Midwest Memo: Rahm’s In Charge, Ohio Steel Bounces Back And We’re Hosting A Call-In Show

Tune in Today at 3 p.m. ET/2p.m CT, Changing Gears is hosting a live call in show on “Hidden Assets” of the Midwest economy. Michigan governor Rick Snyder will be joining us for the show, and we’ll have a live chat here at changinggears.info.

Rahm in charge Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel won approval from City Council yesterday to move ahead with his $7.2 billion infrastructure plan. The vote wasn’t even close, which prompted the Chicago Tribune to say the mayor is “firmly in control.”

Mo’ money, mo’ physics Officials at Michigan State University are getting some good news. The state’s Senate delegation says MSU’s planned Facility for Rare Isotope Beams will get an extra $8 million in federal funds. The facility is expected to be a leader in the study of particle physics. The extra $8 million still puts the facility $25 million below what MSU leaders had hoped for from the government.

Real steel The New York Times reports on $1.5 billion worth of investment in Ohio’s steel industry. After a painful recession, the Times says Ohio’s still industry is bouncing back, thanks to the state’s booming natural gas market and increased demand for new vehicles.

Midwest Memo: GE Jobs, Nobel Laureates, Obama Campaign, CG Events

GE Adds Jobs, Faces Protestors: General Electric said Tuesday it is adding 300 jobs in Van Buren Township, Mich., at an advanced engineering center that it announced in 2009. That’s on top of 850 jobs for which the company is still hiring. But GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt faced protests at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in Detroit. Members of the 99% Spring movement are planning to protest Immelt’s pay and other issues at GE’s annual shareholders meeting, which will be held in Detroit on Wednesday. Read our coverage of the 99% Spring here

Nobel Laureates In Chicago: Former presidents, activists and actors are in Chicago for a three day meeting of the world’s Nobel Laureates. It’s one of the high-profile efforts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to stake Chicago’s claim as a world-class city. On Monday, students in a Chicago classroom got a visit from former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, one of many visits paid by the laureates to Chicago schools.

Obama Campaign Blankets Ohio: The president was just at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio last week, talking about job retraining. Now, Barack Obama’s campaign plans to blanket the state in coming weeks, with the auto bailout as a main topic. Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, says the number of auto workers in Ohio has increased from 105,000 to 120,000 since the administration rescued General Motors and Chrysler. However, Ohio’s biggest automotive employer is Honda, which has announced a series of new investments in the state.

Changing Gears Live Tomorrow: Make sure to mark your calendars tomorrow for a Changing Gears live call-in show and chat. It’s at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT. Read more here.

Where Did Everybody Go? – A Changing Gears Special

Former Detroiter Alex Ozark on the Hyundai-Kia proving grounds in California / Credit: Charla Bear

Many of us have friends or family members that have moved away from the Midwest.

In the Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go?” we’re talking with some of those people who have moved out of the region – asking them why they left, what they found, and if they’ll ever come back.

We also take a look at what their departure means for the region.

You can listen to some of those stories here.

Part I: What’s So Great About Austin? Plenty, According To Former Midwesterners

Part II: The Appeal Of Portland

Part III: Detroit Coney Dogs On The Sunset Strip

Part IV: A Generation Moves Off The Farm

You can listen to the hour long Changing Gears special “Where Did Everybody Go” Sunday, 9 pm ET, on Michigan Radio; Monday, 10 am CT, on WBEZ Chicago; or Tuesday, 8 pm, on ideastream Cleveland.

Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland

Carla Danley / Credit: Chris Lehman

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If you wanted to start life over in a new place, would you choose somewhere with a chronically high unemployment rate and struggling schools, or one that’s known as a haven for slackers? The latter is one way to describe Portland, Oregon.

It seems like everyone is talking about Portland these days. Part of that has to do with the success of Portlandia, a sketch comedy show that pokes fun at Portland’s young hipster crowd. As one character explains, “Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

But not everyone who moves to Portland is a twenty-something slacker. The city still draws out-of-state transplants, including highly educated professionals.

More than half of all Oregon residents were born somewhere else. As part of our Changing Gears project, reporter Chris Lehman introduces us to two families who moved to Portland from the Midwest. Continue reading “Midwest Migration: The Appeal Of Portland”

Santorum Out, Michigan-Born Romney Heads For Nomination

Before this campaign season, many voters in the Great Lakes had only peripherally heard of Rick Santorum. But his surprisingly strong challenge to Mitt Romney in Midwest Republican primaries most likely kept his campaign alive. 

Now, Santorum is suspending his race for the Republican nomination, effective today.

That most likely clears the way for Romney to become the first Michigan-born Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. Romney, who hails from Detroit, is likely to face President Barack Obama in the fall.

