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Transportation
2:47 pm
Fri August 19, 2011

Feds to invest more than $28 million in new Dearborn train station

A map showing current High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program investments.
Federal Railroad Administration

The Federal Railroad Administration has obligated $28,204,450 to the Michigan Department of Transportation to build a new Dearborn train station.

U.S. Representative John Dingell (D-Dearborn) made the announcement in a press release today:

This funding will allow the City of Dearborn to consolidate its two passenger rail stations into a intermodal station in the west section of downtown Dearborn... The intermodal facility will be designed for the planned Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter rail as well as future high-speed intercity passenger rail service.  The station will accommodate city, regional and intercity bus systems; local and tourist shuttles; bicycle and greenway linkages; and, auto, taxi, and limousine connections to Detroit International Airport.

In the release, Dingell said "modernizing rail travel will help attract small business development, increase job growth, and enhance the livelihood of communities and business, by helping to expedite the time and efficiency of people and goods getting from point A to point B."

Last May, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced an investment of $196.5 million to improve track and signal systems between Dearborn and Kalamazoo.

The improvements, the federal government said, would reduce trip times between Detroit and Chicago by 30 minutes.

The Federal Railroad Administration selected the Dearborn rail station to be funded under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program.

In total, the government plans to spend $10.1 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money to improve passenger rail service in the U.S.

The Dearborn Press & Guide reports the announcement puts an end to questions about whether the money would come or not:

[The money] was awarded more than two years ago as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Although the money was awarded, until this week it still had not been obligated and Congressional Republicans are proposing to rescind all non-obligated ARRA funds as part of the upcoming federal budget process.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly was quoted as saying he was relieved by the news, "I was panicked that our shovel-ready project would never come to fruition. This really is key for Dearborn, as we'll now be central to any future transportation planning for the region."

Economy
11:10 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Group seeks to create Detroit Jewish neighborhood

The Ellington Lofts in Midtown Detroit. The AP reports a rent program is aimed at bringing young Jewish professionals back to Detroit's Midtown area or to the downtown area.
user dig downtown detroit Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A group of young Jewish professionals attracted to the vitality of Detroit's evolving downtown wants to bring others into the city decades after their parents and grandparents left.

CommunityNEXT Director Jordan Wolfe says the 25 people targeted through a rent program would help return Jewish culture to Detroit and contribute to the city's revitalization.

Subsidies of $250 per month for a year will be offered. Wolfe says he is seeking to bring in people "who get a kick out of building a community."

The rent program piggybacks offers major corporations and businesses are making to entice their employees to relocate downtown or to Detroit's growing Midtown area.

A dodgeball tournament fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday in Detroit and will be followed Sunday by a kickball tournament in Los Angeles.

Economy
6:19 am
Fri August 19, 2011

Ag business strained finding good crop of employees

Hamilton Farm Bureau Chief Operating Officer Wade Blowers says he hopes to recruit sales people that will make investing in more storage and processing capacity at his co-op worthwhile.
Rick Pluta Michigan Public Radio

Originally published on Fri August 19, 2011 12:01 am

Last of a five-part series

In Michigan, one in 10 people who want work can't find a job, and that number doubles if you include people who are underemployed or who have just given up on their job search.

But despite high unemployment, some employers are still finding that the search for talent can be a challenge.

At the Hamilton Farm Bureau cooperative in southwest Michigan, a 50-ton truck is taking in a load of grain that will go to feed cattle.

Read more
Chevy kicks off Dream Cruise
5:38 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Dream Cruise underway - with Chevy leading the way

A Volt owner shows off his new car prior to the parade.

Chevrolet kicked off the Dream Cruise with a parade of classic Chevys and fifty Chevy Volts down Woodward Avenue.

It’s the first Dream Cruise for GM CEO Dan Akerson. 

Akerson has been CEO of General Motors since September of last year.

Akerson says the passion people show for classic cars is no surprise.

"GM has been part of Detroit, Detroit’s been a major player globally in automotive, and the Dream Cruise is a celebration of the industry and the success and the rebirth of Detroit," Akerson said at an pre-parade celebration.

GM plans electric cadillac
5:15 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

GM brings back electric, extended-range Cadillac program

General Motors has confirmed that it will develop a Cadillac version of its flagship Chevy Volt.

Like the Volt, the Cadillac ELR will run on electricity made by a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, or a gasoline generator.

The car has had an on-again, off-again history. 

As a concept, the then-named Cadillac Converj made a big splash at the 2009 North American International Auto Show.

GM CEO Dan Akerson says he doesn’t know why the program was suspended.  The car came up at a meeting shortly after he took charge of GM.

