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Billionaire A. Alfred Taubman died Friday at home from a heart attack, according to the Associated Press. He was 91.

He led “an epic American life,” growing up a poor Jewish kid in Detroit, and going on to make a massive fortune by creating the modern shopping mall.

He also survived a major scandal in his later years, when he went to prison for price-fixing.

What’s more, Alfred Taubman was the second-largest donor ever to the University of Michigan.

Shipping container housing project underway in Detroit

Apr 17, 2015
Astrid Westvang / Creative Commons

A project that turns empty shipping containers into sustainable housing kicked off in Detroit this week.

Development firm Three Squared is using nine containers to construct a three story unit in the city's Corktown neighborhood. 

City of Detroit

Just eight months after it was set to be torn down, developers are preserving the historic Detroit recreation center where Joe Louis trained.

Flickr user Scott Beale / Flickr

Crowdfunding. The word itself wasn't even known less than a decade ago. But crowdfunding has become a powerful way to raise money.

EquityNet tells us that more than $20 billion in funding transactions will happen around the world this year. That is a 100% increase from $10 billion last year.

the two abandoned hotels
Flickr user Ian Freimuth / Flickr

There's a hotel boom happening in downtown Detroit. Once-abandoned buildings are now gleaming new hotels, or will be soon. But will these plans give Detroit too many hotel rooms or not enough? And there have been lengthy discussions over the two hotels near the new Red Wings arena site just north of downtown.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A trio of bills in the Michigan legislature would create a statewide database of second hand shop sales. 

State Representative Mike Callton says a single data base will help police officers track stolen goods that thieves may try to sell to pawn shops, gold dealers and other second hand stores.

“If it turned up in any pawn shop, buy-n-sell or precious metal buyer, it would show up in that registry,” says Callton, “(Police) wouldn’t have to be looking all over the state.”

Flickr user Firas / Flickr

On yesterday's Stateside, we met the co-founders of Rocket Fiber, the ultra-high-speed Internet service coming to downtown Detroit later this year and to Midtown Detroit next year.

The prospect of fiber optic cable delivering an Internet that's at least 100 times faster than what most of us are used to is mighty appealing.

FLICKR USER WILLIAM HOOK / FLICKR

Dial-up. That’s how we used to get online. Today, however, that’s part of pre-history. Is it fathomable that our existing Internet access could soon be as outdated as those old dial-up modems?

Flickr user william stuben / Flickr

Dan Gilbert has added One Detroit Center to his impressive portfolio of downtown Detroit properties, making it more than 70 downtown properties that Gilbert and his partners now own.

The purchase has caused Ally Financial with its 1,300 employees to move to One Detroit Center instead of Southfield. This announcement was accompanied by Ally's CEO conceding that the downtown location will be more expensive than the suburbs.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Two mid-Michigan mayors are trying to lure convention planners looking to move their events out of Indiana. 

The controversy over Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration law has many groups rethinking their convention plans in the Hoosier state.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett have posted an open letter encouraging convention planners to look to mid-Michigan.

Vox Efx / Wikimedia Commons

When Dow Chemical Company started in Midland, Michigan in 1897, it produced two chemicals. One of them was bleach. Now, Dow is getting out of the bleach business.

A hedge fund has been pressuring Dow officials to spin off what are called 'commodity chemicals' in order to focus the companies efforts. 

Dan Moyle / Flickr Creative Commons

States like Michigan that allow employers to enforce non-compete clauses may be inadvertently hurting their economies, according to a recent study.

Employers sometimes require new employees to sign a non-compete agreement promising they won't go work for another company in the same industry for one or two years after leaving their job.

Midland could see 300 new jobs this year

Mar 25, 2015
XALT Energy

A multi-year export contract will bring more than 300 new high-tech and manufacturing jobs to Midland, according to XALT Energy, a Midland-based developer and manufacturer of lithium batteries.

XALT announced this week that it has agreed to supply its lithium titanate batteries to HK Group, a Chinese manufacturer of all-electric buses. 

Arielle Solomon / Flickr

Developers want to turn Detroit's old state fairgrounds into 160 acres of senior living, apartments, shopping, small parks, and space for Wayne County Community College.

Those plans were unveiled to the public in detail this week.

Is powdered alcohol in Michigan's future?

Mar 16, 2015
Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau recently approved a powdered alcohol product called Palcohol.  Add water, and you get a rum or vodka drink.

But it can't be sold in Michigan without the approval of the Michigan Liquor Control Commission. 

Flickr user Julie Weatherbee / Flickr

There's a lot of attention and talk directed at start-ups about attracting new business to Michigan.

