WBEZ | GM http://www.wbez.org/tags/gm Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en State senate bill mandates labels on genetically engineered food http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GM Foods 130807 AY_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed Illinois senate bill aims to label all genetically engineered food. A hearing on the bill takes place this Wednesday in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.</p><p>Emily Carroll of the advocacy group Food and Water Watch supports the bill..</p><p>&ldquo;This is not a ban, it&rsquo;s not about economics, it&rsquo;s not about science, this is just about the consumer&rsquo;s right to know,&rdquo; Carroll said. &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t track the effects of genetically engineered food because right now they aren&rsquo;t labelled. This is a huge public health experiment but without the information for people to actually know what they&rsquo;re eating.&rdquo;</p><p>The legislation won&rsquo;t address the merits or drawbacks of genetic engineering, says the sponsor of the bill, Senator David Koehler (D-Peoria). He says he&rsquo;ll leave that question to experts and scientists.</p><p>The last public hearing on the labelling bill is scheduled for September 17th in Chicago. Similar legislation earlier this summer passed in Maine and Connecticut, but failed in California last fall. More than 10 other states are considering labeling measures. In polls like these two, Americans support labelling genetically engineered food.</p><p>Back when the California bill was being debated, the American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying the science is clear -- &ldquo;crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.&rdquo; AAAS says the Food and Drug Administration requires special labelling on food only if there is a special health or environmental risk without that information. It concludes that in this case, &ldquo;legally mandated labels will only mislead and falsely alarm consumers.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not that simple, says Jennifer Kuzma, an associate professor of science and technology policy at the University of Minnesota. Last fall, she reviewed the scientific literature on genetically engineered food.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really say that all genetically engineered foods are safe or unsafe,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>For example, scientists could take a scorpion toxin and put it into a corn plant, or an allergen from shrimp or seafood and put it into corn. Kuzma says that&rsquo;s probably not very safe. On the other hand, she points out plants have naturally occurring toxins to defend themselves against insects. For example, if farmers used conventional methods to breed potatoes that have more of their natural toxins, than those potatoes might not be safe for humans to eat. She concludes that both ways are capable of producing unsafe crops.</p><p>Kuzma says there are arguments for and against labelling, but points out it comes down to how much people trust the food industry.</p><p>&ldquo;Often these decisions about these crops are made behind closed doors, and all of a sudden, people are presented with &lsquo;oh, it&rsquo;s on the market and and I&rsquo;m eating it? Really?&rsquo; I think that can anger people.&rdquo;</p><p>She stresses safety is not just a scientific issue, but a social construction.</p><p>&ldquo;I can say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;ve tested this, and it showed no health effects over the two-year life of a rat, that doesn&rsquo;t necessarily mean that it&rsquo;s safe for humans to eat over a lifetime,&rdquo; Kuzma said. &ldquo;I think we need to decide what is safe as a society, what will we accept in terms of uncertainties that we&rsquo;re willing to deal with in order to reap the benefits of some of these crops.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him @Alan_Yu039.</em></p></p> Tue, 06 Aug 2013 17:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/state-senate-bill-mandates-labels-genetically-engineered-food-108310 Navistar asks for buyouts, GM gets sued and Olympic spirit prompts athletic gear purchases http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/navistar-asks-buyouts-gm-gets-sued-and-olympic-spirit-prompts-athletic-gear <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Factory-NavistarSpringfield.jpg" style="height: 371px; width: 620px; " title="The Navistar factory in Springfield, IL. (WBEZ/Niala Boodhoo)" /></div><p><a href="http://www.navistar.com">Navistar</a>, a local company that has received millions of dollars in state incentives to retain jobs, has reached out to 6,300 employees to see if they would like to take voluntary buyouts, the company said Monday. <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/02/us-navistar-sec-idUSBRE8711FY20120802">Last week</a>, the company pulled its prior earnings forecast, announced a new Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into its accounting and disclosure practices and said it needs to take action to return to profitability.