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Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Chicago budget vote tonight. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first city budget will be voted upon by the city council tonight. It is expected to be easily approved. The budget addresses a $635 million deficit through a series of layoffs, library and mental-health clinic cuts and fee increases. Our partner station WBEZ says the only question now is how the city’s 50 aldermen will vote, citing minimal opposition. “It could be six or it could be a unanimous vote,” Ald. Bob Fioretti tells the station. He said he worried Emanuel’s plan to nearly double fees for water and sewer service over four years will hasten an exodus of residents. But, “My yes or no vote isn’t going to mean anything,” he said. “I believe it’s already decided.”

2. Chrysler brings 1,100 jobs to Toledo. Chrysler announced today that it would invest $500 million at a Toledo assembly plant to build its next-generation Jeep SUV. The investment is expected to create more than 1,100 new jobs by 2013, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Toledo North plant will add a second shift. The plant, which opened in 1997, was the only Chrysler plant in North America operating only one shift, according to the newspaper.The investment comes as part of a $1.7 billion move centered around the Jeep SUV. Remaining funds will be invested at other Chrysler plants.

3. Cleveland biomedical companies eye China markets. There’s growing opportunity for Cleveland-area biomedical companies to meet China’s growing demand for advanced health care. The Chinese government has pledged $100 billion to upgrade its healthcare infrastructure, and “it would be insane not to take advantage of that immense growth,” Eddie Zai, founder of the Cleveland International Group, a business investment consulting firm, tells our partner station Ideastream. Zai’s new venture, the Cleveland Bio-Fund, is partnering with Newsummit Pharmaceuticals in Shanghai, to bring $100 million to U.S. medical device companies. The Plain Dealer endorses the developments, calling it, “an example of the kind of commerce that is the path to jobs and wealth.”


History is filled with searches for Magic Bullets.

Economically speaking, those are quick-fix endeavors that promise to fix sour economies, provide jobs and bring prosperity to communities and regions. Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson wrote earlier this week that, “Some have soared; many have backfired.”

Communities across the Midwest are employing a new round of Magic Bullets in attempts to rescue themselves from the Great Recession. All sound promising, but which ones stand up under further scrutiny?

Here’s a look back at Changing Gears coverage from the past week:

Sunday: A very brief history of the Midwest Magic Bullet

From failures like AutoWorld in Flint, Mich. and Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics to the (historic) success of Detroit’s auto industry, Kate Davidson offers a look back at Midwestern Magic Bullets over the years and slots them into four categories: The one-industry town, the “if you build it, they will come” big public projects, the great event and, most complex, urban renewal.

Monday, October 17:  Obama, Werewolves and Silver … Err … Magic Bullets

What exactly is a Magic Bullet? Depending on who you speak with, it’s a matter of semantics. Some people, including President Obama, seamlessly substitute the phrase “Silver Bullet.” As Kate Davidson found out in a visit to an Ann Arbor comic book store, the terms are definitely not interchangeable.

Tuesday, October 18: Can battery plants charge up Midwest jobs?

Western Michigan has become a hub for lithium ion battery plants. Estimates say the battery plants and their suppliers could create 10,000 jobs by 2020 in the region. Not everybody, Changing Gears contributor Dustin Dwyer learned, is on board with those projections.

Wednesday, October 19: Can healthcare fix our ailing cities?

Cleveland’s hospitals have been growing for nearly a century. In the past decade, health care has become the epicenter for economic development plans in the city. Other cities in the Midwest are trying to learn from Cleveland and become medical destinations. But Dan Bobkoff reports that Cleveland could prove tough to copy.

Thursday, October 20: Can small businesses rebuild our economy?

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have hailed small-business growth as a core requirement for fixing America’s economy. Niala Boodhoo spoke with a University of Chicago professor who researched the impact of small businesses on the economy. Do they contribute to job growth? “No,” he said.


Next week, Changing Gears reporters will tackle a subject that’s long been a part of the Midwest mind frame: magic bullets.

