Auto

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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Auto/Economy
12:48 pm
Tue December 14, 2010

The state of Michigan to help brownfield redevelopment

Inside the Packard Plant in Detroit.
Angelique DuLong

The state of Michigan will soon increase assistance to redevelop old industrial sites. 

The Associated Press reports:

Redevelopment projects in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Hamtramck and Lansing are getting a boost with statetax incentives. 

Gov. Jennifer Granholm said Tuesday the projects are in line for brownfield redevelopment assistance from the state. Granholm, who leaves office at the end of this year, made the announcement at her last scheduled meeting with the Michigan Economic Growth Authority board.

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Auto/Economy
10:03 am
Tue December 14, 2010

GM offering buyouts

A view from GM's Renaissance Center
Santosh Krishnan

GM is offering some of its employees a buyout this Christmas. The buyout offer will target at 8 assembly plants in Michigan. 

The Associated Press reports:

General Motors is offering buyouts to several thousand skilled trades workers at 14 plants around the U.S. 

The automaker will pay eligible workers $60,000 to retire with full benefits. Younger workers will have the option to take the $60,000 in exchange for giving up retiree health care and other benefits.   GM spokesman Chris Lee didn't know how many workers will get the offers.

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Transportation funding
6:20 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

MDOT officials not sweating matching funds for rail, yet

Picture of an AVE Spain High Speed Rail Train at Cordoba Railway Station, Spain.
Creative Commons

Efforts to raise enough money to bring a high speed rail project to Michigan aren’t over just because this legislative session is. Bills were introduced last month to sell bonds in order to raise $45 million in support of the project. The matching money is needed to secure a little more than $161 million in federal grants. But state senate did not take action on the bills before ending the lame duck session last week.

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Auto/Economy
6:03 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Thousands seek utility assistance in Detroit

Thousands of DTE Energy customers came to Detroit’s Cobo Hall looking for help today (Monday). The utility hosted its third “customer assistance day” there.

DTE Vice President Joyce Hayes Giles says the event is a “one-stop shop” to match customers with government and non-profit utility assistance programs.

Hayes Giles says the high turnout isn’t surprising. 

“It speaks to the need in our community. But it also speaks to the fact that we’re going to help a number of customers and we’re really pleased to be able to do that.”

 

Hayes Giles says DTE also raised more than a million dollars for its own customer assistance program. That money will be refunded to qualified DTE customers as credits on their monthly bill.

Auto/Economy
1:20 pm
Mon December 13, 2010

Toyota issues new recall

Toyota issued a recall of the 2011 Sienna minivan
Ian Westcott - flickr user

Toyota is recalling Sienna minivans.   This is just the latest recall that Toyota has issued in the past year.

The Associated Press reports:

Toyota says it will recall nearly 100,000 Sienna minivans from the 2011 model year to replace a switch bracket on the brake lamp.

The Japanese automaker says a driver's foot could hit the switch bracket and deform it while applying the parking brake pedal. Toyota says there have been no accidents or injuries related to this issue.

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Economy
4:34 pm
Sat December 11, 2010

Village of Baldwin hopes a prison contract can revive the area

California inmates will be housed in a Baldwin prison beginning in 2011
Flickr user Still Burning Creative Commons

The tiny village of Baldwin is hoping a private prison contract bringing thousands of inmates from California to Michigan will help revitalize the area. Baldwin is 65 miles north of Grand Rapids.

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BUSINESS
3:30 pm
Fri December 10, 2010

UPDATE: Sunday morning liqour sales rules loosening

UPDATE: 3:30pm


 The Michigan Liquor Control Commission is loosening up its interpretation of the state’s new Sunday morning liquor sales law. 


The new law includes a provision allowing local governments to prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday mornings.  But the commission had said that any town or city doing so would be outlawing liquor sales ALL DAY Sunday.  That left many communities with a very uncomfortable choice.

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