the co-developer. e agreement also says Olympia


can also be accessed on mobile devices, o ering an "always live," iterative platform for building and sharing materials for boards in a mobile-friendly format more akin to reading a media site than a xed PDF slide deck, according to a news release.

“A board meeting is one of a company’s most important meetings of the year, so we could not put out a half-baked product, there couldn’t be a typical MVP, because companies would not have put a half-baked product in front of their board,” Robert Wolfe said. “So we needed to put in a ton of product development into the initial product. So we did raise money preproduct,  and then we said, ‘OK, if this works and we get some market share, then let’s go do another round of bridge ( nancing).’ And we did that, and then that bridge was to this A-round.”

Norton also founded EDO, an advertising data rm, and worked with the Wolfe brothers to found CrowdRise. CrowdRise was acquired by San Diego, Calif.headquartered GoFundMe in 2017.   Robert Wolfe and Je rey Wolfe, of Huntington Woods, met Norton through Norton’s wife, Shauna Robertson, who was a longtime friend of the brothers. ey were trying to get the idea for CrowdRise o the ground and Norton joined the cause.

is required to “use reasonable efforts” to create the joint venture agreements within two years of the RFPs closing.

“Our Co-Developer Program is at the core of our mission to help improve the lives of people who live and work in Detroit. ese RFPs invite developers who share our community-minded development approach to partner with us to further enhance e District Detroit,” Keith Bradford, president

of Olympia and e District Detroit, said in a press release.

Chris Jackson, a Detroit developer who chaired the Neighborhood Advisory Committee as part of the Community Bene ts Ordinance process, in the release called the program “a signi cant example of the diversity and inclusion that is a result of e District Detroit Community Bene ts Agreement.”

“ is program will provide im-

“I feel like there’s this wild opportunity for us to change what should be the most productive part of a company’s engagement with their investors.”
Robert Wolfe

e idea for Zeck was developed as a result of the issues Robert Wolfe noticed while running board meetings for Moosejaw and CrowdRise.

“I feel like there’s this wild opportunity for us to change what should be the most productive part of a company’s engagement with their investors. And it’s so important, and we’re, I feel like, humbly, on the cusp of solving it,” Robert Wolfe said.

Robert Wolfe founded Moose-

jaw in 1992, and later sold to Walmart Inc. in 2017. Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired Moosejaw from Walmart in March 2023, and subsequently closed its headquarters and all but three of its stores.

At his latest endeavor, Zeck, the Detroit-headquartered company was originally designed to tackle issues at the startup level, Robert Wolfe said, but has been able to scale up since it was launched in 2022. Ten of the 20 employees of the company work remotely based in the city, while the other half works remotely from around the country.

Detroit Venture Partners and Invest Detroit also invested in this round of funding.

Wolfe declined to share details about the investment round, but said the group approached funding for Zeck di erently than it had for previous startups.

“ ere is nothing more miserable in business than the board meeting, and we’re trying to ip

the United Artists Building started construction and is being converted into more residential space, with completion expected this year.

mense opportunity to emerging and disadvantaged Detroit-based developers and bring new life to key properties in the city,” Jackson said in the release.

e District Detroit was announced 10 years ago in July, but has not come to fruition in the ways Olympia proposed at the time. Construction of residential space was long delayed, although the Eddystone ultimately was redeveloped into apartments, and

that,” Wolfe said. “So if you go to our website, there’s a section called ‘Madness’ … you’ll see the narrative is so silly and so dumb and very di erent than what you would expect for a corporate board’s face, but again, it follows the same kind of branded playbook as our prior Detroit-based companies.”

Zeck Madness is a blog-style section of the website where tips

e District Detroit is anchored by the $862.9 million Little Caesars Arena, home to the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons. Construction of another anchor, the $250 million University of Michigan Center for Innovation, which is being developed by the university, started late last year. It is being funded by a $100 million donation from Ross and a $100 million earmark from the state. e source of the remaining $50 million is not known.

