manufacturing

Racine Boat Manufacturing Company Plant, Muskegon, MI
Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

Curbed Detroit video screen shot

Shinola makes handcrafted wristwatches in Detroit, and now they're donating four clocks for display in the city.

Today they unveiled one of the Shinola City Clocks at Cobo Center. Other clocks are also located at Eastern Market, Midtown and the College for Creative Studies, according to the Detroit News:

The other three clocks, which also went up Friday, are at Eastern Market’s Shed 3, in Midtown at a future dog park at Cass and West Canfield, and at Shinola’s headquarters at the College for Creative Studies.

Here's a video from Curbed Detroit showing the clock and its second hand at work.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

CHICAGO (AP) - Chicago and the Detroit area stand to reap millions of dollars in federal grants and private sector investment as part of White House initiative to boost innovation in manufacturing and create jobs.

The White House says President Barack Obama will announce Tuesday the creation of two manufacturing institutes. The Detroit-area institute will focus on lightweight metals, while the Chicago hub will push innovation in digital manufacturing and design.

Plymouth Preservation Network / Facebook

In the Wayne County city of Plymouth, a group is trying to preserve the last remnant of a factory that was once a deep part of the community - the Daisy Manufacturing Company.

Fans of the film "A Christmas Story" may recall the Red Ryder Daisy Air Rifle.

Yes, that red rifle that Ralphie pined for would have been made at the former Daisy Factory.

Joining us is Wendy Harkins. She is president of the Plymouth Preservation Network.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Roads will be a priority in 2014, lawmakers say

"State legislative leaders say boosting funding for roads will top their priority list in 2014. Governor Rick Snyder has been urging lawmakers to increase road and infrastructure spending by more than a billion dollars," Jake Neher reports.

Teams start counting vacant buildings to help fight blight in Detroit

"A large-scale effort to count Detroit’s blighted and vacant buildings starts in earnest today. Seventy five teams of surveyors will assess and map more than 350,000 parcels of land across the city," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Manufacturing announcement expected in Flint

"Top officials with General Motors, the UAW and Michigan government will be in Flint today for what’s being called a “significant manufacturing” announcement. GM spokesmen are not saying what the announcement at the Flint Assembly Plant will be," Steve Carmody reports.

Steven Depolo / Creative Commons

Can a Michigan investment fund make big money by investing only in mid-size Michigan companies?

That’s the idea behind the Michigan Prosperity Fund.

It’s the brainchild of Michigan native Martin Stein, founder and CEO of private equity firm Blackford Capital.

Stein previously based Blackford out of LA, but says he started noticing a trend: about 70% of the companies he invested in were in the Midwest and on the East Coast.

“So, on the business side, it made a lot of sense for us to be closer to where we were investing in companies,” says Stein.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Federal, state and local government officials are meeting with Genesee County business leaders today to discuss ways to build up the county’s manufacturing industry.

After decades of decline, Genesee County’s manufacturing base has been growing since the recession.

Much of the growth has been tied to the auto industry.

Janice Karcher is with the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. She says Flint-area manufacturers are about more than cars and trucks.

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.

Michigan’s unemployment rate ticked up one tenth of one percent in July to 8.8%.  

It’s the second consecutive month the state’s jobless number went up.   The increase is blamed on the number of new job seekers entering the market outpacing the number of job openings.

Bruce Weaver is an economic analyst for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget.  He says the rising unemployment number should not be a concern.

Detroit Bikes Facebook

There are a couple of relatively new companies making bikes in Detroit.

Shinola makes them (along with watches, leather goods, and journals). Detroit Bicycle Company makes 'em.

Michigan manufacturing is getting a boost from a group of Dutch companies which are starting production of a wide range of green technology products in Brighton.

This week, the companies are starting to roll out wind turbines, heat exchangers,  water purification systems and other green technologies.

Jan Verwater is with the Michigan company partnering with the Dutch manufacturers. He says Michigan’s large production capacity gives it an advantage in attracting high tech businesses.

Flikr

New data from the Brookings Institution shows a relatively strong economic recovery going on in Metro Detroit.

The Brookings Institution’s MetroMonitor report has been watching how the country’s 100 largest metro areas recover from the Great Recession.

Metro Detroit has posted one of the strongest recoveries—in part because the area slid into an earlier and deeper recession than most places around the country.

There’s a phenomenon that happens sometimes after a major stock market crash which is known by the ghastly name, “Dead Cat Bounce.”  We saw a lot of that back in the fall of 2008.

The Dow Jones averages would plunge 500 one day. The next day, they’d recover, say, 50 points, before falling even further later in the week. What was that brief rally all about? Well, it wasn’t about any real improvement in the market.

Greg Flinchbaugh / Creative Commons

Steelcase, the world’s largest office furniture maker is celebrating 100 years in business. But sales of the metal filing cabinets Steelcase is named for are declining; same with traditional cubicles and other large pieces of office furniture. Steelcase is changing its identity.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Steelcase doesn’t manufacture much office furniture in West Michigan anymore, but it still has about 3,000 employees here. They gathered for the birthday celebration at the Grand Rapids headquarters for cake and a balloon drop.

Dustin Dwyer / Changing Gears

This month, we’re taking a look at some of the hidden assets of the industrial Midwest – the parts of our economy that don’t often get noticed when we talk about our strengths.

We found one hidden asset right smack in the middle of our manufacturing sector. It’s a machine that’s in literally thousands of factories across the Midwest. And, though, you might not have heard of it before, the CNC machine – and the people who operate it – are at the core of our economy.

CNC stands for computer-numerically-controlled. And what the computerized machine does is it machines things. That sounds ridiculous unless you know that machine is not just a noun. It’s also a specific manufacturing process.

Energy Conversion Devices

Energy Conversion Devices, Inc., a technology company based in Auburn Hills, Michigan filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today.

The company makes thin laminates that convert sunlight to energy and "has manufacturing facilities in Auburn Hills and Greenville, Michigan, as well as sites in Mexico and Canada," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Cliffs Natural Resources

If you’ve been following our coverage of iron mining in the region, this might interest you.  Cliffs Natural Resources, North America’s biggest iron ore supplier, is scrapping plans to build an iron nugget plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

A nugget is just a little clump of very pure iron.  Big deal?  Well, here’s why the new nugget technology matters … and why Cliffs spent years studying it in cooperation with Kobe Steel of Japan.

Remember, the iron-rich regions of Michigan and Minnesota:

  1. provided the iron ore
  2. that made the steel
  3. that helped the industrial Midwest become the industrial Midwest.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden says good paying manufacturing jobs are vital to the U.S. economy and the American Dream of home ownership and upward mobility.

Biden made his comments following a tour of American Seating Company in Grand Rapids. The company has been making seats for busses, trains and stadiums in West Michigan for more than a century.

“It’s not the only source of good paying jobs but I see no way in which we can meet that American commitment to that dream unless we once again reestablish ourselves as the manufacturing hub of the world with high end products,” Biden said.

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