Student Group Aims to Improve Detroit

Detroit has been in the news a lot lately, but for all the wrong reasons. The latest census data shows that Detroit lost 25% of its population in the last decade, shrinking to the size it was before the auto industry took off. But a student group at the University of Michigan is determined to do their part to help improve the Motor City. The group,  the Detroit Partnership, hopes to lure skeptical students to visit the city, and perhaps take another look at the stereotypes that surround it.

Photo courtesy of The Detroit Partnership.

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Detroit: A Boom Town Goes Bust

For almost a half century last century, Detroit was a boom town. Between 1910 and 1950, few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.

Detroit in its heyday

But for the past 60 years, the decline has been long and relatively slow — until the year 2000. Since then, Detroit has lost one-quarter of its population, as the 2010 census figures released on Tuesday showed. The decline was equal to one departee every 22 minutes, according to PBS Newshour.

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Michigan Cities Join Others in Shedding Population

The U-S Census Bureau released the latest population count for Michigan this week. And, like other places in the Midwest, Michigan’s biggest cities shed population.

Downtown Detroit. Photo by David Tansey.

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Chicago’s population declined by almost seven percent in the 2010 census numbers, and Cleveland’s dropped by about 17 percent. But Detroit lost a quarter of its population over the last ten years.

It now has the same population that it had in 1910, before the auto industry boom. Robert Ficano, the Executive for Wayne County, home to Detroit, said, “now’s not the time to look in the rear view mirror, now’s the time to look in the future and say ‘ok, what do we do to recover and what do we do to stabilize ourselves here?’”

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One-third of Detroit Public Schools May Become Charters

One-third of Detroit’s public schools may be turned into charter schools – publicly funded, but privately run. That’s if everything goes according to the plan laid out by Detroit Public Schools’ emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb. According to an announcement this past weekend,, Bobb says handing over control of 41 of the district’s 142 schools to charter operators would save up to $99 million dollars, and will hopefully improve many of the city’s worst schools without having to close them.

A student learns to read at Cleveland's Intergenerational Charter School. Photo by Ida Lieszkovszky.

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Japan’s Economic Ripples and the Midwest

It’s been more than a week since Japan was ravaged by the first of a series of earthquakes as well as a tsunami. The harm from those natural disasters is still unfolding, as the world watches what happens to several damaged nuclear reactors in Japan. But in the Midwest, companies are trying to figure out what the events in the island nation will mean for businesses here.

Caterpillar headquarters, Peoria Journal-Star

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Midwest economic ties to Japan run deep

CHICAGO – There are billions of dollars in business that flow every day between the Midwest and Japan. As Japan tries to recover from the devastating natural disaster there, companies located in the Midwest are starting to assess out how this will affect business here. Here, this report on how deep the economic ties are between our region and the island nation.

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Ohio, Michigan Budget Plans Ruffle Feathers: Illinois Next?

Ohio Governor John Kasich released his budget proposal on Tuesday, and it has received mixed reviews. Republicans say the cuts aren’t as bad many people expected, and spread out the sacrifices the economically hard hit state must make. This new spending plan allocates a total of $55 billion dollars, or $5 billion

Photo courtesy of Ohio Public Radio.

more than what was allocated in last year’s plan. The state loses out on $8 billion dollars in one-time allocations, most of it federal funding from the stimulus bill. But Kasich campaigned saying he would not raise taxes, and he says he’s sticking to his word.

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What’s next for Sears?

Sears on State Street, Chicago (Niala Boodhoo)

Sears & Roebuck has been a dominant retailer in the Midwest since it was founded in Chicago almost a 120 years ago. It’s hung on while other brands – like Marshall Field’s, Montgomery Ward – and mostly recently Borders – have disappeared or stumbled. Although its stores have winnowed, there’s still a Sears in every corner of the Great Lakes. Changing Gears is a public media project looking at our regional economy. In this story, reporter Niala Boodhoo looks at what’s next for Sears.

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