Today on Stateside, Michiganders, you have spoken.

A new report is out today about how you think we can move the economy forward.

We'll find out more on today's show, and we'll speak to a former University President who says universities themselves might be contributing to some of the economic crunch they're facing.

But in the first part of our show, we turn to the question of just how much support the state of Michigan should give to the film industry and filmmakers.

Governor Snyder's recent budget proposal contained $25 million in tax credits for film makers. That's a 50 percent cut from the present  film credit cap of $50 million, and some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a fellow Republican, say that is one bad plan that he says will drive the film industry out of Michigan.

There is certainly no shortage of reporting, discussion and conversation about what should happen to breath new life into Michigan's economy.

Most of this conversation seems to revolve around the thought of legislatures, policy makers, and Governor Snyder.

But what do Michiganders think should happen to help restore the economy and what do you want to see as a Michigan citizen?

New export finance center opens in Detroit

Jan 30, 2013
Export-Import Bank of the United States

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow and nearly 100 small business owners were in Detroit for the opening of a new regional office for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The new office is expected to help Michigan businesses export products overseas by providing access to various types of insurance, loans, and financial resources.

According to their website, the agency has helped generate $456 billion in export revenue since its creation by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.

Elizabeth Lienau / Grand Valley State University

Economists predict the economy in West Michigan will grow at a slow but steady pace this year.

“I mean we’re really looking at another year that feels like last year which isn’t so bad,” Paul Isley, chair of Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, said.

“We're growing here in West Michigan. We have a potential that by the end of this year at least some areas of West Michigan will finally be above, employment wise, where we were in 2000, which will be really a hallmark,” Isley said.

user DeeMusil / Wikimedia Commons

Coming off two good earnings reports, the Compuware Company announced today it rejected a takeover bid by a hedge fund company.

More from JC Rendl of the Detroit Free Press

Flint contemplates its future, through planning

Jan 22, 2013
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is hosting a public forum this evening to discuss its plan for the future.

"This is a chance for a lot of the political leaders and some community people to lay out the process and to get additional information from the audience," said Michael Kelly of the Flint Area Public Affairs Forum. He says the forum will allow city leaders to talk  about assets and challenges that face the city.

Green confidence at the North American International Auto Show

Jan 15, 2013

With the Detroit International Auto Show only just beginning, GM and Chrysler are already receiving good news.

This year's North American Car of the Year award went to the Cadillac ATS, while Truck of the Year was awarded to the Dodge Ram 1500.

According to Bernard Swiecki with the Center for Automotive Research, these awards are more significant in their effects on confidence, rather than their impact on sales.

"Interestingly, both of these vehicles are built in Michigan, so there's a very real local connection there as well. This is kind of an endorsement that both of these critical vehicles were done right by the engineering teams. "

Swiecki mentions that confidence is shown not only in the vehicles, but in the atmosphere of this year's Detroit Auto Show, and is a clear departure from the austerity of the post-bailout shows of the past.

"In the 2009 and 2010 shows, there was almost an atmosphere of allaying the fears that 'We're not going to be here next year', and that's really not the case anymore, and it hasn't been for the last two or three years. Now it's more about a confident approach, showing future products with every certainty that 1) the companies are viable and 2) the products themselves are world-class," he said.

These American vehicles are world-class, and green, according to Swiecki, who claims that green-technology continues to be a pronounced trend in new American vehicles, such as Cadillac's luxurious take on the Chevy Volt. Green technology is even moving across vehicle platforms this year to trucks with Ford's Atlas Pickup concept, which will eventually become the next generation Ford F-150.

Stateside: Concerned residents and their neighborhood improvements

Jan 8, 2013

Detroit's revitalization is a recurring topic on Stateside.

The city's vacant buildings are an interactive lesson in real estate and community maintenance.

Today, Stateside focused on neighborhood improvement and community engagement.

Heidi Alcock of the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign and Tom Goddeeris of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation shared their revitalization goals.

