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Sarah Alvarez · Midwest Memo: Detroit construction boom, SB5 ballot language decision, auto sales update
August 3rd, 2011
Three must-read stories from around the Midwest today:
Crysler CEO says to temper expectations for U.S auto sales: The Detroit News reports Sergio Marchionne remarked the troubled economy will likely keep U.S auto sales from hitting 13 million units for the year – a goal the industry has been touting as a signal of U.S auto recovery. In the same speech to auto executives, Marchionne also said his company’s preliminary talks with the United Auto Workers Union are going well. Labor negotiations between the two begin in earnest next month.
Ohio’s collective bargaining ban drama continues today: Efforts to repeal SB5, an Ohio law that, among other things, reduces the collective bargaining power of the state’s public employees, are at a crossroads. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Ohio Ballot Board is deciding today how the measure to repeal the ban will be worded on the November ballot. The ballot language has been contentious. Opponents have argued the current ballot language is confusing to voters.
Construction in Detroit reaches busiest pace in more than a decade. Good news for Metro Detroit, which has added more than 6,000 construction jobs this summer – a rate of growth not seen since more than a decade ago. The Detroit News reports growth is the result of several very large construction projects and smaller developments fueled by private investment. Nationally, the unemployment rate for those in the construction trades still stands at over 15%.
August 2nd, 2011
Archer Daniels Midland feeling rising corn prices as quarterly profits fall. Decatur, Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland announced today that its quarterly earnings had fallen 15%. The Chicago Tribune reports the drop was due to an expected surge in income taxes and the rising price of corn. The company couldn’t offset the price hike by higher selling prices of ethanol, sweeteners, and animal feed. (We just took a look at ADM in our road trip series on Decatur.)
Michigan public private partnership looks to attract people and businesses to Michigan cities. Partner station Michigan Radio reports Governor Rick Snyder has unveiled something called the Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives. The effort is funded entirely by philanthropic dollars and is aimed at attracting people and businesses to Michigan’s cities. No word on how much money is in the pot, but the effort will focus on Grand Rapids, Detroit and Flint.
When will the jobs return? That’s a question Crain’s ChicagoBusiness.com is trying to answer with a once-a-month interactive graphic. This month: a comparison of Illinois government job losses compared to total job losses throughout the state.
Sarah Alvarez · Midwest Memo: Manufacturing is slowing down, spring and summer storms blow Allstate profits away
August 1st, 2011
Manufacturing growth slows to lowest in two years. Bloomberg reports manufacturing gains are slowing down. The sector has been growing steadily for two years, but this month numbers came close to signaling manufacturing is stagnant. The drop in the numbers–bigger than analysts expected–is believed to be caused by consumers holding on to their money and continued parts shortages from Japan. Stocks dropped on the news, erasing an earlier bump from the prospect of a debt-ceiling deal.
Chicago’s gamble on Lollapalooza paying off for city hotels and restaurants. Six years ago, Chicago signed a 10 year contract to host the Lollapalooza music festival. It’s estimated the show will bring in $85 million in local spending this year, Crain’s Chicago reports. That number makes the festival the city’s third largest convention. The deal for the show included an abatement of the city’s 6% tax on ticket sales in exchange for the city’s Parkways Foundation getting a share of the profits. The foundation expects to make more than $2.2 million this year. Still, radiologists have a lot more cash to blow than the average concertgoer. The Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting is still Chicago’s biggest convention. It generates $120 million in local spending.
Northbrook, Illinois based Allstate insurer says cost of spring and summer tornado’s led to a $620 million loss. Bloomberg reports the loss is the first one for the insurer in over two years. These losses, which come from homeowner’s insurance, were better than expected. Over 1,600 storms have been reported already this year, beating the storm total for all of last year by almost 400. Allstate is the country’s second largest insurer, behind State Farm insurance.
June 16th, 2011
1. Michigan’s unemployment rate is the highest in the region. The Detroit News reports new monthly jobless numbers show the number of people filing for unemployment rose in Michigan. The rise was attributed to job losses in government work. Michigan’s unemployment rate is now 10.3 percent, more than one percent higher than the national average of 9.1 percent. Indiana’s rate fell over the last month to 8.2 percent. Wisconsin has the lowest unemployment in the region at 7.3 percent.