But writer Ilene Wolff pays tribute to some venerable long-time Michigan businesses. Her story, The Century Club: Michigan firms and businesses that have truly withstood the test of time, is in the current March/April print edition of DBusiness.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
Matthileo / Flickr

When Governor Rick Snyder was answering your questions earlier this week here on Michigan Radio, he waded into the issue of more than $9 billion in outstanding tax credits owed to businesses that stayed in Michigan and re-invested in their operations here. And that has tipped Michigan's budget into a deficit.

The program began in the Engler Administration but was widely used in the latter part of the Granholm Administration. Critics call it "corporate welfare," but Snyder disagreed with this terminology, saying the companies benefiting from this program helped create jobs.

Source booksellers

With competition from Amazon and e-readers, big box bookstores have been hit hard. Borders closed in 2011 and Barnes & Noble has been forced to close hundreds of stores.

But independent bookstores are proving to have staying power.

claus+ flcker.com

A controversial Upper Peninsula land deal appears closer to approval.

A Canadian mining company wants to buy land and mineral rights on ten thousand acres of state land in the Upper Peninsula. 

Graymont wants to mine limestone in the area northwest of St. Ignace. The company plans surface and underground mines.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Supporters of sustainable farming will meet Monday in East Lansing.

The Sierra Club’s Gail Philbin says the “Farming Our Future” conference is intended to help move Michigan away from industrial agriculture.

“We want to help farmers get the information they need to make those kind of changes,” says Philbin.

Philbin says moving toward more local, sustainable foods will be good for people’s health and the environment. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Financially struggling Michigan homeowners may face a new problem.

98,000 Michigan homeowners have Home Equity Lines of Credit that are scheduled to reset at a higher interest rate during the next four years.

Nationally, more than half the three million homeowners with these lines of credit are seriously underwater on their mortgage.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan could face an electricity shortage in the next few years.

New federal regulations are forcing many coal-fired power plants to shut down in 2016.  That will leave utilities with less capacity to generate electricity. The loss will be most noticeable on hot summer days, when demand for electricity soars in Michigan. 

moppet65535 / Creative Commons

The coalition pushing state lawmakers to give all workers paid sick days is growing. Groups backing bills introduced in Lansing last month held press conferences in Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo Monday.

Danielle Atkinson, who directs Mothering Justice, an advocacy group for working moms, was in Grand Rapids. If passed, she says the bills would help more than workers.

“99% of restaurant employees don’t have access to one paid sick day and what that really translates into is restaurant workers going to work sick and getting everyone else sick and it becomes a public health issue,” Atkinson said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan may soon get out of the venture capital business.

The state House Commerce and Trade committee takes up legislation tomorrow that would sunset a state program that has made hundreds of millions of dollars in tax vouchers available for investment.  

Courtesy of Michigan Modern

The Next Idea

Did you know that barbecue grills, refrigerators and hospital beds were all designed in Michigan? What about the electric toothbrush and the golf cart?

These products, and thousands more, are just some of the many everyday items that Michigan’s industrial designers gave the world.

Judge OKs plan to close Northland Mall

Feb 25, 2015
via shopatnorthland.com

  

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) - An Oakland County judge has ruled that a court-appointed receiver can begin closing one of the country's oldest shopping centers.

Circuit Judge Wendy Potts says Wednesday that there are few alternatives to shuttering Northland Center in Southfield.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Rick DeVos’ venture capital fund will stop giving away $5,000 each week to people with a good business idea. The fund, known as Start Garden, has given $5,000 to nearly 200 entrepreneurs in the last three years.

“A few years ago the biggest thing that it seemed like the region needed was a lot of experimentation and to get over fear of risk,” said Paul Moore, communications director for Start Garden.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

State and federal officials hope a little extra cash will prompt more farmers to reduce runoff into their regional watersheds.

The federal government will provide $40 million to improve water quality in five key areas in Michigan, including western Lake Erie, Saginaw Bay and the St. Joseph River. The grants were announced late last month.

beaumontpete / Flickr Creative Commons

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has proposed allowing self-serve machines that dispense up to 96 ounces of beer, wine or mixed spirit drink in a single order.

The machine "could be on a wall. It could be in a booth or built into a table," said Andrew Deloney, chair of the Commission.

Customers must place a new order for each additional 96 ounces, said Deloney, and for each order, "the server still has the same obligation to make sure that people are of legal drinking age and that they are not visibly intoxicated."

A Canadian mining company has revised its proposal to acquire nearly 10,000 acres in the Upper Peninsula. 

Graymont wants to acquire land and mineral rights in three different U.P. counties to mine for limestone.  The mining operation would include surface and underground mining.  The company says it is acquiring so much property because it plans to set up a “generational” operation that would mine the land for 100 years. 

It would be the largest sale of public land in Michigan history. 

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