Midwest Memo: Cleaning Up In Indy, Expanding In Grand Rapids And Turning Trash Into Energy In Cleveland

The day after The Super Bowl is over, and now the cleanup process begins for Indianapolis.

Opportunity knocked Reuters looks into what happened to all those clients of MF Global, after the firm collapsed. Turns out two Chicago firms were the biggest winners, bringing in $1.2 billion in new funds.

More ‘Free’ beds The Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. is planning a $48 million expansion. The expansion will double the hospital’s size.

Gasification fight Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson wants to turn the city’s trash into energy. But environmentalists have raised concerns about emissions from the “gasification” process. And the city council is not sold on the idea.

Going once, going twice, oh never mind … Detroit residents who had their homes taken away because of a failure to pay taxes are getting an opportunity to buy those homes back. The Detroit News reports that thousands of city-owned properties failed to sell at auction. So officials now say they’ll offer to sell the property back to the original owner, or whoever is squatting in the home, for as little as $500.

Not really ‘Made In Detroit’ Last week, we put together a list of all the companies making t-shirts to show your local pride in the Midwest. Today, Susan Tompor looks at one of those companies and asks Where are those ‘Made In Detroit’ shirts actually made?”

Midwest Memo: Stopping Super Bowl Sex Trafficking In Indianapolis, Paying For Arts In Detroit

The part that’s not so Super It’s Super Bowl weekend in Indianapolis. Cities that host the Super Bowl are usually hoping for a big economic boost. But there’s one kind of economic activity that Indiana officials are hoping to avoid: sex trafficking. Reporter Michael Puente from partner station WBEZ had a look at the city’s efforts last week.

Land for sale If you’re looking to buy some land, you might want to check in with Cleveland-based the Forest City real estate company. The company, which built its empire on land purchases, is now looking to unload more than 6,500 acres of land.

An art tax? The Detroit Institute of Arts has a world class reputation, but lately it hasn’t been making world class money. Institute leaders are exploring the option of a new regional tax to pay for operations.

The (not so much) money train Leaders in West Michigan have rounded up $4.6 billion in funds to improve regional rail lines. But that’s still $2.6 billion short of what they need for what they’re hoping to do.

On air NPR’s Talk of the Nation took on the future of American manufacturing jobs yesterday.

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.

Midwest Memo: Kasich Downplays Ohio’s Sears Hopes, Rail Improvements On Chicago-Detroit Line Come With Delays

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Kasich downplays Sears hopes. Gov. John Kasich says he “wouldn’t bet on” Ohio’s chances of convincing Sears to relocate its headquarters within its borders, The Plain Dealer reported today. During a visit to the Ford Assembly Plant in Avon Lake, he said Ohio remains in the running, but that it would be hard to pry Sears away from its long-time Chicago-area home. Last week, news outlets reported that Ohio had offered $400 million in tax incentives to bring the company and its 6,100 employees to Columbus. Illinois lawkmakers had rejected a proposal to give Sears $100 million in incentives.

2. Delays ahead on Detroit-Chicago rail line. Faster service is coming along a 135-mile stretch of train tracks between Dearborn and Kalamazoo . It’s just going to take a while. Construction will begin on a series of improvements in May or June, officials said yesterday, but the project will not be completed until 2015 or 2016. In the meantime, passengers can expect more delays. The Detroit Free Press reports today the project to fix tracks, cross ties, grades and crossings will cause further disruption. In four years, Amtrak expects new locomotives, new cars, smoother tracks and better signaling along the route. The improvements were funded as part of $403.2 million Michigan received from the federal government.

3. Indy community protests gas station development. The difference between refurbishing a dilapidated building and continuing a community eyesore? It’s largely in the eye of the beholder in one Indianapolis neighborhood, where residents of Northside are fighting the rebuilding of a gas station on the corner of 16th Street and Central Ave. In a lawsuit filed last week, opponents say the gas station no longer fits the area, and that they want something more friendly for pedestrians, such as shops or outdoor cafes, according to the Indianapolis Star. The newspaper reports the suit underscores the area’s progression from a “fixer-upper to up-and-coming.”

Midwest Memo: Michigan’s Unemployment Rate Drops, Indianapolis Plant Stops Using Coal, Hearing Held On Milwaukee Streetcar

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Michigan’s unemployment rate drops. Michigan’s unemployment rate fell a half-point to 10.6 percent in October from 11.1 percent in September, according to numbers released Wednesday from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It was the second straight month the state’s rate declined. The decline came “due primarily to a reduction in the number of unemployed individuals actively seeking employment,” Rick Waclawek, director of the Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. Nationally, unemployment claims fell to a seven-month low Wednesday, according to our partner station WBEZ. The four-week average fell to 396,750, the first time the average has been below 400,000 in seven months.

2. Indy Plant Eschews Coal For Natural Gas. A plant that generates steam for heating some of Indianapolis’ biggest downtown institutions will convert its coal-burning boilers to natural gas. Citizens Energy Group CEO Carey Lykins tells the Indianapolis Star the project will “mean cleaner air for downtown Indianapolis and provide significant savings for our customers compared to continued use of coal.” The conversion could be completed as early as 2014 and save the company $5 million in annual operating costs. The Perry K plant heats many downtown businesses and institutions, including Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus.

3. Milwaukee Streetcar Support Swells. Supporters of a Milwaukee Streetcar project outnumbered its detractors by a 2-to-1 margin at a public hearing held Wednesday night on the planned streetcar line’s environmental impact. Supporters said the streetcar project will improve city transportation and stimulate economic development along the line. Opponents believe the cost is one the city cannot afford. City alderman have already voted to approve the project and move ahead with engineering, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but have withheld final approval “until more details are fleshed out.”

Midwest Memo: Chrysler CEO Predicts End Of Two-Tier Wage Structure, Indianapolis Jobs Announcement May Be Hoax

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Will two tiers vanish from auto contracts? One contentions round of contract negotiations just ended, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is already making bold predictions about what’s ahead when the current four-year contract ends. He said today that the automakers’ two-tier pay structure is not a viable one, and Chrysler and the UAW must find a way to merge two classes of workers next time. The structure is, “not something that can go on for a long period of time,” he said on a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings. Marchionne continued, saying, two-tiers is “not a viable structure on which to build our industrial footprint.” Last month, Changing Gears reporter Kate Davidson examined the two-tiered wage structure and reported on its impact upon automakers and their workers.

2. Is Indianapolis jobs pledge a hoax? Only two short days ago, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard welcomed a California entrepreneur whose company would bring 1,100 jobs to the city. Two days later, there’s growing worry the company, Litebox Inc., and its owner Bob Yanagihara aren’t for real. The Indianapolis Star reviewed public documents that show Yanagihara owes “hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal tax liens” from the past decade, as well as money to investors who have sued him – and won. “I would strongly advise anyone thinking of investing in his projects to think twice,” Colin McGrath, who is owed $145,000, tells the newspaper.

3. Whirlpool will lay off 5,000 workers. Appliance manufacturer Whirlpool said Friday that it would eliminate 5,000 jobs across North America and Europe. The Benton Harbor, Mich.-based company cut its earnings forecast. Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig said the cuts came amid weak demand and higher costs. The cuts include 1,200 salaried positions, and company officials said overall, the layoffs will save approximately $400 million. There was no immediate breakdown of how the cuts would affect Whirlpool’s Michigan workforce.

 

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”