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Monday, July 30, 2012

From Detroit News: Michigan Leads Nation

July 30, 2012 at 1:00 am

Michigan's recovery outpaces rest of U.S.

Confidence rises along with home, retail sales

Mike LeVan, left, shows a home for sale to Dane Lupo; his wife, Shannon; and daughter Gianna in Grosse Pointe Farms recently. “We’re now getting multiple offers on houses on a regular basis” for the first time in a decade, says LeVan. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Michigan fell the hardest during the recession, but it's bouncing back better than the rest of the country.
While economic uncertainty in Europe is creating a cloud over the U.S. economy, and the state's unemployment rate has ticked up two-tenths of a percentage point to 8.6 percent in the past two months, existing home sales and retail sales in Michigan are doing better than elsewhere in the country.
"We've been telling our clients since late 2011 that Michigan is turning the corner faster economically than any other state in the country," said Patrick Anderson, founder and CEO of the East Lansing-based consulting firm Anderson Economic Group.
Home sales are up 10 percent through June in the Great Lakes State compared with the nation's 5 percent growth rate, according to the National Association of Realtors. And the state's retail sales surged in April and May, while the national figure fell 0.2 percent.
The ongoing recovery of Detroit's three automakers has paved the way for the uptick, with a resurgence in jobs and profitability. Michiganians figure the state has weathered the worst and are feeling more secure in their jobs, said Grosse Pointe Woods real estate agent Michael LeVan.
From his vantage point, "most people feel significantly better about their jobs than they did five years ago."
The new confidence can be seen in the upswing in home sales in the four-county Metro Detroit region. Sales increased 5.1 percent through the first half of the year and have risen 11 of the past 12 months, according to Realcomp II Ltd., a Farmington Hills multiple listing service. Home prices in the Detroit area jumped for 10 straight months through April, according to Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller index.
Homeowners are more confident in their ability to sell their homes, LeVan said, and are "reasonably sure that they'd be able to sell theirs, and not pay two mortgages for 10 or 12 months."
"We're now getting multiple offers on houses on a regular basis" for the first time in a decade, LeVan said, echoing the experience of many real estate agents.
LeVan made the biggest sale of his 14-year career with the Grosse Pointe Woods firm of Adlhoch & Associates — $1.7 million — within the past six months, he said.
Michiganians also are shopping and spending. More than half of retailers reported that sales rose in May, the best sales month since January, according to an index by the Michigan Retailers Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. Two-thirds of retailers expect sales to rise this summer over the same three months last year.

Consumers 'resilient'

"Michigan consumers appeared more resilient as our state continued its comeback from longer and more severe economic problems than those in other states," said Jim Hallan, the association's president and CEO.
They're also spending more on cosmetic surgery, according to Dr. Anthony Youn, a Troy-based plastic surgeon.
"Plastic surgery, like an expensive vacation or a new car, is a big-ticket luxury item," Youn said.
His business has risen 10 percent annually since 2009, when patients who wanted two operations opted for one, and others asked for minor fixes such as $500 Botox injections to postpone an $8,000 face-lift.
"Now, people are spending more at one time," Youn said. "Their 401(k)s are doing better, and they have more money in their pockets."
Because the auto industry downturns are nothing new, Michiganians are more conservative with their money, Anderson said. A Rockefeller Foundation report found that Michigan had the seventh-lowest level of "economic insecurity" in the nation from 2008-10.
"Some states weathered the downturn better than others, and Michigan was among them," said study author Jacob Hacker, who added that Michiganians remain less economically secure than they were a generation ago.
The study defined economic insecurity as the proportion of people whose "available household income" — income after paying for medical care and servicing financial debts — declined 25 percent or more.

Creating a buffer

"Michigan residents have done a better job of creating a buffer against financial loss than folks in other parts of the country," said study research associate Stuart Craig.
Michigan's success is occurring even as gathering economic storm clouds are prompting businesses and households to become cautious with their money.
The U.S. economy grew 1.5 percent as consumers cut spending, the Commerce Department said Friday. Political uncertainty is driving households across the nation with incomes above $75,000 to cut spending, according to an index of sentiment from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters.

