Michigan Business & Economy

Hagerty Insurance

One of Traverse City’s largest employers will expand its operation into Denver. The president of Hagerty Insurance says the expansion will give the company a back-up call center.

Hagerty made plans for an additional location last year, after routine maintenance shut down its operation for a couple hours. Company president, McKeel Hagerty, says the incident showed that the business was vulnerable to factors outside of their control.

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Michigan’s minimum wage rises to $8.15 an hour

Sep 2, 2014

People making the minimum wage in Michigan got a raise Monday. The wage increased from $7.40 an hour to $8.15 an hour.

It will eventually rise to $9.25 an hour by 2018 and increase with inflation after that. That stops if the state’s unemployment rate goes above 8.5 percent.

The Michigan Restaurant Association (MRA), which lobbied against the minimum wage increase, says it expects some restaurants will raise menu prices because of Monday’s increase.

Detroit's historic bankruptcy case is entering the home stretch. The crucial, final trial phase begins Tuesday in a Detroit courtroom.

The trial will decide the fate of a plan to wipe out billions of dollars in debt and help Detroit emerge from bankruptcy as a new, revitalized city.

This trial is a big deal, but don't expect anything with lots of courtroom drama. For one thing, it's federal bankruptcy court — and there's no jury.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/History-Prize/146759932084035

Ludington and Traverse City are on a short list for a new 19-day festival being planned for 2016.

History Prize would be modeled after ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Organizers of the new event hope to offer cash prizes in the tens-of-thousands of dollars for the best exhibitors.

Linda Stephan

UPDATED 8/25/2014 This story has been corrected to properly reflect the role of Mayor Carla Filkins at Mercy Cadillac. She oversees the purchasing of supplies. We regret our earlier error.

Two northern Michigan hospitals now owned by a national health system could soon be the property of Munson Healthcare in Traverse City. A deal for Mercy Grayling and Mercy Cadillac is expected in September.

Going local is just the opposite of what we’ve seen in Petoskey, Cheboygan and Ludington. All joined major hospital systems in recent years, in part for the stability and access to capital those big players can provide.

In Cadillac no one seems very worried about bucking the trend. That’s at least in part due to the efforts of one man. The outgoing CEO of Mercy Cadillac is leading the transition into Munson as his final legacy before retirement.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Gourmet food trucks have seen remarkable growth in recent years.

A new University of Michigan study looks at the phenomena.

Researcher Todd Schifeling is a doctoral candidate in sociology at UM.  He’s also a big fan of food trucks. In fact, he says he was spending so much time eating at his local food truck, he thought he might as well get some research done at the same time.

Schifeling says gourmet food trucks tend to grow in communities with active locally grown food scenes and more than the average number of college graduates.

City of Cadillac expands free bike program

Aug 15, 2014
City of Cadillac

A free bike rental program in Cadillac was expanded this summer. Today the city is loaning out 30 bicycles at two locations. The original location remains at Mitchell State Park. The city has added a second rental location across Lake Cadillac at the downtown After 26 Café.

Mayor Carla Filkins says the program, called Bike Cadillac, is designed to encourage more visitors and residents to use the area’s bike trails.

Environmental groups have asked the state to reverse a permit that allows a commercial fish hatchery to expand on a legendary northern Michigan trout stream.

The Grayling Fish Hatchery is located along the AuSable River, which is renowned for its trout fishing. The Sierra Club and other environmental groups say that trout population could be threatened by pathogens and parasites from a fish farm that’s allowed to raise as much as 300,000 pounds of fish.

“Frankly, we think it’s a lousy, lousy place for a commercial fish operation,” said the Sierra Club’s Marvin Roberson.

The campaign to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is giving up its fight to get on the November ballot.

A state elections board last week said the proposal failed to get enough valid petition signatures to go to the state Legislature or the statewide ballot. The Raise Michigan coalition announced on Friday it will not appeal the ruling.

The group says a court battle to force the question on the ballot would be too costly without a good chance of winning.

Linda Stephan

Until recently, businesses in Michigan had to pay taxes on almost all their equipment. Not surprisingly, they didn’t like this tax. The state Legislature has done its part to phase out the Personal Property Tax but the rest is up to voters when they decide the fate of Proposal One on Tuesday’s ballot.

Paying Year After Year

The Michigan primary election is on Aug. 5, and one of the things you’ll be looking at is Proposal 1. It asks voters to approve a tax policy change, but the proposal is very confusing.

To help us clear this up a little, Bob Schneider joined us today. Schneider is with the Citizens Research Council of Michigan. The organization is a nonpartisan non-profit group that objectively analyzes policy issues like Proposal 1.

*Listen to the full interview above.

A state elections board has rejected a petition to raise Michigan’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

A bipartisan majority of the Board of State Canvassers threw out dozens of signatures after a last-minute challenge from opponents. They say the signatures were from people who signed the petition more than once, which is illegal under Michigan election law.

