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Daniel Howes

Ford's Corktown Play

Jun 16, 2018
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Ford Motor is planning a big party on Tuesday. It’ll be at the Michigan Central Depot, that gap-toothed hulk looming over Detroit empty and rotting for thirty years.

But not anymore, once Ford’s plans for what it’s calling a campus in Corktown become more clear.

Here’s what you need to know: Detroit’s oldest neighborhood could be transformed by Ford’s plans. The automaker wants to anchor its next-generation mobility, autonomy and electrification work in the 105-year-old train station.

This is huge, people. Detroit hasn’t seen a business move this big in eight years. That’s when Dan Gilbert moved his Quicken Loans headquarters to the city and followed with a downtown real estate buying spree.

This may be even bigger because it’s eight years later. Because Quicken blossomed into a major corporate presence downtown. Because Ford’s presence is likely to turbo-charge redevelopment of a neighborhood … and set the example for more.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Three thousand delegates and members of the United Auto Workers will descend on Detroit next week for their Constitutional Convention.

They’ll hear happy talk about organizing gains, three years of fiscal discipline and fiery rhetoric, because that’s what these sessions are for. Fire up the membership in advance of next year’s bargaining with the Detroit automakers and others.

It’s what the folks leading today’s UAW won’t be talking about that matters. The union’s three joint-training centers funded by the Detroit Three remain under a federal corruption investigation.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The race to replace Governor Rick Snyder is on.

Here on Mackinac Island this week, we learned from a gubernatorial debate: That Democrat Gretchen Whitmer is a mom. She’ll “Fix the Damn Roads.” And she has a “backbone of titanium.” Just ask her.

Republican Pat Colbeck has Michigan’s roads disaster all figured out. He’d order “a complete review” of the state’s road-building process and upgrade them to higher standards – all without raising taxes. Right.

Democrat Abdul El-Sayed would dismantle the “Betsy DeVos agenda” for Michigan’s public schools and “end this profit motive in our schools.” And every student coming from a household making $150,000 or less should graduate from college debt-free. How and who’s paying the tab he didn’t say.

Map of Detroit Metro Transit plan
Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan

Audio: A conversation with Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist. 

One hot topic at the Mackinac Policy Conference this week is the future of regional transportation in Southeast Michigan — particularly a proposed millage to fund the expansion of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan.

Daniel Howes is a Detroit News business columnist. He speaks with Stateside about regional divide and larger issues at the core of the RTA debate. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

President Trump says America needs tariffs on foreign-made cars and trucks to safeguard our “national security.”

Really? How many pickups do the Russians sell in the United States? Zero.

How many cars do the industrious North Koreans and Iranians ship here? Zero.

And how many Chinese-brand cars sit in U.S. showrooms? Essentially zero.

multicolored shipping containers in a ship yard with imported goods
Jan Buchholtz / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

President Trump is considering tariffs on imported cars, trucks, and parts.

That word came after a Wednesday morning tweet from the president, promising "big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers."

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Now we know what incompetent governance cost at Michigan State University.

Half a billion dollars. That's the price to settle with 332 women sexually abused by Dr. Larry Nassar and a reserve fund to compensate women who still might come forward. It’s the prospect of a 2.5 percent budget cut to free up cash to make good on the settlement. It’s untold damage to the university’s reputation, to its attractiveness to would-be students and, yes, to the state.

Plaque for city of Detroit and Wayne County on the side of the Spirit of Detroit
Mumu Matryoshka / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

The city of Detroit is suing Dan Gilbert's real estate company, Bedrock Management, for refusing to turn over personal information of its apartment building tenants.  

The city wants to find out if people who live at several Gilbert properties have paid their city income taxes. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Paddlesports are becoming Big Business in the Great Lakes state. The Coast Guard estimates some 650,000 kayaks, canoes and paddleboards ply Michigan waters every year. And that number is expected to grow seven percent a year, reports The Detroit News.

At that rate, paddlecrafts would outnumber registered power boats within three years. The crush of paddlers from rank beginners to advanced Great Lakes paddlers … threatens to overcrowd the 1,300 boat launches around the state.

Chrysler logo
Garret Voight / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

Twenty years ago this week, Germany's Daimler-Benz AG acquired Chrysler.

 

The Germans described it as "a merger of equals." 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Apparently, hell hath no fury like environmental regulators who've been deceived.

Just ask Martin Winterkorn. The former Volkswagen CEO was indicted this week on federal conspiracy charges that he defrauded the United States, committed wire fraud and violated the Clean Air Act.

The reckoning was inevitable. Ever since regulators discovered VW’s scheme to evade diesel emissions rules almost three years ago, it’s only been a matter of time for ol’ Winterkorn to get the book thrown at him.

Ford display at the 2018 NAIAS in Cobo (with a bit of Chevrolet in the background)
Matthew P. L. Stevens / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

For decades, January in Southeast Michigan has meant it's time for the auto show.  

Thousands trek to Cobo Center for the North American International Auto Show, often picking their way through snow and ice, but it seems that the snow may give way to autumn leaves. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

A few years after the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, I found myself on the long porch of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel chatting with Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne.

He was talking about the Chapter 11 process to help failing companies and how it helped Chrysler and GM survive – thanks to Obama's auto task force and American taxpayers.

