small business

Michigan's future starts with new ideas

Nov 17, 2014
Wikimedia

Americans love the next thing: the newest gadget, the latest fashion, and all manner of ground-breaking artistic creations. In fact, our entire worldview, economic system, and personal behavior are based on the idea that progress and growth is good.

We are driven to be better and new.

3&UP Board Game Lounge
user: 3&UP Board Game Lounge / facebook

Put away your smartphone and tablets! 

Talk face-to-face, play some board games, and connect with one another.That's the message from 3 & Up Lounge in Plymouth.

Angela Space is co-founder of the lounge. She says she and her husband got the idea from a board game cafe in Toronto, which is a popular cafe style in many countries around the world but hasn't caught on in the U.S.

"We've morphed the idea of a board game cafe where you sell sandwiches, grilled cheese and coffee, and really turn it more into a lounge where people first and foremost connect with each other, and secondarily playing together, having fun, laughing and learning," says Space.

Space says people were a little skeptical at first when they walked in the door, but the cafe has invented some funny ways of persuading people to put away their phones and tablets.

"We have an anti-wifi zone. We let people boo each other," says Space.

* Listen to the interview with Angela Space above.

Proposed food truck rules go back to Ohio mayor

Jul 6, 2014
Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - Proposed regulations for food trucks in a northwestern Ohio city have gone back to the mayor for more discussion after opposition from supporters of the mobile businesses. The Blade newspaper in Toledo reports that Toledo City Council declined to vote on Mayor Michael Collins' proposals last week.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Green BioEnergy

Support is growing within the small business community for tighter limits on carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change.

That's according to research by the American Sustainable Business Council. One in five of the surveyed businesses said they had already been hurt by extreme weather events.

Many business owners say they've searched for their own ways to reduce energy costs to become more efficient.

David Levine is CEO of the council. He said small businesses want to see these changes implemented across the board.

IRS Form 1040.
stockphotosforfree.com

Michigan has been cutting taxes for the past 20 years. The key selling point has been that slashing taxes will create economic prosperity.

A new report by the former head of the state Treasury Department's Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, Douglas Drake, says these tax cuts have instead drained Michigan of economic life, with our per-capita income rank tumbling, and our unemployment rate way above the national average.

Charles Ballard is an economist from Michigan State University.

*Listen to the full show above.

Who's up for the next beer run?
Matt Lehrer / Flickr

What happens when a house party is going full tilt and the beer runs out?

Chances are someone goes on a beer run. And chances are that "someone" has had a few drinks.

A new business that's opened in Ann Arbor aims to keep the party going without that "someone" having to get behind the wheel of a car.

DrinkDrivers is a new website and mobile app launched by a group of University of Central Florida grads who decided to make Ann Arbor its second launch location.

DrinkDrivers CEO Jeff Nadel joined us to explain how it works.

*Listen to the interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow is criticizing her Republican Senate colleagues for blocking a vote on increasing the federal minimum wage.

The bill would have gradually increased the current $7.25 an hour to $10.10.

Democrats say it would have helped millions of low-income families.

Stabenow says GOP opposition to the wage hike and to legislation to require equal pay for women is "unacceptable".

“This is really the one-two punch that hurts women in Michigan,” says Stabenow. 

Twitter

There's no arguing the fact that startups are a key to a thriving economy. Between 1980 to 2005, for example, nearly all net job creation in the U.S. came from companies less than five years old.

But what does that start-up need before it gets up and running, creating jobs, selling products, paying taxes? It needs capital. And getting that initial dose of money can be a tough challenge for a small business.

That's why there's growing excitement over Michigan's new crowdfunding law. It's called the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption – "MILE."

Let's find out what this new law means for Michigan start-ups and for your opportunities to invest in small businesses.

Sandra Cochrane is a consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

One of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act is consumer choice. More choice means more competition among insurers, and that can lead to lower costs for consumers.

But if you live in a rural area, you may not have a whole lot of choices when it comes choosing a health plans. On today's Stateside, we took a look at health care in Michigan's rural areas.

Then, Michigan’s new crowdfunding law opens the door to everyday people who want to invest in Michigan-based startups and small businesses. We heard about the benefits and risks that come with crowdfunding for equity.

And, we spoke with Garrison Keillor about the 40th anniversary of A Prairie Home Companion and his upcoming book.

First on the show, Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is in Lansing today and tomorrow, getting face-time with the lawmakers whose vote is crucial to the so-called grand bargain, the complicated deal to protect city retirees and the collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Orr heads to Lansing with a new piece of the puzzle in hand: a tentative five-year deal reached Monday with AFSCME, Detroit's largest employee union.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to give us an idea of what progress has been made and what lies ahead for the city.

Carhartt was made in Michigan.
Carhartt / Facebook

Carhartt got its start in southern Michigan when the company's founder, Hamilton Carhartt, set out to make the best pair of overalls he could for railroad workers.

The company is still family owned and remains in Michigan.