Alcock started the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign to reduce the amount of abandoned buildings in Detroit- improving both property value and morale.

“One vacant property can be very dangerous on an otherwise stable block,” said Alcock.

“Beginning with the mortgage foreclosure crisis we’ve seen vacancy rate go from about 2% in 2000 to 11% in 2010. Probably the biggest impact it’s had on our community is that it has driven values down,” said Goddeeris.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The impact of economic problems are often likened to waves. And the waves of Michigan's economic crisis are still rolling up onto the shores in cities around the state.

The Detroit News looked at the numbers of police cuts and how communities react to these cuts.

The data from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards show that since 2003, the state has lost more than 2,000 police positions in total.

Communities react to the cuts by completely disbanding their departments, as Pontiac did, or by trying to raise more revenue.

But as the events in the struggling city of Benton Harbor show, residents are not always willing to tax themselves more to keep their police departments intact.

From the Detroit News:

david_shane / flickr

Dozens of State Police have gathered in a hallway in the Capitol’s lower level, cordoned off by blue curtains. This is their base of operations in the building this week as hundreds – maybe thousands - of protesters are expected to fill the upper levels.

In one closet, police have stashed helmets and other riot gear.

Capitol Facilities Director Steve Benkovsky hopes the demonstrations will stay peaceful.

"Everybody has a right to come in here and voice their opinion. And we'll deal with it the best we can and let them voice their opinion," said Benkovsky.

State and local police plan to close a number of streets around the state Capitol.

They will also limit the number of people allowed in the building.

Rick Pluta/MPRN

One thing I know about politically polarizing issues: arguing for middle-of-the-road positions alienates a lot of folks.

But here goes anyway.

I don’t love unions.

And I feel I can say that with some authority, given that as an employee of several media companies, I’ve been a member of three of them.

In every case, I felt unions were so concerned about protecting territory, that they were, at times, anti-progressive, and too often in the business of preserving their power.

I couldn’t touch equipment.

I was prevented from developing technical skills I would have been wise to learn.

Later in my career, when I worked at non-union shops, I was glad that, if I wanted to try something new, I could.

Now, that may seem like a funny way for me to argue that right-to-work laws are a bad idea, but that’s where I’m going with this.

screenshot / LiveStream

We're updating this post on the legislature's effort to pass a 'right-to-work' law in Michigan.

A right-to-work law would outlaw requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. Unions say these laws weaken their ability to bargain collectively with employers. Supporters of the law say it gives workers a choice.

Update 7:50 p.m.

The news conference has ended.

Here's the news conference with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Republican legislative leaders. They're unveiling their plans for 'right-to-work' legislation:


President Obama will be making his first trip to Michigan in nearly eight months.

The last time he was in Michigan, Mr. Obama stopped at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn for a campaign event.

This time around he's expected to deliver a major speech on the economy and middle class families in Detroit, according to David Shepardson of the Detroit News.

The address will come just three weeks before tax cuts are set to expire on nearly all Americans and $1.2 trillion in mandatory domestic and defense spending cuts over 10 years are to take effect — unless Congress acts.

"I believe America only thrives when we have a strong and growing middle class. And I believe we're at our best when everybody who works hard has a chance to get ahead. That's what I believe," Obama said. "I believe both parties can — and will — work together in the coming weeks to get that done. We know how that gets done. We're going to have to raise a little more revenue. We've got to cut out spending we don't need."

Shepardson points out that without a tax deal, taxes will increase for a majority of Americans, and unemployment benefits will expire. 

About 93,000 people in Michigan will lose unemployment benefits by the end of this month unless Congress acts.

No details of the visit have been publicly announced yet. Those details are expected in the coming days from the White House.

sushina / flickr

A new report from the United States Commerce Department found that economic recovery is occurring in Michigan. According to the survey, per capita personal income rose in nearly every Michigan county last year.

