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State tax breaks worth $10 million are leading to an investment in GM's Warren Tech Center.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts indicated an announcement like this would be coming last month.

From the Detroit News:

General Motors Co. won $10 million in tax incentives from the state today to build a new information technology facility at its Warren Tech Center.

The $130 million project — expected to create about 25 permanent jobs — will add on to the Cadillac Building on the campus and occupy about 30-acres of land located along Van Dyke Avenue. The new jobs will pay an average of $44 an hour, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

The brownfield tax credits valued at $10 million were approved this morning by the Michigan Economic Growth Authority board.

The state brownfield tax credits involved in this deal won't be around for long. In Governor Snyder tax overhaul plan, approved by state legislators, the tax credits will be replaced with a system that will grant redevelopment money up front.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Livingston and Macomb Counties showed some improvement in Metro Detroit’s slumping home sale prices and sales since January. Macomb County boosted home sales by 5% in the four month period. Livingston County increased home sale prices by 8.5% in April to $140,ooo.

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Ford Motor Company plans to expand one of its engine plants in India.

From the Associated Press:

Ford Motor Co. says it will spend $72 million to expand an engine plant in India to support sales and export growth.

The company said today the investment in its Chennai engine plant will create more than 300 jobs. Ford plans to run the factory on three shifts per day.

CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Two brothers whose Michigan company supplies parts to the auto industry have been charged with fraud in an investigation of the quality of plastic.

Orman and David Bernhardt of Davalor Mold are accused of using less expensive materials than required in seat belt assemblies and then covering it up through false reports.

The fraud charge was filed Monday. Their lawyer is Bob Sheehan, and he says a guilty plea is planned.

He says there's "absolutely no safety issue." Sheehan says the parts were tested by federal regulators.

Davalor Mold is in Macomb County's Chesterfield Township, about 30 miles northeast of Detroit. The company works for Tier I auto suppliers, which supply parts for automakers. The alleged scheme lasted for two years until spring 2010.

Argonne National Laboratory

 LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A University of Michigan economist says the state's rebounding economy will add about 60,000 jobs annually for the next three years.

George Fulton says the state unemployment rate will hover between 9 percent and 10 percent through 2013 as job growth stays steady but not spectacular.

Fulton gave his economic forecast to state economists Monday at the Capitol. He says the resurging domestic auto industry is helping the state get back on its feet as the Detroit Three see their first increase in market share since 1995. All sectors except government are expected to add jobs.

Fulton says Michigan is in the early stages of a sustained recovery and that 2011-13 will be the best three years for the state economy since 2000, although some residents will continue to suffer.

Kevin Rawlings / Creative Commons

75 workers will be laid off from Christian book publisher Zondervan’s distribution warehouse in July of 2012. Zondervan currently employs 325 people.

Scott Macdonald is president and CEO of the Grand Rapids-based company that publishes Bibles, children’s books, and Christian authors.

“We’re a family. We have a long history and heritage (in Grand Rapids). This is a significant impact on our family but it’s one that’s driven by a changing business climate and it’s the right decision for us at this time because of that.”

Russ Climie / Tiberius Images

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to sign the tax overhaul that replaces the business tax with a 6% corporate income tax on profits.

Leaders of the West Michigan Policy Forum touted "the MBT is dead!” in an email to around 600 supporters Friday. Those supporters voted 'eliminating the business tax' as their top priority during the Policy Forum’s first conference in 2008.

Richard Holden / Flickr

Some potentially good news for Michigan's economy.

In May, the consumer confidence index for the state rose "to 72.4, a three-month high," according to Bloomburg News.

Omair Sharif, an economist, says that the rise can be attributed to improvements in employment numbers despite the destabilizing effect of high gas prices.

Bloomburg News reports:

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DETROIT (AP) - Chrysler is moving its normal summer shutdowns at three factories into June from the usual July closings because of parts shortages from the earthquake in Japan.

The company says its pickup truck plant in Warren, Mich., and its Toledo, Ohio, North assembly plant will be idled the weeks of June 20 and 27. Both plants had been scheduled to close the weeks
of July 11 and 18.

In addition, a Toledo parts operation will close the week of June 20 instead of July 11.

The company says its other plants will have their normal summer shutdowns in July and August.

