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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.

Gassing up at the pump.
steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gasoline prices in Michigan are running about 50 cents higher than this time last year.

One analyst expects prices will continue to rise in 2017.

Patrick DeHaan is with GasBuddy.com. He says gasoline prices have been rising steadily since the beginning of November.

DeHaan expects prices at the pump in 2017 will probably continue to run 20 to 30 cents higher than in 2016.

“Sometimes prices maybe more similar to what we saw this year,” says DeHaan, “Sometimes we could get close to that $3 a gallon figure.”

wolfenotes.com

The proposed merger of Midland-based Dow Chemical and DuPont is now part of a lawsuit filed by a town in New Jersey.  

DuPont operated the Chambers Works plant near Carneys Point, New Jersey for more than a hundred years.   Teflon was invented there in 1938. 

Chestnut tree.
user Tommy1969 / Flickr - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

This is the big time of year for Michigan’s fledgling chestnut industry.

From Nat King Cole to Justin Bieber, singers sing the praises of chestnuts this time of year.

The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant has been producing the Chevy Volt since 2011.
user calypsocom / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was recently announced that General Motors will cut the second shift from its Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant next March. Nearly 1,200 workers will be affected.

This comes on the heels of GM's announcement that five of its U.S. assembly plants -- including Detroit-Hamtramck and Lansing Grand River -- will close down for anywhere from one to three weeks in January.

That will temporarily idle over 10,000 workers.

Amazon.com is one of the online retailers which will be regulated by the newly-passed Main Street Fairness legislation.
User soumit / flickr.com

Amazon's coming to Livonia, and it's bringing over 1,000 jobs.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation tweeted out this news early Tuesday morning, saying Amazon plans to build a product fulfillment center in October 2017.

Courtesy of Zollipops

The Next Idea

There’s now a new way to enjoy candy – without the cavities and the tooth decay.

Zollipops” are 11-year-old Michigander Alina Morse’s creation. They’re sugar-free and gluten-free suckers, made with natural flavors and colors, that are good for your teeth.

General Motors

A bill to give a tax break to companies that contract manufacturing work for other companies is being introduced in the U.S. Senate. 

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow says Section 199 of the tax code is one of the largest tax incentives available to boost domestic manufacturing.  It gives manufacturing activities a 9% tax deduction. 

But the law is unclear whether a company that manufacturers something for another company should also get the deduction.  A bill co-sponsored by Stabenow and Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman makes it clear that it should. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The house flipping market appears to be cooling off in metro Detroit.  But it is heating up in other parts of Michigan.

Home flipping is where someone buys a home, fixes it up and sells it again quickly for a profit.  Hopefully. 

Michigan is not one of the hotter flipping markets.  But Daren Blomquist, with real estate tracking company Attom, says it’s getting warmer.

“We still saw nearly 1500 properties being flipped in the state during the quarter and that’s the ninth highest of any state nationwide,” says Blomquist.

Donald Trump doesn't take the oath of office for 49 days but he's already used Twitter to send some crystal clear messages to business and unions.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

It was Theodore Roosevelt who declared the Presidency was a "bully pulpit." Our incoming 45th President clearly agrees.

Donald Trump doesn't take the oath of office for 49 days, but he's already used his favorite tool, Twitter, to send some crystal clear messages to businesses and unions.

Germán Poo-Caamaño / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Just a few short years ago, the future of independent bookstores looked bleak. First, they were undercut by big box stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders, which could often offer both lower prices and a greater selection. Then, Amazon arrived on the scene, upending the book-selling business with all the grace of a gorilla reorganizing a library.  

Today, Borders is gone, Barnes & Noble is downsizing, and independent bookstores?

Fortune 200 company moving to downtown Detroit

Nov 30, 2016
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks at Adient press conference at Cobo Hall.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

The world's largest global automotive seating supplier announced today it will establish its new headquarters in Detroit.

The Milwaukee-based company Adient chose Detroit to build its new headquarters because of the economic opportunity it sees in the downtown area.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he's proud that companies want to move to the city.

“To move their global headquarters to Detroit is a message to every major company in America that Detroit is a place that you want to be,” Duggan said.

L. Brooks Patterson defended James Simpson's invitation, saying Simpson was asked to speak specifically because he's provocative.
screen grab of Oakland Co. video

 


According to its website, the Oakland County Business Roundtable began in 1993 as a space for business leaders to “engage” with county leaders on “issues that will enable them to prosper.”

For next month’s lunch meeting, County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has invited writer James Simpson to be the keynote speaker.

The Packard Plant Project

If you have driven past the derelict Packard Plant in Detroit recently -- that eyesore beloved of Detroit "ruin porn" photographers -- you probably noticed something is different.

Most of the graffiti is gone.

And more improvements for the massive east Detroit property are on the way. Owners say the Packard Plant Project will be the largest historic renovation in North American history - and the third largest globally.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Monday, some Michigan fast food workers and others are expected to walk out of their minimum wage jobs.

