WBEZ | Industry http://www.wbez.org/tags/industry Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Low water in Lake Michigan could cause problems for the shipping industry http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS3818_The Cuyahoga River Today7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local ports could run into problems if water levels in Lake Michigan keep going down. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake is 28 inches below the long term average &ndash; and still falling.</p><p>For each inch the lake decreases, cargo ships are forced to lighten their loads. The tonnage left behind ranges between 50 and 300 tons per inch, depending on the type of freight.</p><p>&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll see them rise before they go down much lower. Each drop is a concern to everyone in the industry,&rdquo; said Tony Ianello, Executive Director of the Illinois Port District. He said lake levels are always fluctuating, but even normal fluctuations affect shipping costs. Ianello said suppliers pay in extra trips to amount to the same total shipping numbers; down the chain, the price tag could hit consumers. Most shipping in and out of Chicago&#39;s ports is for commodities like grains, many of which are directly linked to the cost of food.</p><p>Precipitation in the Michigan-Huron region in November was nearly 70 percent below the monthly average, and the Army Corps projects Lake Michigan could fall to record lows in the coming months.</p><p>&ldquo;Long term loss of water levels is no good for coastal habitats, but it&rsquo;s also no good for people who like to recreate, swim, and use our Great Lakes shorelines,&rdquo; said Joel Brammeier, President of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. But Brammeier said no one knows for sure whether the lakes are undergoing a long term loss, or a fluctuation.</p><p>A <a href="http://cdm15025.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p267501ccp2/id/3405/rec/8" target="_blank">2009 study</a> of the loss of water in the Great Lakes links the long term decline to human manipulation of the St. Clair River, and to changes in climatic factors including temperature and precipitation. The St. Clair River, which connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair near Detroit, has been <a href="http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/1985/19850006.pdf" target="_blank">dredged periodically since the mid-1800s</a>; some researchers say this accounts for over a foot of permanent loss in Lakes Michigan and Huron.</p><p>The two lakes hit their record low in 1964, and peaked again in 1986. Even following 2012&rsquo;s scorching summer, the lake hasn&rsquo;t gone below1964 levels. But the Army Corps projects that by December 30, the water will go down another three inches.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Mississippi River could be facing a complete shutdown of cargo shipping through the passage between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois. Last week the Army Corps&rsquo; Missouri River Basin division began limiting the flow of water through a dam in South Dakota in order to preserve water in that northern region; the Missouri is a key tributary to the Mississippi at St. Louis. Because water levels were already low, the reduced input means 180 miles of the Mississippi could become impassable for barges by mid-December. Immediate solutions to the impending crisis for the river shipping industry are not clear.</p><p>The short-term solution for Lake Michigan is precipitation. If the region has another warm, dry winter, the great lake could keep disappearing before our eyes.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 15:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-water-lake-michigan-could-cause-problems-shipping-industry-104121 Water's hidden value and what it means for Great Lakes cities http://www.wbez.org/content/waters-hidden-value-and-what-it-means-great-lakes-cities-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-07/Dam.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><em>Editor's Note: Today we re-launch <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter">Front and Center</a>, our special series about the Great Lakes region. In June and July, WBEZ broadcast more than 30 stories focused on water, examining everything from pollution to climate change to invasive species. This time Front and Center’s team will zoom in on the role the Great Lakes can play in our region’s economic future. We start with this report from Brian Mann.</em></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-07/watertownhistory2.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 201px; float: left; margin: 10px;" title="A historic postcard from the 1800s shows Watertown NY at the height of its industrial glory, when water powered mills and factories.">When I started asking around about water as a commodity and how it contributed to life in the Great Lakes basin, people kept telling me about Watertown, New York. It’s a small city just upstream from Lake Ontario on the Black River that was settled in the 1800s for one reason: limitless supply of fast-flowing fresh water that could be harnessed for mills and factories.</p><p>“Taggart Mill was across the river here and that was a major paper making industry, they made Kraft paper bags,” said Ken Mix, from the Watertown mayor’s office.</p><p>A century ago, Watertown was one of the most vibrant, productive cities in America. The river attracted industries and farms, which in turn drew people and investment. “There became a big connection between Watertown and New York City with the financial sector there,” says Mix.</p><p>On a glowing fall day, Mix showed me mile after mile of waterfront, handsome old brick buildings, the remains of warehouses, dams and factories. It’s almost all gone now.&nbsp;Not the water.&nbsp;That’s still here in crazy abundance.&nbsp; But the factories and the mills have been torn down or abandoned. A lot of the people have left, too.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/greatlakesjobs"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACTIVE GRAPH:</span></strong> <strong>Is the Great Lakes a great source for jobs?</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">VIDEO:</span> The Plant turns waste into jobs</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong>Are you a job creator? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>All along the Great Lakes basin, the importance of water for transportation, for energy, and even for irrigation and farms began to fade in the 1930s and 40s. I found an old promotional film made by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that told the story, “This is the story of Hoover dam, one of America’s seven modern civil engineering wonders,” the narrator announced, triumphant.&nbsp;</p><p>Projects like the Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border literally re-plumbed America.&nbsp;Along with the invention of air conditioning and the expansion of interstate highways, water from the Colorado River opened the deserts of the Southwest to a massive wave of immigration. “Build a dam in the wilderness, the world will beat a path to it,” the documentary film declared.&nbsp; “For many centuries, this was a lonely canyon, unseen and untouched by man, scorched by a desert sun.”</p><p>But most Americans heading West had no idea how precious that water was, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-07/water-does-future-depend-who-controls-it-93810">“Americans don’t think about water resources,”</a> said Charles Fishman, an investigative journalist whose latest book is called <em>The Big Thirst.</em> “We turn on the tap and the water comes out.&nbsp; We literally think about the water that we rely on every day less than we think about gasoline for our cars, or our electricity, or cable TV or our cell phone.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-07/lakemeadoctober2010wikipedia.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 206px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="The bathtub rings around the Lake Mead reservoir show how far the Colorado River had dropped when it reached its lowest recorded level in October 2010. (Wikipedia Commons) ">Fishman says for generations, Americans haven’t needed to think about water as a commodity, as one of the things that makes cities and industries and whole civilizations possible. But he thinks that’s changing fast as reservoirs along the Colorado River shrivel under a decade-long drought.&nbsp; “In November of this past year, Lake Mead had reached the lowest level it had ever been at since it was filled in the 1930s,” said Fishman, “So the people who manage water in both California and Las Vegas and the West had really begun the bureaucratic equivalent of panicking.”</p><p>So I traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada – which has come to serve as a kind of symbol of America’s hubris when it comes to water.&nbsp; I found the streets packed with musicians and tourists. In the 1930s, when Watertown was a bustling metropolis, Vegas only had about 5,000 people. Now there are 2 million people living here. On the Vegas strip, there are fountains and pools and lagoons everywhere. There’s even a miniature New York harbor and a replica of the canals of Venice. An entire culture is thumbing its nose at the Mojave Desert, which lies just outside the city limits.</p><p>Only behind the scenes, this illusion of permanent water prosperity is coming unraveled. “Every day is a battle,” acknowledged John Entsminger, a top official with the Southern Nevada Water Authority.&nbsp;</p><p>Entsminger’s organization is charged with one mission: making sure that when all those millions of people turn on the faucet or the sprinkler or the fountain, something comes out. But the population keeps growing and the river keeps dwindling.</p><p>“We have scientific reports that have been compiled from tree ring data -- we call it paleo-hydrology -- that shows 30, 40, 50 year extreme drought cycles on the Colorado River,” said Entsminger, “That would yield very daunting, very challenging water supply problems.”</p><p>The Water Authority has already imposed strict new water use rules and set stiff fines for over consumption. They've banned new golf courses and begun paying people to tear up water-hungry lawns.</p><p>&nbsp;For a lot of people, like Karen Luksich, who moved here from Munster, Ind., those kinds of measures are still a small price to pay if it means dodging harsh Great Lakes winters. “The happiest thing that happened when I moved here was I threw away my windshield scrapers for scraping the ice off my windshield in the morning,” she said with a laugh.</p><p>Luksich took me for a walk through her yard. It looked more like the Mojave than like the Midwestern style lawn and garden. “I wanted to embrace what was here. The desert has a beautiful plant palette,” she said.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-07/Gondola%20Venetian.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 421px; margin: 10px; float: left;" title="Despite the fact that the city sits in the parched Mojave Desert, water attractions like this reproduction of Venice’s canals count among Las Vegas’s main attractions. (Front and Center/Brian Mann)">Ironically, Las Vegas is seen these days as a model for water conservation. &nbsp;All those lavish fountains along the Vegas strip – it turns out they're full of recycled grey water pumped from the casinos. But if the Colorado River crashes, water restrictions could grow far more severe, limiting agriculture, squeezing construction of new homes and businesses. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Charles Fishman says the water crisis could be an opportunity for water rich communities along the Great Lakes like Watertown, “We’ve got something that other people pine for, which is this incredible abundance of water and everything that comes with it. It’s not just water. It’s clean water. It’s deep water ports. It’s water for recreation. It’s even an advantage over places like Florida, which has incredible natural water resources which have been so poorly managed over the last twenty years that almost every major city in Florida has a major water crisis. So if you’re trying to persuade somebody to move a company, or open a company, or expand a company, that gives you a real economic advantage.”</p><p>Fishman points out that huge amounts of water are needed for farms, but also for modern manufacturing and power plants. International treaties prevent the export of Great Lakes water, so industries that need access to water could be drawn to this region’s abundant resource.