In March, Olympia and Related said its revived $1.53 billion vision that included a high-rise o ce building in front of Comerica Park as its rst new construction has shifted, with a high-rise residential tower next to the U-M building now expected to be the rst out of the ground. e companies said market conditions have changed, prompting the shift in plans.

and updates are shared with users that are intended to approach business in a more relaxed way.

“Someone at Zeck just told me that I swish my drinks in my mouth and it’s annoyed her for the past six months. Nothing to do with Viewing anything but gured I should open up about it,” the “Decent Humans of Zeck” wrote in one Zeck Madness post on “Viewing.”

DISTRICT From Page 3
The Fine Arts Building façade site faces Grand Circus Park and is sandwiched between the Kales Building (left) and the Grand Park Centre of ce building (right) in downtown Detroit. | PHOTOS BY OLYMPIA DEVELOPMENT OF MICHIGAN
From Page 1
Zeck co-founders Jeffrey Wolfe (from left), Robert Wolfe and Edward Norton. | ROBERT WOLFE
JOB REAL ESTATE COMMERCIAL PROPERTY MARKET PLACE HEALTH BENEFITS JOB FRONT POSITIONS AVAILABLE CLASSIFIEDS Advertising Section To place your listing in Crain’s Detroit Classi eds, contact Suzanne Janik at 313-446-0455 or email
The Woodstock Apartments at 475 Peterboro across from the Detroit Shipping Co. food hall.


From Page 1

Wachowski’s experience is far from an outlier in today’s housing market, in metro Detroit or beyond.

While not quite the frantically intense competition experienced in the latter part of 2020, and much of 2021 and 2022 as interest rates sat at historic lows, metro Detroit real estate industry insiders say bidding wars are very much making a return. Particularly in what would now be described as the more entry-level price range of around $200,000 to $400,000.

Austin Black, a Realtor with City Living Detroit — an a liate of @ Properties Christie’s International Real Estate in Birmingham — represented Wachowski in his home search and said he’s seen intense interest in homes he’s listed recently, particularly in hot Detroit neighborhoods such as Rosedale Park, Green Acres and Bagley where many houses are still priced well under $300,000.

Such homes have been receiving between 10 and 14 o ers, Black said. ose with the winning bids have generally been agreeing to an appraisal guarantee, meaning that a buyer agrees to make up the di erence should the house appraise lower than the accepted o er.

Much of the competition can be attributed to very tight inventory in the region, albeit, a situation that is showing some signs of improvement.

A “balanced” market in which neither buyers or sellers have an upper hand is considered six months' worth of inventory. e latest market report from Troy brokerage Re/Max of Southeastern Michigan showed 1.6 months of inventory in March.

Black said buyers in lower price ranges, particularly under $500,000, are opting to shop for homes below their maximum buying power, further putting pressure on entry-level homes.

Particularly with younger buyers, “the common theme I hear is they don’t want to max what they can a ord because they want to compete,” Black said.

“Younger people like to travel and eat out and they want to do those things,” he added. “So they’re not maxing out what they can a ord (in order) to a ord the lifestyle they’re accustomed to.” e experiences shared by Wachowski and Black appear to be far from anecdotal.

A market report by Southeld-based brokerage Real Estate

One showed that around Southeast Michigan in March, 58% of homes sold at or above asking price, slightly higher than at the same time last year, and a gure that has been steadily growing for the past several months.

Additionally, more than 50% of homes in the region in March sold within 10 days of hitting the market, also higher than one year ago, per the Real Estate One data.

“It isn’t quite as crazy as it was in 2021 and 2022, but it’s pretty, pretty crazy,” Real Estate One President of Brokerage of Services Dan Elsea said of the current market.

e 10-day sales data, in particular, speaks to the hunger out there by buyers, Elsea noted.

“Even though rates have been higher, the demand is stronger than supply,” he said.

By comparison, between March 25 and April 21 of this year, about 43.8% of homes nationally sold in less than two weeks, down 1.3% from a year earlier, according to data from online brokerage rm Red n. at means that homes in metro Detroit are selling considerably faster than the country as a whole, and that number is on the upswing.

