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Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a sign on the front door of Blackstone’s Pub and Grill in downtown Flint.  It reads: Water Test: Lead Free.   

Business is down at many Flint restaurants. Their owners blame the city’s drinking water crisis, but there’s a push on now to change people’s minds.

State, county, and local officials held a news conference today to show what’s being done to make sure the water used to prepare food, and the water used for ice is lead free.

Dow Chemical

Andrew Liveris, the embattled CEO of Dow Chemical, confirmed during an analysts' call that he will leave the company in 2017, after Dow completes its takeover of Dow Corning, and then merges with Dupont.

Liveris' leadership has been under attack by an activist investor, who criticized Liveris for not pursuing mergers and other means of maximizing investor returns.  That was before the Dupont deal was announced.

Liveris has been with Dow Chemical for 40 years and was its CEO for 12.

Izumi Japanese Restaurant / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Business is slower than usual for some restaurants in Flint, and owners say it's because of the water crisis.

Scott Ellis is the executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which represents bars, restaurants and taverns.

He says he has heard concerns from many restaurant owners about the impact of the ongoing emergency.

"First of all, business is down," Ellis said. "They're using Flint water, they're afraid if all the precautions were taken to make the water clean."

"Price Reduced" sign in front of home.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a sharp uptick in banks repossessing homes in Michigan.

In 2015, 31,000 Michigan homes were in the foreclosure process.  That’s similar to the numbers before the Great Recession.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A surcharge paid by Michigan utility customers for electricity generated by wind and solar energy is disappearing.

With the new year, DTE Energy Customers will no longer pay a 43-cent monthly fee for renewable energy. The state’s largest utility, Consumers Energy, dropped the fee last year.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s a new effort to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in downtown Flint.

It’s not easy to find fresh produce in Flint. But that’s a market that Franklin Pleasant hopes to fill.

“The climate has changed in terms of full service grocery stores in town,” says Pleasant. “Quite a few have closed in the past couple of … years and we want to fill that gap. So that’s why we’re here and that’s why we know it will work.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

'Twas the weekend after Christmas, and all through the mall, shoppers armed with gift cards are expected to make a big haul. 

This is expected to be another big weekend for Michigan retailers.

Tom Scott with the Michigan Retailers says he expects many people will quickly transition from Friday’s Christmas celebration to making returns and cashing in gift cards Saturday and Sunday.   

He says for store owners, gift cards are more than just a stocking stuffer.

“(Gift cards have) changed the way we think about the holiday season,” says Scott. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan home builders are expecting a 25% increase in housing starts next year. But that will still be far below what they were building a decade ago.

Michigan home builders have been slowly climbing out of the hole created by the Great Recession.   Housing starts fell to only six thousand in 2009.   That number is expected to rise to nearly 17,000 in 2016.

Cobo Center Press Release

The Cobo Center has a new pair of big, electronic billboards. They’re part of Cobo’s $300 million renovation plan, and according to Daniel Howes, they’re wrapped up in an example of “stupid government writ large."

Can a Detroit start-up curb gun violence?

Dec 16, 2015
After three years in development, the smart gun lock should be ready for distribution in early 2016, says Identilock inventor Omer Kiyani.
Courtesy of Identilock

The Next Idea

How do we keep guns out of the wrong hands?

No matter where you stand on the gun issue, we can all agree that’s an important issue to address.

It’s also the question driving the Identilock, a smart gun lock that uses fingerprint identification to make sure a gun can only be used by its owner.

Omer Kiyani is the founder and CEO of Sentinl, the Detroit-based company behind Identilock.

Images Money / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

After months of negotiations, union members at Detroit's three casinos - MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity and Greektown - ratified a new contract on Sunday.

The Detroit Casino Council, a consortium of the UAW Local 7777, Unite Here Local 24, Teamsters Local 372 and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324, reached a tentative agreement with the casinos last week.

The deal replaces a contract that expired on Oct. 16 and covers approximately 6,000 workers.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

People in Midland are waiting to see what effect the announced merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont will have on their city.

Midland is a company town. Everywhere you look you see the Dow diamond logo, from the city’s minor league ballpark  to cultural institutions.

And of course, there’s the sprawling Dow Chemical complex on the city’s south side.

Dow started in Midland over a century ago. But that long history is about to head in a new, uncertain direction. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The two largest chemical companies in America will become one entity named DowDuPont, as Dow Chemical and DuPont say they're joining in a "merger of equals." 

The new company will have a market capitalization of around $130 billion, the company says.

After the merger, the resulting behemoth would be split into what Dow chairman and CEO Andrew N. Liveris calls "three powerful new companies." The mammoth deal will need to be reviewed by federal regulators.

Downtown Detroit
flickr user Tim Wang / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Detroit’s exit from bankruptcy.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes sees a city on the mend, but with some heavy lifting ahead.

