How Bon Jovi Explains The Midwest’s Casino Boom

A rendering of the proposed Kewadin Lansing Casino. Photo courtesy of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Next week, the city council in Lansing, Mich. is expected to vote on a proposal for a $245 million casino for the city’s downtown.

The proposal is just the latest in what’s starting to look like a casino-boom in the Midwest. Both Toledo and Cleveland have new casinos opening in May. The Detroit Free Press reported last week that there are no fewer than 22 casino proposals in Michigan right now. And Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is still holding out hope for Illinois leaders to approve gambling in his city.

At first glance, it’s easy to see why casino gambling is such a hot topic right now. Casinos bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, including construction jobs and long-term jobs for dealers, waiters, cooks and others.

Also, research has shown that regions in economic stress are more likely to use gambling as an economic development tool. Here in the Midwest, there’s been plenty of economic stress.

But it’s not exactly a settled issue whether casino gambling actually creates economic development.

So why all the interest?

Continue reading “How Bon Jovi Explains The Midwest’s Casino Boom”

Big Events Are Crucial For Economic Development. Here Are Five Tips For How To Create A Good One.

Austin during the 2011 SXSW Festival. Credit: James Buchan/SXSW

Starting this week, well over 100,000 people will be picking up their laminated badges, concert tickets and drink tokens to take part in the annual SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.

On a related note, in Grand Rapids, Mich., where I live, more than one thousand people will come out in the next few weeks for Gilda’s LaughFest (don’t make fun, I’m super excited about it).

LaughFest and SXSW really don’t have anything in common, except that they both represent how cities can create economic development through events. In Grand Rapids, this idea has become a bit of a thing, with LaughFest in the Spring, and ArtPrize in the fall.

Events like this may start small, but they can have a big economic impact. SXSW is estimated to have a $167 million impact on Austin. ArtPrize, in only its third year, had an estimated $15 million impact. The numbers for these events aren’t nearly as big as they are for the Super Bowl, or maybe even the G-8 and NATO summits, but those events move from place to place (even at the last minute).

The real problem is that lots of cities have events. How do you take yours to the next level, where you get national attention and big money? We’ve put together some tips.

Continue reading “Big Events Are Crucial For Economic Development. Here Are Five Tips For How To Create A Good One.”

Midwest Memo: Cleveland Mayor Presents Waterfront Development Plan, AirTran Ends Central Illinois Service

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. New Cleveland lakefront development plan. For more than a century, development along Cleveland’s lakefront has come with “piecemeal action and broken promises,” writes The Plain Dealer. Mayor Frank Jackson presented a plan Monday for changing that, the newspaper reports today. Jackson’s plan included developing the waterfront from the city’s port to Burke Lakefront Airport with offices, restaurants, shops and marinas across a 90-acre space. The plan, according to EE&K architects, could take years to complete and reach $2 billion in value. Money for the project is expected to come from the private sector. Many who have watched similar plans never come to fruition in the past were skeptical at Monday’s press conference, but Jackson said this plan has the backing of key lakefront interests.

2. Detroit-area home sales up. Home sales in metro Detroit increased for the fourth consecutive month in October, according to a report from Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Realcomp II, which reports sales of condominiums and single-family homes jumped 4.8 percent. Median prices rose 7.7 percent to $70,000, according to The Detroit News. Sales were up in three of the metro areas four counties. Oakland, Livingston and Macomb counties all saw increases, while Wayne County sales decreased 3 percent.

3. AirTran cuts central Illinois service. AirTran announced Monday it would end service to five U.S. airports, including one in the Midwest that leaves local officials seeking an alternate air service plan. Central Illinois Regional Airport learned service would not continue, after being an AirTran destination for 15 years. The airline flew 40 percent of passengers from the Bloomington, Ill. facility. Although officials considered themselves an “underdog” for continued service amid airline consolidation, according to The News-Gazette of Champaign, the airport’s marketing director said the official announcement “changes the landscape for everybody.”

Recap: Everything You Need To Know About the Midwest Economy’s Magic Bullets

History is filled with searches for Magic Bullets.

Economically speaking, those are quick-fix endeavors that promise to fix sour economies, provide jobs and bring prosperity to communities and regions. Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson wrote earlier this week that, “Some have soared; many have backfired.”

Communities across the Midwest are employing a new round of Magic Bullets in attempts to rescue themselves from the Great Recession. All sound promising, but which ones stand up under further scrutiny?

Here’s a look back at Changing Gears coverage from the past week:

Continue reading “Recap: Everything You Need To Know About the Midwest Economy’s Magic Bullets”

Midwest Memo: UAW Local 900 Rejects Ford Deal, Chicago Rail Project Begins

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. First UAW rejects Ford deal. UAW Local 900, which represents workers at three Detroit-area auto plants, has narrowly rejected a tentative contract agreement with Ford, the Associated Press reported today. Local 900 was the first to vote on the agreement reached last week, and 51.1 percent of 2,582 voters nixed the deal. More votes are scheduled this week and next week. Bill Johnson, bargaining chairman of the Michigan Assembly Plant, tells the AP that workers are angry the contract does not restore some items lost in previous concessions.

