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Changing Gears
10:37 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Can Detroit use lessons from Pittsburgh? - Part 4

Judy Davids launched her business PostEgram in Detroit with financial help from a business incubator.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

All week we’ve been looking at the reinvention of Pittsburgh. Now, we move west to see whether the ideas that worked there can work in other places. One such city is Detroit.

Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has always faced a challenge in convincing its talented citizens to stay. Many business owners try to buck the odds and keep their businesses in the city, only to find the hurdles too high. Others find it is simply too daunting to head out on their own.

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GM IPO
5:10 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

GM IPO largest on record, taxpayers recover billions

GM Shares will start trading at $33 per share after the largest IPO on record.
Roland Weber Creative Commons

Update: 5:10pm

The New York Stock Exchanged closed.  AFP News reports "GM stocks closed at 34.19 dollars, up 3.6 percent from GM's initial sale price announced on Wednesday, but below session highs of 35.60 dollars a share."

Update: 3:00pm

The Detroit News reports the GM executives who attended the opening day for GM stock on the New York Stock Exchange bought hundreds of shares in the company themselves.

GM North American chief Mark Reuss called it an emotional day, saying he was proud to work for GM and thanking taxpayers for giving GM "a second chance."

The News reports the GM execs will head back to Detroit "after today's events in order to attend a private employee celebration at the company's Renaissance Center headquarters."

Update: 11:04pm

GM  executives rang the bell and played a recording of a Chevy Camaro revving its engine to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. As of this writing, the stock, bought during the IPO at $33 per share, has jumped to $35 per share in trading. Here's how it's tracking next to Ford's stock (F): 

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Unemployment
7:21 am
Thu November 18, 2010

Michigan jobless rate continues to decline

Photo by Khalilshah/Flick

Michigan's jobless rate continued its slow, but steady, decline in October.  The state's unemployment rate in October was 12.8%.  It's the first time the jobless rate was been under 13% since March 2009, according to the Associated Press. The state's jobless rate in October of 2009 was 14.4%.

The national unemployment rate for October was 9.6%.

Municipal finance
9:42 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Hamtramck asks state to file for bankruptcy

The city of Hamtramck says it will run out of money at the end of January, and officials have taken the unprecedented step of asking the state for permission to file for bankruptcy.


Bill Cooper is the city manager of Hamtramck. And he says he’s been a little surprised at the uproar his letter to the state has caused.


"That one little word got a lot of attention," Cooper said, sitting in his city hall office as the phone rang with a call from a reporter.


The word: Bankruptcy.

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Auto bailouts
5:15 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

"Successful Bankruptcies" - report says Detroit bailouts were worth it

GM and Chrysler suffered through bankruptcy in large part because it relied so heavily on SUV sales.
user ep_jhu Creative Commons

The Center for Automotive Research released a report today that analyzed the government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

$80 billion was given to the auto companies. To date $13.4 billion has been repaid.

Tomorrow the GM "initial public offering" is expected to raise another $22 billion.

The reports authors say that even if the government doesn't get all of the $80 billion back, the government's investment will still have been worth it.

The report concludes:

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Government Budget
4:51 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Kent County budget calls for elimination of 56 full time positions

Kent County Board of Commissioners
accesskent.com

Thursday morning Kent County Commissioners are expected to adopt a budget for next year that eliminates 56 full time positions. The cuts are part of an overall plan to keep county spending in line as revenue from property taxes decline.

2010 is the first year taxable value has gone down in Kent County. That’s the value property taxes are based on. Money collected from property taxes make up a little more than half of the county's general fund.

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General Motors
4:14 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

GM IPO could break records

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been the architect behind the GM IPO.
Jay Tamboli Creative Commons

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that GM's IPO tomorrow could be a biggy:

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will increase the size of its initial public offering by about 30% to 478 million shares, which could make it the largest global IPO in history.

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Michigan Economy
5:26 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Michigan celebrates global entrepreneurship week

unleashingideas.org

In west Michigan several organizations are collaborating on more than a dozen events to foster the entrepreneurial spirit.

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Auto Industry
12:28 pm
Tue November 16, 2010

Chevy Volt named 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year

Motor Trend Magazine named GM's Chevy Volt 2011 Car of the Year
photo by Jurvetson (flickr)

Motor Trend Magazine has named General Motor’s Chevrolet Volt the 2011 Car of the Year.

On its website, the magazine’s editor in chief said the Volt has “some of the most advanced engineering ever seen on an American production car.”

