The next wave of immigrant entrepreneurs

CHICAGO – Cities across the Midwest are full of immigrant stories. Previous generations filled the factories, building cars, furniture and steel. Now that those jobs are disappearing, cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are hoping another wave of immigrants will help reinvigorate the economy. Changing Gears is a new public media project looking at the reinvention of the industrial Midwest. In this story, we look at the role immigrant entrepreneurs are playing in our economy.

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At Night in Detroit, The Workers Who Bring You Thanksgiving

DETROIT, Mich. – Inner city Detroit has been called a food desert. Many of the city’s residents have trouble finding fresh fruit and vegetables in their local stores, a problem that’s also shared by residents of Chicago, Cleveland and other urban places across the region.

That’s ironic, because Detroit is also a major hub for some of the best agricultural products in the country, thanks in large part to the Detroit Produce Terminal. Built by the railroad in 1929, the terminal market comes to life in the middle of the night, when the streets of southwest Detroit are otherwise desolate. It’s safe to say many Detroiters don’t even know that it’s here, just a few blocks from the Ambassador Bridge. Continue reading “At Night in Detroit, The Workers Who Bring You Thanksgiving”

Football Rules The Changing Gears Region

What led to one-way play

It’s almost Thanksgiving weekend, and football fans in our region are salivating. There’s a full lineup of pro and college football, with high stakes for three Big Ten teams.

For the 71st year in a row, the Detroit Lions are playing on Thanksgiving Day. This year, their opponent will be the New England Patriots. The sold-out game will be a homecoming of sorts for the Pats’ most famous player, quarterback Tom Brady, who led the Michigan Wolverines during his college years. Continue reading “Football Rules The Changing Gears Region”

Was Taking The Chrysler Buyout a Mistake?

Did auto workers who took buyouts make the wrong choice? Are those who stayed on the job better off? That’s a question some may be pondering, now that the auto industry is beginning to climb back.

On Monday, Kate Davidson of Changing Gears looked at the topic for NPR’s Morning Edition. Her story featured a former Chrysler worker, Joseph Arducan, who Changing Gears is following over the next year as he tries to figure out his next steps. Joseph Arducan

Download the audio or click to play here

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Avoiding brain drain among Illinois’s tech community


Talk to anyone in the tech community around Chicago and they’ll never fail to mention to you that many of the country’s biggest tech companies were founded by people who at least went to school in Illinois, or who are from here: heavy hitters like Oracle’s Larry Ellison, YouTube (now Google’s) Steve Chen, or PayPal co-founder Max Levchin. Of course, they left and hit it big in Silicon Valley – not in Chicago.  The Illinois Technology Association is trying to change that with their first ever Fall Challenge, where they matchmake top tech students throughout the state with employers who are also based here.

Students across Illinois competed to be here by taking a computer science test – you didn’t have to be officially studying computer tech or engineering, by the way, just have those skills. The top 40 are here in Chicago, Thursday and Friday, to take another exam and to interview with local employers. The highest-scoring student gets gets $5,000 – and everyone gets a chance to be recruited. UPDATE: According to @itabuzz, University of Chicago student Michael Lusignan won.

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Reinventing Pittsburgh Part 5: Answers for Gary?

Pittsburgh and steel began a courtship in the late 1800s. That courtship would eventually produce a lovechild: Gary, Indiana. In the early 20th Century, Pittsburgh’s U.S. Steel Corporation began searching for a spot to build its new steel mill near Chicago. It found one on the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Indiana. The new mill employed thousands and helped the young city of Gary grow big and strong. But when those plentiful steel jobs began to dry up, both cities fell on hard times.  Continue reading “Reinventing Pittsburgh Part 5: Answers for Gary?”

Reinvention Recipes: Monahan’s Seafood

ReinventionRecipesIf Julia Child had specialized in seafood, she would have been Mike Monahan. He has taught a generation of people in Ann Arbor, MI, how to cook fish, including me.

Growing up, my fish experiences were limited to Fridays and fish sticks. But once I discovered Monahan’s Seafood, in the Kerrytown Market, an entire world opened up. Monahan’s sells everything from Lake Superior whitefish to Copper River salmon to a lobster salad that rivals any you’ll find in Maine. Continue reading “Reinvention Recipes: Monahan’s Seafood”

Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The steel city is now more like the medical and technology city with hundreds of start up companies, a below average unemployment rate, and more jobs than during the height of the steel era. Not bad just three decades after its major industry collapsed. In Part 1, we described that remarkable transformation. In this story, we hear how it happened. Continue reading “Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2”