Nearly all automakers have lost production due to parts shortages from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit northern Japan. The quake damaged parts supply plants or knocked out electricity.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan mortgage lenders are taking longer to foreclose on delinquent homeowners.  In 2007, the entire foreclosure process in Michigan took on average 78 days to complete.   This year, the average foreclosure is taking 235 days to complete.  The reason is a mixture of the economy and paperwork. 

According to Realty Trac, this is not just a Michigan issue:

Toyota’s profits fell 77-percent in the first three months of the year.  That’s in part because the strong yen versus the dollar eroded the Japanese company’s profitability overseas. 

The company’s global production also plummeted after the tsunami damaged many Toyota parts suppliers in Japan.

Aaron Bragman is an analyst with I-H-S Automotive.    He says Toyota is, at least, on the mend from last year’s recall crisis.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder is honoring a West Michigan company for diversifying its business. Snyder presented Energetx Composites with his first “Reinventing Michigan” award. The award is part of a campaign promise to highlight more business success stories in the state.  

Energetx is a spin-off of Tiara Yachts. Luxury boats sales crashed during the recession.  In 2008 the company realized they could use the same strong but light-weight material used to make yachts to make other things, particularly parts for wind turbines. 

sideshowmom / Morgue File

A recent report  describing the adult workforce in Detroit says that 47% are unable to read.

We’ve had so much bad news for so long it’s sometimes hard to absorb when something goes right. But it did this week, when the federal government awarded Michigan $200 million dollars to improve railroad service between Detroit and Chicago.

General Motors has announced it will invest a total of $2 billion in 17 of its U.S. plants. 

The investment also means the company will re-hire its 1,357 laid-off workers, and possibly hire hundreds of new workers, especially if demand for GM cars continues to improve.

At GM's Toledo Transmission plant, UAW members gather to hear about what it means for their plant:  a $200 million upgrade and the opportunity to build a new, fuel-efficient 8-speed transmission.

Car production in Japan could return to normal earlier than expected.

From the Associated Press:

A report says Toyota's global car production, disrupted by parts shortages after Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami, will likely return to normal two to three months earlier
than expected.

Japan's top business daily Nikkei said Tuesday that Toyota's output will normalize earlier than the end of this year as parts shortages are easing. It didn't cite any sources.Toyota said last month its worldwide production will likely return to normal levels by November or December.

Toyota Motor Corp. spokeswoman Shiori Hashimoto could not confirm the report.

The disasters destroyed many factories in northeastern Japan, causing severe parts shortages for Toyota and other automakers. The supply crisis has cost the company production of 400,000 vehicles in Japan, and 100,000 overseas.

Brandon C / Flickr

A General Motors transmission factory will be adding 250 to 400 jobs, according to a union official quoted by the Associated Press.

The announcement will be made by CEO Dan Akerson and UAW Vice President Joe Ashton.

The AP reports:

A union official says General Motors plans to add 250 to 400 jobs at its transmission factory in Toledo, Ohio.

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow and Congressman Gary Peters say the government should do more to help the auto industry mass-produce fuel-efficient technologies.

The two Democrats were at Bosch auto supplier headquarters in suburban Detroit today to urge Congressional support for the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act.

The bill would authorize $300 million a year for private sector fuel-efficiency research.

Peters says "this is just the right thing to do" with Michigan gas prices at record highs:

 "You’re going to hear a lot of ideas about drilling and other types of ideas, but really the best idea is to push the technology," said Peters. "Push innovation. And that’s what we do here in the Detroit area better than anybody else in the world, and that’s innovate with vehicles and automobiles."

Peters says the legislation has support from both environmental and business groups.

The bill passed the U.S. House with bipartisan support last year, but it couldn’t get through the Senate.

User seemidtn / Flickr

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the investment of over $2 billion in high speed rail projects around the country.

But what are the actual projects?

The entire list is available at the Department of Transportation's website, which has the full press release.

But here are some highlights (including full descriptions from the press release on the two Michigan projects.

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The government is investigating the safety of some Ford F-150 trucks.

From the Associated Press:

U.S. safety regulators are investigating a fuel tank problem that could affect more than 2.7 million Ford F-150 pickup trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that the steel straps holding up the gas tank can rust and break, possibly causing a fuel spill and fire.

The agency says it is looking into trucks from the 1997 through 2001 model years. The F-150 is the top-selling vehicle in the U.S.

NHTSA says there are 243 reports of the tanks falling and causing two fires. No injuries have been reported.

The agency began looking at the problem last year when it had received 32 complaints.

