Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several groups are calling for an increase in the Michigan minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

The current rate in Michigan is $7.40 an hour. That's higher than the national minimum wage.  Michigan is among more than a dozen states with minimum wage rates higher than the federal benchmark. 

Danielle Atkinson is with ‘Mothering Justice’, one of the groups calling on state lawmakers to increase Michigan’s minimum wage.

“We believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair pay. And it’s time for the Michigan legislature to support that as well,” says Atkinson. 


It used to be, when you would think of a "pop-up business," you would pretty much think of those Halloween stores that pop-up each September, or the fireworks tents each July, or the Christmas tree and wreath lots that appear each Thanksgiving.

But the pop-up is growing and temporary businesses or exhibitions are gaining traction in cities and towns where the Great Recession left many empty storefronts.

And the pop-up works on so many levels, both for the entrepreneur and the business districts and cities who can see new life being breathed into buildings and areas that have been way too quiet.

Tim (Timothy) Pearce / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder leaves today for a nine-day trade mission to Israel. He’s hoping to create business connections and encourage Israeli investment in Michigan.

But Snyder says he won’t be starting from scratch when he gets there.

“We already do a fair amount of business with Israel. We’re one of the top-20 states for both imports and exports going on with Israel. So I think it’s a great opportunity to build stronger economic ties and cultural ties given all the historical connections between our state and Israel.”

Additionally, the Governor says that Israel is looking to expand its marketplace globally.

“And if you look at Detroit’s role and the strong Jewish community here and the great business environment we’ve created over the last few years, Michigan should really be a gateway – in particular the Metro Detroit area should be a gateway – for Israeli businesses to do business in the United States.”

The governor also plans to speak with Israeli education officials. He says he’s especially interested in learning about their early childhood education programs.

This is Snyder’s fifth corporate-sponsored trip oversees, and his first to the Middle East. 

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

Michigan’s three biggest universities are producing young entrepreneurs twice as fast as the national average.

That’s according to a report by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group released today at a conference of business leaders and politicians on Mackinac Island.

Debbie Dingell is chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

“What’s clear is that we in Michigan have young people with ideas, and we’re giving them a university system that’s giving them the tools that they need to actually go out and start that business,” said Debbie Dingell, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

The report says almost half of the new businesses started by college grads have been started or acquired in Michigan.

University officials say they’ve revamped their curriculum in recent years to encourage entrepreneurship among students.

New export finance center opens in Detroit

Jan 30, 2013
Export-Import Bank of the United States

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow and nearly 100 small business owners were in Detroit for the opening of a new regional office for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The new office is expected to help Michigan businesses export products overseas by providing access to various types of insurance, loans, and financial resources.

According to their website, the agency has helped generate $456 billion in export revenue since its creation by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.

Michigan Businesses Have 1K Fewer Rules To Follow

Jan 10, 2013
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs / Office of Regulatory Reinvention

Governor Rick Snyder announced today that Michigan businesses now have one thousand fewer rules to live with.

Rob Nederhood is Deputy Director of Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention.

He says they were challenged to eliminate outdated or obsolete administrative rules. 

Recovery Park is a project hoping to revitalize the city of Detroit and get people working. 

Gary Wozniak is the President and CEO.  

He has big plans for Recovery Park involving everything from growing Tilapia, to processing foods, and establishing a 30-acre farm scattered throughout the city.

“So the models that we’re looking at are a combination of the community gardening that’s happening in Detroit, the indoor agriculture that’s being promoted by Michigan State University and then a lot of the larger indoor models in Europe, predominately in the Netherlands,” Wozniak says.

A new urban agriculture ordinance will certainly play a big in making this redevelopment project a reality.

The idea started with Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation or (SHAR), a Detroit based substance abuse treatment program. 

SHAR’s mission is to transform individuals with addiction and those recovering a chance at a new life.

Wozniak has a very personal mission as well.

User Kafuffle / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan will receive some unusual applicants next year.

Several dozen current and former National Football League players are expected to apply to the Ross Business School to learn how to open franchise businesses.

Dubbed the "NFL Franchising Boot Camp," the program will educate 30 of these athletes from across the country about the ins and outs of running a food, hotel or fitness chain.

During the four-day program this April, former professional football players will stay on the Ann Arbor campus and attend workshops with the school's faculty and business owners.

Ronald E. Hall, Jr. and Ronald E. Hall Sr, owners, Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C.,
Ara Howrani /

This year, 22 of the nation's 233 biggest companies owned by African Americans are based in Michigan, according to Black Enterprise Magazine.

The only other state with that many businesses on the list was New York.

