Business

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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Stateside
5:28 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Crain's Detroit releases list of Michigan's 100 most innovative companies

user penywise morgueFile

An interview with Chad Holcom, a reporter for Crain's Detroit.

There's been a lot of talk in the years after the Great Recession about revitalizing Michigan - trying to get away from the 20th century economic model - trying to move the state, its residents, and its jobs - to the 21st century and beyond. And it's fair to say that many would agree that "innovation" is a vital part of moving the state's economy forward.

Crain's Detroit business has released a list of the 100 most innovative companies in Michigan. They're calling it the Michigan Innovative Index.

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Business
10:31 am
Mon August 19, 2013

Who will buy Detroit Schools bonds?

Josh Gonze
Thornberg Investment Management

The opportunity to buy bonds from a troubled school district run by an emergency manager, in a city that's just filed for bankruptcy, may seem akin to the opportunity to get your hands on some great snake oil, or a big lot in a Florida swamp, cheap.

But one municipal bond portfolio manager thinks Detroit Public Schools' bond offering, expected tomorrow, could actually be a good deal.

"There's an extraordinary amount of interest in buying short maturity bonds with high yield," says Josh Gonze of Thornberg Investment Management based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Business
2:49 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Green energy fees disappearing from some Michigan utility bills

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Four years after raising customers' bills to meet mandates to sell cleaner power, Michigan's biggest utilities are eliminating the fees or slashing them significantly.

Residential customers of DTE Electric may see their $3 monthly surcharge fall to 43 cents under a proposal to state regulators. Consumers Energy's 52-cent monthly fee for residential customers - which once was $2.50 - could go away entirely.

Advocates say the shrinking surcharges for residents and businesses are another reason to make utilities sell more green electricity.

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Business
2:00 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Detroit Bikes, manufacturing in the city, opens tonight

Detroit Bikes is manufacturing bike frames in the city.
Credit Detroit Bikes Facebook Page

A  Detroit-based bike manufacturer is holding its grand opening event tonight. Detroit Bikes is part of a mini-trend of companies like AutoBike and Detroit Bicycle. But it's the only company making bike frames in the city.

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Stateside
5:37 pm
Mon August 12, 2013

Assessing the entrepreneurial climate of Michigan

Paul Iseley
gvsu.edu

An interview with Paul Iseley, chairman of the economics department at GVSU's Seidman College of Business.

What's the state of entrepreneurship in West Michigan?

That's the question tackled in a new report from Grand Valley State University's Seidman College of Business. It finds that in just four years, there's been a big change in the way people think about being entrepreneurs.

We wanted to take a closer look at that changing mindset and find out what it means not only for West Michigan, but for the state.

Paul Iseley is chairman of the economics department at Grand Valley State's Seidman College of Business. He joined us today from GVSU.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
6:06 pm
Sun August 4, 2013

Step taken on possible Detroit airport-downtown shuttle

Detroit Metro Airport (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) - Operators of Detroit Metropolitan Airport have taken a small first step toward ending its status as one of the nation's worst major airports for passengers to reach or leave.

The Wayne County Airport Authority says it's issuing a request for information soon on possible providers of a shuttle service between the Romulus airfield and downtown Detroit.

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Stateside
6:06 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Challenge Detroit program combats Michigan 'brain drain'

Leigh Ann Ulrey speaks about her experiences at Compuware.
Facebook

An interview with Leigh Ann Ulrey, one the fellows from the 2012-2013 Challenge Detroit program.

There’s been a lot of attention paid to the problem of Michigan’s brain drain, how to keep college graduates in Michigan, applying their talents and energies to issues and challenges that are here at home instead of heading out of state.

We discovered an intriguing program offering a strategy to keep tomorrow’s leaders in the state. It’s called Challenge Detroit. It’s a leadership and professional development program that’s currently in its first year.

Leigh Ann Ulrey was one of the 30 graduates chosen out of hundreds of applicants to be part of the 2012-2013 Challenge Detroit program. She is a culture community and diversity specialist at Compuware in downtown Detroit. She joined us today from the Compuware headquarters.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
2:20 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

Willow Run Bomber Plant campaign gets more time

A young woman dressed in dark-blue coveralls, her hair tied up with a red-and-white polka-dot bandana, waved to passersby and distributed small postcards during rush hour at a busy Ann Arbor intersection.

Alison Beatty, a political science student at the University of Michigan, got plenty of attention in her Rosie the Riveter costume.

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Business
5:00 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Detroit program employs off-duty cops to maintain safe neighborhood

Off-duty Detroit Police officers are hired by JEBA for extra security
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

The Jefferson Corridor in Detroit is home to the Clean and Safe program.

The program was created in part by the organization formerly known as the Jefferson East Business Association (JEBA). JEBA recently merged with the East Jefferson Corridor Collaboration to form the Jefferson East Inc.

The program is aimed at reducing crime in the Jefferson Corridor by taking advantage of a special program that allows off-duty Detroit police officers to be hired during their off-hours. The officers are armed, uniformed, and use DPD squad cars, at no extra cost to taxpayers. Cops who have seniority and a clean record are eligible. 