At least some of the tight inventory can be attributed to the socalled “lock-in e ect,” homeowners who bought or re nanced during the pandemic period when rates were at an all-time low, and who would see little to no nancial upside from moving to a new home.

But even while mortgage rates remain stubbornly high amid elevated in ation, some owners are acknowledging that life happens and they have to move on from their homes, even with the low costs they’re enjoying, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported.

New listings have steadily increased throughout this year, according to Red n data. By comparison, metro Detroit’s new listings have generally been trending down slightly since late February, per the Red n gures.

For Wachowski, the Royal Oak buyer, while getting the right home meant going over asking price — as it does for many buyers at present — he still feels the process was largely pretty easy, for which he credits Black, the @Properties Realtor.

“He made it very stress free,” Wachowski said. “I feel very educated, knowledgeable of the market, the trends … and what it actually takes to get from point A to point B in terms of getting through the process. I knew it was involved but not to the level it is.”

East Lansing-based economic consulting rm Anderson Economic Group LLC agreed, saying in an April 29 news release that it forecasts net economic impact to exceed $165 million. AEG found that the draft will have a direct economic impact of $100,146,418 on Detroit, with an estimated $37,746,418 in total expenditures of attendees, after accounting for substitution.

“Hosting the NFL draft was an exciting win for Detroit and presented invaluable opportunities for the city to showcase its culture on a national stage, fostering longterm tourism and investment prospects," Tyler eile, chief operating o cer and director of economic analysis at AEG, said in the release.

e city of Detroit and the metro area put on a show, setting records for attendance for the three-day draft. e Detroit edition, which ran April 25-27, saw more than 775,000 people visit the city during that time, demolishing the previous record of 600,000 fans set in 2019 in Nashville. Detroit also broke the single-day draft attendance record when 275,000 fans turned out on April 25, the rst day of the draft.

Molinari on April 29 said he’s con dent in the attendance numbers. He added that the 775,000 the NFL con rmed does not include people at all of the other draft-focused spots around the city, including the Corner Ballpark in Corktown, Eastern Market and draft parties at spots including Beacon Park and Capitol Park.

And those visitors gave the People Mover and QLine transportation options a workout during the three days. e city said there were more than 69,000 riders for the People Mover elevated railcar that runs a loop inside the downtown core, compared to an average of nearly 11,000 for those three days of the week.

e QLine saw a similar bump: More than 68,000 riders of the streetcar service that runs on Woodward between the New Center area and downtown — well above the average of just less than 10,000 for three days.

e total cost of putting on the draft is not yet available, according to draft organizing committee coChair Alexis Wiley, but the gure is in the millions.

Visitors had nothing but good things to say about the area. Businesses saw a boost, too, from the increased foot tra c and private parties.

“ is was a major platform for the NFL, hosting the draft here. It’s had such a positive impact,” Molinari said. “I’m thrilled because I think this will be a stepping stone for the city, region, and the state. Winning begets winning. ere are a lot of groups that will want to be associated with us now that they’ve seen what’s happened here.”

at could include the NBA and NHL.

Molinari over the weekend mentioned that o cials from both professional sports leagues were in town and that the city would host an NBA or NHL All-Star

weekend in the future.

On April 27, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters he'd met with the NBA hours earlier.

“Apparently (Detroit's) interest has gone up," Duggan said. "I met with the NBA earlier today…We’re just talking through everything, but there’s no doubt: Interest in Detroit on the part of these events has gone up dramatically in the last 72 hours.”

Detroit has hosted ve NHL AllStar games, with the most recent in 1980 at Joe Louis Arena and 1955 at Olympia Stadium. Southeast Michigan has hosted two NBA All-Star games: in 1959 at Olympia and the Pontiac Silverdome in 1979.

Residents and visitors alike encountered little to no issues. Detroit Police Chief James White on April 29 said police made just two arrests during the three-day draft events and two juveniles were detained for ghting. It was all hands on deck for the police department, as the city's more than 2,500 ocers were denied vacation during the draft period.

“Our o cers did an amazing job of keeping the city safe,” White said. “Our strategy is that no one would go 20 yards without seeing an o cer. We wanted to be present. We didn’t want to over-police. I couldn’t be more proud of the job our o cers did.”

