michigan business

Michigan's future starts with new ideas

Nov 17, 2014
Wikimedia

Americans love the next thing: the newest gadget, the latest fashion, and all manner of ground-breaking artistic creations. In fact, our entire worldview, economic system, and personal behavior are based on the idea that progress and growth is good.

We are driven to be better and new.

A sign for a Meijer store in Ann Arbor.
user Monika & Tim / Flickr

Michigan-based retailer Meijer Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that it failed to prevent the sale and distribution of products recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In the settlement, the CPSC says Meijer knowingly distributed more than 1,600 units of about a dozen recalled products. The recalled products were distributed by a third party contractor working for Meijer.

From the settlement:

CPSC staff charges that beginning in or about April 2010, and including until at least in or about April 2011, Meijer received information from the third party contractor regarding the sale of all products handled by its third party contractor but failed to prevent the distribution of the Recalled Products.

The products that were recalled included Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.

You can see a list of the recalled items here.

It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.

In agreeing to the settlement, Meijer "neither admits nor denies the charges."

More from the settlement language:

Meijer believed that adequate safeguards were in place to prevent Recalled Products from being distributed into commerce and states that any distribution of the Recalled Products was inadvertent and occurred without Meijer's knowledge.

*Correction - an earlier post with the Associated Press byline stated that Meijer sold and distributed the recalled products. A third party contractor that Meijer works with sold and distributed the products. The copy has been updated.

Photo of a can of Stroh's beer taken in 2008.
Kyle Freeman / Flickr

Many of us are more than a little curious about the lives of the rich and famous. 

In the mid-1800s, Bernard Stroh came to the U.S. and began selling beer in Detroit.

The business grew and prospered, but around 150 years later, the family company was bought and broken up.

Kerry A. Dolan of Forbes chronicles the rise and fall of the family in her piece, How to blow $9 billion: The fallen Stroh family.

From Dolan's story:

The Stroh family owned it all, a fortune that FORBES then calculated was worth at least $700 million. Just by matching the S&P 500, the family would currently be worth about $9 billion.

Yet today the Strohs, as a family business or even a collective financial entity, have ceased to exist. The company has been sold for parts. The trust funds have doled out their last pennies to shareholders. While there was enough cash flowing for enough years that the fifth generation Strohs still seem pretty comfortable, the family looks destined to go shirtsleeves-to-shirtsleeves in six.

Frances Stroh, a fifth generation family member, is working on a memoir about the family.

h/t Lester Graham

User: Daniel Kulinski / Flickr

One state lawmaker says it's "like controlling very large purse strings with very little accountability."

Since 2011, more than $65 million in state money has been awarded to businesses all around Michigan, all on the signatures of just two individuals.

Is this a worrisome lack of transparency? Or a good effort by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to be nimble, to be able to get state incentives into the hands of businesses to help them grow and strengthen Michigan's economy?

Chris Gautz reported on this for Crain's Detroit Business.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Kenny Louie / Flickr

How are business owners in Michigan feeling?

It's an important question: Those business owners are doing the hiring – or not.

The 2014 Chase Business Leaders Outlook has just been released. It contains the views of some 3,500 leaders of small and mid-sized businesses.

Here to give us the views of these business leaders is Jim Glassman, senior economist with JPMorgan, Chase & Company.

Listen to the full interview above.

rawmustard / Flickr

Michigan business owners have until the end of the day to file a form that could potentially save them lots of money on their 2014 tax bill.

Michigan’s personal property tax applies to all kinds of things. Carmakers pay the tax on heavy machinery; restaurants pay it on new ovens and dishwashers.

But in order to qualify, business owners have to file a form with their local government.

When Heritage Sustainable Energy built its first wind farm in 2008, almost all the money was funneled to companies in Europe.

Compare that to the Big Turtle wind farm the company is building now. More than half the materials, turbine parts, engineering, and labor will come from Michigan. That means half of the roughly $40 million project will go to Michigan companies.

Rick Wilson is the company’s vice president of operations. He says they want to build a wind farm that’s "pure Michigan."

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission meets about a wolf hunt in Michigan.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michiganders who still like to browse video store shelves will soon lose one of the few outlets left.

The last Blockbuster video stores in Michigan will soon close.

For many Michiganders, there was a time when a trip to their neighborhood Blockbuster was a big part of their weekend plans.

We turn now to an area of business that held strong in Michigan even in the darkest hours of the Great Recession.

Franchises. They create jobs faster than any other business sector. Even when the Great Recession slammed us in 2008, franchises kept on hiring. The pace may have slowed down a little, but the franchise hiring rate still topped the national rate of employment.

DBusiness is out with its 2013 "Michigan Franchise Report" and we wanted to find out their verdict on the franchise scene in Michigan.

DBusiness editor R.J. King joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

A recent report from Moody's suggests the future is very uncertain for public universities. Today we talked about the future of public universities in Michigan.

And, poet Keith Taylor stopped by the studios to introduce us to some Michigan must-reads for the month of October.

Also, despite our troubled economy, Michigan franchises are going strong. We spoke to DBusiness editor R.J. King about the 2013 Michigan Franchise Report.

