business

From Failure Lab in Grand Rapids, Tom Nardone, Internet entrepreneur and creator of the Mower Gang in Detroit, describes unsuccessfully launching an online company to prevent head lice. He talks about what prevented his success, and shares advice of what to keep in mind when launching a business. 

More economists are telling us that income and wealth inequality is growing in the U.S.

The Economist declared that inequality in wealth in America is approaching record levels. They argue that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is getting wider as the rich get richer.

Michigan State University economics professor Charlie Ballard joined us today to talk about this wealth disparity in the U.S.

You can listen to our conversation below.


Michigan's future starts with new ideas

Nov 17, 2014
Wikimedia

Americans love the next thing: the newest gadget, the latest fashion, and all manner of ground-breaking artistic creations. In fact, our entire worldview, economic system, and personal behavior are based on the idea that progress and growth is good.

We are driven to be better and new.

user Monika & Tim / Flickr

Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

User: Marvin Shaouni / Urban Innovation Exchange

You might have heard of urban farming in Detroit, but do you know you can grow seafood in Detroit’s vacant homes?

Aside from the Heidelberg Project, do you know metro Detroit also has community art projects like Green Alley, Scarab Club’s art exhibits, and an upcoming Museum of Curiosity?

These are the kind of ideas Urban Innovation Exchange hopes to explore at its first national convention Sept. 24-26 in Detroit.

It's one in a series of citywide events jam-packed into the month of September to showcase small projects that are transforming the city, from Tour de Troit to Dlectricity.

The Home Depot in Madison Heights, for instance, has a "flood recovery zone" set up inside the store's entrance. Things like drywall, paint, cleaning supplies, dehumidifiers, and appliances are flying off the shelves.

Wikimedia Commons

The Pinkerton security firm is one of the legendary brand names in American history. It was founded by Allan Pinkerton in 1850.

Pinkerton protected President Lincoln – even discovered a plot to assassinate him in 1861. Sadly, Pinkerton's men were not with Lincoln on that fateful night at Ford's Theatre.

Pinkerton men tracked down Butch Cassidy and the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang and pursued Jesse James. Pinkerton agents were also a part of the historic Battle of the Overpass at the Ford River Rouge Plant in 1937.

Now, the 164-year-old security and risk management company is moving its global headquarters from New Jersey to Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The Midwest is home for Pinkerton.

Jack Zahran, the president of the company, said that was a deciding factor for the move. Another factor was access to employees with high technological skills, as the company is focusing more on online security.

“We’re not on horseback anymore, and so we are protecting things in a digital space now,” Zahran said.

*Listen to the full interview with Jack Zahran above.

Photo of a can of Stroh's beer taken in 2008.
Kyle Freeman / Flickr

Many of us are more than a little curious about the lives of the rich and famous. 

In the mid-1800s, Bernard Stroh came to the U.S. and began selling beer in Detroit.

The business grew and prospered, but around 150 years later, the family company was bought and broken up.

Kerry A. Dolan of Forbes chronicles the rise and fall of the family in her piece, How to blow $9 billion: The fallen Stroh family.

From Dolan's story:

The Stroh family owned it all, a fortune that FORBES then calculated was worth at least $700 million. Just by matching the S&P 500, the family would currently be worth about $9 billion.

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

Frances Stroh, a fifth generation family member, is working on a memoir about the family.

h/t Lester Graham

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

I was surprised to find out recently that you can’t recycle household batteries in Ann Arbor anymore. I used to collect them in a little steel can, but Recycle Ann Arbor stopped taking them.

From Recycle Ann Arbor’s website:

Alkaline household batteries do not contain hazardous materials and may be disposed of in the trash.

IRS Form 1040.
stockphotosforfree.com

Michigan has been cutting taxes for the past 20 years. The key selling point has been that slashing taxes will create economic prosperity.

A new report by the former head of the state Treasury Department's Office of Revenue and Tax Analysis, Douglas Drake, says these tax cuts have instead drained Michigan of economic life, with our per-capita income rank tumbling, and our unemployment rate way above the national average.

Charles Ballard is an economist from Michigan State University.

*Listen to the full show above.

UM's Ross School of Business.
UM

Words of encouragement, like “think positive,” can be flung around with little thought when we face challenging situations.

It's something we hear so often that it's easy to tune out.

But there is real power in those words: The power to make our workplaces better and more effective.

This week, The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is holding its first-ever Ross Positive Business Conference.

Chris White leads the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan, and he joined us today.

