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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan home builders expect demand to drive more home construction in 2018.

The Home Builders Association of Michigan predicts a one percent increase in the number of single-family homes to be constructed in 2018.   

CEO Bob Filka says demand is actually outpacing their ability to build homes.

“We’re pretty much tapped out at about 17,000 homes in terms of the current capacity to build new homes in our state,” says Filka.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan store owners are optimistic their after-Christmas sales will be as strong as pre-holiday sales have been this year. 

Meegan Holland, with the Michigan Retailers Association, says the growth of gift cards as presents has boosted post-holiday sales. 

"They often don't spend just what the gift card is worth," says Holland. "They are buying more than that."

Anecdotally, retailers say this has been a very good holiday shopping season. But we won't know how good until major retailers report their fourth quarter numbers next year. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A new Michigan law is aimed at encouraging the development of grocery stores in underserved urban areas.

  Legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Rick Snyder expands the definition of property eligible for certain state economic development incentives to include supermarkets, grocery stores, produce markets or delis in downtowns or commercial areas. At least 5 percent of the community revitalization incentives will have to go toward such businesses unless there are insufficient applications.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan store owners expect to be very busy this weekend.

Meegan Holland, with the Michigan Retailers Association, says with Christmas falling on Monday many holiday buyers will be shopping in stores and online.

“Going into this Super Saturday weekend, 45% of people still have some Christmas shopping to do,” says Holland, “It could be an epic weekend.”

A payment technology firm says that holiday spending is surging in the days before Christmas.

Detroit People Mover
Sönke Biehl / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist, joined Stateside to look at Detroit's year in review. He shared his takeaways about Detroit's progress post-bankruptcy and what to look forward to in Detroit's future from the auto industry and its neighborhoods.

man's hands reaching toward woman's waist while she holds up her hands to stop him
Timothy L. Hale / U.S. Army

Several of the women who've accused President Trump of sexual assault and harassment held a news conference today.

It was the first time the women appeared together. All have accused the President of groping, fondling, or forcing kisses on them. And they're calling on Congress to investigate their claims.

They're coming forward at a time when a series of women have accused high-profile men in entertainment, journalism and politics of sexual assault. It's become known as the "Me Too" movement.

Today on Stateside, we hear from an opponent of the recreational marijuana ballot proposal, and we discuss former MSU sports doctor Larry Nassar's sentence to 60 years in federal prison. We also talk about whether "passive homes" are the future, and how dog sledding joined the pack of popular winter sports in Michigan.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

When you buy a bouquet of flowers for your loved one, do you know where those flowers are grown? Colombia? The Netherlands? What about right in your own community?

A new group based in Ann Arbor has expanded upon the burgeoning local food movement to include locally grown flowers. It’s called the Michigan Flower Growers Cooperative.

Once a week from spring to fall, the co-op allows growers to sell wholesale to floral designers, florists and distributors.

Who might run to replace U.S. Rep. John Conyers in Congress? That answer comes today on Stateside. And, we discuss a survey that shows sexism and sexual harassment persist throughout the auto industry. We also hear why soccer analyst Alexi Lalas doesn't see Detroit winning the bid for an MLS team – or at least, not yet.

UN Women / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Robert Lutz began his automotive career in 1963. He rose to the ranks of top-tier executives at GM, Ford, Chrysler, BMW and Opel.

He's someone who's seen a lot of change in the auto industry through the decades.

During a recent interview, Stateside host Cynthia Canty asked Lutz for his thoughts on the recent floodgate of stories of powerful men being held accountable for actions and behaviors committed against women in the workplace — sexual assault, harassment, and bullying. Is American business truly having a watershed moment?

Laura LaRose / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

Of all the ignored or argued over household chores, one near the top of the list, particularly for cat owners, is replacing the kitty litter. But did you know that without the ingenuity of a Michigander, we might be changing out the kitty sand?

Mark Harvey, the Michigan History Center’s State Archivist, joined Stateside to talk about the Michigan history of kitty litter.

Ed Schipul / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

It’s fair to say that the automobile has been central to the life of Bob Lutz. He’s 85 now, but before he was semi-retired he held top-tier positions at BMW, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, where he was vice chairman.

He recently wrote an article for Automotive News with the striking headline, “Kiss the good times goodbye.” It’s about where the world of cars is headed, for better or worse. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan store owners are optimistic this will be a good holiday shopping season.

In a recent Michigan Retailers Association survey, 62 percent of Michigan store owners expect increased sales.  

Low unemployment and positive economic news may be boosting that optimism.  There is also an extra shopping day between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to last year.  

“And also Christmas falls on a Monday,” says Meegan Holland, with the Michigan Retailers Association, “It gives consumers a full weekend of last minute shopping.”

Garretttaggs55 / wikipedia commons

A proposal to legalize marijuana in Michigan overcame a critical hurdle Monday. The Coalition to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol turned in more than 360,000 signatures to the Board of State Canvassers. Now they need to get enough signatures approved so it can go on the 2018 ballot.

So far, the measure hasn’t run into strong opposition. But Josh Hovey, who is with the coalition, says the lack of opposition right now doesn’t mean they can skimp on fundraising.

“Most successful ballot initiatives need to raise a total of about $8 million,” he said. “You know, we’ve raised about a million so far, spent about a million. We need to keep on raising money and do what we need to do to communicate to voters all across the state and that doesn’t come cheap.”

MICHAEL COYER / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

A few weeks ago, we talked with a specialist in underserved farmers at Michigan State University’s Center for Regional Food Systems. Shakara Tyler mentioned a class action lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that alleged discrimination against black farmers.

That case is called the Pigford lawsuit. It claimed USDA loan officers and agents denied loans, lost applications, delayed applications, and otherwise discriminated against African-American farmers. After all was said and done, the settlement with the USDA was the largest federal settlement for civil rights violations in the nation.

JAXPORT / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

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.

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