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.
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Ohio leads nation in unemployment drop. Has the Buckeye State bounced back? Ohio saw a decline of 2,800 people making first-time unemployment claims last week, the steepest drop in the country, our partner station Ideastream reported. Officials attributed the decline to a rise in auto manufacturers going back to work.
2. Small cars lead to bigger gains. GM reports sales rose 10 percent in June, buoyed by a rise in customers looking for fuel-efficient cars. The new Chevrolet Cruze compact led overall sales of 215,000 vehicles, reports our partner Michigan Radio. An earthquake-related shortage of Japanese cars helped GM.
3. New dean takes over at Michigan’s business school. Alison Davis-Blake began her tenure as the dean of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan on Friday. Previously, she had served as dean at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. In an introductory post on her new blog, she writes, “leadership, creativity and innovation are at a premium as business plays an increasingly significant role in addressing the globe’s most pressing social and economic issues.”
Jeffrey Jablansky grew up wanting to write about cars, and moved to Michigan to do it. After graduating from New York University in 2010 he relocated to Ann Arbor. An earlier summer internship at Automobile Magazine turned into a full time job. But Jablansky went back to New York last August, saying Michigan just didn’t feel vibrant enough to keep him here.
“Manhattan is attractive because of what it promises,” he said. “Chicago has its problems but it seems very honest about them. Michigan just felt immature in terms of what it offers. I just felt a little depressed out there. I’ve never been depressed.”
Jablansky, 23, says many people he knows who lived in Ann Arbor or went to school there disagree with his assessment of the town. He said he thought it was beautiful and that the people were friendly. He still feels confused about why he felt he couldn’t build a life there. “I paid the same for a two-bedroom apartment I lived in by myself as I’m paying now for half of a room,” he said, his voice full of disbelief. “There are moments where I really still appreciate what I had there.”
Despite the high cost of living, Jablansky thinks he’ll stay in New York. He’s now working as a grant writer for a nonprofit and still freelance writing about cars. If there is any place he would think about returning, it would be Detroit.
“I have never driven through anyplace as empty and beautiful as Detroit. If it’s still a city in 20 years it will be magnificent.” Asked why he wouldn’t live there now, he said, “Detroit needs industry. I would love to live there, but I’m afraid to live there.”
Jablansky would be interested in visiting Michigan again, and is thinking about coming back. “But,” he said, “I have nobody to visit.”
The Great Lakes region has always been known as a center of advanced manufacturing. But with auto jobs disappearing, that title may be up for grabs. Now, the mayors of Louisville and Lexington, KY, want to nab it.
Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, and Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, announced in Chicago on Thursday that they will team up for an 18-month, $250,000 study of how to turn their region into a “cluster” of advanced manufacturing expertise.
As former President Bill Clinton brought his two-day CGI America conference to a close on Thursday in Chicago, he announced an impressive sounding list of pledges by those who took part.
The conference secured 51 commitments from its participants to implement ideas that could affect 2.7 million people, Clinton said.
When fully funded, these commitments would create or fill more than 124,000 jobs, provide more than 364,000 people with access to job training, and provide entrepreneurs with $265 million in investments or loans, the former president said. “I hope that their efforts will inspire others to take action to revitalize their own communities.”