Local vendors assigned to work the draft performed, too.

Around 90 food trucks and 135 small businesses served as vendors at various draft activations and inside the draft footprint, according to Downtown Detroit Partnership CEO Eric Larson. More than 60 Detroit-based businesses worked the event in a variety of capacities.

“I think the draft exceeded everyone’s expectations locally, nationally and internationally,” Larson said. “We showed the vibrancy of Detroit to the world. We knew it was important to make the event inclusive and embrace all of Detroit. We showed the culture of the area and we showed Detroit’s passion. It’s a fantastic result for the city.”

Local vendors shared Larson’s sentiments.

Detroit 75 Kitchen co-owner Ahmad Nassar on Monday said that between its southwest Detroit location, a food truck inside Hart Plaza for the NFL Draft Experience and various catering jobs, Detroit 75 Kitchen served more than 15,000 meals.

Sterling Heights-based Top Pic Collective event design and rental company provided all of the furniture inside the NFL Draft Experience, the Bud Light Backyard Bar and the backstage VIP suites at the draft theater. Top Pic Collective owner and Detroit native Britney Hoskins said it was a major undertaking.

“In previous drafts, the furniture needs were so great that local businesses didn’t have the capacity to provide them,” Hoskins said. “Our team custom built tables, purchased hundreds of pieces of furniture. We just got it done.”

Duggan said the NFL Draft is just the start for the city.

“It was a success,” Duggan said Monday. “But the real measure of that success will come over the next three or four years and that’s with people moving here and businesses expanding into the city. We made an impression that is going to last for a long time. Detroiters should be proud of the way they welcomed America into the city.”

From Page 1
People dining at Woodward Coney Island during the rst day of the NFL Draft. NIC ANTAYA Claude Molinari, Visit Detroit president and CEO, listens to 2024 NFL Draft co-Chair Alexis Wiley speak at a post-event news conference on April 29. | CITY OF DETROIT FLICKR James Wachowski and Renee Rivers are purchasing a home in Royal Oak. Like many buyers, they went over asking price to get the house they wanted. JAMES WACHOWSKI

Detroit got rave reviews from visiting fans

Detroit showed out for the 2024 NFL Draft on the rst day, April 25 — and crushed not only attendance records but also stigmas many visitors had about the city.

Detroit isn’t as bad as he expected, said San Francisco 49ers fan Mark Castanon, a rst-time visitor from California.

“It's actually not been anything like we've been told, or been told to worry about,” Castanon said. “ ey said that the downtown has been revitalized, going through a lot of processes there, and the restaurants and the bars and the streets — everything looks nice, clean, safe.”

e NFL Draft attracted fans from all over the country to downtown Detroit to the NFL Draft Experience at Hart Plaza and the Draft eater at Campus Martius.

By 6:30 p.m. on April 25, ocials closed entry to the event as it hit capacity — yet thousands more gathered at nearby parks and venues. e NFL announced Detroit set an all-time rst day record with more than 275,000 fans in attendance.

Many visitors who have never been to the city before said they weren’t sure what to expect for the three-day event, which was held April 25-27. Preparations were underway for months to beautify public spaces and open businesses for the event — and Detroit's comeback made a lasting impression.

Castanon traveled from California to attend the NFL Draft as a 49ers superfan, invited by the NFL team itself. He brought along his friend Jamie Garrison, who he met in a Bay-area 49ers booster club.

“I love it,” Garrison said. “I've already said that I will absolutely come back and at rst I wasn't so sure, but this has been a wonderful experience.”

Despite their newfound attraction to the city, rst-time visitors Castanon and Garrison said the price tag that came with local hotels was a lot less appealing. Even hotels in South eld were several hundred dollars a night, they said. e two decided to stay in Windsor and are taking a shuttle to the draft festivities all weekend.

It wasn't just rst-timers who were pleasantly surprised by their impression of Detroit. Returning visitors, like Buck Jo rey of Santa Barbara, Calif., said he knew Detroit was improving but he didn’t know what that would entail.