</p><p>Some communities are already trying to capitalize on that fact. In a video from an online marketing campaign for the city of Erie, Pennsylvania, a narrator declares, “One fifth of the world’s fresh water, potable, not saltwater, is right here in our backyard. We take that very seriously. We’re very fortunate here in Erie to have that supply here.”</p><p>The national recession has already dramatically slowed the exodus from cities along the Great Lakes. If droughts and water shortages persist, more people and businesses could find themselves gravitating back toward a part of the US where the taps are always full.</p></p> Tue, 08 Nov 2011 01:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/waters-hidden-value-and-what-it-means-great-lakes-cities-0 Manufacturers want national policy to boost their fortunes http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-28/changing-gears-manufacturers-want-national-policy-boost-their-fortunes-9 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-28/RonBloom.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This winter, President Obama took the unusual step of naming Ron Bloom his assistant for manufacturing. But Bloom stepped down in August to return to his family in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t been replaced. This comes as manufacturers in our region are clamoring for attention. Many want a sign that manufacturing policy is a priority.</p><p>They say it’s time for a national manufacturing policy.</p><p>Germany has one. So do Japan and China. And, many manufacturers in the US think we need one too: one document that puts all the existing policies together and says manufacturing matters.</p><p>“There needs to be some sort of coordination at the top level that says all of these things add up to something bigger. And, right now we don’t have that,” says Bill Rayl, who heads the Jackson Area Manufacturers Association near Ann Arbor, Michigan.</p><p>He was at a meeting in Lansing the other week where the topic of a national manufacturing policy came up. Rayl says most of his members are eager for a cohesive strategy that says “that manufacturing is important to national defense and our national economy.”</p><p>Jim McGregor agrees. He’s Vice Chairman of McGregor metalworking in Springfield, Ohio.</p><p>He says there’s just too much uncertainty in the manufacturing sector: uncertainty about regulations, legislation, and policy.</p><p>One reason businesses aren’t spending and hiring more is fear. And, he thinks a cohesive national manufacturing policy could help change that.</p><p>“I think there’s a lot of talk and no action,” McGregor says. “And, we’re passed wishing and hoping."</p><p>“For a long time, I think the preponderant view in Washington was that the decline in manufacturing was number 1, inevitable, and number 2, just fine,” says Ron Bloom.</p><p>If there was anyone in government who could have pushed a manufacturing agenda, it’s him. Until August, he was President Obama’s assistant for manufacturing policy. You might know him as one of the key players in the government’s bailout of GM and Chrysler.</p><p>Injecting taxpayer dollars into the auto industry was one of the most aggressive government actions in decades, but what about before companies fail? What about promoting and helping the ones that can succeed?</p><p>“I don’t think we have a formal, capital-P policy in the sense of something you can look up—a bound volume, as it were,” Bloom says. “We did not think it was a good use of our time to try and formalize a capital-P policy.”</p><p>"What we do have," Bloom says, "is an administration that has pushed a number of initiatives that help manufacturing, if not exclusively."</p><p>“The president pushed very hard and hopefully we’re going to get patent reform. Is that a manufacturing policy? Twothirds of all patents are filed by manufacturing companies. Export promotion, infrastructure spending, allowing capital spending to be depreciated, all areas that are not absolutely to manufacturing, but the preponderance of their benefits go to manufacturing,” Bloom says.</p><p>Unlike Japan and China, American leaders tend to be reluctant to get too involved in private industry. That’s a big reason why the administration doesn’t want to create a document that looks like Industrial Policy. To many, even the term reminds them of something like China’s Five Year Plan or suggests the government picking winners and losers. The flap over the taxpayer losses in failed solar company Solyndra shows what happens when the government gets too involved in one company.</p><p>Ron Bloom says, in general, the government’s role is to help where the market won’t. He says actions like the auto bailout should be the rare exception. Instead, he says government should boost research and development on technologies that might not see a payoff for many years to come.</p><p>The closest thing the administration has to a formal policy is its promotion of so-called advanced manufacturing as an engine for innovation and productivity.</p><p>“Now, that does mean that the aggregate number of jobs per se in manufacturing is not going to be huge,” Bloom says. “But that’s the price of a productive sector. That’s not a bad thing.”</p><p>He says the jobs that do remain will have a bigger effect on the overall economy. After all, he says Walmarts follow auto plants. Not the other way around.</p></p> Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-28/changing-gears-manufacturers-want-national-policy-boost-their-fortunes-9 Changing Gears: Midwestern union workers have hope for their jobs http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-21/changing-gears-midwestern-union-workers-have-hope-their-jobs-92260 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-September/2011-09-21/Navistar1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.navistar.com/Navistar/" target="_blank">Navistar</a> builds all kinds of trucks across North America: at non-union factories in the South and Mexico, as well as union shops in the Midwest. But the United Auto Workers at its Springfield, Ohio plant said a year of changes has made them competitive with those non-union plants. And, they said they were hopeful for the future of their jobs in the Midwest. <a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears'</em></a> Niala Boodhood shared their story.</p><p>In the final assembly department at Navistar’s Springfield, Ohio, plant, Veronica Smith is helping her team put the finishing touches on a truck. The cab is being mounted to its frame.