Ford says it's cooperating with the investigation. Anyone with concerns should contact their dealer.

Saturday is National Train Day and events are being held across Michigan, including at many Amtrak stations. 

Tim Fischer is with the Michigan Environmental Council. 

He says gas prices are going up and so is train ridership. 

But Fischer says the same can’t be said of state and federal investments in the U.S. rail system. 

" So we certainly do need more funding for our rail systems, they are important assets that we should not be abandoning."

Here is a list of events:

User khalilshah / Flickr

The new national employment report shows the economy is churning out new jobs as people return to the workforce to compete for them.

Governor Rick Snyder says that’s good for Michigan as he tries to convince state lawmakers to adopt his jobs strategy.

Private sector employment is considered a strong indicator of the strength of the economy and, for the first time in a long time, private companies are hiring at a faster-than-expected rate.

Governor Snyder says that’s good news.

F. Olastuen / Flickr

Delta Air Lines is planning to offer "voluntary early retirements and buyouts" to its workers.

The reason? Rising jet fuel prices.

From the Associated Press:

Delta Air Lines Inc. says it will offer voluntary early retirements and buyouts to its employees because it must shrink to cope with high jet fuel prices.

A major home mortgage lender has reached a deal to end a federal investigation into alleged racial discrimination. The settlement will mean millions of dollars for housing programs in Wayne County.  

Citizens Bank is the largest bank holding company headquartered in Michigan and one of the 50 largest in the country. 

Photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Things continue to look bad for the Midwest housing market. Seven of the lowest performing major markets in the nation are from the Midwest and Detroit leads the pack. Sean McSweeney is with Clear Capital, a national real estate valuation company. McSweeney says while Detroit faces many challenges, there are still reasons Detroit home owners should be hopeful. 

Phillip Capper / Flickr

Gas prices continue to climb in Michigan. They reached a new record today hitting an average of $4.26.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Gas prices continue to climb in Michigan, with the average cost per gallon of regular gasoline jumping to $4.26 today from $4.22 on Tuesday.

Previously, the record price had been set in summer 2008. Tuesday's price broke that record.

A year ago, the average price per gallon in the state was $2.94.

In 2008, when gas prices shot up, demand for gasoline dropped as Americans adjusted their driving habits.

Some experts say that's not likely to happen this time around as Americans are not as shocked by the high gas prices.

Chrysler surviving

May 3, 2011

A new kind of customer began showing up at Schultz Motors of Milan after Chrysler ran a defiant, two-minute ad during the Superbowl -- young guys who’d never owned a Chrysler before.  But they wanted the car rap star Eminen was driving in that ad. 

Tyler Schultz says it helps that the 200 is a more appealing car than its predecessor the Sebring.

"The interior is very well-appointed, it's very driver-friendly, and you can see the list price is $24,000.  So with the incentives on top of that it comes in really affordable.  So this car’s got a lot of bang for the buck."

IFCAR / wikimedia commons

Sales numbers for April are coming in today, and there are more signs that the American public has pent up energy to buy new cars. As they did in 2008, higher gas prices are driving demand for smaller, fuel efficient cars. U.S. Automakers are more prepared for that demand this time around.

Update 3:50 p.m.

Chrysler announced the "best April sales since 2008" - a 22% increase compared with sales in April 2010. The company sold 95,703 cars in April.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan gasoline prices have reached a record high. According to GasBuddy.com, the price for a gallon of gasoline has never been this high in Michigan. 

Patrick DeHaan is a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. He says the old record was $4.25 a gallon. DeHaan says the price at the pump in large parts of Michigan is now higher than $4.29 a gallon. He says refinery problems are causing gasoline supplies to drop in the Midwest.

DeHaan says Michigan motorists should be aware, we may not have reached that peak pump price yet. 

 “Whatever you expect…can change.  And so, if there is another issue like this we could see prices continue higher.   But history tells us that prices will reach a new peak sometime in May.”

DeHaan does not expect the death this week of Osama bin Laden will have an affect on gas prices.

Car sales in the U.S. likely went up about ten percent last month, compared to the same month a year ago. 

U.S. sales for April will be reported Tuesday.

Analyst Jesse Toprak of Truecar.com says sales would have been better, but the disasters in Japan greatly diminished the supply of car parts, especially for Honda and Toyota.

Both companies have drastically slowed production of cars, and the slowdown could continue through the rest of the year.

Toprak says Japanese car companies typically do well when gas prices increase.

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