Business

Business
3:59 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Utility regulators say the Lansing Board of Water & Light was not prepared for December ice storm

BWL's general manager issued a statement saying the utility has "already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC."
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State utility regulators are the latest to give Lansing’s city electric utility poor marks for how it handled a massive ice storm in December.

The Michigan Public Service Commission says the Lansing Board of Water & Light was not prepared for the Dec. 21 ice storm that knocked out power to about 40,000 BWL customers. Many customers had to wait 10 days or more to get their electricity restored.

The MPSC report echoes the findings of BWL’s own internal review and a panel appointed by Lansing’s mayor. Among other things, the MPSC says BWL needs to improve its tree trimming and communications programs. The public service commission does not regulate BWL, so its findings are little more than recommendations for change.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero asked for the state review. He says the three reports will provide a “road map” for BWL to be a more reliable energy provider.

BWL’s general manager issued a statement saying the utility has “already begun implementing many of the improvements recommended by the MPSC.”

Stateside
4:33 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

GM approaches 5 years since bankruptcy

Credit John F. Martin / Creative Commons

At 8 a.m. on June 1, 2009, General Motors filed for Chapter 11 reorganization. That filing in the bankruptcy court in Manhattan was the start of a painful and historic journey for General Motors. 

Five years later, after a massive government equity investment, General Motors is doing well, although it has been rocked recently by the ignition switch recall controversy, and a blizzard of other recalls. 

Let's take stock of what GM has done in the last five years, and see if the prevention of job and income losses was worth the cost to taxpayers. 

Sonari Glinton is NPR's business reporter, and he joined us on Stateside. 

*Listen to the full interview above. 

Business
4:23 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

Ford announces CEO Alan Mulally will retire in July

Ford CEO Alan Mulally.
Credit user: Ford Motor Company / Flickr

It was perhaps the worst-kept secret in recent business history: Ford Motor Company has made it official today that their CEO Alan Mulally, is retiring July first. 

His successor, as expected, will be COO Mark Fields. 

Detroit News Business Columnist Daniel Howes sat down with Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford shortly after this morning's announcement.

Howes joined us to talk about the timing of the announcement, and that conversation with Bill Ford. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Business
12:50 pm
Mon April 28, 2014

Kalamazoo may be indirectly affected by proposed merger of 2 giant drug companies

Pfizer confirmed this week that it wants to merge or combine operations with British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A proposed $100 billion merger of two giant drug companies may have an impact on thousands of people in Michigan.

Pfizer confirmed it’s talking with Britain's AstraZeneca about merging or combining their operations.

Pfizer employs about 2,300 people in Michigan, most of them in Kalamazoo County.

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Business
6:08 pm
Thu April 17, 2014

Detroit businesses vote to pay for supplement city services

Credit Peter Martorano / Flickr

Business owners in downtown Detroit voted this week to collectively contribute $4 million a year to keeping the downtown clean and safe.

The vote means a new Business Improvement Zone will be established downtown between the freeways and the Detroit River. Commercial property owners in the zone will pay an additional fee on top of their property taxes to pay for supplementary services.

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Business
2:20 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

A new law allows local investment in small business

Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt, both 32, are trying to become the first people in Michigan to use a new crowdfunding law passed by Gov. Snyder in December. They want to open a brewery in Tecumseh.
Credit Megha Satyanarayana / Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kyle DeWitt has spent three years trying to open a brewery in Tecumseh. He's a veteran brewer, and he owns the building where he plans to brew his beer. But, he still needs money for equipment.

Despite his experience and a solid business plan, banks think of breweries as restaurants, he says. He’s a risky investment in the eyes of traditional lenders.

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Business
6:01 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Oil will soon be flowing through Enbridge's new pipeline in Michigan

This picture shows crews working on the new pipeline in southern Ingham County last year.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of the month, Enbridge’s new oil pipeline through Michigan may be in operation.

Enbridge has built a nearly 300 mile pipeline from Griffith, Indiana to Ortonville, Michigan.

The pipeline will eventually transport 500,000 barrels of oil a day or about twice as much as the pipeline it’s replacing.

The old pipeline ruptured in 2010, spilling about a million gallons of Canadian Tar Sands Oil. The cleanup of the Kalamazoo River continues.

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Business
5:15 pm
Fri April 4, 2014

ACSI: Economy all dressed up, with no place to go

graph showing 20 years of customer satisfaction
ACSI University of Michigan

Customer satisfaction hit a 20-year high, in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index.

The index tracks how happy people are with their shopping, buying and consumption experiences.

On a scale of 100, the index read 76.8 in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Claus Fornell says one reason for the result is the recession and the slow economy that followed made it harder to find and win customers. 

So companies, and their employees, especially those in the service sector, are trying harder to please their customers.

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Stateside
4:55 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

Great Lakes ice cover slows down the shipping season

Credit NOAA

The Detroit Tigers weren't the only ones to hold an Opening Day.

The Great Lakes shipping season officially opened March 25.

And, unlike Opening Day at Comerica Park, this one is much less well attended.

No surprise: The near-total ice coverage on the Great Lakes has led to a very slow start to the shipping season and a whole lot of ice-cutting for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Mark Gill is the director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, and he joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
6:08 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Lt. Gov. Calley signs personal property tax repeal compromise, now it heads to voters

Lawmakers from both political parties, business owners, city and school officials join Lt. Gov. Calley as he signs the personal property tax repeal in Grand Rapids Tuesday.
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Voters will decide in August if businesses should get out of paying taxes on equipment each year. 

Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things: Carmakers pay the tax on heavy machinery, restaurants pay it on ovens and dishwashers. It doesn't matter if the equipment is new or old. The tax amounts to several hundred million dollars each year.

The effort to repeal the personal property tax was bi-partisan. A previous version replaced only a portion of the lost revenue to local governments.

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Agriculture
7:20 am
Mon March 31, 2014

Record lows to record highs: Michigan fruit growers’ incredible comeback story

Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

It’s been a couple of roller coaster years for the state’s fruit growers.

Michigan apple growers had the most dramatic ride. 80-degree weather in March 2012, followed by multiple freezes caused total crop failure that fall, the worst since 1945.

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Business
7:48 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

DTE investigating cause of small fire at Fermi nuclear plant this afternoon

The Fermi 2 plant is located near Monroe, Michigan.
James Yeo Creative Commons

Officials at the Fermi 2 nuclear plant near Monroe are investigating the cause of a small fire that happened around 2 p.m. this afternoon.  

Fermi is already shut down to refuel. That’s normal.

Plant workers were testing four huge back-up diesel generators used only in emergencies. Those tests are normal, too. DTE spokesman Guy Cerullo says they've been testing them for a few days.

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Stateside
4:30 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Business with social mission helps keep homeless warm

Teia Sams is a seamstress at Empowerment Plan.
Mercedes Mejia

Starting a business can be hard. How about starting a business with a mission to help end homelessness? Well, that’s even harder.

Stateside’s Mercedes Mejia tells us about the Empowerment Plan. It’s a business with a social mission.  The company makes coats that double as sleeping bags, and gives them away to homeless people.

After nearly two years, its mission is the same. But its business model is evolving.

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The Environment Report
6:36 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Big energy companies face conspiracy, anti-trust violations in Michigan

A natural gas drilling rig in Wyoming. Regulators in Michigan say they're ready to handle more of these drilling rigs.
Bureau of Land Management

The state of Michigan alleges energy giants Encana Oil and Gas USA and Chesapeake Energy worked together to get cheaper prices to lease land to drill for oil and gas.

Michigan’s attorney general filed charges against the companies earlier this month. Today, the companies were arraigned on conspiracy and anti-trust violations.

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Business
12:34 pm
Sat March 15, 2014

New Michigan law may benefit state wineries

A new corkage law went into effect on Friday. It says restaurants with liquor licenses can permit outside bottles of wine and charge a corking fee to serve them.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

Michigan diners can start bringing their own bottles of wine to restaurants.

A new corkage law went into effect on Friday.   It says restaurants with liquor licenses can permit outside bottles of wine and charge a corking fee to serve them.

State representative Jim Stamas sponsored the bill.   He says the law will promote Michigan's wine industry.

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Business
10:18 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Michigan tourism industry should see a boost in 2014

“With each year of the recovery, people have more and more confidence in the economy and are therefore more comfortable,” says Dan McCole, assistant professor in MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

2014 may be a ‘robust’ year for Michigan’s tourism industry.

Stock markets and consumer confidence are high, housing markets are improving and unemployment is down. Michigan State University researchers say these are all factors that play a role in determining if people will take a vacation.

The MSU researchers presented their annual tourism forecast at an industry conference in Traverse City this morning.

They’re predicting a 4.5% increase in hotel receipts this year compared with 2013, which was a strong year for Michigan tourism.

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Energy
6:14 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Nuclear regulators flag concerns over safety culture among security officers at Palisades

Entergy Corporation

This story was corrected to reflect how many security officers talked to the NRC.

Nuclear regulators have been interviewing certain Palisades employees as part of ongoing oversight to see if safety culture has improved at the nuclear plant near South Haven. That's after a third-party report found “examples of a lack of accountability at all levels at the Plant were evident.”

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Business
5:00 am
Wed March 5, 2014

No, Chinese investors aren't 'buying up Detroit' – but they do have an eye on the Motor City

Since Detroit filed for bankruptcy last summer, there have been lots of stories going around about major Chinese money pouring into city real estate.The headlines tend to read something like: “China is buying up Detroit.”

In truth, there’s not much hard evidence to support that kind of dramatic claim.

Read more
Business
11:35 am
Sun March 2, 2014

Michigan Lottery extends contract with GTECH

The lottery announced Friday that the contract with GTECH Corp. now will run through mid-January of 2017. The company helps run games such as Powerball, Mega Millions and Club Keno.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

LANSING – The Michigan Lottery has extended its contract with a company that helps run games such as Powerball, Mega Millions and Club Keno.

The lottery announced Friday that the contract with GTECH Corp. now will run through mid-January of 2017. The initial six-year deal was scheduled to expire in January 2015.

Under terms of the contract, the bulk of the company's compensation is based on a percentage of sales. The contract extension has an estimated value of more than $53 million.

Stateside
4:54 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize encourages college graduates to launch start-ups in state

Amy Klinke
http://bec.umich.edu/

How do we keep our smart, energetic, bright college graduates from packing up and leaving Michigan?

One good way is by helping those with that entrepreneurial spirit to launch their start-ups in Michigan.

That's the idea behind a contest called the Michigan Collegiate Innovation Prize.

More than 81 teams from more than 16 colleges and universities around the state applied to be a part of the contest. At stake? More than $100,000 in prizes and intensive start-up training.

Amy Klinke with the U of M Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering is the contest director. Dr. Mark Keil is a pathology resident at the U of M Medical School, and he is a member of one of the winning teams. They both joined us today to discuss the experience.

Listen to the full interview above.

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