DBusiness Daily Update: Detroit Talent Development Provider Grand Circus Acquired by DISYS in Virginia, and More – DBusiness Magazine


Grand Circus has been acquired by Digital Intelligence Systems in McLean, Va. // Courtesy of Grand Circus

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

Detroit Talent Development Provider Grand Circus Acquired by DISYS in Virginia

Grand Circus, a virtual upskilling and talent development curriculum provider in Detroit, has been acquired by Digital Intelligence Systems (DISYS), a global talent gap solutions firm in McLean, Va. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

With the acquisition, DISYS adds a “unique but complementary” service offering with a strong track record of equipping talent, particularly in historically underrepresented communities, with the skills necessary to contribute at some of the world’s leading companies.

“The core mission of Grand Circus has always been about creating opportunities for individuals and elevating our community,” says Damien Rocchi, founder and CEO of Grand Circus. “By joining the DISYS platform, we have an incredible opportunity to grow the Grand Circus brand, while remaining true to those values.

“Grand Circus’ proven approach to training, paired with the global reach of DISYS, provides an exciting value proposition for our students, alumni, and enterprise partners.”

Mahfuz Ahmed, CEO of DISYS: says: “Grand Circus’ expertise in upskilling is the perfect match for the DISYS portfolio and further augments our ability to deliver premier value for our clients and talent by offering a full breadth of talent solutions at each point along their growth trajectory.”

Visit Detroit Selects MMGY Global as New Marketing and Ad Agency of Record

Visit Detroit, the not-for-profit economic development organization that promotes the metro Detroit area as a convention, business meeting, and tourism destination, has selected MMGY Global, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. with an office in Detroit, as its new marketing and advertising agency of record.

MMGY Global is among the world’s leading integrated marketing firm specializing in the travel, hospitality, and entertainment industries. The company opened its Detroit office in 2021. The agency’s scope of work for Visit Detroit includes branding, media, and strategic services that will drive hotel bookings and retail traffic throughout the metro Detroit region.

“Visit Detroit is thrilled to be working with MMGY Global to help share our region’s remarkable story,” says Stan Smith Sr., director of marketing for Visit Detroit. “Their expertise in developing captivating campaigns along with their commitment to our city made them the obvious choice for Visit Detroit.”

Katie Briscoe, president and incoming CEO of MMGY Global, says: “Detroit is an iconic American city with an indomitable spirit. We’re excited to bring a bold new approach to Visit Detroit’s brand position and marketing efforts, showcasing the metro Detroit region’s dynamic offerings for leisure and business travelers.”

MMGY Global is known for developing campaigns for travel, tourism, and hospitality brands. Its work is rooted in industry and proprietary research, including MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers report and custom diversity, equity, and inclusion research studies.

Michigan Hospitality Operators are Encouraged to Apply for the GoingPRO Funds by Dec. 12

The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association (MRLA) in Lansing is encouraging Michigan restaurant and hotel operators to apply for the GoingPRO Talent Fund, which awards grants to help business owners invest in their workforce by providing employees with training to sharpen their industry skills and develop as leaders.

The program, which is part of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity – Workforce Development (LEO-WD), is accepting applications through Dec. 12.

“When people are given the chance to grow on a professional level, it results in happier employees who stay longer, and go further in the industry,” says Justin Winslow, president and CEO of the MRLA. “This year, we don’t want to make the mistake of leaving this tremendous opportunity on the table. We encourage business owners to apply and give their employees the chance to develop the skills they need to succeed and find a rewarding career.”

Employers who receive GoingPRO Talent Fund grants can cover the tuition costs for employees to attend the Hospitality Training Institute of Michigan (HTIM) Business Management Certification program. The HTIM programs focus on core management skills: costing, leading teams, giving feedback, food safety, conflict resolution, and mental health and well-being.

Funds also can be used to cover the expense of a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship classroom training, which allow employees to work full-time while also acquiring formal training, a criteria that can be met through HTIM programs. The cost associated with the formal training or related instructional materials can be covered with the GoingPro Talent Fund. Apprenticeships are available for roles including lodging manager, restaurant manager and food services manager.

Employers can apply for a GoingPRO Talent Fund award by contacting their local Michigan Works! Office (MWA).

For more information, visit here.

Esperovax Signs Agreement with U-M for Vaccine Manufacturing Technology

Esperovax, a Plymouth Township developer of oral vaccines, has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Innovation Partners at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to produce vaccines and therapeutics using a novel yeast-based manufacturing method.

This next-generation manufacturing technology will accelerate current programs to the clinic by allowing for a continuous purification process. In turn, such vaccines can be purified and produced with higher yields at optimal cost.

“Yeast-based oral vaccine using virus-like particles (VLPs) has recently demonstrated clinical safety and immunological response that serve as a proof-of-concept for the oral administration of VLP-based vaccines,” says David O’Hagan, CEO of Esperovax. “The IP we have in-licensed from one of the world’s leading research institutions allows us to produce and purify the VLPs with an optimized strategy paving the way for higher yields. With this new approach, we aim to fine-tune our platform and manufacture vaccines and therapeutics with superior efficacy on a global scale.”

The agreement also provides the U-M the right to invest in Esperovax, including in the company’s currently planned capital raise, as well as in future rounds.