“I was a surgical resident in Ann Arbor, like, 25 years ago and (Detroit) looks di erent now, it looks better,” Jo rey said. “We always thought it had potential whenever we went to Greektown and stu , and I always wondered why it wasn't popping because it was cool and now it looks a lot better.”

Jo rey, 50, and his daughter, Cosima, 11, traveled from California for the draft, though Jo rey is originally from Minnesota and is a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan. Jo rey and his daughter are staying downtown, and glad to be be-

cause it’s easy to walk around the draft footprint and the People Mover helped them get around.

“I just think it looks like it's headed in the right direction,” Joffrey said of downtown. “ ere's more stu cleaned up. I remember it not feeling particularly safe, like, 25 years ago.”

For the NFL Draft, the People Mover operated on 24-hour service from 7 a.m. April 25 until

11:59 PM April 28. ere's no fare all year for the above-ground train and multiple stops within the NFL Draft footprint.

Tosha Hill, 52, and her husband, Kevin Hill, 54, drove from Cincinnati to attend the NFL Draft and stayed in Troy for a more a ordable hotel. e Hills said they regularly visit Detroit for concerts and other events.

“I love the bounce back, be-

cause we were here some years ago right after COVID and the city was shut down, but here, now, this is the bounce back,” Kevin Hill said.

While Lions fans waited in long lines to pose with their team's helmet and jersey, Tosha and Kevin Hill took turns taking photos of each other in a jumbo Cincinnati Bengals helmet, which, conveniently, matched their orange Bengals tracksuits.

e attention on Detroit allows the city to show o its good side.

"It's like they all go through a training class or something," Castanon said with a laugh, recalling the interactions he and Garrison have had with locals and Lions fans, calling them, "super, even, overly friendly."

In their red and gold gear, Garrison and Castanon stood out in the sea of mostly Honolulu Blue-clad Lions fans. at and Castanon's

full-face paint and 49ers helmet.  Castanon and Garrison also anticipated they would get a few sour looks from Lions fans due to the result of the NFC Championship game in January, but were pleasantly surprised to be on the receiving end of "good-natured ribbing."

Jay Colla, 52, from Royal Oak, said he likes that the draft and other prominent events — like the Detroit Lions playo run — are drawing more attention to Detroit, despite being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan himself.

“When I rst moved here in 2000, I actually looked at apartments down across from what is now Little Caesars Arena, and I chose to stay out in the suburbs because there was nothing here,” Colla said. “No grocery stores, gas stations. And now my cousin lives down here and everybody loves it down here.”

Colla sported matching Steelers gear with his two sons, and didn't let the Detroit Lions-themed events get in the way of their good time. ey especially looked forward to seeing the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which was in the NFL Fan Experience portion of the footprint. ey also participated in the 40-yard dash, high jump and the Detroit Lions fan experience tent.

Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, Colla said he’s been a Steelers fan ever since he could remember, but he expected the NFL Draft to be like a “shot of adrenaline in the arm” for Lions fans.

“I'm not a Lions fan, but I can relate to what the Lions fans have been going through. I mean, back when Barry Sanders was here, we get so far, and then we don't make it,” Colla said. “I really feel like the Lions are up and coming, and depending on how well they do in the draft this week, I think this is going to be a year where we're going to see them again in the postseason.”

Mark Castanon of San Jose, Calif., poses for a portrait during the rst day of the NFL Draft in Detroit. Kevin Hill (left) and Tosha Hill, both of Cincinnati, pose in a jumbo Cincinnati Bengals helmet. Arizona Cardinals fans on the rst day of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit. Atlanta Falcons fans cheer during the rst day of the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit. | PHOTOS BY NIC ANTAYA Los Angeles Rams fans cheered inside the NFL Draft Theater on the rst day of the event in Detroit.

e price on eggs hits American pocketbooks particularly uniquely. e market for eggs is what economists call inelastic — simply put, eggs are a staple in American households and consumers will sacri ce elsewhere to buy and consume them. Higher prices for eggs means fewer dollars spent elsewhere, reverberating through the economy.