It also forced the people running those companies – and those who would follow – to make hard decisions. I was reminded of that this week. In less than 24 hours, those who care got three separate looks at the financial health of Detroit’s three automakers and things looked different.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Chinese say they’re willing to change the rules that protect their precious auto industry. That’d be the industry companies like General Motors have spent a generation building with Chinese partners because, over there, he who controls the government rules.

Andrey Filippov 安德烈 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The news from Beijing this week is that China's President Xi Jinping is "open" to reducing the 25 percent tariffs on foreign-made cars, trucks, and SUVs. The leader is also open to full foreign ownership of auto companies in China.

It sounds like a big deal, but is it?

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Now we know why Michigan State’s interim president, John Engler, tapped an ol’ Republican hand to head government relations at the school. He understands politics well enough to know they’ll need the help.

And the politics surrounding the aftershocks of the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse scandal are very simple: someone must pay.

For the assaults on hundreds of women under the guise of sports medicine. For the lawsuits that followed. For the dreadful management inside State’s vaunted athletic department and the office of former president Lou Anna Simon.

Wikimedia Commons - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

The SAE World Congress is happening this week at Cobo Center in Detroit. Engineers and technical experts in the aerospace, automotive, and commercial vehicle industries are all looking ahead to the future of mobility. 

 

The message is that companies that hope to have a future in that world need a steady pipeline of talent. 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

President Donald Trump’s relationship with Detroit’s auto industry is complicated. Look at the past week.

On Monday, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency said that it would consider easing Obama-era fuel economy standards. For an industry selling more and more pickups and SUVs, that’s exactly what automakers, foreign and domestic, wanted to hear.

Detroit skyline with GM building
Pixabay.com

 


 

One month ago, President Trump tweeted, "Trade wars are good, and easy to win."

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Detroit auto show isn’t dead.

It just feels that way.

The latest casualties are the princes of the German auto industry. First Mercedes-Benz won’t be attending next year’s auto show. Neither will its Bavarian brother, BMW.

Bets on how long until Audi follows, if only to prove parity with the other two? Sooner rather than later, unless that Volkswagen luxury brand sees opportunity staying with Detroit.

An electric car charger with a car in the background
Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

Daniel Howes, Detroit News business columnist, joined Stateside today to talk about what he's calling the "Great Auto Disconnect."

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

So Bill Ford wants the Blue Oval to buy the decrepit Michigan Central Depot. You know that toothless edifice, empty and decaying since 1988, towering over Detroit’s Corktown. It’s an 18-story high reminder of the industrial and financial decline that has been synonymous with this town.         

Until very recently.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The Blue Oval has seen the future, and it looks a whole lot like its past.

Ford Motor claims a rich heritage building the nation’s best-selling pickup and the best-selling three-row SUV. Its Mustang is an American icon. And its performance pedigree is enjoying a renaissance under product planners who understand emotion still matters in the business.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Doesn’t matter to Donald Trump what his fellow Republicans say.

Or what Wall Street and America’s closest allies say.

The president wants tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, and this week he got them, along with some last-minute carve outs for those national security threats known as Canada and Mexico.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

There’s a new automaker in town.

Mahindra comes from India. It’s been assembling Jeep-derived vehicles in Mumbai for 70 years. Now, it’s got its own version for the off-road utility market of hunters, farmers and groundskeepers, and it’s going to be rolling off a metro Detroit assembly line.

All just a few miles from Jeep’s headquarters.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

In the land of Big Three universities and football wins, tiny Marygrove College doesn’t much matter. That’s the Michigan way – a not-so-flattering reflection of its warped values.

That’s a mistake. Marygrove is the creation of Catholic sisters from Monroe still deeply committed to helping Detroit. They opened Marygrove in 1927, establishing what became the state’s only predominantly African-American small liberal arts college. In later years, many of the students were the first in their families to go to college and most of them hailed from Detroit.

The old library entry at Marygrove College in Detroit.
Marygrove College Library / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

The wolf was at the door for Marygrove College.  

After nearly a century, the small liberal arts college in Northwest Detroit was drowning in debt and enrollment was shrinking

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The push is on to change the way Michigan selects trustees for its Big Three universities.

Using statewide ballots to choose trustees is no way to govern highly paid university presidents running multi-billion dollar institutions.

Michigan is the only state in the country to do it that way.

In the school of bad practices, the home of the Green and White perennially contends for Number One. Time for that to change.

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler speaks at Hillsdale College on on January 25, 2009.
Chuck Grimmett / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan State University is consumed by the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal. It’s so far claimed the school’s president, its athletic director and a growing chunk of its reputation. So, what does MSU’S partisan Board of Trustees do? They tap former Republican governor John Engler as interim president.

As confidence-building measures go, the move doesn’t rank among the best of them. It nakedly exposes just how partisan the governance of MSU really is – and how irrelevant the students, the faculty and transparency are to those making the decisions.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Michigan’s Big Three universities have a big problem, and it starts in the boardroom.

Michigan is the only state in the country that elects its major university trustees by at-large statewide ballots. They don’t represent districts.

Few have the sharp business acumen needed to govern multi-billion dollar institutions. And as the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal in East Lansing shows, it doesn’t hold them accountable, either.

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