WBEZ | manufacturing http://www.wbez.org/tags/manufacturing Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en So, what’s (still) made in the Chicago area? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-what%E2%80%99s-still-made-chicago-area-107281 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CC%20Topper.jpg" title="(WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /></p><p>Dozens of you have started our Curious City excursions with <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city">great questions</a>. Some of those questions were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/neighborhood-divisions-laid-bare-span-block-106299">subtle</a>. Others were, um, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/curious-city-secrets-lincoln-park-zoos-poo-100260">less so</a>. But few of these questions had an answer turn so much on one word.</p><p>Jessica Chronister of Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood asked, &ldquo;What&rsquo;s still being manufactured in Chicago in terms of factory-made items?&rdquo;</p><p>We didn&rsquo;t notice how one word &mdash; &ldquo;<em>still</em>&rdquo; &mdash; could be taken, at least not until it popped up during an interview.</p><p>&ldquo;Well, it&rsquo;s interesting how you framed the question &lsquo;What&rsquo;s <em>still</em> being manufactured in the Chicago region,&rsquo; &rdquo;&nbsp;said Garett Ballard-Rosa, a policy analyst at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. &ldquo;Manufacturing&rsquo;s never left the Chicago region.&rdquo;</p><p>Many of us may have assumed that Chicago&rsquo;s evolved out of the industrial age. But then, there&rsquo;s counterevidence: The South Side&rsquo;s Ford plant makes cars; mills in Gary, Indiana, churn out steel; and one factory makes a Chicago neighborhood <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/blommer-where-%E2%80%98-bridges-smell-chocolate%E2%80%99-101620">smell like chocolate brownies</a>.</p><p>But these are operations you notice on your own, since they overwhelm your eyes or one of your other senses. (Again, just try forgetting a neighborhood that smells like brownies!)</p><p>There is, though, another side to the region&rsquo;s manufacturing profile. It&rsquo;s just not so easy to spot.</p><p>&ldquo;Our manufacturing segment is composed of a lot of small and medium size manufacturers,&rdquo; Ballard-Rosa said.</p><p>Ballard-Rosa explained how we stack up; Chicago, he said, is the second-largest manufacturing center in the nation, behind Los Angeles. And, unlike cities such as Detroit and Seattle &mdash; where one specific industry makes up more than half of the manufacturing scene &mdash; our manufacturers are diverse: We make Lava lamps, lollipops, leather, plastics, martial arts uniforms, trophies, etc.</p><p>That is, we make all sorts of things.</p><p>But Jessica and I put a face on this smaller side of manufacturing. We started small and then got a little bigger.</p><p><strong>First stop: West Side granola</strong></p><p>The Milk and Honey brand of granola is made at a West Side industrial kitchen that&rsquo;s infused with the smell of honey and oats. Owners Carol Watson and Karen Skrainy gave me and producer Logan Jaffe the opportunity to see the making of flavors like Pumpkin Spice, Blueberry Pecan Mix and Rick Bayless&rsquo;s Mexican Mix.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not a fancy, highly automated procedure whatsoever,&rdquo; Skrainy told me. &ldquo;We do it just like you would at home. In standard-sized sheet pans we mix all the ingredients by hand, bake them in hand, stir them by hand.&rdquo;</p><p>The kitchen is big for Milk and Honey&rsquo;s 10 workers, but Skrainy and Watson said they hope to expand without having to move locations again. On average, they churn out 330 bags of granola each day.</p><div id="PictoBrowser130520170058">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "460", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: What's still manufactured in Chicago?"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157633389785517"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser130520170058"); </script><p>Watson started the granola business out of the kitchen of her cafe, which bears the same name. They sold enough of the crunchy stuff that they had to grow into a new location. And more growth turned into yet another move.</p><p>Interestingly, Watson doubts expansion will lead them to turn this &ldquo;mostly by hand&rdquo; process into an automated one. Instead, she said, they&rsquo;re likely to just add more hands.</p><p>Watson said though they&rsquo;re small, they can also pull off a national contract with Whole Foods. Milk and Honey&rsquo;s location helps with that.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is centrally located for shipping because if we were on the East Coast or the West Coast. So it works out well for us,&rdquo; she said.