“This race was as improbable as any you’ll ever see for president,” Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, said this afternoon. But, he added, “We are not done fighting.”

Santorum achieved one distinction during this winter’s primaries, by becoming the only Republican candidate to visit Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He had a pasty for breakfast and picked up nearly all the UP’s delegates.

Read Changing Gears’ coverage of the Midwest Republican primaries here.

Midwest Memo: Ohio Loses Out, Big Money For The Recall And Indiana Makes A Whoopsie

Wah Wah Shell has chosen Pittsburg for a new $2 billion plant to process natural gas. The Wall Street Journal says the plant is expected to create thousands of jobs. Ohio leaders were hoping the plant would be built in their state.

Whoopsie Two weeks ago, a state press release in Indiana promoted the MBC Group as an example how the state’s new Right to Work law is creating jobs. One problem: the president of the MBC Group says Right to Work played no role in his company’s decision to expand.

Big money The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the “staggering” amount of money being spent on the Scott Walker recall campaign. The amount is more than double the amount previously spent on any statewide campaign in Wisconsin.

Calling all angels The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that angel investing in Wisconsin reached over $61 million last year.

Immigrant entrepreneurs Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a series of workshops to help immigrants launch small businesses.

Primed for the primary Partner station WBEZ reports that Newt Gingrich was in Illinois yesterday. Other candidates will be in the state today, as the Illinois primary race gets going.

Damage done It’s only property A tornado ripped through the small Southeast Michigan village of Dexter yesterday. No one was hurt.

In Midwest, Right To Work Could Go On The Ballot

Until now, Right to Work laws have been the subject of legislative debate. But in Minnesota and Ohio, the issue faces the prospect of being put before voters this fall.

Map Courtesy EasterdayConstruction.com

Right to Work laws prohibit unions from collecting dues in a workplace, even when they represent its workers. Earlier this winter, Indiana became the first state in the Great Lakes to adopt a Right to Work, and the 23rd in the nation to do so.

Now, unions and other Right to Work opponents are vowing to go directly tio voters to plead their cause. Here’s a look at their strategy:  Continue reading “In Midwest, Right To Work Could Go On The Ballot”

4 Things The Japanese Earthquake Taught The Midwest

Mt. Fuji, as seen from the bullet train/photo by Micki Maynard

A year ago, people in the Midwest were realizing the damage that the massive earthquake and tsunami had done to Japan. And, while the region affected by the earthquake is starting its long recovery, everyone here has learned some permanent lessons.

1) We are all connected. To borrow a phrase from the Symphony of Science, the earthquake on the coast of Japan reminded us of how closely linked everyone is on earth. The earthquake disrupted parts and vehicle production for automakers overseas and in the United States for months — and had a significant impact on the Midwest.

In the Midwest, our Niala Boodhoo found that 160,000 people in the Great Lakes states worked directly for Japanese based companies. She reported on the impact for Morning Edition.

All across the region, companies, charities and even chefs stepped forward to help people affected by the disasters in Japan, sending everything from portable toilets to gas tanks and of course, cash. At Takashi, in Chicago, an all-star team of restaurant owners from around the city stepped up to cook a meal whose proceeds benefited the American Red Cross.  Continue reading “4 Things The Japanese Earthquake Taught The Midwest”

Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin

Of course, Michigan and Ohio will always be rivals — some might even say enemies on the football field, at least. But when it comes to politics, these two Great Lakes states are sisters under the skin. 

Last night’s Super Tuesday primary showed just how alike the two states are.

As he did last week in Michigan, Mitt Romney again squeaked out a victory in Ohio’s Super Tuesday primary. As he did last week, Rick Santorum showed that his strength lies with the most conservative Republicans, many in rural areas and in smaller towns.

And both men face the prospect that no matter what they did in the Michigan and Ohio primaries, President Barack Obama could beat either one come November. Continue reading “Michigan And Ohio: Political Sisters Under The Skin”

An Auto Industry Champion Battles An SNL Fixture For Ohio Seat

There’s no question that Toledo Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is a champion of the auto industry, as befits a veteran Democrat with a big Jeep plant in her backyard — the one that President Obama visited last year.

President Obama speaks at an assembly plant in Toledo in June, one of seven trips to Ohio during his presidency.

And people far outside Ohio know Dennis Kucinich for the presidential campaign that made him a character on Saturday Night Live, as well as his tenure as the “boy mayor” of Cleveland.

Tomorrow, one of them won’t be running for another term in Congress. Kaptur and Kucinich are among 11 sets of Congressional representatives who are facing off against each other in primary races this year. Seven involve Democrats; four involve Republicans, according to Roll Call. Continue reading “An Auto Industry Champion Battles An SNL Fixture For Ohio Seat”