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Economy
10:53 am
Tue July 19, 2011

Borders closes: 10,700 workers to lose jobs

Borders will begin to close some of its stores as early as this week.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

After 40 years in the business, the national bookstore chain Borders has officially called it quits.

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Economy
7:03 am
Tue July 19, 2011

News roundup: Borders to go out of business

The closure of Borders is making headlines across the country this morning
Lornais Flickr

Borders Group Inc., the Ann Arbor-based bookstore chain, announced yesterday that it is closing after failing to find a buyer. Some stores will close as early as Friday. The liquidation of Borders is making headlines across the state and around the country:

Meanwhile, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder's office says the closing of Borders is more a reflection of publishing industry problems than a statement about Michigan's business climate, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

His office says the fall of Borders marks the end of an important piece of Michigan history. Snyder is a former Ann Arbor businessman who was elected as a Republican in November.

Spokeswoman Geralyn Lasher says the Snyder administration will "want to look closely from the jobs perspective of people in the state."

Economy
4:35 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Borders Books is going out of business

The liquidation process for Borders stores could start as early as Friday, July 22.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Borders Books is officially going out of business.

The Ann Arbor bookstore chain issued a statement this afternoon saying the company Hilco and Gordon Brothers will "purchase the store assets and start the liquidation process." 

Borders Group President Mike Edwards:

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Auto/Economy
2:47 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

GM to invest $328 Million in Flint Assembly Plant

media.gm.com staff

General Motors will invest $328 million in its Flint Assembly Plant, to prepare the facility to build the next generation of Chevy and GMC full-size pickup trucks.

The plant just added a third shift earlier this year.

Joe Ashton is the UAW's GM Vice President.

He says the profitable trucks made at the Flint Assembly Plant are an important source of revenue for GM.

The UAW heads into contract negotiations next week with Ford, Chrysler and GM. 

Ashton says workers want a lot of different things from their new contract. 

Economy
12:16 pm
Mon July 18, 2011

Michigan's Best campaign expands

Scott Schopieray Flickr

Some grocery store shelves are being filled with more Michigan-made products. Grand Rapids based Spartan Stores recently expanded its Michigan’s Best program by stocking more Michigan products in more stores. Spartan Stores started the Michigan’s Best campaign in 2009 to stimulate local businesses and farms. Alan Hartline is an executive at Spartan Stores. He says the campaign is great for Michigan.

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Auto/Economy
1:00 am
Sun July 17, 2011

Can immigrants save Michigan's economy?

DonkeyHotey flickr

How immigrants can improve Michigan’s economy will be the topic of a conference in Detroit on Monday. And some heavy hitters – including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder – will be among the speakers.

Steve Tobocman is director of Global Detroit – which advocates for “pro-growth” immigration reform. He says critics’ view that encouraging immigration would increase the already-fierce competition for jobs is off base:

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Auto/Economy
3:00 pm
Fri July 15, 2011

Delta discontinues service to five Michigan cities

J. Miguel Rodriguez Flickr

Delta Airlines is discontinuing service to five airports in Michigan, including Alpena, Iron Mountain, Escanaba, Pellston and Sault Ste. Marie, according to the Detroit News:

"Delta Air Lines said today it plans to discontinue flight service in 24 underperforming markets around the country, including at five airports in Michigan."

"'While Delta would prefer to continue serving these communities, the new reality of mounting cost pressures faced by our industry means we can no longer afford to provide this service,' Delta said in a statement."

"Delta, which said it also plans to retire its Saab fleet of aircraft and halt $14 million in annual losses, said it would notify the Department of Transportation of its plans, which would affect Essential Air Service markets."

"The EAS program ensures small communities have access to passenger air service and includes subsidies by the government to airlines."

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

People buy more fuel-efficient cars
10:11 am
Fri July 15, 2011

Emissions from new cars drop since 2007

user: ifmuth flickr.com

Emissions from new vehicles dropped 12% between 2007 and this year, according to a new index by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. 