“I’m 100% confident that what we’ve shown them in terms of duplication will be confirmed by any review of any of them,” said John Pirich with People Protecting Michigan Jobs, the group opposing the petition.

Executive Office of the President files

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says foreign investment and immigration will be critical to turning around Michigan’s economy.

The former aide to President George W. Bush spoke before the Detroit Economic Club (DEC) Monday afternoon with Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Make Michigan attractive for investment, period. OK? Make it attractive,” said Paulson.

He says Michigan should especially look to China to help boost the state’s economy. He says many Chinese businesses are looking to expand overseas, and Michigan needs to make it clear they are welcome.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

UPDATE 2:35PM: Our story has been corrected because the ballot campaign is now looking to get a voter initiated law, not a constitutional amendment.

State environmental regulators will put the finishing touches on new rules regarding “fracking” now that public hearings have wrapped up. They expect to have the new rules adopted by the end of the year. But the state’s rules may not be the final word on the controversial drilling process

“Fracking” is a drilling method that pushes water and chemicals into wells to force out oil and gas deposits.

A new kind of berry has found its way into Michigan grocery stores. These dark purple fruits are called saskatoons.

This commercial cultivar of the wild juneberry is pretty common in Canada, but it hasn't been grown by farmers in the U.S. until recently. Here, the berry, also sometimes called the serviceberry, has been collected in the wild for generations.

One farmer who has started growing them in Michigan isn't quite sure how to describe the taste.

Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Michigan was recently recognized as one of the best places in America to fish for bass. The booming fishery is one sign of what might be a major shift of the lake’s food web. One biologist recently referred to the change as a "revolution."

Even though there are winners, like people fishing for bass, the change is being driven by an invasive species. And it could mean trouble for the most popular sport fish in Lake Michigan.

Chris Noffsinger has an unusual specialty as a fishing guide. He shows you where to catch bass.

The nation’s tart cherry growers are on track to grow about as many tart cherries as they can sell this year. That’s good news for an industry that often grows too much fruit and sometimes restricts sales to keep supply in balance with demand.

Estimates for 2014 project growers producing about 260 million pounds of tart cherries. Most of that, about 180 million pounds, will come from Michigan.   

The executive director of the Cherry Industry Administrative Board, Perry Hedin, says that’s an average to large crop.

The History Press

All those festivities going on in Traverse City the next 10 days, the jet planes and carnival rides, that all started with a prayer about ninety years ago. Some cherry growers in the region asked local clergy to bless their blossoms. Somebody saw the potential to draw visitors. A little more than a decade later, 100,000 visitors where coming to the National Cherry Festival.

Brooks Vanderbush walks through this history in a new book about the festival.

Northern Ontario Aquaculture Associaton

Michigan took a big step forward in the business of fish farming this week. The state issued a permit allowing the Grayling Fish Hatchery to expand more than ten fold. It will be the largest fish hatchery in the state by far when it ramps up production. The hatchery raises trout for restaurants and grocery stores.

The expansion comes as interest in fish farming is growing nationwide. There is even talk of developing the aquaculture industry offshore in the open waters of the Great Lakes, something that has only been done in Canadian waters.

Four Winns Has New Owner

Jun 25, 2014
Tom Carr

A French firm now owns Four Winns and other boat brands based in Cadillac. The Beneteau Group, which touts itself as the world's number one yacht builder, is the new employer of 500 people who build the fiberglas boats on Cadillac's north side.

Employees at Rec Boat Holdings learned the news Tuesday. While the town is keeping its fingers crossed that the plant will stay put, company officials say there are reasons to be optimistic.

A group of U.S. and Canadian citizens that advises the Great Lakes Fishery Commission says an aging pipeline under the Mackinac Bridge should be replaced. They say there’s too much danger of a “catastrophic” oil spill in an “especially sensitive area” with fast-moving currents and frequent ice cover.

Enbridge Energy says this four-mile stretch of “Line 5” meets all modern regulations and that it has seamless metal walls an inch thick. But it is 60 years old, and this is not the first citizen group to call for its replacement.

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

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A New Barn Quilt Trail In Mason County

Jun 18, 2014

A new tourism trail of Mason County farms will open this September. It will be similar to a trail of barns on Old Mission Peninsula. They display barn quilts. They’re not fabric quilts. They’re large pieces of wood painted to look like quilt squares and fastened to the exteriors of barns. The Mason County trail is hoping to have 12 quilts up by mid-September. Brandy Henderson is Executive Director of the Ludington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Brandy says, "People will be able to bring their cellphone and dial a number at each stop and they'll hear the story and history of each barn

traversecitymi.gov

Traverse City will at least delay a move to allow café seating in some downtown parking spaces. Monday commissioners voted to send the plan back to committee. 

In addition to so-called “platform cafes,” the proposal would allow café seating on the sidewalks to take up all but four feet of the walkway. Disability advocates Monday asked the commission to leave at least five feet for pedestrians, possibly six.

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