Strikes are planned in Detroit and other Michigan cities, as well as around the country.

Pastor W.J. Rideout is one of the organizers of the D15 campaign pushing for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“You will see us all over,” says Rideout, “and it’s going to have a great big large impact. It’s going to blow the minds of people.”

Wealthy Street used to be a predominantly African American business district, but Robinson told us there are only two black-owned businesses there today.
flickr user Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

One proven way to give local businesses a boost is by grouping them together and building a brand. Think Detroit’s Greektown or Corktown, or Little Italy and Chinatown in other cities.

Jamiel Robinson is working to make that happen for black-owned businesses in Grand Rapids.

Robinson is founder and curator of the group Grand Rapids Area Black Businesses.

Michigan Sugar sued over plant odors

Nov 17, 2016
From Michigan Sugar Company website

A class action lawsuit has been filed against Michigan Sugar Company over foul smells from its Bay City plant.

The complaint claims terrible odors have interfered with local residents' use of their property and have reduced their property values. It seeks damages on their behalf.

The complaint says the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has received approximately 800 complaints about the plant and has confirmed the presence of strong sewer-like to manure-like odors.

Ann Arbor-based Esperion Therapeutics is riding a wave of renewed enthusiasm for pharmaceutical stocks since the presidential election. Esperion is developing a cholesterol-lowering drug, bempedoic acid, that experts believe may be more effective and less expensive than drugs currently on the market. Bempedoic acid is in Phase III clinical trials and, if all goes well, is expected to hit the market as soon as 2019. 

There will no longer be any plus-size clothes departments at Meijer stores.
Mike Kalasnik / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

For the many American women who wear a plus-size, shopping for clothes can be an unhappy experience. The plus-size clothing is in a separate department, which leads some shoppers to feel singled out, and prices for plus-sizes can be higher than standard sized clothing.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is tight-lipped about whether his office will join a federal anti-trust probe into the proposed merger of DuPont and Midland-Based Dow Chemical.

US Embassy / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

So here we are at the end of one of the most odious and vitriolic campaigns in memory. Rather than adding yet more commentary, I’d like to dig deeper into a claim both parties make – that they will bring jobs back to the U.S. The question no one is asking is “where exactly will the jobs come from?”

The 7th Annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition will take place at the Cobo Center in Detroit on November 3.
Bernt Rostad / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1rFrzRK

This Thursday, three dozen Michigan start-up companies will compete for up to $1 million in prizes. In addition, they will earn critical exposure to venture capital investors, both regional and national.

They will be competing at the 7th Annual Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition. Organizers say that Accelerate Michigan prize winners have created over a thousand jobs and have raised over $500 million in venture capital.

Artist's conception of proposed Lansing casino.
Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Next month’s presidential election is causing some concern for those backing a proposed casino in downtown Lansing.

More than two years ago, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians asked the U.S. Interior Department to take some land in Lansing into trust for the tribe. 

The tribe wants to build a casino on land next to Lansing’s convention center, but nothing can happen until the Interior Department decided whether or not to take the land into trust.

According to Manes, Meijer has been reluctant to reveal the extent of its connection to the Fresh Thyme brand.
Ryan Grimes

 

Maybe you’ve been shopping at one of those new Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market grocery stores that have been popping up around the state.

Nick Manes is a staff writer at MiBiz.com. He looked into Fresh Thyme.

He already knew that the Michigan-based grocery store chain Meijer was invested, but it turns out there’s more to it than that.

Deer.
user Noel Zia Lee / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ever had a fast-food venison sandwich before? If not, you might have a chance at Arby's.

Arby's recently announced its "Fast Crafted sandwich" brand will release the venison sandwich in early November given the popularity of hunting season, according to the press release

Freewrite, from Astrohaus
Courtesy of Astrohaus

The Next Idea
 

If someone asked you to give up your smartphone, your tablet, your laptop, It’s likely you’d have a hard time agreeing to let go.

But as much as we revel in technology and all its bells and whistles, there is a growing awareness that the technology is controlling us.

The tail is wagging the dog.

That thinking has led a couple of Michiganders to come up with something that strips all this technology down to its purest form. No bells, no whistles, no distractions.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

You may want to fill up your gas tank. 

Michigan gasoline prices dipped below $2 a gallon in many parts of the state. 

But rising wholesale prices are expected to boost pump prices over the next 24 hours.

Patrick DeHaan is with GasBuddy.com. He says gas prices across the Midwest fell recently as a Chicago area refinery ramped up production after being down for unscheduled maintenance.  

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 1:05pm 

Power distribution was restored at 11:38am today to 29,729 customers following a suspected lightning strike at 8:55am that caused the Eckert Substation to trip offline causing outages across BWL’s service territory.

 Original Post - 10:45am  A suspected lightning strike on a key power substation knocked out power to 29,729 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers just before 9am this morning. 

Electricity service is slowly being restored.

A utility spokesman is urging BWL customers to avoid any downed power lines today.  

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