Category: Breaking News Written by Yahoo! Cutline
The New York Times published the adorable back story on Thursday, and it's quickly become the most-emailed article on the Times' website.
In May 2009, the child, Jacob Philadelphia, was visiting the White House with his father, a former Marine who was leaving his 2-year stint working for the National Security Council as part of the White House staff. The father asked to take a family photo with the president. Jacob said he had a question for Obama, who was then in his fifth month in office.
The Times recounts the rest:
"I want to know if my hair is just like yours," he told Mr. Obama, so quietly that the president asked him to speak again.
Jacob did, and Mr. Obama replied, "Why don't you touch it and see for yourself?" He lowered his head, level with Jacob, who hesitated.
"Touch it, dude!" Mr. Obama said.
As Jacob patted the presidential crown, ... [White House photographer Pete] Souza snapped.
"So, what do you think?" Mr. Obama asked.
"Yes, it does feel the same," Jacob said.
As the paper noted, President Obama has largely avoided discussing race during his first term. But the photo "is tangible evidence" that the president "remains a potent symbol for blacks, with a deep reservoir of support."
"As a photographer, you know when you have a unique moment," Souza told the paper. "But I didn't realize the extent to which this one would take on a life of its own. That one became an instant favorite of the staff. I think people are struck by the fact that the president of the United States was willing to bend down and let a little boy feel his head."
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 May 2012 13:01
Category: Breaking News Written by Bankole Thompson
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing knows and understands that Detroit accounts for pretty much everything that goes on in this region of southeastern Michigan, not only because of its proximity. The city’s history has placed Detroit into a position of both strength and weakness.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 May 2012 09:01
Category: Top News Written by Carol Cain
Healthcare is the fastest growing job sector in Michigan with nearly 600,000 people employed in it. That’s why leaders and communities in metro Detroit and state are rolling out the welcome mat with facilities, programs and services.
Add in aging baby boomers — the fastest growing demographic — and that graying is worth an awful lot of green — as in dollars.
The Michigan Health and Hospital Association in 2011 published a study showing how profoundly the healthcare industry affects Michigan’s economy. The study showed health care directly employs more than 546,000 Michigan residents.
These employees earn more than $30 billion in wages, salaries and benefits, and pay $6.6 billion in federal, state and local taxes that help support other community needs, like public safety and schools. Michigan hospitals employ more than 219,000 people.
“Healthcare is vital to creating a healthy economy and a healthy state,” said Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, who also serves as chair of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2012 Policy Conference.
“Quality healthcare is a major factor for businesses considering relocation to a state, and is essential to reducing costs and creating more value for purchasers (employers and government),” Schlichting added.
Others note that healthcare has been the one area that gained jobs during the depression-like conditions following the 2008 global economic meltdown.
“Healthcare has been one of the few bright spots in adding jobs,” said Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. “With our world class universities, hospitals and research and development skills we have all the right stuff to make Michigan a top destination for medical tourism, too.”
Economic experts point to Michigan’s history of research and development as well as its leading universities to help it in the bid for medical dollars and business that can grow jobs and make communities stronger.
“Life sciences is a real bright spot for Michigan, especially in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Kent counties,” said Patrick Anderson, founder of the Anderson Economic Group.
The economic potential of health and medical care was demonstrated in Michigan at least as far back as the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium in the 1800’s, Anderson pointed out.
“However, because the auto industry was so dominant in Michigan in recent decades, other industries were often ignored,” he said.
Indeed, what we now call “life sciences” has been a big industry in Michigan for many decades. Michigan pharmaceutical companies like Parke-Davis and Upjohn pioneered the industry, and Dow has produced medical devices.
“Only in the last decade or so have we really started counting life sciences properly. I was surprised to the scale of the industry several years ago, and I am certain it has a bright future in our state,” Anderson said.,
“The connection with the research universities is critical to the research and development dollars that have kept flowing into the state even during the recession. That’s one reason that wages in the life sciences often exceed $90,000 per year, and were growing even while most of the economy was contracting a few years.”
Michigan has 146 hospitals, some with national and international reputations for research and breakthrough medical services.