But it’s unclear if that trend will continue in the future.

For decades, there was little increase in the fuel efficiency of the new cars people bought. 

That changed starting in 2007.  Consumers turned to more fuel-efficient cars and they drove fewer miles, lowering overall emissions. 

But it probably wasn’t environmental concerns that caused the shift. 

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Economy
4:46 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Metro Detroit ranks No. 9 in millionaires

jdurham MorgueFile

 Never mind the recession or the near collapse of the auto industry just a couple of years ago.

A report in the Wall Street Journal finds that Detroit and its suburbs have plenty of people whose bank accounts are very healthy.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation spokesman Joe Serwach says Michigan is holding its own.

“Detroit came in at No. 9, ahead of San Jose, which surprised me," Serwach says. "I would have thought Silicon Valley would have had more. But we had 92,100 millionaires.”

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Auto/Economy
4:39 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Borders faces liquidation after lead bid falls through

Borders bankruptcy auction set for July 19
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

It’s been a busy 24 hours for Ann Arbor-based Borders: The bankrupt bookstore chain has gone from having a potential buyer to talk of liquidation.

The auction to sell Borders is still scheduled for Tuesday, July 19th.  But the lead bidder, known as a "stalking horse," has pulled out. That bidder was Najafi, a private equity from Arizona a firm.

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Economy
4:02 pm
Thu July 14, 2011

Bill would ban employers from discriminating against unemployed applicants

A proposed law would forbid employers from accepting applications only from people who are already employed.
earl53 Morguefile

You have to have a job in order to get a job at some companies in America -- and it’s not against the law for them to say that right in their employment ad.

State Rep. Jim Ananich, D-Flint, has proposed a bill that would forbid discrimination against the unemployed.

“I just assumed that was something that wouldn’t be held against somebody," Ananich says. "Usually when you’re applying for a job, it’s because you don’t have one. So to tell someone that they can’t even be an applicant just doesn’t seem fair.”

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Economy
1:01 am
Thu July 14, 2011

Home foreclosure filings down (and that's a problem?)

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The number of home foreclosures tumbled in Michigan during the first half of the year. One analyst says that’s bad news.  

Realty Trac reports that home foreclosure filings dropped by about 20 percent during the first six months of 2011. One in 74 homes in Michigan received a foreclosure notice between January and June. 

Rick Sharga is with Realty Trac. He says continuing questions about problems with foreclosure paperwork has slowed down the number of properties being repossessed by banks. Federal and state regulators are expected to announce a deal soon clearing major lenders from intentional wrongdoing involving faulty paperwork that mistakenly evicted people current on their mortgages. 

Sharga says the delay in foreclosure filings has slowed the recovery in Michigan’s real estate market. 

 “What over 60% of buyers are looking for right now are bank owned properties or foreclosure properties.   So it might be a little of a ‘Catch-22’ here…where we need a higher inventory of these distressed properties to get the buyers off the sidelines.”  

Sharga says it may take until 2015 to clear the huge backlog of homes in the foreclosure process which will continue to be a drag on the home sale market.

UAW weighs in on CAFE
1:36 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Closed meeting at Solidarity House could result in new CAFE rules

The United Auto Workers is hosting an important, unpublicized meeting about CAFE standards today at Solidarity House in Detroit.  

CAFE governs car fuel efficiency in the U.S.

The meeting could help the government decide how fuel efficient cars must be by the year 2025. 

The UAW, Detroit car companies, the federal government, and environmental groups will likely try to reach a compromise on future CAFE requirements, somewhere between a 47 and 62 miles per gallon average.    

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Economy
12:36 pm
Wed July 13, 2011

Russian steelmaker gets US loan for Michigan plant

Making steel at the Severstal North America plant in Dearborn.
Severstal North America

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Energy Department says it has loaned $730 million to the North American arm of one of Russia's largest steel companies to modernize its Detroit-area plant.