We spoke with the company's current CEO, Mark Valade. He's Hamilton Carhartt's great-grandson.

Listen to our interview with him above.

Wikimedia Commons

As the city of Detroit seeks pathways back to economic health, small businesses are seen as a key. And there can be no conversation about small business owners in Detroit without involving the Arab-American community. 

Most of the grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations in Detroit are owned by Arab-Americans.

And, historically, the relationship between these store owners and their largely African-American customers has been not without its tensions. 

Which is why a recent editorial in The Arab American News caught our eye, and we wanted to share its message with you. 

We're joined now by Osama Siblani, the publisher of The Arab American News.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Erik Hersman / Flickr

State of Opportunity's Kimberly Springer tells us how "the specter of an exclusive, our boutique, access internet looms" after the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down many of the FCC's "net neutrality" rules.

For the privileged, the demise of net neutrality might mean paying even more for broadband access to Netflix or YouTube---no more buffering...buffering...buffering? But for the less privileged, losing net neutrality puts all of the world's information further out of reach and condemning some to "pay to play" deals. 

Go here to read more.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Fast-food workers in Flint, Detroit, Pontiac, Lansing and other Michigan cities hit the picket lines today.

They are demanding a big increase in the minimum wage.

In Lansing, a small group of protesters chanted and waved signs outside a Pizza Hut.  

Tina Ervin has worked at the pizza joint for the past year. She says she’s having a hard time supporting herself and her three children on $7.40 an hour. Ervin is hopeful the national campaign to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour will succeed.

Joy VanBuhler / Flickr

The Pure Michigan Micro Lending Initiative will begin with $5 million from Huntington Bank to small local businesses in Detroit. The bank has also pledged $25 million to expand the program across the state in the next five years.

The program is a partnership between the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Huntington Bank,  the Detroit Development Fund and the Snyder administration. It will provide loans to small businesses anywhere from $500 to $50,000 dollars.

localfirst.com

When it's time to buy something, what's your pattern? Do you head to the big chain store thinking you might save a little bit? Or do you try to take your business and your money to a local business?

Elissa Hillary hopes you think "local first."

"When you are supporting a locally owned business, 73% more money stays in the community and recirculates, and that money goes to create jobs to fund our tax base, to support our infrastructure, and schools and roads and things like that," said Hillary.

She heads up Local First. It’s a Grand Rapids-based group with a mission to get us all to keep our local businesses and merchants top of mind when we go shopping.

She joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User thinkpanama / Flickr

Michigan is number one in the nation for loans being issued to small businesses.

Turns out the Small Business Administration's Michigan district backed 1,221 loans to the tune of nearly $344 million in the first eight months of this fiscal year, which puts the SBA's Michigan district office at the top of the heap in terms of 7A lending.

David Sowerby is an economist with Loomis Sayles in Bloomfield Hills, and he joined us today to discuss what this means for the state.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan is leading the nation in small business loans. It seems like good news on the surface, but are there economic consequences for so many new start-ups?

And author Keith Taylor stopped by to give us his picks for summer-time reads. His choices might just surprise you.

Also we began a week-long series of stories here on Stateside where we'll hear from immigrants about what America means to them. Today's story came from a young woman who lives at the Salvation Army's Teen Parent Center in Grand Rapids. 

And, we found out how one couple is trying to bring goodness to communities by baking pies.

Also, we welcomed Interlochen Public Radio listeners to Stateside! Listeners from Traverse City to Manistee; Harbor Springs to Ludington, joining in on the conversations and issues that matter to all of us as Michiganders. Together, we'll explore breaking news and better understand policy issues, and we'll discover stories and meet people from every corner of our state.

First on the show, Governor Snyder continues his travels around the state today in southeast Michigan to push for an expansion of Medicaid. Governor Snyder wants to expand the program – using federal funds – to hundreds of thousands of low-income adults.

Snyder has criticized fellow Republicans in the Senate for leaving Lansing for their summer recess without voting on the measure. The state House had already approved the legislation.

Governor Snyder joined us today to discuss the issue.

More than 10,000 people are expected at a street party in Grand Rapids Saturday to celebrate all things local.

Locals bands, local food, and of course local beer; brewed special for the party with locally produced honey. It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for Local First, a non-profit that supports locally owned businesses throughout West Michigan. It's their 10th anniversary.

Executive Director Elissa Hillary says if everyone in Kent County shifted 10% of their purchases to locally owned businesses, it would create 1,600 jobs.

“It’s important for us to just be aware that our daily choices have an impact and that they can have an incredibly positive impact,” Hillary said, “So if we’re making choices to support businesses in our community we’re essentially choosing to support people who live in our community.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan was recently ranked fifth on USA Today's list of craft brew states in the country.

Over the past three to four years Michigan has seen a large growth in microbrewies.

There has been recent  buzz within the microbrewery scene in Michigan with news that the state's first 'Mobile Canning' line is being launched.