</p><p><strong>Coffee (grinders) for the world &nbsp;</strong></p><p>Location is key for another small manufacturer that Jessica and I visited together: a midsize firm called Modern Process Equipment, located in Chicago&rsquo;s Little Village neighborhood.</p><p>If you drink Intelligentsia coffee, or if you ever drank Turkish coffee while in the Middle East, there&rsquo;s a good chance those coffee beans were ground by an MPE grinder.</p><p>Company president Dan Ephraim said MPE ships between 30 and 35 percent of its product overseas.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re the largest coffee grinder manufacturer in the world,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;In the United States, we produce over 90 percent of the coffee grinders for industrial and commercial applications.&rdquo;</p><div id="PictoBrowser130520165943">Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer</div><p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "620", "460", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Curious City: What's still manufactured in Chicago?"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157633544883770"); so.addVariable("titles", "on"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "on"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser130520165943"); </script></p><p>MPE employs about 100 workers, several of which were on hand to demonstrate their skills to Jessica and me. At one point, we passed by people who operate machines that cut metal with high-pressure streams of water. Others assembled or tested coffee grinding machines that are large enough to put your home or office version to shame.</p><p>Unlike the manually-driven processes at Milk and Honey, automation is key at MPE. At one point, we were introduced to a machine that uses lasers to count coffee grounds.</p><p>Ephraim and his brother bought the company 30 years ago. Back then the firm concentrated on reconditioning grinders. But the brothers innovated.</p><p>&ldquo;Pretty much all our machines are computer-operated,&rdquo; Ephraim said. &ldquo;Anything that is accurate or repetitive, we try to computerize it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The future is lean, small</strong></p><p>Innovation is something that experts at CMAP mentioned several times, and it&rsquo;s a point that addresses a myth that Chicago no longer manufactures much.</p><p>CMAP&rsquo;s Simone Weil said we make lots of stuff, but automation <em>has </em>thinned our manufacturing workforce.</p><p>&ldquo;The flip side of that though and the kind of positive shift that we&rsquo;re seeing the work force, since you need fewer people, they need higher skills,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>CMAP says the region lost manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010, but automation wasn&rsquo;t the only cause.</p><p>Weil says we sent manufacturing jobs overseas, and some employers turned full-time employees into part-timers. But she says we&rsquo;ve recovered a bit, by adding 20,000 manufacturing jobs over the past few years.</p><p>She said upping recruitment for these jobs is important in growing the more skilled manufacturing workforce.</p><p>Weil&rsquo;s colleague &mdash; Ballard Rosa &mdash; says innovation is Chicago&rsquo;s key to a sustainable manufacturing center.</p><p>&ldquo;The number one thing the region needs to do is re-establish itself as a center of manufacturing research that leads to new commercial products and processes and efficiencies,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>That would make our region more competitive, more vibrant and, maybe &mdash; when it comes to manufacturing, anyway &mdash; a little more noticeable.</p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 17:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/so-what%E2%80%99s-still-made-chicago-area-107281 Laid-off workers open their own factory http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 <p><p>A few hours before the grand opening of New Era Windows Cooperative, Melvin &quot;Ricky&quot; Maclin is standing&nbsp; in the middle of the factory, beaming.</p><p>&quot;All of this is ours,&quot; he said. &quot;We have our own trucks, our own forklifts. It&rsquo;s a whole new world.&quot;</p><p>Maclin&rsquo;s title is the same as the 17 other people who work here: worker-owner. Together, they vote on decisions about the factory. He proudly shows the place where they jackhammered the floor to install water pipes. He says the workers didn&rsquo;t know how to complete some of the steps to set up the factory, but they learned. They also took classes on business management.</p><p>&quot;At first we thought we were just lowly factory workers,&quot; Maclin said. &quot;But now we see we have so much more in us.