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The State of Steubenville Ohio governor John Kasich delivers his State of the State address tonight. But instead of giving the speech at the state capitol, he’ll be at a public school in Steubenville. Partner station WCPN Ideastream explains why.

Tech jobs Chicago is landing more tech jobs, mostly in the digital advertising sector, reports Crain’s Chicago.

Detroit panel to meet in public A judge says there will be no more secret meetings to determine the fate of Detroit. A state-appointed panel is looking into the city’s finances to determine whether the city should be put under the control of an emergency manager. Now, partner station Michigan Radio reports the panel’s meetings must be held in public.

A pickle of a plant A plant in Detroit that once made auto parts is about to start making pickles.

Here’s hoping you never have to use it A couple of Clevelanders are launching a new startup company: eFunerals.com.


The day after The Super Bowl is over, and now the cleanup process begins for Indianapolis.

Opportunity knocked Reuters looks into what happened to all those clients of MF Global, after the firm collapsed. Turns out two Chicago firms were the biggest winners, bringing in $1.2 billion in new funds.

More ‘Free’ beds The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. is planning a $48 million expansion. The expansion will double the hospital’s size.

Gasification fight Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson wants to turn the city’s trash into energy. But environmentalists have raised concerns about emissions from the “gasification” process. And the city council is not sold on the idea.

Going once, going twice, oh never mind … Detroit residents who had their homes taken away because of a failure to pay taxes are getting an opportunity to buy those homes back. The Detroit News reports that thousands of city-owned properties failed to sell at auction. So officials now say they’ll offer to sell the property back to the original owner, or whoever is squatting in the home, for as little as $500.

Not really ‘Made In Detroit’ Last week, we put together a list of all the companies making t-shirts to show your local pride in the Midwest. Today, Susan Tompor looks at one of those companies and asks Where are those ‘Made In Detroit’ shirts actually made?”


Soul Train was a big influence on generations of American teens (and their younger siblings and older relatives). So, the news today of host Don Cornelius’ death is jolting many people, no more so than here in the Midwest. Famous people, ranging from Jesse Jackson to Quincy Jones, are paying tribute.

Soul Train began as dance parties at local schools, then became a local program on Chicago television. It featured dancing and performances in the mode of American Bandstand, but with an urban flair exemplified by Cornelius’ deep, smooth voice. And of course, the highlight of every show was the Soul Train line dance, along with Cornelius’ sign off: “Wishing you peace, love and souuulll.”

At a time when television aimed at a black audience was just coming into its own, Soul Train had a big time sponsor: Sears, Roebuck, and it soon picked up Johnson Products. When it first went into syndication, it was picked up in seven cities — Detroit and Cleveland among them. (I watched it on WJBK-TV, Channel 2, where it ran right after Bandstand.) By the end of its first season in syndication, it was in 17 markets, and then it went national.

Many black artists with Midwest roots appeared on the show, including Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye, as well as the Jacksons, while Michael Jackson was on many times as a solo artist.

Soul Train stayed on the air from 1971 through 2006, although Cornelius hosted only through 1993. Last year, Soul Train marked its 40th anniversary with a month long celebration in Chicago. On Aug. 31, our partners at WBEZ talked to Cornelius as part of a series of broadcasts.

As you think of Cornelius, take a look at the clip — the first time he danced on the show. That’s Mary Wilson, one of the Supremes, at the beginning.

Do you have memories of Soul Train? Share them with us. We wish you peace, love and soul.


The Jane Addams Hull House Association on Facebook

Jane Addams founded the Hull House in 1889

In 1889, on Chicago’s Near West Side, Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr opened the Hull-House as a way to give their less fortunate neighbors an education in the arts and literature. The role of the Hull-House quickly expanded, offering English class, child care and job training to the city’s rapidly growing immigrant population. Jane Addams went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The House she created has been helping Chicagoans in need ever since.

But that ends today.

At 5p.m. Chicago time, Hull House will close its doors forever. The museum that honors Jane Addams and the house she built will remain open. But, for those seeking help, the Jane Addams Hull House Association will no longer be there to give it.

The leaders at Hull House say the closure is unavoidable. They say revenue has dropped from $40 million a decade ago, to half that today. But the staff at Hull House has been telling a different story on the Association’s Facebook page.