The magazine divided the companies into seven sectors: industrial/service, auto, advertising, financial services, banks, asset managers, investment banks and private equity firms.

railroad tracks
Ian Britton / creative commons

A strike by Canadian railway workers threatens to slow or shut down production at some U.S. auto plants.

5,000 Canadian Pacific Railway workers walked off the job early Wednesday because of a dispute with management over a new contract.

Large numbers of finished vehicles and auto parts come to U.S. factories via Canadian Pacific.

Ford and General Motors say they don't expect the strike to affect production - at this time.

Chrysler says it is actively working to mitigate any impact to its operations through alternative shipment methods, such as trucks.

The longer the strike goes, the greater the chance it could affect the U.S. auto industry.  The Canadian Labor Ministry says it has the authority to intervene and will do that if the two sides haven't reached a deal by Monday.

Amway plans to spend up to $81 million to build a new facility in West Michigan.

The direct-sales company says it received a $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. The new facility will manufacture and process vitamins and supplements for Amway's Nutrilite brand.

From their press release:

This investment includes a new $81 million nutrition plant at the company's Spaulding Avenue site in Ada, Michigan, near Amway World Headquarters. The new plant is expected to create 200 jobs over the next three years.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today approved a $1.6 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to support construction of this nutrition products manufacturing facility for Access Business Group LLC, an affiliate of Amway.

Amway says it employs 4,000 people in Michigan. Amway was started in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

Detroit Venture Partners, LLC / YouTube

New technology jobs are coming to Detroit.

Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert has been buying buildings and looking for technology tenants as part of a business he co-founded with Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and  Brian Hermelin called Detroit Venture Partners LLC.

In a promotional video, Detroit Ventures Partners say their goal is to transform Detroit.

"This is our time to turn a crumbled city into a new beacon of hope."

But the self-proclaimed "creative business builders" and "street-fighters" are having a tough time finding talent in Michigan.

The Detroit News reports today Quicken Loans and other tech companies are looking to fill positions with people from out of state.

Online mortgage company Quicken Loans Inc., looking to fill more than 300 information technology positions, has taken its search outside Michigan to find qualified candidates. The Detroit-based company recently launched a website aimed at recruiting laid-off Yahoo workers.

GalaxE.Solutions, a project management firm known for its "Outsource to Detroit" banner on its Woodward Avenue building, has stumbled trying to fill 500 IT jobs.

"There is a shortage nationwide of good IT talent," said Ryan Hoyle, director of global recruiting for GalaxE, which has 150 IT workers in Detroit and hopes to add 350 in the next few years. "There just aren't a lot of top students going into IT."

Michigan's Bureau of Labor Market Information & Strategic Initiatives lists several IT jobs on its Michigan's Hot Jobs List. These are "high demand and high wage" careers in Michigan that are expected to continue to be in demand through 2018.

IBM / The News Market

Every Thursday we take a look at Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

There’s an eight-bill package working its way through the legislature right now aimed at eliminating the personal property tax. This sounds like something that would affect individuals but this is actually a business tax.

Sikkema says, “This is basically a tax on business equipment, computer, office furniture and manufacturing equipment. It’s generally acknowledged to be a bad tax because it taxes new business purchases and business growth and investment.”

Demas indicates that some cities receive up to 40% of their tax base from the personal property tax. However, not all cities would be affected in the same way. Some cities wouldn’t be affected at all.

“The municipalities have been looking for ways that they can get some of that revenue replaced, but so far they haven’t had a lot of takers because their solution is a constitutional amendment that would guarantee the same money, and nobody really wants to tie the legislature’s hands with that," she says.

Sikkema believes eliminating the tax is a good move for Michigan. He says, “Other states, particularly in the Midwest have already eliminated it, principality Ohio. Michigan and Indiana are the only ones in the Great Lakes region that I’m aware of who currently collect the personal property tax.”

But he adds, “It’s not without its down side…for some it is a major source of revenue and republicans are trying to address that with this promise to replace it in the future.”

Demas adds, “I do think we do need to pay attention to however many communities there are that really rely on this and could be pushed over the edge, because certainly it’s not health for our state to have our cities keep getting financial managers.”

Ohio-based Huntington Bank says it plans to open branches in dozens of Meijer stores in Michigan. The bank and the Grand Rapids-based retailer have announced a 10-year partnership.

They say this will add 500 jobs for Huntington Bank in Michigan. The branches will operate with extended hours, giving shoppers time to conduct business on evenings and weekends. Huntington has partnered with another Grand Rapids based company, Steelcase, to design the branches.

There’s an old Russian saying that, even, if you covered the world with asphalt, eventually a crack would form.

