Clean energy can produce jobs, economic growth, study says

Capital News Service
LANSING — Thousands of Michigan jobs in the clean energy industry could be created in coming years, according to a recent report. The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Clean Energy Trust report that more than 87,000 Michigan residents already work in that industry. And Michigan leads 12 Midwestern states in clean energy transportation jobs, is second in renewable energy jobs and third in overall highest number of clean energy jobs, according to the study. “These findings are a good indication that, contrary to the sky-is-falling rhetoric we often hear from the fossil fuel industry, the transition from dirty fuels to clean sources of energy is an opportunity for economic growth,” said Andy McGlashen, communications director for the Michigan Environmental Council, a statewide coalition of environmental groups. It is critical that state lawmakers put policies in place to continue that growth, he said.

Poverty challenges Michigan schools

Capital News Service
LANSING— Numerous studies show that poverty and income are the two best predictors of a student’s success in school. This has been proven in Michigan recently, according to education experts. The average scores of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress (M-STEP) are low, with 12 percent proficient in science at the bottom and 50 percent proficient in English at the top, according to the Education Department. Meanwhile, 16 percent of Michigan children live in school districts with concentrated poverty, one of the largest percentages among the states, according to a Kids Count in Michigan report by the Michigan League for Public Policy. Gretchen Dziadosz, executive director of the Michigan Education Association (MEA), the state’s largest teacher and school personnel union, said the increase in poor students and poor school districts hurts students’ academic performance.

More young entrepreneurs starting Michigan businesses

Capital News Service
LANSING — In a state that has a reputation as an economic sinkhole, revived cities, growing local economies and the idealistic attitude of students are starting to keep young entrepreneurs in Michigan. Small Business Association of Michigan Director of Government Relations Michael Marzano said that it is time for the state to relabel itself and its vibrant cities to attract businesses. He used the introduction of ArtPrize in Grand Rapids as an example of a new idea that stimulates the local economy and draws in young people. Marzano said, “Think about what ArtPrize does for the economy of a downtown area like that. It’s just built it up so much.

Explaining the gender wage gap

Capital News Service
LANSING — More than 50 years after Congress first acted to address the gender wage gap, many women across the country are still earning less than their male coworkers. Democrats in Michigan recently introduced a 12-bill package aimed at eliminating this disparity. Michigan ranked tenth worst in the nation when it comes to the gender pay gap, according to the American Association of University Women. Understanding how and why this gap exists is critical in addressing the issue. What is the gender wage gap?

Rural hospitals face new uncertainties after health care reforms start

Capital News Service
LANSING — With health care reform falling into place, rural Michigan hospitals can now breath a sigh of relief, and then start a new waiting game. The slow recovery from the recession and the struggle for healthcare reform hit rural hospitals in Michigan, and across the country, hard, said Ethan Lipkind, CEO and president of Michigan Rural Healthcare Preservation and the Michigan Clinic. The first week of April marked the close of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act and the effective date of Medicaid expansion in Michigan. And with the economy starting to rise out of recession, Michigan rural hospitals are waiting to see just what the changes will mean. “Overall, I would say it’s a declining industry,” Lipkind said.

Economic outlook for state depends on where you are

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan’s economy is on the rise, according to a recent survey. In many areas of the state more people are reporting they are in excellent or good economic shape. The exceptions are the Upper Peninsula, rural areas and Detroit. The latest State of the State survey out of Michigan State University indicates that many Michigan residents are doing better financially than they were a year ago. And they expect to be doing better still this time next year.

Getting a job after 55 may require ‘Shifting Gears’

Capital News Service
LANSING – If you’re 55 or older and hunting for a job, good luck. Michigan is one of the worst states for your employment prospects. Governing Magazine recently reported data showing nationwide employment-to-population ratios, a common economic measure of what proportion of a state’s eligible working-age population is employed. Michigan is the third worst in the nation for older workers, just behind Arkansas and West Virginia, at 32.3 percent of residents 55 and older employed. The report suggested a link between stronger agricultural economies and better employment ratios for older workers.

Freeway pushed Gaylord into an alpine village

Capital News Service

In Gaylord, the only place to get a hamburger during the 1960s was the Town Crest Restaurant. And it didn’t even have a drive-through. “When McDonald’s came to town, it was a big deal,” said Debbie Dunham, a long-time resident and Gaylord’s city assessor. She moved to the city an hour south of the Mackinac Bridge in 1968 at the age of 16. Coming from Flint with its multiple drive-in theaters and fast-food places, she felt a bit of a shock, she said.

Industry faces shortage of engineers

Capital News Service
LANSING—The need for engineers in the state is rising, yet the amount of available skilled workers remains low. That’s true even though Michigan has the most industrial and mechanical engineers in the country. Michigan’s manufacturing jobs dwindled during the economic downturn but are bouncing back, according to Michigan Industry Cluster Workforce Reports. “The economy is coming back. There are a lot more manufacturing jobs out there.

Where you live affects your economic opportunities

Capital News Service
LANSING – Access to better economic opportunities depends largely on your Michigan ZIP code, according to Opportunity Nation, a Washington-D.C.-based coalition that researches economic issues. A band of lower-opportunity counties stretches from Muskegon County by Lake Michigan northeast to Oscoda County, along with islands of higher-opportunity ones in the Southeast and Northwest Michigan. “Communities really matter, geography matters and for far too many people, where you are born has way too much input in how high you can climb in life,” said Russell Krumnow, the managing director of Opportunity Nation. The group’s Opportunity Index grades counties on their local economies, quality of education and community life. “Generally, opportunity is closely tied to things like unemployment rate and the income of an area,” said Carsten Hohnke, vice president for strategy and policy at the Michigan Economic Development Corp.