Birchmeier expects egg prices to grow as hens in Michigan and elsewhere get infected — at least 8.68 million hens have been infected in the last 30 days, with Michigan seeing the vast brunt of the virus spread, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Minnesota, New Mexico and Texas have also seen some avian u but minor compared to the outbreak in Michigan.

Michigan’s industry produces more than 4 billion eggs annually, or about 4% of the national production.

A commercial ock in Ionia has had more than 2.4 million birds infected, according to the USDA. e largest ock in that area is Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, which famously supplies eggs to all McDonald’s stores east of the Mississippi River.

“At Herbruck’s, we have been working around the clock alongside federal and state regulators since the highly pathogenic Avian In uenza was detected at our facilities,” said Greg Herbruck, CEO of Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, in a statement. “We are adhering to all protocols and procedures on disinfecting our facilities so we can quickly and safely return to full production. Herbruck’s is also working diligently to maintain a steady supply of fresh eggs through our una ected farms and our supplier network.”

McDonald’s did not respond to inquiries on the matter.

“We will absolutely see egg shortages in the coming weeks,” Birchmeier said.

Last month, the deadly virus was detected in a commercial ock of turkeys in Newaygo County, now with more than 67,000 turkeys infected, according to the USDA.

Cows get bird u for the rst time

But the u, for the rst time has run afoul of, well, fowl. e rst known infection of H5N1 in dairy cows was reported on March 25 in Texas, sending the international dairy community into a spiral.

At issue is whether cows can transmit the virus through their milk. e answer is relatively unknown.

On April 23, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said samples of pasteurized milk tested positive for avian u. However, the agency believes the pasteurization process renders the virus inactive and poses no or little threat to humans.

“To date, we have seen nothing that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe,” the FDA said in a statement.

Approximately 33 herds in eight

states have been impacted in the U.S., including ve herds in Michigan.

Birchmeier agrees that the virus in milk poses no threat to humans, but it is sidetracking the state’s dairy industry. ough while not fatal to cows, they do get mildly sick and their milk becomes yellow and thicker. Sick cows are removed from the population for four to ve days to recover, Birchmeier said.

“It’s an active outbreak that changes daily,” Birchmeier said. “We’re working with our farmers to make sure biosecurity measures are implemented properly, but as you can imagine it’s hard to keep birds out of the buildings.”

As of April 24, all dairy cattle must be tested for bird u before being transported out of state under an order from U.S. agriculture o cials.

Horning Farms in Manchester, about 16 miles southwest of Ann Arbor, has not seen an avian u outbreak among its dairy herd, Katelyn Packard, the sixth generation to work the 147-year-old farm, told Crain’s.

But the operators are taking extra precautions.

“In cattle the information has shown that is it not a high, or really any, mortality risk,” Packard said. “With that said, we are being thoughtful of our biosecurity and

visitors coming into contact with animals on our farm. We want to prevent any spread of (avian u).”

More opportunities for outbreaks

ough the bird u dates back to at least 1878, where it was rst di erentiated from “fowl plague” or cholera in Northern Italy, avian u outbreaks were relatively uncommon until the mid-1990s.

Between 1959 and 1995, there were only 15 known outbreaks worldwide, none of which decimated millions of birds. However, thanks to free trade agreements and developing economies in the 1990s, the global poultry population exploded, causing more and more opportunity for the migratory virus to get into our food chain.

e largest avian u outbreak in the U.S. occurred in 2014-2015, which saw about 51 million birds either killed or dead from the virus. Between May and June of 2015, more than 25 million birds were euthanized to contain the virus, or about 284 birds per minute over the 61 days. Producers and governments spend approximately $879 million to eradicate the virus from the hen population during that season, according to a study by the USDA in 2019. While the virus is primarily

known to impact birds, it has been reported in humans. More than 700 human cases of avian u have been reported to the World Health Organization since the rst documented case in 1997.

