Category Archives: U.S. Auto Industry

Green Shoots at GM?

Interesting article about the state of General Motors from Scripps Howard.

Despite the car maker’s highly publicized reorganization this year, GM still leads the nation in market share with about 20 percent of the total, down from 22 percent in 2008.

Consumers seem to have shrugged off the auto maker’s reorganization, according to tis article. This is particularly true of Chinese consumers who have revived the popularity of the Buick.

1998 Buick Ultra: Who would have thought this would be the car that would save GM?

1998 Buick Ultra: Who would have thought this would be the car that would save GM?

Meeting Chinese demand will be critical because the country surpassed the US as the biggest consumer of automobiles this year.

-AS

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Filed under Headline, U.S. Auto Industry

Indiana Gov.: Gary Should Merge with Other City

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has recommended the city of Gary merge with another political entity to ward off financial shortcomings.

The recommendation comes as a new state law will lower the allowable tax rates in the state, threatening the impoverished city’s revenues.

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Which begs the question, what city, county or other political entity is going to voluntarily merge with Gary, Indiana?

When are midwestern states going to stop treating their cities as enemies?

This isn’t leadership, this is negligence.

-AS

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Filed under Featured, Politics, regionalism, U.S. Auto Industry

Photo Tour: Youngstown in the Recession

The Washington Post sent Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Michael Williamson and reporter Anne Hull to Youngstown and Warren recently to document how the recession is affecting former steel towns.

The pair found newly shuttered businesses and former industrial workers struggling to stay afloat in lower-paying, more-competitive, service-based economy.

The West Corporation in Niles, Ohio, pays former factory workers $10 per hour.

The West Corporation in Niles, Ohio, pays former factory workers $10 per hour.

The story begins at Uptown Gems where working class people come to sell their valuables following layoffs or pay reductions.

“At campaign time, they are celebrated as the people who built America,” Hull writes. “Now they just want to know how much they can get for a wedding band.”

This is the type of story I’ve been hoping to see about the recession: a story that details the suffering of the poor, who seem to have gotten lost in shuffle.

“In this corner of northeast Ohio, from Warren to Youngstown, where the old steel mills along the Mahoning River stand like rusted-out mastodons in the weeds, the recession was a final cruelty piled on top of three decades of disappearing jobs.”

A recession begins with Wall Street bankers with seven-figure salaries. Now, former steelworkers in Youngstown and their kids are going hungry. That’s the cruel irony of our economy. Youngstown, Pontiac, Flint and Cleveland are blameless in this recession, but these are the places where the pain is the worst.

Good work Washington Post. Thanks to Tyler Clark of Youngstown Renaissance for pointing this out.

-AS

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Filed under Featured, The Housing Crisis, U.S. Auto Industry

Destruction in Detroit

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Reading this Wall Street Journal piece about “pranksters” causing “mischief” in Detroit’s abandonded buildings totally pissed me off.

It sounded more like wanton destruction for the sake of destruction to me.

The article details how this group used sledgehammers to break down this wall and push a truck out of a fourth story window in the old Packard plant (a site we’ve previously highlighted on this blog). They even videotaped their caper.

I don’t fault people for wanting to go inside and explore these old structures – I’ve done it myself. But wrecking walls? Setting fires?

“Karen Nagher seethes when she hears about such capers” according to the Journal story. “Executive director of Preservation Wayne, a nonprofit organization that holds out hope for even the most forlorn buildings, Ms. Nagher says it infuriates her that people come from ‘all over the world’ to poke around Detroit. ‘Piece by piece, they’re disassembling those buildings, making it harder and harder to restore them,’ she says.”

I guess people who do this would say the condition of the buildings is almost encouraging their actions. The story quoted one as saying, “If you decide you want to push a dump truck out of a window, this is the place to do it.”

And not surprisingly, Detroit police and firefighters don’t have the time or the manpower to care about people poking around abandonded buildings.

The Journal explains, “Those who prowl Detroit’s vacant buildings are largely unimpeded. Many live in the suburbs but come here for the adventure, knowing that they’re unlikely to get caught….Busy enough with occupied buildings, police and fire crews aren’t able to do much to protect abandoned sites like the Packard plant or people who venture into them. The Detroit Fire Department considers the factory too unstable to enter and fights fires only from the outside. The city’s Police Department doesn’t time have the resources to deal with people rummaging around abandoned buildings, and the onus is on building owners anyway, says John Roach, a spokesman.”

What do you think?

-KG

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Filed under architecture, Crime, Editorial, Featured, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry

How the Car Drained Detroit

Among the theories about the cause of the demise of Detroit, this one’s one of my personal favorites.

According to this article published in The Pop Up City, auto culture, specifically sprawl, literally drained the life out of Detroit.

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“The Detroit exodus began emerging right after the moment the car industry started to boom,” says writer Joop De Boer.

“Detroit’s population halved within 50 years, changing the city from a vibrant metropolis into an urban vacuum.”

“For years all over the world the economically strongest have chosen to leave the inner cities, and find themselves a house in the cultural desert of suburbia. However, over the last decade this situation seems to have changed slowly.

“The inner city has become a place for good living as well, preferable for an increasing amount of people. They are not suffering from the suffocating clouds of industrial poison any more. Cities have become talent magnets full of those who are unexplained in the social context of a village, and look for cultural and social tolerance. The modern city is occupied by those who look out for the city’s best quality… the city people.”

-AS

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Filed under Featured, sprawl, U.S. Auto Industry

What Las Vegas Can Learn From the Rust Belt

What can Las Vegas learn from the Rust Belt? Quite a bit, according to this article in the Las Vegas Sun.

Not to toot our own horn, but this story references Rust Wire, and our own Angie Schmitt!

I thought this story was well-written, and made an interesting comparison: though many wouldn’t think of it this way, Las Vegas and Detroit are both one-industry towns – Vegas’ industry of course, being tourism.

The author definitely did his homework- and talked to a number of knowledgeable folks in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston and elsewhere.

I don’t really consider Boston to be in the Rust Belt, but still an interesting read.

-KG

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Filed under Economic Development, Good Ideas, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Housing Crisis, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry

Tracing a City’s History…Through One House

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this Wall Street Journal article that traces the story of one home in the Motor City – and through that house, decades of history and change in the neighborhood and the city overall.

Spend a few minutes reading about 1626 W. Boston Boulevard, in Detroit’s Boston-Edison neighborhood, from its auto-industry origins to a subprime borrower.

-KG

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Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Featured, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Poverty