&quot;</p><p>Maclin says that being a worker-owner means that for the first time in his life he has control over what happens to him. Back in 2008, when the factory was closed for the first time, he was devastated.</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/New%20Era%202.jpg" style="height: 169px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Melvin “Ricky” Maclin holds a postcard advertising New Era’s line of windows named after their union. (WBEZ/Shannon Heffernan)" />&quot;This was right before Christmas,&quot; he said. &quot;I didn&rsquo;t even know if I was going to be able to buy my grandkids a doll for Christmas. It was a dark time, it was like we were in a free fall.&quot;</div><p>Maclin and the other workers of Republic Window occupied the closed factory. They were later paid the severance wages that they were legally entitled to receive. A California- based company called Serious Materials bought the factory and hired back the workers. But not long after, they also closed down.</p><p>The workers decided to do things differently that time and buy the factory themselves.</p><p>Working World, the organization that provided them with a credit line to help open the cooperative, says it would cost most companies $5 million to open. It cost New Era less than $650,000.</p><p>The first windows made by the factory will be titled the &ldquo;1110 Series&rdquo; after their union, United Electric 1110.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 10 May 2013 07:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/laid-workers-open-their-own-factory-107118 Manufacturing comeback could drive infill and energy efficiency http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/manufacturing-comeback-could-drive-infill-and-energy-efficiency-105752 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rappduane/6070960991/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wind-turbine-by-Duane-Rapp.jpg" title="Wind turbines at the Lee-Dekalb Wind Energy Center. Renewable energy could benefit from a resurgence in the Chicago region's manufacturing sector. (Duane Rapp via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Manufacturing is a defining part of the Chicago region&rsquo;s past, but <a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing">a report from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning</a> says it could guide regional development in the future, too.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/what-next-decade-chicago-manufacturing-should-look-105755">WBEZ&#39;s Niala Boodhoo has a rundown of the report&#39;s main points</a>, but here&rsquo;s what it says for land use and energy &mdash; two key factors for the kind of manufacturing resurgence the report envisions. It&#39;s the kind of advanced manufacturing renaissance <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/video/state-union-2013-obama-announces-manufacturing-education-initiatives-18483105" target="_blank">recently touted by President Barack Obama</a>. (Read the <a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing" target="_blank">full report and a summary here</a>.)</p><p><strong>Development and transportation</strong></p><p>CMAP looked at the seven-county region of northeastern Illinois. That encompasses 580,000 manufacturing jobs, a &quot;cluster&quot; of jobs second only to Los Angeles, but also the region&rsquo;s suburban and exurban sprawl. The report recommends incentives for infill growth and investment in transportation infrastructure. That would be transit-oriented development, oriented around pockets (or &ldquo;nodes&rdquo;) of density near the suburban hotbeds of the region&rsquo;s manufacturing sector.</p><p>Transportation infrastructure is already underfunded, with regional transit agencies eyeing about <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-27/news/ct-met-rta-borrowing-20120927_1_rta-chairman-john-gates-rta-plan-bond-plan">$31 billion for infrastructure improvements and other capital investments</a> over the next 10 years. The job growth projected in CMAP&rsquo;s report could potentially goad some additional investment, but the transportation system&rsquo;s looming budget gap is a serious challenge to the kind of transit-friendly development called for in the report calls.</p><p>To encourage density, the report recommends infill development &mdash; redevelopment on existing vacant properties. There are <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/documents/20583/019144d1-be14-4484-ae1d-ddd762a04122" target="_blank">more than 100,000 acres of land available for infill development</a>, CMAP said, but taking advantage of under-used land can be difficult. Industrial land could be environmentally contaminated, and much of the land that once hosted large facilities has been divided up by individual land buyers over the years, fragmenting the land available for new manufacturers. Still, there is massive potential, as seen in the map below.