Charley Ballard, Michigan State University Professor of Economics explained that although improving, Michigan’s economy still has further to go.  

Ballard began by defining the factors of per capita income.

“It’s their wages and salaries. It also included dividends and social security. It doesn’t include Medicare. They add up all of the income of all the people in Michigan and then divide by the number of people,” said Ballard.

Though improved, Michigan is still well below the national average of per capita income.

Greengobbler / Morguefile

Philanthropic organizations want to capitalize on the spending campaigns of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday"  - and also flip the idea of consumerism on its head.

The idea behind "Giving Tuesday" is to take time to donate to charity, after two of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Eileen Heisman is the CEO of National Philanthropic Trust - one of the groups promoting the campaign.

"This is the first year, but I think it's going to continue," said Heisman. "I'm almost positive it is, and so I think in the following years we'll see a much bigger push and more visibility for people taking this time of year to give back in a more formal way on this day."

Charities report nearly a quarter of their annual donations come between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Larry D. Moore / Wikimedia Commons

And I forgot to mention Devil Dogs, Donettes, and Sno Balls.

Hostess Brands announced this morning that they're going out of business and laying off around 18,500 employees.

Hostess higher-ups said a strike by bakery workers was a big part of the decision for the shutdown, and that they don’t have the “financial resources to weather an extended nationwide strike.”

Union leaders called the announced shutdown a Bain-style decision – “a microcosm of what’s wrong with America.”

In the meantime, Ho-Ho production is winding down. From the NYTimes:

The last batches rolled off Hostess production lines early Friday morning, according to Tom Becker, a company spokesman, and no new products will be made for the time being.

The Times points out that Twinkies might not be a thing of the past, as Hostess Brands will likely be auctioned off to others.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - University of Michigan economists say that over the next two years, the U.S. economy will regain the rest of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the recession.

The prediction came in Thursday's release of the annual forecast of the U.S. economy from UM economists Joan Crary, Daniil Manaenkov and Matthew Hall.

They foresee the creation of 2 million jobs in 2013 and another 2.3 million in 2014 as unemployment falls from 7.9 percent to 7.2 percent during that time.

Employment fell by 8.8 million jobs during the 2008-09 economic downturn, but the economy has recovered 4.5 million jobs in the last three years.

The UM forecast is based on the Michigan Quarterly Econometric Model of the U.S. Economy and compiled by the UM Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics.

Stateside: Detroit's financial predicament

Nov 13, 2012
Mike Russel

Detroit’s financial status is once again on the brink of devastation.

The city’s program management director, William Andrews, recently told the advisory board that the city is facing financial crisis.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes assessed the city’s situation, looking at its aging bureaucracy as a potential area of conflict.

The collapse could occur sooner than expected, said Howes, perhaps as soon as December.

“It could happen as early as next month. What’s hanging out there right now is about $80 million in bond proceeds that the State Treasurer's Office is holding  more reforms within the city. There is hope they can move ahead with some reforms that would release around $30 million by the end of the year. It’s really important to note that time is running out for the city,” said Howes.

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Chemical giant DuPont Co. is opening an innovation center in suburban Detroit that's aimed at speeding the introduction of new products for the automotive industry.

The Wilmington, Del.-based company's facility opened Thursday. It is DuPont's eighth-such center and is located at its Automotive Development Center in Troy. The innovation center connects DuPont's Detroit-area customer base with 9,500 company scientists and engineers worldwide.

DuPont says one aim of the innovation center is to boost collaboration with customers, government, educational institutions and business partners.

The company already had automotive industry-focused innovation centers in India, South Korea and Japan.

Michigan's overall labor force charted with Michigan's unemployment rate from September 2002 to September 2012. (Source MI DMTB).
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s unemployment rate dropped one-tenth of a percentage point in September, to 9.3 percent says a new report released by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB).

This marks the state’s first decline in the jobless rate since April.

Total employment increased by 11,000 in September and has risen by 58,000 over the course of the past year.

