Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Former President Bill Clinton has spent the years since he left office in 2001 holding conferences that look at problems on a global scale. But this week, he’s staging the first Clinton Global Initiative that will explore issues facing the United States, and he’s doing so in Chicago.
On Wednesday and Thursday, CGI America will examine economic topics ranging from the future of manufacturing to job creation and education as well as the new rural economy. There is a blue ribbon list of participants including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Michigan’s former governor, Jennifer M. Granholm, also is taking part. Continue reading “Clinton Global Initiative Looks At America – In Chicago”
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Economists await automotive sales numbers. The U.S. manufacturing sector slowed following the Japanese nuclear catastrophe. This week, economists hope new data will show an uptick in automotive sales and, in turn, growth in orders for U.S. automotive suppliers.
Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard tells partner station WBEZ that the automotive sales numbers will not only help measure the manufacturing sector, but act as an overall indicator of health of the U.S. economy. “Car sales always depend on employment, jobs and housing,” she said. “If those things are not lining up, car sales won’t go up in any specific way.”
2. Labor unions decry Detroit mayor’s ‘scare tactics.’ Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has told union leaders the city’s school district must help save $121 million in health care and pension costs or face takeover from a state-appointment emergency financial manager. So far, some union leaders are daring Bing and the state to appoint one – they believe the emergency managers championed by Gov. Rick Snyder will be unconstitutional.
3. Wisconsin adopts two-year budget. Gov. Scott Walker signed a two-year, $66 billion budget that cuts nearly $800 million from public schools and business taxes, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported today. The budget closes a $3 billion shortfall. Walker signed the budget at Fox Valley Metal-Tech, a site that highlighted a tax cut for manufacturers included in the budget.
Gary Stock calls himself a member of the “creative class.”He is a longtime resident of Kalamazoo, Mich.
But he has an almost a love-hate relationship with his home state. He’s a successful small-business owner and involved in his community, the type of person Gov. Rick Synder has said he wants to keep in Michigan by cutting business taxes or through other economic incentives. Stock said he values the ease of running a business in the state, but not because of taxes. He runs an internet company called Nexcerpt and said working in a town without a lot of start-ups has its advantages.
“The value of being here was we didn’t have the exorbitant costs they would have in San Francisco or Boston,” Stock said.
Here are three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. McCormick Place mulls making workers public employees. Should an appeals court uphold a ruling that protects collective-bargaining agreements with private employers, officials for the Chicago convention complex may try to turn its private contractors into public employees. “It’s the only alternative to achieve the same reforms,” Jim Reilly, the executive in charge, told the Chicago Tribune.
2. Obama pushes high-tech innovation. Speaking at a robotics lab at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh on Friday, President Obama launched a $500 million program designed to spur innovation and create new high-tech products. “If we want a robust, growing economy, we need a robust, growing manufacturing sector,” he said while introducing the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. The money will be allocated toward projects that include batteries, composites, biotechnology and more.
3. Tough talk for Detroit’s teachers’ unions. Roy Roberts, the emergency financial manger appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to run Detroit Public Schools, submitted a budget plan that calls for 10 percent wage cuts to help deal with a $327 million deficit. He said he wants union input. “We need it and want it,” our partner station Michigan Radio reported. “But if they don’t, I’m not putting up with crap.”
Northwest Indiana is pinching more than 500 high-tech energy jobs from the state of Michigan. Fronius USA’s North American headquarters will move from the city of Brighton, about 50 miles west of Detroit, to Portage, which lies an hour east of Chicago in Porter County, Indiana.
As part of our ongoing coverage of Detroit’s efforts to transform its image, we have heard from scores of people about city’s problems and about what makes them hopeful for the future. We asked people inside and outside the city to tell us what they see in Detroit’s future. Here is how our readers described the Detroit of 2020:
“If guided by a clear, consistent, mindful vision between now and then, nine years from now Detroit will be thoughtfully developing but not necessarily growing to improve the lives of current and future residents through transportation options.” – Elizabeth Luther, Detroit.
“I couldn’t possibly imagine anything changing for the better.” – Marcus Moore, Jacksonville, Fla.
“More hipsters.” – Molly McMahon, Detroit.
“An imperfect but creative city of energy and momentum.” – Garlin Gilchrist II, Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday morning, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing gave a candid assessment of the Motor City, its struggles and hopes for its future during a press conference with reporters in town for “Transformation Detroit,” a three-day event examining the city’s future. Here’s a glimpse at five interesting statistics and quotes Bing delivered:
1. Asked about the most difficult aspects of luring outside companies into Detroit, the mayor said health care and pension costs prevented the city from offering competitive relocation packages. “If we don’t have health-care reform and pension reform, we’re just blowing in the wind, quite frankly,” Bing said.
2. He said more than 80,000 empty home are located in Detroit, contributing to the blight outsiders often associate with the city. Under Bing, the city demolished approximately 3,200 homes in the past year. His goal is 10,000 by the end of his term. “It’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Economic growth remains below average. The Chicago Fed National Activity Index showed slight improvement in May, but remained below its historical average. It increased to -0.36 in May following a -0.56 mark in April. Production and income categories contributed gains to the index, but employment indicators were negative for the second straight month.
SB5 could be divided into separate ballot questions. In order to weaken fierce opposition to a bill that restricts the collective bargaining rights of public employees, Ohio Gov. John Kasich may divide the measure known as SB5 into multiple ballot questions, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Voters could then cast ballots on each provision. State Republicans are talking to the Ohio Ballot Board on options on how to present the measure(s).
Michigan airports face uncertain future. A federal subsidy that funds commercial service at smaller airports across the nation could be cut by Congress. This week, House lawmakers are targeting the Essential Air Service subsidy, which brings $9 million to Michigan airports, according to the Detroit News. Without the money, airlines may lose money on the routes and curtail service.
Changing Gears is wrapping up its first week as part of the Public Insight Network. Through PIN, everyone can sign up to become a source for our coverage. It’s kind of like a citizen news wire.
To put your personal experiences in the spotlight, we’re introducing a new daily feature called Your Story. We’re letting you tell how Midwest’s economic transformation is changing your life.
There’s no better place to start than in Detroit. It is touted as either the poster child of urban decay or a case study of Midwestern promise. This week, we wanted to hear from people about Detroit’s image, drawbacks, and value.
Mohammed Fahad is 19 and has lived in Detroit most of his life. Here are his answers to our questions.
Q: Describe the Detroit of today in one sentence. A: A book that has a battered cover, but pages full of great words.
Q: Now describe the Detroit of 2020 in one sentence. A: Newly revised educational system without debts and financial managers.
Q: What’s the coolest thing about Detroit? A: Great people. People who have lived through a lot and are wise. Those people understand the outside world and the words being said but they do not let it affect them or the type of Detroit citizen that they are or have been. They are people who have heard it all and are not afraid to speak up about their city.
Q: What’s the worst thing about Detroit? A: The empty lots and vacant areas. These only add to the names that outsiders give to the city.
Q: Tell us about anything that’s happened in the last year to change your impression of Detroit. A: Working in Downtown Detroit. I got to see new places and am working with great people!
In just over two years in office, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has grappled with a $330 million budget deficit, watched the Motor City’s signature industry reach rock bottom and demolished more than three thousand vacant houses.
“It’s the toughest job I’ve ever had,” Bing said Tuesday morning. “The only person whose job is tougher than mine is the guy I was meeting with yesterday.”
That would be President Obama, with whom Bing met Monday as part of the United States Conference of Mayors in Washington D.C. During the conference, the mayors took an unusual step of overwhelmingly calling for the president to speed the end of overseas wars and redirect federal savings to their cities.