economy

Aging
10:30 am
Mon November 29, 2010

Seniors find meaning in music

The Beginning Swing Band
Kyle Norris Michigan Radio

In the basement of a church in Grand Rapids, there's a rehearsal for the Beginners Swing Band.

Most of the musicians here are in their sixties and seventies.

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Holiday shopping
11:07 am
Sat November 27, 2010

Holiday shopping moves online

Michigan retailers have been busy this weekend with the beginning of the holiday shopping season. But Monday could be a very big day as well.

The National Retail Federation coined the term ‘Cyber Monday’ five years ago to describe the growing trend of holiday shoppers flooding store websites on the Monday following thanksgiving.  A recent survey found more shoppers planned to shop online  Monday than stand in line on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  

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Offbeat
1:51 pm
Thu November 25, 2010

Thousands in need served hot Thanksgiving meal in Grand Rapids

Volunteers serve Thanksgiving at DeVos Place
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

More than 600 volunteers served people in need a hot Thanksgiving meal today in Grand Rapids. Thousands of homeless, elderly, sick and downtrodden came for the feast.

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Black Friday Shopping
11:33 am
Tue November 23, 2010

Shopping on the menu for Thanksgiving

Michigan retailers are optimistic that holiday sales will be better this year.

The first real test comes this week. 

 Thanksgiving is such a pivotal time for Michigan retailers many aren’t waiting for their customers to finish their turkey dinners.

K-Mart, Sears and other retailers plan to be open on Thanksgiving day.   Many other stores, like Banana Republic and the Gap will open their doors Thursday night.

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Economy
10:29 am
Tue November 23, 2010

Michigan to stop taking extended unemployment applications

Unemployment benefits will run out for millions of Americans this spring if Congress doesn't extend the unemployment insurance program (an unemployment line in California in 2007).
Michael Raphael Flickr

The Associated Press reports that the state "will stop taking new extended unemployment benefit applications after Saturday because Congress has failed to renew the program."

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Business
3:09 pm
Mon November 22, 2010

Grand Rapids bar owner wants to 'monetize' the Titanic

RMS Titanic at the docks
author unknown creative commons

Chris Knape has a piece in the Grand Rapids Press about hedge fund manager and bar owner, Mark Sellers.

Sellers moved back to Grand Rapids around three years ago where he owns the bars Hopcat, Stella’s Lounge and Viceroy.

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Changing Gears
2:50 pm
Fri November 19, 2010

Pittsburgh and steel's lovechild - Gary, Indiana: Part 5

Monument to steel in Gary, Indiana
Michael Puente Changing Gears

By Michael Puente, Changing Gears

All this week, Changing Gears has been looking at reinventing Pittsburgh. We recently heard how Detroit has borrowed some of its ideas. In its final report, they head to Gary to see if this smaller Steel Town can learn from its industrial mother, Pittsburgh. They found old habits are hard to break.

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Changing Gears
10:37 am
Fri November 19, 2010

Can Detroit use lessons from Pittsburgh? - Part 4

Judy Davids launched her business PostEgram in Detroit with financial help from a business incubator.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

All week we’ve been looking at the reinvention of Pittsburgh. Now, we move west to see whether the ideas that worked there can work in other places. One such city is Detroit.

Like Pittsburgh, Detroit has always faced a challenge in convincing its talented citizens to stay. Many business owners try to buck the odds and keep their businesses in the city, only to find the hurdles too high. Others find it is simply too daunting to head out on their own.

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GM IPO
5:10 pm
Thu November 18, 2010

GM IPO largest on record, taxpayers recover billions

GM Shares will start trading at $33 per share after the largest IPO on record.
Roland Weber Creative Commons

Update: 5:10pm

The New York Stock Exchanged closed.  AFP News reports "GM stocks closed at 34.19 dollars, up 3.6 percent from GM's initial sale price announced on Wednesday, but below session highs of 35.60 dollars a share."

Update: 3:00pm

The Detroit News reports the GM executives who attended the opening day for GM stock on the New York Stock Exchange bought hundreds of shares in the company themselves.

GM North American chief Mark Reuss called it an emotional day, saying he was proud to work for GM and thanking taxpayers for giving GM "a second chance."

The News reports the GM execs will head back to Detroit "after today's events in order to attend a private employee celebration at the company's Renaissance Center headquarters."

Update: 11:04pm

GM  executives rang the bell and played a recording of a Chevy Camaro revving its engine to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. As of this writing, the stock, bought during the IPO at $33 per share, has jumped to $35 per share in trading. Here's how it's tracking next to Ford's stock (F): 

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Auto bailouts
5:15 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

"Successful Bankruptcies" - report says Detroit bailouts were worth it

GM and Chrysler suffered through bankruptcy in large part because it relied so heavily on SUV sales.
user ep_jhu Creative Commons

The Center for Automotive Research released a report today that analyzed the government bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.

