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Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: A Lot For A Little In Wisconsin And The Food Industry Takes Off In Ohio.
February 13th, 2012
Worth it? The state of Wisconsin spent nearly $50 million to support investment companies that were supposed to help create new businesses. In the end, only 202 jobs were created, at a cost to taxpayers of $247,000 per job, according to an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Job openings for veterans GE says it will hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans, and open new factories. One new factory will be in Dayton, Ohio.
A big economic bite “Folksy” northeast Ohio food manufacturing companies have grown into a $2.6 billion industry with 18,000 workers, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Tough decisions Leaders in the city of Detroit are still trying to come up with ways to avoid financial insolvency. The Detroit News says some of the city’s most treasured assets may have to be sold. And leaders at the Detroit Institute of Arts also have to consider what was once unthinkable: selling valuable items in the Institute’s collection.
A taxing problem Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is hoping to do away with a costly and confusing property tax for corporations. But the Detroit Free Press reports no one is quite sure how to replace the revenue it creates.
More healthcare jobs The Columbus Dispatch reports that new hospitals at Ohio State University are expected to create 8,400 permanent jobs.
Eau Claire’s own Wisconsin native Justin Vernon had a pretty good night at the Grammys.
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Illinois Residents Move Away, Columbus Seeks Revived Art Landscape, Pontiac Selling Its Assets
December 21st, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Pontiac selling off properties. The financially troubled city of Pontiac, Michigan, is selling most of its assets. An emergency manager appointed in 2009 says the sales are necessary to help close a $12 million budget deficit. A three-page list of property available includes five fire stations, two cemeteries, two landfills, 11 water-pumping stations, two community centers, the public library and a police station, according to the Detroit Free Press. The city’s budget has already been cut by $20 million since the emergency manager took over.
2. Art scene in Columbus barren? The streets of Columbus aren’t devoid of eye-catching artwork, writes Robert Vitale of the Columbus Dispatch, but recent attempts to add art downtown have highlighted the fact the central Ohio city’s public landscape is “relatively barren.” Vitale notes that Columbus is the nation’s 15th-largest city, but the largest without a public-art program. In examining the state of public art in the city, he writes a 2007 economic development report called for better funding of public art, but Mayor Michael B. Coleman has made “no progress” over the past two years in making that a priority.
3. Study: Residents still flee Midwest. Illinois and New Jersey sat atop a list of states with the largest outbound migration this year, according to an annual study of interstate moving trends authored by United Van Lines. Although specific numbers were not available, a synopsis of the study said Americans continue to leave the Northeast and Midwest and migrate toward the South and West. Based in St. Louis, the company has tracked interstate moves since 1977 and says its study has reflected migration trends accurately enough that financial firms and real estate companies use the data. Despite the trend for Illinois, U.S. Census estimates say the state gained 38,625 residents over the past 15 months.
November 8th, 2011
Across Ohio, voters are headed to the polls today to determine the fate of Issue 2, a referendum on a controversial state law that limits the collective-bargaining rights of public employees.
Here’s a roundup of ongoing coverage of the vote on Issue 2 from around the Buckeye State:
From The Columbus Dispatch: Issue 2 is expected to drive voters to the polls at higher numbers than other non-presidential election years. Franklin County, which encompasses the greater Columbus area, reached a record number of absentee-ballot requests this year at more than 88,000. The Dispatch reports voter turnout is expected to be far higher than the 31 percent of registered voters that cast ballots in 2009.
From Ideastream: Our partner station in Cleveland examines the advertising campaigns mounted by pro-and-anti Issue 2 interest groups. Depending on the vantage point, Issue 2 will harm education. Or save it. It will bolster police forces. Or ruin them. Ideastream reporter Ida Lieszkovsky reports that the ads bring a lot of emotion to the issue, but little concrete information. “There’s usually some truth in there that they’re hanging it on, but sometimes there’s also quite a bit of reach to get the spin,” Robert Higgs, editor of PolitiFact Ohio tells Lieszkovsky.
From the Cincinnati Enquirer: The respective campaigns for and against Issue 2 and its legislative predecessor, Senate Bill 5, have taken perhaps an interesting turn in the final hours. Union opponents of the bill boldly spoke of defeating the referendum at a union hall in Hamilton County. “We are going to shove Senate Bill 5 down the throats of John Kasich and his ilk,” said Howard Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters.
In a speech to 300 Tea Party supporters in Eastgate, Gov. Kasich spoke for an hour Monday night. He didn’t mention Issue 2 until the final two minutes of his speech, according to The Enquirer.
From The Plain Dealer: The U.S. Justice Department has sent election observers to Lorain County today to ensure that county officials keep a commitment to provide Spanish-language ballots. Last month, the county’s Board of Elections agreed to provide the ballots as part of a lawsuit settlement with the DOJ. The Plain Dealer reports bilingual ballots and bilingual poll workers will be provided in targeted precints.
From Politico: Democrats were stung in Ohio in the 2010 elections, losing the governorship and five congressional seats. This year? They’re planning on using traction from the Issue 2 as a springboard into the national 2012 elections. James Hohmann writes, “Obama is still polling badly in Ohio, but his campaign has capitalized on perceived Republican overreach to bring recalcitrant liberals back into the fold.”
