Buy Here-Pay Here: Get a Ride, Don’t Be Taken for One

Matt Ghazal runs a Buy Here-Pay Here business in West Michigan. He's trying to change the sector's reputation.

In the Midwest, it’s hard to get around without a car.  These days, people are holding onto them longer.  The average vehicle is almost 11 years old and used cars prices are on the rise.  All this adds to the pressure on the bottom rung of consumers: people with bad credit.  For many, the only way to finance a car is at a Buy Here-Pay Here lot.  Here, dealers loan to deep subprime customers at interest rates up to 25%.[display_podcast] Continue reading “Buy Here-Pay Here: Get a Ride, Don’t Be Taken for One”

Midwest Memo: Abbott Posts Layoffs, Auto Industry Posts Openings And A Target For Cabrini-Green

Layoffs at Abbott North-Chicago based Abbott Laboratories is laying off 700 workers in the U.S. and Canada. The Chicago Tribune reports 200 layoffs will be at the company’s campus in Lake County, Ill.

Don’t call it a comeback One analyst predicts the auto industry will add 15,000 jobs this year. But the Detroit Free Press reports that still won’t come anywhere close to replacing the jobs that were lost.

Job training, streamlined Ohio governor, John Kasich says this year, job training is “going to be, probably my seminal issue.” The Columbus Dispatch says streamlining Ohio’s current job training programs is at the top of the governor’s to-do list. Right now, Kasich says the state has 77 training programs across 13 agencies.

Radically local consumerism Residents in Chagrin Falls, Ohio decided to “occupy” their locally-owned hardware store over the weekend to help generate some business. USA Today says by 10 a.m., the store was jammed with a “cash mob.”

This is where we used to live It’s official, the former site of one of the country’s most violent and infamous public housing projects has been bought by Target. Crain’s Chicago Business reports Target bought the former Cabrini-Green property for $8.8 million.

By The Super Bowl, Indiana Could Have A Right to Work Law

Last year, it seemed unlikely. Now, Indiana looks bound to get a Right to Work law.

On Wednesday, the Indiana House followed the state Senate by approving Right to Work legislation. The action came just a day after Indiana’s governor, Mitch Daniels, delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.

Both houses have to approve the same bill before it can go to Daniels for his signature. The Indianapolis Star says it’s likely that the Senate will consider the House version, because Republicans are in tighter control in the Senate. After that, Daniels can sign it into law — which he could do before the Super Bowl is played in Indianapolis on Feb. 5. Continue reading “By The Super Bowl, Indiana Could Have A Right to Work Law”

Michigan Has a Teacher Surplus and Other States Are Taking Notice

In 2011, Michigan certified 7,980 teachers. According to the Michigan Education Association, about 5,000 of those newly-certified teachers left Michigan to find work. That’s because the job market is shrinking—the number of public school teachers in the state has dropped by 9 percent since 2005.

Matthew Corum is one of the teachers who left after graduating. Find out why he left, where he went, and how he ended up with so many job offers in so few days.


Read more stories about the Midwest Migration, or share your own story about leaving the region.

Look Out, Midwest Cities: Austin Wants Its Share Of The Auto Businesss

When you think of Austin, Texas, the first things that come to mind are probably food, music, and the South by Southwest festival. Perhaps you know it for its high technology focus. But now, Austin wants you to think of it as an automotive capital.

Austin wants to be thought of as an automotive capital

Isn’t Austin too deep in the heart of Texas? How can it compete with the Great Lakes, let alone other places in the South like Lexington, Ky, Nashville, Tenn., Jackson and Tupelo, Miss., that have already crafted their identities?

Austin’s tactic is to hone in on companies that are developing advanced technology, explains Adrianna Cruz, vice president of global corporate recruitment for the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

It’s using the Formula One race in November, which will be held in Austin, to draw attention to its bid to be included in the nation’s automotive centers. It’s the first F1 race in the U.S. since 2007, when the circuit came to Indianapolis.

