Michigan Business, Economy & Tourism

From classic cars to travel, energy and food, we bring you the stories of the people who fuel our economy and the policies that shape it.

Peter Payette

Vintners in Michigan could have another disaster on their hands this year. Last year, Michigan vineyards produced about one fourth of the grapes grown in a normal season. The results could be about the same this year and that might leave wineries with little in the their cellars.

There's a hotel boom happening in downtown Detroit. Once-abandoned buildings are now gleaming new hotels, or will be soon. But will these plans give Detroit too many hotel rooms or not enough? And there have been lengthy discussions over the two hotels near the new Red Wings arena site just north of downtown.

Aaron Selbig

Affordable housing is hard to find up north. If you want a vacation rental for a week, it's not too difficult to find one. But it can be tough to find an apartment or house to rent in the long term, especially if you're lower or middle-income.

And, of course, affordable is a relative term.

The Next Idea

When was the last time you drank a bottle of Michigan wine? If it’s difficult to remember, you are sadly not alone.

Huge ice chunks stacked some 8 feet deep on Lake Superior have left 18 freighters stuck. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have gotten involved, sending Canadian icebreakers and American vessels to help the ships break free from Whitefish Bay.

Peter Payette

Next month, Michigan voters will decide whether to boost funding for the state’s roads by more than $1 billion.

Decaying roads have dominated headlines in Michigan for more than year, but polling data shows Proposal 1 is likely headed for failure.

An Epic MRA poll from last week showed it trailing among likely voters by a margin of two-to-one.

We hear from Rick Pluta of the Michigan Public Radio Network about why the measure is unpopular and what alternatives may exist.

Tom Carr

Michigan has a number of wind farms because the state basically made them mandatory in 2008. That was when lawmakers decided a certain amount of our electricity must come from renewable resources, and utilities built wind turbines to comply.

Now, wind energy is, by some measurements, among the cheapest ways to keep the lights on. But nobody seems to be rushing to build more.

In fact, the man who has developed the wind farms we have in northern Michigan says his enthusiasm for wind is waning.

Dan Gilbert has added One Detroit Center to his impressive portfolio of downtown Detroit properties, making it more than 70 downtown properties that Gilbert and his partners now own.

The purchase has caused Ally Financial with its 1,300 employees to move to One Detroit Center instead of Southfield. This announcement was accompanied by Ally's CEO conceding that the downtown location will be more expensive than the suburbs.

Daniel Wanschura

When Joe and Bobbi Woods bought a 40-acre parcel in Rapid City, they weren't thinking about starting a maple syrup farm. They planned to grow hay.

What started out with a just few buckets 20 years ago, has now grown into a nearly 600-gallon maple syrup operation annually. It’s a family operation for the Woods. During syrup season, their son Grant usually helps out, checking to make sure the sap flows freely through the line system.

Entrepreneurs can pop up out of anywhere.

Take Kellyann Wargo of Ann Arbor.

While she was a student at the University of Michigan, her entrepreneur’s eye saw a business opportunity in the “Walk of Shame” so many students take on the “morning after the night before.”

Just about anywhere you see young parents, there’s a good chance you will see Action Baby Carriers. In place of pushing a baby in a stroller, these carriers let you “wear” your baby or toddler, and these carriers are made in Detroit.

“We made a carrier that you buckle to your body, so that you can be hands free and still have your baby nice and close to you,” said Andrea Govender, who owns Action Baby Carriers with her husband.

There's a lot of attention and talk directed at start-ups about attracting new business to Michigan.

But writer Ilene Wolff pays tribute to some venerable long-time Michigan businesses. Her story, The Century Club: Michigan firms and businesses that have truly withstood the test of time, is in the current March/April print edition of DBusiness.

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

  Michigan could realistically get up to 40 percent of its energy using renewable sources by 2025, according to Gov. Rick Snyder (The video of the full speech is here).

His goal of boosting renewable energy to between 30 percent and 40 percent in the next decade includes increased energy efficiency to get to those numbers. The governor says increased efficiency should play a central role in Michigan’s energy future.

Faculty at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City will soon begin negotiating contracts through a union. 75 percent of the faculty voted ‘yes’ to join the Michigan Education Association – the state's largest teachers' union.

Michigan must divide in order to conquer

Mar 9, 2015

The Next Idea

When people think of Michigan, a number of iconic images come to mind – a long assembly line, acres of cherry orchards, miles of gorgeous coastline. This wide variety of industry, agriculture and tourism contributes to the resilience of our $400 billion economy and is what makes Michigan special. But these industries and regions also have very different requirements to help them grow. The challenge lies in how to foster growth in each one without competing against each other so that some Michigan residents win only when others lose.

Toyota is making changes to its top staff, with more North Americans rising in the ranks.

"For the first time they are elevating some Americans to some very key positions," says Daniel Howes, who recently wrote an article about the changes for the Detroit News.

The federal government wants faster Internet connections nationwide and has raised the minimum speed for what it considers broadband. That is unlikely to help the thousands of people in northern Michigan who have something like dial-up service and have for years.

Twenty-three passenger railcars have been sitting unused since MDOT got them in 2010, raising question of whether they are a waste of Michigan money, or a good investment that could help Michigan in the future.

The state hopes to use them for the proposed commuter rails between Ann Arbor and Detroit, and between Ann Arbor and Howell.

Detroit-made mini lava cakes will soon be featured on Air France flights starting March 1.

Parisian-born Chloe Sabatier is the owner of Chez Chloe in Detroit where she specializes in traditional French lava cakes. She was stunned to learn her cakes would be on-board flights Air France flights from Detroit to Paris.

Faculty members at Northwestern Michigan College will soon decide if they want a union. Ballots are being mailed today to 89 instructors at the community college in Traverse City.

The faculty has not publicly stated what it hopes to gain from a union. A spokeswoman for the Michigan Education Association, the organizing unit, declined to comment on the vote.

Marguerite Cotto, NMC’s vice president of lifelong and professional learning, says the concerns she’s aware of include issues like faculty wanting more say in how employees are evaluated.

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