Awaiting election

About two-thirds of the clients with David VanEgmond, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Detroit, are sitting on cash.
"They are willing to make investments, but are hesitant and waiting until after the presidential election," VanEgmond said.
But Metro Detroiters remain optimistic. A Wayne State University and Institute of Supply Management survey of southeast Michigan purchasing managers this month found that more than three-quarters of respondents expect the business environment to remain stable or improve.
Detroiter Andrew Koper is feeling better about the economy and spending more money because he's receiving more requests from staffing agencies for his Web development services.
"I have reps from staffing agencies initiating contact with me about jobs they are trying to fill, which wasn't happening a couple of years ago," Koper said.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120730/BIZ/207300344#ixzz227v4f6jE

Rogers City has made progress this year too.  We may not be leading the Nation, Michigan, or even Northern Michigan; however, we have a solid economic story to tell!  There are real economic opportunities here and now in Rogers City.  Don't miss your chance to get in early on our bright future of growth and development.  If you are not yet a believer, go talk to Joe Libby.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Selection from Forbes Article on City Value

I thought this article was interesting, but it only tells part of the story.  In a world, where you can earn you pay via the internet, you don't have to live in the big cities.  Rogers City is very affordable and also has a lot to offer.  The value for money here is very high.  Enjoy the article exerpt below and then visit Rogers City to learn the "rest of the story."

The Cities Where A Paycheck Stretches The Furthest

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a new special section called “Reinventing America,” which we launched Tuesday. As part of this effort, famed demographer Joel Kotkin and more than a dozen other Forbes contributors and staff writers will focus attention on the challenges facing towns, cities and traditional industries across the nation–and highlight the growing number of surprising success stories we’re seeing, too. Over the coming months we’ll have stories, rankings of who’s doing it right (and wrong), and, we hope, great conversations with readers, so please join in.
When we think of places with high salaries, big metro areas like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco are usually the first to spring to mind. Or cities with the biggest concentrations of educated workers, such as Boston.
But wages are just one part of the equation — high prices in those East and West Coast cities mean the fat paychecks aren’t necessarily getting the locals ahead. When cost of living is factored in, most of the places that boast the highest effective pay turn out to be in the less celebrated and less expensive middle part of the country. My colleague Mark Schill of Praxis Strategy Group and I looked at the average annual wages in the nation’s 51 largest metropolitan statistical areas and adjusted incomes by the cost of living. The results were surprising and revealing.
In first place is Houston, where the average annual wage in 2011 was $59,838, eighth highest in the nation. What puts Houston at the top of the list is the region’s relatively low cost of living, which includes such things as consumer prices and services, utilities and transportation costs and, most importantly, housing prices: The ratio of the median home price to median annual household income in Houston is only 2.9, remarkably low for such a dynamic urban region; in San Francisco a house goes for 6.7 times the median local household income. Adjusted for cost of living, the average Houston wage of $59,838 is worth $66,933, tops in the nation.
Most of the rest of the top 10 are relatively buoyant economies with relatively low costs of living. These include Dallas-Fort Worth (fifth), Charlotte, N.C. (sixth), Cincinnati (seventh), Austin, Texas (eighth), and Columbus, Ohio (10th). These areas all also have housing affordability rates below 3.0 except for Austin, which clocks in at 3.5. Similar situations down the list include such mid-sized cities as Nashville, (11th), St.Louis (12th), Pittsburgh, (13th), Denver (15th) and New Orleans (16th).
One major surprise is the metro area in third place: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich. This can be explained by the relatively high wages paid in the resurgent auto industry and, as we have reported earlier, a huge surge in well-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math-related) jobs. Combine this with some of the most affordable housing in the nation and sizable reductions in unemployment — down 5% in Michigan over the past two years, the largest such drop in the nation. This longtime sad sack region has reason to feel hopeful.
Only two expensive metro areas made our top 10 list. One is Silicon Valley (San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara), where the average annual wage last year of $92,556, the highest in the nation, makes up for its high costs, which includes the worst housing affordability among the 51 metro areas we considered: housing prices are nearly 7 times the local median income. Adjusted for cost of living, that $92,556 paycheck is worth $61,581, placing the Valley second on our list.
In ninth place is Seattle, which placed first on our lists of the cities leading the way in manufacturing and STEM employment growth. Housing costs, while high, are far less than in most coastal California or northeast metropolitan areas.
What about the places we usually associate with high wages and success? The high pay is offset by exceedingly high costs. Brain-rich Boston has the fifth-highest income of America’s largest metro areas but its high housing and other costs drive it down to 32nd on our list. San Francisco ranks third in average pay at just under $70,000, some $20,000 below San Jose, but has equally high costs. As a result, the metro area ranks a meager 39th on our list.