</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/infill.png" style="height: 831px; width: 610px;" title="Infill redevelopment potential in the Chicago region. (Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning)" /></div><p><strong>Energy</strong></p><p>Manufacturing is the largest domestic consumer of energy, making up about one third of total energy use nationwide. Ultimately CMAP&rsquo;s projections for a revitalized manufacturing base in northeastern Illinois don&rsquo;t hinge on energy issues; only a few industries account for 70 percent of all the energy use by manufacturers in Illinois, and those same industries account for just 25 percent of manufacturing employment. Nonetheless energy remains a major factor for manufacturing operations.</p><p>Illinois has a slightly higher cost for energy delivered to industry than other states in the midwest, the report notes. The cost of coal in Illinois is 16 percent lower than the national average, but with natural gas prices plummeting, that is unlikely to be a major advantage. And manufacturers use more natural gas than any other end user.</p><p><a href="http://cmap.illinois.gov/policy/drill-downs/manufacturing" target="_blank">The report</a> also says industrial firms in Illinois could make better use of combined heat and power (CHP) systems that recover waste heat for reuse and electricity generation, citing a World Resources Institute study that found CHP potential in Illinois was the largest in the Midwest, totaling four times the currently installed capacity. They point to an East Chicago steel manufacturer, ArcelorMittal, that recovers more energy from its blast furnace, the world&rsquo;s largest, than the power from all the existing wind turbines in Illinois and Indiana combined.</p><p>CHP would be more attractive, the report says, if firms could more easily sell excess energy back to the grid. That practice is currently limited by regulation. The state <a href="http://www3.illinois.gov/PressReleases/ShowPressRelease.cfm?SubjectID=29&amp;RecNum=10557">recently won a grant to improve energy efficiency in manufacturing</a>, which could potentially speed up efforts to install CHP systems. To fund those installations, the report suggests that utilities provide upfront investments to be repaid through future energy savings.</p><p>Manufacturing growth could encourage renewable energy deployment, too, as manufacturers get a relatively high percentage (5 percent) of their energy from renewable sources compared to the residential (2.3 percent), transportation (1 percent)&nbsp;and commercial (0.8 percent) sectors.</p><p>And the regional employment outlook could also benefit from an increased demand for renewable energy. Wind turbine manufacturing is growing in northeastern Illinois &mdash; German turbine giant Nordex and Chinese company Xianjiang Goldwind located their North American headquarters in Chicago. With only a few hundred regional employees, wind turbine manufacturing is not yet a major employer. It is, however, <a href="http://www.awea.org/learnabout/publications/factsheets/upload/3Q-12-Illinois.pdf">a rapidly growing market</a>.</p><p>Energy storage is another likely beneficiary of the kind of manufacturing comeback CMAP recommends. The Department of Energy <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/30/seeking-to-start-a-silicon-valley-for-battery-science/">recently named</a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/argonne-national-laboratory">Argonne National Laboratory</a> a national hub for battery research.</p><p>But the report also notes that the region&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130226/NEWS05/130229845/chicago-takes-a-nosedive-in-r-d" target="_blank">investments in research and development have plummeted</a>&nbsp;in the last ten years.&nbsp;The authors recommend the state match federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants to build on regional expertise. Renewable energy made up 13 of 82 SBIR awards in the region in 2011, more than any other specified research category.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about environmental issues. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="https://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 26 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/manufacturing-comeback-could-drive-infill-and-energy-efficiency-105752 Northern Indiana licorice maker planning $10M expansion http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/northern-indiana-licorice-maker-planning-10m-expansion-105097 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/flickr_KellBailey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>LaPORTE, Ind. &mdash; A northern Indiana factory that makes candy and licorice is planning a $10 million expansion company officials say will add 35 new jobs by 2015.</p><p>American Licorice Co. plans to renovate its 285,000-square-foot LaPorte plant and install a licorice production line and a rail spur to ferry ingredients to the plant.