Business

Business
2:38 pm
Sun July 15, 2012

Michigan losing $242M in untaxed online sales

New books
Flickr/Sarah Sosiak

Michigan's Treasury Department says the state will lose about $242 million in tax revenue from Amazon and other online retailers.

States have trouble collecting sales taxes from sellers that don't have a physical presence within their borders. Amazon owns Grand-Haven-based audio book publisher Brilliance Audio, but Treasury spokesman Terry Stanton says Michigan considers it a separate entity.

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Business
6:33 pm
Tue July 3, 2012

Weather Channel buys Weather Underground

The Weather Underground is now a part of the Weather Channel.

The Weather Underground began in 1995 as a tiny operation of four people from the University of Michigan. It has since grown to a staff of about 50.

President Alan Steremberg says being part of the Weather Channel will give his company more resources to develop new products like apps and videos.

He says both companies will benefit from pooling their scientific resources.

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Business
12:01 pm
Mon July 2, 2012

No big spike in gasoline prices expected this week

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

AAA predicts 1.4 million Michiganders will travel during the Fourth of July holiday.

Most of them will be driving. GasBuddy.com says drivers should not expect to see a big spike in gasoline prices.

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Business
11:01 pm
Sun July 1, 2012

Michigan State University study finds Americans don't like to haggle online

More than a million Michiganders will be traveling during the Fourth of July holiday period. Many of them made hotel reservations online.

A Michigan State University professor says making online hotel reservations is an unsatisfactory experience for many people.

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Business
12:59 pm
Sat June 30, 2012

Improving Michigan's ports, waterways could generate jobs

MEDC

Michigan's agriculture leaders gathered in Detroit recently to talk about how the state's ports and waterways can be used more effectively.

Michigan's agriculture industry generates about $91 billion a year. But some think transportation of the state's products could be improved.

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Business
2:47 pm
Wed June 27, 2012

Benton Harbor, St. Joseph resort plan secures some funding

The Entrance to the Harbor Shores Clubhouse, part of the $575 million Harbor Shores project planned for Benton Harbor and St. Joseph
Harbor Shores Facebook.com

St. Joseph-based developer Edgewater Resources is reportedly in the process of raising $70 million for a new resort on the city's river.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

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Business
1:01 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Michigan leaders seek business partnerships with Turkey

Turkish flag
user alexeyklyukin flickr

Michigan and Turkey share a passion for cars, spend a lot of time farming, love entertaining visitors and both have a close connection with water.

More than 50 Michigan leaders went to Turkey earlier this month for a four-day conference titled the “Turkey-Michigan Forum: University-Industry Collaboration and R&D Trends.” Attendees came from the private sector, public sector and academia.

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Business
8:39 am
Thu June 14, 2012

New campaign asks Ann Arbor visitors to stop giving money to panhandlers

beta-gibbs.pcsb.org

New posters in downtown Ann Arbor businesses will ask visitors to stop giving money to panhandlers.  The effort by the mayor's office and businesses asks people to give money to local resources for the homeless instead. 

The posters say panhandlers often use the money to buy drugs and alcohol.  This concerns some local homeless residents.  They say this isn't always the case.  

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Business
5:00 am
Mon June 11, 2012

What The Truck? Grand Rapids considers new regulations for food trucks

'What The Truck' parked near the Fulton Street Farmers' Market on Saturday. The food truck owners say the proposed regulations for food trucks in the city are too restrictive.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

This week Grand Rapids officials will debate whether food trucks should be allowed in the city. People will get a chance to weigh in on the proposed rules Tuesday night. The rules would allow food trucks but limit when and where they could operate.

Right now food trucks have to part of a special event, like ArtPrize for example. But some have found a way to operate in a sort of legal grey area under the same rules that mobile ice cream trucks operate.

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Business
12:00 pm
Sat June 9, 2012

Detroit Bus Co. officially up and running

Detroit Bus Co. Facebook page

Downtown Detroit gets a new transportation option this weekend with the official launch of the Detroit Bus Company - a privately owned service launched by 25-year-old entrepreneur Andy Didorosi.

For $5, you get an all-day pass to ride. Right now, Didorosi is offering customers service on a 13-stop downtown loop.

"And then after that's successful and has a good ridership we plan to add our Royal Oak-Ferndale-Hamtramck-Detroit loop very quickly, because we have a lot of demand for that one," Didorosi said.

