Economy

A new report indicates that Michigan trails other states in making communities more walkable.


Picture of David Hollister and Virg Bernero
Mark Bashore / WKAR

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says the time has come to explore the possibility of selling the city-owned Board of Water and Light. According to a statement provided to Lansing City Pulse, Bernero views potential changes involving the BWL as “a way to address our long term liabilities.” However,  he said any decision at this point, “would be premature.”

http://www.csus.msu.edu/

It’s the first week of June, soon school will be out of session, and the beaches are beckoning. Michigan is expecting a strong summer tourism season in 2015, as families plan trips to all manner of destinations across the Great Lakes State.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

An effort to repeal Michigan’s 50-year old prevailing wage law moved forward this week. On Tuesday, the state board of canvassers approved the form of a citizen petition that could put it to a vote in the state legislature. Meanwhile, the Michigan Senate has already passed such a measure and sent it to the House, but a citizen petition, if approved by the legislature, could not be vetoed by Governor Rick Snyder. The Governor opposes repeal.

Courtesy © General Motors

General Motors has been around for 106 years, and they’ve built a lot of vehicles. In fact, that number has recently surpassed 500-million. Half a billion Chevys, Cadillacs, and, of course, Lansing-built Oldsmobiles, and others. It's an amazing number. That’s far more than any other car company.

Last week, the organization Business Leaders for Michigan gathered in Lansing for one of its periodic Leadership Summits. The group’s mission is advance strategies to make Michigan a top ten state for jobs, personal income and a healthy economy. According to Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh, those in attendance which included the CEOs, Chairpersons and Senior Executive of Michigan’s largest companies and Universities, spent a good deal of time lamenting the lack of a cohesive economic growth agenda for the state.

Tens of thousands of music and movie fans will descend on Austin, Texas next week for the South by Southwest festival. The festival’s line up features a number of Michigan musicians, but they won’t be the only ones representing the Mitten state. Joining them will be a team from the arts advocacy group Creative Many, formerly ArtServe.

WKAR File Photo

Later this month, Governor Rick Snyder is expected to deliver a special message outlining Michigan’s energy production goals. The Michigan Public Service Commission says the state will experience an energy shortfall as soon as next year, largely due to the planned retirement of nine coal-fired power plants in Michigan in the coming years.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Winter is still holding a firm grasp on Michigan and much of the country. In a state surrounded by fresh water, it’s imperative that the Great Lakes and the rivers which feed them are kept open for commerce. That’s the job of the United States Coast Guard, which operates several icebreaking ships on the lakes.

Economic developers often refer to Michigan State University’s FRIB as a “game changer.” The $730-million nuclear science facility, set to launch in around six years with around 400 employees, will be the most powerful rare isotope research site in the world. It will explore the physics of atomic nuclei, with potential applications in medicine, defense and other areas. But what other economic impacts might stem from FRIB and from Niowave, another established particle acceleration firm based in Lansing?

Michigan takes a lot of pride in its nickname as the “comeback” state. And after taking a beating during the Great Recession, Michigan is indeed on the upswing. Forecasts say the state should continue to see economic growth and improvements to the unemployment rate in the next two years. But not everyone is feeling the impact of that recovery yet. Among those left behind are the nearly 550,000 Michigan children living in poverty.

http://www.semcog.org/

Commuter rail plans in southeast Michigan are drawing fire from state legislators and other officials. The criticism stems from millions of dollars being spent on unused rail cars. Those rail cars await completion of projects between Ann Arbor and Detroit and between Ann Arbor and Howell. The Detroit Free Press, reporting on what it describes as “a $12-million debacle”, says the costs are to lease and refurbish 23 used rail cars MDOT acquired from a Chicago rail  system.

Photo: Melissa Benmark / WKAR

This post-Super Bowl Monday gives the New England Patriots NFL bragging rights for the coming year. But who’s number one in the combined professional and college football world? According to the personal finance-social media network WalletHub, it’s East Lansing.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Dozens of volunteers have wrapped up an evening out in the cold on the streets of Lansing. Last night, the Volunteers of America in Lansing conducted its annual Point in Time Count, which tracks the homeless in our community.

http://www.digitalprimates.net/

A national organization designed to inspire and educate entrepreneurs is coming to Lansing. It’s called Startup Grind. The Lansing Startup Grind will hold its first meeting on Thursday night. Startup Grind was formed in 2010 and has grown to 150 cities in 65 countries.