</p><p>Navistar - formerly International Harvester - has had <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-navistar-shares-rise-as-epa-review-moves-forward-20120806,0,5236453.story">trouble</a> with its engine technology complying with federal emissions regulations. The company said it will provide a full-year forecast when it provides its third quarter results next month.</p><p>&quot;The company&rsquo;s results for the first half of 2012 are not where they need to be,&quot; Navistar spokeswoman Karen Denning said in an email.&nbsp;&quot;The company must return to profitability and is taking action to control spending across the company.&quot;</p><p>She added that cost reductions could be achieved in &quot;many ways&quot; and that layoffs were the &quot;last option&quot;.</p><p>Navistar said about 3,400 of its employees eligible for the buyouts are in Chicago. &nbsp;</p><p>In other news, General Motors says a $3 billion lawsuit that was filed against the auto maker in&nbsp;United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan is &quot;baseless&quot;. The Dutch sports car maker Spyker is suing GM because of its failed subsidiary Saab, say it <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/07/business/global/spyker-sues-gm-over-failed-saab-deal.html">deliberately bankrupted the company</a> and prevented a deal with a Chinese investor. Spyker bought Saab from General Motors in 2010 for $74 million. Now <a href="http://www.spykercars.nl/?pag=50&amp;jaar=&amp;nid=692">it&#39;s saying</a> GM deliberately blocked a deal that would have saved Saab because <a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2012/08/06/spyker-sues-gm-over-saab-bankruptcy/">it didn&#39;t want that technology in China</a>.</p><p>And finally: does watching Olympic athletes make you want to run out and buy athletic gear? NPD Group, a big consumer research company, thinks it will. <a href="http://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/pressreleases/pr_120806">Its research</a> shows that during big sporting events - like the NBA All Star game - basketball footwear sales increase. Let&#39;s see how Team USA does and if it helps even more basketball shoe sales. Back to school should help, too.</p></p> Tue, 07 Aug 2012 08:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-08/navistar-asks-buyouts-gm-gets-sued-and-olympic-spirit-prompts-athletic-gear Rustbelt city wants immigrants, skilled or not http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/3.JPG" style="width: 605px; height: 404px;" title="Deserted houses like this one mar Dayton’s East End. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p style="text-align: left;">Lifelong Dayton resident Monica Schultz, 36, brings me to the East End block where she grew up. “This whole street was full of families,” she says. “Kids were running around playing, all within my age range.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Now no kids are in sight.</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz points to a half dozen abandoned houses, including one right next door to her family’s place. She says the city has boarded it up a few times but stray cats keep finding their way in.</p><p style="text-align: left;">“We had a flea infestation problem,” she tells me. “People walking by could see the fleas or feel the fleas or get the fleas. All of the yards in the neighborhood here were becoming infested with fleas.”</p><p style="text-align: left;">Schultz says the city can’t keep up with houses like this. “It’s one of many that need to be bulldozed,” she says. “But it’s on a list.”</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-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted rgb(170, 33, 29); 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-position: 0pt 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-06/FC-logo-sm_0.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 38px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-28/great-lakes-workers-faring-better-canadian-side-border-94389">Workers faring better in Canada</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/using-sound-find-leaks-and-save-dollars-94303">Using sound to find leaks and save dollars</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind-93875">Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind</a></strong></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>Dayton’s population has been shrinking since the 1960s. Most of the area’s factory jobs are long gone. To save the city, Schultz has embraced a new idea: Help immigrants and refugees lay roots in Dayton.</p><p>Schultz, who owns a small marketing firm, helped lead community meetings that generated a 72-point plan called “Welcome Dayton.” City commissioners approved the plan this fall. The points range from better immigrant access to social services, to more translations of court materials, to grants for immigrants to open shops in a dilapidated commercial corridor, to a soccer event that supporters envision as a local World Cup tournament.</p><p>Schultz tells me the plan could revive a Dayton entrepreneurial spirit that sparked inventions ranging from the cash register to the airplane. “You would have small businesses,” she says. “You would have coffee shops and you would have bakeries and you would have specialty grocery stores.”