The Detroit Bus Company will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and during Detroit Tigers home games.

Didorosi says he hopes to someday be put out of business by reliable public transit.

Business
1:42 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Protecting your social media privacy (from your boss)

State lawmakers are discussing whether to limit employers' ability to demand passwords to social media sites.

A bill would bar companies from asking employees or job applicants to hand over passwords to their Twitter, Facebook or other accounts.

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Business
1:11 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

Amway to build new facility, add jobs, in Michigan

Headquarters of Amway in Ada, Michigan
amyway.com

Amway plans to spend up to $81 million to build a new facility in West Michigan.

The direct-sales company says it received a $1.6 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for the project. The new facility will manufacture and process vitamins and supplements for Amway's Nutrilite brand.

From their press release:

This investment includes a new $81 million nutrition plant at the company's Spaulding Avenue site in Ada, Michigan, near Amway World Headquarters. The new plant is expected to create 200 jobs over the next three years.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) today approved a $1.6 million Michigan Business Development Program incentive from the Michigan Strategic Fund (MSF) to support construction of this nutrition products manufacturing facility for Access Business Group LLC, an affiliate of Amway.

Amway says it employs 4,000 people in Michigan. Amway was started in 1959 by Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel.

Business
10:55 am
Thu May 24, 2012

AP: US Supreme Court rules in favor of Detroit-based Quicken Loans

flicker.com user:trame

 WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says home loan applicants cannot sue a mortgage company for charging them a loan discount fee without giving them a loan discount.

The high court on Thursday unanimously ruled for Quicken Loans, which was fighting a lawsuit from Tammy and Larry Freeman and other families. The company argued Congress wrote the law to say only that the fee would be illegal if Quicken split it with someone else. The justices, in an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia, agreed.

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Business
11:02 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Officials break ground for new retail complex in Detroit

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder and the Gateway Shopping Center groundbreaking ceremony.
Sarah Cwiek Michigan Radio

Calling it the first such new retail development in the city in decades, officials broke ground on the site of a future 36-acre shopping center Thursday.

Detroiters have long noted the city’s lack of many quality shopping options—especially when it comes to buying groceries.

Officials hope the Gateway Shopping Center--on the former Michigan State fairgrounds at 8 Mile and Woodward-- will help fill some of that void.

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Business
5:50 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

State AG officially wades into Lansing casino fight

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has officially lodged his opposition to a proposed Lansing casino with the federal government.

The attorney general sent a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior about the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians' casino plan.

The tribe is in the middle of a land deal with the city of Lansing. That's the first step toward a planned $245 million casino near the state Capitol.

In the letter, Schuette says the state "is gravely concerned about the consequences" of allowing the casino to operate. He says it would justify the operation of a casino far from the tribe's reservation lands. The same tribe - which is based in the Upper Peninsula - already operates a casino in Detroit.

Schuette's letter says the tribe's plan violates state and federal law.

The tribe disagrees. A spokesman says the tribe plans to vigorously pursue its right to do the project.

Once the land sale is complete, the tribe will ask the federal government to take the land into trust. That would allow the tribe to conduct gaming on that land. A court fight is expected.

Business
5:46 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Ally Bank to sell some assets, place another in bankruptcy, to pay off taxpayers

Detroit's Ally Bank, formerly known as GMAC, says it will sell off foreign subsidiaries and put its mortgage division into bankruptcy, in an attempt to pay back its government bailout.

The U.S. Treasury gave more than $17 billion to GMAC when it bailed out GM.

The money was meant to prevent the collapse of loan availability for GM vehicles and GM dealers.

So far, GMAC, now Ally Bank, has paid back $ 5.5 billion.   

But it was unclear how the company would pay back the rest. Its mortgage arm loses money every quarter on subprime mortgage loans made before the bank crisis of 2008.

Now Ally says it will put its mortgage division into bankruptcy, and sell off foreign subsidiaries.   The company says that will allow it to repay a total of 2/3 of what it owes the Treasury before the end of the year, leaving a balance of about $6 billion. 

Ally officials say they will provide bankruptcy financing for the mortgage arm, known as Res Cap, and strike a financial deal with the company's creditors, so that Ally can come out of the mortgage division's bankruptcy with no additional liabilities.

Business
4:01 pm
Sat May 5, 2012

Crop insurance now a top priority for many hard hit Michigan farmers

Many Michigan farmers are spending this May focusing on their insurance needs.