And in that crack, grass would grow. I was reminded of that yesterday by an Italian businessman my age, a man who is betting on green shoots coming through a town caked with many layers of asphalt. His name is Sergio Marchionne, and he is the CEO of a company called Fiat. Three years ago, he did something many at the time thought stupid. He took over a dying bankrupt company.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow will introduce a bill next week to prevent companies from getting tax write-offs for moving overseas.

Currently businesses can write off moving expenses on their taxes if they’re moving within or out of the country.  But no such break exists for businesses moving into the U.S.

“That makes absolutely no sense,” Stabenow said at a press conference Monday at Grand Valley State University.

Univ. of Mich. / YouTube

What do you get when you put dozens of college students in the basement of a parking garage with some office furniture, a WiFi connection and free coffee?

Well, it turns out you’ll end up with some pretty innovative ideas - as long as those students all happen to have diverse interests and a passion for entrepreneurship.

That’s the idea behind TechArb, a University of Michigan program that aims to provide student entrepreneurs with the mentoring, workspace and, in a few cases, funding needed to start their own businesses.


Nike worked with the Grand Rapids-based skateboarding shop Premier to create the shoe style.

The Petoskey stone inspired shoes will go on sale at Premier on April 28 with a price of $104.

Here's more, appropriately, from the Petoskey News:

To pay tribute to the store's Great Lakes roots, the leather of the blue and gray shoe is embossed with Petoskey stones and will feature a tote bag with a Petoskey stone print.

"We decided to do something a little more in-depth than the state colors or theme colors. We wanted to take different elements from the landscape and nature side of the state," said Premier co-owner Eric Blanding. "The Petoskey stone had a different print on it that we've always thought would look cool on a shoe."

Premier has worked on several other store-exclusive shoes in the past. Blanding said from design to the rack the entire shoe creation process can take up to a year and a half.

You can see more images of the shoe here at "Kicks on Fire."

user lehigh valley, PA / Flickr

It could be welcome news for all the ocularists, auctioneers, and acupuncturists out there.

The Michigan's Office of Regulatory Reinvention (yes, the agency was created by Gov. Snyder) has issued a report proposing the state should drop oversight of 18 occupations, and get rid of nine "occupational boards," while increasing inspection fees for ski resorts and carnivals.

More from the ORR's press release:

"According to a 2007 study, Michigan is the sixth most heavily-regulated state with respect to occupational licensing. This study found that for each occupation that a state regulated, that occupation would experience a decrease in the rate of job growth by 20 percent on average," said Steven H. Hilfinger, Chief Regulatory Officer and LARA Director. "Occupational regulations, while in many cases necessary to protect consumers and public health, operate as a barrier to entry into a given profession. This inhibits entrepreneurship and restricts competition, leading to increased costs and decreased levels of service for consumers."

Even though two of the boards they suggest cutting are the Carnival Amusement Safety Board and the Ski Area Safety Board, state officials say inspections for these operations should continue:

While the ORR recommends abolishing the Carnival Amusement Safety Board, the ORR recommends the licensing and inspections should continue and fees should be increased to be sufficient to cover administrative costs of regulation. Similarly, the ORR recommends that Ski Area Safety licensing and inspections should continue and fees should be increased to be sufficient to cover administrative costs.

Here's a list of the occupations officials recommended deregulating and the boards they recommend be cut:

The 18 occupations recommended for deregulation are:

  • Acupuncturist
  • Auctioneers
  • Community Planner
  • Consumer Finance Services
  • Dieticians & Nutritionists
  • Forensic Polygraph Examiner
  • Forester
  • Immigration Clerical Assistant
  • Insurance Solicitor
  • Interior Designer
  • Landscape Architect
  • Ocularist
  • Professional Employer Organizations
  • Proprietary School Solicitors
  • Respiratory Care
  • Security Alarm Contractors
  • Speech Pathologist
  • Vehicle Protection Product Warrantor

The 9 occupational boards recommended for elimination are:

  • Board of Acupuncture
  • Board of Auctioneers
  • Board of Carnivals & Amusement Rides
  • Board of Dietetics & Nutrition
  • Board of Occupational Therapy
  • Board of Respiratory Care
  • Board of Speech Language Pathology
  • Osteopathic Medicine Advisory Board
  • Ski Area Safety Board

The Office of Regulatory Reinvention was created in February 2011 within  the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

It's charged with overseeing current and proposed rules and regulations in the state and with "creating a regulatory environment and regulatory processes that are fair, efficient, and conducive to business growth and job creation."

On its website, the ORR boasts a "net reduction" of 363 rules in the state since April 23, 2011.