*Listen to our interview with above.

Kenny Louie / Flickr

How are business owners in Michigan feeling?

It's an important question: Those business owners are doing the hiring – or not.

The 2014 Chase Business Leaders Outlook has just been released. It contains the views of some 3,500 leaders of small and mid-sized businesses.

Here to give us the views of these business leaders is Jim Glassman, senior economist with JPMorgan, Chase & Company.

Listen to the full interview above.

user clbinelli / Wikimedia Commons

As Michigan struggles back to economic health, there is plenty of talk about innovators, entrepreneurs and risk-takers being a big part of our recovery. 

And that fits right in with Michigan's history.

Editor R.J. King recently wrote a piece for DBusiness looking at Michigan's history of innovations and inventions. He joins us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Carhartt was made in Michigan.
Carhartt / Facebook

Carhartt got its start in southern Michigan when the company's founder, Hamilton Carhartt, set out to make the best pair of overalls he could for railroad workers.

The company is still family owned and remains in Michigan.

We spoke with the company's current CEO, Mark Valade. He's Hamilton Carhartt's great-grandson.

Listen to our interview with him above.

Pete Souza / White House

President Obama was in Ann Arbor today to give a speech on raising the federal minimum wage. Prior to the speech, Mr. Obama stopped at Zingerman's Delicatessen and ordered a Reuben sandwich. 

From the White House pool report:

POTUS and motorcade stopped at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor just before 1:30 p.m. With his suit coat off and U.S. Rep. Gary Peters by his side, the president ordered a Reuben sandwich.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING – Michigan lawmakers this week will propose a deal to guarantee that local governments lose little to no revenue from a planned phase-out of taxes on industrial machinery and small businesses' equipment.

The business tax cuts were enacted by Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators at the end of 2012. But they will be halted if a statewide vote fails in August.

An agreement reached among Snyder's administration, business interests and local officials would make sure municipalities opposing a loss in revenue are mostly kept whole.

Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Vinyl records. The sight and sound of an LP can unleash torrents of sentiment and memories for those who grew up dropping that needle onto a shiny record.

And if you've grown up only downloading your music digitally, you need to know that there’s nothing finer than wandering through the aisles of a record store – a record store like Dodds Records in Grand Rapids, which has served music lovers for some 30 years.

With a new owner who is committed to keeping the love of records alive, the future for the venerable Grand Rapids business is looking bright.

Listen to the full interview above.

Esther Gordy Edwards started the Motown Museum in 1985. After a recent visit, Sir Paul McCartney "adopted" one of Hitsville's historic pianos and had it restored by Steinway.
user dig downtown detroit / Flickr

From Motown to Madonna, techno to gospel, jazz and blues, from Eminem to Kid Rock to Aretha, and much more, the Detroit area has been, and continues to be, a music powerhouse.

In fact, at least 38 Grammy Award winners and nominees from the past five years have a Detroit connection.

A recent study from the Anderson Economic Group takes a deep dive into the business of the Detroit-area music scene.

Alex Rosaen, the principal author of the study for the Anderson Economic Group, joined us today.

Erik Hersman / Flickr

State of Opportunity's Kimberly Springer tells us how "the specter of an exclusive, our boutique, access internet looms" after the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down many of the FCC's "net neutrality" rules.

For the privileged, the demise of net neutrality might mean paying even more for broadband access to Netflix or YouTube---no more buffering...buffering...buffering? But for the less privileged, losing net neutrality puts all of the world's information further out of reach and condemning some to "pay to play" deals. 

Go here to read more.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's auditor general says state departments mostly aren't using a one-stop online permitting system designed to help people who want to start, operate or expand a business.

An audit released last week found that Michigan spent $20 million developing and maintaining the Michigan Business One Stop System, but it gets little use. The system was created from 2007-09 to give entities doing business with the state a single entry point and to streamline licensing.

user: jodelli / Flickr

This week, the Business Leaders for Michigan, the state’s most prominent business roundtable, met in Detroit.

The group offered an in-depth “report card” of how Michigan is recovering from the implosion suffered during the recession. They also outline what it’ll take to boost Michigan’s presence as a money-generating state.

We talked with Daniel Howes, a business columnist with the Detroit News, about Michigan's current business climate — and where things go from here.

Meijer

Meijer announced today that they're planning to hire 4,400 part-time workers in Michigan (more in other states). The Grand Rapids-based company says they're hiring in response to company growth and in "in preparation for the fall and holiday selling seasons."