</p><p>The Times of Munster <a href="http://bit.ly/11R63cL" target="_blank">reports</a> American Licorice is one of the nation&#39;s original licorice manufacturers. The company produces Red Vines, Sour Punch, Natural Vines, Super Ropes and Snaps.</p><p>The Bend, Ore.-based firm employs 150 Indiana residents at its LaPorte plant and 500 nationwide.</p><p>The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered American Licorice up to $200,000 in tax credits based on the company&#39;s job creation plans. Those incentives are contingent on the company hiring Indiana residents.</p></p> Wed, 23 Jan 2013 10:15:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/food/northern-indiana-licorice-maker-planning-10m-expansion-105097 Boeing's 787 has another manufacturing glitch http://www.wbez.org/story/boeings-787-has-another-manufacturing-glitch-96156 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-06/5544913580_a649e9dff2.jpg.crop_display.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-based Boeing is inspecting its new 787 Dreamliner airplanes after the company discovered a manufacturing flaw. It's the latest setback for the Dreamliner, which Boeing started delivering last fall, three years late.<br> <br> The latest manufacturing glitch was first reported by Jon Ostrower, editor of the web site Flightblogger. He says Boeing found three planes that had a problem in the way the skin was attached to the aircraft’s skeleton.<br> <br> Ostrower says it doesn’t pose a safety problem in the short term, but could over time.<br> <br> "As airplanes age and as they have thousands and thousands of takeoffs and landings during their lifetime, this kind of problem can be exacerbated," Ostrower said. &nbsp;<br> <br> Boeing spokesman Scott Lefeber wouldn’t say how many planes were affected, but did say that the problem occurred at the company’s South Carolina plant. He also says there’s no immediate safety issue.</p><p>"We have the issue well defined and are making progress on the repair plan," Lefeber said in an emailed statement.</p><p>Boeing delivered its first 787 to the Japanese airline ANA last September.</p></p> Mon, 06 Feb 2012 19:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/boeings-787-has-another-manufacturing-glitch-96156 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 Gas drilling could take air out of offshore wind http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-08/Wind_Farm_D36.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>I understand the power of Lake Erie wind as soon we’re out past the breakwaters of Cleveland Harbor. The waves make our 74-foot tugboat bob like a rubber toy in my preschooler’s bath tub.</p><p>Before long, I’m sweating and looking for a place to heave.</p><p>Right next to me, Bill Mason seems to be enjoying the ride. In fact, he wants to show me a spot where the wind is even stronger. “Where we’re headed is to an anemometer,” Mason says, mispronouncing the instrument’s name. “It’s been measuring the wind speeds since, I think, 2007. So I know we have good wind.”</p><p>Mason doesn’t know all the particulars about wind energy. But, as the Cuyahoga County prosecutor, he knows a lot about Northeast Ohio. Since taking office in 1999, Mason has seen about a 100,000 manufacturing jobs disappear from the area.</p><p>Installing a handful of wind turbines offshore could spark a revival, Mason says, changing Cleveland’s image from a deindustrialized ghost town to “a green city on the blue lake.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4522_Wind_Farm_A28-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason says putting turbines in Lake Erie could revive the city. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">Mason has been promoting the wind-farm idea for seven years. In 2009, he helped form a quasi-public group, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, to turn the idea into reality. Representing Cleveland and four counties along the lake, LEEDCo has held dozens of community meetings. It has secured an option for nine square miles of the lake. It has studied possible impacts on wildlife. And it has begun work on designs and permits.</p><p>Mason tells me Cleveland could help build offshore wind farms throughout the Great Lakes. He points to the city’s proximity to rail lines, deep-water port facilities and manufacturers. He says companies in the area could retool to make parts and supplies ranging from transmission cables to ice-resistant blade coating. The wind-farm supporters commissioned a study that says their project could lead to 15,000 new Ohio jobs within two decades.</p><p>The supply chain could include Lincoln Electric, which makes welding equipment in Euclid, a suburb northeast of Cleveland. Lincoln Electric is already getting a taste of wind-energy generation since installing a 443-foot-tall turbine this year to help power the company’s main plant.