Midwest Memo: Ohio’s $900 Million Gas Plant, Ill. Primary And A Mining Bill That Won’t Quit

Gassed up Ohio will get a new $900 million natural gas processing plant, as the state’s boom in shale-gas drilling continues.

You’re next, Illinois Mitt Romney’s poor showing in Alabama and Missisippi seems to have heightened the importance of next week’s primary in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports the Romney campaign just bought another $1.35 million in ads in the Chicago market.

Politics behind consent Yesterday was a big day in the city of Detroit, as Michigan governor Rick Snyder released a proposed consent agreement to handle the city’s budget crisis. Partner station Michigan Radio takes a look at the politics behind the proposal.

Mining a new strategy Even though a controversial piece of legislation to allow mining in northern Wisconsin failed to get enough votes, and the company that wanted the mine has pulled out, some state Republicans are still fighting for the cause.

Ohio gets the bronze The Labor Department reports that Ohio had the third-largest increase in jobs in January. Only New York and Texas saw more jobs created in the first month of the year.

Camera-ready Partner station WBEZ looks into Chicago’s volatile, but growing film industry.

Midwest Memo: Chicago Reader For Sale, Legislatures Wrapping Up And A Quake Culprit

A tale of two legislatures The Wisconsin state legislature is wrapping up its current session, and the two pieces of legislation that were the top priorities for Republicans at the start of the year aren’t getting done. Indiana lawmakers are also wrapping up their current session. The state’s Republican leaders had a little more success, reports partner station WBEZ.

Confirmed culprit State regulators in Ohio concluded on Friday that earthquakes near Youngstown were almost certainly caused by a waste-water well drilled by the natural gas industry. Partner station WCPN Ideastream reports the regulators announced new rules on future wells to hold the waste from fracking.

So, what now? Partner station Michigan Radio reports the review team that’s examining Detroit’s finances dodged a possible contempt-of-court charge by disbanding a sub-committee that met in private. A judge ruled the review team must hold its meetings in public. The review team has already found that Detroit will probably run out of cash by this summer.

Read all about it The Chicago Reader is up for sale, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

The elevated park A proposal would turn an unused 2.7 mile stretch of Chicago’s elevated rail line into a public park.

Midwest Memo: Fracking Taxes, Manufacturing Grants And Head Start Problems In Detroit

Taxing the fracking Bloomberg reports that Ohio Gov. John Kasich has a new proposal to tax oil and gas drilling in his state. Taxes on the new kinds of drilling, known as “fracking,” could raise $1.02 billion for the state by 2016, according to the report.

$1 billion for manufacturing President Obama plans to be in Virginia today to promote a new $1 billion grant program to fund innovation in manufacturing. The plan requires approval from Congress.

Turning it around Wisconsin added jobs last month. But previous months’ figures were revised, creating a more mixed jobs picture.

Head Stop The federal government will stop sending $50 million a year to the city of Detroit to administer Head Start programs. The Detroit Free Press says the decision follows reports that city officials mishandled the money. Now, the government will try to find other organizations to run Head Start in the city.

Lower funds for higher ed Michigan is losing about $4 million in federal higher education funds. The loss is because the state cut its own budget for higher education, according to the Gannett news service.

Midwest Memo: High Tech High Schools, Jet Jobs And Right To Work In Court

New high (tech) schools Five giants of the tech world are teaming up to open six new high schools in Chicago. Students at the high schools will stay for six years, and leave with an associates degree in a high tech field.

Jet jobs Michigan Governor Rick Snyder says the state could lose 600 jobs if the Air Force moves its A-10 fighter planes away from the Selfridge Air National Guard base.

Signature move Opponents of Michigan’s emergency manager law say they have enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, and let voters decide whether the law should stand. Partner station Michigan Radio reports the signatures will be turned in today for certification.

Mine on the mind Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is hitting the road to help promote a controversial mining bill. The bill would open up a new mine in northern Wisconsin. The bill passed the state Assembly, but it now appears to be headed for a close vote in the Senate.