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Economy
3:14 pm
Thu August 18, 2011

Pontiac braces for tax hikes, service cuts

ddaimage3.jpg Google images

Pontiac residents could soon pay more for fewer service as the city tackles a projected $12 million deficit. 

Emergency manager Michael Stampfler's plan would  add more than $6 million  to Pontiac’s tax rolls.

Leon Jukowski is Pontiac’s mayor. He no longer has power, but says he monitors the actions of the emergency manager.

“These are some pretty significant obligations: $4.6 million for the pension and VEBA contributions, Jukowski says. "$1 million tax appeal for General Motors. So this could be a significant tax increase.”

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Auto/Economy
10:52 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

West Michigan’s economy depends on…

Steven Depolo Creative Commons

West Michigan’s economy depends on turning around Detroit, an educated workforce and a better attitude. That’s the conclusion from leaders who took part in a community forum in Grand Rapids Wednesday night. The group included non-profit, business and government leaders.

More than anything, the group says people in Michigan need to adopt a more positive attitude.

Birgit Klohs heads The Right Place. She works to attract businesses and workers to West Michigan.

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Volts in Dream Cruise
6:25 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Quiet Chevy Volts to join classic V-8 Chevys in Dream Cruise

Chevrolet kicks off the Woodward Dream Cruise weekend with a parade of classic Chevy vehicles alongside 50 Chevy Volts - GM's modern flagship electric car with an extended range gas engine.

Chevy is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Spokesman Rob Peterson says fifty Volts will cruise quietly down Woodward Avenue on battery power – alongside some classic Chevys with their big V-8 engines.

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Economy
4:49 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

Genesee commissioner suggests using portion of hotel tax to fund police

Genesee County Commissioner Joe Graves says a portion of hotel tax revenue should be used to put more police on patrol. Graves says better security will draw more visitors to the region's events and attractions.
co.genesee.mi.us

A Genesee County Commissioner says a portion of a hotel excise tax should be spent on police protection, rather than promoting area attractions and county parks.

Commissioner Joe Graves says nearly$1 million is generated every year by the five percent hotel tax in Genesee County. Most of it goes to the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The rest goes to the County Parks and Recreation Commission.

Graves says it would make sense to take $250,000  get a matching federal grant, and put more police on the streets.

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Economy
4:34 pm
Wed August 17, 2011

State jobless rate rises again

Snagablog.com

More than a half-million people in Michigan are out of work.

About 33,000 fewer Michiganders had jobs in July compared to the month before.

"The state jobless rate has now edged up for three consecutive months," says Bruce Weaver of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. "It rose by four-tenths of a percentage point in July to 10.9 percent."

It’s still better than a year ago, when the unemployment rate was 12.4 percent.

AUTO
8:02 am
Wed August 17, 2011

UAW: Ford talks ahead of schedule, strike vote set

Pobrecito33 Flickr

The United Auto Workers' lead negotiator with Ford Motor Co. says talks with the Dearborn-based automaker are ahead of schedule and says the union is asking its locals to hold routine strike authorization votes by Sept. 2.

Jimmy Settles tells the Detroit Free Press the votes are "nothing unusual" and are a normal part of every contract cycle with Ford.

Settles and UAW President Bob King announced the decision to hold a strike authorization vote Tuesday at a UAW meeting in Chicago. The union started negotiations with Ford late last month to replace a four-year contract that expires Sept. 14.

Contracts also are up at General Motors Co. and Chrysler, of which Fiat is the majority owner.

Economy
7:10 am
Wed August 17, 2011

Report: MI teens are doing better, young children are worse off

Teen deaths are on the decline in Michigan. That’s according to an annual report that compares indicators on the wellbeing of children.

According to the report, Michigan ranks better than the national average for the death rate among teens. Jane Zehnder-Merrell is the “Kids Count” project director at the Michigan League for Human Services. She says teens are getting into fewer fatal car accidents. But she says Michigan is experiencing a national trend toward more teen murders. 

“It’s troubling to see that as we push down one rate another rates starts going up; the homicide rate. Suicide rate has remained relatively stable, but we may see increases in that as well with the stress.”

There has been a 64 percent increase in the child poverty rate in Michigan over the past decade, according to the report.

Zehnder-Merrell says increases in unemployment and home foreclosures affect the wellbeing of children.

 “Very stressful, very difficult times for families, even though in Michigan I think part of it too is we’re used to having a lot more people living a middleclass life and having access to housing and good jobs and good health insurance, and the world is changing.”