“I’m very impressed with the execution of the government under Mike Duggan and the City Council,” Howes says. He adds that the demonstrated stability in the police department and the business community’s continued resolve to stand by its investment in Detroit bode well for the city.

Ted Murphy / Flickr Creative Commons / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

After a round of negotiations lasting six days, a tentative agreement has been reached between the Detroit Casino Council and Detroit's three casinos - MGM Grand Detroit, MotorCity and Greektown.

drtel / Creative Commons

 The state Senate has voted to give big tax breaks to data centers in an effort to lure a server farm to west Michigan and lay the groundwork for establishing the industry in the state.

The Las Vegas-based company Switch says the state must adopt the tax breaks before the end of the year or it will locate somewhere else. Switch is eyeing a massive data center project near Grand Rapids.

Alex Cheek / flickr http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

There’s a collection of tax breaks rapidly moving through the Legislature to lure a center that stores massive amounts of data. Supporters say the incentives would help build a new industry in the state.

  

The Las Vegas-based company Switch says without the tax breaks – and they must be approved by the end of the year – it will take its server farm to another state that will offer the incentives.

Ralphie taking aim in 1983's "A Christmas Story"
screenshot

For many of us, the holiday season just wouldn’t be the same without the annual viewing of A Christmas Story.

Physicians say button batteries are a potential hazard for small kids.
user Ubcule / wikimedia commons

An annual report from the Public Interest Research Group on potentially hazardous toys highlights some big safety improvements—and new dangers.

PIRG’s annual survey examined hundreds of toys for a number of potential hazards.

None of the toys this year tested positive for lead, but three did test positive for another restricted metal—chromium.

Dr. Jaime Hope, an emergency medicine specialist at Beaumont Hospital, says regulations are making some toy makers more creative.

Paul Hitzelberger / UPW

Detroit’s water and sewerage department is about to do its last financing deal ever.

As of January 1, the DWSD will transfer operations of its treatment plants and infrastructure outside to the new, regional Great Lakes Water Authority, which emerged from Detroit's bankruptcy process.

At least, that’s the plan.

A majority of the current water and sewer bondholders still need to sign off on it.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan non-profits are hoping for a little holiday cheer next week.

While it’s not as big as Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is gaining momentum.  

Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as a way to promote donations to non-profits.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Leaders in Lansing are hoping a new cutting-edge scientific research facility at Michigan State University might lead to an economic boom.

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, or FRIB, will provide researchers a place to do cutting edge experiments in nuclear science. The building is already under construction on the MSU campus in East Lansing. 

Construction is not expected to be complete until 2022. 

The project is expected to cost $730 million.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Malls and big box stores are busy today with holiday shoppers.

A steady stream of customers filed into Totem books in Flint on Black Friday.  The bookstore was holding a ‘soft’ open on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.  

That may seem to be an unconventional idea. But that’s not the only unconventional thing you’ll noticed about Totem books. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two-thirds of Michigan retailers are expecting to see their sales increase this holiday season.

Tom Scott is with the Michigan Retailers Association.

He says on average retailers expect holiday sales will be up about 2% this year. 

Some pushback against retail stores open on Thanksgiving

Nov 25, 2015
Laurie / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Some large retailers have announced their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving.  They include Nordstrom, Crate and Barrel, Home Depot, GameStop, and Barnes & Noble.

But that's unlikely to become a wider trend in the near future, according to faculty at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is hoping for peace between the city's casinos and thousands of workers.

  Contract talks are expected to resume Monday. Taxes from casinos account for about 16 percent of Detroit's revenue or roughly $170 million a year. Duggan tells the Detroit Free Press that he hopes labor and management "find a middle ground and work it out."

Courtesy of Daniel Howes / https://twitter.com/DanielHowes_TDN

This week, more than 20 of Michigan's top CEOs are on what you might call a field trip.

They're visiting Israel to discover what it took to transform that nation from virtually nothing into one of the most innovative economies in the world, all in the span of just 70 years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan corn growers say uncertainty over the federal renewable fuel standard is hurting the state’s agricultural economy.

The standard sets the ethanol mixture in gasoline. 

The National Farmers Union released a report this week claiming delays in setting ethanol fuel standards are depressing corn prices. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Starting Thursday, more online companies will add the Michigan sales tax to purchases made by Michigan customers.

Online retail giant Amazon is among the companies that will add the 6% tax to their bills.

Tom Scott with the Michigan Retailers Association says compelling online companies with a presence in Michigan to charge the sales tax is a matter of fairness.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing’s Oliver Towers will get a multi-million dollar makeover.

A fire in 2000 made the apartment building, a block from the state capitol, unlivable. 

For more than a decade, political squabbles stalled several efforts to rehab the eight story building leaving it to decay.

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