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It seems every time you turn on the news, Amazon is expanding services again. Besides getting many  medium and large cities in the nation competing for the new Amazon Headquarters 2, we saw the big online commerce company buy brick and mortar Whole Foods. So where else is Amazon looking?

An article in Automotive News asks the question: "Could the Amazon of auto retail be Amazon itself?" Katie Burke, who wrote the story, joined Stateside to discuss Amazon’s future.

Neon sign that reads "lottery open"
Susu Jabbeh / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last year was a record year for Michigan lottery money going to schools.

Jeff Holyfield, director of public relations at the Michigan Lottery, joined Stateside to discuss the Michigan Lottery’s financial involvement in the state, and what's up with repeat winners.

detroit city skyline
Shawn Wilson / Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Sonya Mays doesn't like saying the "g word" – gentrification, that is. 

But if we're talking about it, she says her company Develop Detroit might just have the solution. 

“We’re saying that we believe that there’s a way to be very intentional and thoughtful and to partner with particularly residents who have been in a community the longest. We’re saying there’s an approach here that can be taken that doesn’t directly lead to rapid displacement," Mays said. 

It's called equitable development, and she says cities like Harlem and Washington, D.C., have used it to combat gentrification with mostly positive results. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A major project to remove century old contamination from the Flint River is moving into its final phase.

Last week, crews finished dredging part of the Flint River bottom to remove the last remnants of coal tar from the sediment. The coal tar came from a coal gasification plant that shut down in the 1920s.

Amazon
User soumit / flickr.com

Tuscon, Arizona, uprooted a 21-foot-tall saguaro cactus and tried to have it delivered to Amazon’s Seattle headquarters. Birmingham, Alabama, constructed giant Amazon boxes and placed them around the city. The mayor of Kansas City bought a thousand items online from Amazon and posted reviews of each one.

The retail giant Amazon is looking for a second home and there are a lot of contenders trying to land the project being called “H-Q-2.” At stake are many thousands of jobs and a new economic anchor for the winner.

Workers at Sakthi Automotive facilities in southwest Detroit.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

An India-based auto supplier is expanding again in Detroit.

Sakthi Automotive plans a $7 million expansion of its manufacturing and distribution centers in the city. It’s the third expansion since the company came to Detroit in 2014.

The company now employs about 500 people in the city. And Sakthi has recruited about a third of its current workforce from employment programs for the formerly incarcerated.

A Michigan lithium battery maker is rolling out its next generation battery.

XALT Energy has suffered setbacks in recent years, including lost business opportunities in China when it changed regulations, and losing out on a major bus contract in California, resulting in layoffs at its facilities in Midland and Pontiac.

Lisa Stevenson is the director of cell development at XALT.    She says their next battery stores more energy and is a good fit for the electric bus market.

“Absolutely, it’s going to make us more competitive,” says Stevenson.

Eighteen people have died in the Macomb County Jail since 2012. Today on Stateside, we hear one woman's story. Also today, we learn how Michigan's gun control movement lost big 16 years ago, and why Michiganders should thank "TV money" for the late MSU-UM kickoff this weekend.

The former McLouth Steel plant in Trenton in the early 1990s.
Transkhor / Wikipedia

Wayne County is selling the former McLouth Steel plant in Trenton to a company owned by Manuel "Mattie" Moroun.

Moroun is the owner of the Ambassador Bridge which connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.

The sale price for the tax-foreclosed property is $4 million. Crown Enterprises says it will tear down the current buildings and build an automotive center on the site. 

Brian Harris / Facebook

The Next Idea

Since mankind first began growing crops, the farmer's enemies have been drought, wind, wild temperature swings: curve balls served up by Mother Nature.

Brian Harris is turning out an array of green produce, protected from the elements, in a converted freight container that sits near downtown Grand Rapids.

He calls this a “hydroponic vertical micro-farm,” officially named Green Collar Farms.

Troy Holden / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The state is going to allow all-in-one medical marijuana facilities. The state’s licensing department today said it plans to let one person grow, process and sell marijuana – and do it all in one facility.

Andrew Brisbo is Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Bureau director. He says the plan isn’t set in stone yet. But Brisbo says the bureau wants to make sure people are aware of the intent.

laptop with Foxconn label on it
Christopher Bulle / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's a big game hunt, with big investment and a lot of jobs on the line. 

This week, Wisconsin's governor signed the legislation that landed a monster project from Taiwan-based Foxconn, which is promising a $10 billion investment and up to 13,000 jobs. 

But at what price to taxpayers?

Michael Dorausch / Flickr, http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Voters might have the chance to decide a pair of workers’ rights questions next year.

A petition campaign to require businesses to offer employees paid sick and family leave has launched its signature-gathering drive. On the same day, a state elections board approved the form of a campaign to increase the state minimum wage to $12 an hour, which plans to start gathering names next month.

The minimum wage campaign would also require employers pay the $12 an hour even to workers who count tips as part of their earnings.

Car accident
Ted Abbott/Flickr

An unlikely alliance has formed to overhaul Michigan’s auto no-fault system. Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, and Detroit’s mayor Mike Duggan met Tuesday. They say the goal is to bring rate relief to all Michigan drivers.

