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.
Population loss across the Midwest is contributing to a lot of empty seats in the region’s baseball stadiums. Baseball teams in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit and Pittsburgh are having a hard time filling seats, despite lowered prices and various attempts to get fans back to watching the ball game live. Eric Wellman of WCPN 90.3 recently filed this report on how the Cleveland Indians are using new social media tactics to get fans to fill the many empty seats.
Cleveland coined the term Rock and Roll. People still talk about Detroit and Motown. And, Chicago is known for the Blues. Yet, despite evidence that music can revitalize rust belt cities, that it can raise property values, and make these places more attractive to workers and companies, the music industry doesn’t seem to be a priority here.
Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard was a guest on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Kathleen Dunn Show this morning to talk about everything from the automobile industry to the mission of Changing Gears.
Earlier this week, Ford announced its best first quarter results in 13 years, reporting $2.6 billion in net income. “The big difference between now and then is that back then they were making all their money on SUV’s and pick-up trucks and now they’ve actually found a way to make money selling small fuel efficient cars” explained Maynard.
Michigan based automaker Chrysler says it plans to pay back the government bailout it received during the recession by the end of June. Chrysler received $7.4 billion in loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments. The company said they will pay back the remaining $6.6 billion it still owes as long as economic conditions remain steady. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was one of the chief architects of the government loans given to Chrysler and GM. He will be making an appearance at the Detroit Economic Club today. Geithner will discuss economic matters with local political, business, and community leaders.
Our WBEZ colleague Robin Amer provides us with this story of rejuvenation — and it could only take place in Detroit.
Thunderdrome is back. It’s the story of a velodrome, a banked bicycle track used in competitive cycling. This one, in Detroit’s Dorais Park, hosted track nationals in 1969 and produced three world champions, all women, before it became abandoned and overgrown in the 1980s.
It was literally unearthed by one of the city’s vigilante lawn-mower gangs — people who mow the lawns at city parks because the city cannot afford to do so. The velodrome, on the city’s east side, was repaired by racing enthusiasts who cut down trees growing in its center and invested thousands of dollars of their own money and over 4,000 lbs of concrete fixing its surface. And now, it has come back to life as home to a variety of competitions. Continue reading “Thunderdrome Roars Into Detroit Saturday”
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced today he may have to lay off 350 to 400 employees in order to close the city’s budget gap. For years, Jackson has impressed Ohioans with his ability to close the city’s budget gaps without significant layoffs or cuts to city programs.
But this year, Jackson says the decline in state support leaves him with few other options. Ohio’s two-year budget as proposed would begin July 1st and leave Cleveland with a $35.7 million deficit through the end of 2012. Jackson said other cost-reducing measures he’s considering are consolidating staff and programs, closing some facilities and continuing an existing hiring freeze.
Manufacturing output in the Midwest increased by almost two percent between February and March, according to the Chicago Fed Midwest Manufacturing Index, released this morning. Regional manufacturing output was up 12.5 percent in March compared to March a year earlier, and national output was up by 7.1 percent. Manufacturing was one of the most badly hit sectors of the economy during the recession, but now it’s proving to be rebounding during the recovery.
Tax day has come and gone, but Michigan is still hoping to collect $90 million in unpaid taxes. The state is offering a tax amnesty program to the hundreds of thousands of people and businesses who may have neglected to pay their taxes on time through the end of June.
Home sales prices have been one of the most watched economic indicators during the Great Recession. So when a new set of numbers came out today, reporters nationwide jumped on the data. Changing Gears noticed a little line in the press release that read “Atlanta, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, Portland (OR) and Washington D.C. saw improvements in their annual rates of return in February versus January; New York was unchanged.”