economy

ARTS
4:05 pm
Mon November 1, 2010

Writing helps one man heal from some big life changes

Writing helps Hicks "make connections" between his past & present
Courtesy Russ Hicks

Two big changes recently happened to Russ Hicks. His wife Carol was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

“I tell you right after Carol died I was completely rudderless and almost berserk. There was a time, a week afterward, at work where they said ‘you 'gotta go home and we'll drive you home!'”

Shortly after that, Hicks got laid off from his job of 22 years at a factory warehouse.

“And so here I am, within a year’s time I’d lost my wife and my job.”

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Jobless in Michigan
11:38 am
Mon November 1, 2010

Many Michigan jobless could soon lose their unemployment benefits

 Time is running out again for many Michiganders living on unemployment benefits.

 Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders have spent nearly two years surviving on unemployment checks as the state struggles with a double digit jobless rate.

But time may be running out for those benefits.  Congress has passed several extensions but may not this time. 

Norm Isotello is with the state department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth.    He concedes there is an argument that extended benefits may get in the way of people looking for work...but

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Arts
4:40 pm
Sat October 30, 2010

Soup, salad, & micro-funding

Catherine Hadler

Several Detroit artists have started what they call “an experiment in micro-funding.”  Once a month they host a public dinner that costs five dollars. During the dinner, several local groups pitch ideas for a creative project they’d like to do.  Diners vote on the proposals and at the end of the night the winning project takes home the money raised from dinner.

 

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Arts
3:34 pm
Fri October 29, 2010

New program trains arts leaders in Grand Rapids area

Modern dance company Wellspring celebrates its 30th anniversary this year
Amelia Falk Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers

35 arts organizations in west Michigan have been picked to be part of a new two-year training program run by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the program is to teach arts leaders how to fundraise better and attract new board members, among other things.

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Old art, new job
11:01 am
Wed October 20, 2010

Crafting a career out of woven rugs (slideshow)

Petrie learned how to weave at the nonprofit Cross Village Rug Works. She says anyone can learn how to weave if they have patience and like to work with their hands.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

Cross Village in northern Michigan is like a lot of small, rural towns in the state, where money is tight and jobs are scarce. And when winter comes around and all the tourists are gone, the outlook is even bleaker. So a group of women started up a cottage industry of rug making to help locals sustain themselves through the lean months.

23-year old Jasmine Petrie wears her hair in pigtails and has tattoos on her back and arms; she looks more like a rock star than a rug weaver.

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ArtPrize
3:16 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Economic impact of ArtPrize appears to be growing

Art Prize winner Chris LaPorte works on one panel of his pencil drawing
artprize.org

A new survey shows this year's ArtPrize attracted more people from outside Grand Rapids than last year's contest. Preliminary numbers show half the people who participated in ArtPrize came from outside of the Grand Rapids area. Only 6% came from outside of Michigan.

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Detroit Impressions
1:47 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Detroit through David Byrne's eyes

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station. The station was one of many stops on the Tour De Troit ride.
Albert Duce Creative Commons

My Dad grew up in Detroit in the 1930s. He described a city humming with activity: factory whistles sounding, street cars rolling by, and broad sidewalks crowded with people.

We went back to his old neighborhood several years ago.  His house was on Lakeview Avenue.

It's gone now, along with the houses on most of the block. I was left to imagine his childhood home, and the stickball games he'd play in the alley, by trying to extract mental images from the remaining concrete slabs we could see.

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Money from Uncle Sam
12:09 pm
Fri October 15, 2010

Feds chip in to rebuild bridge

Congressman Dingell, DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, and others under the Stadium Ave. bridge in Ann Arbor
Congressmen John Dingell's Office

Congressman John Dingell's office has announced that the federal government will chip in $13.9 million dollars to fix an aging Ann Arbor bridge.

The four lane bridge on Stadium Avenue, which runs past the "Big House," has been down to two lanes because it's so dilapidated.

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The New Flint Forest
4:49 pm
Tue October 12, 2010

Flint to demolish more houses to fight blight

An abandoned house on Jane Street in Flint, Michigan.
Flickr user jamesharv2005 Creative Commons

More houses are coming down in Flint. Kristin Longley reports in the Flint Journal that 174 houses will come down by December 31st. That's on top of the 125 houses city crews are expected to take down by the end of the year.

Flint union leader Sam Muma says city crews can't take down all the homes scheduled for demolition:

"There's no way the crews I represent, the city employees, can handle all that. We have a situation quite unique in our time."