</p><p>Driving up the lakeshore, I can see the three rotor blades spinning from miles away. On a windy day, the tips go 160 miles an hour, the company tells me. But I can’t hear any sound from the turbine until I’m within a stone’s throw. Looking straight up at the blades, I notice a subtle swoosh as each one passes.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4525_Wind_Farm_D36-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: right; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 4px;" title="Lincoln Electric’s Seth Mason says his company’s new turbine provides a case study for the offshore project. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">The turbine has given a lot of local people—from regulators to engineers to truck drivers—their first contact with a wind project. Lincoln Electric energy manager Seth Mason (no relation to the prosecutor) says this experience could help with the offshore installation, which would be just a few miles away.</p><p>“You basically have the same wind regime [and] you’re basically going to have the same amount of migratory birds at this longitude,” Mason says. “So I think it provides a case study for the next machine.”</p><p>It’s not just local boosters who think a Lake Erie wind farm could revive Northeast Ohio. Christopher Hart, the U.S. Department of Energy’s offshore wind chief, sees it that way too. “If a place like Cleveland is able to establish the demonstration project and then is able to leverage that demonstration project into a larger position in the industry, this could really, really have an impact on the local economy.”</p><p>Hart tells me Cleveland has the best shot at installing the first Great Lakes wind farm. But he points to a huge barrier: “Given the current technology, given the current regulatory structure, offshore wind doesn’t make economic sense.”</p><p>DOE calculations suggest it’s more than twice as expensive to generate electricity from offshore wind as from coal, natural gas or nuclear fission. The New York Power Authority pointed to costs this fall when it pulled the plug on some proposed Great Lakes turbines.</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/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782"><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">ViDEO:</span></a> <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/plant-entrepreneurs-turn-waste-jobs-93782">Plant turns waste into jobs</a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/imadeajob"><strong><span style="color: rgb(255, 0, 0);">INTERACT: </span>Made a Job? Tell us about it.</strong></a></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/can-milwaukee-become-silicon-valley-water-93835"><strong>The Silicon Valley of water</strong>:<strong> Milwaukee?</strong></a></li></ul></div><div class="inlineContent">&nbsp;</div></div><p>That frustrates Chris Wisseman, who leads a consortium called Freshwater Wind that LEEDCo chose last year to develop Cleveland’s offshore wind farm. “All we’re talking about here is a new technology that looks like it’s got the ability to be very cost-effective inside of a decade,” he says.</p><p>The construction will run about $130 million, Wisseman tells me. The financing will be tricky because few utilities are eager to buy electricity that is so expensive. The only purchaser on board so far is municipally owned Cleveland Public Power, which has agreed to buy a quarter of the wind-farm output.</p><p>So LEEDCo is pushing for Ohio to <em>compel</em> utilities to buy the electricity and pass along the cost to customers—a process known as rate recovery. If the plan covered just northern Ohio, Wisseman says, business and residential customers would each pay an extra $0.40 a month.</p><p>The area’s big utility, Akron-based First Energy, says it won’t take a stand on that rate recovery until it sees a proposal. The Ohio Association of Manufacturers tells me it will probably go along with the plan if it doesn’t hit electricity-intensive companies hard.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-08/Kasich.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 268px; margin-top: 5px; margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 18px; float: left;" title="Ohio Gov. John Kasich isn’t saying whether he’ll support rate recovery for the offshore wind project. (AP/File)">But rate recovery won’t get far without support from Gov. John Kasich. He appoints the members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which regulates the state’s electricity rates. And his Republican Party controls both houses of the state legislature.</p><p>At an energy forum Kasich’s office organized this fall, the governor didn’t leave any doubt that his energy focus would be an Appalachian rock layer called Utica Shale. In Ohio, that shale holds a lot of natural gas. To free up the fuel, companies such as Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. want to drill thousands of horizontal wells and inject pressurized fluids—a process known as fracking.