$80 billion was given to the auto companies. To date $13.4 billion has been repaid.

Tomorrow the GM "initial public offering" is expected to raise another $22 billion.

The reports authors say that even if the government doesn't get all of the $80 billion back, the government's investment will still have been worth it.

The report concludes:

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General Motors
4:14 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

GM IPO could break records

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been the architect behind the GM IPO.
Jay Tamboli Creative Commons

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that GM's IPO tomorrow could be a biggy:

General Motors Co. said Wednesday that it will increase the size of its initial public offering by about 30% to 478 million shares, which could make it the largest global IPO in history.

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Changing Gears
3:34 pm
Wed November 17, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 3

Pittsburgh's Hill District
Erika Katz

Drive east from downtown Pittsburgh and you’ll pass a church. At least, it was a church.

Today, the alter has been replaced with stainless steel casks of beer, and the pews are now a bar and tables. It’s another Pittsburgh transformation. Saint John the Baptist Church is now the Church Brew Works.

It’s one of those places people tell you: you have to go when you visit Pittsburgh. So, it wasn’t a hard sell to get a bunch of young professionals to meet there.

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Changing Gears
9:52 am
Tue November 16, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 2

The University of Pittsburgh's Center for Biotechnology and Bioengineering sits on the site of an old steel mill. It's an example of how the city transitioned away from its industrial past.
Zach Morris Creative Commons

When Dennis Yablonsky took over Pittsburgh's main development group last year, everyone was telling him it was time to brag.

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General Motors
5:12 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Background on the GM IPO story

The old GM Headquarters in Detroit.
Historic American Buildings Survey

General Motors (GM) will be in the news a lot this week, so if you sat out the GM story up until this point, here's a quick summary to get you caught up.

Today's General Motors is not your father's General Motors. The old GM went bankrupt. The company couldn't pay its bills (they had some big ones).

But instead of letting the whole company collapse, a court stepped in to reorganize the auto giant (under chapter 11 bankruptcy).

The court split the old GM in two.

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Changing Gears
1:00 pm
Mon November 15, 2010

Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1

The U.S. Steel Tower is the tallest building in Pittsburgh, but the steel industry no longer dominates the city.
User 1sock Creative Commons

When I first got to Pittsburgh, I did something foolish.

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Economy
11:55 am
Mon November 15, 2010

You fix the budget deficit

The New York Times "You Fix the Budget" interactive tool
Screen grab from the New York Times

It's easy to criticize. Now you're in charge.

The New York Times has created a slick little interactive tool that displays different solutions to the country's projected budget deficits.

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Auto
9:21 am
Fri November 12, 2010

Auctioneers sell off items at shuttered GM plant

GM's Wyoming Stamping Plant closed in June of 2009. Auctioneers are selling of the contents of the plant.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith covered the auction at the former GM Wyoming Stamping plant. The plant closed in June 2009 as part of GM's bankruptcy.

The auction was held on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. The auctioneers said they'll sell off anything leftover today.

Smith said it was easy to get lost as she took photos of the more than 2 million square foot building. Here's an audio slideshow she put together:

Economy
11:55 am
Wed November 10, 2010

Obama letter provides economic stimulus

A handwritten letter from President Barack Obama
Gary Zimet Moments in Time

A woman from Monroe, Michigan made news last week when she sold her hand written letter from President Barack Obama for $7,000.

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Homeless awareness
4:34 pm
Fri November 5, 2010

Community leaders in Flint hoping to raise awareness of growing homeless population

Tom Knight trying to help "Richard" one of many homeless veterans in the Flint through his work at Resource Genesee.
Gerry Leslie Homeless Management Information Systems

In 2008, the state estimates there were a little more than 86,000 people without a home. Half of them were families.

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Education
10:40 pm
Thu November 4, 2010

Kalamazoo Promise: Ashley's Story

Ashley Steele and her son Richard Peake. Steele was among the first high school graduates to benefit from the "Kalamazoo Promise."
Kate Davidson Changing Gears

By Kate Davidson of Changing Gears

Five years ago this month, a group of anonymous donors made a radical promise to Kalamazoo, Michigan. They would pay for almost every public school graduate to go to a state-supported college or university. Our Changing Gears project has been profiling towns across the region as they try to reinvent themselves for the new economy. Here, they take a closer look at the "Kalamazoo Promise."

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