Midwest Memo: Friday, April 15, 2011

Consumer prices made their biggest jump since the summer of 2009, especially in food, gas, and rent. Those tend to be the more volatile indicators of consumer prices, and they’re a big concern across the Great Lakes. Consumer confidence is vital for the continued health of the auto industry. Overseas, Europeans and Chinese also are worried about rising inflation, much of it there also fed by higher oil and food prices.

The Indiana House is set to vote today on a bill that would tax businesses that hire illegal immigrants. This bill is a much milder version of a tougher bill pushed by Republicans that would have allowed the police to stop anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant.

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Midwest Memo: Thursday, April 14, 2011

Leading off: a follow up on a Midwest Memo item from yesterday. Remember that Gary, IN was asking for a bailout from the state? Well, it got it. Indiana’s Distressed Unit Appeals Board approved the city’s request for property tax relief, meaning the city now only needs to cut $1 million instead of $11 million from its budget.

The economy is poised to be a hot topic in the 2012 election, nationally and across our region. Rising gas prices — now above $4 a gallon in Chicago — and a widening gap between America’s wealthy and poor are expected to influence how people vote. WBEZ’s Eight Forty-Eight program covered this today.

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Midwest Memo: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thanks to a rise in new car sales, the Detroit 3 (Ford, GM and Chrysler) are finally in a position to start hiring again. One economist says the number of automotive jobs will never reach its former height of nearly a million jobs. Still, the three automakers are expected to hire about 35,000 people over the next five years.

Michigan lawmakers may be getting close to a budget deal. Meanwhile, thousands of unionized teachers and public employees are expected to gather at the state Capitol today for a protest of the proposed spending plan. The rally’s organizers say this may be the biggest protest of the season yet.

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Midwest Memo: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohio is giving ATM manufacturer Diebold Inc. $56 million dollars to stay in Northeast Ohio. Diebold is set to announce that it will build a $100 million corporate campus and global headquarters in the Akron/Canton area, about an hour south of Cleveland. The company employees 16,000 people worldwide.

Gas prices have shot up nationwide, but Chicagoans are paying even more than rest of the country. Gas in the windy city will cost you about $4.11 these days. One expert says that’s because Chicago switched to a gasoline blend earlier than most other cities.

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Midwest Memo: Monday, April 11, 2011


Welcome to our first edition of “Midwest Memo.”  Here, we round up all of the day’s headlines we are following here at Changing Gears. We hope to make this a daily feature, so you can make us your one stop shop for all your Midwest news needs. If you have something to share, or feel like we missed something let us know at changinggears@umich.edu.


Michigan Radio reports that in the state, the live-in partners of unmarried state employees can get health benefits through their significant others. But Republican lawmakers are trying to turn that around, and are scrounging for the 11 Democratic votes they need to pass legislation that would prevent live-in partners from getting state worker’s benefits. Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Rick Hammel says this issue shouldn’t be brought up in the legislature: it’s a better fit for the bargaining table.

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Upcoming Event: “Growing Together”

On Thursday, January 27th from 4-6:30 pm you are invited to attend a free public forum “Regional Prosperity for Northeast Ohio: Growing Together” at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University. The Growing Together forum will include a moderated panel with state legislators, policymakers and round table discussions for participants. Questions such as “How can the communities of Northeast Ohio come together to create an environment for economy prosperity? What are the connections between job growth, economic development and government collaboration and what are the next steps will be discussed.

All forum events are free and open to the public however, you must register at www.urban.csuohio.edu/forum or by calling 216.523.7330 – seating is limited.

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The 2010 Election and Our Region

It’s election eve, and we’re gearing up at Changing Gears to be a regional hub for coverage on Tuesday.

All three of our partners plan extensive election coverage. To get up to speed, check out the election pages for WBEZ, Michigan Radio and ideastream.

Over the weekend, two of the states in the Changing Gears region received visits from President Obama. He spoke at rallies in Chicago on Saturday and Ohio on Sunday, covered by WBEZ and ideastream. Continue reading “The 2010 Election and Our Region”

Detroit’s Grand Circus Park is Lively Again

In Sunday’s New York Times Travel section, I write about Detroit’s Grand Circus Park. You can see some wonderful photos by Detroit-based photographer Fabrizio Costantini here.

Grand Circus Park is a good example of the revival that’s taking place in downtown Detroit, and stories we are telling at Changing Gears.

It has taken a few years for the area to come back to life, and there are still some empty storefronts, vacant lots and office buildings. But if you visit Detroit on a weekend when the Lions are playing at Ford Field, or on a night when the Red Wings have a game at Joe Louis Arena, the district around Grand Circus Park bubbles with activity. Continue reading “Detroit’s Grand Circus Park is Lively Again”

ArtPrize Decorates the Grand Rapids Economy

UPDATE: The ArtPrize winners were announced, and the winner is Chris LaPorte for his pencil on paper work entitled “Cavalry, American Officers, 1921”.  He wrote of the work:

Art Prize 2010 winner
“Many marks make up the drawing. Many men make up the regiment. Many lines make up the face…. This drawing is both a representation of the people, their legacy and the countless organization of pencil marks that make up a composition. It is about the process of drawing, and also a portrait of these men who must have survived horrific events to preserve what we experience today.”

You can check out all the winners here.

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