From the report:

The announcement is expected later today.

A survey conducted by Michigan State University's Charles Ballard shows an improved approval rating for Governor Snyder.

The latest "State of the State" survey from Michigan State University indicates people in the state are feeling pretty good about the economy, a little more positive about the Governor, and the same about the President.

MSU Economics Professor Charles Ballard conducts the survey of likely voters in Michigan once a quarter. The latest was taken in August.

It shows that Governor Snyder's approval rating rose, from 33 to 38 percent. 

That's still lower than the President's 41 percent.  But that 41 percent is unchanged from the previous quarter's survey.   

DETROIT (AP) - The U.S. Labor Department says a Detroit-based bakery chain has agreed to pay $63,000 in back wages to 21 employees whom it wrongly classified as independent contractors.

The agency said Wednesday that its investigation found that Sheila's Bakery LLC committed violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act at its three locations.

The agency says the misclassification of the workers deprived them of federally mandated overtime pay at time-and-a-half when they worked more than 40 hours in a week. Instead, they got a flat hourly rate or a flat weekly salary of $340 to $400.

The government says it loses substantial amounts of income, Social Security and Medicare tax payments because of the misclassification of employees as contractors.

Let's give a shout-out to a man who may have set the new "gold standard" for generous bosses.

Long-time Ann Arbor auto dealer Howard Cooper is retiring this month.

As his employees reported for work this week, they got an unexpected "expression" of Mr. Cooper's appreciation: a check for $1,000 for every year of service.

Auto sales grew in 2014
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

August was a good month for U.S. automakers compared to a year ago. In total, the big three sold more than 585,700 vehicles last month.

Chrysler had its best month since August 2007, according to the AP, and had sales of more than 148,000 vehicles. They say their sales were led by demand for the Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Ford sold 197,249 vehicles in August, and in a press release said high gas prices led more people to their lineup of vehicles.

“As fuel prices rose again during August, we saw growing numbers of people gravitate toward our fuel-efficient vehicles – cars, utilities and trucks,” said Ken Czubay, Ford vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service.

And General Motors sold 240,520 vehicles in August. More than Ford or Chrysler.

In their press release, GM said it's ready for gradual improvements in the economy.

“The single message Chevrolet communicated this summer was ‘confidence’ and it rang true with customers when they saw how our product lineup is being transformed,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “All four of our brands are building momentum behind new products so we’re very well positioned as the economy continues to slowly improve.”

DETROIT (AP) - A media company that hosts conferences on the relationship between technology, economy and social progress is setting its sights on Detroit.

Technonomy Detroit plans to bring together local and national tech leaders September 12th at Wayne State University. The list includes Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and Steve Case, chief executive of investment firm Revolution LLC and co-founder of America Online.

Topics for discussion include the future of manufacturing and its impact on jobs, and "Is Detroit the Next Berlin?"

A La-Z-Boy store.
user vercillo / wikimedia commons

A long-time Monroe business may decide to stay and build its world headquarters there. 

Think "recliner" and chances are La-Z-Boy will come to mind.

The company that makes the famous chairs and other furniture started out in the city of Monroe 85 years ago.

It has about 500 employees at its Monroe location.  Now the company wants to build a new facility and says it's interested in staying in Monroe, but is also looking at other sites.

Bob Clark is the city's mayor. He says the City Council will review some economic incentives.  

Last week, Dustin Dwyer from our State of Opportunity team showed us how upward mobility isn't so easy in the U.S., especially for disadvantaged kids. This week, Dustin shows us how some might break that pattern.

Last week, I talked about the Michigan House of Representatives voting to slash the state income tax over the next six years. I thought this didn’t make a lot of sense, given that the state is having a hard time paying for essential programs now.

Later that day, I talked more about this with the man I think has the best overall knowledge of our state’s economy: Michigan State University professor Charles Ballard, author of the best little book there is on the subject: "Michigan’s Economic Future."