Street Talk: Leaving home behind

Trauma team.
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Michigan’s business leaders see robust growth ahead in the state’s economy during the next six to 12 months and plan a return to in-person office work in the 3rd and 4th quarters of this year, according to a quarterly economic survey completed by Business Leaders for Michigan.

Approximately 92 percent of survey respondents say the state’s economy will likely remain strong and growing during the next six to 12 months.

“With our progress on vaccination and the influx of federal stimulus dollars into Michigan, the state’s largest employers are predicting a strong period of economic growth,” said Jeff Donofrio, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Whether that growth will be sustained depends on if our state’s policymakers invest federal stimulus funding strategically to make Michigan more competitive in the future.”

Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, remote work was no longer required starting May 24.

“Even with the removal of restrictions on in-person office work, most businesses — nearly 80% — are planning for a gradual return,” Donofrio said. “Employers continue to be focused on making sure workplaces are safe and that employees have more flexibility in how and where they work, even after in-person office work returns. They also know that expanded child care options and in-person instruction at K-12 schools is necessary for many employees to return to the physical workspace.”

While surveyed executives said they believe the vast majority of Michigan workers will be coming back to the office post-COVID-19, 93% of employers plan to offer hybrid work models to some staff, and almost a third of employers say 50% or more of employees will work in hybrid mode.

When it comes to real estate, 70% of businesses expect their real estate footprint to remain the same or increase, with 27% planning to decrease their physical space in the coming year.

Other significant survey findings include: More than 90% of the state’s business leaders expect to maintain or grow employment and capital investment during the next 6-12 months and more than 94% of business leaders anticipate the U.S. economy to remain strong and growing during the next year.

Business Leaders for Michigan conducted the internal member survey in late April and early May.

Retail reeling

For the first time in six months, Michigan’s retail industry is feeling the pain.

The Michigan Retailers Association’s index for April reported a month-over-month decline in sales for the first time since November.

The April Retail Index survey came in at 67.1, a decrease from March’s 92.4. Approximately 58% of Michigan retailers reported an increase in sales over March, 22% reported a sales decline, and 20% reported no change.

Looking ahead, 57% of retailers predict their sales will continue to rise through July, but 15% said they expect a sales decline, and 28% anticipate no change.

“Labor shortages and supply chain challenges that have been noted around the country have contributed to the decline we experienced in April here in Michigan,” said William J. Hallan, MRA president and CEO. “We are optimistic that sales will trend higher in May due to the increase in vaccinations and Michiganders eager to resume their lives pre-COVID.”

Sales year-over-year are up. According to MRA’s April retail volume report, home furnishing sales have been strong over the past year, increasing more than 1,700% over April 2020; department store purchases increased by 214.28% and clothing and shoe stores are up 209.36%.

Many businesses that took the survey report their biggest challenges are finding enough people to work and waiting on supply chain delays, Hallan said.

Lifesaver

In honor of the Bronson trauma and emergency team that saved their nine-year-old daughter’s life more than 35 years ago, Chris and Barbara Christoffersen have created an endowment to support services that will help in caring for patients during a medical trauma for years to come.

Rachel Christoffersen suffered a car crash in 1985 in Kalamazoo, which left her with severe damage to her liver, spleen and gall bladder. She also had a tear in a vein in her abdomen that carries blood to the heart, and a blood clot in her brain. At the time, doctors told her parents the chance of survival was one in 100.

During surgery, the trauma team at Bronson’s Level 1 Trauma Center used a device for the very first time that would remove, clean and return blood to Rachel’s body. After two weeks in pediatric intensive care, Rachel went on to eventually make a full recovery.

“We were amazed to see the combined efforts of many people whose expertise, coordination and commitment saved Rachel’s life,” said Chris Christoffersen. “They were truly a miracle, and we will never forget them.”

To recognize the life-saving work that made their daughter’s recovery possible, the Christoffersens made a $200,000 gift to Bronson Health Foundation to establish the Christoffersen Family Trauma and Emergency Services Endowment. The fund will support new technologies and equipment, education for physicians, nurses and other clinicians, facility development and innovative models of care in trauma and emergency services across the Bronson system.

“Our family is eternally grateful,” Barbara Christoffersen added. “We received expert and loving care when a member of our family desperately needed it. We will never forget that day and the caretakers will always be in our hearts.”

The Christoffersens have seeded the endowment with more than $200,000 and would like to see the community meet or exceed that giving level. In fact, as they have invited others, the call has been met and more than $100,000 already has been raised.

“This endowment will allow us to add to the lifesaving resources we use to care for patients during the most critical time of their lives,” said Dr. Oreste Romeo, medical director for Bronson’s trauma center.

To learn more about the endowment and/or to make a gift, and to read Rachel Olsen’s (formerly Christoffersen) story in her own words, visit bronsonfoundation.com.

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