Kate Davidson http://michiganradio.org en Detroit has tons of vacant land. But forty square miles? http://michiganradio.org/post/detroit-has-tons-vacant-land-forty-square-miles <p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">Forty square miles.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s how much of Detroit lies vacant, nearly a third of the city.&nbsp; You could fit Miami or San Francisco inside all that emptiness.&nbsp; At least, that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;ve heard for years.&nbsp; The thing is, it might not be true.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">This is a story about a number &ndash; an estimate, really &mdash; and how it became a fact illustrating Detroit&rsquo;s decline. I&rsquo;ve read about 40 square miles in the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20120409/BUSINESS06/204090356" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="Detroit Free Press">Detroit Free Press</a>, the Detroit News,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2010/1108/focus-dave-bing-motown-autos-detroit-must-shrink.html" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="Forbes">Forbes</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703503804575083781073108438.html#U10551877953RJB" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="WSJ">The Wall Street Journal</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/11/detroit-urban-renewal-city-farms-paul-harris" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="The Guardian">The Guardian</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/09/detroit-looks-at-downsizing-to-save-city/?page=all" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " title="Washington Times">The Washington Times</a>. I&rsquo;ve&nbsp;<a href="http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/dpp/news/foxe_reports/urban-gardens-flourishing-in-detroit-20100830-wpms" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="Fox">heard it on Fox</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/02/14/leadership-dave-bing-reimagines-detroit/" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; " target="_blank" title="Dave Bing Leadership">I&rsquo;ve said it on the radio</a>.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 15px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; outline-width: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">That&rsquo;s when Margaret Dewar called me out.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">&ldquo;Wait, this can&rsquo;t be true.&rdquo; Wed, 18 Apr 2012 13:38:23 +0000 Kate Davidson 7085 at http://michiganradio.org Detroit has tons of vacant land. But forty square miles? Measuring the costs and benefits of retraining http://michiganradio.org/post/measuring-costs-and-benefits-retraining <p>Measuring the success of retraining programs used to be straightforward. You just looked at how many people got better paying jobs. Now the emphasis is shifting from how job seekers benefit to how taxpayers benefit too. That&rsquo;s because some federal funds for workforce development are shrinking, and local agencies have to do more to make their case.</p><p>In the Midwest, we hear a lot about retraining. A lot of the money for retraining and other job services comes from the federal government, through the states, to local programs like this one in Jackson, Michigan. Wed, 04 Apr 2012 14:33:14 +0000 Kate Davidson 6900 at http://michiganradio.org Measuring the costs and benefits of retraining Blotting Update: Detroit wants to sell you this lot for $200 http://michiganradio.org/post/blotting-update-detroit-wants-sell-you-lot-200 <p>Apparently, the phone has been ringing off the hook over at Detroit&rsquo;s planning department.</p><p>It&rsquo;s all because of a <a href="http://www.detroitmi.gov/DepartmentsandAgencies/MayorsOffice/StateoftheCity2012/Viewthe2012StateoftheCityAddress.aspx">few lines uttered by Mayor Dave Bing</a> in his <a href="http://www.detroitmi.gov/DepartmentsandAgencies/MayorsOffice/StateoftheCity2012.aspx">State of the City</a> address last week. <em>(You&rsquo;ll find them about 30 minutes in.)</em></p><p>&ldquo;This week we sent out over 500 letters to property owners in Hubbard Farms, Springwells Village and Southwest Detroit,&rdquo; he announced, &ldquo;telling them if they own a home adjacent to a vacant city-owned lot, they can purchase this lot for a mere $200.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;No coming downtown,&rdquo; the mayor said.&nbsp; &ldquo;No added bureaucracy. The city will mail back the deed.&rdquo;</p><p>Bing&rsquo;s initiative is a response to the overwhelming problem of abandoned property in Detroit.