Auto

Auto/Economy
3:59 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Auto sales expected to maintain momentum

December auto sales numbers are due tomorrow. It’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers. 

After watching auto sales dwindle in the depths of the recession, auto companies have seen a surge in buying demand in recent months.  December is expected to be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales.

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Economy
3:55 pm
Thu December 30, 2010

Michigan to change its food stamp distribution policy in 2011

Michigan will spread out its food stamp distributions throughout the month beginning Jan. 4, 2011
user mytvdinner Flickr

Michigan residents who rely on food stamps will see some changes beginning in January.

Michigan's 1.9 million food stamp recipients get their benefits in lump sum at the beginning of the month. Most food stamp purchases are made at that time, which can lead to long lines at the checkout counter and a shortage of fresh produce at some stores.

"We know that we’re going to be busier those days, so we typically have more staff in the store," says Joe Gappy, manager at Gigante Prince Valley Supermercado in southwest Detroit.

Beginning January 4th, Michigan will spread its food stamp distributions throughout the month. That means some recipients will receive their lump sum benefits on the 5th of the month, for example, others on the 19th.  Click here to see a chart detailing date changes for food assistance benefits.

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Foreclosures
5:49 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Grand Rapids skyscraper listed in foreclosure auction

Bridgewater Place is the blue building on the far left.
John Eisenschenk Creative Commons

One of the biggest office buildings in Grand Rapids is listed for sale at a public foreclosure auction next month. The 17-story sleek blue-glass Bridgewater Place dramatically changed the city’s skyline when it was built in the early 90s. Many people refer to the building as the Varnum building, because of the law firms’ prominent logo near the top floor. Varnun rents the tops 6 floors.

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Auto/Economy
2:59 pm
Wed December 29, 2010

Energy credit brings businesses last-minute flurry

The tax credit can be applied to projects including insulation.
Ryan McFarland Flickr

Michigan businesses that make and install residential furnaces, windows and other energy-related products are getting a burst of last-minute jobs before the year ends.


Tony Ianni is a sales manager for WeatherGard, which installs windows, roofs and insulation – all of which qualify for a federal tax credit for energy efficiency:



"It’s definitely been a big push, everybody’s calling and the first question out of their mouths is, 'Can we still get the tax credit?'” 


Ianni says informing customers about the credit has been a big push for his industry. "Of course all your last-minute people are coming through now, trying to get everything done," he said. 


The tax credit also applies to hot water heaters, furnaces and stoves that burn wood or pellets. It’s good for 30 percent of the cost of the project, up to 15-hundred dollars.

Auto/Economy
10:16 am
Wed December 29, 2010

Michigan home prices likely to fall again in 2011

Michigan home prices keep falling
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan’s home prices are expected to tumble again next year.


 But, some parts of the state might see a slight increase in price.


 Home sale prices in Michigan rocked up and down this year. Government incentives helped boost prices in the first half of the year. When those incentives expired, prices dropped.


Alex Villacorta is with Clear Capitol. He says home prices in Michigan should get a boost in the Spring, but then should fall at the end of the year. 

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Seasonal giving
5:38 pm
Mon December 27, 2010

Michigan Salvation Army divisions still working toward 'Red Kettle' goals

Evan P. Cordes Creative Commons

The signature red kettles may be packed away, but the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is still underway.

Money from the kettles supports the Salvation Army’s programs; helping victims of disasters, low-income seniors, and running summer camps for kids.

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Electric vehicles
10:17 am
Mon December 27, 2010

Electric vehicle charging stations starting to pop up in west Michigan

The first Charge Point station is near Diamond and Lake drive.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

West Michigan will get 50 free public charging stations through a program funded by the federal stimulus program. The first one in downtown Grand Rapids is now up and running. It’s one of only a handful on the west side of the state. The other two are in Holland and a fourth is set to come online soon in Muskegon.

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Christmas
8:26 am
Thu December 23, 2010

Online Christmas sales have Michigan tax officials saying 'Bah Humbug'

Online sales are reportedly up about 12 percent this holiday shopping season. That could be bad news for Michigan tax collectors.  Michigan residents are supposed to pay sales tax on items bought online, but few do. 


 Caleb Booth is a spokesman for the state Treasury Department.  He says the state lost out on $328 million dollars in uncollected sales taxes on online purchases in 2009. 

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Auto/Economy
7:53 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

The critics pick the "ugliest cars of the decade"

The car that inspired the ugly car selections. The Fiat Multipla wasn't sold in the U.S. so it didn't count in our poll.
user corvettec6r Wikimedia Commons

The auto analysts have weighed in and the car that tops the list (all together now)... The Pontiac Aztek!

Former Car & Driver editor Csaba Csere says of the Aztec:

If you have ever heard that saying that a camel is a horse designed by a committee, the Aztek is the application of that concept to a car.

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Auto/Economy
4:44 pm
Wed December 22, 2010

Your 7 fugliest cars from the past decade

The Pontiac Aztek takes the cake in our Facebook poll.
IFCAR Wikimedia Commons

We asked our Facebook friends to give us their picks for ugliest car of the past decade.

As Tanya M. says, "clearly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

That's true Tanya... except when it comes to the Pontiac Aztek (sorry Elizabeth C.!).