</p><p>Smith has been building trucks in Springfield for 17 years. She’s been laid off and brought back to work here more than a few times. But, she says this past year has given her hope for the future.</p><p>“We feel like we’re moving forward,” said Smith. “It’s a good feeling. It’s not a feeling we’ve had a lot in the past.”</p><p>A few years ago, Veronica and the other workers at this plant focused on building one truck: the Durastar. It was Navistar’s “focused factory” philosophy.</p><p>That dedicated scale concept works well when business is booming, said <a href="http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/Faculty/Directory/Conley_James_Gerard.aspx" target="_blank">James Conley</a>, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School Center for Research and Technology and Innovation.</p><p>“Scale works really well in the early life cycle of a product,” he explained. “When things mature and other competitors get in, you have to be thinking beyond scale – the dedicated scale model doesn’t work.”</p><p>Unions were also behind the dedicated scale model, thinking the exclusive producing on one model meant job security.</p><p>But the truck making business is what analysts call “extremely <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/cyclical_industry.asp#axzz1YYMRIF00" target="_blank">cyclical</a>” – which basically means its fortune can easily depend on the larger economy.</p><p>But when the bottom fell out, the industry saw its worst year of sales since it began keeping records.</p><p>Navistar “built a strategy around that changing environment,” said David Beebe, the company’s vice president of manufacturing.</p><p>That meant solidifying a strategy of diversification that had previously started at its plant in Garland, Texas, where they build more than one type of truck at the same facility.</p><p>But the company had to convince the United Auto Workers at its Ohio plant to adopt the plan.</p><p><a href="http://www.uawlocal402.net/" target="_blank">UAW Local 402</a> President Jason Barlow says the pay cuts in particular have not been easy to stomach, but it’s all been about securing work.</p><p>“We’ve had members that have been laid off for five years, and they’ve come back in with a completely different state of mind,” he said. “It’s a tough world out there and they want to build the best truck here, and the culture has changed dramatically.”</p><p>Workers accepted a pay structure that means new hires will start at $14.39 a hour and get little in way of benefits compared to more senior workers – who also make $25 an hour.</p><p>Barlow said that pay makes Ohio in some cases even cheaper than the nonunion shop in Texas. The local says they know that’s what it takes to keep these jobs in the Midwest.</p><p>“We’re definitely very vocal in spreading that message of earning our share and getting fair product,” said Todd Scott, the local’s bargaining chairman.</p><p>Retraining started in January as the factory itself was physically reconfigured. Union workers from each department volunteered to become group leaders on the retraining – and they, in turn, taught their coworkers how to build three other models.</p><p>Fast forward nine months later, and all 700 plus workers at the plant have been recalled. Production is up 25 percent over the past year – Navistar says partially because of how slow it was last year, but also because of adding the other models.</p><p>Just near the front entrance to the factory, workers are attaching batteries to engines as half-built trucks trundle along the conveyor line.</p><p>Plant manager Jim Rumpf explains how he can tell what kind of vehicle is coming down the line:</p><p>“Looking at the front end of the vehicle, you see the radiators facing us as the vehicles come down the line,” he said. “You can see just by looking at the radiator and the size of the radiator is a good indicator of the size of the truck.</p><p>The current contract guarantees that at least 50 trucks will be built each day in Springfield.</p><p>On another side of the factory, Victoria Smith is directing the final stages of the truck assembly. Airbags are being filled, last minute checks are being made. The goal is for every truck to be started up and driven off the line, she said.</p><p>“We’ve got a lot of exciting things going on here,” she said. “I’m glad to be a part of it.”<br> <strong> </strong></p><p>Nearby where the trucks are driven off the line, there’s a banner hanging that acknowledges the plant’s 100-year anniversary in 2002.</p><p>The current UAW contract goes for another three years – and both Navistar and the workers say they’re hopeful for a future beyond that.</p><p>Are you a union worker? Do you think these workers did what needs to happen to keep these jobs in the Midwest? Please weigh in the comments section below.</p></p> Wed, 21 Sep 2011 14:20:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-09-21/changing-gears-midwestern-union-workers-have-hope-their-jobs-92260 Pilsen industrial district made room for arts. Now...apartments? http://www.wbez.org/content/pilsen-industrial-district-made-room-arts-nowapartments <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-14/Micah Pilsen 3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/Micah Pilsen 3.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 398px; margin: 5px;" title="The building at 500 W. Cermak hosts everything from storage units to martial arts studios, from barbers to designers and band practice spaces. (Micah Maidenberg)"></p><p>The towering brick buildings that cluster around where Cermak Road crosses the Chicago River in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, on the city’s near Southwest Side, once hosted everything from cloth manufacturers to food warehouses.</p><p>There’s still an industrial feel in the area, with barges floating up and down the river and trucks hurrying across a bridge on their delivery routes. The buildings, however, are mostly empty and the community is now debating how best to revitalize them.</p><p>In June, Alderman Danny Solis (25), who represents the area in Chicago's City Council, introduced an ordinance that calls for allowing "work-live units" in the buildings, where artists and small-scale producers would be able to collapse their home and professional lives into the same space.</p><p>It’s an idea he says is tied to the changing nature of Pilsen itself, a historically immigrant neighborhood that once helped form the core of Chicago's industrial economy. Now, there are fashion stores and art galleries amidst the cement makers and light industry.