Midwest Memo: Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ford surpassed analysts expections for first quarter profits this year. Photo by Slobodan Stojkovic via Flickr.

Ford Motor Company had a strong first quarter. In fact, the U.S. automaker had its best first quarter earnings in 13 years, reporting net income of $2.6 billion. That comes out to 61 cents per share, far higher than the expected 50 cents per share. Part of Ford’s success is being credited to their new fuel-efficient models, which are proving popular as gas prices climb. 

Michigan’s unionized corrections workers make up about 16 percent of the state’s public employees, but they are being asked to give more than half of the $180 million in contract concessions Governor Rick Snyder is seeking from unions.

The proposed $95 million in concessions isn’t sitting well with the 7,700 Michigan Corrections Organizations. Their say their jobs are among state’s most danger. But officials say the department that corrections employees fall under is the only one paid for entirely by the state’s general fund.

In yesterday’s Midwest Memo, we had a note about Republican lawmakers in Michigan who proposed excluding stem cell research from this year’s budget. But Governor Rick Snyder is, as expected, pushing back against that. He said lawmakers should focus on higher education, instead of trying to block stem cell research.

Private equity firm Eigen Capital is acquiring Dixon, IL based Plews, Inc. Plews is a distributor of automotive and industrial replacement parts, things like air hoses, tire repair hardware, and gauges.

Illinois will start collecting data on “dooring” – that’s when a bicycler runs into a suddenly opened car door. According to the Active Transportation Alliance, the data could be used to make streets safer by raising funds to prevent dooring.

Gas prices aren’t the only thing rising in Chicago – so are diaper, toilet paper, and paper towel prices. The producer of many of those paper products, Cincinnati based Proctor & Gamble Co., blames the price hikes on the rising cost of oil, gas and pulp.

Unlike the price of gas, home prices have slipped again nationwide to mid-recession levels. In the Cleveland area, they’ve dropped just below what they were in 2000, but in Detroit home prices are 30 percent lower than they were in 2000.

Ohio is getting four new casinos, but there’s a financial tug of war between the new gambling operations and Governor John Kasich. Kasich wants to force the casinos to pay more than their official 33 percent tax rate that was approved by voters. It would take the approval of voters to hike those tax rates.

The largest wind turbine in Northeast Ohio is in the process of being built right now. Photo by Ali K via flickr.

Neither Ohio’s Republicans nor Democrats want to raise the state income tax, closing the state’s $8 billion budget gap through cuts instead. Some Ohioans say those cuts are too painful, and would rather reduce those cuts by raising taxes. Lawmakers say that’s not an option because hiking taxes now could set back the state’s economic recovery.

Northeast Ohio is getting a 2.5 megawatt wind turbine. Supporters hope this wind turbine will attract more renewable energy projects to the region and along with those projects plenty of manufacturing jobs. One of those projects is a fresh water wind farm in Lake Erie next summer.



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