Michigan Business & Economy

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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.

A plan to increase the cost of electricity in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has been delayed. The rate increase would have taken effect today, but federal regulators have raised questions about its fairness.

The plan would raise rates 20% to 30% for residents and businesses across the UP. In total, the region of about 310,000 people would have to come up with more than $100 million over the next year.

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.


A two-year investigation of illegal fishing in the Great Lakes led to raids on businesses in Charlevoix and Beaver Island earlier this month. The raids were part of an undercover operation. It involved creating a fake business in the Upper Peninsula to buy and sell fish. Federal agents involved claim the business made 550 sales and 400 involved fish taken illegally by commercial fishers.

The Michigan Supreme Court will decide next year whether the state’s right-to-work law applies to unionized civil service employees.

Four unions representing 35,000 state civil service workers filed the challenge. They say the right-to-work law does not apply to them because of the Michigan Constitution and the independent authority it gives the civil service system.

The cost of electricity could jump dramatically next month in the Upper Peninsula.

Residents there might have to start paying to keep a coal plant open that isn't entirely needed anymore. The increase will be a harsh blow to a region that struggles economically.

Brimley is a little town at the end of the road on Lake Superior’s south shore. There’s a bar, a casino and a couple motels. Brimley State Park draws campers here in the summer and into Ron Holden’s IGA grocery store.

"Basically the six weeks of summer pay for the rest of the year’s bills, " he says. On the wall of the IGA are deer heads, a black bear rug, and a flag that says, ‘American by choice, Yooper by da grace of God.’

But being a Yooper might cost more starting December 1. Holden expects his store’s electric bill will be $700 a month higher and he has no idea where he’ll get that money.

Updated at 1:15 p.m. ET

A federal judge today gave the OK to a bankruptcy exit strategy proposed by Detroit nearly 16 months after the city asked for protection from its creditors.

At a 1 p.m. ET hearing, Judge Steven Rhodes found that the plan was fair and feasible. He's expected to issue a written ruling later.

"This city is insolvent and desperately needs to fix its future," Rhodes said.

Copyright 2014 WDET-FM. To see more, visit http://www.wdet.org.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And today is decision day in Motor City. A federal judge is set to rule on Detroit's plan to exit the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Quinn Klinefelter from member station WDET has our story.

DEQ says Mesick compost pile is 'vastly improved'

Nov 3, 2014

State inspectors say a commercial compost site in Mesick is in much better shape than what they saw in July.

DEQ’s Jim Staley, a geo-environmental engineer, was at the site a few days ago and said he didn't see a single vulture or crow. That compares to last July when dozens of vultures and crows soared above the pile and stinky odors drifted into neighboring homes.

"It's vastly improved," he said. “Right at the pile, you could still smell it, but it was nowhere near what it was in July."

Global automakers look to China to rev up their global sales, but growth in China's car sales slowed again in September. 

According to The Detroit Free Press, sales in passenger vehicles in China rose 6.4% in September from a year earlier, slowing from 8% in August and 13.9% in May. 

John McElroy is an auto analyst and host of the Autoline Daily webcast. He says the numbers are direct indicators of the economic health of the Chinese economy, which seems to be cooling down.

Stench angers neighbors of new business near Mesick

Oct 9, 2014

The owners of a large compost pile near Mesick promised to move their commercial composting pile after meeting with irate neighbors on Saturday.

The compost pile is a relatively new operation. Opened early this summer, Northern Composting accepts food waste from Traverse City restaurants, the National Cherry Festival, fast food restaurants and a number of other sources.            

A group of workers with disabilities will get to keep their jobs in Traverse City – for now. Grand Traverse Industries plans to pay the salaries of up to 20 workers out of their own pocket – instead of laying them off.

Funding for those workers used to come from the state – but was eliminated during the expansion of Medicaid.

 


These are challenging times for the executives who run the luxury brands at General Motors and Ford.


