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.

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”

Changing Gears, As Heard On NPR

Did you hear about Changing Gears on NPR’s Talk of the Nation? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome!
Talk of the Nation host Neil Conan at WCPN

We went on the air in September, and our mission is to report on the reinvention of the industrial Midwest.

Take a listen to our stories on manufacturing, like Niala Boodhoo’s recent report on brownfield sites in Chicago; retraining, like Kate Davidson’s story on former auto worker Joseph Arducan’s efforts to find a new career, and jobs, including the dilemma faced by high school students in Sandusky, Ohio, which was explored by our Cleveland Reporter, Dan Bobkoff.

Continue reading “Changing Gears, As Heard On NPR”

From Miami to the Midwest: Niala Boodhoo

Niala BoodhooI’m Niala Boodhoo, and I’m the Chicago-based reporter for Changing Gears.

This Great Recession has been measured by lots of numbers: job loss, foreclosures, and bankruptcies. But along with statistics, the recession has had a personal impact on workers, owners of businesses, small and large, and on our communities.

I’ll be responsible for covering these kinds of stories from Illinois as well as the Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana.

I’ll be focusing on community redevelopment, and hope to tell how our region is handling the transition from manufacturing to a new identity. Like my team members, I’ll also be looking at stories about environment, food, arts and our ethnic diversity.

I’ve been a business reporter since 2000 in London, Washington and Miami, where I was born and raised. I’ve covered stories like the British economy and election of Tony Blair as Prime Minister in 2000, as well as the price of aluminum (or as they say it, alu-MIN-ium) on the London Metals Exchange, but the stories I remember the most are features about people, like a story I wrote about a curry shop owner in Bradford, England, a “curry capital’’ of the world. Continue reading “From Miami to the Midwest: Niala Boodhoo”

Team Gears: On The Scene in Ann Arbor

I’m Kate Davidson and I am delighted to be joining Changing Gears as our Ann Arbor based reporter.  Ann Arbor is just lovely this time of year.  For one thing, it’s cooler than Washington D.C., where I grew up.  (When we moved to D.C. from Buffalo, my brother was four.  He greeted the sweaty capital by stepping off the plane and promptly fainting.)

Until my things arrive, I’m staying in temporary university housing, where kids criss-cross the yard in the morning, practicing martial arts.  They defy neighborhood naps with trumpet practice.

Ann Arbor has always had the reputation of being a place apart from the rest of the Detroit area.  A local landlord summed it up this way:

“Ann Arbor – twenty-eight square miles surrounded by reality.”

But that reality is exactly what Changing Gears is about.  And I need your help to understand it. Continue reading “Team Gears: On The Scene in Ann Arbor”

From the Senior Editor: Obama’s Victory Lap

This week and next, President Obama is taking a victory lap. But is it too soon?

On Friday, the president was set to visit General Motors and Chrysler plants in Detroit. Next week, he’ll be in Chicago to visit the Ford Motor factory.

At the two Detroit plants, workers literally owe their livelihoods to the president, whose administration provided the carmakers with more than $60 billion to assure their survival. You can argue the Ford workers should be grateful as well, since Ford’s future would have been threatened had its two Detroit rivals gone into liquidation.

I talked about the automobile industry’s situation on NPR’s Morning Edition with my good friend Don Gonyea, who spent many years on the car beat when he was based in Detroit. This is a story of deep interest to the Changing Gears region, and its outcome will play a huge role in determining the future of the Manufacturing Belt. Continue reading “From the Senior Editor: Obama’s Victory Lap”

From the Senior Editor: Carmakers, One Year Later

A year ago this month, a new version of General Motors emerged from a government sponsored bankruptcy, only weeks after the new version of Chrysler came to live with federal help. On July 7, NPR’s Neal Conan invited me on Talk of the Nation to discuss what things look like now.


In short, things are better. Auto sales are rebounding modestly from the awful levels of last year. But the industry is a long way from the boom days of the mid-’00s, and Detroit companies still have far to go. How does each company look now — and what role with they play as the manufacturing belt transforms itself? The auto industry’s story is a crucial part of Changing Gears.

Continue reading “From the Senior Editor: Carmakers, One Year Later”