As of Dec. 31 last year, the WHO has recorded 248 cases of the H5N1 virus in humans, 139 of which resulted in death. ose infected often worked closely with migratory bird species or those infected egg-laying hen populations. It’s rare for those not in the industry to become infected.

is April, a person in Texas was diagnosed with the bird u. e infection wasn’t tied to exposure to birds — but to dairy cows, according to the Associated Press.

An international problem

But, remember, dairy cows are an international business, particularly as more developing nations look to recreate America’s large dairy infrastructure.

Vern Brown, a former dairy farmer with a law degree from University of Michigan, is one of the largest cattle exporters in the nation.

Brown operates a consulting rm out of Jonesville in Hillsdale County called First Midwest Ag Capital Corp. He works with dairy cow ranchers and would-be foreign milk producers to get cattle across oceans to places like Vietnam, Pakistan, Sudan and most recently Turkey.

an u was rst detected in cows.

Which proved to be costly.

Brown said the group had to pay about $100 more per head of cow due to the virus’ impact on the overall population of available cows.

en the Turkish government instructed the exporter that its ship leaving from Galveston, Texas, must enter a di erent port in Turkey, in Tekirdag, so proper quarantining could take place. e delays and rerouting of the ship cost the operation an additional $100,000, he said. Due to the port change, the group also had to renew its FDA exporting certi cates.

Once near Tekirdag, the Turkish government jettisoned out to the ship to swab 10% of the cows for the virus, then made the cows quarantine for 30 days at the port.

All in all, Brown said the virus and the reaction to the virus wiped out $200,000 from the bottom line, eliminating any pro ts on the $1.2 million operation.

“We unloaded the cattle on April 15 and made no money,” Brown said. “My gut feeling is this

“We will absolutely see egg shortages in the coming weeks.”
Ernie Birchmeier, the livestock and dairy specialist for the Michigan Farm Bureau

has happened before and we just didn’t know how to test cattle. It’s not like avian u is a new thing. e USDA has been managing this for a long time.”

Brown assists in exporting up to 10,000 cattle annually, or about half the nation’s dairy cow exports, he said.

But the nation’s avian u outbreak has nearly derailed those e orts.

Working with a Turkish national who works for the University of Wisconsin, Brown got 2,640 dairy cows aboard a ship, which set sail to a farm operation in Turkey on March 29, only four days after avi-

Last month, the Turkish government shut down any more imports of dairy cows over avian u fears, Brown said, cancelling another shipment planned for June.

But he’s optimistic the fears will subside as the USDA and FDA get more information on the virus’ impact on milk and dairy. “ ree days ago, I said this is a problem,” Brown said. “Now it looks like public and government perception might be changing.”

BIRD FLU From Page 3
The latest outbreak of avian u has hit the local industry hard: More than 6.5 million of Michigan’s 15 million egg-laying hens have been decimated.  | BLOOMBERG Dairy cows bound for foreign markets are loaded onto a ship in Galveston, Texas. VERN BROWN

Director of state-run marijuana testing lab on setting standards

The Michigan Cannabis Regulatory Agency will open a new testing lab by January next year as a means to keep the state’s booming marijuana industry in check and, hopefully, push standards into a new era of safety. The state agency announced last month that Claire Patterson, its longtime scienti c manager, will serve as director of the new lab. Patterson, who earned a master’s in plant biology from Michigan State University, is now the state’s largest asset in its safety regulations against an industry that’s moving fast and sometimes not playing by the rules. By |

How did you get come to work for the CRA’s scienti c division?

I went to MSU for like 10 years and got my bachelor’s and master’s in plant biology and then ended up working in a cannabis testing lab before it was really sanctioned. We had a medical program then but we were not set up for major sales yet. I was managing the testing lab and was essentially in that space when the state released regulations. I knew then there had to be a bridge between the cannabis industry and these testing regulations. I came in (to the CRA) in March of 2019. When I was hired, we had to get labs up and running. We had only four licensed labs at that time, who were e ectively operating before the regulations took place. My goal and marching orders at that time were to get them into compliance with the rules.