</p><p>It&rsquo;s a problem we explored in our stories about Detroit &ldquo;blotters&rdquo; &mdash; <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/11/09/empty-places-its-not-squatting-its-blotting/">which you can see here</a> and <a href="http://www.npr.org/2011/12/05/142341520/blotting-not-squatting-in-detroit-neighborhoods">here</a>. Tue, 13 Mar 2012 19:33:05 +0000 Kate Davidson 6619 at http://michiganradio.org Blotting Update: Detroit wants to sell you this lot for $200 Student debt: When fixing cars breaks the bank http://michiganradio.org/post/student-debt-when-fixing-cars-breaks-bank <p>Americans owe close to a <a href="http://www.finaid.org/loans/studentloandebtclock.phtml">trillion dollars in student loan debt</a>.</p><p>Changing Gears has been <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2012/02/29/student-debt-the-cost-of-learning-a-trade/">reporting on that debt</a>, a lot of which comes from attending private, for-profit schools.&nbsp; They&rsquo;re the fastest growing part of higher education, popular for non-degree technical training. Call them career colleges, technical schools or trade schools - just don&rsquo;t call them cheap.</p><ul><li>Fact: For-profit schools cost more than community colleges.</li><li>Fact: For-profit students borrow more, then <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/instrates.html">default more than students from public colleges.</a></li><li>Fact:&nbsp; All this explains why I ended up at the strip club in Detroit.</li></ul><p>So I&rsquo;m at Cobra&rsquo;s the Grind, eyes-avoiding-buttocks, walking up dimly lit stairs to meet the manager. Wed, 07 Mar 2012 15:49:17 +0000 Kate Davidson 6534 at http://michiganradio.org Student debt: When fixing cars breaks the bank Student debt: The cost of learning a trade http://michiganradio.org/post/student-debt-cost-learning-trade <p>America&rsquo;s student loan debt is now bigger than its credit card debt. <a href="http://www.finaid.org/loans/studentloandebtclock.phtml">It&rsquo;s about a trillion dollars</a>. Student loan default rates are rising. While many families struggle to afford traditional colleges, a lot of student debt comes from attending private, for-profit schools that focus on vocational training. <a href="http://www2.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/defaultmanagement/instrates.html">These students default on their loans</a> twice as often as students from public colleges. Wed, 29 Feb 2012 15:44:35 +0000 Kate Davidson 6426 at http://michiganradio.org Student debt: The cost of learning a trade Cliffs Natural Resources scraps plans for UP nugget plant http://michiganradio.org/post/cliffs-natural-resources-scraps-plans-nugget-plant <p>If you&rsquo;ve been following our coverage of iron mining in the region, this might interest you.&nbsp; Cliffs Natural Resources, North America&rsquo;s biggest iron ore supplier, is <a href="http://ir.cliffsnaturalresources.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=647027">scrapping plans to build an iron nugget plant in Michigan&rsquo;s Upper Peninsula.</a></p><p>A nugget is just a little clump of very pure iron.&nbsp; Big deal?&nbsp; Well, here&rsquo;s why the new nugget technology matters &hellip; and why Cliffs spent years studying it in cooperation with Kobe Steel of Japan.</p><p>Remember, the iron-rich regions of Michigan and Minnesota:</p><ol><li>provided the iron ore</li><li>that made the steel</li><li>that helped the industrial Midwest <em>become</em> the industrial Midwest. Wed, 08 Feb 2012 20:17:42 +0000 Kate Davidson 6148 at http://michiganradio.org Cliffs Natural Resources scraps plans for UP nugget plant 6 tips on "Buy Here-Pay Here" car lots http://michiganradio.org/post/6-tips-buy-here-pay-here-car-lots <p>Yesterday, we brought you the story of <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2012/01/26/buy-here-pay-here-get-a-ride-but-dont-be-taken-for-one/">Buy Here-Pay Here dealerships in the Midwest</a>. These are places where the dealer finances car loans himself (BHPH is sometimes called in-house financing.).</p><p>Basically, he is the bank and he takes on all the risk. That&rsquo;s especially true because BHPH dealers cater to people with bad credit &ndash; deep subprime customers who typically have credit scores less than 550.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not hard to find people who are out of luck, out of work, and grateful for the opportunity to finance a car at all. But that opportunity comes at a steep price, which is either folded in or added on in the form of interest rates up to 25 percent.</p><p>So here are&nbsp;<strong>six tips to consider if you&rsquo;re thinking about Buy Here-Pay Here</strong>: Fri, 27 Jan 2012 16:53:47 +0000 Kate Davidson 5975 at http://michiganradio.org 6 tips on "Buy Here-Pay Here" car lots Buy Here-Pay Here: Get a ride, don’t be taken for one http://michiganradio.org/post/buy-here-pay-here-get-ride-don%E2%80%99t-be-taken-one <p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">In the Midwest, it&rsquo;s hard to get around without a car.