 

State Rep. Joe Haveman and Andy Ribbens, President of Premier Finishing in Grand Rapids, look over some of the products created by prisoners in the machines shop at the Richard Handlon Correctional Facility.
mihousegop / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

Most offenders in Michigan’s prisons will someday be released. Figuring out what to do next is difficult. Some may lack skills, and employers are wary of hiring people who have done time.

At Ionia's Handlon Correctional Facility, they're addressing this problem with a program called Trading Places. Inmates use their time inside to prepare for trade apprenticeships on the outside.

amazon seattle headquarters
Manuel Bahamondez H / FLICKR - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In the Detroit News today, columnist Daniel Howes examined whether Detroit has the leadership to land the much talked about Amazon HQ2, a second headquarters for the massive online retailer.

Amazon’s $5 billion investment would result in around 50,000 jobs, with an average compensation of $100,000 a year.

“You’re looking at a potential economic boon the likes of which few communities ever see,” said Howes.

Kamal Hamid / Flickr

The Next Idea

For centuries, people who need some fast cash have turned to pawn shops: "pawning" some personal treasure for a cash loan.

Today there is a modern way to pawn an item. Instead of driving from shop to shop, you can turn to a Michigan-based startup called PawnGuru and do your dealing online.

Medical Marijuana
Dank Depot / Creative Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan continues to wrestle with how to regulate and license medical marijuana dispensaries.

But there’s a potentially bigger issue facing the budding cannabis industry: the prospect that someone is trying to build a national monopoly on legal weed.

Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

Major General George Owen Squier. The name may not be familiar, but his work in the fields of aeronautics and radio communications rivaled that of better-known contemporaries like Alexander Bell and the Wright Brothers.

Squier, a native of Dryden, Michigan, was the first military officer to fly, in a plane piloted by Orville Wright. Today, his hometown hopes to build a statue in his honor.

aerial view of little caesars arena
Michigan Radio

It’s taken 25 years for the Ilitch family’s dreams of a shiny new home for the Detroit Red Wings to come true.

Little Caesars Arena officially opens tonight with a Kid Rock concert.

The $823 million stadium will be the new home for both the Red Wings and the Detroit Pistons. The public’s share of the tab so far has been $324.1 million

simone.brunozzi / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Amazon plans to build another headquarters in North America. It's dropped a request for proposals, an RFP. That means the competition has begun – cities and states will be tripping over one another, trying to land this prize.

But Richard Shearer, a senior research associate and senior project manager with the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, argues there’s a very good chance Amazon already knows where it wants to build this second headquarters, and that this is basically a faux competition.

tom parr / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Last Thursday, commerce giant Amazon announced it would build a second corporate headquarters, known as Amazon HQ2, somewhere in North America. It's now up to metropolitan areas across the country to show they're the best option to meet the company's needs.

"It's going to set off an inter-state bidding war," said Chad Livengood, a senior reporter covering Detroit for Crain's Detroit Business.

banner that says flint fresh
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Officials broke ground in Flint today on a center to promote local farm goods. 

The million-dollar project will transform a dilapidated old building on the city’s east side into a climate-controlled warehouse.  

Erin Caudell, VP of Flint Fresh, says when it opens next spring, the food hub will enable small farmers to sell to larger institutions, like schools and hospitals.

Courtesy of Meagan Ward

The Next Idea

Even in 2017, women still face difficulties in the world of business.

Studies confirm women are still perceived as less competent than men are. They’re also less likely to be considered good risks for startup capital, and, of course, there’s still that pesky wage gap between the sexes.

A Detroit businesswoman is fighting back against those characterizations.

ambassador bridge
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The family that owns the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, got a boost to its plans for a new bridge that will replace the current 87-year-old one.

The Moroun family said the Canadian government has granted approval for this new cable-stayed, six-lane bridge.

pork chops on a grill
bitslammer / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

A massive new plant that turns hogs into pork loin and bacon opens up this week in Coldwater, about 80 miles southwest of Ann Arbor.

The new Clemens Food Group plant employs more than 800 people. Once it’s up and running, it’ll process roughly 10,000 hogs a day.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve had in 30 years,” said Mary Kelpinski, CEO of the Michigan Pork Producer Association.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Dow Chemical’s merger with rival DuPont becomes to official today.  

Dow Chemical has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 1937.  But with the start of business Friday, its stock ticker symbol will be replaced with the new one: DWDP.

Those four letters will symbolize what is now the largest chemical company in the world, worth an estimated $130 billion.  

It took nearly two years for Dow and DuPont to get the regulatory approvals to merge. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gas prices in Michigan are expected to jump about 20 cents in the next day thanks to Hurricane Harvey.

Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says the storm’s disruption of refineries along the Gulf coast will have a ripple effect reaching Michigan.

Courtesy of Molly and Dion Stepanski / Facebook

The state’s numbers say the food and agriculture industry brings more than $101 billion into the state’s economy every year.

But Molly Stepanski of Presque Isle Farm said there’s a “huge transition” happening right now in the agriculture industry.

As older farmers begin to age out of the profession, Molly said tens of thousands of acres are “getting ready to transition hands.”

Courtesy of Bruce Berkompas

It’s been a pretty rotten year for the farmers who grow timothy hay, a Michigan crop that's not very familiar to most.

Timothy hay is an important feed for horses, cattle and small animals, like pet bunnies and guinea pigs, among others.

Some of the best timothy hay comes from the eastern Upper Peninsula, but farmers there are enduring a season that will go into the record books for all the wrong reasons.

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