There are no long-term scienti c standards set for this industry. How did you set the current standards? We are building the plane as we are ying it, kind of. Making sure people were getting on board with their testing methods was critical. We wanted to make sure those (novel) testing methods could be referenced back to industries that had been around a long time. We looked at the food-based testing and tried to adopt that methodology, reference methods of the FDA or AOAC (Association of O cial Agricultural Chemists). at was a challenge in and of itself. But it was a big thing I poured myself into, to work with these third-party bodies to make these methods t in cannabis and not just the food industry.

What is the state of the lab market in the state?

We’ve seen some labs get ned, etc. e laboratory market, not just in Michigan, can always improve. In science, in general, there is always room for improvement. Scientists at their core should be focused on moving the ball forward. ere is de nitely room for improvement. at’s what we want to accomplish with this reference lab, work on improving methods and working with the licensees in our state to collectively do better.

What is the true purpose of this state-run lab?

We rely on the licensed industry for our reference testing, so really to reduce that burden and act as a real tie breaker. at’s a major consideration. But the

Read all the conversations at


From Page 6

Its parks were over owing with fans and out-of-towners, people with no discernable reason to ever have visited Detroit before. A man from Champaign, Ill., thanked ME for hosting him in our city. at’s never happened. But this joyous moment isn’t perpetual. If the city wants to truly capitalize on good press and good graces of the draft, it must capitalize on this momen-

tum and truly become a city that can entertain beyond once-in-ageneration moments like this.

It’s clear some of these fans from neighboring states and beyond will return to Detroit.

Progress must continue.

e city is getting help from its business sector. Henry Ford breaks ground this month on its research center with Michigan State University in New Center, followed up by groundbreaking later this year of its $2 billion hospital tower. e Hudson’s Detroit project was topped last month

ultimate goal ... is to use this lab as an investigative assistance tool. Help out our enforcement division to do investigations without having to rely on others in the industry and to improve our audit authority. Going out to laboratories and to obtain samples and test them to make sure they are what they say they are. Consumer safety is the greatest goal. And also to move testing forward. We make to make a contribution to cannabis science as the industry continues to grow.

Lab methodologies simply aren’t standardized in the industry. Does the state plan to use this lab to create a standardized methodology all labs must use?

Some states have enacted those types of policies, but I don’t think

and will open next year with GM as its main tenant and a 5-star hotel in 2027.  is betterment puts even more pressure on Dan Gilbert and GM, who are working together to come up with a redevelopment plan for GM’s former headquarters, the Renaissance Center.

e emphasis should be on entertainment and tourism. ink the Willis Tower Skydeck and an expanded GM Wintergarden. ink aquariums and more museum options and everything lesser cities have to draw in tourists.

that’s where we are right now. It’s not on the near horizon by any means. I think it’s important while we are still validating the science that people can create their own methods. It’s good for cannabis science to be able to grow with the industry. What we’ve done is make sure those methods hit certain perimeters and those methods are accurate and concise. But I won’t say never.

What are your concerns about the current cannabis industry?

Testing labs are the nal stop before the consumer. ey are the gatekeepers of product that is either relatively safe or relatively unsafe. ere are challenges. Our biggest concern is illicit product and synthetic product because there are just so many unknowns. e science is brand new. e methods folks have been doing for a long time, but the products are new and always changing. And at the end of the day, I don’t feel comfortable with the average consumer being exposed to something we are uncertain about.

Will the state add more testing requirements to combat these new illegal products, like the synthetic THC that is not tested for currently?

We absolutely will be adding more to our testing panels in the future. ose (THC) conversion products is something we’re looking at. ere are also some that are adding MCT (mediumchain triglyceride) to vape cartridges. e regulatory body is always playing catchup to the latest fad. And we’ll always being playing catchup. It’s a very creative industry. But the science is developing quickly for when new things crop up.

Detroit still has factory lines worth of problems, from poverty to faulty public education to poor public transit. is singular event has proven if we build it, they will come. Maybe the Lions' success and the city’s remarkable turnaround just 10 years out of bankruptcy is just luck. Maybe it’s fate.

But for Detroit, Detroiters, metro Detroiters and its long cultural diaspora, NFL Draft weekend proved the city could truly shine.

I hope it never stops.


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