TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Edwin G. Thirlby, founder of Thirlby Automotive in 1958, and a car trunk have evolved into 11 Thirlby Automotive locations in Northern Michigan that serve over 1,200 accounts and many additional daily walk-up customers. Edwin W. Thirlby (the present owner and Edwin. G. Thirlby’s son) explains, “In the late 1950s my father was working at a marina and a guy came along selling wax. He told him he was retiring.
Michigan has experienced six years straight of automotive sector growth, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. After plummeting to a 21st century low in 2009, the 2015 rate again marked improvement in employment, with about 122,400 Michigan workers in the field compared to 117,600 the year before. In the Nov. 8 election, both major-party candidates have promised to preserve the boom. When in Michigan, both Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton keyed in on the issue of manufacturing strength as a point of persuasion for undecided voters.
In his State of the City address, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero focused on current success in the auto industry, acknowledged problems with the ice storm response and touted the future launch of the Red Cedar Renaissance project. Bernero delivered his speech Jan. 30 at Grand River General Motors Plant as a way of emphasizing the resurgence of the auto industry. “I am pleased to report the state of our city is strong, and getting stronger,” Bernero said in his speech. Bernero also noted the city has climbed out of deficit.
By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING – These have been hard times for train travel and the auto industry in Michigan, but there are signs of recovery. Statewide ridership on Michigan’s three Amtrak routes – the Wolverine, Blue Water and Pere Marquette – hit 797,017 in 2011 and 782,286 in 2012, according to Michigan Department of Transportation statistics, up by more than 100,000 since 2009. And work has started on track improvement projects that will enable passenger trains to travel as fast as 100 mph in mid-Michigan and eventually cut travel time between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac from about 6½ to 4½ hours, officials said. In a bid to lure more passengers, Amtrak has started to allow a limited number of bicycles aboard its Blue Water line running between Port Huron and Chicago, with stops in East Lansing, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The railroad also announced plans to add cellular-connected Wi-Fi next year.