What General Motors $125m Project Means For Michigan

 

General Motors revealed that they intend to retain 135 jobs at their Flint, Michigan plant, and add 15 new jobs in the next two years. The move comes as part of a new $124.5 million construction project, which will enable a new 850,00 square-foot paint shop to be built at the plant on Van Slyke Road. This is good news for the residents of the city, and comes in the wake of the devastating closures of many car plants throughout the state in recent years.

 

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Michigan, and Detroit in particular, has long been known as the automotive capital of the world, with the car industry providing thousands of jobs for local residents. There are many reasons why Michigan developed into the dominant force in car making during the 20th century. Henry Ford lived in Detroit for starters. Then there was the abundance of high quality iron ore from the Mesabi Range in nearby Minnesota, as well as timber here in Michigan. Good rail links and access to water made it easy to ship cars to the metropolises of New York City and Chicago, and Detroit already had proven its success in heavy industry, having manufactured stove works for many years prior to the automotive boom.

 

Geographical advantage? Lucky accident? Or did Michigan become what it is today through the hard graft of its many plant workers and automobile employees? Maybe it’s a combination of all three. But, still, the statistics are astounding. A total of 125 different car companies were launched in Detroit at the beginning of the twentieth century. Ford help to devise the modern assembly line which became part and parcel of the automotive industry in Motor City in the following decades. In 1914, the company introduced the five dollar day, where industrial workers saw a significant pay increase, which helped to boost productivity as well as profit. The car industry brought workers from across the United States – and beyond – and soon Detroit, and the rest of Michigan, became one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country.

 

For those who want to experience Michigan’s long association with the automobile industry, try the Henry Ford Museum, located in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. This vast complex and the surrounding Greenfield Village, contains vast structures such as Thomas Edison’s laboratory, and the shop where the Wright Brothers conceived the invention of the airplane. Both have been restored and moved to this location. There is also an extensive car collection which displays many vehicles from throughout history, and contains exhibits on how the car industry has had an effect on the culture of our nation.

 

The Automotive Hall of Fame, also in Dearborn, pays home to the thousands of workers who developed and advanced the car industry, whilst the Ford Rouge Factory is the only public tour of a car plant in the state, with the building measuring 1.5 miles long. Built in 1917, the Ford Rouge Factory once employed 100,00 workers and as is a must-see for anyone interested in the long and diverse history of Michigan. With the promise of a new General Motors plant in Flint, which will start construction in 2014, let’s hope Michigan’s affinity with the automobile industry will continue for decades to come.

 

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Above: General Motors building (Image source)

Below: Ford Motor Company, Detriot, Micihigan (Image source)

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Author biography – Bradley Taylor is a freelance writer from Derby, England born in 1984 who writes about all aspects of the automotive industry. You can connect with Bradley on Google+ and follow him on Twitter.

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Featured Photographer – Lj Long

Lj Long has always enjoyed photography and had a dark room in his parents’ basement as a teenager. Years later, with the coming of digital photography, he has renewed his passion for photography. Lj uses Nikon equipment exclusively and is currently enrolled in The New York Institute of Photography. Although photography is currently a hobby that sells the occasional print, Lj aspires to grow into a business later in life. Lj’s favorite things to photograph are nature, anything around the lake (Gun Lake) is good, Lake Michigan, lighthouses, beaches, motorsports, cars, and bikes. Lj had a blast with fall foliage last year and also enjoys photographing bikes racing on the frozen lake.

Gun Lake Studio - Lj Long

Gun Lake Studio - Lj Long 2

Currently, Lj’s full time job is working as a Field Service Representative for Square D Services, a nationwide service company in the Electrical Industry. Lj specializes in power distribution equipment, “things like transformers, switchgear, circuit breakers and other fun stuff like that. My job affords me a great deal of travel around the state which is good for my hobby. Other hobbies include British sports cars. I restored an old Triumph which is a lot of fun. Naturally, living on the lake pretty much demands that you enjoy everything about it all summer long [including] boats, swimming, and time with friends.”

Lj’s favorite thing about Michigan is the abundance that Michigan offers. It has everything anyone could ever want, four wonderful seasons, beautiful scenery, the lakes, and wonderful cities. “Lake Michigan is like going to the ocean, only better. The list goes on and on.” Lj describes Michigan, “Imagine a place with fresh water oceans, the most incredible dunes. Endless forests. Incredible inland lakes. Now picture a city that looks like it was ravaged by war, broken down abandoned buildings, burned out corpses of cars, urban blight and decay. All of these things offer incredible photo opportunities.”

Lj’s top 5 places to visit in Michigan are:
1. Detroit
2. Mackinac Island
3. Pictured Rocks Lakeshore
4. Silver lake
5. Grand Haven

You can view more of Lj’s beautiful work on his facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gun-Lake-Studio/165970600193597

Michigan’s 175th Birthday

January 26th is Michigan’s 175th birthday! On January 26, 1837 President Andrew Jackson signed a bill declaring Michigan the 26th state of the union.
In honor of this special occasion, here are some facts about this great state from www.michigan.gov.

State Name: Michigan
Name Origin: Derived from the Indian word Michigama, meaning great or large lake.
Nickname: Wolverine State
Statehood: Jan. 26, 1837 (26th)
Capital: Lansing, since 1847; prior to that, Detroit.
State Motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice, which translates, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”
Flower: Apple Blossom
Bird: Robin
Tree: White Pine
Stone: Petoskey Stone
Gem: Chlorastrolite
Fish: Brook Trout
Soil: Kalkaska Soil Series
Reptile: Painted Turtle
Game Mammal: White-tailed Deer
Wildflower: Dwarf Lake Iris
Fossil: Mastodon

I knew we had a state flower, tree, reptile, etc. But, I did not know we had a state soil! You learn something new everyday!