</p><p>Dayton is among several rustbelt cities suffering from population loss and brain drain. To create businesses and jobs, some communities are trying to attract immigrants, especially highly educated ones. Dayton stands out for the attention its plan pays to immigrants without wealth or skills.</p><p>The plan even addresses people without permission to be in the country. One provision calls for police officers to quit asking suspects about their immigration status unless the crime was “serious.” Another point could lead to a city identification card that would help residents do everything from open a bank account to buy a cell phone.</p><p>City Manager Tim Riordan, Dayton’s chief executive, says welcoming all types of immigrants will make the area more cosmopolitan. “I think there would be a vibrancy,” he says. “We’d start to have some international investment of companies deciding they ought to locate here.”</p><p>Foreign-born residents so far amount to 3 percent of the city’s 142,000 residents. For a mid-sized U.S. city these days, that’s not many.</p><p>But Dayton’s immigrants and refugees are increasing their numbers and, Riordan says, they’re already making a difference. He points to a neighborhood north of downtown where some Ahiska Turks have settled. “They were refugees in Russia," he says. "Here they’ve bought houses. They’ve fixed them up. And, sometimes when I talk to hardware store owners, people will come in and they’ll buy a window at a time. ‘I’ve got enough money to put in another window.’ It’s slow-but-sure change.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/2.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 280px;" title="A Dayton pizza parlor run by Ahiska Turks adds life to a decaying neighborhood. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)"></p><p>Not everyone in Dayton is on board with the plan.</p><p>In a corner tavern on the East End, a 62-year-old bartender serves the only customer what she calls his last can of beer for the night. It’s a Friday, just 11 p.m., but she’s closing. “The owner can’t pay me to stay any longer,” she tells me, speaking on condition I don’t name her or the bar.</p><p>The bartender says the tavern could be on its last legs and tells me what happened to three other East End bars where she worked. They all shut down. She says that’s because many of the neighborhood’s Appalachian families, who arrived for manufacturing jobs after World War II, have moved away.</p><p>“NCR closed down, Dayton Tire and Rubber closed down, GM and Delphi and Frigidaire,” she says, pausing only when her customer slams down the beer and bellows something about a “last paycheck.”</p><p>The bartender tells me she doesn’t like how Riordan and other Dayton officials are handling the exodus of families who’ve been paying local taxes for generations. “Why won’t he try to keep those kinds of people here?” she asks. “He wants to welcome the immigrants to come in here. What can&nbsp;they&nbsp;do? Where are they going to get the money to fix up anything? What jobs are they going to get to maintain what they fix up here? There are no jobs here. None.”</p><p>It’s not just locals like the bartender who have doubts about “Welcome Dayton.”</p><p>Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the <em>per capita</em> GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”</p><p>Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.</p><p>But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more: “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second, they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.” Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources.</p><p>The willingness of many immigrants to perform manual labor for low pay, Peri adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. He points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”</p><p>Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-December/2011-12-01/4.JPG" style="margin: 4px 18px 2px 1px; float: left; width: 275px; height: 219px;" title="A Dayton church translates sermons to Spanish through headphones. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)">Whether a city’s immigrant-integration plan can actually attract many people is another question. About an hour east of Dayton, the city of Columbus launched an immigrant-friendly initiative in 2002 and saw its foreign-born population grow fast. But that city’s economy is much more robust than Dayton’s. It had already been attracting immigrants for years.</p><p>The results of “Welcome Dayton” could depend on how it works for city residents like a 25-year-old mother whom I’ll call Ana López. (She&nbsp;doesn’t have papers to be in the country so I agreed not to use her real name.) López says she came from the Mexican state of Puebla as a teenager at the urging of a friend who had arrived in Dayton earlier.</p><p>López says her first job was in a restaurant with a big buffet. “We didn’t come to take work away from anyone,” she tells me in Spanish. “Rather, there are jobs nobody else wants.”