michigan economy

SXSW to showcase Michigan’s creative economy

Mar 10, 2015

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.

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.

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.

Scott Pohl/WKAR

Recently, Michigan has been through a Gubernatorial campaign, an election, a lame duck legislative session and an inauguration. And Governor Snyder delivers his annual State of the State address this evening. Amid all this political activity, what do Michiganians think of their top elected officials?


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.

Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter

What is ahead for Michigan in 2015? An income tax cut? A sales tax hike? Could elected officials move to repeal the state’s prevailing wage provisions? All are possible. A clearer picture will begin to emerge Wednesday when the 2015 Michigan legislature convenes.


On today's show, we heard briefly from Keith Allard of the recently formed group, "Protect MI Taxpayers." Allard is also Chairman of the Grand Rapids Taxpayers Association and a recent unsuccessful candidate for the state legislature. His group is launching a campaign urging voters to defeat the call to increase the state sales tax by a cent. Michigan voters will decide that issue on May 5.

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.

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?

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.

Advocates say homelessness shouldn't be a crime

Nov 13, 2014

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.

Detroit house
Courtesy photo / http://auctions.buildingdetroit.org/home

One of the biggest challenges faced by new Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is the poor condition of thousands of houses in the city. People won’t choose to live in a city where they can’t get a decent house. The Detroit Land Bank Authority hopes a new system of auctioning off vacant houses will spur a wave of movement into the city. It’s called “Building Detroit”.

Flickr - Phillip Stewart

The new fiscal year begins Wednesday here in Michigan and for the federal government. It’s the first day that low-income households can apply for home heating assistance funds.