WKAR/Peter Whorf

What’s made in Poland and is named after the Spanish word for waterfall? It’s the newest convertible from Buick, the Cascada, unveiled this week at the Detroit Auto Show. The North American International Auto Show is in full swing at Detroit’s Cobo Center this week. Current  State will bring you all the latest these next few days in our NAIAS series.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Now that we’re into the new year, you might be thinking ”I’m ready to give myself a makeover.” It’s not just people who have that impulse. Entire communities plan what they’ll look like in the future, and that often means getting rid of outdated eyesores. That’s a polite description of what cities large and small deal constantly deal with: urban blight. The city of Lansing has recently received a federal grant to eliminate blighted properties.

WKAR Photo

After a mild Christmas, the new year is bringing more wintry conditions to mid-Michigan. The arctic chill makes heating our homes and offices a high priority in our lives. This month, an East Lansing non-profit is launching a pilot program to help dozens of people stay warm this winter and cool next summer.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

A closely-watched study predicts the creation of about 60,000 new jobs in Michigan this year.  That’s from the University of Michigan’s annual economic forecast, released recently. But only about 10-percent of those new jobs are expected to come from manufacturing, historically one of Michigan’s strongest job sectors, including here in Greater Lansing. So where are the new jobs coming from, and what trends are creating them?

WKAR/Bill Richards

This year’s Christmas holiday is bringing back unpleasant memories of last year’s intense ice storm and power outages. One year ago to the day, thousands of people in the Lansing area were without electricity because of hundreds of downed, ice-coated trees that disconnected lines.  Many residents spent days, some more than a week, without power, often at significant expense. The episode amounted to an embarassing right of passage for the capital city’s municipally-owned utility, the Lansing Board of Water and Light.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Car buffs are revving up for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. More than 800,000 people attended the show at the Cobo Center last January.

The clock is counting down on the lame duck legislature at the state Capitol. Tomorrow is the last full day of the session. Lawmakers are facing a hard deadline to reach a deal to raise more than a billion dollars each year in new revenue to fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads.

New contract bargaining between the United Auto Workers union and American automakers is scheduled for next year. Recently, we’ve been getting a clearer picture of the union’s priorities. UAW President Dennis Williams has indicated members want to eliminate a recently introduced  feature of the autoworker landscape:  “two-tier” wages and benefits.

Flickr - Carl Malamud

Last week we learned that e-commerce sales on Cyber Monday 2014 topped $2-billion. That’s up more than 15-percent over last year. Big box giant Walmart and online powerhouse Amazon saw sizeable surges in their bottom lines. But the reports are not welcome news for everyone, including traditional brick and mortar retailers in Michigan.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

Michigan’s long winter months can give anyone the blues, but it’s an especially dangerous time for the homeless. Hundreds of people in mid-Michigan live on the streets, and their circumstances are diverse. In Lansing, officials are so far pleased with the results of a pilot program to move 11 people out of a makeshift camp and into permanent housing.

www.camw.org/

The Lansing area, like much of Michigan, has been shaped by manufacturing. But the industry has taken a beating in the past 13 years. The state has lost hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs since 2001. After years of cuts, though, the industry is starting to make a comeback here in mid-Michigan.

Courtesy © General Motors

Cadillac has unveiled the next model that General Motors will build in Lansing. GM is showing off the new ATS-V at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

http://mihomeless.org/

A group of pastors and volunteers for a local non-profit in Ft. Lauderdale are facing jail time and hundreds of dollars in fine after a run-in with police last week. Their crime? Passing out food to the homeless in a city park. Advocates for the homeless says these kinds of ordinances are part of a larger trend of cities criminalizing the activities of homeless people. Here in Michigan, a number of cities have ordinances restricting vagrancy and panhandling.

Courtesy Parkbelt Drive residents

Back in August, we brought you the story of an online fundraising effort aimed at bringing in enough money to pay for the demolition of a single burned-out house in Flint. Gordon Young is a Flint expat and author of “Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City”. His idea was simple: while Flint has hundreds of abandoned homes, and some neighborhoods suffer mightily from such blight, he wanted to find a house that needed tearing down in an otherwise well maintained neighborhood, one where the demolition would improve the neighborhood’s chances of thriving into the future.

Flickr - Bernt Rostad

Last week, the Michigan Department of Transportation along with Indiana and Illinois presented a proposal for passenger rail improvements on the Detroit to Chicago line. When running on time, the "Wolverine Line" takes riders from the Motor City to the Windy City in about five and a half hours. New plans hope to cut travel time considerably, and increase ridership significantly.

Pages