</p><p>Now López and her husband have three kids, all U.S. citizens. The family has managed to buy a house. And it’s found a congregation, College Hill Community Church, that provides simultaneous Spanish interpretation through headphones.</p><p>But Dayton hasn’t always been hospitable. López says police officers caught her brother-in-law driving without a license and turned him over to federal officials, who deported him.</p><p>Looking at the “Welcome Dayton” plan, López says providing the ID cards and removing the police from immigration enforcement could make a difference for families like hers. “These families would tell their friends and relatives to move to Dayton,” she says.</p><p>That’s exactly what city leaders want to hear.</p></p> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 11:27:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/rustbelt-city-wants-immigrants-skilled-or-not-0 Empty Places: New life for historic GM complex http://www.wbez.org/content/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM flint 3.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>FLINT — There may be no better example of how the industrial Midwest is changing than the site of the old Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Mich.&nbsp; It’s one of the factories sit-down strikers occupied in the 1930s.&nbsp;The plant made tanks during World War II.&nbsp;It was later closed, gutted and reborn as a GM design center.&nbsp;But GM abandoned the site after bankruptcy and the new occupants don’t make cars.&nbsp;They sell very expensive prescription drugs.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM Flint 1.jpg" style="width: 200px; height: 300px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Workers at Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy prepare custom prescriptions. (Kate Davidson)">There’s one group of experts who can always tell you the history and significance of an old factory.&nbsp;They’re the guys at the bar across the street.</p><p>Dan Wright is still a regular at The Caboose Lounge. He worked at Fisher Body No. 1 briefly in the 1970s.</p><p>“The bars were always full and restaurants were always full and stores were always full,” he says.&nbsp;“And all these stores, bars and restaurants you go to now, there’s nobody there.&nbsp;And it’s sad that Flint died the way it did.”</p><p>Now Michigan’s governor says there’s a <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/11/qa_with_gov_rick_snyder_on_fli.html" title="Gov Q and A">financial emergency in Flint</a>, the once prosperous birthplace of GM.&nbsp;In fact, seven thousand people worked at Fisher Body No. 1 when workers sat down in late 1936, demanding recognition for the United Auto Workers.</p><p>Strikers at Fisher Plant No. 1 wanted recognition for the nascent UAW.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM Flint 2.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 234px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="Strikers at Fisher Plant No. 1 wanted recognition for the nascent UAW. (Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University)">“We’re actually standing in the area, very close right now, where the 1937 sit down strike was,” says Phil Hagerman, president and CEO of <a href="http://diplomatpharmacy.com/" title="Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy">Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy</a>.</p><p>Diplomat moved in earlier this year.&nbsp;The company specializes in drugs that target complex medical conditions like cancer, hemophilia, MS and HIV/AIDS. Many produce side effects, so nurses here call patients to make sure they stick to their treatment plans.</p><p>The old GM complex is now home to Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy's headquarters.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM flint 3.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 226px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Crowds gather in support of the sit-down strikers at Fisher Body Plant No. 1. (Courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library/Wayne State University)">“Specialty pharmacy is the fastest growing component in the pharmacy industry,” says Hagerman.&nbsp;“Traditional pharmacy is growing at two to five percent a year.&nbsp;Specialty pharmacy is growing at 15 to 25 percent a year.”</p><p>Diplomat hired more than two hundred people this year.&nbsp;Phil Hagerman says the company is on track to top a billion dollars in sales next year.</p><p>“We’re distributing as many as two thousand or more prescriptions a day around the country, shipping to every state every day from this building,” he says.</p><p>The building highlights the transformation of the industrial Midwest.&nbsp;GM shuttered the sprawling Fisher Body No. 1 plant in the 80s and much of it was demolished.&nbsp;The footprint of the complex shrank dramatically.&nbsp; But the steel and concrete of this building’s main structure were retrofitted into an engineering and design center for GM, housed in the Great Lakes Technology Center.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM Flint 4.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 199px; float: left; margin: 5px;" title="The old GM complex is now home to Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy's headquarters. (Kate Davidson)">Diplomat later bought about half the space and it’s still enormous: 550,000 square feet.