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: Columbus Mayoral Candidates Spar, Groupon Downsizes IPO Expectations In SEC Filing
October 21st, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Groupon scales back IPO expectations. Downsizing its initial expectations, Groupon said Friday that it expects to raise between $480 million and $540 million from its initial public offering. Originally, the Chicago-based company had expected to raise at least $750 million. In an filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Groupon said it expected pricing between $16 and $18 per share in its IPO pricing, according to the Chicago Tribune. That range would give Groupon a value between $10.1 billion and $11.4 billion, less than half initial expected valuations between $20 and $30 billion.
2. Columbus mayoral candidates spar. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman sees a city with an improving crime rate and an “enviable job-creation record,” according to the The Columbus Dispatch. His counterpart in November’s upcoming mayoral election sees an economy that could be doing much better. In a debate Thursday night, Coleman, a 12-year incumbent, said he has created or saved 90,000 jobs in Ohio’s capitol while Jr. questioned why public money was being used to finance the purchase of Nationwide Arena, a deal he called “morally reprehensible.”
3. Wisconsin teachers under scrutiny. Wisconsin lawmakers approved a bill Thursday that allows school officials to use standardized test scores to help determine whether teachers should be disciplined or fired. It passed, 17-16, on a party-line vote. Previously, school officials could use test scores as a means to evaluate teachers, but not to fire or suspend them. The bill, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, also eliminates a cap on the number of teaching days in the Milwaukee Public Schools school year.
Pete Bigelow · Midwest Memo: UAW Reaches Chrysler Deal, Wisconsin Democrats Begin Effort to Recall Gov. Scott Walker
October 12th, 2011
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Chrysler and UAW reach deal. Eight days after reaching a tentative agreement with Ford, the United Auto Workers announced today it had reached a tentative agreement with Chrysler. As part of the deal, Chrysler has agreed to add 2,100 jobs by 2015 and invest $4.5 billion in its U.S. plants. “This tentative agreement builds on the momentum of job creation and our efforts to rebuild America,” UAW president Bob King said in a written statement. Chrysler’s 26,000 UAW members will vote on the deal in the coming days and weeks.
2. Democrats commence Walker recall effort. Next month, Democrats in Wisconsin will begin efforts to recall first-year Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Mike Tate, chairman of the state Democratic Party, announced the decision to pursue a recall Monday night during an MSNBC interview. Organizers must gather 540,208 valid signatures, one quarter of the votes cast in last fall’s election, within 60 days of commencing their efforts on Nov. 15, according to The New York Times. If those efforts are successful, Walker would be required to run for his office again.
3. Columbus-area tax incentives brought jobs. Six Franklin County, Ohio, companies received property-tax breaks in exchange for a promise to create 298 full-time jobs over the past seven years. They delivered more than county executives anticipated. Those companies created 665 jobs and added $32.8 million in new payroll, according to a report released Tuesday night by the county’s Tax Incentive Review Council. Leading the way, according to The Columbus Dispatch, was TS Tech North America, a seat supplier for Honda that created 310 more jobs than promised in 2004. TS Tech had received a 10-year, 50-percent tax break on taxes worth $829,000. “This is proof our staff knows what they’re doing,” county commissioner John O’Grady told the newspaper.
October 11th, 2011
Four weeks ago, a small group of demonstrators began protesting the grim state of the U.S. economy in New York City with little fanfare.
Now, a growing movement based on the Occupy Wall Street protests has spread throughout the country, including demonstrations in several Midwest cities.
Separate groups protesting the role of big banks in the U.S. foreclosure crisis marched Monday and Tuesday through Chicago, meeting at the Art Institute of Chicago, where the Mortgage Bankers Association was holding its annual conference.
“People are mad as hell at these financial organizations that wrecked the economy, that caused this whole mess,” Catherine Murrell, a spokeswoman for Stand Up Chicago, a coalition of approximately 20 Chicago community organizations, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “They broke the economy. They played with it like it was a toy.”
Protestors held training sessions on how to deal with the police, distributed press releases and chanted throughout the day Tuesday, according to our partner station WBEZ. On Monday, approximately 7,000 people participated in the protests, disrupting traffic across the city.
Elsewhere in the Midwest, protests were smaller, but sustained. In Columbus, Ohio, about 100 protestors marched in front of the Statehouse on Tuesday morning, railing against corporate greed, student-loan debt and the media. The group intended to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
In Madison, Wisc. protests occurred over the weekend. A crowd estimated in the dozens marched throughout downtown, settling in Reynolds Park until Sunday evening. In Milwaukee, religious leaders gave the movement traction in their Sunday sermons.
“I’m not against capitalism, but a capitalist society run amok takes care of the people at the top, and the people at the bottom are crushed,” Rev. Willie Brisco told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Protests were in the planning stages in Detroit on Sunday. The South End, the student newspaper at Wayne State University, reported that hundreds of people met at the Spirit of Hope Church on Monday night to plan protests slated to begin on Friday. Event organizers said that approximately 1,000 people attended the meeting.