</p><p>An industry-funded study says the fracking could create more than 200,000 jobs in Ohio over the next four years. The potential boom is keeping Kasich’s staff busy. “We have had 129 separate meetings—5 regional meetings, 78 with business associations, 46 meetings with oil-and-gas division experts—all across Ohio,” the governor said at the forum.</p><p>At the same time, contaminated groundwater in nearby Pennsylvania is giving fracking a bad name. Kasich promises environmental safeguards for Ohio.</p><p>The governor says he’ll also promote renewable energy efforts. So, when I catch up with him, I ask whether those will include Cleveland’s offshore wind project.</p><p>“There is a place for renewables,” Kasich replies. “But we have to be very clear: They’re very expensive. That doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities in the state. It doesn’t mean that over time they [won’t] become less expensive. But specific projects have to be looked at very, very carefully.”</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-09/RS4524_Wind_Farm_C26-scr.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 184px; margin-left: 15px; margin-right: 2px; margin-top: 5px; float: right;" title="A tugboat captain who knows about Lake Erie wind recalls cleaning a seasick crewmate with a hose. (Front and Center/Bridget Caswell)">I press Kasich, asking whether he will support the rate recovery proposed for the offshore project. He declines to answer.</p><p>Another Ohio Republican is talking about that rate recovery. State Sen. Kris Jordan, who represents suburbs north of Columbus, tells me it’s a bad idea. “I just don’t believe—when we have more affordable, more ready energy sources—that government should be subsidizing" an offshore wind farm.</p><p>Back on the Lake Erie tugboat, the vessel’s captain notices my pale color. He says he once had to clean off a seasick crewmate with a hose.</p><p>Bill Mason, the prosecutor behind the proposed wind farm, agrees I’ve seen enough of the lake. On the way back to port, he shakes his head at the thought of a natural-gas boom tripping up his project.</p><p>“We don’t know how much energy is going to be produced from this fracking,” Mason says. “We don’t know the environmental damage that possibly could happen from it. And we don’t know what it’s going to cost, if there is damage, for that recovery. If we take that step down that road, won’t it be nice to know that we have other alternatives such as the wind industry out here on the Great Lakes?”</p><p>And wouldn’t it be nice, Mason adds, if the center of that industry were Cleveland?</p><p>&nbsp;</p><h2>Great Lakes wind projects struggle for footing</h2><p>Offshore wind-energy advocates face tall hurdles in the Great Lakes, but some projects are advancing. WBEZ’s Maham Khan brings us these snapshots.</p><script type="text/javascript" src="http://public.tableausoftware.com/javascripts/api/viz_v1.js"></script><div class="tableauPlaceholder" style="width: 554px; height: 769px;"><noscript><a href="#"><img alt="Offshore wind " src="http:&#47;&#47;public.tableausoftware.com&#47;static&#47;images&#47;Gr&#47;GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies&#47;Offshorewind&#47;1_rss.png" style="height: 100%; width: 100%; border: none" /></a></noscript><object class="tableauViz" style="display: none;" width="554" height="769"><param name="host_url" value="http%3A%2F%2Fpublic.tableausoftware.com%2F"><param name="name" value="GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind"><param name="tabs" value="no"><param name="toolbar" value="yes"><param name="static_image" value="http://public.tableausoftware.com/static/images/Gr/GreatLakesoffshorewindfarmproposalsandstudies/Offshorewind/1.png"><param name="animate_transition" value="yes"><param name="display_static_image" value="yes"><param name="display_spinner" value="yes"><param name="display_overlay" value="yes"></object></div><div style="width: 554px; height: 22px; padding: 0px 10px 0px 0px; color: black; font: 8pt verdana,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;"><div style="float: right; padding-right: 8px;">&nbsp;</div></div></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/gas-drilling-could-take-air-out-offshore-wind 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 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 Venture: All eyes on manufacturing http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-all-eyes-manufacturing-88356 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-June/2011-06-25/IMAG0924.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week, we'll find out whether factories are starting to hum again after huge disruptions caused by the Japanese disaster. Manufacturing had been one sector helping to pull the U.S. economy out of its slump. But at least one auto-parts maker on Chicago's West Side says it's hopeful things are starting to turn around.