&nbsp;That’s more than one thousand square feet for each of the 450 employees here.&nbsp;The other half of the complex is now a biomedical campus, run by <a href="http://www.iinn.com/" title="IINN">the company IINN</a>.</p><p>Last year Diplomat filled more than 600,000 prescriptions</p><p>“How often do normal business rules allow a company to have a ten year growth footprint?” Diplomat’s Phil Hagerman asks.&nbsp;“It just doesn’t happen. ‘Cause the cost of the building is so great.&nbsp;But because we acquired this from an auction process at a very, very low cost, we have a building that we know we can grow into for about ten years.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-30/GM Flint 5.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 200px; float: right; margin: 5px;" title="Last year Diplomat filled more than 600,000 prescriptions. (Courtesy of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy)">So, that’s one advantage of acquiring property discarded by industrial giants. Advantage #2: 1700 cubicles left behind.&nbsp;Advantage #3: Random industrial signs that read: ‘Caution: Pedestrian traffic. Sound horn’.&nbsp;And advantage #4: The government loves you, especially if you’re a high-tech or medical company.&nbsp; In fact, Diplomat won’t pay property taxes here for <a href="http://www.cityofflint.com/clerk/agendas/2010/GOVAgenda090810.pdf" title="Renaissance zone">almost 15 years</a>, and it got a <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/michigans-mega-tax-credits-clinch-major-expansion-for-flint-based-diplomat-specialty-pharmacy-91609569.html" title="MEGA TAX">62 million dollar tax break</a> from the state.&nbsp;In return, CEO Phil Hagerman says he’ll hire four thousand people in the next two decades.</p><p>But thousands of people used to stream across the street to local businesses every week. At The Caboose Lounge, waitress Janet Anderson says the new workers at Diplomat don’t come in yet, but she’s hopeful.</p><p>“I do good breakfasts,” she says.&nbsp;“Real good breakfasts. You can ask anybody in here.”</p><p>And these days, hope itself might be a welcome sign of change in Flint.</p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 15:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex Empty Places: New life for historic GM complex in Flint http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-30/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex-flint-94446 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-November/2011-11-30/distribution-center.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>FLINT — There may be no better example of how the industrial Midwest is changing than the site of the old Fisher Body Plant No. 1 in Flint, Michigan.&nbsp; It’s one of the factories sit-down strikers occupied in the 1930s.&nbsp; The plant made tanks during World War II.&nbsp; It was later closed, gutted and reborn as a GM design center.&nbsp; But GM abandoned the site after bankruptcy and the new occupants don’t make cars.&nbsp; They sell very expensive prescription drugs.</p><p>There’s one group of experts who can always tell you the history and significance of an old factory.&nbsp; They’re the guys at the bar across the street.</p><p>Dan Wright is still a regular at The Caboose Lounge.&nbsp; He worked at Fisher Body No. 1 briefly in the 1970s.</p><p>“The bars were always full and restaurants were always full and stores were always full,” he says.&nbsp; “And all these stores, bars and restaurants you go to now, there’s nobody there.&nbsp; And it’s sad that Flint died the way it did.”</p><p>Now Michigan’s governor says there’s a financial emergency in Flint, the once prosperous birthplace of GM.&nbsp; In fact, seven thousand people worked at Fisher Body No. 1 when workers sat down in late 1936, demanding recognition for the United Auto Workers.</p><p>“We’re actually standing in the area, very close right now, where the 1937 sit down strike was,” says Phil Hagerman, president and CEO of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy.</p><p>Diplomat moved in earlier this year.&nbsp; The company specializes in drugs that target complex medical conditions like cancer, hemophilia, MS and HIV/AIDS.&nbsp; Many produce side effects, so nurses here call patients to make sure they stick to their treatment plans.</p><p>“Specialty pharmacy is the fastest growing component in the pharmacy industry,” says Hagerman.&nbsp; “Traditional pharmacy is growing at two to five percent a year.&nbsp; Specialty pharmacy is growing at 15 to 25 percent a year.”</p><p>Diplomat hired more than two hundred people this year.&nbsp; Phil Hagerman says the company is on track to top a billion dollars in sales next year.</p><p>“We’re distributing as many as two thousand or more prescriptions a day around the country, shipping to every state every day from this building,” he says.</p><p>The building highlights the transformation of the industrial Midwest.&nbsp; GM shuttered the sprawling Fisher Body No. 1 plant in the 80s and much of it was demolished.&nbsp; The footprint of the complex shrank dramatically.