Full List: The Cities Where A Paycheck Stretches The Furthest

Much the same can be said about New York which, like San Francisco, is home to many of the richest Americans and best-paying jobs. The average paycheck clocks in at $69,029, fourth-highest in the country, but high costs, particularly for housing, eat up much of the locals’ pay: adjusted for cost of living, the average salary is worth $44,605. As a result, the Big Apple and its environs rank only 41st on our list.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Global Talent Initiative for Rogers City

Here is a great article for Rogers City.  We are historically an international community.  Let's bring in the best and brightest to help us grow.

Global Talent Retention Initiative gains momentum, builds talent in Michigan

An international student at Wayne State's College of Engineering Laboratory
An international student at Wayne State's College of Engineering Laboratory - Doug Coombe

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Science, technology, engineering and math disciplines are hot degrees for current and future jobs. In fact, there are more job openings in these fields in Michigan than there are qualified people to fill them. And Michigan is not yet producing enough graduates of its own to meet the demand.

One possible solution for building the talent pipeline: the world-class research universities that call Michigan home, which attract a pool of international students with exceptional qualifications for STEM jobs. The trick? Keeping that talent in the state.
Enter the Global Talent Retention Initiative, which helps students and employers navigate the complexities of immigration and work rules to allow companies to hire promising STEM graduates, and makes it easier for those graduates to stay in Michigan instead of taking their talents to another state or country.
Employers often think that the paperwork required to sponsor an international student as an employee is too time consuming and expensive. The Global Talent Retention Initiative works to educate companies about that process and understand available options. For example, employers don't pay social security or FICA taxes for international candidates, and neither does the student unless and until they become citizens, says GTRI program director Athena Trentin. That savings can often more than offset the cost of applying for the H1B visa that employers would need for an international student hire.

"We're trying to present them with the economic impact as well as the social impact and the jobs impact (of hiring international students)," Trentin says.
Another option for employers is an Optional Practical Training visa, or OPT, which allows students to get hands-on training in their field. This works well for students pursuing internships either after graduation or while they are in school, and is valid for 12 months.
Lee, a graduate student in physics at the University of Michigan who did not want his full name used, will be interning at a small startup firm via an OPT. He worked with the GTRI through the Intern in Michigan website to find a company that was willing to hire an international student and fit his academic interests.
More than a few companies specifically said they would not hire international students, he said. Bigger companies that would do so were on a tighter time schedule than Lee was able to meet. Once he got connected with Trentin and the GTRI, they helped him filter his options and successfully land his internship.
"It actually helps you to determine which companies hire international students," he says. "That can't be done by individual students because you can't know without going directly to the company whether they hire international students or not. I also think the matching part is good. You have to go through a few questions and note on a scale from 1 to 5 how much you wish to work with different types of companies." That matching process saved him time and frustration and helped him find a good fit with a company located in Southeast Michigan, where he would like to stay.
International students bring a different mindset and work ethic, says Anne Craft, CEO of online marketing firm UZoom Media, who worked with the GTRI to retain Shasha Zhang, a web developer who started as an intern, through an OPT. She credits Trentin and the GTRI with helping her through the process and allowing her to retain a valuable employee.

"She's become an absolutely integral part of our team," she says. "I know wouldn't be where we are today without her – she's a fantastic employee."
International students bring a work ethic, discipline and sense of loyalty that sets them apart, Craft says. That's especially important for her, as head of a small firm, so she's not spending time constantly retraining new employees.
"With that combination of discipline and hope for an opportunity to make things better they can really achieve success," she says. "It's an amazing combination."
Employers often worry about the perception of hiring international students amid a high unemployment rate in Michigan. However, the types of jobs available – generally jobs requiring advanced degrees in STEM fields -- can't always be filled by students from Michigan, who are generally not pursuing those types of degrees at the level international students are.

"If you know people, send them my way!" says Tel Ganesan with a laugh. He's president and CEO of Kyyba, a Farmington Hills tech staffing company that trains workers in health care information technology and places them in jobs. Ganesan admits that it isn't necessarily easy to hire international students, but with proper planning, it's worth it. "We'll jump through hoops to make it happen," he says.
With a shortage of American graduates in STEM fields, his company's options can be somewhat limited locally. Having the option to hire international students is helpful so that they can meet the needs of their clients, Ganesan says.
"It's really not about taking jobs from local graduates; it's all about supplementing above and beyond what is not in the marketplace," he says.
Rejecting international students as too difficult to hire means rejecting good, high-tech jobs, Trentin points out. If companies can't hire in Michigan for their STEM jobs, they will go elsewhere.