Microbreweries around the state will be able to get cans of their brew onto store shelves without having to invest in costly canning equipment.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Small business owners want Michigan to make its curriculum standards for high school students more flexible.

The state passed broad standards in 2006 for all students. They are supposed to ensure all students are ready for college.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum requires four years of math and English language arts; three years of science and social studies; and two years of a foreign language. Complete standards are outlined here.

gov.cbia.com

A state House committee this week will discuss whether to prevent local cities and towns in Michigan from passing laws requiring businesses to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

San Francisco, Seattle and several other major cities have passed ‘paid sick leave’ ordinances in recent years.  The intent is to protect people in low paying jobs, who stand to lose their job, if they try to take a sick day.

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.

Andrew McFarlane / Flickr

Lakes Huron and Michigan are reaching record low water levels, and businesses along the Third Coast are feeling the effects.

Yesterday, Russell Dzuba, the harbormaster in Leland, Michigan (think Michigan's pinkie right on Lake Michigan), spoke with NPR's Melissa Block about what he's seeing out his window.

The low water levels have revealed a sand bar inside the Leland Harbor.

"...that ordinarily is not a good thing in a harbor," said Dzuba.

From the interview:

"We had an incredibly warm season - warm winter season last year, and we lost a lot of water to evaporation, and that takes place during the whole winter, as well as the summer.... Traditionally, we don't freeze as we did in the old days. It used to freeze all the way across the channel, 11 miles out to North Manitou Island. That hasn't happened here in a number of years."

You can listen to the interview here:

Last month, I posted on the low lake levels. If they continue to drop, which is expected, the low lake level record from March 1964 will be beat.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Co-owners of Barfly Ventures Mark and Michele Sellers wanted to thank their employees for working their tails off during ArtPrize. So they designated Tuesday as employee appreciation day; whatever alcohol they sold would be split among the employees.


But before they opened, Mark Sellers got a call from the liquor control commission. Turns out, the state doesn’t like servers having an incentive to sell lots of alcohol, and it’s against the law.


“I can’t really be too mad at them because they gave us a courtesy call in advance and told us ‘hey don’t’ do this or you’re going to get in trouble’. It’d be like if a police officer called you and told you to slow down or he’s going to give you a ticket,” Mark Sellers said.


So instead of alcohol sales the Sellers’ will give their employees the food sales, not for just one day but three. They’ll pool the money from food sales at all three Grand Rapids establishments (HopCat, McFadden’s, and Stella’s Lounge) and split the total among all employees; cooks, servers, busboys, managers, and even HopCat’s official “chief beer geek” I met a couple weeks ago.

Michigan Association of Police Chiefs Executive Director Bob Stevenson speaks out against plan to relax liquor sales.
Jake Neher / MPRN

A plan to relax the state's alcohol rules is meeting resistance from some public health groups, law enforcement, and businesses. 

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration wants to make it easier for businesses like gas stations and farmers markets to sell alcohol. But a coalition opposing the plan says that could lead to more crime and violence.

Bob Stevenson directs the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. He says police are overburdened enough without expanding the availability of alcohol.

"When all these additional locations are selling alcohol to the motorists that are out there, potentially under-age drivers, we just don’t have the manpower out on the street to adequately police that and make sure they’re following the laws," says Stevenson.

Stevenson’s group also worries about a plan to eliminate fingerprinting for liquor license applicants.

Officials with the Office of Regulatory Reinvention say access to alcohol would not significantly increase under the plan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is refocusing his tax plan to strengthen the middle class. Romney was in Colorado Thursday to outline his plan, which included points that have been previously released.

In Michigan and other states the campaign lined up several small business owners to share their support for Romney.

Tyce Holst owns Taylor Rental and Party Plus, a rental store in Holland that employs 10 full time workers. Holst says the recession forced him to lay off two employees.

MLive's Melissa Anders reports that some Michigan breweries dislike the sweeping proposed changes to liquor control rules being sent to Gov. Rick Snyder.

Small business owners and hopeful entrepreneurs are in Detroit today to get advice on  starting or improving a business.

The Urban Economic Forum, held by The White House Administration, hopes to help entrepreneurs in Detroit connect to resources and network with other business leaders.

The White House Administration said it is committed to supporting the Detroit area’s small businesses.

CBS Detroit reports:

Among the topics of discussion were the resources available to minority and urban entrepreneurs who are trying to access capital for their businesses. Mentors were also available to provide advice to business owners.

In a press, release the White House Administration wrote that other Urban Economic Forums will be held in Chicago, Illinois, and Columbus, Ohio.

Legislation is being introduced in the state house aimed at supporting small businesses and startup companies in the alternative energy sectors.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Democratic State Representative Marcia Hovey-Wright. She spoke with Jennifer White.

Hovey-Wright says, "Basically it’s a revolving loan fund for alternative energy, green manufacturing which includes, wind, solar, advanced battery and biomass. The intention is to create good paying jobs with good benefits."

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.

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