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">These days, people are holding onto them longer.&nbsp;The average vehicle is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.michiganradio.org/post/people-holding-their-clunkers-average-age-reaches-record-108-years" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; color: rgb(17, 73, 153); text-decoration: none; font-weight: bold; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">almost 11 years old</a>&nbsp;and used cars prices are on the rise.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">All this adds to the pressure on the bottom rung of consumers: people with bad credit.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">For many, the only way to finance a car is at a Buy Here-Pay Here lot.&nbsp; Here, dealers loan to deep subprime customers at interest rates up to 25%.&nbsp;Buy Here-Pay Here makes up more than 15% of used vehicle financing in states like Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">That financing goes to people like Willie.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s her nickname.</p><p style="margin-top: 0px; margin-right: 0px; margin-bottom: 15px; margin-left: 0px; padding-top: 0px; padding-right: 0px; padding-bottom: 0px; padding-left: 0px; border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; outline-width: 0px; outline-style: initial; outline-color: initial; font-size: 14px; vertical-align: baseline; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-color: transparent; background-position: initial initial; background-repeat: initial initial; ">We&rsquo;re driving around Toledo in her &rsquo;99 Chevy Express.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s got 130,000 miles on it.</p><p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 16:25:36 +0000 Kate Davidson 5954 at http://michiganradio.org Buy Here-Pay Here: Get a ride, don’t be taken for one The State of the State... in Laingsburg, Michigan http://michiganradio.org/post/state-state-laingsburg-michigan <p>Michigan&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/snyder">Governor Rick Snyder</a> gives his second State of the State address tonight.&nbsp; He&rsquo;s already signed more than 300 public acts.&nbsp; That&rsquo;s a new law for almost every day in office.</p><p>Over the next few weeks, Changing Gears is looking at how changes in state government are impacting lives and wallets across the region. Here in Michigan, people are riveted by some of Snyder&rsquo;s big ticket changes, like giving <a href="post/7-things-know-about-michigans-emergency-manager-law">emergency managers</a> the power to strip control from elected officials in failing cities and school districts.</p><p>But this story is different.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s about one Mid-Michigan town and all the small, drowned-out changes that deeply affect people&rsquo;s lives.&nbsp; People like Janae Jodway. Wed, 18 Jan 2012 15:02:53 +0000 Kate Davidson 5836 at http://michiganradio.org The State of the State... in Laingsburg, Michigan Can technology breathe new life into the Midwest's old iron? http://michiganradio.org/post/can-technology-breathe-new-life-midwests-old-iron <p>The industrial Midwest might not <em>be</em> the industrial Midwest if it weren&rsquo;t for the iron-rich regions of northern Minnesota and Michigan. These iron ranges have long supplied domestic steelmakers, depleting the highest quality ore along the way. Now, a plant in Minnesota is testing a process to dramatically upgrade the low-grade ore that remains.</p><p>To understand why this matters, keep in mind how steelmaking has changed.&nbsp; The old recipe for steel calls for iron ore, coke and a blast furnace.&nbsp; But now, more than half of American steel is made in electric arc furnaces, which use electricity to melt scrap steel into new steel.</p><p>You can find those ingredients in your own kitchen or garage. Wed, 07 Dec 2011 14:27:55 +0000 Kate Davidson 5279 at http://michiganradio.org Can technology breathe new life into the Midwest's old iron? Empty Series: New life for historic GM complex in Flint http://michiganradio.org/post/empty-series-new-life-historic-gm-complex-flint <p>There may be no better example of how the industrial Midwest is changing than the site of the old Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan. It&rsquo;s one of the factories sit-down strikers occupied in the 1930s. The plant made tanks during World War II. It was later closed, gutted and reborn as a GM design center. But GM abandoned the site after bankruptcy and the new occupants don&rsquo;t make cars. They sell very expensive prescription drugs.