Lincoln has been on wobbly legs for years, and Cadillac is lagging behind the competition, especially the German luxury competition.


Detroit News Business columnist Daniel Howes has been following the Michigan automakers' struggle with the luxury business. He says these companies have largely failed to get luxury buyers to take their products seriously. 


"Lincoln has failed for a long time, in a large part because Ford was not willing to spend the money to make Lincoln differentiated enough. A lot of people will tell you today that Cadillac has got the best product, but the problem is the sales are not producing," says Howes.


Fire in Chicago disrupts air travel in Traverse City

Sep 26, 2014
Cherry Capital Airport

Airlines canceled nearly half of all flights in and out of Traverse City on Friday. That's after a fire broke out in an air traffic control center near Chicago.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

After more than 112 years, Cadillac is looking at Detroit in its rearview mirror. GM's luxury division is moving its headquarters to Manhattan.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A leading producer of natural gas in Michigan is pulling out. Encana is a Canadian company that spearheaded a recent boom in drilling for shale gas in the state.

Encana has drilled most of the wells in Michigan using the method known in the industry as horizontal hydraulic fracturing. It is sometimes referred to as fracking.

These wells are expensive--millions of dollars per well, rather than hundreds of thousands for conventional wells--use huge volumes of water and tap into natural gas deposits at depths that were not explored here until 2010.

Mason County Barn Quilt Trail

Mason County dedicates northern Michigan's latest heritage tourism trail today. It's the latest in a series of so-called "barn quilt trails" that have popped up around the region. As you can see from the images in our slideshow (above), the quilts center on a variety of themes important to the family who builds them, anything from national pride and cultural heritage, to something reminiscent of the region. 

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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A special compensation fund for victims of GM's faulty ignition switch has issued its first report, and it makes clear that GM will pay claims for more than the 13 deaths the automaker says were linked to the defect.

GM established the voluntary compensation fund as part of its ongoing mea culpa for delaying an ignition switch recall for a decade.

The program is only for Cobalts, HHRs, Saturn Ions and a few other GM models, all no longer in production, and only for those killed or injured when their airbags did not deploy because the ignition switch had turned off.


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.

New legislation in the state Senate would close Michigan’s teacher retirement system to new teachers. Instead, all new teachers would get a “defined contribution” 401(k)-style plan.

Under a partial overhaul of teacher retirement approved by state lawmakers in 2012, new teachers can choose between that or a “hybrid” plan, which combines elements of a defined contribution plan and a traditional pension. The new legislation would end that choice, giving new teachers only the 401(k)-style defined contribution plan.

A judge in Cheboygan says charges of fraud can proceed against Chesapeake Energy.

Michigan's attorney general accuses the Oklahoma-based energy company of swindling landowners in northern Michigan.

In 2010, Chesapeake Energy signed hundreds of leases across northern Michigan. These included the promise of a cash payment to landowners for the right to explore for oil and gas.

Great Lakes shipping picks up after slow start

Sep 5, 2014
Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

Great Lakes shipping has rebounded this summer after a sluggish start to the season.

Icy waters slowed shipping in the spring – but total cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway are now up 3 percent compared to last year, according to Betty Sutton. She is the Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

A Michigan labor judge says the state’s largest teachers’ union must let members leave at any time.

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) only allows teachers to quit the union during a one-month period in August. But conservative groups say that is a violation of Michigan’s right-to-work law. They are applauding administrative law judge Julia Stern’s decision this week.

When the French built Fort Pontchartrain on the banks of the Detroit River in 1701, there was a very big reason why: fur.

The trappers who brought their pelts to the fort gave Detroit its first industry.

In the 300-plus years since, Detroit's fur industry has seen good times and bad. And it is still standing in 2014.

Writer Josie Schneider tracked this history in her story for Hour Detroit magazine called Passion for Pelts. In her piece, Schneider stated that the fur industry literally formed the city of Detroit.

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