Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fair Time in Michigan

Michigan Expats - Events - See All Events

By Doctor

Growing up, I would go and stay with my grandparents in Lowell for a week every summer. That week would always correspond with the Kent County Youth Fair which kicks off its 76th year on Sunday with a "Green and Growing" theme. Some of my fondest memories are riding into downtown Lowell with my grandfather in his GMC pick-up to visit the fair. Seeing all of the farm animals, having an elephant ear, the midway, and checking out all of the 4-H exhibits.
I still remember the excitement buying a Jose Conseco rookie card at the fair. Obviously this was years before a home run ball bounced off his head, steroids, and the Surreal Life.

I know I'm not alone. Going to the fair is a big part of growing up in Michigan for a lot of people. Thousands of kids participate in 4-H programs and show horses and livestock. It can be a fun time for the whole family to go for the midway, tractor pulls, demolition derbys, and concerts.

The Northwestern Michigan Fair also starts today just south of Traverse City. I still have the song they played on the radio in the Traverse City area to adertise the fair still stuck in my head a dozen years later: "goin' to da fair, goin' to da fair, goin' to da Northwest Michigan Fair."

Michigan is also home to "The Most Popular Fair on Earth," the Hillsdale County Fair, which will celebrate its 160th year in late-September.

Unfortunately the outlook for fairs across Michigan are not as positive as our memories. The Ionia Free Fair has not been "free" for years, and as The Detroit News reports today, the Michigan State Fair will be going out of business after 160 years.

Please share your Michigan fair memories in the comments.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Another Successful Year for the TC Film Festival

Michigan Expats - Events - See All Events

By Doctor

The sixth annual Traverse City Film Festival concluded on Sunday, August 1, and event organizers have announced that it was "another groundbreaking year with more movies, more tickets, more admissions and more screenings."

This year the festival attracted over 106,000 admissions at screenings of 80 features and 40 short films from 30 countries over six days from July 27 through August 1.

Let us kow if you attended the festival. More information about the festival after the jump.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pick-Up Truck Sales Drive Detroit Toward Profitability

Michigan Expats - News - See All News

By Doctor

Both Ford and GM sold over 100,000 light trucks each in the month of July, writes Manny Lopez in the Detroit News today.

These positive sales numbers will not receive as much publicity as the recent announcements regarding Chevrolet's highly hyped electric Volt, but they are probably more important to the long-term success of the domestic auto industry.

As Lopez points out, "Ford Motor Co. sold more trucks in a week last month than all of the Volts General Motors Co. plans to produce in a year."

Michiganders hope that the Big Three can return to sustainable profitability. That goal will be much more likely if  "the auto industry is driven by cars and trucks that consumers want, not what the government says must be built."

Dear Michigan, We're Ready to Come Home

Michigan Expats - Commentary - See All Commentary

By Mr Sig

As a Michigan Expat and Alumni of the Mott Park Neighborhood in Flint, MI, I hereby request the state of Michigan open its doors a little wider. I am a typical expat. I grew up in Michigan, went to primary/high school/college in Michigan, travelled "up north" on numerous occasions, point out my hometown on my hand etc. etc.. I also share another trait with expats. Shortly after I graduated from college, I left the state because of a job opportunity. This trend is pretty common, and Michiganders have become accustomed to it. What else would you expect in a state with incredible colleges and a terrible economy? We breed smart people, and watch them leave and never return. How depressing!

I moved out to the Washington DC area, one of the most dreadful and corrupt places in the world, yet filled with jobs. Because Democrats and Republicans tend to agree that the government can never be big enough (in practice at least), there has been an explosion of new government jobs and an equally big explosion of private contractors working for the government. Because of this the recession never came here. Naturally, there are Michigan expats all over the DC area who have left their state to migrate to where the jobs are. Can we really blame these people? Not really. Michigan still seems to have a hard time accepting that the past glory is not going to come back in the same form. This isn't exactly the best way to get people to stay. Neither is grasping for Federal money which is subjected to the whims and fancies of a particular administration and passing fads such as green initiatives which are popular but not profitable. Expats, regardless of political beliefs, tend to realize that this approach to bringing jobs back to Michigan is good at little more than filling pro-Michigan brochures and the website with some basic content. We hear about things every once in a while regarding some new company that strikes a deal with Lansing to open up a plant and create 200 jobs or so. Special tax incentives are thrown around to create these scenarios, but we tend to ignore this because we understand that special incentives shouldn't be necessary. We ask ourselves, why do businesses need to go to Lansing, or work with the MEDC just to get a good deal? How about giving the same great deals to everybody? For whatever reason, businesses still don't want to go to Michigan. But I'll leave that debate aside because I want to talk about me... and hundreds of thousands (millions?) of expats just like me. I have a trait that almost all Michigan expats have.

I want to come home.

I've met TONS of Michigan expats out here in the DC area and every single one of them says the same thing. "Yeah, I moved out here after graduating from 'insert Michigan college here' and I work doing 'X' and I like my job, but eventually I want to move back to Michigan." .....And do what?.... Think about what would happen if this conversation changed to "Yeah, I moved out here after graduating from 'insert Michigan college here' and I work doing 'X' and I like my job, but I'm moving back to Michigan in August because my company opened up an office there. I can't wait! I'll be able to get a house with an actual yard for less than I'm paying for rent out here. I'll be closer to family, and I just can't wait to be back in Michigan. There's just so much more to do there, and life is just so much easier." I hope I'm speaking for a vast majority of Michigan expats when I say that Michigan is the most beautiful state in the country. We tend to realize this after going out to the rest of the country (or world) in the hopes of being impressed only to say something to the tune of "ehh, so what, it's just a waterfall, there are a million of those in Michigan and the water is actually clear." We think of much more than just aesthetics. The house next door to where I lived in Michigan just sold for something around $50,000, but that same house would be nearly $500,000 in my current neighborhood. My grocery bill is $150, but I used to pay $80 in Michigan. I can "gasp" PARK MY CAR in Michigan. I can send my kids to a private elementary school for $2,000 in Michigan. Try $7,000 out here. And the list goes on. Michigan has expats who are smart because they went to Michigan colleges and hardworking because that's what you have to do to get good jobs like we have. We are committed to success and achievement, and we want to see our old stomping grounds as a place where we can do that better than anywhere else.

I hope this is seen as a positive message. Yes, Michigan expats grow weary of seeing their old state cast as an example of high unemployment and endless misery. We know that only the former is true. But that won't last forever, and when Michigan finally gets its act together, we'll come back. We'll stay, and we'll raise our families, and teach them right from wrong, take them to Tiger games and to the Mackinac Bridge. We'll make sure they are intelligent and that they seek out the best opportunities whether they are in Flint or Fiji. Either way, we'll try to convey in them a sense that Michigan is home and that even if their dreams take them around the world they'll come full circle and land back in Michigan. We want to create a generation of Michigan-born heroes, entrepreneurs, and examples of success with values. And we will succeed. Just as our parents did. So, I hope to see all of you current Michiganders sooner rather than later. And to all you expats out there, when the time is right for you, I hope you will consider coming back. Who's first?