&nbsp; But the steel and concrete of this building’s main structure were retrofitted into an engineering and design center for GM, housed in the Great Lakes Technology Center.</p><p>Diplomat later bought about half the space and it’s still enormous: 550,000 square feet.&nbsp; That’s more than one thousand square feet for each of the 450 employees here.&nbsp; The other half of the complex is now a biomedical campus, run by the company IINN.</p><p>“How often do normal business rules allow a company to have a ten year growth footprint?” Diplomat’s Phil Hagerman asks.&nbsp; “It just doesn’t happen. ‘Cause the cost of the building is so great.&nbsp; But because we acquired this from an auction process at a very, very low cost, we have a building that we know we can grow into for about ten years.”</p><p>So, that’s one advantage of acquiring property discarded by industrial giants.&nbsp; Advantage #2: 1700 cubicles left behind.&nbsp; Advantage #3: Random industrial signs that read: ‘Caution: Pedestrian traffic. Sound horn’.&nbsp; And advantage #4: The government loves you, especially if you’re a high-tech or medical company.&nbsp; In fact, Diplomat won’t pay property taxes here for almost 15 years, and it got a 62 million dollar tax break from the state.&nbsp; In return, CEO Phil Hagerman says he’ll hire four thousand people in the next two decades.</p><p>But thousands of people used to stream across the street to local businesses every week. At The Caboose Lounge, waitress Janet Anderson says the new workers at Diplomat don’t come in yet, but she’s hopeful.</p><p>“I do good breakfasts,” she says.&nbsp; “Real good breakfasts you can ask anybody in here.”</p><p>And these days, hope itself might be a welcome sign of change in Flint.</p><p><strong><a href="http://www.changinggears.info/" target="_blank"><em>Changing Gears</em></a> is a public media collaboration between <a href="http://www.michiganradio.org/" target="_blank">Michigan Radio</a>, WBEZ and <a href="http://www.ideastream.org/" target="_blank">Ideastream in Cleveland</a>. Support for <em>Changing Gears</em> comes from the <a href="http://www.cpb.org/" target="_blank">Corporation for Public Broadcasting</a>.</strong></p><p><em>Music Button: Music Button: Four Tet, "Unspoken", from the album Rounds, (Domino)</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Nov 2011 14:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-11-30/empty-places-new-life-historic-gm-complex-flint-94446 Wages Up Or Down? http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/02/wages-up-or-down/7255 <p>Yesterday I <a href="http://wbezhardworking.wordpress.com/2009/02/25/wages-riseas-jobs-are-cut/">posted</a> a story from the New Yorker about rising wages during economic recessions--there have been a couple of really thoughtful comments I wanted to point out. <em>Are those of you with jobs making more or less than you were a year ago?</em> <strong>steve February 25, 2009 at 2:17 pm</strong> One thing to point out is that while average wages may be increasing, that doesn't necessarily mean that any one individual's salary is going up. If a company cuts 1000 of its entry level workers, the average wage will probably go up, because it will be dominated more by the higher paid, more senior workers that are left. When GM lays off all of it's manufacturing workers, and only has the CEO and executives left, you can bet that GM's average wage will be higher. It's certainly possible for layoffs to have the opposite effect as well: a company trying to cut costs by getting rid of highly paid, senior managers. I don't know which one would be more common. All I'm saying is, if I hear that the average wage is going up right now, I'm still not going to conclude that anyone is getting a raise, at least based on what I've seen. <strong>reidmccamish February 25, 2009 at 3:17 pm</strong> I'm with Steve on this one, I think a lot of what we're seeing is that the lower wage jobs are the ones being cut the most. Even if high and low wage jobs were being cut proportionally (say, 10% of low wage jobs lost, and 10% of high wage jobs lost as a simple example), there are a lot more low wage jobs to begin with, thus average wage would go up in this scenario. To really see what's going on, you'd need year-to-year data for the surviving jobs, which would be harder to obtain. My intuition is that you'd see slower wage growth within surviving jobs during a recession, despite the average wage stats going up for the above reason. <strong>Stephanie February 25, 2009 at 8:16 pm</strong> My company recently laid off a number of people to contain costs, and at the same time cut the wages of the remaining employees by 2%. If and when the time comes to hire people to replace those laid off, they will probably hire younger, cheaper laborers. The New Yorker article talks about rising productivity. But productivity has been rising for decades, with no comparable rise in worker wages for the the same period of time. If the minimum wage over the past 30 years had kept up with company profits, GDP and the other economic measures, the minimum wage would be about $19/hour.</p> Thu, 26 Feb 2009 17:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/ahill/2009/02/wages-up-or-down/7255