The sporadic spring freezes and frosts that followed the unusually mild winter devastated Michigan’s apple, cherry and peach crops.     Most farmers have access to some form of crop insurance.   But according to the Michigan Farm Bureau, the insurance only covers about 60 to 70 percent of the loss.

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Business
5:18 pm
Thu May 3, 2012

DTE shareholders meeting met by protests

DTE Energy shareholders were met by protesters at their annual meeting in Detroit Thursday.

Hundreds of people demonstrated outside the company’s Detroit headquarters.  And inside, several interrupted CEO Gerard Anderson as he tried to run the meeting.

Protesters shouted for DTE to “Pay its fair share!”

They were talking about the fact that DTE was named as one of the nation’s “Dirty 30” companies in a recent report—one that paid more in lobbying expenses than federal income taxes from 2008 to 2010.

Demonstrators also protested the utility’s shutoff policies. The utility shut off service to 200,000 in its southeast Michigan service area in 2011.

That number has more than doubled over the past five years.

Demonstrators also criticized DTE’s continued reliance on coal-fired power, rather than renewable energy.

Protester Thomas Reinke said renewable power sources are now both cleaner and less expensive than coal.

 “We’re getting poorer and poorer every day, and we’re being forced to pay high costs of utilities that could be offset by wind and solar, or other types of renewable energy,” said Reinke, who says he owns a small, residential renewable energy business.

DTE officials announced Thursday that they’re looking for more wind energy suppliers.

“DTE Energy is seeking approximately 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy from Michigan-based wind projects that will be operating by the end of 2013.  This solicitation is part of DTE Energy's plan to meet Michigan's renewable energy goals,” the company said in a written statement.

By state law, they must provide 10% of their power from renewable sources by 2015.

As for the tax-dodging accusations, a DTE spokesman counters that the utility has paid more $1 billion in taxes since 2008, mostly to state and local governments.

News Roundup
9:20 am
Thu May 3, 2012

In this morning's news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Wednesday, May 2nd
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Big profit for General Motors, Chrysler plants to stay open

General Motors beat predictions and posted a profit of $1 billion for the first quarter of 2012. That's down more than 68 percent from the company's first quarter profit from last year, according to the Detroit News.

The Detroit Free Press reports it's the company's ninth straight quarterly profit:

“It’s a long-term path that we’re on to get to the profitability levels that we want,” Dan Ammann, GM’s chief financial officer, told reporters this morning. “This is a solid quarter: revenue growth, profit growth, margin growth, cash flow improvement.”

And with more signs of a humming auto industry, Chrysler says it plans to keep three plants it typically idles during the summer open. From the Detroit News:

Chrysler Group LLC is canceling the traditional summer shutdown at three more of its factories to keep up with demand for its hot-selling cars and crossovers.

The Toledo Supplier Park in Ohio, the Belvidere Assembly Plant in Illinois and Chrysler's plant in Toluca, Mexico, will join Detroit's Jefferson North plant in working through the summer.

Auction for drilling rights coming up

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it's holding an auction in Lansing next week for oil and gas drilling rights on about 108-thousand acres in 23 counties. The DNR says it holds the auctions twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The proceeds from state-owned mineral lease rights go to buy land for public use, maintenance and improvements of state and local parks, and care of state fishery and wildlife habitats.

Cherry retailers look elsewhere for fruit

The bizarre warm weather coupled with a late freeze wiped out a good portion of Michigan's cherry crop, as Bob Allen reported for the Environment Report.

Lizzy Alfs at AnnArbor.com writes that retailers are searching for another supply:

With the majority of Michigan’s expansive cherry crop destroyed by this weather, Cherry Republic President Bob Sutherland said he was forced to think outside the box in order to continue selling his variety of cherry products.

His solution: Ordering millions of cherries from the Lublin region in Poland.

Business
1:56 pm
Wed May 2, 2012

Huntington Bank plans to open branches in Michigan Meijer stores

Ohio-based Huntington Bank says it plans to open branches in dozens of Meijer stores in Michigan. The bank and the Grand Rapids-based retailer have announced a 10-year partnership.

They say this will add 500 jobs for Huntington Bank in Michigan. The branches will operate with extended hours, giving shoppers time to conduct business on evenings and weekends. Huntington has partnered with another Grand Rapids based company, Steelcase, to design the branches.

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