Zehnder-Merrell says many budget and program cuts and made in the Legislature have exacerbated child poverty issues. That includes a proposed four-year cap on cash assistance that is set for a final vote when lawmakers return to Lansing next week.

Auto/Economy
2:15 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Growing West Michigan auto-supplier hiring big, again

Gentex’s rear-view mirror display is one of it's newer technologies that's in demand. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration is considering federal regulations that would require all new vehicles to have back-up camera displays by 2014.
Gentex Corporation

Zeeland-based Gentex Corporation is the world’s largest supplier of auto-dimming review mirrors. The company has hired 1,200 people in the last two years. Now it’s looking to hire another 1,100 people in the next five years. That’s a 65 percent increase in its workforce since 2008.

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Economy
1:21 pm
Tue August 16, 2011

Creating a master plan for Ecorse

Ecorse has received $40,000 in private grants to help the city develop a master plan for its future. The city is under state control because of its deficit. Partners like the Michigan Municipal League, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and C.S. Mott Foundation are investing in the project called Envision Ecorse.

Joyce Parker is the emergency manager for Ecorse.  

"Part of what we would like to do is, as we move forward towards eliminating the deficit and getting the city stabilized, to work with elected officials and the community to sustain that success."

Parker says some of the money will help develop a plan for the city’s greenways. The planning project could serve as a model for other cities under emergency managers.

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Economy
11:07 am
Tue August 16, 2011

"For the People" Jobs Fair comes to Detroit

Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, announcing the jobs fair and town hall meeting on YouTube
screen grab from YouTube video

The Congressional Black Caucus' five-city "For the People" Jobs Fair is on its second stop in Detroit today. The fair kicked off in Cleveland last week and will end in Los Angeles at the end of the month.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek will head over to the fair at the downtown campus of Wayne County Community College and give us an update.

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Auto/Economy
6:30 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Some Detroit brands slip in customer satisfaction

Customers were less satisfied with some Detroit car brands this year, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Satisfaction declined from last year for Chrysler, Lincoln and Buick.

Claus Fornell is with the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.  He's the founder of the index.

Fornell says the decline is especially worrisome because satisfaction with most Asian brands rose.

He says Detroit could be in trouble again if the trend continues.

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Ann Arbor may ban car idling
6:16 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Ann Arbor wants to end polluting practice of car idling

Ann Arbor may soon hand out tickets for leaving a car idling. 

Proponents of the ordinance say car idling adds to pollution and wastes energy. 

The ban wouldn't apply to cars sitting in traffic.  But Ann Arbor Energy Commission Chair Wayne Appleyard says a lot of times, people are idling their cars unnecessarily.

Economy
1:11 pm
Mon August 15, 2011

Lansing city council to discuss the future of an old golf course tonight

In this artist's conception of future development along Michigan Avenue in Lansing, buildings on the south side of the road will take up a portion of the Red Cedar golf course
(Courtesy the Lansing Economic Development Corp.)

Lansing city council members tonight will discuss whether to ask voters to approve the sale of 12 acres of city park land for a future economic development deal.  The mayor’s office wants to include the Red Cedar golf course as part of a multi-million dollar development along US 127.  

The development is just speculative as this point, since the city has not settled on a developer or a specific plan.  Bob Trezise is the president of the Lansing Economic Development Corporation.  He supports making the land available for development.

“This is very neglected that shouldn’t be the way it is.  Its many vacant properties.  It’s a golf course that’s not a golf course anymore....nor is it even a park.”

The city council is being asked to put the potential sale of the old golf course on  the ballot in November.

Here's an artist's conception of future development along Michigan Avenue in Lansing from the Lansing Economic Development Corporation:

DTE adds electric vans to fleet
11:55 am
Mon August 15, 2011

Detroit Edison adds electric vans to its fleet

Transit Connect Electric Van
staff media.ford.com

Detroit Edison is taking the next step toward an electric car future. The electricity provider will power some of its own fleet using electricity.

Some of Detroit Edison's service calls will now be made by technicians driving Ford Transit Connect electric vans.

The van's range is about 80 miles - that's enough for an average day's worth of calls, says Detroit Edison President Steven Kurmas.

 Kurmas says more of the vans may be added to the fleet later.

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Auto/Economy
5:25 pm
Fri August 12, 2011

Detroit Police and businesses launch new downtown security initiative

Detroit Police and local businesses are teaming up for a new downtown security initiative.

Project Lighthouse involves more than 20 businesses in the city’s central business district. They’ll give police access to more than 300 private security cameras in the area.

Rick Fenton, Vice President of Corporate Security for Ilitch Holdings, says the initiative evolved out of private sector collaboration with federal agencies and police to monitor big downtown events.

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