Right to Work in court Opponents of Indiana’s new Right to Work law will get their day in court. Attempts to overturn Right to Work have failed in other states. But activists say Indiana’s law was passed in a hastily, and it contains provisions not found in other Right to Work laws. Both sides will make their case at a preliminary hearing on Monday.

Drilling down into the numbers A new study says shale gas and oil will add $5 billion to Ohio’s economy over the next two years. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports the study was commissioned by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the Ohio Shale coalition. The study predicts the boom in shale drilling will happen about 10 times faster than previous studies predicted.

Midwest Memo: A Busy Day In Indiana, More Money In Cleveland and Google Owes Us 700 Jobs

Indiana’s busy day Yesterday, the big news in Indiana was that legislators approved a new Right to Work law. But that wasn’t all the legislature accomplished. They also put the nail in the coffin of a $1.3 billion transit plan.

What the frack Bloomberg News says Ohio officials are hoping to stop the flow of fracking waste into their state. Meanwhile gas companies are still pushing their new natural gas drilling techniques further. Get ready for “super fracking.”

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Police The city of Cleveland is getting a  $10 million tax windfall this year thanks to new construction. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says the money will help pay for an extra 20 police officers.

Notable tax credit news A new report in Michigan says tax changes will hit poor families 1000 times as hard as families that are well off. One of the main reasons is the elimination of the state’s child tax credit. Meanwhile, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn proposed adding child credit in his State of the State speech last night.

700 jobs short Google is celebrating its fifth birthday in Ann Arbor. When the company first opened its Ann Arbor office in 2006, it was huge news for the state. The company said it would hire 1,000 workers in the first five years. The actual number is closer to 300. (We tried asking Google: “Where are the rest of our jobs?” The search didn’t turn up anything useful.)

Midwest Memo: Mixed Jobs News, Fracking Fallout and One Very Significant Truck

Mixed bag of jobs news: In Toledo, a company that makes solar panels is laying off 40 workers. The Chicago Tribune is starting a round of newsroom buyouts. But, in Canton, Mich., a TV manufacturer plans to hire 100 workers. The Detroit Free Press says it will be the first time a company has built TVs in the U.S. since Sony closed its last plant here in 2010.

More tourism, fewer movies: The mixed news theme continues in Michigan with a pair of stories about the state’s effort to lure out-of state business. First, the Detroit Free Press reports that interest in the Michigan’s film tax incentives dropped after the state revamped the program last year. But, partner station Michigan Radio reports the state’s tourism ad campaign seems to be paying off. In 2010, out-of-state visitors spent more tourism dollars in Michigan than in-state residents. It was the first time that’s ever been recorded.

Fracking fallout: Officials in Mansfield, Ohio are threatening to block construction of two new waste wells in their city. The wells would store waste products from “fracking,” a controversial method of drilling for natural gas. The concern is these waste wells may have contributed to a series of small earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio. Meanwhile, TV station WKBN reports a hearing on those earthquakes will be held today at Youngstown State University. WKBN will stream the hearing live on its website starting at 10 a.m. ET.

A truckload of signatures: Later today, a truck is expected to make a delivery to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Democrats are loading the truck with 3,000 lbs. worth of documents, containing up to one million signatures to recall Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans. Walker’s office says the effort will cost taxpayers $9 million. Needless to say, this probably won’t be the last you hear of it.


The Saudi Arabia of the Midwest? Ohio Prepares for Natural Gas Future

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Natural gas extracted from shale rock, some say, is the most positive development in the nation’s energy outlook in 50 years.  Ohio sits atop some of the largest deposits.

Big name oil and gas companies are flocking to the Buckeye State in a frenzy of preparation for “fracking” – that’s the innovative and controversial technology used to drill through and “fracture” the shale.  It un-traps natural gas that lies within large layers of rock.

Ohio John Kasich is one of the industry’s biggest cheerleaders, saying it could be a real “game changer” for the state’s economy.  This week he also said tough, new regulations are needed to make sure “fracking” doesn’t harm the environment.  From our Changing Gears project, Mhari Saito and Dan Bobkoff have this overview on the new “natural gas economy.”