"Don't send [students] away -- then these jobs and companies are going to go away," she says.
Ganesan started out as an international student himself and founded his company after working in the US for a number of years, and he points out that's a pretty typical path for people who came here as students and then stayed.

"It not only can help in the short term but in the long term," he says. "All the Googles of the world, the eBays, Yahoo were created by immigrants."

Learn more about the Global Talent Retention Initiative here.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lake Sturgeon

I find the article below interesting, and I hope you do to.  The following information is from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR):

Weekly Fishing Tip: Fishing for a Piece of "History"
Lake sturgeon are one of Michigan’s most culturally and historically significant fish species. But many people don’t know much about these living dinosaurs!

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently launched a section of their website dedicated to all things lake sturgeon. The page includes their background, their history, angling information, partnership efforts to manage this species, videos and photos and much more. Visit www.michigan.gov/sturgeon to learn all about this unique fish.

Interested in fishing for lake sturgeon? Although limited, there are opportunities available. In fact, hook-and-line possession seasons will open on Monday, July 16 on Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and Otsego Lake in Otsego County. Please note there are strict regulations and size restrictions attached to fishing for lake sturgeon and an all-species license and Lake Sturgeon Fishing Tag are required to participate.

For more information on fishing for lake sturgeon, check out page 8 of the 2012 Fishing Guide or read the rules and regulations online.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Public Hearings on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels

The International Joint Commission invites all members of the public to Public Hearings on the Lake Superior Regulation: Addressing Uncertainty in Upper Great Lakes Water Levels. The hearings will take place at the following times and locations:
(Note: Video conference technology will be used to link the hearings scheduled from July 9 – 12 and to allow the participation of some commissioners and IJC staff from other locations)
Monday, July 9
Sarnia, ON
7:00 pm EDT
Lambton College
Room A223
1457 London Rd.
Thunder Bay, ON
7:00 pm EDT
Lakehead University,
ATAC Room 1001
955 Oliver Road
Tuesday, July 10
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
7:00 pm EDT
The Grosse Pointe War Memorial
Activity Room
32 Lakeshore Drive
Duluth, MN
6:00 pm CDT
Labovitz School of Business & Economics
1318 Kirby Dr.
Wednesday, July 11
Port Clinton, OH
7:00 pm EDT
Sutton Center
1848 E. Perry St
Fish Creek, WI
6:00 pm CDT
Door Community Auditorium
3926 Wisconsin 42
Thursday, July 12
Holland, MI
7:00 pm EDT
Doubletree Hotel
650 East 24th Street
Milwaukee, WI
6:00 pm CDT
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Great Lakes Water Institute
600 E. Greenfield Ave.
Saturday, July 14
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
2:00 pm EDT
Algoma University
Great West Life Theatre,
1520 Queen Street East
Sunday, July 15
Little Current, ON
2:00 pm EDT
Northeast Manitoulin and the Islands Recreation Center
9001 Hwy-6 S
Monday, July 16
Parry Sound, ON
1:00 pm EDT
Bobby Orr Community Centre
7-17 Marry Street
Midland, ON
7:00 pm EDT
North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre
527 Len Self Boulevard
Tuesday, July 17
Collingwood, ON
1:00 pm EDT
Cranberry Resort
19 Keith Ave, RR#4
Written comments to the IJC may be submitted online or to either addresses below by August 31, 2012:
U. S. Section SecretaryCanadian Section Secretary
International Joint Commission
2000 L Street, NW
Suite 615
Washington, DC 20440
Fax: 202-631-2007
International Joint Commission
234 Laurier Avenue West
22nd Floor
Ottawa, ON K1P 6K6
Fax: 613-993-5583
Lake levels have been falling for several years.  The Rogers City Marina had over 9 feet of depth, now it is about 8 feet.  If the water level continues to fall across the Great Lakes, millions of dollars of public facilities will become unuseable due to shallow water. Dredging is not an option for many small boat harbors due to cost and/or rock bottoms.
These public hearings are important for boaters, sport fishing, commercial fishing, property owners and anyone who cares about the Great Lakes.  If you are unable to attend one of the hearings, please take a few minutes and write the Internation Joint Commission and express your concerns. 
Thank you.