</p><p>These days, Chicago's abuzz with dot-com fever, but we're still a city that makes stuff.</p><p>Manufacturing employs one in 10 Chicago-area workers.</p><p>A lot of them work in nondescript little warehouses like the one owned by P-K Tool and Manufacturing, which has been around since 1944.</p><p>ROGER BEHRENS: You know, these are old buildings that are pieced together over many years, things are kind of pieced together... little piece of office here, and a little piece of work area there.</p><p>Here, machines spit out metal plates at the rate of about one every second.</p><p>They're used in everything from cars to computers.</p><p>BEHRENS: Right in here is our press room...&nbsp;</p><p>Roger Behrens is chief financial officer.</p><p>BEHRENS: We'd like to have more of them running than there are, but...</p><p>See, P-K Tool had been slowly clawing its way back up out of the slump that hit in 2008.</p><p>BEHRENS: Gradual recovery.&nbsp;</p><p>But then, the tsunami hit.</p><p>BEHRENS: Real slow time here in this second quarter.</p><p>And that mirrors the U.S. manufacturing world as a whole.</p><p>The sector's recent slowdown has stoked fears the U.S. economy is losing what little steam it had.&nbsp;</p><p>Behrens is hopeful it's temporary.&nbsp;</p><p>He says Japanese carmakers are starting to order again and seem to be ramping back up.</p><p>BEHRENS: I see some emails that come through with plant schedules for our Japanese customers, I can see the green boxes instead of the red X's, meaning they're open instead of being shut down.</p><p>MICKI MAYNARD: This is a big story in our part of the country because manufacturing is such a large part of the economy here.&nbsp;</p><p>Micki Maynard is senior editor of Changing Gears, a project of WBEZ, Michigan Radio and Ideastream in Cleveland.&nbsp; They're looking at the future of the Midwest economy.</p><p>Twenty-five percent of Indiana's economy comes from manufacturing, 20 percent of Wisconsin's and 13 percent of Illinois's.</p><p>Maynard says manufacturing directly tracks how consumers are feeling.</p><p>MAYNARD: Cars, for example. Car sales always depend on employment, jobs and housing. And if those things are not lining up, car sales won't go up in any specific way, so what we're seeing is the economy is slowing, consumer confidence is getting a little shaky, and of course the housing market just hasn't come back.&nbsp;</p><p>But even when demand does pick up, Maynard says manufacturing companies may not do much hiring.</p><p>MAYNARD: What they've learned through the recession is what they can get by without. So as they ramp up their plants a little bit more, they're saying, you know what: I don't need 10 people on this part of the assembly line, I only need eight and by the way I'm going to pay my new hires less than I paid the veteran workers.</p><p>Not all are in that place.</p><p>Roger Behrens of P-K Tool says his company has hired back some of the people it laid off.</p><p>But their headcount is still lower than a few years ago.</p><p>He says before they bring on any more people, sales need to pick up, and for that, they're still waiting.</p><p>And now for our Windy Indicator, where we lift the veil on a part of the economy you might not usually think about.</p><p>Today – wedding bands.</p><p>Not the kind you put on your finger - but the music.</p><p>Colby Beserra is band leader for his group - The Party Faithful.</p><p>He started the 11-piece band in 2007.</p><p>BESERRA: We got a jump on the recession to the point our reputation was good and our visibility was up.</p><p>As a result – Beserra’s hitting his booking goals.</p><p>They play about every Saturday - about 50 to 60 gigs a year.</p><p>Still – it’s been a struggle with the bottom line.</p><p>BESERRA: Prices have stayed pretty stagnant and as a result most of us haven’t been able to give our employees raises, either.</p><p>Beserra says couples are driving harder bargains these days in an effort to cut their costs.</p><p>They’re waiting longer to book a band – willing to take the chance a group will give them a deal.</p><p>He’s also seen couples wanting The Party Faithful – but opting for a DJ – paying a fraction of the $12,000 he might charge.</p><p>BESERRA: In terms of what I’ve seen people cut back on, it’s things like ceremony music, cocktail music, dinner music. These are things that used to be pretty beefy.</p><p>Now – Beserra says a lot of couples have the band just focus on the dancing at the reception.</p><p>And he says for that – there’s no replacing the vibe of a live band.</p><p>Next week, we’re taking the day off to wish the U.S. a happy 235th birthday. Join us again July 11th.</p></p> Mon, 27 Jun 2011 05:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/venture-all-eyes-manufacturing-88356