economy

During this holiday season, we hear Nat King Cole crooning about those chestnuts again. Did you know that Michigan leads the nation in chestnut production?

Yet most of us have never eaten a chestnut. That is something Dennis Fulbright wants to change. He's a plant pathologist and professor with Michigan State University.

Is Michigan just too modest, too Midwestern in the way it treats its prominent entrepreneurs? Jeff DeGraff thinks the answer might be yes.

DeGraff is a clinical professor of management and organizations at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and our partner for the Next Idea. Jeff DeGraff has two questions for listeners:

How would you identify the best and the brightest? And what kinds of help would you give them?

A more seamlessly connected experience.

That's what Jeff DeGraff thinks Michigan needs to move its economy forward. DeGraff is our partner for The Next Idea. He's a clinical professor of management and organizations at the U of M Ross School of Business.

DeGraff says he sees Michigan’s economy as three distinct parts: large multinational corporations based in the greater Detroit metro area; mid-level businesses in western Michigan; and small startups in places like Ann Arbor that have young, vibrant, and intelligent people.

Click on the link above to hear Cynthia's conversation with DeGraff.

More economists are telling us that income and wealth inequality is growing in the U.S.

The Economist declared that inequality in wealth in America is approaching record levels. They argue that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting wider as the rich get richer.

Michigan State University economics professor Charlie Ballard joined us today to talk about this wealth disparity in the U.S.

You can listen to our conversation below.


You can't walk across a street in Michigan without stepping on a manhole cover branded "East Jordan Iron Works."


The latest Michigan Public Policy Survey shows that for the first time since 2009, more Michigan communities say they are better able to meet their fiscal needs than those who say they are less able to do so.

For six years, a University of Michigan team from the Ford School's Center for Local, State and Public Policy has been doing regular "temperature" checks with elected and appointed leaders of more than 1,800 local governments around Michigan.

Tom Ivacko is with the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the Gerald R. Ford School. He says the data indicate an important development as the state recovers from the Great Recession.

 


Many of us believe it's not officially autumn in Michigan until we've got pumpkins nestled on our front porches.


Today on Stateside, we heard the verdict from the state's pumpkin patch.


Ron Goldy is with the Michigan State University Extension Service. He said Michigan's pumpkin crop this year is one of the best he's seen.


"The color is good, they've ripened on time, the size is good, because the cool temperature allows them to get larger.... This is a great pumpkin year," said Goldy.


Goldy also said odd pumpkins are trending right now. In the next five years or so, we'll see more and more different styles and colors of pumpkins in the market.


* Listen to our conversation with Ron Goldy above.


 


Here are some easy-a** ways to make money in Detroit. 

That was the headline on a recent Jalopnik blog by Aaron Foley. He says he wants to offer up his ideas for all Detroiters who want to make money, but don't want to spend too much. 

Some of these ideas and Foley's own explanation:

  • A gay bar inside of a firehouse – "No brainer! There are so many empty firehouses."
  • A vegan Coney Island – "Not what I would personally want, but ...what better place to experience different food styles in Detroit than the Coney Island?"
  • An agency that teaches new Detroiters not to be offensive – "Sometimes folks just don't know how to talk to a black or Latino person without sounding dense."

* Listen to our conversation with Aaron Foley above.

 


The Aeron Chair: It's the instantly recognizable mesh-backed, ergonomic office chair.

Nearly seven million Aerons have been sold to date by the Herman Miller Company of West Michigan.

But the chair that epitomizes today's office actually began life as something designed for a completely different consumer.

Don Chadwick and Bill Stumpf designed the Aeron for Herman Miller. 

Chadwick joined Stateside today. He says that the they believed that what had been done before and what was currently available would not satisfy their approach.

That's why they set out to take a totally different look at how an office chair looks, how it works, and how it responds to the environment it's to be used in.

"To be blunt, a lot of them were boring, because they were predictable," says Chadwick.

* Listen to the full interview with Don Chadwick above.

Even with the unemployment rate at 7.5% in Michigan, employers say they still can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill available jobs.

But other voices question the skills gap, calling it "overblown", even a "myth" and suggesting that it’s really more the fault of the companies.