2. Borders Group Inc. may have reached a deal to keep more than 40 stores open. The bookstore chain has been working with lenders to modify its bankruptcy filing in a way that allows them to keep the stores open, says the Wall Street Journal. A judge will still have to approve the changes.
3. Chevy’s Camaro is outselling Ford’s Mustang. Bloomberg Media reports the Camaro is consistently outselling the Mustang. This development has left a factory that makes the Mustang in Flat Rock, Michigan with too much space and not enough to produce. Ford used to share the space with Mazda, but that company just pulled out of the factory. Ford says it will now have more flexibility in building more Mustang variations. The Mustang isn’t due for a redesign until 2014.
June 14th, 2011
Illinois a little jealous of Michigan tourism. CBS news in St. Louis detailed a state house hearing in which many complained that Michigan is outspending Illinois in tourism promotion. The state of Illinois earns more from tourism than Michigan does. But as Changing Gears noted yesterday, Michigan is pumping more dollars into its Pure Michigan campaign to try to increase the money visitors will spend there. At the hearing, lawmakers said each dollar Illinois spends on tourism promotion will reap six to nine dollars in return. Pure Michigan puts its return on investment at five dollars for every dollar spent on the campaign.
Michigan governor lobbies to improve state’s bond rating. According to the Associated Press, Governor Rick Snyder traveled to New York yesterday to meet with all the bond rating agencies. He is trying to convince them Michigan is more credit-worthy than their ratings imply. A bond rating is essentially a state’s credit score; a higher bond rating makes investors more comfortable investing in state projects. There are three bond rating agencies. One of them, Standard and Poor’s, lowered Michigan’s rating in 2003 to AA-. We’ll be putting up a table of Midwestern state’s bond ratings to go along with our coverage of delayed payments to nonprofits.
Ford shares fall after lawsuit favors dealers. Our partner Michigan Radio reports Ford’s shares fell yesterday after a judge ruled the company owed thousands of dealers a combined $2 billion dollars for overcharging for trucks. Ford is planning to appeal the decision and analysts are saying Ford should be able to absorb the cost.
June 10th, 2011
Three must read stories from around the Midwest.
1) Old grid robs power in Detroit. Detroit’s aging municipal power system failed Thursday from overuse during the recent heat wave. City Hall, Wayne State University, several schools and public buildings all lost power. Crews are working on the problem and the power is expected to be back on sometime today. Residents’ homes and businesses that rely on Detroit Edison were not affected.The Detroit Free Press has details and a slide show. Update: on Twitter around lunch time, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said he anticipated power would be restored this evening.
2) Car company jobs numbers are inflated. PolitiFact Ohio and the Cleveland Plain Dealer did an analysis of the recent claim the the US auto industry added around 115,000 jobs since General Motors and Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. They found that these claims overstated the gains, and the real number might be closer to 84,000.
3) GM investing $49 million in Bedford, Indiana plant. GM said it will invest in its Bedford, Ind., plant to manufacturing an 8-speed transmission. The new transmission should improve its cars fuel economy. The car giant says the investment will allow it to retain or add 91 jobs.
Three must read stories about the Midwest economy today.
1. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is saber rattling: The Chicago Sun Times says the Merc is threatening to take its corporate base out of Illinois over 2.2% increase in state business tax. The CME has been based in Chicago for over a hundred years, and says it won’t abandon the city. It is considering, however, incorporating elsewhere to avoid the higher taxes.
2. Wisconsin recall count now nine: Recalls against three Wisconsin Democrats have been certified by the state reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, bringing the list of endangered lawmakers to nine.
The six Republicans facing a recall and the three Democrats are all likely to face primaries in July. A general election would follow a month later. The recall efforts are the result of public anger over the state budget battle, particularly a new law, under appeal to the state Supreme Court, to end collective bargaining for public employees. Some in Wisconsin also are talking about a recall for the state’s controversial governor, Scott Walker.
3. Ohio hopes health care is a magic bullet. Our partner station Ideastream reports that Ohio Governor John Kasich is aggressively recruiting health care companies and manufacturers to the state. Kasich wants to develop a health care corridor from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati and Dayton in an attempt to bring jobs and money to Ohio.