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" creative="" district.="" industry="" micah="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/Micah Pilsen 5.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 199px;" title="The City of Chicago has branded the area around Cermak Road and the Chicago River the city's &quot;Creative Industry District.&quot; (Micah Maidenberg)"></p><p>The emergence of an arts-centric economy isn't new to Pilsen. It’s already the home of the National Museum of Mexican Art and a gallery row along Halsted. Over by Cermak and the river, the ex-industrial buildings have been mostly vacant during the 15 years Solis has served in City Council. The alderman argues that companies, especially industrial ones, were simply not going to locate in structures built for an entirely different economy.</p><p>What Pilsen does have, according to the alderman, is a set of residents — younger professionals, artists and "hipster types" — who need space. The work-live idea is aimed squarely at them.</p><p>"That's a very creative group, and I think their talents can be used to stimulate the economies of the neighborhoods around here," Solis says.</p><p>City Council members have shown interest in work-live as of late. This summer Aldermen Tom Tunney (44) and Joe Moreno (1) co-sponsored a bill that would make it easier for professionals to set up homes in their places of work.</p><p>Solis' legislation is a bit different in that it would cover only a small part of his ward rather than the entire city.</p><p>Significantly, should it pass in its current form, the bill would represent the first time residential uses would be allowed in any of what the city calls “planned manufacturing districts.”</p><div class="inset"><span style="font-size: 22px;"><span style="color: rgb(178, 34, 34);"><em><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;">"I think a lot of people were looking at this great asset we had, the Chicago River, and envisioning town homes and condos on along the river. And so that kind of pushed the necessity to make it pretty clear to a lot of people with ownership along the river … that this was going to be maintained as a manufacturing community."</span></em></span></span></div><p>When the council first created such districts in 1988, industrial jobs were bleeding out of Chicago, and factories in some parts of the city were feeling pressured by the pace of new commercial and residential developments mushrooming up around them.</p><p>The manufacturing districts were meant to give industry based in Chicago a little breathing room — sections of town where people would work but where no one, officially at least, would live.</p><p>In early 2005, the council ratified such a district for a 900-acre swath of Pilsen, including the land around Cermak and the river. Back then, as Solis recalls it, the housing boom was full-on, and developers were looking for opportunities in his ward, especially along the river. The worry was, once again, residences would replace employers.</p><p>"I think a lot of people were looking at this great asset we had, the Chicago River, and envisioning town homes and condos on along the river," he says. "And so that kind of pushed the necessity to make it pretty clear to a lot of people with ownership along the river … that this was going to be maintained as a manufacturing community."</p><p>City of Chicago planners agree with the alderman's vision for the area — to a certain degree.</p><p>In 2008, the city council amended the Pilsen manufacturing designation to allow more commercial businesses in the industrial buildings around Cermak and the river. The amendment allowed artists and small entertainment venues to set up shop, but it still did not allow those venues to double as residential spaces. Later, one building was zoned for a hotel. The whole area was branded as a Creative Industry District, with the hope of attracting arts-related businesses.</p><p>Peter Strazzabosco, a spokesman for the Department of Housing and Economic Development, however, says that permitting residences in a manufacturing district is a bridge too far. The department is recommending against Solis' ordinance. It doesn’t like that the bill is written for a single ward. And there are concerns about what happens when homes and industry are adjacent to each other. "The uses don't necessarily get along very well," Strazzabosco says. "When residences encroach on manufacturing areas, the residents sometimes complain about sounds, smells, traffic."</p><p>Just to the south of Cermak Road, Ozinga Bros., Inc. runs a busy facility, offloading raw materials from barges on the river for its concrete products and sending them out in red trucks that rumble in and out of the gates. One of the last, larger industrial facilities in the eastern side of the Pilsen manufacturing district, the Ozinga operation is south of two of the buildings Solis is targeting to become work-live.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-September/2011-09-14/Micah Pilsen 2.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 199px;" title="The Ozinga, Bros, Inc. concrete facility is located just south of Cermak Road and just west of the Chicago River. The facility depends on the river to transport its raw materials. (Micah Maidenberg)">Thomas Van Etten, the company's president, is skeptical of the idea, saying it "just doesn't make sense." He worries about complaints people might levy about his trucks. Sometimes work starts at the site at 5 a.m. and doesn’t end until 11 p.m. "I picture a husband and wife across the street from us," he says. "It would be dreadful."</p><p>Lauren Pacheco, co-founder of the Chicago Urban Arts Society, an art gallery over by Cermak and Halsted, is enthusiastic about adding work-live options in Pilsen. She’s not an artist herself, but says she knows a number of people who already live in their studio spaces or are practicing art out of their homes. “Creatives,” she says, need options to practice their craft.</p><p>But any roll-out of the idea would have to be done right, according to Pacheco — you don’t want to create an apartment complex, and the units need to be accessible.</p><p>"If you're going to explore live-work options, you really need to be able to accommodate … those academic types who just graduated from school, so they can continue their work," she says. "But you also have to look at creatives who aren't academically trained, who are seeing affordable space and the opportunity to continue their practice."