More from their press release:

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Several groups are calling for an increase in the Michigan minimum wage to ten dollars an hour.

The current rate in Michigan is $7.40 an hour. That's higher than the national minimum wage.  Michigan is among more than a dozen states with minimum wage rates higher than the federal benchmark. 

Danielle Atkinson is with ‘Mothering Justice’, one of the groups calling on state lawmakers to increase Michigan’s minimum wage.

“We believe a hard day’s work deserves a fair pay. And it’s time for the Michigan legislature to support that as well,” says Atkinson. 

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It used to be, when you would think of a "pop-up business," you would pretty much think of those Halloween stores that pop-up each September, or the fireworks tents each July, or the Christmas tree and wreath lots that appear each Thanksgiving.

But the pop-up is growing and temporary businesses or exhibitions are gaining traction in cities and towns where the Great Recession left many empty storefronts.

And the pop-up works on so many levels, both for the entrepreneur and the business districts and cities who can see new life being breathed into buildings and areas that have been way too quiet.

Tim (Timothy) Pearce / Flickr

Governor Rick Snyder leaves today for a nine-day trade mission to Israel. He’s hoping to create business connections and encourage Israeli investment in Michigan.

But Snyder says he won’t be starting from scratch when he gets there.

“We already do a fair amount of business with Israel. We’re one of the top-20 states for both imports and exports going on with Israel. So I think it’s a great opportunity to build stronger economic ties and cultural ties given all the historical connections between our state and Israel.”

Additionally, the Governor says that Israel is looking to expand its marketplace globally.

“And if you look at Detroit’s role and the strong Jewish community here and the great business environment we’ve created over the last few years, Michigan should really be a gateway – in particular the Metro Detroit area should be a gateway – for Israeli businesses to do business in the United States.”

The governor also plans to speak with Israeli education officials. He says he’s especially interested in learning about their early childhood education programs.

This is Snyder’s fifth corporate-sponsored trip oversees, and his first to the Middle East. 

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

Michigan’s three biggest universities are producing young entrepreneurs twice as fast as the national average.

That’s according to a report by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group released today at a conference of business leaders and politicians on Mackinac Island.

Debbie Dingell is chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

“What’s clear is that we in Michigan have young people with ideas, and we’re giving them a university system that’s giving them the tools that they need to actually go out and start that business,” said Debbie Dingell, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

The report says almost half of the new businesses started by college grads have been started or acquired in Michigan.

University officials say they’ve revamped their curriculum in recent years to encourage entrepreneurship among students.

New export finance center opens in Detroit

Jan 30, 2013
Export-Import Bank of the United States

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow and nearly 100 small business owners were in Detroit for the opening of a new regional office for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The new office is expected to help Michigan businesses export products overseas by providing access to various types of insurance, loans, and financial resources.

According to their website, the agency has helped generate $456 billion in export revenue since its creation by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.

Michigan Businesses Have 1K Fewer Rules To Follow

Jan 10, 2013
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs / Office of Regulatory Reinvention

Governor Rick Snyder announced today that Michigan businesses now have one thousand fewer rules to live with.

Rob Nederhood is Deputy Director of Michigan’s Office of Regulatory Reinvention.

He says they were challenged to eliminate outdated or obsolete administrative rules. 

Recovery Park is a project hoping to revitalize the city of Detroit and get people working. 

Gary Wozniak is the President and CEO.  

He has big plans for Recovery Park involving everything from growing Tilapia, to processing foods, and establishing a 30-acre farm scattered throughout the city.

“So the models that we’re looking at are a combination of the community gardening that’s happening in Detroit, the indoor agriculture that’s being promoted by Michigan State University and then a lot of the larger indoor models in Europe, predominately in the Netherlands,” Wozniak says.

A new urban agriculture ordinance will certainly play a big in making this redevelopment project a reality.

The idea started with Self Help Addiction Rehabilitation or (SHAR), a Detroit based substance abuse treatment program. 

SHAR’s mission is to transform individuals with addiction and those recovering a chance at a new life.

Wozniak has a very personal mission as well.


User Kafuffle / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan will receive some unusual applicants next year.

Several dozen current and former National Football League players are expected to apply to the Ross Business School to learn how to open franchise businesses.

Dubbed the "NFL Franchising Boot Camp," the program will educate 30 of these athletes from across the country about the ins and outs of running a food, hotel or fitness chain.

During the four-day program this April, former professional football players will stay on the Ann Arbor campus and attend workshops with the school's faculty and business owners.

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