Lou Glazer is president and co-founder of Michigan Future. He says companies should take the responsibility making jobs more attractive.

“When you look at the package employers have put together to attract people to the industry, it ain’t so great,” says Glazer.

For cyclical industries like manufacturing and construction, when the employment package is not great, the employers likely get a small pool of entrants.

Aaron Selbig

At the very northern tip of the Lower Peninsula is Michigan’s only “dark sky park,” a place almost free of light pollution – reserved just for the enjoyment of the stargazing public.

State money is being used to attract everything from a Jehovah's Witnesses convention in Detroit to an international soccer match in Ann Arbor.

Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh, notes that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has spent more than a million dollars this year to bring in things like conventions and sporting events.

Walsh says it's a common practice and could generate a lot of state tax revenue from out-of-state visitors.

Walsh says the payback from the first few events is about $20 million in state tax revenue.

Tuesday the Michigan Strategic Fund OK'd another $1 million for the program through Sept. 15, 2015.

Read more in Tom Walsh’s article in the Detroit Free Press.

*Listen to the full story above. 

About 36% of Americans aren't financially prepared for their retirement, according to a recent survey by Bankrate.com.

Detroit News personal finance writer Brian O’Connor said the number isn't that surprising, given what's happened in the last several years.

“A lot of people wound up having to raid their retirements. A lot of people got nervous and took their money out of retirement accounts when the stock market fell,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor added that there are people living paycheck-to-paycheck, with wages not keeping pace with inflation. Although jobs are coming back to Michigan, those jobs aren't paying what they used to.

The survey found 69% percent of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 don’t have anything saved. That’s understandable, because they have student loans, are trying set up households, and are getting businesses launched.

However, the 14% of people aged 65 and older with no savings are in a tight spot. These people may have had a financial crisis – a divorce, bankruptcy, medical issues, etc.

“It’s going to be a serious, serious problem,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said one of the reasons that people aren’t saving is that there are relying on their pensions. But as we have seen in the Detroit bankruptcy, pensions are not always guaranteed.

Michigan has a serious labor shortage in home construction which will slow the pace of new home building for at least the next six years.

Usually some 28,000 new homes are built each year in Michigan. This past year, there were just 13,000. Bob Filka, CEO of the Homebuilders Association of Michigan, says this is in part because of a workforce shortage.

That shortage of labor include framers, carpenters, plumbers, and electricians. According to Filka, Michigan lost approximately 60,000 workers in the industry during the downturn. They left the state, retired, or changed careers, and many of them are not coming back to the job in the sector.

 The Ann Arbor Chronicle news website will end regular publication on September 2, the Chronicle's six-year anniversary.

Mary Morgan is co-founder of the Ann Arbor Chronicle, along with her husband, Dave Askins.

Morgan said the decision was not a financial one. Askins wrote in the column that announced the news that they could keep the Chronicle going if they were willing to put in the amount of effort it took. That question became the deciding factor.

“Do we want to be doing this five years, ten years from now, and the answer was no,” Morgan said.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle featured many stories on local government. The site had about 50,000 visitors each month. Visit the site here

*Listen to the full interview with Mary Morgan above. 

Words of encouragement, like “think positive,” can be flung around with little thought when we face challenging situations.

It's something we hear so often that it's easy to tune out.

But there is real power in those words: The power to make our workplaces better and more effective.

This week, The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is holding its first-ever Ross Positive Business Conference.

Chris White leads the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan, and he joined us today.

*Listen to our interview with above.

Do you shop resale? Do you have a favorite thrift shop?

The business of selling second-hand goods has become a $13 billion industry in this country annually.

It's grown about 7% over each of the past two years.

Now you'll find resale, thrift and consignment shops in most Michigan cities and towns.

What's behind the growth? And what does this "resale" economy offer us?

We're joined by Brenda Parker. She is a professor of Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She recently coauthored a piece on the restructuring of retail economies in this era of e-commerce.

And we welcome Chantal McDaniel. She is based in Grand Rapids, and she writes a thrift fashion blog called "Thrift Trick: Miles of Fashion on a Shoestring."

Listen to the full interview above.

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