GM’s Chairman: Gas Tax Could Help Sell Cars

General Motors shareholders met today in Detroit for their annual meeting. This is the first time shareholders have come to the Motor City for the meeting in over 10 years. About 60 shareholdersshowed up at the meeting, reports the Detroit Free Press.

The company sold over 500 million shares in its Initial Public Offering, but most shareholders are large investors like mutual funds. The U.S. government still owns 26% of the company. Our partner station Michigan Radio reports that GM Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman Dan Akerson said he thinks a more stable U.S, economy, and more jobs, are needed before people start buying new cars. Continue reading “GM’s Chairman: Gas Tax Could Help Sell Cars”

Midwest Memo Afternoon Edition: Drugs, Courts and Candidates

Three stories you need to know about the Midwest economy.

1) Drug Price Lawsuit The Associated Press reports Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed suit against pharmaceutical wholesaler McKesson Corp. He says the company inflated the prices of drugs it sold to the state’s Medicaid program. McKesson is based in California and is the largest pharmaceutical distributor in the country. Schuette estimates the state paid more than $2 million to the company, and is seeking a portion of that back. A judge in Seattle recently gave the go ahead for local governments to get together and sue McKesson for the same reason, reports Lawyers and Settlements.

2)Supremes Review University Patents: Another development in the courts that could have a big impact on Midwestern Universities is the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Sanford v. Roche. IP Frontline has an analysis of the case. Many universities in the Midwest bring in substantial revenue leveraging “their” patents, and say this is going to change the way they do business with potential inventors. This intellectual property case asked if universities can easily control the patent rights of an employee’s invention. The high court ruled that the inventor, not the school, controls the property rights. The justices clarified that the inventor has the right to sell or give the rights to a party other than the University, unless the University writes an iron-clad contract saying they can’t.

3) Candidates Take On The Economy: The 2012 presidential campaign can be expected to generate a lot of talk about how to improve the Midwest’s economy. Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is speaking today at the University of Chicago.

Former Minn Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Pawlenty is the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring from the Midwest – if you don’t count President Obama. Pawlenty’s website says he wants to propose cutting business and personal tax rates to spur economic growth. We’ll continue to cover the candidates’ ideas for economic growth in the region.





A Midwest Champion In The Battle For Reinvention? Chicago!

Photo by Simonds via flickr

Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard talked with travel writer Paul Brady about Chicago reinvention the other day. Brady writes for and is going on a Visa-sponsored road trip of the country.

He and Micki talked about how Chicago has diversified its way to economic success. They also discussed Millennium Park, a pet project of former Mayor Richard Daley, and “the Bean.”

After his talk with Micki, Brady stopped at Ann Arbor institution Zingerman’s for an almost $20  lunch. Changing Gears’ Pete Bigelow says just $170  more could get him into Zingerman’s Camp Bacon.




Work Stoppage Could Cost Illinois 52,000 jobs


A halt in road construction could put tens of thousands of people out of work. Photo by Ladyheart agency:morguefile


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn says he’s calling the legislature back into session, and wants approval on  state money for capital construction. Without the money, Crain’s Chicago Business says more than 31,000 highway workers could lose their jobs starting June 17.

The first round of layoffs could be followed by 21,000 more across other departments, according to Crain’s, affecting workers involved with waste water projects and high-speed rail construction. The entire country added only 54 thousand new jobs in the month of May.

The news from Illinois comes on the heels of new numbers that show unemployed workers from the recent recession are staying out of work for much longer. Read Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard’s post on long-term unemployment for more.




JP Morgan Chase Nabs Former United CEO

Glenn F. Tilton, United Airlines’ former chief executive, is staying put in Chicago. He’ll become chairman of the Midwest operations of J.P. Morgan Chase, the investment bank announced on Monday.

Glenn Tilton, left, with Larry Kellner.

It’s the job that was vacated by William Daley when he went to the White House to be President Obama’s chief of staff, and now it is getting another high profile occupant.

J.P. Morgan says Tilton will help recruit job candidates, oversee its regional charitable giving, coordinate government and public affairs initiatives, and maintain the bank’s relationships with elected officials.

In a news release, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase said,

“The Midwest is an important and growing region for our company, and Glenn Tilton is an exceptionally accomplished executive who is uniquely suited to oversee our efforts there.”

Tilton stepped down as United’s CEO when United merged with Continental Airlines last fall, handing the reigns to Continental’s Larry Kellner. But Tilton serves as non-executive chairman of United Continental Holdings.

He guided United through a lengthy stint in bankruptcy during the middle of the last decade. Tilton, a former oil executive, also has been an active participant in the Chicago business and charitable scene.

Our Guide to What’s At Stake in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Supreme Court began hearings today on the state’s controversial public employee law. Its decision is eagerly awaited by union members and collective bargaining opponents alike.


Associated Press photo


Here’s a guide to help you understand what’s at stake.

Last month, the Dane County Circuit Court struck down the new law, saying Republican lawmakers violated the state’s open meetings regulations when they held hearings on the legislation.

Continue reading “Our Guide to What’s At Stake in Wisconsin”

Midwest Memo, Monday, June 6, 2011

Five must-read stories on the Midwest economy

1) GM Tech Center Investment: General Motors said today it is investing $130 million in its technical center in Warren, Mich., and expects to add 25 jobs.

GM joined Ford and Chrysler with a good first quarter in 2011. Photo by Chris via Flickr.

The automaker will build an enterprise data center, and remodel an administrative building on the tech center campus. The move comes after the Warren City Council approved tax credits. GM also is getting a credit from the state of Michigan.


Continue reading “Midwest Memo, Monday, June 6, 2011”

Richard M. Daley and Chicago’s economic transformation

Throughout the Midwest, Chicago is known as the city everyone wants to come to – but that’s a huge change from 22 years ago, when Mayor Richard M. Daley took office.  The city’s even changed dramatically from when I lived here before, in the late 1990s. This is the last of our three-part series on leadership, where I look at the region’s – and arguably, the country’s – most famous Mayor.

Tourists visiting Chicago have a fairly standard list of attractions to hit: The Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute, Navy Pier – and nowadays, Millennium Park.

Continue reading “Richard M. Daley and Chicago’s economic transformation”

President Obama’s bold declaration comes amid sagging outlook

On Friday, President Obama shook hands with workers at a Chrysler auto plant in Toledo, Ohio, and told them they were “showing the world that American manufacturing and American industry is back.” Beyond the assembly plant, which makes the Jeep Wrangler, others weren’t so sure.

As the president spoke, the latest jobs numbers showed the nation’s unemployment rate crept upward to 9.1 percent while the economy added the fewest number of jobs in eight months. And the auto industry?

Continue reading “President Obama’s bold declaration comes amid sagging outlook”