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Stateside
5:13 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Ann Arbor man develops new mobile application to aid consumers in online sales

Tony Buser, flickr Flickr

An interview with Mike Vichich, the CEO and co-founder of Glyph.

Think of a recent purchase you made. Chances are pretty good that your mobile phone was somehow involved, whether you tracked down a store location, you checked out products and prices, or you even closed the deal on your phone. 

One survey done by a digital coupon website found that more than half the consumers it surveyed used their mobile device while they bought something in March of this year.

Or let’s talk dollars and cents, lots of dollars and cents. Mobile commerce transactions are expected to hit $1.5 trillion this year. By 2017 you can look for that to top $3.2 trillion. Clearly something big is going on and we wondered what’s in store for consumers and businesses as more of us trade walking through the door of a brick-and-mortar store to a few thumb clicks on our smart phones.

Mike Vichich from Ann Arbor is the CEO and co-founder of Glyph, a mobile app that lets you pay with your mobile phone and also keep track of what you’re spending. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Business
12:45 am
Mon July 29, 2013

Fast food workers expected to strike in Flint & Detroit today

ebruli http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbling/

It may be difficult to get a fast food hamburger in parts of Detroit and Flint later today.

Workers at some fast food chains in six cities, including the two in Michigan, are expected to walk off the job as part of a protest for higher wages.

They want to be paid $15 an hour. Michigan’s current minimum wage is $7.40.

Claudette Wilson is a member of Detroit–15,  a group that advocates for a higher wage for fast food workers. Wilson defended raising fast food worker wages at a news conference in Lansing last week. 

“I believe that changing the wage from $7.40 to $15 will provide a better living circumstance for workers that are living in poverty,” says Wilson.

The strike is expected to affect some McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s and other fast food restaurants.

Business
5:30 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Private businesses in Michigan to partner with the state on transportation projects?

user theed17 wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Transportation is asking businesses whether they’re interested in partnering with the state for certain projects. That could include taking over the building, operating, or financing of infrastructure projects from the state.

Joe Pavona is Governor Rick Snyder’s special advisor on public-private partnerships.

“I think that this is the direction of the future, and I think is consistent with providing improved customer service and value for Michigan,” he says.

Lawmakers in Lansing are debating how to boost transportation spending by more than a billion dollars a year. Pavona says including private businesses in transportation projects could save the state money and time.

But Michigan’s largest state employees union doesn’t like the idea. Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000.

“You’re talking about services and responsibilities that are vital. And you’re talking about issues of safety, of course. And we believe that certain things are best handled by the state workforce,” he says.

Right now, MDOT is exploring public-private partnerships involving bridge work, freeway lighting, and two rest areas in Northern Michigan.

It says it’s too early to say whether the partnerships would shift public sector jobs to the private sector.

Business
4:26 pm
Thu July 25, 2013

Detroit-Windsor Tunnel operator files for bankruptcy

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel
Flickr user jpowers65 Flickr

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, the underwater highway that connects the U.S. to Canada, could be in trouble.

American Roads LLC, the privately-held company that operates the U.S. side of the mile-long border crossing, as well as four toll bridges in Alabama, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing low traffic as the cause, according to a report from Reuters.

The company is $830 million in debt and is seeking to restructure. Under their plan of reorganization, Syncora Guarantee, Inc. will become the tunnel’s new owner after the bankruptcy. The plan will go to the bankruptcy court in Manhattan on August 28 for approval.

Earlier this month, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis told the Detroit Free Press that Canada would consider buying the tunnel if sold in bankruptcy:

“As long as the tunnel remains in the public interest, then the City of Windsor has no interest in the tunnel. However, if at that time there is a move to take the Detroit half of the tunnel, if it is put on the auction block or if it is being sold or disposed of in a way that is adverse to the public interest, then the City of Windsor will take steps to do whatever we can do to make sure it remains in the public interest.” 

American Roads' chief executive Neal Belitsky said in court papers that this is not a result of Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing last week, although that did not help. The company is blaming Detroit’s declining population for the reduced traffic.

During the bankruptcy process, tunnel operations will continue as usual.

-Michelle Nelson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Business
4:08 pm
Wed July 24, 2013

There's a new push for a higher minimum wage in Michigan

What should Michigan's minimum wage be?
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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Business
1:41 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

Spartan Stores announces merger with Nash Finch Company

qmnonic Flickr

Spartan Stores, Inc. and Nash Finch Company announced a merger agreement early this morning.

The Associated Press reported the following:

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Business
6:24 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

CEO of office furniture giant Steelcase to retire in February 2014

Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett
Courtesy photo Steelcase

Steelcase CEO Jim Hackett announced to the company’s board of directors during an annual shareholder meeting Wednesday he’ll retire early next year. Hackett led the Grand Rapids-based company for 19 years.

“I couldn't be happier about what Steelcase has become and where we're headed,” Hackett said, “But it's time to provide opportunity to others, and time for me to pursue some other interests. While continuing to run the company with as much energy and excitement as I did when I took the role in 1994, I'll also ready myself for the next chapter in my life.”

Steelcase has been around for more than a hundred years. But over the last decade the recession and technology have forced all the big office furniture companies in West Michigan to adapt to major changes in how and where people work.

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