economy

What will it take to get Michiganders into good jobs?

The Center for Michigan has spent the last year asking questions of more than 5,000 Michiganders for its "Getting to Work" public engagement campaign.

This is the sixth such public engagement campaign conducted by the non-profit and nonpartisan Center for Michigan.

The Next Idea

Theatre has immense power to build community, although its power is often overlooked.

As a live art form, theatrical storytelling relies on the presence and engagement of both performers and spectators — a rarity in today’s media-saturated world. The immediacy of theatre provides us with intimate human connection and a subjective experience that cannot be replicated. You walk into a theatre, settle in your seat, and as the lights begin to dim, you realize you are about to be transported into another world.

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

A legal dispute between an Elk Rapids food processor and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is headed back to court. Burnette Foods filed the lawsuit in 2012, claiming an administrative board that controls the cherry industry is antiquated.

Owner Bill Sherman says the cherry board has had a negative effect on his business.

“We have huge amounts of imports coming into the U.S. of tart cherry products and at the same time, we are not allowed to sell our products under the threat of severe financial penalties," says Sherman.

With unemployment down, U.S. car and truck sales up, and consumer sentiment indices up, all the traditional signs point to an improving economy.

So why is it that many of us aren't feeling this prosperity?

Tom Walsh dug into this question for the Detroit Free Press.

On paper, it's a pretty good idea: a business district stretching ten miles between Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports.

It would attract investment money, backers said. It would create 64,000 new jobs for Southeast Michigan.

Corn flakes was the focus of a recent piece in The Atlantic by writer Rachel Smith. She looked at what’s in them, what’s not in them, and how they were invented in Battle Creek by John Harvey Kellogg and his brother Will Keith.

Nowadays, cereal sales are dropping and Wall Street observers think Kellogg's is ripe for a takeover.

The Next Idea

I am a daughter of immigrants who grew up in Michigan's Indian and Pakistani community. Most often the response people have when they hear this is to ask: “Why, with all the glamorous cities in America, would so many people from South Asia choose to come to the Midwest?”

Crowdfunding. The word itself wasn't even known less than a decade ago. But crowdfunding has become a powerful way to raise money.

EquityNet tells us that more than $20 billion in funding transactions will happen around the world this year. That is a 100% increase from $10 billion last year.

Good news, drivers. Look out for a summer of road trips that will be cheaper than they've been for the past six years.

Right now, national gas prices average around $2.40 per gallon while Michigan gas prices average around $2.37 per gallon. And gas prices for the summer – a time when drivers take to the roads a bit more than in the winter – are projected to stay at about those same levels.

UAW members gathered in Detroit this week to let local delegates air their views about what the union should demand in contract talks with U.S. automakers later this year.

The discussion has centered on the two-tier pay system that's been in place for the last eight years.

The Next Idea

For new ideas to flourish, for innovations to truly take hold and change our communities, we hear all the time that we in Michigan need to connect and collaborate more and be more civil to each other. But how, exactly?

Collaboration and civility are feel-good abstractions that well-meaning folks use, but often without offering a clear pathway to actually achieving improvement. Instead, we are left with flimsy takeaways that basically say, “Just try harder to be more open” or "Just go meet people." 

This year marks the 17th season of The Great Lakes Cruise Company, and three new cruises between Chicago and Montreal, along with a new ship, the Saint Laurent, will be introduced this year.

With competition from Amazon and e-readers, big box bookstores have been hit hard. Borders closed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble has been forced to close hundreds of stores.

But independent bookstores are proving to have staying power.

Toyota is making changes to its top staff, with more North Americans rising in the ranks.

"For the first time they are elevating some Americans to some very key positions," says Daniel Howes, who recently wrote an article about the changes for the Detroit News.

One of the greatest skyscrapers in Detroit is on the auction block.

The Fisher Building and its next-door neighbor, The Albert Kahn Building, have fallen into foreclosure as they struggle with fewer and fewer tenants.

Dan Austin is with the Detroit Free Press, and he runs HistoricDetroit.org.

It could have been a story of a company's ruin following a bankruptcy in 2005.

Instead, Delphi Automotive is "a Wall Street love story" -- but at what cost to its American workforce?

After U.S. bankruptcy, the automotive parts manufacturing company moved its headquarters from Troy to the U.K.

Innovation is not always the answer

Feb 19, 2015

The Next Idea

Innovation is a big word. 

I must confess I haven’t given it much thought in more than a decade, since I was in the last semester of my MBA program in India. Probably that’s because, back then, the word came up too often. Innovation this, innovation that. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. 

Technology pushes companies to work for us

Feb 16, 2015

The Next Idea

The world is rapidly changing, in case you haven’t noticed.  How we fundamentally interact with businesses, with government, and with each other is moving in directions that we are only starting to comprehend.

The Next Idea

Following the 2008 crisis, many of my colleagues and I in the financial advising industry started to notice a curious thing. More clients began asking about where, exactly, their money was being invested. They wanted to know how to get some or all of it out of “the system," and quite a few added: "Oh by the way, do you know where I can learn about starting a business? I have an idea.”

They tend to not want credit cards or cars. They are postponing marriage, frequently choosing to live at home with mom and dad.  They are grappling with a distressed economy and have high poverty rates to prove it.

They are the millennials, the 18-34 year olds of American society today.

In his State of the State address this week, Governor Snyder highlighted how Michigan has made a comeback since the Great Recession. But Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says the state still has a long recovery ahead.

Howes highlights in his recent article how Michigan has gone through a transformation that makes it impossible to truly return to where we once were. He emphasizes that Michigan shouldn’t be thinking in terms of the past, but instead focusing on truly moving forward.

The Next Idea

I think most people would agree that Michigan is on the rebound. In Detroit, where I live, new restaurants are popping up on a weekly basis, national retailers are moving in, and corporations are opening new offices. This hint of change in the Pure Michigan air is still polluted, however, by many of the same intractable issues -- homelessness, unequal access to education and food, and environmental degradation, to name a few. Much like the rest of our economy, these old problems require a new approach.

Go for the ambience, the free eggnog, and, oh yeah, a Christmas tree.

At Flatsnoots Christmas Trees in Ann Arbor, visiting owner Duke Wagatha is all part of the experience of finding that perfect evergreen.

There was some recent sand-throwing between Oakland County's feisty executive, L. Brooks Patterson, and Dan Gilbert, who is arguably Detroit's No. 1 booster, both in terms of buying, building, and enticing companies to move to Detroit. 

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