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Economy
11:50 am
Fri May 20, 2011

U of M planning health care policy institute

The University of Michigan has announced that it's planning a new health care policy institute in the
complex that once belonged to drugmaker Pfizer Inc.

The university said Thursday the Institute for Health Care Policy and Innovation aims to inform and influence public policy and enhance efforts to improve health care services.

More than 500 researchers eventually could be part of the new institute at the North Campus Research Complex, Pfizer's former research and development center the Ann Arbor school bought in 2009
for $108 million.

The university says it will launch a national search for an institute director. It expects a $13.7 million renovation project to be completed next spring.

Economy
6:25 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Michigan economist on state's new tax structure

Charles Ballard, economist Michigan State University
Michigan State University

Governor Snyder and the legislature have come to an agreement on the state’s new tax structure. Does it make fiscal sense?

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke with Charles Ballard, an economist at Michigan State University and author of “Michigan’s Economic Future.” Here's the interview.

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Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Energy-efficient GM Orion plant ready to build fuel-efficient (and profitable) cars

Orion Assembly workers will be producing a new subcompact car for General Motors in about a month at the automaker's newly-renovated plant in Lake Orion. 

GM doesn’t plan to lose money on the Chevy Sonic, even though small cars are less profitable --which is why other major car companies make their smallest cars in lower-cost countries.   

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Economy
2:02 pm
Thu May 19, 2011

Two minimum wage incomes needed to purchase a home

 A Michigan family needs two people working full-time at minimum wage in order to afford a modest home. That’s according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. The report says, the cost of housing has risen 27% in Michigan over 11 years, but wages have not increased.

Danilo Pelletiere is with the housing coalition. He says the gap between housing prices and wages has become a problem in the state.

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Economy
11:51 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Governor Snyder to deal with bond ratings after budget

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says he plans a trip to New York to discuss the state's bond ratings.

Snyder told reporters following a speech in Detroit Thursday that he and top financial officials in his administration will make the trip after current negotiations over the state budget conclude.

As a new governor, Snyder says it's important to establish a good relationship with agencies that rate Michigan's bonds.

Snyder says he believes the agencies would look more favorably on a state with a "stable, thoughtful tax system," something the Republican former businessman says he has taken steps to achieve.

A top bond rating is a sign of sound fiscal practices and enables an entity to borrow money at the most favorable rate.

Economy
11:51 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Hitting the road for Memorial Day weekend

A view of Lake Michigan from near Frankfort, Michigan
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

AAA Michigan predicts state highways will be busy on Memorial Day.     The automobile club’s survey shows one point one million Michiganders plan to travel during the 5 day holiday period, 91% by car.

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Obituary
10:26 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Detroit businessman Don Barden dies

Don Barden (Dec. 20th, 1943-May 19th, 2011)
(Black Entrepreneur's Hall of Fame)

Detroit businessman Don Barden has died after a long bout with lung cancer.   Barden was a major player in the nation's casino industry.

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Auto/Economy
10:01 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Report: Chrysler to repay loans

$3 million in interest per day.

That's how much Chrysler paid in interest on its government loans last year according to the Associated Press.

Those high interest rates, and the stigma of being financed by the government, are driving Chrysler to pay off the government loans.

Sources told the Associated Press a deal could be reached next Tuesday:

Chrysler is close to repaying its government bailouts.

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Unemployment
6:33 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Michigan’s April jobless rate drops very little to 10.2 percent

Michigan’s new monthly jobless rate of 10-point-two percent signals the state continues to recover slowly from the recession. The new unemployment figure is a drop of one-tenth of a percentage point from March to April, and is a full three percentage points below where it was at this time last year.

There’s plenty of evidence that Michigan is in the early stages of a comeback, but job growth remains anemic. The state added just three thousand jobs from March to April.

One early, promising sign, though: so far this year people are no longer giving up their job searches and leaving the workforce. But, Bruce Weaver of the state Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives says disgruntled ex-jobseekers aren’t resuming their search for work, either. When that happens, he says, that could signal growing faith that a recovery is underway.

“One of the first impacts you will often see is an increase in individuals entering the workforce, seeking jobs. There’s not any evidence in these numbers that’s happening yet in Michigan.”

And Michigan’s rate of under-employment, while edging downward, remains high. The combined rate of unemployment and under-employment is 20 percent.

Energy
12:17 am
Thu May 19, 2011

Holland takes cautious steps on plan to build a wind farm

warrenski Creative Commons

The City of Holland is buying the option to lease more land it wants to use for a wind farm. City Council approved the lease agreements Wednesday night to spend $40,000 for roughly 860 acres of land south of Holland. The area has been identified as one of the best in the state for wind energy potential.

The city has been collecting more detailed wind data since last fall. If everything goes smoothly, Holland Mayor Kurt Dykstra says wind turbines could begin to go up as soon as next year.

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Auto/Economy
12:53 pm
Wed May 18, 2011

State incentives lead to GM's investment in Warren Tech Center

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.

Economy
2:19 pm
Tue May 17, 2011

Foreclosure rates will continue to rise in Metro Detroit

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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Auto/Economy
11:33 am
Tue May 17, 2011

Ford to expand engine plant in India

The Ford Figo is sold in India. The company plans to expand an engine plant in Chennai, India.
user Ford APA Flickr

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.

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Auto
4:59 pm
Mon May 16, 2011

Owners of auto parts company charged with fraud

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.

Economy
11:50 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Economist: Michigan will keep adding 60K jobs a year

An economist says the resurging domestic auto industry is helping the state get back on its feet (assembly of the Chevy Volt).
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.

Economy
12:33 pm
Sat May 14, 2011

Christian book publisher Zondervan downsizes in Grand Rapids

Zondervan publishes Christian books, children's books, and Bibles.
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.”

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Economy
6:54 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Business leaders celebrating the end of the Michigan Business Tax

Many of the same West Michigan business leaders who voted in the 2008 Policy Forum attended a keynote speech by Gov. Rick Snyder in April. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the occasion, and started the West Michigan Policy Forum.
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.

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Auto/Economy
2:02 pm
Fri May 13, 2011

Michigan consumer sentiment index rising

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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Auto/Economy
11:33 am
Fri May 13, 2011

Chrysler moves up summer plant shutdowns to June

Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan.
user fiatontheweb creative commons

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.

Economy
1:01 am
Thu May 12, 2011

Michigan's foreclosure process slows down

(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:

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