First on the show, it’s Day Seven of the partial government shutdown.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is warning that lawmakers are “playing with fire” and he’s asking Congress to pass legislation to re-open the government, and to increase the nation’s debt limit.

Lew says President Obama has no intentions of linking either bill to Republican demands to change the health care law.

This comes as Republican House Speaker John Boehner rules out a House vote on a temporary spending bill without concessions from the President.

So, that’s where things stand as the government shutdown moves into its second week. Michigan Democratic Representative Dan Kildee joined us from D.C. to discuss the issue. 

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There's been a lot of talk in the years after the Great Recession about revitalizing Michigan - trying to get away from the 20th century economic model - trying to move the state, its residents, and its jobs - to the 21st century and beyond. And it's fair to say that many would agree that "innovation" is a vital part of moving the state's economy forward.

Crain's Detroit business has released a list of the 100 most innovative companies in Michigan. They're calling it the Michigan Innovative Index.

AndrewHorne / Wikimedia Commons

Meijer announced today that they're planning to hire 4,400 part-time workers in Michigan (more in other states). The Grand Rapids-based company says they're hiring in response to company growth and in "in preparation for the fall and holiday selling seasons."

More from their press release:

Governor Rick Snyder sat down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday.

Snyder believes the talks could lead to new partnerships between companies in Michigan and Israel.

The governor is on a nine-day investment mission to Israel. He says the two states already have strong economic and cultural ties. But he says there’s lots of room for new partnerships and investment.

Snyder Spokesperson Ken Silfven says Prime Minister Netanyahu was “very receptive” to the governor’s ideas.

More than 10,000 people are expected at a street party in Grand Rapids Saturday to celebrate all things local.

Locals bands, local food, and of course local beer; brewed special for the party with locally produced honey. It’s the biggest fundraiser of the year for Local First, a non-profit that supports locally owned businesses throughout West Michigan. It's their 10th anniversary.

Executive Director Elissa Hillary says if everyone in Kent County shifted 10% of their purchases to locally owned businesses, it would create 1,600 jobs.

“It’s important for us to just be aware that our daily choices have an impact and that they can have an incredibly positive impact,” Hillary said, “So if we’re making choices to support businesses in our community we’re essentially choosing to support people who live in our community.”

Hantz Farms

All this week, we've been digging into the causes, and perhaps solutions, to the financial troubles facing our schools. As Michigan Radio has been reporting, some 50 public school districts across our state are facing deep deficits. And, for the first time in Ann Arbor history, the school district may have to lay off 50 teachers.

Today we focused on teacher salaries. Just what should determine teacher pay in Michigan?

And, Daniel Howes talked with us about the business community in Detroit.

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for our weekly conversation with Daniel Howes, the Business Columnist at the Detroit News.

This week, he focused on the business community in Detroit, where companies like General Motors are trying to give back through programs like the GM Student Corps. From Howe's column:

By itself, the pilot program unveiled in the Wintergarden of GM’s Renaissance Center, isn’t front-page news in a city bursting with the good, the bad and the financially ugly on a weekly basis. What GM Student Corps signifies, however, is another example of a key player in the business community seeing a communal need and moving to fill it, quickly.

He joined us today to discuss the business in Detroit as well as the health of the auto industry.

Listen to the full interview above.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan says the new corporate income tax returns it's processing are much shorter in length than other business tax returns.

The state Department of Treasury says the returns submitted to date average 17 pages. That's 41 fewer pages than the average Michigan Business Tax return.

The Corporate Income Tax approved in 2011 took effect for the 2012 tax year. Some businesses still file an MBT return because they qualify for certain tax credits.

The state says some MBT returns are longer than 1,000 pages.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

The Chinese military has been recently accused as the source of many cyberattacks on American corporations and government agencies. 

A week ago, the White House firmly stated that the Chinese government adhere to "acceptable norms of behavior in cyberspace" and halt the widespread theft of data from American computer networks.

South Carolina and Utah are two known states that have been hacked. How were they attacked?

Within Michigan, businesses and the state have participated in a joint effort to protect and prepare for cyberattacks, a model other states are looking to as an example.

But that doesn't mean Michigan's cyber security isn't running into problems. We are weathering some 187,000 cyberattacks every day. 

What are the consequences  if Michigan's response plan fails?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with writer Chris Gautz from Lansing.

Listen to the whole story by clicking the link above. 

Stateside: A story slam competition for entrepreneurs

Jan 30, 2013
Mark Savage / Entergy

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

Tired of giving the same pitches in the same offices?

Do you have a great idea but lack the environment in which to present it?

Then try Entre-SLAM!

user gadgetgirl / Flickr

 A state House committee takes up legislation tomorrow to prevent companies with ties to Iran from doing business with the state of Michigan.

Republican lawmaker Marty Knollenberg admits he doesn’t know of any Michigan businesses working with Iran. But he says it sends an important message.

“This brings attention to the problems of Iran," says Knollenberg, " They are a threat. They are a rogue nation.  We need to put this issue on the forefront.”  

Knollenberg says state and federal sanctions may help prevent the Iranian government from developing nuclear weapons.