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Government failed Flint.

It's pretty tough to dispute that statement, knowing what we know about how the Flint water crisis came to be, and how it was dismissed and denied by bureaucrats and officials at all levels of government.
 

Entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Joseph Sanberg believes we should work through the boardroom to help address working-class problems, not just wait for government to fix things.

MI-MAPLESYRUP.COM

Michigan’s maple syrup producers are hoping for a return to more winter-like weather.

Maple syrup relies on days above freezing for the sap to flow, and nights below freezing to make it sweet. 

Lately, the days and nights have been too warm for Kirk Hedding. He’s the president of the Michigan Maple Syrup Association. Hedding says this is turning into a "bitter" season for some maple syrup producers.

“As the sap flows, the sugar content will eventually start dropping if we don’t have any freezing weather,” says Hedding.

Jeso Carneiro / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

In the 1920s, demand for rubber shot way up. With more cars being made, the auto manufacturers needed rubber for tires, hoses and other things.

Henry Ford decided he would go right to the source for his rubber. In 1928, he planned a rubber tree plantation and what essentially was a model Midwestern town along the Amazon River in Brazil.

He called it Fordlândia.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont may soon clear a critical hurdle.

European regulators may be close to approving the $130 billion merger. The European Commission has until April to make its final decision.

Dow and DuPont officials have been working hard for months to convince European regulators to approve their merger. Those efforts may have finally paid off.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

2016 was a good year for Michigan home builders – just not as good as expected.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows 15,176 permits were issued in Michigan for new home construction in 2016. That’s the highest since 2006 (16,538).  

But that’s 1,700 fewer permits than were forecasted.    

Bob Filka, with the Michigan Home Builders Association, says the industry should be doing better.

“When you look at the job creation numbers in the state, the unemployment level,” says Filka, “we should have more housing investment happening right now and we’re not.”

Ilitch Holdings, LLC

His empire was built on pizza.

With last week’s death of Mike Ilitch, that empire is now in the hands of his son Christopher.

Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Apples and immigration documents. Soybeans and border walls. Today is a “Day Without Immigrants,” and a number of Michigan farms are quieter than normal.

Businesses of all kinds are closed across the country as immigrants stayed home from work and school in response to President Trump’s immigration policies.

This “Day Without Immigrants” reaches not just factories and restaurants, but Michigan’s farms, where migrant and undocumented workers make up a large percentage of the work force.

STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO

Plenty of attention has been paid to the human toll of the Flint water crisis and the city's efforts to recover. But what about the business side of things and the city's effort to rebuild the economy?

Thanks to the rise in popularity of craft beer in Michigan, the state now ranks fourth in the nation in hops production.
Rob Sirrine / Michigan State University

As Michigan's brewing industry continues to grow and flourish, we're seeing a big jump in growing hops in our state.

Consider this: Prior to 2008, Michigan hadn't had a commercial hops-growing operation for more than a century. Now, we're fourth in the nation.

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For many Detroit Tigers fans, the demolition of Tiger Stadium remains a source of anger.
Michael Kumm / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Mike Ilitch certainly left his mark on downtown Detroit, beginning with the major renovation of the Fox Theatre in 1988 and continuing to this day with the ongoing construction of Little Caesars Arena for the Red Wings and the Pistons.

There are those who found a lot to criticize in the way the Ilitch family acquired downtown property, maintained that property, and financed its arenas.

Michigan Radio's senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry joined Stateside to talk about Ilitch's legacy when it comes to the business side of his life and what he did for the city of Detroit.

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

In his column for the Detroit News this week, Daniel Howes analyzed an interesting proposal offered by billionaire Dan Gilbert to Wayne County officials. Gilbert wants to secure a Downtown Detroit site where an unfinished jail currently stands.

The Quicken Loans leader says he will build Wayne County a brand new jail and court offices just east of Midtown in exchange for the site. Wayne County officials are currently vetting the offer. 

The incomplete Wayne County jail.
Wayne County

Robin Boyle is astonished at the pace of development in metro Detroit -- development that is largely the result of public-private partnerships.

But the professor of urban studies at Wayne State University worries it's all happening too fast.

Take the proposed land swap between businessman Dan Gilbert and Wayne County.  The deal would let Gilbert build a major league soccer stadium on the site of the county's partly-finished jail - and in return Gilbert would build the county a new jail for $300 million. 

The Feelgood Tap raises money for various charities and non-profits one craft beer at a time.
Steph Harding / MittenBrew

"Creating change one glass at a time."

That's the idea behind the Feelgood Tap. You sit down at a bar, restaurant or brewery, order a beer that's marked the "Feelgood special," and part of what you spend goes to a designated non-profit.

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With a new president comes new challenges for America’s business leaders, Detroit automakers included.

In a recent column for The Detroit News, Daniel Howes wrote that President Trump “isn’t making things easy for CEOs.” Today, the Detroit News columnist joined Stateside to explain.

“Essentially he’s saying, ‘Look, we’re going to cut taxes and reform regulations, but I’m going to tell you how to run your business,’” Howes said.

President Barack Obama in Detroit on Labor Day in 2011.
screen grab from YouTube video

President Barack Obama leaves office tomorrow and he leaves behind a complicated legacy when it comes to the auto industry.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes reviews Obama’s relationship with automakers in his latest column.