</p><p>In the neighborhood just north of Cermak and the river, a number of residents interviewed had not heard about the possibility of adding housing in the old structures. Some, like Wally Lockard, a resident of the area since the 1960s, thought it was a good idea. “Why not do something with them,” he says of the buildings, “and put some economy back in the neighborhood?”</p><p>Regardless of whether the council ultimately signs off on Solis' original idea for work-live or another version of it, some arts-centric projects — and other businesses for that matter — are already filling up some of the buildings around Cermak and the river.</p><p>Matthew Johnson, who has run a martial arts studio in 500 W. Cermak since 2007, says he is of two minds when it comes to adding residential to the building. A Chinatown resident, Johnson says he’d even consider taking advantage of the work-live option should it occur.</p><p>But he also likes the building as it exists — a little rough around the edges but affordable at a $1 a square foot. Johnson also talks about a kind of mutual respect among some of the existing tenants in the building, describing the ease with which he was able to get a woodworker and musician occupying a space beneath his to not start band practice until one of his classes ended. That could get harder if there was residential, he says. And he wonders if residential units would drive up building rents.</p><p>“These buildings are perfect for that sort of thing,” Johnson says. “I think that would be a good thing, again, you know, provided it would stay affordable for the people that would be renting. It’s always been my sort of fear that what would happen is that these places would basically go condo, and you had to buy a unit, and the rental aspect, you know, the artists, would be pushed out even further from this area.”</p><p>Another tenant in 500 W. Cermak is the Object Design League. The group, says co-founder Caroline Linder, showcases Chicago designers, operates a wood shop and is launching an online store from a 740 square-foot space in the building.</p><p>She says she wouldn't mind if the structure offered work-live units. But anyone wanting to live in what she calls a 24-hour environment should come prepared.</p><p>"There's going to be loud music, there's going to be machines going, though not that frequently," Linder says. "The boundary between work and residential is gone, so it's kind of messy all over."</p><p><em>Pablo Sanches &amp; Watch TV, "Sunstar", from the album Nicodemus Presents Turntables on the Hudson Vol. 8 (ESL/Wonderwheel)</em></p></p> Wed, 14 Sep 2011 13:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/pilsen-industrial-district-made-room-arts-nowapartments Changing Gears: Decatur, Illinois: The heart of Illinois agribusiness http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-26/changing-gears-decatur-illinois-heart-illinois-agribusiness-89643 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-26/Corn-across-from-ADM.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>DECATUR – Driving south from Chicago, it only takes about 25 miles to hit the corn fields. For the next 150 miles to Decatur, it’s a sea of yellow corn tassels, a head tall.</p><p>At night, the central Illinois darkness is broken only by the lights of the corn and soy processing facilities at <a href="http://www.adm.com/" target="_blank">Archer Daniels Midland Company</a>.</p><p>At dawn, the truck and rail traffic starts rolling into the yards of ADM, one of the largest food processing companies in the world.</p><p>Its <a href="http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=ADM" target="_blank">global sales</a> were $62 billion last year. Its headquarters are in Decatur, as well as some of its largest processing facilities.</p><p>Its operations are so large that to tour all their plants, I had to get in a car.</p><p>ADM doesn’t grow crops, like those surrounding its operations in Decatur. It buys and sells crops – wheat, corn, soy and cocoa, from all over the world. Some of those crops are brought to processing plants, where they’re turned into products like corn syrup, vegetable oil, animal feed, or ethanol.</p><p>“This is the center of agriculture, and I joke a little, it’s the center because we’re here,” said Mike Baroni, a vice-president with ADM. “But if you look around, when you drove from Chicago you saw some of the most fertile land in the world, and corn and soybeans as far as the eye can see.</p><p>The company started its first plant in Decatur in 1939. Thirty years later, it moved its headquarters to Decatur, too.</p><p>Baroni said the company thinks of Decatur as its home: “We’ve been here a long time,” he said, adding that as far as he knows, the company has no plans to leave Decatur.</p><p>ADM has almost 4,500 workers in Decatur. While many of them work in the processing plant, the company also runs one of the largest private trading floors in the country and does a lot of scientific research.</p><p>That varied workforce should dispel any misconceptions people have about Decatur, the City Manager Ryan McGrady told me.</p><p>“We have a rich history of industry, so I think a lot of folks think we’re a dusty, old, blue collar city,” McGrady said. “It’s quite the contrary.”</p><p>When you talk about employers in Decatur, <a href="http://www.decaturedc.com/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=3&amp;Itemid=24" target="_blank">three names loom large</a>:&nbsp;ADM, <a href="http://www.cat.com/" target="_blank">Caterpillar</a> and <a href="http://www.tateandlyle.com/" target="_blank">Tate &amp; Lyle</a>, the British food giant that bought Decatur’s homegrown Staley Company in 1988. (Interesting side note: today’s Chicago Bears were started as the Decatur Staleys in 1919, then moved to Chicago as the Chicago Staleys in 1920, where the <a href="http://www.chicagobears.com/tradition/HistorybyDecades.asp" target="_blank">NFL franchise</a> was officially started.)</p><p>But Tate &amp; Lyle is moving <a href="http://www.herald-review.com/news/local/article_1e772654-0849-544a-a0cf-8033414cba53.html" target="_blank">some research operations</a> to the Chicago area.</p><p>And Caterpillar’s employment has been more cyclical. Over the past few years, it has laid off, and since rehired, hundreds of Decatur workers.