Space, Inc. Leads the Return to Safe, Hybrid Work Environments

By Amy DeGeer Roten

As vaccines are distributed and employers approach the idea of the workforce returning to the office, they are faced with more questions than answers: How can workspace be redesigned to accommodate hybrid, remote, and in-office workforce? How will workflows change? How can safer, socially distanced workspaces promote collaboration and team building?

Post-COVID, the physical office will be different. The question is, what will it look like?

SPACE, Inc. can help answer those questions.

Founded in 1995, SPACE, Inc. is a commercial interior design firm that blends interior workspace design and aesthetics with functionality to promote collaboration, productivity, and creativity. They have two main locations in Michigan and Virginia.

“SPACE, Inc. does business a few ways,” Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, Principal of SPACE, said. “Our Michigan team provides all things in workspaces including design, project management, installation as well as office furniture, move management, and facility management. Our Alexandria, Virginia team supports our federal government contracts with more product-oriented solutions.”

The Hybrid Workspace  

Like many industries, COVID created new opportunities for SPACE, Inc. to assess change, identify new needs, and develop innovative solutions. Over the past year, they have addressed questions related to the post-COVID work environment and developed solutions that combine sustainable workplace design and sanitization processes.

“We think the workplace is going to be viable as a hybrid work environment,” Kathie said. “We’re not going to have an office for every person. It will be a percentage of office or focus stations and amenity areas to attract people back to the workplace – fireplaces, soft seating, etc.”

Making Workspace Work – SPACE Facility Armor and Anew Upcycling

Fear of COVID is the number one reason employees are hesitant to return to the office. “People will be sharing desks and community spaces. SPACE Facility Armor prevents the transfer of viruses and germs. With every application, the entire building is safe and committed to well-being,” President Paddy Hobohm said.

SPACE Facility Armor, powered by the BioProtectUs system, kills 99 percent of microbes on porous and non-porous surfaces for at least 30 months. It prevents microbes from repopulating on those surfaces between cleanings. This CDC-approved, hospital-grade disinfectant fogging application is followed by an electrostatically charged antimicrobial technology. It’s water-based and EPA-accepted for all industries including food service. Originally created by Dow 30 years ago, it has been used in healthcare facilities and SPACE is the first to bring the technology to office environments.

Their upcycling program, SPACE Anew, is a turnkey process that reutilizes up to ninety percent of the existing furniture assets, reimagines them, and adds stylish, functional elements to brighten up the workplace. It relies on high-quality redesign and creativity to create a balance of individual workstations and collaborative areas, with little to no work disruption. Additionally, SPACE Anew costs 30-50 percent less than the cost of purchasing new furniture.

“It’s a fixer-upper model – we can utilize the existing assets, reimagine them, and make them new and different,” said Kathie.

“We assess workplace design and develop improvements for the future of work through our sustainable upcycling program. Then we add SPACE Facility Armor into the equation to provide a safe and healthy work environment.  This is a great way to help businesses move forward,” said Kathie.

Learn more about SPACE Anew and Upcycling

Learn more about SPACE Facility Armor

For more about what SPACE, Inc. can do for you, contact Paddy Hobohm.

For media relations contact Amanda Rogalski.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READ MORE

Delta College Downtown Midland Center’s “Green” Design Principles and State-of-the-Art Labs Support High-Growth Jobs

By Amy DeGeer Roten
Eighteen months after the groundbreaking ceremony, the new Delta College Downtown Midland Center is in the home stretch toward completion. I spoke with Nick Bovid, Director of Facilities Management about the facility’s state-of-the-art training labs that support high-growth sector jobs; sustainable, innovative building design that promotes “green” principles; the anticipated grand opening date; and more.

Q: What is your role? Give a little background on yourself, please.

A: I oversee all facility-related issues at Delta College, such as grounds maintenance, electrical and mechanical maintenance, construction and renovation projects, insurance, risk management, and sustainability.

Raised in Midland, MI, I graduated from Midland High School and went to Michigan Tech for Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and Central Michigan University for an MBA. 

For three years, I have been the Director of Facility Management at Delta College. Before that, I worked for Dow Corning and MidMichigan Health.

Q: What innovative and/or sustainable building designs were incorporated into this facility?