Cloud Cannabis Celebrates the Grand Opening of West Michigan Location

Cloud Cannabis in Troy today announced the grand opening of its cannabis dispensary in Cedar Springs, north of Grand Rapids, the company’s ninth store in Michigan.

Located at 206 N Main St. NE, the new 2,600-square-foot dispensary is the first to incorporate the company’s Cloud 2.0 design, which aims to provide the best cannabis customer experience.

Serving both medical and adult-use customers, Cloud Cannabis Cedar Springs will offer thousands of flower, pre-roll, concentrate, and vape products from Michigan brands including Wonderbrett, Mitten Extracts, Pressure Pack, Seed Junky, CREAM, Northcoast, and more.

“We’re proud to bring Cloud Cannabis’ premier retail experience to Cedar Springs while sharing meaningful insights in cannabis education and a first-class portfolio of products with the local community,” says Jacob Saboo, co-founder and head of retail at Cloud Cannabis. “This exciting expansion into west Michigan will increase the company’s delivery footprint throughout the state and pave the way for future stores in the Grand Rapids area, which are expected to launch in 2023.”

State of Michigan Urges Citizens to Check the FCC Broadband Map to Ensure Access

High-speed internet is not available to nearly half a million homes in Michigan according to new data released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Living without internet access means being disconnected from educational opportunities, jobs, health care, and more.

The FCC and the state of Michigan are urging every Michigander to check their home and business address on the FCC preliminary broadband map to ensure it accurately reflects their level of internet access. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will use the finalized maps to help determine future broadband expansion efforts and millions in grant funding to close the digital divide in communities across the country.

Here’s how to access the FCC broadband map:

  1. Go to broadbandmap.fcc.gov, then type in an address and see if the reported coverage is accurate. You can access the site from a computer or a mobile device.
  2. Residents can submit a challenge by clicking “Location Challenge” if the location is missing or “Availability Challenge” if the internet service information is incorrect.

“Michigan is about to embark on a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure that high-speed internet is available to every home, business, and institution in our state,” says Eric Frederick, chief connectivity officer with the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office. “The first step is making sure we know where new connections need to be built and this means making sure the FCC’s new map accurately reflects service availability throughout the state.”

The FCC also allows local governments, tribal governments, and other stakeholders to file bulk challenges for multiple locations on behalf of their communities. To ensure an accurate map is used for funding decisions, all challenges must be submitted by Jan. 13, 2023.

Birmingham to Stage German-themed Winter Markt

Retailers in Birmingham are inviting the public to experience the magic of the holidays at the annual German-themed Birmingham Winter Markt event featuring displays from local artists and vendors, European cuisine, thousands of holiday lights, ice sculptures, live entertainment, and more.

Warming stations, visits with Santa, the Winter Sisters Ice Princesses, and a Kinderhaus activity are part of the event, which takes place from 4-9 p.m. Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 3, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 4.

The annual Birmingham Holiday Tree Lighting event will take place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 2. It will feature Santa and live caroling.

For more information, visit here.

Washtenaw Community College Joins Small Business Association of Michigan

Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor has joined the Small Business Association of Michigan to strengthen workforce development training for small businesses across the state.

WCC is the only education institution to be an SBAM Friend of Small Business. Through this membership WCC will be a resource for fellow members, offering customized training, leadership boot camps, general study programming, entrepreneurial assistance, and other resources through the WCC Workforce Development division and the Entrepreneurship Center.

SBAM is the state’s largest small business association. Its mission is the success of small business, which they do through advocating for small business, bringing business owners together to share knowledge, creating collaboration and partnerships, and delivering group buying power. The association includes more than 30,000 members.

The college offers training both on campus and online for organizations and corporations looking for expanded resources, certificate or degree programs, or guidance in starting apprenticeships.

“WCC is excited to join SBAM and to be a resource for its members looking to develop their talent base through training and recruitment and to offer educational programming for entrepreneurs,” says Brandon Tucker, vice president and chief workforce and community development officer at WCC. “This partnership means that we are linking arms with an organization that serves an incredible number of businesses around the state. Connection is key, and we’re excited to be a member.”

Community Leader Gifts $100K+ to Local Nonprofits in Detroit for the Holidays

For the third consecutive year, Detroit native and community leader Stanford J. Wilkinson has raised more than $100,000 in private funding to gift to nonprofits across southeast Michigan during the holiday season.

Wilkinson is the executive director of Determined Exceptional Fearless Youth (DEFY), a nonprofit serving Detroit, Ypsilanti, Ecorse, and surrounding areas. Grantees will be awarded during a private event in December.

“Although I am also an executive director of a nonprofit organization, I am a firm believer in the it takes a village’ motto,” Wilkinson says. “It’s an honor to support other local grassroot organizations who are making impact in their communities. I believe working with and pouring into other organizations is essential to community cultivation, development, and long-term impact.”

A few past beneficiaries include My Sistah’s Pink Journey, Detroit Heals Detroit, Detroit Phoenix Center, WISE Mentoring, Blossoming Ladies Foundation, and Pure Heart Foundation.

Along with DEFY, supporters and partners of this initiative include Comerica Bank, Harper Ray Accessories and Other’s First.

To learn more about DEFY visit defyprogram.org.





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