Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Sunday Paper: September 5, 2010

up3036 fayette

Different picture for you! This is from Fayette Historic State Park in the UP. Go see. Very cool place.

News that I bookmarked and never wrote about...

  • The 53rd Annual Mackinac Bridge Walk kicks off at 7AM on Labor Day. This year's walk is in honor of longtime Mackinac Bridge Authority Executive Secretary Larry Rubin, who passed away this year at the age of 97. The five-mile, roughly two-hour walk is free, and if you've never done it before, you should give it a try before someone utters the word "privatization" and starts charging to participate. It's quite an experience.

  • Great summer weather and the Pure Michigan advertising campaign are being credited for a 5% spike in tourism this year, according to George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan. Mackinac Bridge crossings are up 2.7%, with hotels "up north" reporting anywhere from a 5-30% increase in bookings. The same is happening along Lake Michigan; hotels are up, and state campgrounds are reporting a 4% increase in reservations. Cities are reporting a boost as well, with both Detroit and Grand Rapids noticing an uptick in traffic at arts and sporting events. The Pure Michigan website traffic is up to 46,000 hits a day from 39,000 this time last year. Tourism brings roughly $15 billion to our state annually, and this year people in the business couldn't be happier. Unfortunately, the award-winning Pure Michigan campaign won't be running this fall, thanks to our "Just Say No to Michigan" Senate Republicans, who refuse to fund the effort - but notice how the entire legislature is blamed in all news accounts. The campaign for the summer of 2011 is in jeopardy as well, something that Zimmerman says "would be a tragedy of epic proportions".


  • More good economic news from Comerica Bank's Dana Johnson; the Michigan Economic Activity Index climbed three points in July, and the index is up 16 points from a year ago, the largest increase since 2004. Overall, the index is up 13% from last year. Nine seasonally adjusted coincident indicators of real economic activity are measured, such as manufacturing, construction, consumer spending, job growth, etc. Johnson warns that a national slowdown could constrain growth for the rest of the year. The University of Michigan-Dearborn College of Business' "innovation index" is up as well, with trademark applications, incorporations and small business loans pushing the indicator to its highest point since the credit crunch began.

  • Gongwer's John Lindstrom talks lyrically of campaigns in this week's essay, both the before and after the election variety. It is the "reality of politics", the effort to win you over, followed by the effort to win the winning candidate over. I tend to be more cynical about the whole affair, realizing that people will sell you out for a buck and discard you when you no longer serve their purposes, but hey, that's life. Embrace the good that's out there, and keep on fighting. Somehow Lindstrom manages to make it all palatable.

  • Electric car news: The U of M has been chosen to "lead a research consortium between the U.S. and China to develop new electric vehicle technologies". President Obama established the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center in the summer of 2009, and, with matching funds from the government and universities and businesses such as "Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Oak Ridge National Laboratories, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Chrysler, A123Systems" and others, the consortium will accelerate the development of clean vehicle and clean coal technologies. In other news, Detroit received the first ChargePoint America charging station at NextEnergy this week, plans are in the works for 280 stations across Michigan when it's all said and done, kick starting the infrastructure to support the electric vehicle.

  • Hey Feds! We really want to get these renewable energy companies up and running in the Ford Wixom plant! Jobs, jobs, jobs, remember? Get off the stick, and get moving on those applications! Seriously, what in the hell is wrong with you people? Do you want a "green economy" or not?

  • Free potassium iodide pills are available to Michigan residents who live, work or visit within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant, thanks to the Michigan Dept. of Community Health. No alarm necessary, just a precautionary measure, but this child of the "China Syndrome" era still freaks out a little bit when I read stuff like that.

  • From the Freep: Michigan is actually very strict about giving tax credits to movie productions; 24% of applicants have been denied this year because they don't hit the goal of hiring Michigan residents or other criteria to qualify. "It's not a blank check. It's not carte blanche." says Ken Droz of the Michigan Film Office. Someone want to send that bit of info to Cassis? Thanks.

  • Big congrats! go out to Tigers catcher Max St. Pierre, who toiled 14 years in the minors and through various personal problems to finally make the major league club this year. Max started the game-winning rally for the Tigers last night with his first hit, drawing a standing ovation from the crowd and a dousing of beer from his teammates after the game. Just goes to show that sometimes dreams do come true...

  • Looking for a place to stop on the way home from your weekend vacation? Ever wonder how those rest areas came about? Michigan is thought to be the home of the nation's first rest area, established in 1929 on Route 16 near Saranac in Ionia County. Check out for the history on the concept, as well as a state-by-state guide of available stops. Michigan has 81 rest stops and 14 welcome centers, you can find them all on MDOT's handy map.

    Safe travels to you all...