A: This building was designed, constructed, and is currently in the process of being certified as a LEED green building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). This certification program provides a framework for a healthy, high-energy, and cost-efficient building. Benefits of LEED certification ensure construction pollution prevention, improved indoor air quality, water use reduction, and several other “green” principles. 

Currently, we are aiming to achieve LEED “Gold” certification.

Q: Share a little about LEED certification, why it’s special, and why it’s important?  

A: Delta College places a strong emphasis on sustainability and has achieved national recognition for these efforts – including being ranked #6 nationally by AASHE in their Sustainable Campus Index for Associate Colleges. The last several major construction projects have all been LEED certified and this one is no exception.

Q: What are some interesting building design elements?              

A: We were able to incorporate a green/living roof on the west end of this project – a first for Delta College and I’m pretty sure for downtown Midland. This type of roof has several benefits including increased insulation values that result in energy cost savings, improved stormwater management, and extended roof life. This area will have tables and chairs for students, staff, and faculty to use once the weather warms up and has a nice view of parts of downtown Midland.

Q: From a facilities management perspective, what was the most challenging part of the new construction?

A: The COVID-19 pandemic. It shut down construction for several weeks in March of 2020 and created a ripple effect on the schedule. Construction workers were hesitant to return on-site, and once construction was allowed to resume, we still faced challenges getting materials fabricated and delivered.

The building was originally scheduled to open for Winter 2021 classes, but unfortunately due to the ongoing pandemic and a large shift to online learning, this has been moved to Fall 2021.

Q: Tell me a little about the new training labs as compared to the labs at the current site and how they are better?

A: The existing Midland Center over on Wheeler Street was built in the 1960s. It is a former Catholic girls’ high school designed by Alden Dow associates. Delta College has operated out of this building since the early 1990s with little modifications to the original construction.

The existing CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) program on Wheeler is in a room that was not built to accommodate this kind of hands-on, simulation-type of instruction. The rooms were designed for arts & crafts and physical science instruction.

The newly constructed Midland Center has state-of-the-art, built-for-purpose spaces that include a CNA lab, a biology lab, a chemistry lab, and a flexible classroom/lab designed to hold a variety of different courses such as robotics or hydraulics.

Q: What curriculums are of focus at the Midland Center? 

A: Regarding programs of study, students will find a variety of classes to choose from at the new location. Due to COVID-19, many courses are online at this time. However, more in-person options will be added to the schedule when it’s feasible. To give you an idea, here is a list of Downtown Midland Center Programs of Study:

  • Associate of Arts – Transfer program
  • Associate of Science – Transfer program
  • Certified Nursing Assistant – Job Training program
  • Chemistry Technology – Associate of Applied Arts
  • Clinical Medical Assistant – Advanced Certificate
  • Computer Science and Information Technology – Associate of Applied Science (Cybersecurity, IT Support, Programming with Web & Game Development Tracks
  • Digital Forensics (Corporate Track) – Associate of Applied Arts
  • Entrepreneur/Small Business – Associate in Business Studies
  • Environmental Technology – Associate of Applied Arts
  • Health Foundations — Advanced Certificate
  • Management (3+1 Northwood track) – Associate in Business Studies – Transfer program

Q: With virtual classrooms being an option, how many students are anticipated to be in downtown Midland every day?

A: This is difficult to determine at this time. Many classes have shifted to online instruction except for classes that require face-to-face and hands-on learning, such as health professions (certified nursing assistant, dental hygiene, etc.) and vocational programs (welding, auto technician, etc.). We’d like to have as many students fact-to-face as possible but we need to keep everyone safe and follow all necessary State and local guidelines. 

Q: What is the total capacity of the new facility – how many students can it accommodate?

A: The building was designed to support the enrollment of 650 students per semester. 

Q: What is the anticipated “grand opening” date?

A: The building will be open for Fall 2021 classes which begin in late August.

For more information, visit Delta College – Downtown Midland Center.

 

READ MORE

Cybersecurity Trends and Challenges for 2021

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Last year saw constant disruption for business. The pandemic spurred a quick shift to remote work which has opened more opportunities for cyber thieves. While small businesses sometimes feel their size equals less risk, it actually can make them a target.

Here are two quick articles from BizTech Magazine that will help businesses large and small with security tools and emerging technologies to address the needs of today.