</p><p>There&rsquo;s one group of experts who can always tell you the history and significance of an old factory. They&rsquo;re the guys at the bar across the street. Wed, 30 Nov 2011 15:17:54 +0000 Kate Davidson 5183 at http://michiganradio.org Empty Series: New life for historic GM complex in Flint Empty Series: In Detroit, it's not squatting … it's blotting (Part 2) http://michiganradio.org/post/empty-series-detroit-its-not-squatting-%E2%80%A6-its-blotting-part-2 <p>We&rsquo;re looking at the challenges of the region&rsquo;s empty places this month.</p><p>For many people, the most threatening emptiness isn&rsquo;t a shuttered factory.&nbsp; It&rsquo;s the abandoned property next door.&nbsp; But in Detroit, some residents are using that emptiness to quietly reshape their neighborhoods.</p><p>They&rsquo;re annexing vacant lots around them, buying them when they can or just putting up a fence.</p><p>They&rsquo;re not squatters &hellip; they&rsquo;re <em>blotters</em>.</p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 17:29:14 +0000 Kate Davidson 4879 at http://michiganradio.org Empty Series: In Detroit, it's not squatting … it's blotting (Part 2) Obama, werewolves and silver…er…magic bullets http://michiganradio.org/post/obama-werewolves-and-silver%E2%80%A6er%E2%80%A6magic-bullets <p>While we&rsquo;re on the <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/10/16/a-very-brief-history-of-the-midwest-magic-bullet/" target="_blank" title="Magic Bullet History">subject of magic bullets</a>, please indulge this brief sidebar.</p><p>Schisms&nbsp;happen.&nbsp; There was once a tremendous split&nbsp;between the (now) Roman Catholic Church and the (now) Eastern Orthodox Church.&nbsp; Today there&rsquo;s also a Great Schism in the&nbsp;bullet world.</p><p>Namely,&nbsp;between those who say <em>magic bullet </em>and&nbsp;those who say <em>silver bullet</em> &mdash; both parties&nbsp;referring to an economic quick fix.</p><p>On one side,&nbsp;you have President Obama, who may be the highest profile proponent of the term silver&nbsp;bullet. While pitching his jobs plan to&nbsp;a recent joint session of Congress he said,<em> &ldquo;It should not be nor will it be&nbsp;the last plan of action we propose. What&rsquo;s&nbsp;guided us from the start of this crisis hasn&rsquo;t been the search for a silver&nbsp;bullet. It&rsquo;s been a commitment to stay&nbsp;at it, to be persistent, to keep trying every new idea that works.&rdquo;</em> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:49:47 +0000 Kate Davidson 4605 at http://michiganradio.org Obama, werewolves and silver…er…magic bullets A very brief history of the Midwest magic bullet (Part 1) http://michiganradio.org/post/very-brief-history-midwest-magic-bullet-part-1 <p>History is full of the search for magic bullets, those quick tickets to jobs and economic prosperity. Cities across our region have put great hopes and resources into magic bullets.</p><p>Some have soared; many have backfired.</p><p>This week, we&rsquo;re bringing you stories of magic bullets past and present. We start with this look back.</p><p>Magic bullets are kind of like imaginary friends. We all have them in our past, but most people deny they exist.</p> Mon, 17 Oct 2011 16:11:57 +0000 Kate Davidson 4604 at http://michiganradio.org A very brief history of the Midwest magic bullet (Part 1) Help Wanted: Why manufacturing temps are in demand http://michiganradio.org/post/help-wanted-why-manufacturing-temps-are-demand <p>Here are four very bad words you hear a lot these days:</p><p>There.&nbsp; Are.&nbsp;&nbsp;No.&nbsp;&nbsp;Jobs.</p><p>But it turns out, that&rsquo;s not entirely true.</p><p>Yes, the manufacturing sector lost <a href="ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/suppl/empsit.ceseeb1.txt" target="_blank" title="BLS Jobs Data">six million jobs</a> last decade.&nbsp; But now, staffing agencies that place temporary workers in manufacturing say business is booming.</p> Wed, 05 Oct 2011 16:16:02 +0000 Kate Davidson 4451 at http://michiganradio.org Help Wanted: Why manufacturing temps are in demand At auto plants, a reversal of fortune http://michiganradio.org/post/auto-plants-reversal-fortune <p><em><strong>*Editors note - This story by Kate Davidson of <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2010/09/22/at-auto-plants-a-reversal-of-fortune/">Changing Gears</a> was first broadcast last year (September 22, 2010). Now that GM and the UAW have agreed to a new contract that will allow GM to hire more &quot;two-tier&quot; workers (newly hired workers paid a lower wage than traditional workers), we thought we&#39;d bring her story on &quot;two-tier&quot; workers back.</strong></em> <strong><em>As Micki Maynard of Changing Gears <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/2011/09/28/one-quarter-of-gm-workers-could-be-two-tiers/">points out</a>, only about 4 percent of GM&#39;s workforce is &quot;two-tier&quot; now - under the new contract, that number could go up to 25 percent.