Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
The economic transformation of the industrial Midwest will continue to be a principal reality in the communities served by our stations, WBEZ, Michigan Radio, and WCPN ideastream, and the coverage of that change will continue to be our priority.
But change, as our project name implies, is inescapable, and we are not immune. This blog will continue to be a repository for coverage about this topic, However it will not continue to be updated with the frequency it has for the past two years.
Northeast Ohio is no longer the home of giant smoke-belching factories that typified the Industrial Revolution. The economy is slowly but surely striking out in new directions as the region works to diversify. Medical devices and services, polymers, processed foods, even fracking, are all in the vanguard of long-term change. Mr. Feagler looks at the big picture with Thomas A. Waltermire, President and CEO of Team NEO.
Over the past few months, you’ve been reading and listening to Changing Gears’ special reports on Midwest Migration — the people who moved away.
Beginning this weekend, tune in for Changing Gears’ hour-long documentary, “Where Did Everybody Go?”
Hosted by Richard Steele of WBEZ Chicago, “Where Did Everybody Go” tells the stories of people who left the Midwest, and some who came home.
We’ll visit Portland, Austin, New York City, upstate New York and Los Angeles. We’ll talk with Jim Russell, a geographer who writes the Burgh Diaspora blog, and Dan Moilanen, a Flint, Mich., native who went to Austin to work for Apple, and came back to help his hometown.
Reshoring – that’s a term meaning returning jobs to the U.S. that once were shipped overseas. It’s an apparently growing trend in Northeast Ohio. Hundreds of manufacturing jobs once located in China have been relocated to greater Cleveland because of rising employment costs in China and greater efficiencies at home. Mr. Feagler discusses reshoring with Daniel E. Berry, president and CEO and Bob Schmidt, Senior Business Consultant, both of MAGNET, the Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network.
Manufacturing’s comeback is spurring talk that it could be the secret to saving the American economy. The Changing Gears team has spent plenty of time looking at manufacturing, including Niala Boodhoo’s story this week on the need for skilled workers.
Now others are taking a close look, too,
Adam Davidson of NPR’s Planet Money explores the new reality of manufacturing in this story for The Atlantic Monthly. Davidson explains that while manufacturing output is up by a third, manufacturing employment is down by about as much. He’s also been looking at the topic on Morning Edition this week.
Warren Olney, the host of To The Point on KCRW in Los Angeles, took a look this week at whether factory jobs can save the middle class. His guests included Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard.
You can hear all of Changing Gears’ reports on manufacturing and see our other coverage here.
Depending on the analyst and the statistic, the Midwest economy is on the mend or still in trouble or somewhere in between.
Getting By, a year-end special from Changing Gears, went beyond the experts and numbers.
Senior editor Micki Maynard and WBEZ’s Steve Edwards gathered at a dining room table with eight Illinois residents from different places and different points of view to discuss the economy’s real world impact on their lives.
We talked about how the recession is affecting everyone, from veterans to business owners, single mothers to people struggling to find work.
Listen to Getting By here and see more photos of the people who took part.
Many of our participants came to us through our PIN network, and we’re always looking for people who can lend their insight. If you’d like to become a source for us, click here.
Welcome to Changing Gears. We’re a public media project looking at the economic transformation of the industrial Midwest, telling the stories of the people that are living through that change. Changing Gears is shared by three stations: WBEZ Chicago, Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, and ideastream in Cleveland. You’ll also hear our reports on NPR shows like Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on Marketplace. And, our team members are often guests on programs such as PBS NewsHour, Talk of the Nation and The Diane Rehm Show.
Changing Gears has reporters in Chicago, Ann Arbor and Cleveland, as well as a Web editor, a public interest journalist, and our senior editor. We’ve reported from Minnesota to New York, from big cities and small towns, and we hope we’re capturing a region that’s going through a transition.
NASA hopes to put space-age ideas on wheels. Glenn Research Center held a workshop this week for automotive experts showing NASA-developed materials and industrial processes that could be put to work in the car industry to save weight, time and money. Among materials they’ll demonstrate is a lightweight metal alloy that ‘remembers’ its shape and returns to it when damaged.
On this segment of the WVIZ/PBS ideastream program Feagler & Friends, Robert J. Shaw, PhD, director, Office of Technology, Partnership & Planning, NASA Glenn Research Center; and Paul Bartolotta, aerospace engineer speak with Dick Feagler.
From the automobile industry to agricultural products, Michigan and the global economy are inextricably intertwined. On Wednesday night, Robin Young, the host of Here and Now, joined Changing Gears and our partner Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor for a town hall meeting to look at issues facing the state and the world.
The topics ranged from Chinese investment in the United States to whether Right to Work laws would make Michigan and other Midwest states more attractive to international investment.
Panelists included Linda Y.C. Lim, professor of strategy at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, and Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard, a frequent guest on Here and Now.
Young also dropped by Michigan Radio this morning to meet listeners and speak with newsroom staff. Here and Now airs daily on Michigan Radio at 1 pm ET.
A few years ago, crime topped the concerns of residents in Atlanta, Chicago and New York. These days, residents expect low crime.
The mayors of those three cities spoke Monday, all agreeing those concerns have shifted. Anecdotally, they say that, these days, citizens ask them most about concerned with housing costs and their jobs.
“And if they have kids, school,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York said, while speaking Monday, October 10, during a panel discussion that kicked off Chicago Ideas Week. “They don’t care about what’s at a national level or state level. If they haven’t lost a house or job, they’re worried about it. It is very local.”
Bloomberg was joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on the panel about issues facing local governments, which was moderated by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and sponsored in part by Changing Gears and our partner station WBEZ.
Emanuel said that laying the foundation for economic growth and job creation has been the central focus of his first five months in office. He said Chicago’s central U.S. location has given the city a geographic advantage in maintaining – and hopefully expanding – its infrastructure.
“We’re the only airport system with two major carries, and a quarter to a third of the nation’s rail freight comes through Chicago,” he said. “Rails, roads and runways. We invest in those, Chicago will continue to recruit companies and expand.”