Business

Business
11:42 am
Wed October 16, 2013

Michigan apple growers changing orchards, adding technology to boost production

Apples rejected by the machine roll down a line. Many of these apples will be rescanned.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

In West Michigan, it's apple harvest time. That may conjure up images of picturesque orchards and old-fashioned fun. But modern technologies are playing a bigger role in the business side of the apple harvest.

Michigan's apple industry is turning to technology to improve the apple packaging process.

Right now it’s crunch time for growers like Rob Steffens. He’s got 280 acres of apple trees in Sparta; a part of West Michigan’s fertile “fruit ridge” northwest of Grand Rapids. 

Apple orchards are changing

Steffens walks me through a block of stubby Fuji apple trees. They’re only about 12 feet tall, and they’re strung together more like grapes than apple trees. The branches are just full of fruit.

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Business
5:10 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Some Michigan farmers leaving crops to rot because of labor shortage

Golden Delicious apples lie on the ground beneath a tree in Sparta due to lack of skilled harvesters.
Michigan United

A couple dozen Michigan farmers gathered in Grand Rapids Thursday to again draw attention to a big labor shortage.

They’re calling on Congress to pass legislation that would allow guest workers to get jobs in the U-S without becoming citizens.

Don Coe is a managing partner of Black Star Farms. He grows grapes and cherries in Suttons Bay in Northwest Michigan.

“I think we could get (a guest worker program)  through except that there are ideologues with a post-9-11 mentality whose simple answer is always 'build a fence, throw them out,'” Coe said.

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Business
11:52 am
Wed October 9, 2013

And now something you really may not like

Credit dee37 / MorgueFile

Squirrels: They're cute, they're clever and they're diabolical.

Okay,  they're not evil, but they are responsible for about two-thirds of substation outages caused by animals.   When you consider more than a third of all substation outages are animal-related, squirrels are indeed on the most-unwanted list.

The substations are premium real estate for squirrels and raccoons, which are attracted to the warmth and vibration from electrical equipment.

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Business
5:33 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

Ford celebrates 100 years of moving assembly line

Engine installation at the Highland Park plant, 1913.
Ford Motor Company

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the moving assembly line.

Henry Ford brought the method for mass-producing cars to his Highland Park Assembly Plant. 140 workers installed parts on a chassis that was dragged across the floor by a winch. The results were immediate and remarkable. 

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Stateside
3:21 pm
Mon October 7, 2013

How are Michigan franchises fairing?

We turn now to an area of business that held strong in Michigan even in the darkest hours of the Great Recession.

Franchises. They create jobs faster than any other business sector. Even when the Great Recession slammed us in 2008, franchises kept on hiring. The pace may have slowed down a little, but the franchise hiring rate still topped the national rate of employment.

DBusiness is out with its 2013 "Michigan Franchise Report" and we wanted to find out their verdict on the franchise scene in Michigan.

DBusiness editor R.J. King joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
12:33 pm
Fri October 4, 2013

'Project Sticker Shock' coming to Michigan store shelves

Michigan teens are taking a stand against underage drinking with stickers reminding adults that supplying alcohol to minors is a crime.
Credit Amy Johnson

"Project Sticker Shock" is hitting Michigan store shelves in an effort to keep adults from buying alcohol for teens. Students in Pinckney are placing warning stickers on alcoholic beverages in stores to remind adults that supplying alcohol to minors is a crime.

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Agriculture
9:49 am
Tue October 1, 2013

Michigan apple growers scramble to harvest potential record-setting crop

Rob Steffens is a 4th generation apple farmer in Sparta, Michigan.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Rob Steffens palms a Fuji apple nearly the size of a softball in the middle of his 280-acre apple orchard near Sparta in Kent County’s “fruit ridge.”

“This block here is really going to pick heavy this year,” Steffens says, smiling at a row of stubby trees. The branches are heavy with near ripe fruit.

“This is just gorgeous size fruit on here,” he said. “It’s going to be a real shame if we can’t get this crop harvested and in the barn.”

Steffens is just one of many apple growers scrambling to take care of what’s potentially the biggest crop in Michigan’s history.

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Stateside
4:36 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Employers should be careful about what they see on social media

Flickr user rutty Flickr

Ever since the rise of Facebook we’ve heard the warning: be careful about what you put on Facebook, watch what you post online. What if a prospective employer checks out your Facebook page and sees something that tanks you for that new job?

But, in his recent article in Crain’s Detroit Business, writer Chris Gautz tells us it’s the employer who needs to tread lightly and carefully in looking at social media, or the online presence of potential hires, and he warns companies to be careful in taking action against employees for their Facebook or Twitter postings.

Chris Gautz joined us today to tell us more.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
5:46 pm
Tue September 24, 2013

Few women in top corporate positions in Michigan

The report found that "women in Michigan Fortune 500 companies hold 17 out of 152 or 10.8% of executive officer positions compared to 14.3% at all Fortune 500 companies."
inforummichigan.org Wayne State University

Twenty eight of Michigan's top 100 public companies have no women as directors, executive officers, or in the ranks of the five highest-paid employees. Even among companies with women in top positions, the numbers are small, and the rate of change glacial.

That's according to a report recently released by the Inforum Center for Leadership in Michigan. The report was co-authored by two officers of Inforum and two faculty members at Wayne State University's School of Business Administration.

