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February 24th, 2012
Right to Fight Reuters reports that Indiana union members are expected to be in court today to try to overturn the state’s new Right to Work law.
$50 million That’s what the federal government expects to spend this year fighting invasive Asian Carp.
Ohio power State regulators in Ohio have overturned electricity price increases they approved in December. But, as partner station WCPN Ideastream reports, the fight isn’t over. Meanwhile, a trash to energy plan in Cleveland is showing signs of life, despite strong opposition.
Down, down, down The number of union jobs in Ohio continues to decline. The Dayton Daily News says union numbers in the state have been falling for at least the last 10 straight years.
Lockout over? A three-month lockout at Cooper Tire could be coming to an end, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Workers peace out CNNMoney takes a look at “Michigan’s Incredible Shrinking Workforce.”
Manufacturing, yo A new report says in order to build the future economy, Michigan should look to the “old economy.”
Occupy movement About 60 employees of a Chicago window-making company occupied their plant for 11 hours yesterday. They were trying to stop the plant’s closing. Partner station WBEZ reports the workers claimed victory after owners agreed to keep the plant open an extra 90 days. The workers will now try to find a buyer, or raise money to buy the plant themselves.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Budget Cuts In Illinois, Surprising Home Sales And The UAW Plans Protests
February 23rd, 2012
Budget cuts Illinois Governor Pat Quinn outlined plans yesterday to cut the state’s pension costs and Medicaid programs. Partner station WBEZ Chicago says Quinn also plans to close two prisons and consolidate dozens of state offices.
Teacher teacher The Wall Street Journal looks at a shakeup for poor performing schools in Chicago, and sees a trend. More Democratic mayors are challenging teacher unions.
Clean energy ballot push Partner station WCPN Ideastream Cleveland reports there’s a new ballot initiative underway that would let voters choose whether the state should borrow billions to invest in clean energy. Turns out, environmentalists have nothing to do with the ballot initiative.
Surprise! It sold A busy real estate market is surprising some sellers in Northeast Ohio. Home sales were up more than 25 percent for the region in January, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
UAW protest plans The conservative web site, The Daily Caller, says it’s found evidence that the UAW plans to train 100,000 people for “The 99% Spring” protest movement. The Detroit News has a story. Changing Gears has discussed the UAW’s connection to the movement before.
Going private Proposals in Michigan would open the door to privately-run prisons.
February 21st, 2012
Manufacturing doubts On CNNMoney, Michael W. Klein of Tuft’s University’s Fletcher School of Business and the Brookings Institution says that manufacturing won’t solve our nation’s economic troubles. He says the growth we’ve seen in manufacturing over the past few years only accounts for 8 percent of all job growth during that time.
Built to fail? In related news, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. looks at the state’s resurgent auto industry, and wonders what ever happened to diversifying the economy.
Nerd talk Marketplace Morning Report is in Michigan this week. This morning, host Jeremy Hobson talks with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder about the state’s recovery. Snyder says it’s all about “relentless positive action.”
Going, going, still there … The Chicago Transit Authority has $70 million dollars worth of spare bus and train parts that it doesn’t need. Partner station WBEZ reports CTA will try to auction the parts to salvage some cash.
Headed south Northeast Ohio is losing about 140 jobs to Kentucky.
Homeless tax Partner station Michigan Radio reports that Kalamazoo, Mich. is considering asking voters to raise taxes to help the homeless.
Not so elite The Detroit News calculates what it takes to be a 1-percenter in Michigan. Turns out, it takes a lot less than it does in the rest of the country.
Nom nom nom IT’S PACZKI DAY!
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Groupon’s Growth, Toledo’s (Unfinished) Transformation And The Big Easy Takes One Away
February 20th, 2012
Groupon grows Chicago-based Groupon has acquired a new York company that specializes in gathering data about local consumers. The Chicago Tribune says it could be the “deal of the year.”
Long way to go in Toledo The Toledo area has seen 7,200 new jobs in manufacturing since June of 2009. That’s the second best improvement in the country (Lansing, Mich. is number one). But the Toledo Blade says there are still 36 percent fewer manufacturing jobs than there were in 1998.
Background check The Blade also has a Special Report out this morning. The newspaper hired investigators in China to look into two Chinese investors who’ve invested millions in Toledo. The paper finds that the two investors amassed their fortunes thanks to connections to the ruling Communist Party in China, and after years of service as government bureaucrats. (Our own Dan Bobkoff reported on Toledo’s China connection last summer).
Losing to the Big Easy Indianapolis was in the running for a GE corporate office with 300 high-paying jobs. But the company picked New Orleans instead.
Next in line The New York Times profiles the heir apparent to the CEO office at Ford.
Unpaid fees Detroit decides it’s time to collect.
Media moratorium The Chicago News Cooperative, a non-profit news agency that had been providing content to The New York Times, will suspend its operations on February 26th.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: The Profit-Sharing Effect, Sears Layoffs And Chrysler Turns Down A Loan
February 17th, 2012
Profit sharing bump GM reported a record profit yesterday, which means UAW members at GM will get a record profit-sharing bonus. Bloomberg News says union workers at all three Detroit carmakers are eligible for bonuses this year, and that could give the Midwest economy a lift.
Hospital expansion The leader of Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit is considering a $175 million expansion to its resort-like hospital in the suburb of West Bloomfield.
Nice way to repay Sears laid off 100 employees in its Chicago headquarters this week. It’s been two months since the state approved a $150 million tax incentive to keep the company in Illinois.