They say the end of the charity came as a sudden and shocking surprise to them, and to the people they serve. They say because the closing was only announced this week, there’s been no time to help transition clients to other service providers. As of Wednesday, they wrote that less than half of their clients were able to find a replacement for Hull House services. And most of Hull House staff have no job prospects, no severance and no health care.

“It’s a bitter irony,” they wrote on Facebook, “that some Hull House staff members might well find themselves in desperate need of the same services that they once provided to clients.”

Hull House staff say they’ve contacted the Illinois Attorney General’s office to investigate how things got so bad so fast for Hull House, and whether management did anything illegal along the way.

Whoever is running the Hull House Facebook site says they will keep it active even after the charity closes its doors. And they’ve set up an email account for anyone who has questions. The address is AskAboutHullHouse@gmail.com.

RELATED: In November, we brought you the story of Chris Busse, a laid off teacher who launched a new business. He launched that business with the help of Hull House.


Kraft Foods, based outside Chicago, is one of those companies where a lot of Midwestern college grads got their first jobs. It has famous brands like Maxwell House, Cadbury, and of course, Kraft itself. But it’s on the verge of reorganizing.

Last August, Kraft Foods said it was splitting itself into two companies — one focusing on snacks, the other on grocery items. Now, Kraft, which generates almost $50 billion in annual revenue, says it is cutting 1,600 jobs, mostly in sales, as a result. It is reducing its management centers from four to two. About 20 percent of those jobs are open position that won’t be filled.

The Chicago area will benefit, in a fashion. Kraft’s grocery business will be headquartered in the area, and the beverages business unit in Tarrytown, N.Y., and the Planters brand in East Hanover, N.J., will relocate to there by December.

The global snacks business also will be headquartered in the Chicago area, although Kraft hasn’t decided on a location. But, Kraft said it will close a management center in Glenview, Ill.

“Making these tough choices is never easy, and we recognize the impact these changes will have on many of our people and their families,” said Tony Vernon, president of Kraft Foods North America, who will run the grocery company.

“But our plan for a more nimble company, combined with the current economic and competitive pressures, led us to this point. Taking the necessary steps now will enable us to continue investing in our beloved brands to drive growth.”

Do you work for Kraft, or buy Kraft products? What’s your view of its consolidation?


Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Detroit’s finances a long-term problem. In the past 45 years, the city of Detroit has recorded 19 budget surpluses and 26 budget deficits, according to the Detroit Free Press. Experts tell the newspaper the city’s debt is now so high that the city could default on unpaid bonds soon, a prelude to bankruptcy. State officials will begin a formal review of Detroit’s finances in January, which could lead to the appointment of an emergency manager. Gov. Rick Snyder said the city faces both a short-term cash-flow shortage and a longer-term structural deficit. “We can’t continue this process because Detroit has been in a financial crisis of some fashion for decades,” he tells the newspaper. “We need a long-term solution.”

2. 2011′s dubious housing distinction. The year 2011 will likely be the worst in history for new home sales. The Commerce Department said it expects the adjusted annual number to reach 315,000 by the close of this month, fewer than the 323,000 sold last year, the worst year on record dating to 1963. That’s less than half the 700,000 new homes economists tell the Associated Press are necessary to sustain a healthy market. The projection comes even as new-home sales rose 1.6 percent in November. December would need to mark its best monthly sales total in four years to avert the dubious finish.

3. Unemployment up in Chicago area. Chicago’s unemployment rate rose in November to 9.8 percent, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The rate ticked upward one-tenth of a percentage point from 9.7 percent in October, and was up 0.9 percent year over year. The unemployment rate dropped in nine of Illinois’ 12 metro areas in November compared to 2010. Chicago’s rate remains slightly lower than the state’s overall 10.0 percent unemployment rate, which has remained nearly flat for three consecutive months. The state’s lowest unemployment rate was found in the Bloomington/Normal area, at 6.8 percent, according to the newspaper.


Michigan residents have long lamented the “brain drain” that takes place when students educated inside the state leave for opportunities elsewhere.

On Wednesday, Gov. Rick Snyder fought back.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder

Chicago has been a popular landing site for those fleeing Michigan, and Snyder challenged those residents to stay put. “Do you want to be another yuppie in Chicago, or do you want to make a difference in Detroit?” he told the Detroit Free Press.

Snyder urged Michiganders to stay and help revitalize the city.

“No disrespect to Chicago, but they’ve got lots of young people, and you’re just going to blend in and be another person there,” he told the newspaper.

