Midwest Memo: Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thanks to a rise in new car sales, the Detroit 3 (Ford, GM and Chrysler) are finally in a position to start hiring again. One economist says the number of automotive jobs will never reach its former height of nearly a million jobs. Still, the three automakers are expected to hire about 35,000 people over the next five years.

Michigan lawmakers may be getting close to a budget deal. Meanwhile, thousands of unionized teachers and public employees are expected to gather at the state Capitol today for a protest of the proposed spending plan. The rally’s organizers say this may be the biggest protest of the season yet.

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U-Mich Students Raise $20K for Japan

Poster courtesy of Shujiro Toyofuku.

In the month since the devastating earthquake that struck Japan, groups from all over the world have raised millions of dollars for relief efforts. They include students from the University of Michigan, who have raised over $21,000 to help those affected by the quake and tsunami.

To celebrate this, and thank those who donated, the Ross Japan Business Association is holding “Japan Night,” an event Thursday evening. Japan Night will feature sushi, a martial arts performance, and a traditional Taiko drum performance among other things.

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Midwest Memo: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ohio is giving ATM manufacturer Diebold Inc. $56 million dollars to stay in Northeast Ohio. Diebold is set to announce that it will build a $100 million corporate campus and global headquarters in the Akron/Canton area, about an hour south of Cleveland. The company employees 16,000 people worldwide.

Gas prices have shot up nationwide, but Chicagoans are paying even more than rest of the country. Gas in the windy city will cost you about $4.11 these days. One expert says that’s because Chicago switched to a gasoline blend earlier than most other cities.

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Midwest Memo: Monday, April 11, 2011


Welcome to our first edition of “Midwest Memo.”  Here, we round up all of the day’s headlines we are following here at Changing Gears. We hope to make this a daily feature, so you can make us your one stop shop for all your Midwest news needs. If you have something to share, or feel like we missed something let us know at changinggears@umich.edu.


Michigan Radio reports that in the state, the live-in partners of unmarried state employees can get health benefits through their significant others. But Republican lawmakers are trying to turn that around, and are scrounging for the 11 Democratic votes they need to pass legislation that would prevent live-in partners from getting state worker’s benefits. Meanwhile, House Democratic Leader Rick Hammel says this issue shouldn’t be brought up in the legislature: it’s a better fit for the bargaining table.

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Opening Day, And Commerce Blooms Anew

The Chicago Cubs and White Sox already had their turns. So have the Cleveland Indians. Last Friday, it was the Detroit Tigers’ turn.

If there’s one common theme among Opening Days, it’s that they’ve become days to party. Fans arrived in downtown Detroit in a morning deluge and waited out the rain, wind and general gloom until game time. Business owners around Comerica Park in Detroit were glad to have them. For once the baseball season starts, the area around Grand Circus Park comes alive with activity. Continue reading “Opening Day, And Commerce Blooms Anew”

Journalism’s Future, Gwen Ifill and Flint

Changing Gears senior editor Micki Maynard and the rest of the panel discussing the future of journalism. Photo by Joseph Tobianski, The Flint Journal.

On Thursday, I joined PBS Newshour and Washington Week anchor Gwen Ifill for a panel discussion at the University of Michigan-Flint. Our topic was the future of journalism, but we covered a lot of ground, from the role of Twitter to a potential shutdown of the federal government.

Here’s the Flint Journal’s story on the event, and a photo gallery.

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Midwest Cities Consider Results of 2010 Census

Photo by Krissy Venosdale via Flickr

Census 2010 is painting a painfully clear picture of the Midwest: what were once major American cities have now shrunk to half their former size. Cleveland and Detroit are both at 100 year population lows. Detroit dropped to 713,777 – a 25 percent decrease in the last decade. Cleveland dropped just below 400,000 – a 17 percent decline since 2000. So what’s a Midwest City to do?

That’s the question the Sound of Ideas team posed recently. The Sound of Ideas is the local talk show out of Changing Gears partner station 90.3 WCPN in Cleveland.


Here’s a look at some of the suggestions guests put forward.

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Movies Crews Roll Back Into The Midwest

George Clooney (in the tan hat) filming "The Ides of March" in Cincinnati a few weeks ago. Photo courtesy of Tana Weingartner.

Springtime in the Midwest means slightly less snow, hopefully more flowers, and movie crews rolling into town. We kicked off Changing Gears with several stories about the region’s efforts to attract movies to film here. Well, the movie buzz is back, although there are some questions about how long our film incentives may continue, given the poor economy.

Nonetheless, it’s finally warm enough to film in the Midwest again, and in several cities the cameras are already rolling. Continue reading “Movies Crews Roll Back Into The Midwest”

“Artist Belt” Conference Kicks Off

A conference aimed at transforming the Midwest into an artistic mecca kicked off today. “Rust belt to artist belt” is being held in Detroit through tomorrow. It’s the third year for the conference, where artistic types from painters to architects to writers convene and discuss how to nourish art and entrepreneurship in the Midwest’s hardest hit cities.

The Detroit skyline. Photo by Dave Linabury via Flickr.


The conference started in Cleveland in 2007 by the city’s  Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (“CPAC”). This is the first year the conference has left its hometown. According to the website, Midwest cities like Detroit “are the perfect proving ground for this type of exploration, due to [Detroit’s] creative culture, entrepreneurial commercial approach, and adaptable manufacturing base.”

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