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”

Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1

Changing Gears is spending the next few years looking at ways to reinvent the Midwest economy. Today, we kick off our first week-long series: Reinventing Pittsburgh. Once, it was the Steel City, just as Detroit was the Motor City. But while Detroit struggles to find its new identity, Pittsburgh is undergoing an enormous transformation, shifting to an economy that includes technology, medicine, education and yes, steel.

Can Pittsburgh be a model for the Great Lakes region? Later this week, we’ll be looking at how Detroit and Gary, Indiana, are following Pittsburgh’s lead. But first, we look at where Pittsburgh was.

Continue reading “Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1”

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Coming Next Week

Next week, Changing Gears kicks off its first week-long series with a look at Reinventing Pittsburgh.

All across the Great Lakes, cities are searching for ways to reinvent themselves. But how can they shift from a dependence on industry to the new economy? What’s the best path for Detroit and Gary, Indiana to take? The answer may lay just to the east in Pittsburgh. EGatz_F10_0032 Continue reading “Reinventing Pittsburgh: Coming Next Week”

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”

From the Senior Editor: Obama’s Victory Lap

This week and next, President Obama is taking a victory lap. But is it too soon?

On Friday, the president was set to visit General Motors and Chrysler plants in Detroit. Next week, he’ll be in Chicago to visit the Ford Motor factory.

At the two Detroit plants, workers literally owe their livelihoods to the president, whose administration provided the carmakers with more than $60 billion to assure their survival. You can argue the Ford workers should be grateful as well, since Ford’s future would have been threatened had its two Detroit rivals gone into liquidation.

I talked about the automobile industry’s situation on NPR’s Morning Edition with my good friend Don Gonyea, who spent many years on the car beat when he was based in Detroit. This is a story of deep interest to the Changing Gears region, and its outcome will play a huge role in determining the future of the Manufacturing Belt. Continue reading “From the Senior Editor: Obama’s Victory Lap”