To celebrate Michigan’s 175th birthday, look around you and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us all! Turn your porch lights on Thursday night so Michigan shines brightly for all to see!

ALLEE WILLIS MARCHES ON DETROIT



WHAT: As a special benefit for MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL, alumna extraordinaire
 
ALLEE WILLIS conducts the MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND through a medley
 
of her hit songs in the lobby of Detroit’s FOX THEATRE, with cast members
 
from THE COLOR PURPLE joining in for a sing-along.
 
WHEN: Saturday, April 9, 11:00AM to 12:30PM, SHARP
 
WHERE: The Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
 
 
 
GRAMMY, Tony, Emmy, and Webby award-winning/nominated songwriter, artist,
 
multimediaist, director, collector, party thrower—and native Detroiter—
 
returns to her hometown for a special benefit event at the historic and fabulous
 
Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.
 
 
 
An alumna of Mumford High School, Willis will lead the school’s marching
 
band through a medley of her hit songs in the lobby of the Fox. The Saturday,
 
April 9 event takes place during a weekend run of The Color Purple at the
 
theater, and cast members from the touring company of the Broadway smash—of
 
which Allee is a co-author—will join in for a celebratory sing-along. Event
 
will go toward new band uniforms.
 
 
 
The Allee Willis-composed songs comprising the medley—to be played first
 
instrumentally by the marching band, and then with TCP company members singing
 
along—are:   “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “In The Stone,” (all
 
major hits for Earth, Wind, & Fire), “I’ll Be There For You” (Theme from
 
Friends),” “The Color Purple,” “Stir It Up” (Patti LaBelle), and “Neutron Dance”
 
(the Pointer Sisters).   The last two songs connect Allee to Mumford
 
beyond her having gone there—they’re featured in Beverly Hills Cop, and on the
 
soundtrack, which won Allee a GRAMMY.   The film, produced by fellow Mumford
 
alum Jerry Bruckheimer, made the school famous when Eddie Murphy wore a
 
Mumford t-shirt throughout.
 
 
 
Allee was inspired to work with the Mumford High marching band after being
 
invited to conduct the 350-piece marching band at her collegiate alma mater,
 
University of Wisconsin, for the halftime show at the 2010 Homecoming
 
football game.   “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is a dream come true for
 
Allee, connecting her songs and The Color Purple to Mumford and her beloved
 
hometown of Detroit—all in the city’s most famous venue.   She also looks
 
forward to working with Mumford students on an ongoing basis.   And, this project
 
builds on work Allee started doing with the school in 2008, when she was on
 
a national radio broadcast as Mumford became the first school in the
 
country to receive 400 hours of historic audio tapes related to African-American
 
history that she helped to restore with Pacifica Radio Archives.
 
 
 
Tickets are $50 each, with attendance limited to 200 guests (not including
 
the band and event facilitators).   Sponsorships are available to help
 
underwrite the event, and will go toward “sponsored” tickets to allow current
 
Mumford students to attend, generating proceeds for uniforms, and covering
 
production costs.
 
 
 
FYI “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” takes place just before a matinee of
 
The Color Purple.   Event tickets do not include admission to the show.
 
Attendees may (but are not required to) separately purchase discounted
 
tickets for The Color Purple—in advance—by calling Fox Theatre group sales at
 
313-471-3099.
 
 
 
“Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is supported by Nickelodeon’s The Big
 
Help Grant Program.

Kid Rock Gives Back

Kid Rock’s love for Detroit and Michigan has always been apparent, but this past Saturday at his 40th birthday bash at Ford Field, Detroit showed its love for Kid Rock by presenting him with the Spirit of Detroit Award.   In true Rock style, he returned the favor by announcing $25,000 donations to each of these Metro Detroit charities, COTS, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Haven and Rainbow Connection.

The Woodward Dream Cruise – A Car Lover’s Dream

The Dream Cruise started as a fundraiser for a soccer field in Ferndale in 1995.  Today, the Woodward Dream Cruise is the world’s largest one-day automotive event, drawing 1.5 million people and 40,000 classic cars each year from around the globe.  Spectators and cruisers travel to Metro Detroit, the birthplace of the American automobile, to demonstrate and participate in an event that celebrates an ongoing love affair with the automobile.

A market research study conducted after the 2007 event found that the Woodward Dream Cruise generates more than $56 million each year for the Metro Detroit economy. The Cruise’s economic impact to the region is more significant than any other major event in Michigan, recurring or otherwise; that includes 2006 Super Bowl XL at Ford Field ($49.3 million), the 2005 MLB All-Star Game at Comerica Park ($42 million) or the 2006 Detroit Tigers post season run ($37.8 million).

Nearly 100 area charities benefit from the sale of official Dream Cruise merchandise and refreshments each year.

This year, the world’s largest one-day automotive event is August 15, 2009 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. along Woodward Avenue from Ferndale to Pontiac.

For more information or to plan a trip to the Woodward Dream Cruise, please visit: www.woodwarddreamcruise.com

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Today in Michigan History

July 24, 1701

Detroit was founded.

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and about one hundred soldiers and workers arrived after a six-week canoe trip from Montreal. The Frenchmen landed on a sandy beach at the foot of a thirty-foot bluff along the Detroit River. Here, Cadillac built a log fort that he named Ponchartrain du De Troit. Soon, the settlement’s name was shortened to Detroit.

Thank you Michigan History Magazine for this glimpse into our past.  See more at www.michiganhistorymagazine.com.

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