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Business
3:46 pm
Sun September 15, 2013

Bell's Brewery coming to Grand Rapids airport

Bell's Eccentric Cafe in downtown Kalamazoo
Credit bellsbeer.com

A popular Kalamazoo craft beer brewer will open a location soon in the Grand Rapids area.

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Business
1:18 pm
Sat September 14, 2013

Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater marquee to run on sun power

Downtown Ann Arbor (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - Ann Arbor's historic Michigan Theater is going solar. Or at least its marquee is.

The Ann Arbor News reports that the solar energy installation marks the first renewable energy project by XSeed Energy. The U.S. Department of Energy's Solar America Cities program provided initial funding for XSeed.

The project is expected to generate enough electricity to power the marquee when light-emitting diode lamps are installed. The LEDs will replace incandescent bulbs and should use up to 95 percent less energy.

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Business
11:50 am
Sat September 7, 2013

Michigan battery factory closes for 6 weeks

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan factory that makes lithium-ion batteries for General Motors is halting production for up to six weeks because of a controversy over a chemical.

LG Chem spokesman Jeremy Hagemeyer says a chemical used to make batteries may not be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He declined to name it.

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Business
3:32 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

With deadlines looming, small businesses face confusion over health care changes

Canine to Five is a pet care store in metro Detroit. Owner Liz Blondy provides health coverage to her employees.

Michigan businesses are trying to get ready for changes to the health care system by the Affordable Care Act.

But there's a lot of confusion, especially for small businesses.

Jennifer Kluge with the Michigan Business and Professional Association says the new health care system will increase costs for small businesses.

"For small businesses, there's nothing affordable about health care reform," she said.

But Brett Williams with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says it's too early to tell, but rates could decrease over time.

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Business
10:30 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Flint conference looking at ways to help Michigan's manufacturing industries

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Federal, state and local government officials are meeting with Genesee County business leaders today to discuss ways to build up the county’s manufacturing industry.

After decades of decline, Genesee County’s manufacturing base has been growing since the recession.

Much of the growth has been tied to the auto industry.

Janice Karcher is with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. She says Flint-area manufacturers are about more than cars and trucks.

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Business
4:00 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

Grandma: 'So easy...even a man could do it'

Credit Waymarking.com

A Chelsea business known nationally for its blue-and-white boxes of affordable baking mixes is also known for rising to economic challenges. 

For eight generations, the Holmes family has operated  Chelsea Milling Company. It began making Jiffy Mix during the Depression and has weathered all the economic ups and downs since.

Howdy Holmes (yes, the former race car driver)  is the current president and CEO.

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Business
6:00 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Michigan congressman from across the state, political aisle meet for “Startup America Day”

Congressmen Bill Huizenga, Gary Peters and Justin Amash listen to entrepreneurs at Start Garden in Grand Rapids Thursday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Three Michigan congressmen met with entrepreneurs in Grand Rapids for “Startup America Day” Thursday. It’s a chance for entrepreneurs to tell lawmakers how they can better support startup companies.

Congressman Gary Peters (D-Detroit) co-chairs the House Caucus on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’re creating an environment that entrepreneurs with a good idea have an opportunity to take that idea, capitalize on it and run as long and as hard as they can with it,” Peters said.

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Business
3:47 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Muskegon officials considering port expansion

The port on Muskegon Lake could be expanded to accommodate for bigger ships.
Credit user BigMikeSndTech / Flickr

The Muskegon port could be expanded to accommodate for larger cargo. The port is one of the only naturally occurring deep water ports, which makes it ideal for bigger ships.

The port could be used to transport agricultural fertilizers and other goods like wind turbines, scrap metals and coal.

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Stateside
1:45 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle might be stopped and that is bad news for Michigan

There are 46 suppliers of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Michigan.
Flickr user MATEUS_27:24&25 Flickr

An interview with Todd Spangler, the Washington reporter for the Detroit Free Press.

Whenever there's conversation and debate about Washington's bloated budgets and out of control federal spending, the Defense Department is frequently in the spotlight.

Now as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down and in the face of demands to cut back spending, the Defense Department is proposing to do just that, by cutting back on something that could hit Michigan companies very hard.

Todd Spangler covers Washington for the Detroit Free Press and he joined us today from D.C.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
2:18 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Wayne County plans to sell Packard Plant

Detroit's historic Packard Plant hasn't been in use regularly since the 1950s.
Credit Julia Field / Michigan Radio

Wayne County officials hope to close a deal to sell Detroit's historic Packard Plant next week. County officials say they've been in talks for over a year with Chicago-area developer Bill Hults to buy the property.

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Business
8:12 pm
Wed August 21, 2013

A blighted building in Lansing's Old Town is getting a rehab

3 blighted buildings just south of Lansing's Old Town district will be rehabbed over the next year into.....
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Lansing’s historic Old Town district is getting another boost.

The shopping and dining district is just north of Lansing’s downtown.

Mayor Virg Bernero says a developer plans to spend three million dollars rehabbing and expanding an old building into new retail and residential space.

“Vibrant, thriving cities have great buildings… great places for people to live and work,” says Bernero, “and Old Town increasingly, more and more, is becoming that place.”

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