</p><p>ADM’s been steady. Last fall, it bought a building in downtown Decatur to consolidate 300 IT, audit and accounting workers.</p><p>McGrady says that was a big deal.</p><p>“First of all, to have all that many more people in your central business district is going to be great for commerce,” he said. “But bigger than that was a sign of ADM’s commitment to Decatur by buying this building, especially in this age of downsizing.”</p><p>The unemployment rate in Decatur has dropped below 9 percent – better than Chicago’s jobless rate. McGrady says Decatur sales tax revenues are up 10 to 15 percent over the past year. That’s a faster rate of growth than Illinois as a whole.</p><p>With job prospects good in Decatur, welding classes are full at <a href="http://www.richland.edu/" target="_blank">Richland Community College</a> – even at midnight.</p><p>“Everybody seems to be in more of a hiring mode,” said Douglas Brauer, a vice-president with the college.</p><p>For spring semester the school started offering welding classes at midnight, to accommodate students who were working full-time. The class was full, so they offered it again this summer.</p><p>Richland Community College is literally in ADM’s backyard. When it was built, ADM built a pipeline to the campus to send steam. That has powered the college’s heating and cooling systems for the past 20 years.</p><p>I stepped outside with Andy Perry, who also works at Richland. He explained that we were standing directly north of one of the production facilities for Archer Daniels Midland, as well as northeast of Tate &amp; Lyle.</p><p>“So on a given day, when some of those production facilities are giving off you steam and other elements,&nbsp; we can smell the products from here,” he said.</p><p>But Perry says nobody in Decatur minds.</p><p>“Really,” he said, “it’s the smell of money.”</p><p>The world’s population is expected to reach 7 to 10 billion people by 2050. That means the demand for agricultural products – everything ADM produces – is supposed to double. That can only mean good things for Decatur, which likes to call itself the heart of agribusiness.</p></p> Tue, 26 Jul 2011 14:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-26/changing-gears-decatur-illinois-heart-illinois-agribusiness-89643 Not a cruise ship http://www.wbez.org/content/not-cruise-ship <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-11/88967/5.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The gravel in your driveway, the steel in your car, and the coal that produced electricity for your home may well have spent time on a Great Lakes freighter on its way to you. Each year, over 100 million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone and other products travel through the Great Lakes navigation system on ore ships.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li></ul></div></div><p>Multimedia producer Allison Swaim takes us on board one of these ships: the MV Calumet.&nbsp; At 630 feet, it's longer than two football fields and holds close to 20,000 tons of cargo. You'd need almost 1,000 semi-trucks to carry the same load. Seventeen crew members live and work on the ship for a month at a time. It's a working boat, and the work never stops.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/26256476?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=ff0000" width="601" frameborder="0" height="338"></iframe></p><p>This piece was produced for Front and Center, our series covering the Great Lakes region.Hear more from the Calumet at <a href="frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big Ship Diary</a> or get a glimpse behind the scenes at <a href="http://transom.org/?p=19129">Transom.</a></p></p> Mon, 11 Jul 2011 15:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/not-cruise-ship Caterpillar to acquire Chinese company for $8.8 billion http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-acquire-chinese-company-88-billion-88886 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-08/Caterpillar_AP_Doug C. Bizac.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Manufacturing giant Caterpillar has received approval to acquire a Chinese mining equipment maker in an $8.8 billion deal.</p><p>The Peoria-based company said Friday that it had cleared the final major regulatory hurdle necessary to close the deal: approval from the Chinese government. The Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China gave its formal approval of the buyout, which is expected to close shortly. Caterpillar secured permission for the deal from the U.S. Department of Justice in May.</p><p>Caterpillar will acquire mining equipment company Bucyrus International, which makes surface mining equipment used to unearth coal, copper, iron ore, oil sands and other minerals. Bucyrus is headquartered in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin.</p><p>Caterpillar is the world's largest construction and mining equipment maker. Its stock fell $2.43, or 2.2 percent, to $109.20 in morning trading, while shares of Bucyrus gained 12 cents to $91.97.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 16:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/caterpillar-acquire-chinese-company-88-billion-88886 Coastal towns hope Great Lakes history is a beacon for tourists http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/coastal-towns-hope-great-lakes-history-beacon-tourists-88856 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-08/88856/HERITAGE-photo Manistee Light 7-7-11-PAYETTE.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>For more than a half-century tourism has been big business around the Great Lakes. For many small towns in the north, the entire economy can depend on visitors coming for two months out of the year. Few places have tried to attract tourists by showing them the history of the lakes, a history that is not widely known. Some think it could be a huge draw, especially as the baby boomers move into retirement.</p><p>One town in the region that does use maritime history to market itself is Manistee, Michigan, which calls itself the Victorian Port City. In 1882, a fire in Manistee claimed part of one block downtown. Seven buildings in a row went up soon after. They’ve all been restored in the original Victorian style.“You get an exact image here of what you would have seen in 1890,” said Steve Harold, a historian with the Manistee County Historical Museum.