Macy's, Kmart, and Sears have closed hundreds of stores across the country, including many in Michigan.
Nicholas Eckhart / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The holiday decorations have barely been taken down when a harsh verdict was passed on the holiday shopping season.

Macy's announced it's closing 68 stores. Here in Michigan, that means Macy's stores in Lansing, Battle Creek, Harper Woods, and Westland.

Then we learned Sears is closing 150 of its Kmart and Sears stores, with 10 of them based in Michigan, including the very first Kmart located in Garden City.

And Walmart says it's cutting hundreds of jobs by month's end. The affected workers are at its headquarters and regional personnel that support its stores, mainly in HR.

It seems like tough times for brick and mortar retailers. 

The Honda Ridgeline won the 2017 North American Truck of the Year.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Reporters from around the world have spent the week checking out the offerings at the North American International Auto Show.

Today, suppliers got their turn. The black-tie charity preview is tomorrow night and Saturday morning, the doors at the Cobo Center open to the public.

Paul Eisenstein is the publisher of TheDetroitBureau.com and he joined Stateside to talk about the buzz surrounding this year's auto show, a major shift in the industry and the latest news about Chrysler getting in trouble with the EPA. 

Daniel Howes: "Unless this president can repeal the laws of market economics, companies are going to go elsewhere to find production sites and sources for things"
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There's been something besides the shiny new cars, SUVs and trucks grabbing attention this week at the North American International Auto Show.

That something is the uncertain future for the auto industry under incoming President Donald Trump.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes joined Stateside to talk about some of the anxiety that exists in the auto industry and what some experts are saying about a potential repeal of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, and the author of the book "How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me A Pink Hammer"
Courtesy of Ginger Johnson

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Do women drink beer? It's a dumb question to be sure, but watching any random assortment of beer commercials, one might start to wonder. After all, the vast majority of beer marketing revolves around men: men watching football, men laughing at jokes, men saying "whassup."

To Ginger Johnson, the founder of Women Enjoying Beer, and the author of the book How to Market Beer to Women: Don't Sell Me A Pink Hammerthe tendency of beer marketing to ignore women is not only insulting. It's also a bad business strategy.

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.
earl53 / Morguefile

The Next Idea

The realities of a world economy aren't just being felt at big companies like General Motors or Ford. Small businesses are feeling the strain of foreign competition.

Our latest contributor to The Next Idea is directing a federal program aimed at helping small local businesses adjust to that foreign competition.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The proposed merger of DuPont with Midland-based Dow Chemical took another formal step in a pivotal regulatory review today.

Getting the approval of the European Commission to the multi-billion-dollar merger is seen as a key obstacle for Dow and DuPont.

flickr user Bernt Rostad / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert says he was in Toronto recently, and the view from his hotel featured numerous construction cranes.

He figures that will be a reality for Detroit, too - and soon.

Gilbert says there is almost no office space available in the growing downtown.

According to Daniel Howes, if automakers have to pay more in taxes and tariffs for building outside the U.S., the cost of vehicles could go up for American consumers.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

The U.S. auto industry came into the crosshairs of President-elect Donald Trump's Twitter feed this week. Trump aimed a Tweet straight at General Motors, grumbling about GM's building of the Chevy Cruze in Mexico.

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted: "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A or pay big border tax!"
Andrea_44 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President-elect Trump was busy on Twitter Tuesday morning, this time firing a warning shot across the bow of General Motors.

To quote Mr Trump: "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to US car dealers-tax free across border. Make in U.S.A or pay big border tax!"

Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for Autotrader, joined Stateside to talk about the situation between the president-elect and the power he is attempting to show over the auto industry.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The next few months may prove pivotal to plans for Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont to merge.

The two rival chemical industry giants announced their $130 billion merger plans a year ago. It’s among several proposed mergers in the industry.

The Dow-DuPont merger has yet to win the blessing of government regulators. It’s also drawn the attention of Congress and several state attorneys general.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s minimum wage workforce gets a pay raise on New Year’s Day.

The state’s minimum wage is increasing to $8.90 on Sunday, that’s up from the current $8.50 per hour.   

Wendy Block is with the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.   She says many hourly workers were already making at least that much.

“The economy has obviously helped tremendously in terms of that upward pressure on wages and really helped employees to be able to earn a higher minimum wage, or a higher wage than they would than what is mandated under state law,” says Block.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The threat of hackers grew in 2016 for many Michigan businesses.

So-called "ransom-ware" attacks also became more common. 

In one example, the Lansing Board of Water & Light paid a $25,000 ransom after a hacker got into the utility’s internal communications system. 

Zara Smith is with the Michigan Small Business Development Center.  

Her group has been changing its approach as the cyber threats have grown and evolved.

“So that again we can reach as many as possible businesses and help them not be the next victim,” says Smith. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan motorists will see state taxes on gasoline and diesel jump this weekend.

On New Year’s Day, the gas tax is rising 7.3 cents a gallon.  The diesel tax is increasing by 11 cents.  The increase will give Michigan the 5th highest gas tax in the nation.   

The tax increase, along with state auto fees, will help fund desperately needed road repair and improvements across the state.

Denise Donahue is the director of the County Road Association of Michigan.  She says it’s important for motorists to see the money being used to fix Michigan’s crumbling roads.

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