From the Senior Editor: Food’s Revival Role

Can food help revive a city — and a region? It certainly can play a part.

Here’s an example. We sat outside this week for a birthday dinner at a lively bistro. Near our table, a brazier burned brightly as well-dressed guests chatted in the warm evening air.

The wine list featured a variety of intelligent choices, from crisp chilled rose to warm reds and sparkling whites. The special was pork belly, the raw bar included a choice of east coast or west coast oysters, and the frites looked fantastic.

We were not in Paris, or New York, or Chicago. We were at Zinc, on Euclid Avenue, in downtown Cleveland. Zinc, set a historic building, is one of the most recent editions to the city’s growing culinary scene, which is centered around the corner on Fourth Street. Here’s a piece that Dan Bobkoff recently did for our partner ideastream on Cleveland’s new restaurants.

I’m convinced that good food is essential not just to a city’s spirit, but to a city’s revival. Restaurant wise, Cleveland already rocks — and so can the Great Lakes region. Continue reading “From the Senior Editor: Food’s Revival Role”

From The Senior Editor: Deal or No Deal

When should a state provide incentives to a big employer?

That’s one of the questions that states are wrestling with as they try to shake off the recession and move forward. And, it’s a story the Changing Gears team will be examining many times in the next few years.

The latest state to deal with the issue is Missouri, whose governor has signed controversial legislation meant to keep a Ford Motor Company plant from leaving the state. I talked about the situation this week on KMOX in St. Louis.

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In South Chicago, A Neighborhood Faces Change

As Changing Gears gets underway, we’re featuring stories from our partner stations about the issues facing the Manufacturing Belt.

South Chicago, once a vibrant industrial neighborhood, has been hit hard by the decline of the steel industry. Thousands of jobs have disappeared at U.S. Steel, the biggest industrial presence in the area. Now, the city council has taken another step toward formalizing plans for a new development that could mean condos, new stores and the potential for jobs on land that is co-owned by the steel maker.

It’s just the kind of project that would show the area is Changing Gears and moving toward a new future. But not all residents are happy about the prospect. Michael Puente, a reporter with Changing Gears partner WBEZ, looked at the situation last month.

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Tell us a story…

Changing Gears is about the people of the Manufacturing Belt, and how they are moving forward. Some are doing so as entrepreneurs; others are banding together in their communities to break new ground. We want to tell their stories, and to do so, we want your help.

Tell us where to look. Tell us who to talk to. Tell us what to focus on. Post your ideas in the comments section, or send us an email to changing gears (at) umich.edu.

From the Senior Editor: Carmakers, One Year Later

A year ago this month, a new version of General Motors emerged from a government sponsored bankruptcy, only weeks after the new version of Chrysler came to live with federal help. On July 7, NPR’s Neal Conan invited me on Talk of the Nation to discuss what things look like now.

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In short, things are better. Auto sales are rebounding modestly from the awful levels of last year. But the industry is a long way from the boom days of the mid-’00s, and Detroit companies still have far to go. How does each company look now — and what role with they play as the manufacturing belt transforms itself? The auto industry’s story is a crucial part of Changing Gears.

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From The Senior Editor: Welcome to Changing Gears

The past few years have been devastating for the industrial states. As a journalist for the New York Times, I wrote numerous stories about plant closings, job losses, beleaguered communities, and residents’ bewilderment that the nation did not see value in what generations had created.

Many people have written off the manufacturing belt as a remnant of the past. But I grew up in Michigan, and I refuse to believe that region is finished. That is why I decided to join the Changing Gears project.

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Micheline Maynard to Lead Upper Midwest Journalism Center Project

Michigan Radio, WBEZ FM-Chicago and Cleveland’s ideastream (90.3 WCPN and WVIZ/PBS) are pleased to announce that journalist, author and scholar Micheline Maynard, currently of The New York Times, has been named Editor for the “Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt” Upper Midwest Local Journalism Center (LJC).

The Center is a new editorial collaboration funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to report on a major developing story–the transformation of the Upper Midwest’s industrial-based economy to a post-manufacturing one. This transition is a turning point in the American economy with economic, social, environmental and cultural implications.

Maynard, a Michigan native, will be based in Chicago and lead a team of three reporters and a new media producer in the production of long form radio feature reports, special programs for radio and television, and web content. The project will also seek to engage the citizens of the region in an exploration of the region’s past and future.

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