</p><p>Promoting history is unusual in northern Michigan. Most coastal towns around here promote the blue water of Lake Michigan and the beaches and boats that go with it. Manistee has a nice beach too, but the city has also put its heritage to good use. In early December every year Manistee hosts the Victorian Sleighbell Parade, so it’s one of the few communities in the north to have a major festival in the winter. The port is also a regular stop for cruise ships on the Great Lakes. Steve Harold says the historic character of the downtown adds flavor to what most tourists like to do, shop.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/big-ship-diary-88726">Big ship diary: nine days on a freighter </a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579"><strong>Dredging: Great Lakes shipping emergency</strong></a></li></ul><p><strong>Listen to maritime</strong> <strong>songs from Lee Murdock</strong><br> Hooray for a Race Down the Lakes<br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483550-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/88856/Horray.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><br> Perry's Victory on Lake Erie<br> <audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483550-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/88856/Perry's.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><br> &nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Travelers spent more than 17 billion dollars in Michigan last year, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. National surveys show visitors increasingly want some kind of cultural experience that is unique to the places they travel. &nbsp;That’s why some people think the maritime history of the Great Lakes should be promoted more than it is.</p><p>But that history has long been neglected. Lee Murdock is a folk singer who lives west of Chicago. He’s been singing ballads and sailor songs about the lakes for 25 years. Murdock says it makes sense that people in the 20<sup>th</sup> century forgot about the lakes since they were using them like a sewer.</p><p>“And the lakes got dirtier and dirtier and dirtier,” said Murdock. “That’s when cities like Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit… and Buffalo, they kind of turned their back on the Great Lakes.”</p><p>Murdock says when the Cuyahoga River caught on fire it not only reminded people that the lakes were dirty, but that they were there. He thinks interest in maritime history has followed the environmental issues and he expects baby boomers to become more interested in the past as they grow older.</p><p>Bill Anderson agrees, and sees an opportunity. “We’ve never had an age cohort in the history of the United States with so much education and so much disposable income,” said the historian from Ludington Michigan.</p><p>Anderson was the head of Michigan’s now defunct Department of History, Arts and Libraries. These days he’s helping his hometown cater to those boomers. Ludington is one of those Lake Michigan towns that has mainly relied on the beach to attract visitors. &nbsp;But now city leaders are looking more closely at what else they have.</p><p>“One of the areas of strength for us is that we’ve always been a maritime community,” says Anderson.</p><p>The last coal-fired car ferry still operating in the Great Lakes has its home in Ludington.&nbsp; Other attractions here include a vintage baseball team, The Ludington Mariners, and a waterfront sculpture park featuring life-size bronze pieces that evoke the past. Anderson is involved in a study to inventory all the assets and show the business community that history and other cultural attractions are worth promoting.</p><p>Drawing in visitors is a challenge, though, even for the best maritime museums and exhibits. Chris Gilchrist, the executive director of the Great Lakes Historical Society in Vermillion, Ohio, says most historic attractions around the Great Lakes are not destinations.</p><p>“Most of your visitors come to the community for some other reason and say, ‘Oh, they’ve got a museum.’”</p><p>Maritime exhibits can be expensive. Ships and lighthouses especially are very expensive to restore and maintain. Government and foundation grants that typically help with such projects are harder to come by these days. Manistee just took ownership of its lighthouse and plans to refurbish it. Local historian Steve Harold figures it will cost $150,000 just for a proper coat of paint on the outside. He’s not worried about raising the money though because the light is Manistee’s icon.</p><p>“It’s on city stationary,” says Harold. “It’s on everything that gets published.”</p><p>Once it’s open, Manistee will have a lighthouse and two historic ships for visitors, in addition to the local museum. That will put the city in a good position if there is a renaissance Great Lakes maritime history and the tourism business favors towns that can satisfy travelers curious about the old days on the inland seas.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 10:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-08/coastal-towns-hope-great-lakes-history-beacon-tourists-88856 Indiana lawmaker questions wisdom of closing waterways to stop Asian carp http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmaker-questions-wisdom-closing-waterways-stop-asian-carp-88834 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-07/Asian Carp_Flickr_Kate Gardiner.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As the region struggles to prevent Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan, a leading candidate for Indiana governor has joined calls for a review of how closing Chicago-area waterways would impact industry in Northwest Indiana.</p><p>Indiana U.S. Rep. Mike Pence is seeking the 2012 Republican nomination for governor. He says closing the Chicago-area shipping canal would endanger thousands of jobs in Northwest Indiana and calls Asian carp a "serious but manageable threat to the Great Lakes region."</p><p>Rep. Pence and Democratic Indiana U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky filed a bill Wednesday that would mandate an impact study by the Army Corps of Engineers.</p><p>The <em>Times</em> of Munster reports that BP, ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel are among area industries that use the canal system that links Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 15:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/indiana-lawmaker-questions-wisdom-closing-waterways-stop-asian-carp-88834