How could Snyder be so certain? He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1982. He worked in Detroit for seven years before accepting a job with Coopers & Lybrand out of state. Guess where? Chicago.


Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Groupon gets mixed reviews. Three investment banks that sold Groupon’s initial public offering in November have mixed views of the company’s stock. Credit Suisse analysts rated the stock “neutral” in research reports released today. Morgan Stanley advised its clients to wait to buy shares of the Chicago-based company until the stock price fell, according to our partner station, WBEZ. Only Goldman Sachs rated the stock a “buy.” Banks that lead an IPO traditionally  deliver favorable ratings. Shares were sold to the public at $20 each in the IPO, and traded at $22.20 this morning.

2. Saab files for bankruptcy. Concerned that its technology could land in the hands of Chinese competitors, General Motors blocked a sale of Saab, which subsequently filed for bankruptcy. Experts tell the Detroit Free Press that the 60-year-old company will likely be sold off in parts. Saab CEO Victor Muller purchased the company from GM in 2010 intent on restoring it. But GM still owned some technology licenses for the car, and feared that reorganizing the company through Chinese and Russian financing could mean the technology would be used by competitors. Saab filed the bankruptcy in southwestern Sweden.

3. Harley-Davison layoffs begin. Harley-Davidson Inc. has started sending layoff notices to hourly workers in its Milwaukee-area manufacturing facilities as part of its plan to reduce its headcount by 26 percent, according to the Chicago Tribune. The company plans to lay off approximately 250 of its 950 union workers, and then will hire 150 to 250 temporary employees to handle seasonal production increases. The company expects to save $50 million per year. The move comes as part of CEO Keith Wandell’s push to make the company and its workforce more flexible while courting a wider set of buyers.


Industrial Output: Production from the nation’s factories fell in November, dragged down by the automobile industry, the Federal Reserve said today. The 0.2 percent decline followed a rise in industry output during October. The Fed said the output of motor vehicles and parts fell 3.4 percent in November, while mining and utilities rose. The capacity utilization at American factories, which reflects how full they are running, fell to 77.8 percent in November. That is still up 2 percent from a year ago, but it is below the average for 1972 through 2010, the Fed said.

Donations Fall: Charities in the Detroit area are concerned at a drop in donations over the holidays, according to the Detroit News. The Salvation Army has raised only $3 million of its $8.2 million goal, with nine days left for bell ringers across the metropolitan area. Easter Seals, which holds five raffles a year, came up $50,000 short on its November raffle. It sold only 3,500 of the 5,000 tickets it aims to sell. One group that’s on track is the Gleaners Community Food of Southeastern Michigan, which is set to reach a quarterly goal of $5.2 million in donations.

School Protests: About 50 protestors in Chicago shut down a meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, upset over the city’s plans to close and consolidate schools. District officials want to close five under performing schools, gradually close two more and turn around 10 troubled schools. The protestors included parents, community activists, current and former teachers, and members of the Occupy Chicago movement. The meeting was abruptly adjourned after the protestors interrupted a presentation by schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard.

 


Detroit Rail Plan Dies: An ambitious plan to build a light rail corridor in Detroit has died, the Detroit Free Press reports. Instead, the federal government is recommending that the city get high speed buses, which will run on dedicated routes from the suburbs to the city. The Transportation Department had awarded the city $25 million last year to get light rail rolling. But financial issues with the project, and the city’s own financial woes caused the government to change course, the paper said. The death of the plan ends a four-year lobbying effort to win a light rail system.

Chicago Companies Plan to Hire: About 15 percent of companies in the Chicago area expect to hire more employees in early 2012, and about two-thirds of companies expect to keep staffing levels the same,  according to a survey by Manpower. A small number, about 12 percent, said they planned to eliminate positions in the first quarter. Job prospects appear best in manufacturing of non-durable goods, the wholesale and retail sector, financial activities, education and health care. Employers in construction, transportation and utilities expect to cut jobs.

Texting Ban Boost: The author of a legislative proposal to ban texting-while-driving in Ohio tells our partner station ideastream that her bill is getting a big boost from a recommendation by the National Transportation Safety Board. The five member board has unanimously called for all states to ban not only texting-while-driving, but also talking on cellphones while driving, even when motorists use a hands-free device. State Rep. Nancy Garland’s proposed texting ban has passed the Ohio House of Representatives, but has hit a roadblock in a Senate committee