Three stories about the Midwest economy to start your day.
1. Midwest Economy Growing. After two years of economic decline, Michigan’s economy grew faster than the nation as a whole last year. The Detroit Free Fress reports new numbers released by the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis say the Michigan economy grew at 2.9%, while the U.S economy grew at a rate of 2.6%. The growth was fueled primarily by an increase in manufacturing, with carmakers taking most of the credit. Indiana’s economy also grew, at a rate of 4.6%. Get ready to hear a lot of talk that the recession is officially over, even though with higher than average unemployment, people in the region might not feel that way.
2. Another Borders Bidder? Arizona based private equity firm Najafi Companies is in talks with the Borders Group and may be interested in acquiring the Ann Arbor based book store chain says the Wall St. Journal. Najafi is now competing with another private equity firm, headed by the new owner of the Detroit Pistons, for the stores. Many Borders outlets around the country have closed or are being sold. But the potential investors hope to keep the remaining 200 stores open and make them profitable again.
3.Romney on Campaign Trail. Tim Pawlenty was in Chicago yesterday, Mitt Romney’s in Detroit today. According to the Detroit News, Romney, the former Massachusetts governor whose father George was Michigan’s governor, will be courting political donors today before campaigning tomorrow. The Republican presidential hopeful opposed the federal bailout of the auto industry, something that pundits say may not do him any favors on the campaign trail in Michigan.
Three stories you need to know about the Midwest economy.
1) Drug Price Lawsuit The Associated Press reports Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed suit against pharmaceutical wholesaler McKesson Corp. He says the company inflated the prices of drugs it sold to the state’s Medicaid program. McKesson is based in California and is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in the country. Schuette estimates the state paid more than $2 million to the company, and is seeking a portion of that back. A judge in Seattle recently gave the go ahead for local governments to get together and sue McKesson for the same reason, reports Lawyers and Settlements.
2)Supremes Review University Patents: Another development in the courts that could have a big impact on Midwestern Universities is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sanford v. Roche. IP Frontline has an analysis of the case. Many universities in the Midwest bring in substantial revenue leveraging “their” patents, and say this is going to change the way they do business with potential inventors. This intellectual property case asked if universities can easily control the patent rights of an employee’s invention. The high court ruled that the inventor, not the school, controls the property rights. The justices clarified that the inventor has the right to sell or give the rights to a party other than the University, unless the University writes an iron-clad contract saying they can’t.
3) Candidates Take On The Economy: The 2012 presidential campaign can be expected to generate a lot of talk about how to improve the Midwest’s economy. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is speaking today at the University of Chicago.Pawlenty’s website says he wants to propose cutting business and personal tax rates to spur economic growth. We’ll continue to cover the candidates’ ideas for economic growth in the region.
Five must-read stories about the Midwest economy
1) Exporting to economic growth. A study released today on nine Midwestern states shows that exports are helping to revive the economy.
Creighton University’s Business Conditions Index for the Mid-America region rose to 60.2, from 57.7 in April. The index is a survey of supply managers and purchasing executives, who rate the economy on a scale of zero to 100. Anything above 50 reflects growth in the next three to six months.
2) From yachts to wind. The recession forced many small manufacturers to find new products to make in an attempt to survive. Tiara Yachts, a Michigan manufacturer, is taking risks to keep its factory open and employees on the job. Lindsay Smith of our partner station Michigan Radio looked at the company.
3) Cruising to Detroit. In another boat related story, Detroit is about to open a new cruise ship terminal. The $22 million project, paid for with mostly federal dollars, expects at least two boats to pay call this summer. But some in the city question whether it was a wise move. Here is the story from Marketplace.
4) Pay for performance. Ohio lawmakers are working on the state’s new budget, and the Ohio Senate is looking at a plan that would give $115 million more over the next two years to better-performing schools. The latest proposal also makes charter schools more accountable for funds they would receive. Our partner ideastream looked at the debate.
5) Farmers market innovations. Farmers market season is in full swing across the region. Tonight, the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market will hold a special evening session, a pilot for a Wednesday night project that may kick off this summer. In Chicago, more farmers are accepting food stamps. Natalie Moore from our partner WBEZ reported on the trend.