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Making the best of it
1:02 pm
Thu October 7, 2010

Foreclosures create opportunity for Habitat for Humanity

House leader Steve Denman helps Kallista Walker build a knee wall in the attic of this house. Walker is putting in part of her 300 hours of sweat equity so she can qualify for a house of her own.
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio's The Environment Report

Habitat for Humanity says it's saving money by fixing up foreclosure in Michigan, rather than building new. The Environment Report's Rebecca Williams visited volunteers working on rehabbing a house in Ypsilanti Township. Megan Rogers with Habitat says rehabbing foreclosures costs about 1/3 less than building new, but it can be a bit more challenging:

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Recession
9:03 am
Fri September 17, 2010

Follow that cute little toxic asset

A not-so-lovable little creature. NPR's Planet Money's toxic asset creature.
NPR's Planet Money

The team at NPR's Planet Money has come up with another way for us to understand the financial crisis. They bought a pet.

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Student Loans
10:08 am
Fri September 10, 2010

Student loan debt outpaces credit card debt

It costs a lot of money to go to college.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

We collectively owe around $828 billion in revolving credit debt (that includes credit card debt), according to the latest numbers from the Federal Reserve.

Now, a column in the Detroit Free Press is reporting that for the first time ever, student loan debt has outstripped  revolving credit debt, coming in at $850 billion.

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State Budget
1:26 pm
Wed September 8, 2010

State budget... What?! No government shutdown?!

The chamber of Michigan's House of Representatives in Lansing. Leaders in the Michigan legislature and Governor Granholm are close to an agreement on the budget.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The Great Recession has meant tough times for state governments. Michigan has been hit extra hard and leaders in the state have been fighting over a shrinking budget for several years.  These budget battles have led to brief government shutdowns in years past. But with the new fiscal year starting October 1st, leaders in the state seem to have resolved their differences.

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CEO Compensation
1:01 pm
Fri September 3, 2010

Report says CEOs cashing in on layoffs

Cover of the report by IPS "Executive Excess 2010: CEO Pay and the Great Recession"
IPS

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies looked at CEO compensation from the 50 companies that layed off more workers during the recession. They found the CEOs at these companies are paid more, on average, than the average pay for the CEOs running to top 500 companies in the U.S. (S&P 500).

Sarah Anderson is the lead author of the report.  She says,

"CEOs are squeezing workers to boost short-term profits and fatten their own paychecks."  

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10:19 am
Fri September 3, 2010

Labor Day report shows trials of long-term unemployed

Workers haven't been seeing many help wanted signs in Michigan
kandyjaxx/creative commons

The unemployment picture in Michigan is still bad. It stands at 13.1% now. The worst it's been since the early 1980's.

Now, a new report by the Michigan League for Human Services puts the long-term unemployment picture into perspective.  In 2000, people unemployed for more than 26 weeks, accounted for 6.5% of the total number of unemployed. Today, the long-term unemployed account for 40.8% of the unemployed.

The report says,

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Memories
2:33 pm
Wed September 1, 2010

Michigan State Fair is gone but not forgotten

An actress at the Michigan State Fair solicits people to come see a children's play (2006)
Bob Vigiletti Michigan Radio Picture Project

There's a new post on Michigan Radio's Picture Project site.  Bob Vigiletti has eighteen beautiful shots taken in the waning years of the Michigan State Fair.  The fair, proclaimed to be the country's oldest, was closed because of declining attendance and revenues in 2009. Vigiletti writes:

It is only through out thoughts and photographs that we preserve and cherish memories of the past.

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Economy
11:34 am
Thu August 26, 2010

Home sales sign of improvement in Michigan's economy

A home being built in Norfolk, VA
Ryan Steinhour U.S. Navy

(by Rina Miller, Michigan Radio)

Michigan actually fared better in new home sales than other parts of the nation.  Some economists say improvements in the auto industry are helping stabilize Michigan's economy.

Politics
3:32 pm
Sun June 1, 2008

Lake Michigan golf course plan stirs controversy

Five years ago riots in Benton Harbor, Michigan drew national attention to racial issues and poverty there.

Today an arm of the Whirlpool Corporation wants to build a golf resort in the struggling city.

The location has some city residents less than pleased.

Benton Harbor is the poorest city in Michigan.

Unemployment is officially at 17% and the median household income is in the teens.

Vacant lots and boarded up buildings litter the downtown. But there is natural beauty in Benton Harbor.

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