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Changing Gears
9:52 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering sits on the site of an old steel mill. It's an example of how the city transitioned away from its industrial past.
Zach Morris Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

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General Motors
8:39 am
Tue November 16, 2010

GM boosts stock price

General Motors says it’s raising the price range for its initial public stock offering.

The stock will sell for $32 to $33 per share.

That price range is about 14% higher than was previously expected.

GM didn’t give a reason for the increase but people who have been briefed on the sale say it’s because of high demand from investors.

The IPO is expected on Thursday.  The Detroit Free Press reports, "the U.S. Treasury is selling 365 million shares, which will reduce its stake in GM from 60.8% to about 40%."

General Motors
5:12 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Background on the GM IPO story

The old GM Headquarters in Detroit.
Historic American Buildings Survey

General Motors (GM) will be in the news a lot this week, so if you sat out the GM story up until this point, here's a quick summary to get you caught up.

Today's General Motors is not your father's General Motors. The old GM went bankrupt. The company couldn't pay its bills (they had some big ones).

But instead of letting the whole company collapse, a court stepped in to reorganize the auto giant (under chapter 11 bankruptcy).

The court split the old GM in two.

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Auto
9:21 am
Fri November 12, 2010

Auctioneers sell off items at shuttered GM plant

GM's Wyoming Stamping Plant closed in June of 2009. Auctioneers are selling of the contents of the plant.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith covered the auction at the former GM Wyoming Stamping plant. The plant closed in June 2009 as part of GM's bankruptcy.

The auction was held on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The auctioneers said they'll sell off anything leftover today.

Smith said it was easy to get lost as she took photos of the more than 2 million square foot building. Here's an audio slideshow she put together:

Economy
11:55 am
Wed November 10, 2010

Obama letter provides economic stimulus

A handwritten letter from President Barack Obama
Gary Zimet Moments in Time

A woman from Monroe, Michigan made news last week when she sold her hand written letter from President Barack Obama for $7,000.

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AUTO EARNINGS
9:17 am
Wed November 10, 2010

GM posts 3rd quarter profit

General Motors Logo
(c) GM Logo/Photo Courtesy of General Motors

General Motors announced this morning that it made $2 billion in the third quarter.  The Associated Press reports:

The profit was fueled by GM's international operations and strong revenue from newly introduced car and crossover models in North America.

The automaker's actual revenue rose 36% to a little more than $34 billion.  This was the third-straight quarter in which GM was profitable.

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Auto Earnings
7:55 am
Mon November 8, 2010

Chrysler narrows losses in 3rd quarter

Closeup of Chrysler Logo
Photo by Diego HC/Creative Commons

Chrysler says it narrowed its losses in the 3rd quarter of this year. The automaker reported a net loss of $84 million from July through September. That’s less than half of its $172 million loss in the second quarter. The automaker says this was the third quarter in a row of better-than-expected financial results.

Homeless awareness
4:34 pm
Fri November 5, 2010

Community leaders in Flint hoping to raise awareness of growing homeless population

Tom Knight trying to help "Richard" one of many homeless veterans in the Flint through his work at Resource Genesee.
Gerry Leslie Homeless Management Information Systems

In 2008, the state estimates there were a little more than 86,000 people without a home. Half of them were families.

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Business
4:57 pm
Wed November 3, 2010

Amway to settle lawsuit alleging unfair and illegal business practices

Amway logo

Amway is one of the leading, if not the largest, direct selling companies in the world. Three people trying to sell the vitamins, cookware and beauty products the company distributes sued an Amway subsidiary in 2007. They claim the company then known as Quixtar misled them about start up costs and how much money they'd make.

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Energy theft
9:32 am
Tue November 2, 2010

Detroit utility struggles to stay on top of theft

DTE Energy theft investigator Keith Gross prepares a lock box to prevent thieves from tampering with a gas meter.
(Sarah Hulett, Michigan Radio)

If you walk into a gas station or a party store in the city of Detroit, you might see a flyer taped up, advertising "help with gas and lights."

But the phone number probably won’t connect to a charity program or aid organization. More likely, it’ll put you in touch with a fixer who will help you steal electricity or natural gas.

Trying to shut the problem down is a team of investigators from DTE Energy. Every day of the work week, they embark on what seems like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole.

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Jobless in Michigan
11:38 am
Mon November 1, 2010

Many Michigan jobless could soon lose their unemployment benefits

 Time is running out again for many Michiganders living on unemployment benefits.

 Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spent nearly two years surviving on unemployment checks as the state struggles with a double digit jobless rate.

But time may be running out for those benefits.  Congress has passed several extensions but may not this time. 

Norm Isotello is with the state department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.    He concedes there is an argument that extended benefits may get in the way of people looking for work...but

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