The government and Severstal North America on Wednesday officially announced plans to upgrade and expand facilities in Dearborn that make steel for the auto industry. They say the project will employ around 2,500 construction workers and create 260 factory jobs.

The money comes from a $25 billion low-interest loan program created in 2007 to help car companies retool older factories to build green cars.

Severstal bought the Dearborn factory in 2004.

Auto/Economy
11:46 am
Wed July 13, 2011

Developing electric vehicle charging stations (and where you can find them now)

The location of electric charging stations online now in Michigan.
Google Maps and the U.S. Department of Energy

One group in west Michigan wants to encourage more people to buy electric cars by building more charging stations.

From the Grand Rapids Press:

The West Michigan Strategic Alliance is proposing the development of at least 4,000 charging stations across eight counties. Alliance President Greg Northrup is seeking approval from county boards in Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon for the project, which would be financed through the sale of bonds and be repaid over a 10-year period.

“We’ve got $3 billion invested in battery projects in West Michigan,” Northrup said. “Why shouldn’t we have the infrastructure to go with it?”

So those are 4,000 proposed electric charging stations.

How can you find charging stations that are online now?

Google and the U.S. Department of Energy to the rescue. You can enter your address on the DOE's website to find alternative fueling stations near you.

Fast Company says "eventually, this Google/DOE partnership will serve as the primary EV charging station data source for GPS and mapping systems (like the one that may be in your car already)."

Economy
4:01 pm
Sat July 9, 2011

Ethanol subsidies & Michigan corn growers

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan corn farmers may be losing a ‘safety net’.   The Congress is expected to vote soon on ending ethanol subsidies.    The move is expected to save the federal government $1.3 billion this year. 

Ethanol in the United States is mainly produced using corn.  Michigan farmers increased their corn production in recent years as federal mandates required ethanol in gasoline.  

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Economy
1:01 am
Fri July 8, 2011

Detroit home prices plummeted in first half of 2011

But at what price?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Detroit home prices posted sharp declines during the first 6 months of 2011, according to a new report.  And the decline is expected to continue during the next 6 months.  Clear Capital reports Detroit’s home sale prices were down 19.8% during the first half of the year compared to the first six months of 2010. 

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Economy
11:15 am
Thu July 7, 2011

Pfizer may sell animal health, nutrition units

NEW YORK (AP) Pfizer says it may sell its animal health and nutrition business in the next two years so it can focus on expanding its low-cost pharmaceuticals unit.

Pfizer says it will also consider transactions including spinoffs and may pursue different strategies for each business. It said any transactions could take one to two years to complete.

The businesses brought Pfizer Inc. $5.5 billion in revenue in 2010, about 8 percent of its total. The Animal Health unit makes vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and other items to prevent and treat diseases in livestock and pets, and the nutrition unit makes infant and pediatric products.

The New York drugmaker say it will focus on its established products business, which makes drugs that are off-patent or are losing patent protection.

Changing Gears
10:57 am
Thu July 7, 2011

Canadian oil is boosting midwest economy, but at what cost?

Marathon is upgrading its Detroit refinery to process more heavy crude from the Canadian oil sands.
Adee Braun Changing Gears

Green energy is often said to be the future of the Midwest economy. But old fashioned fossil fuels could be having a bigger effect on the region’s jobs and corporate bottom lines.

This is not conventional oil, though.

It’s a thick, tar-like crude from the oil sands in Alberta, Canada.

It’s sent here by pipelines, many which cross our rivers and the Great Lakes, and that has some worrying about a bigger risk to the region.

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Auto/Economy
11:43 pm
Wed July 6, 2011

Oakland County Exec lays out three-year budget

Brooks Patterson
Oakland County

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says the county’s budget is balanced for the next three years.

 Patterson laid out his recommendations for a triennial budget to Oakland County Commissioners Wednesday night.

 Patterson says that long-term planning has been key to maintaining the county’s AAA bond rating, even as property tax revenues plummet.

 Patterson says the county has also managed to avoid cutting employee salaries and mass layoffs.

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