4 Small Business Tech Trends to Watch This Year – Keara Dowd

Top Security Challenges for Small Business in 2021 – Nick Suda

READ MORE

Employee Health Screening App and Web-Based Contact Tracing Platform Offered to MBA Members at No Cost

BYOD™ INC. Created TEMP PROTECT™ and GUEST PROTECT™ to Help Businesses Stay Safe

In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, BYOD™ Inc. of Midland, MI is aligning with the Midland Business Alliance (MBA) to provide the TEMP PROTECT™ Employee Health Screening Tool and the GUEST PROTECT™ Contact Tracing web-based platform to their Members at no cost.

The TEMP PROTECT™ App is a mobile application that health screens individuals and generates a QR code for location scanning. The individual’s response to health questions are linked to their temperature and QR code. The data is then encrypted and stored in a secure AWS Cloud environment. Staff members are provided a 1-day work permit and must re-certify daily.

The GUEST PROTECT™ platform uses any smartphone with a camera to scan a QR code that is unique to the participating business. The customer enters their name, phone number and email then submits the encrypted data to an Amazon Web Services Cloud storage environment for retrieval if required by the health authorities. The process takes less than 20 seconds to complete and can be completed by the guest or the business.

“We are pleased to work with the team at the MBA and we applaud the leadership taken by President Tony Stamas to get area businesses the tools they need to make their establishments as safe as possible during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Remarked Dave Dittenber, CEO of BYOD™ Inc.

“When the MBA can provide valuable tools to our Members and support a local technology startup company who is one of our own Midland-based businesses, we have a win-win situation for all involved,” Declared Tony Stamas, President and CEO of the MBA.

Interested in Utilizing These Tools?

Please contact BYOD Inc. at sales@byod.ai and use the code Alliance to trigger the following steps:

  1. An introductory letter with an attached questionnaire will be sent from sales@byod.ai.
  2. The information from the questionnaire will be attached to a no-charge contract that will be sent from DocuSign.
  3. When the contract is signed and returned, you will be set up in the system. BYOD will contact you to set up onboarding, either a group Zoom or individual meeting.
  4. You will be good to go and BYOD will follow up with them within the first week to make sure you have no issues.

About BYOD™INC. and The PROTECT SUITE of Tools

BYOD™ is a Midland, MI-based Virtual Restaurant Manager powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Combining advanced analytics with deep learning from IoT technologies our platform measures restaurant performance and provides real-time actionable step to reduce costs, increase revenue and support consistent operation BYOD™ has developed the Protect Suite of tools-TEMP PROTECT™, GUEST PROTECT™ and EVENT PROTECT™ to help restaurants, business and event spaces open reopen and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE

Expanding During a Pandemic: Q&A with Midland Eye Associates

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Eighty years ago, an optometrist opened his new practice on the Circle in Midland. Four owners and three locations later, Midland Eye Associates has grown into a comprehensive eye-care practice offering vision and medical eye care. Owners Dr. Paul Kimball and Dr. Carl Erickson are dedicated to maintaining and maximizing patient vision with the most comprehensive eye care available. They will remain at the forefront of optometry and use the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment. That promise and dedication has generated growth – and prompted their current expansion – which you can see at 217 N. Saginaw Rd.

At the MBA, we know the importance of supporting small businesses. And small business growth is 50 percent of our national GDP. Firms with fewer than 100 employees make up more than 98% of all business in our country and employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.

To celebrate this growth during such challenging times, here is a quick Q&A with Dr. Erickson.

What was the catalyst for/goals of the expansion?

After I joined the practice in 2016, it became evident that we were running out of space to see patients. We needed to update the site and facilities to support our expanding services. We also want to offer more services in the future.

We purchased two buildings adjacent to our current practice and designed plans to build a new, 7,500 square-foot office. We know Center City business improvements are a focus for the City of Midland and we are proud that our new building supports that.

How many new and retained jobs will this expansion support?

Four to six new jobs and ten retained jobs.

What new services or products do you have?

We’ll continue to provide eye screenings for three-year-old patients at no charge, eye exams, a full-service drop-in optical department, digital photo documentation, and our onsite, state-of-the-art lab.