2. Michigan State creates economic development center. The U.S. Economic Development Administration has given Michigan State University a $915,000 grant to create an economic development center that will focus on innovative ways to generate Michigan jobs. MSU will partner with other colleges, local and regional governments, private businesses and other groups to identify innovative ideas and practices. Rex LaMore, the head of the initiative, said many economic development practices have become outdated in what has become a knowledge-based economy.

3. Construction begins on Chicago rail project. Fourteen Amtrak, 78 Metra and 46 freight trains vie for rail space each day near 63rd and State Street in Chicago. On Tuesday, workers broke ground on a $133 million project aimed at breaking that bottleneck. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin tells our partner station WBEZ that the project allows for expanded Amtrak service around the Midwest, and will create more than 1,500 jobs. But one union laborer who watched Tuesday’s groundbreaking was skeptical of that number. “They say they’re going to hire from the community, but I’ve been hearing this for years,” Bob Israel tells the station. “It’s just a dog-and-pony show. Trust me.” The project, called the Englewood Flyover, is due to be completed in 2014.

Midwest Memo: Cleveland Targets Small-Business Growth, Does Tennessee Lead Nation In Automotive Strength?

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Cleveland counts on small growth. In the past, economic development approaches in Cleveland have centered around big-ticket items. A new stadium. A new arena. The Medical Mart and Convention Center. That strategy is changing. Under Cuyahoga County’s new governing structure, executive Ed FitzGerald will target small-and-medium-sized business growth rather than large-scale projects. Our partner station Ideastream examines a proposal for a $100 million economic development fund that FitzGerald calls “a major commitment to business development.”

2. Tennessee GM plans will re-open. The contract agreement between the United Auto Workers and General Motors calls for the hiring of an additional 6,400 employees. Approximately 1,700 will be located at the company’s plant in Spring Hill, Tenn. The plant was initially shuttered in June 2009, but in a move that’s considered rare among industry insiders, the plant will re-open as GM seems to gain market share from Toyota. According to an Atlanta Fed analyst, the re-opening is one such reason “Tennesee could be viewed as a leader of the pack in automotive manufacturing strength,” throughout the nation.

3. Business school applications down. As prospective students grow leery of accumulating massive amounts of student debt, applications to most Chicago-area business schools have fallen. Crain’s Chicago Business reported Monday that applications at Loyola University’s Graduate School of Business have fallen 9.5 percent this year, applications at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management declined 5.6 percent. Applications at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business dropped 3.0 percent. DePaul was the only university in the Chicagoland region to buck the trend, noting a 13 percent jump.

Midwest Memo: U.S. Factory Orders Show Sharp Climb, JobsOhio Back In Court

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Factory orders rise. Demand for automobiles and motor vehicle parts surged in July. The U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday orders rose 9.8 percent in July, the biggest recorded jump in more than eight years. Overall, factory orders climbed 2.4 percent in July on auto demand and a jump in commercial airplane orders. The increase follows a 0.4 percent decrease in June, which had worsened fears the country was falling into a double-dip recession.

2. Chicago school considers conversion. One local school in the Chicago Public Schools district is mulling an unusual strategy in improving its performance – it’s considering the possibility of shutting itself down. On Tuesday, the school council at Wendell Smith Elementary, seven times on probation, will likely vote on whether to shut down and reopen as a charter school, according to our partner station WBEZ. It’s believed to be the first time a CPS school has held a vote on whether to shut itself down.

3. JobsOhio heads to court. A lawsuit in Ohio is challenging whether Gov. John Kasich’s privatized development corporation is eligible for exemptions from corporate regulations. Two Democrats and a liberal policy group filed the suit Tuesday, also arguing the state cannot invest “public dollars in a private entity,” according to The Columbus Dispatch. Earlier, the Ohio Supreme Court said it did not have jurisdiction in the case until it had been heard in lower courts. Tuesday’s lawsuit was filed in Franklin County Common Court.

Kentucky Cities’ Joint Development Effort Gets Underway

We told you last month about the joint approach that two big cities in Kentucky — Lexington and Louisville — are taking to economic development. Well, they aren’t wasting any time in getting started.

The effort by Mayors Greg Fischer of Louisville and Jim Gray of Lexington kicked off on Thursday with an appearance before 1,100 people at a Leadership Louisville luncheon. The partnership will be called the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement. Here’s the story from the Louisville Courier-Journal. Continue reading “Kentucky Cities’ Joint Development Effort Gets Underway”

Daley Departs, Tulips Bloom

Richard M. Daley is spending his last week as Chicago mayor. As if to bid him goodbye, thousands of tulips have burst into bloom on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.

The two are closely related. In nearly 22 years as mayor, Daley made the beautification of the city a top priority in his efforts at economic redevelopment. If Chicago looked attractive, tourists and business travelers would be more likely to come, and residents would feel better about their city, or so he reasoned.

Changing Gears reporter Niala Boodhoo looked at Daley’s approach to beautification and his other efforts to spur development on the eve of Chicago’s mayoral election in February.

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (Photo courtesy of Kate Gardiner, WBEZ Flickr)

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More on Pittsburgh’s Econ Dev strategy

“Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has formed a task force to nurture high-tech businesses, an initiative that grew out of his recent Asia trip and a decision to more forcefully inject himself into a critical economic sector. Mr. Ravenstahl hopes that bringing representatives of education, business and the nonprofit community together will yield a more unified approach to attracting and growing high-tech ventures…”

Continue reading “More on Pittsburgh’s Econ Dev strategy”