If our Facebook friends were stranded on a desert island with twelve strangers, and they were the last ones standing, clearly they would not appreciate being given an Aztek as a tribute to their survival skills.

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Retail Sales
11:36 am
Wed December 22, 2010

Christmas sales strong for Michigan retailers

What's under the tree?
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It’s not Christmas yet, but Michigan retailers are in the holiday spirit. There are signs this will be the best holiday shopping season in Michigan in many years. 

When the holiday shopping season was getting started a month ago, a survey showed a majority of Michigan retailers were optimistic that they would see increased sales compared to last Christmas. The latest data is backing up that optimism.

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Economy
3:20 pm
Sun December 19, 2010

Flint police department will close on weekends

More cuts for Flint's Police Department
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Flint Police Department is closed on the weekends following the latest round of officer layoffs.

The Flint Journal reports new office hours took effect Saturday, the day after 20 police officers were laid off.

Flint Mayor Dayne Walling laid off a total of 66 police officers this year to cope with a multi-million-dollar deficit. The city also made other cuts.

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Economy
12:06 pm
Fri December 17, 2010

United Way holds 'Triple Money Monday' fundraiser for needy in Livingston County

Poverty has doubled in Livingston County over the last 5 years
SamPac creative commons

The Livingston County United Way is doing a 1-day only fundraiser to try to alleviate the growing need in the area.

It's called Triple Money Monday: On Dec. 20, from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., all donations made to nonprofit will be tripled, thanks to the Ted and Jane Von Voigtlander Foundation and two anonymous donors.

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Economy
11:10 am
Fri December 17, 2010

Retailers expect a surge in sales this weekend

Holiday shoppers will be making the rounds this weekend.
Jenn Forman Orth Flickr

Michigan retailers were optimistic that this would be a better holiday shopping season than they’ve had the last few years.

And so far, those expectations appear to be warranted.

The National Retail Federation upped its prediction for holiday sales from a 2.3% increase to a 3.3% increase over last year.

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Changing Gears
1:31 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Changing Gears talks reinvention

The Changing Gears team has put together a one-hour special Reinventing Our Cities.

It airs today at 2 pm eastern and 1 pm central. You can hear it on Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio and Cleveland's Ideastream, or, you can click this audio link to take a listen:

Here's how the team describes the one-hour special:

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Economy
1:04 pm
Thu December 16, 2010

Foreclosure rate falls in Michigan... for now

Foreclosure rates declined, but the dip could be temporary.
Damon Duncan Flickr

Foreclosure filings in Michigan fell 20% between October and November, but most of the decline came in homes in the final stages of foreclosure according to data released by Realty Trac, a group that calls itself "the nation's leading online foreclosure marketplace."

The pace of homes entering the system remained relatively unchanged.

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Winter Weather
8:49 am
Thu December 16, 2010

Blue Water Bridge reopened

The Blue Water Bridge connects Michigan to Ontario
K.l.macke/Flickr

The Blue Water Bridge has been reopened. The bridge, which links Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, was shut down Monday and Tuesday to commercial traffic as crews worked to clear snow from the week's severe winter storm.

As The Associated Press reports, the bridge's closing:

...forced several General Motors Co. plants in Michigan to interrupt production and caused long delays at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.

Economy
9:43 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Governor signs tax break legislation for shipping hub

Gov. Jennifer Granholm signs the tax break bills.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

Governor Granholm signed legislation today that will allow for lucrative tax breaks for businesses that want to locate near Detroit Metro Airport.

The project is called the “aerotropolis,” and supporters say it could ultimately create tens of thousands of jobs.

Granholm said:

"I  think people can really look forward from here to see what the build-out will be around this area.

"The communities that are going to take advantage of the warehousing and the movement of goods and the logistics and the technology that’s associated with it as well," she said.

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Economy
1:49 pm
Wed December 15, 2010

Pure Michigan gets much needed cash from state

The Pure Michigan advertising campaign is getting the money it needs.   Governor Granholm today signed the legislation authorizing funds to pay for ads promoting Michigan tourism.

The Associated Press reports: 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm has as expected signed a bill that will help pay for the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. The bill that Granholm announced signing Wednesday transfers $10 million to the campaign from the state's 21st Century Jobs Fund.  The addition gives Pure Michigan more than $15 million for the current fiscal and will provide enough cash to pay for a winter and spring tourism campaign. The program would have been canceled if the extra money had not been approved. Pure Michigan advocates still are pushing to raise the annual budget for the program to about $30 million.

State tax breaks
6:01 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

MEDC approves tax breaks for 17 projects throughout Michigan

Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Michigan’s Economic Development Corporation has approved tax breaks for 17 projects in the state. The incentives are supposed to help companies create nearly 3,000 total jobs.

The expansion of an automotive supplier in the Detroit suburb of Redford will likely have the biggest impact on the job market. Piston Automotive LLC will create 467 jobs – albeit only 135 of those directly. The producer of electric batteries and car chassis was considering expanding in Kentucky.

A close second in terms of creating new jobs is a company that’s expanding in Kentwood, just south of Grand Rapids. Autocam Corporation makes precision parts for transportation and medical devices. They’ll hire 200 new employees and the state estimates the project will create another 265 jobs indirectly.

Eleven of the projects will help investors redevelop blighted buildings.

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