“The auto industry is going through a change and a shift. There’s a focus on battery technology and making things cleaner and safer,” Cruz says. “If there’s a location to look at as we discuss how to do things differently – how do we make cars smarter, safer, better for environment – Austin wants to be on the leading edge of those discussions.” Continue reading “Look Out, Midwest Cities: Austin Wants Its Share Of The Auto Businesss”

The Speech Behind Him, Obama Heads To The Midwest

You might have heard something about a speech last night. From his claim that GM is back on top (rated “half-true” by, to his mention of a battery plant worker from Holland, Mich. (which, by the way, we’ve covered before), the Midwest got plenty of attention from the President during his State of the Union address.

And he’s not done with us. This afternoon, the President is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to talk manufacturing jobs. He’ll also be traveling to Arizona and Nevada. This Friday, the President returns to the Midwest for a stop in Ann Arbor, Mich. This time, he’ll be talking about higher education.

During the State of the Union speech, President Obama said higher education shouldn’t be a luxury, and he’s committed to funding it. That was the carrot for colleges and universities. This was the stick:

“Let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down,”

The idea is similar to a law passed in Michigan last year for the state’s public universities. They raised tuition anyway.

Teaching After a Year in the Crossfire

David Dolsen (l), Jason Gumenick (center) and Lila Howard (r) sit in Saline High School.


It’s been a tough few years for teachers. Classes are bigger. Pay is down. Benefits cost more. And, in the last year, teachers across the Midwest have been at the center of collective bargaining fights in Wisconsin and Ohio. With all that, we wanted to know what it’s like to be a teacher today. So, three generations assembled in Lila Howard’s classroom at Saline High School near Ann Arbor. Howard is about to retire after years teaching AP Psychology. Jason Gumenick teaches government and is in the middle of his career. Then, there’s David Dolsen, a college freshman, who had both of the others as teachers.

Continue reading “Teaching After a Year in the Crossfire”

Midwest Memo: Downtown Development In Indy, Wind Farming In Ohio And A Wrigley Icon Survives Bankruptcy

The President sure talked about manufacturing a lot last night. And the Detroit carmakers got a big shout out. Meanwhile, another Midwesterner offered a different view.

But enough about speeches. Developers are planning an $85 million residential complex for downtown Indianapolis.

A state law in Michigan will force the city of Detroit to lower its income tax rate. That could cause an $8.5 million hole for a city already struggling to fix its budget.

In Champaign County, Ohio, which is northeast of Dayton, a $20 million wind farm project is inching forward, but residents still aren’t completely sold on the idea.

Finally, Wrigley Field is one of the most iconic venues in all of sports. One of its many charms is the nearby rooftop seating that overlooks the field. One of those buildings with that rooftop seating recently went into bankruptcy. It sold at auction for $4.8 million.

Coming At 4:30 EST/3:30 Central: A Live Web Chat With Midwest Teachers

You may have heard the promos on air: This afternoon, Changing Gears will host a live web chat with teachers across the Midwest to talk about the many changes in the past year, and what the future may bring. The web chat accompanies a piece by Dan Bobkoff that’s airing across the Changing Gears partner stations today. It’s the latest in our STATES series. If you’re a teacher, or you’re interested in becoming one, join us here at 4:30 EST/3:30 Central.

GM, Chrysler Could Have Ended Up In Bankruptcy Sooner

The 2009 bankruptcies at General Motors and Chrysler were a historic moment for the Midwest economy. But a new memo published this week by The New Yorker shows that they were in danger of happening even sooner.

The insight can be found starting on page 36 of a 57-page memo by Lawrence Summers, written to President-elect Barack Obama on Dec. 15, 2008. The memo provides an in-depth look at the thinking that went into drafting Obama’s economic recovery plan.

At the time of the memo, Congress was considering emergency financing for car companies, who had been unable to borrow money from the nation’s banks. The Bush administration also was considering whether to use money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, originally intended to rescue struggling banks. Continue reading “GM, Chrysler Could Have Ended Up In Bankruptcy Sooner”