</em></strong></p><p>http://changinggears.info/audio/20100921_davidson.mp3</p><p>The American Dream is that each generation will do better than the last.&nbsp; But many families of auto workers no longer have that expectation.&nbsp; As Detroit car makers sped towards financial ruin, their union agreed to a dual wage structure, plus deep cuts in benefits.</p><p>Now, new hires earn about half what traditional workers make.&nbsp; This reversal of fortune has altered their lives. Wed, 28 Sep 2011 21:26:14 +0000 Kate Davidson 4353 at http://michiganradio.org At auto plants, a reversal of fortune Lights-Out Machining: You Go Home, the Machines Keep Working http://michiganradio.org/post/lights-out-machining-you-go-home-machines-keep-working <p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-1002539.mp3</p><p>Imagine going home out at night while your computer keeps doing your job. That&rsquo;s the basic idea behind a trend in manufacturing called &ldquo;lights-out machining.&rdquo; You punch out. The machines keep working. It&rsquo;s a way to make a lot more product with a lot fewer people &hellip; and fewer jobs. Here&rsquo;s the story of two Michigan companies that are trying to boost productivity and stay competitive by turning out the lights and going home.</p><p>First, a little perspective. Man&rsquo;s love/hate relationship with automation has been around a long time. Take the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHdmaFJ6W6M" target="_blank">1936 classic Modern Times</a>.</p><p>Charlie Chaplin is in a frenzy. He&rsquo;s tightening bolts on the factory line. The boss straps him into a person-feeding machine, so his hands can keep working while his mouth eats lunch. It&rsquo;s a nightmare of productivity, where men are captive to machines. But manufacturers today have a different vision.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;At the end of the shift, my operators go home. Their machines continue running in the building with nobody in it,&rdquo; says John Hill.</p></blockquote><p>Hill owns a small business called <a href="http://www.midwestmold.com/" target="_blank">Midwest Mold Services</a>. The company designs and builds metal molds for plastic parts. These parts wind up in cars, medical devices, and even as the emblem on the back of a Cadillac. Hill says in the old days, shaping these metal molds was a job for one machine and one operator. Wed, 14 Sep 2011 16:06:19 +0000 Kate Davidson 4150 at http://michiganradio.org Lights-Out Machining: You Go Home, the Machines Keep Working Foreclosures decline, while foreclosure businesses thrive http://michiganradio.org/post/foreclosures-decline-while-foreclosure-businesses-thrive <p>Foreclosure activity dropped by more than a third this past year, according to the group RealtyTrac. But despite the national slowdown, regional companies that take care of foreclosed homes are still thriving. Their job is to keep empty houses clean and safe from the forces that depress local property values: squatters, thieves and decay.</p><p>Dawn Hammontree probably never expected to see their work firsthand.</p><p>The first part of Hammontree&rsquo;s story is familiar in Michigan. Her unemployment ran out in December.</p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 15:32:16 +0000 Kate Davidson 3896 at http://michiganradio.org Foreclosures decline, while foreclosure businesses thrive Ishpeming: Where iron ore built a city (Part 3 - with photos) http://michiganradio.org/post/ishpeming-where-iron-ore-built-city-part-3-photos <p>http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/michigan/local-michigan-979540.mp3</p><p>Our <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/">Changing Gears</a> project is on the road, bringing you stories of towns where one company still affects everybody&rsquo;s lives. Today we head north, to Michigan&rsquo;s Upper Peninsula. That&rsquo;s where North America&rsquo;s biggest supplier of iron ore has been blasting the earth, and creating jobs, for more than 160 years.&nbsp;</p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 12:00:39 +0000 Kate Davidson 3502 at http://michiganradio.org Ishpeming: Where iron ore built a city (Part 3 - with photos) Growing the region's clean economy http://michiganradio.org/post/growing-regions-clean-economy <p>The clean economy is touted as a future economic driver of the region. But a new report shows that while Ohio and Illinois have added jobs to the clean economy, Michigan is the only state to have lost them. Changing Gears visited one scientist in Plymouth, Mich., who&rsquo;s trying to nudge that number back up. Thu, 21 Jul 2011 13:28:01 +0000 Kate Davidson 3408 at http://michiganradio.org Growing the region's clean economy