By magic bullets, we mean the big ideas and big projects that politicians and government officials say their cities and states must embrace, in order to boost the economy. But what is their track record? Should we really be shooting for the stars, or trying to create jobs one at a time?

Kate Davidson kicks things off Monday with a look at the history of magic bullets (remember AutoWorld in Flint? How about the Chicago Olympic bid?)

Later in the week, Niala Boodhoo tackles small business, and whether big programs actually help companies grow. Dan Bobkoff looks at a subject dear to Cleveland’s heart: health care.

Contributor Dustin Dwyer will examine the race to build battery plants and whether that fledgling industry is actually creating the jobs that mayors and governors hope.

Find our reports on Michigan Radio, WBEZ Chicago and ideastream Cleveland. And check back here for special features related to our Magic Bullets series.

Contribute to our coverage: What are past magic bullet ideas that fell flat?


Next week, Changing Gears reporters will tackle a subject that’s long been a part of the Midwest mindframe: magic bullets.

By magic bullets, we mean the big ideas and big projects that politicians and government officials say their cities and states must embrace, in order to boost the economy. But what is their track record? Should we really be shooting for the stars, or trying to create jobs one at a time?

Kate Davidson kicks things off Monday with a look at the history of magic bullets (remember AutoWorld in Flint?) Later in the week, Niala Boodhoo tackles small business, and whether big programs actually help companies grow. Dan Bobkoff looks at a subject dear to Cleveland’s heart: health care.

We’ll also look at whether the race to build casinos and battery plants is actually having the economic impact that mayors and governors hope.

Find our reports on Michigan Radio, WBEZ Chicago and ideastream Cleveland. And check back here for special features related to our Magic Bullets series.

Contribute to our coverage: What are past magic bullet ideas that fell flat?


Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Too much health-care? One sector has outperformed all others in bucking the trend of job loss throughout the country: Health care added 800,000 jobs throughout the recession. Oakland County, Michigan, located in suburban Detroit, has been among the municipalities looking at heath care as a potential economic savior, and hopes to add a $600 million hospital that could bring 3,000 jobs. But Marketplace asks, is it overkill? Dennis McCafferty, a union and business representative, says there are six hospitals within a 30-minute drive of the proposed Oakland County site that have an average occupancy of 55 percent.

2. Indiana eyes Chicago casino. Throughout his push for approval of a Chicago casino, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has lamented the potential $20 to $25 million in monthly revenue that has instead gone to places like Hammond, Ind. But if a casino is built in Chicago, it’s no certainty that money would automatically be diverted to the Windy City’s coffers. Our partner station WBEZ spoke with gamblers in the area, and reports it’s no shoo-in that Chicago will come out ahead in the gambling turf fight.

3. Ohio steel industry surges. Calling it a rebirth may be a stretch, but the steel industry in northeast Ohio has seen a resurgence in activity in the past two years. “Youngstown looks less like a graveyard,” reports our partner station Ideastream. A $650 million plant for steel-pipe producer V & M Star is leading the way. U.S. Steel is investing in a $100 million project near Lorain. A Cleveland State University professor says a change in Ohio’s business tax structure that lowers the burden on manufacturers is the reason for the uptick.


When Michigan state lawmakers return from a two-month recess today, they are expected to vote on a proposal that would limit how much public employers pay for their employees’ health benefits.

Municipalities, counties and school districts could instead opt to pay 80 percent of health costs under a plan that was approved Tuesday by a joint subcommittee on a 4-2 vote. Republicans would like to include state employees, but that would require a separate resolution passed by a two-thirds majority, according to the Detroit News.

Under the plan, known as Senate Bill 7, public employers would meet a hard-cap contribution of $5,500 for a single employee, $11,000 for an employee and spouse and $15,000 per family. Municipalities and counties can opt out of the rules with a two-thirds vote of their governing boards, but school districts cannot.

The state would save $173.9 million under the plan, according to a fiscal analysis, approximately $3,700 per employee.

Union advocates say the proposal is an attack on public employees. “This combined proposal shifts costs to employees, but does nothing to contain health-care costs,” AFT Michigan wrote in a statement. “It further limits our collective bargaining rights.”