Our new building will give us the room we need to offer new services, including ortho-k (service for kids to reduce how near-sighted they will be as adults with contact lenses). We also plan to expand medical services for diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye.

How did your practice and the expansion survive the COVID shutdowns?

Luckily, Midland Eye Associates kept a healthy, rainy-day fund in anticipation of a grand opening for the new facility. However, between that fund and the PPP Loan programs, we remained healthy even though the State Executive Orders closed our practice for two months. Since the shutdowns, things have been busy for us. People are adjusting to life with more time spent on electronic devices, which affects eyesight. They are also dealing with foggy glasses due to facemasks. These two things have created a strong demand for new solutions to COVID-related lifestyle changes.

How did the MBA help your expansion?

The MBA provided helpful direction and contacts to the City of Midland for permitting, introductions to necessary contacts at Consumers Energy, connections to PTAC, and soft skills training information for new employees. You (the MBA) also investigated potential funding that would support our expansion and provided COVID-19 business toolkits, webinars, executive order information. These helped us navigate the pandemic.

Besides COVID and flooding, were there other impactful barriers to expansion?

Luckily, and with the help of the MBA, extraordinary barriers to our expansion have been few to none.

What is the date for the anticipated grand opening of the new building?

Barring no future, unexpected set-backs, we anticipate an April 2021 opening date.

You can learn more about Midland Eye Associates’ offering on their website.

If you have an expansion that you need help with, contact mba@mbami.org or Tina Lynch at tlynch@mbami.org

READ MORE

Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit Offers Significantly More Relief for Small Business

By Amy DeGeer Roten

On December 27, 2020, the COVID-19 stimulus package was signed into law, which contains substantial enhancement to the employee retention tax credit enacted under the CARES Act. This means small business (under 500 employees) will receive more relief than the original credit. The credit may also be used with PPP loans.

The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. From the Michigan Chamber of Commerce website, here are highlights of the expanded tax credit:

  • Increase the credit rate from 50 percent to 70 percent of qualified wages.
  • Expand eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over-year gross receipts decline from 50 percent to 20 percent and provides a safe harbor allowing employers to use prior quarter gross receipts to determine eligibility.
  • Increase the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 for each quarter.
  • Allows businesses with 500 or fewer employees to advance the credit at any point during the quarter based on wages paid in the same quarter in a previous year.
  • Provide rules to allow new employers who were not in existence for all or part of 2019 to be able to claim the credit.
  • Retroactive to the passage of the CARES Act, the bill allows employers who receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to qualify for the ERTC with respect to wages that are not paid for with forgiven PPP proceeds.

The Michigan Chamber recommends that all employers contact their CPA’s immediately to make sure they can take advantage of these credits RETROACTIVELY and prospectively.

I spoke with Michigan Chamber of Commerce Director of Tax Policy and Regulatory Affairs Dan Papineau for more information and his thoughts on this new credit.

“Honestly, the employee tax credits could be as good or better than the PPP loans and they can be used with PPP loans. These are very unique tax credits. They’ve never rolled out this way, so business owners need to check with their CPA and tax professional to understand if they can take advantage of this.” Dan said.

He continued, “The IRS hasn’t come out with guidance yet, perhaps because they have pushed back the tax return date to February 12. The enhanced employee tax credit may need to be flushed out before the IRS will except returns.”

Since the enhanced tax credit was part of the Trump administration, one may wonder if the Biden administration will keep the law. It is not uncommon, after all, for a new administration to make changes as they enter the White House. So, does the Michigan Chamber of Commerce believe the enhanced tax credit law will stay?

“I don’t think it will get overturned,” Dan said. “I think President-elect Biden will take advantage of some of the programs that Trump pushed through and this one is a good one to keep. It keeps people on the payroll and off unemployment. It will be good to add to his toolbox.

However, as we see in Michigan, how the agency interprets the law affects the rules. The question is, will the Biden administration view the tax relief program in a way that the Trump administration would have with regard to enforcement and interpretation. The Biden administration may be more cost-sensitive and read the package more conservatively. It’s definitely an interesting dilemma.”

To find out more on the employee retention tax credit enhancement, visit please contact your tax advisor. The following resources may also provide more information:

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce or email Dan Papineau at dpapineau@michamber.com

The Internal Revenue Service

The Tax Foundation (scroll until you see the article)

READ MORE