Unseasonably warm “Nice” weather isn’t helping Midwest winter tourism businesses.
Brain boom Wright State University plans a $37 million neuroscience research hub.
Cleaning up An environmental advocacy group says Ohio making progress on clean energy, but it has some harsh words for one of the state’s utility companies.
Medicuts The New York Times has a look at how proposed cuts to Medicaid will hurt Illinois.
Bowing out Chrysler says it will no longer seek a loan from the federal government to develop hybrid vehicles.
Young and successful The South Bend Tribune sits down with a 29-year-old developer who’s working to revitalize the city.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: GM’s Record Year, R&D Decline In Chicago And Wisconsin Politics Are Wisconsin Politics
February 16th, 2012
That’s a lot of clams GM made $7.6 billion last year. It was a record profit.
Research and Decline R&D jobs dropped 43% in Chicago between 2000 and 2010, according to a new study. Crain’s Chicago Business has the write-up.
Collegial process The Columbus Dispatch reports Ohio’s 37 colleges and universities have agreed on a construction wish list for this year’s state budget. Governor John Kasich called the unified process “unprecedented.”
Small power plants, big effect? The closure of four small, little-used power plants is stoking speculation that energy prices in Ohio could rise. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the common sense analysis would say that the change should have little effect on prices. But, the new world of online auctions for power prices “don’t necessarily make common sense.”
Bus cuts Detroit will cancel early-morning bus service in an effort to save cash.
Mining bill advances A special committee has been disbanded, and a controversial piece of mining legislation has been put on the fast track in the Wisconsin Senate, proving once again that nothing is simple in Wisconsin politics these days. The bill would loosen regulations to help open an iron mine in northern Wisconsin.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Michigan Pays Up For Movie Studio, Fracking With Indiana’s Plans And Chicago Corruption
February 15th, 2012
On the hook The State of Michigan paid $420,000 to the bondholders of a Pontiac movie studio, according to The Detroit News. The studio couldn’t make the payment on its own, and, under an agreement with Governor Jennifer Granholm, the bonds are guaranteed by the state. But with the cutback in state incentives for filmmaking, no projects have filmed at the studio since December.
Santorum’s surge Rick Santorum is not only leading Mitt Romney in Romney’s home state, a new poll shows Santorum is ahead in Ohio as well.
The Fracking Factor A plan to use coal to make natural gas in Indiana may be a bust, according to the Indianapolis Star. A utility executive in Indiana says the boom in shale-gas production, or “fracking” has brought down the cost of natural gas, and the coal-to-gas plan no longer makes sense. Governor Mitch Daniels had touted the coal-to-gas plant as a way to help consumers and boost the economy in Southern Indiana.
Boeing’s big order Chicago-based Boeing has finalized the details of the largest order in its history.
Kohl’s says no to downtown The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that retailer Kohl’s has decided against building a new company headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.
Cincinnati jobs Ohio Governor John Kasich announced yesterday that two new companies are moving to the Cincinnati area.
We’re shocked – shocked! A former city alderman, turned political science professor says he’s done the calculations and Chicago is, in fact, the most corrupt city in the country.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Right To Work Has Support In Ohio, Frontier Cuts In Milwaukee And An Industrial Giant Presses On
February 14th, 2012
Right to Support A poll by Quinnipiac University finds strong support for creating a Right to Work law in Ohio.
Frontier cuts Frontier Airlines is cutting 450 jobs in the Milwaukee area. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports just two years ago, the carrier promised to double its workforce in the city.
Demolition details Ohio is setting aside $75 million from its foreclosure settlement money to demolish abandoned homes. Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press says the City of Detroit has $20 million in funds to demolish homes, but the money isn’t being used.
Research hub snubbed A planned nuclear research facility at Michigan State University may have to find a new source of funding. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the project is only getting half the funding officials expected from President Obama’s proposed budget.
A giant returns After a $100 million repair job, Alcoa’s 50,000 ton forging press in Cleveland is ready to get back to work, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Don’t look out the window, Mr. President President Obama will be in Milwaukee Wednesday for a speech at the Master Lock factory. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says what the president will see just outside the busy factory is an “industrial graveyard.”
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.
Dustin Dwyer · Midwest Memo: Breaking Down The Foreclosure Settlement Numbers, Right To Work In Ohio And A Surplus In Michigan
February 10th, 2012
Follow the money Yesterday, the federal government announced a $25 billion settlement with mortgage companies who are accused of improperly handling foreclosures during the housing crisis. $1 billion of that amount will go to Illinois. $790 million will go to Michigan. $335 million will go to Ohio. $145 million will go to Indiana. And $140 million will go to Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker announced that part of the money will go toward filling the state’s budget deficit. It’s a controversial decision.
Budget cuts? Who needs ‘em? Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced his budget plans yesterday. The state is projecting a surplus this year. Snyder proposes spending a little extra money on education, if student performance goals can be met. He’s also proposing a spending increase for public safety, and saving $130 million for a rainy day fund.
A Right to Work battle for Ohio? Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports that activists in Ohio are gathering signatures to put a Right to Work measure on the ballot for a vote. Organizers say it will be a challenge to gather enough signatures to get the issue on this year’s ballot, but they believe they can get it on in 2013.
Taking back the street The Detroit Free Press has a fascinating story about how a group of neighbors in Southwest Detroit managed to get a drug dealer on their street put behind bars.
Health care investment The Detroit Medical Center is planning a new $50 million facility in the suburb of Royal Oak.
Car show The Chicago Auto Show opens today. Partner station WBEZ has a look at what to expect.