“The Michigan Hospital Association’s recent report shows healthcare has been one of the stabilizing factors through the recent years of financial stress,” said Patricia Maryland, Dr. PH, president and CEO of St. John Providence Health System.
“At St. John Providence Health System we have an annual payroll of approximately $877 million,” Dr. Maryland explained.
St. John Providence Health System includes five hospitals and more than 125 medical facilities in Southeast Michigan. It provides services such as heart, cancer, obstetrics, neurosciences, orthopedics, physical rehabilitation, behavioral medicine, surgery, emergency and urgent care.
“SJPHS has a long-time strong commitment to Detroit as well as all of Southeast Michigan,” Dr, Maryland said. “Our flagship hospital — St. John Hospital and Medical Center — is located in Detroit and has served the community for 60 years. SJPHS invested $162 million in construction there of a new patient tower and doubled the size of the Emergency Department in 2007.”
With people in Michigan living longer — including those with disabilities — the demand for long-term care is growing, which is placing tremendous financial pressure on state Medicare/Medicaid budgets.
Community Living Services (CLS), a nonprofit based in Wayne that focuses on keeping people out of long-term care facilities and at home as long as possible, is one of the largest providers in Michigan.
CLS serves Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
“It is more than simply not institutionalizing people, it is about having and supporting a quality life in their community,” said Jim Dehem, CEO of Community Living Services.
“There is a growing need and will be going forward for healthcare workers trained for these jobs,” Dehem added.
Across the state, numerous entities are trying to stay ahead of the growing needs of healthcare. Following are a few.
Henry Ford Health System’s growing girth
Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System is one of the country’s largest and most comprehensive integrated healthcare systems.
It’s made up of the 1,200-member Henry Ford Medical Group, five hospitals, Health Alliance Plan (a health insurance/wellness company), Henry Ford Physician Network, a 150-site ambulatory network and many other health-related entities throughout Southeast Michigan.
Henry Ford Health System directly and indirectly supports more than 37,500 jobs and the system’s total impact on Michigan’s economy was more than $5.8 billion in 2010.
With more than 23,000 employees, Henry Ford is the largest provider of healthcare services in Michigan.
“Healthcare organizations have also become one of the major employers in cities and states across the country and contribute significant positive economic activity to companies that do business with them,” said CEO Schlichting.
Henry Ford also aggressively pursued economic development opportunities in Detroit, including plans to develop 300 acres of land adjacent to Henry Ford Hospital with more details to be announced in coming weeks. It also has collaborated with Wayne State University and Detroit Medical Center to revitalize Midtown through LiveMidtown.
BCBSM Eyes Urban Centers
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is taking an aggressive stance in Michigan as it has concentrated its workforce in downtown Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
Many are still surprised to hear BCBSM — a not-for-profit insurance provider with almost five million customers — has 8,000 employees in the state and an economic impact of $22 billion.
That ranks it behind only General Motors and Ford Motor Company in revenue.
Daniel J. Loepp, president and CEO of BCBSM, said it will complete its moves of an additional 3,000 workers from its suburban locations to downtown Detroit in June.
As part of that commitment, the Blues signed a 15-year lease to rent space in the 500 and 600 Towers of the riverfront GM Renaissance Center, which you can see from the window of Loepp’s downtown Detroit office.
BCBSM also completed a top-to-bottom renovation of an old power station in downtown Lansing last year as it turned the long-vacant facility on the Grand River into a modern new headquarters for its Accident Fund Holdings insurance subsidiary.
And in 2003, the Blues transformed the former Steketee’s department store in Grand Rapids into its West Michigan headquarters, a move that has helped gain clients, including furniture maker Haworth, just a month ago.
“We are proud to be part of the industry leading the way to improving Michigan’s economic strength and stability,” said Loepp, who grew up on Detroit’s east side.
“The impacts of the jobs and wages, not to mention tax revenue, ripple through the state in a very positive way, providing good news even during times when other parts of the economy have struggled.”
Perhaps nowhere in the state has a community rallied together so uniquely to market itself as in Grand Rapids, which is gaining international notice with its Medical Mile.
It is an effort started a few decades ago by well-known names of families like Van Andel, DeVos, Meijer and Secchia.
It has grown into an impressive billion-dollar- plus development of medical and research facilities nestled in downtown Grand Rapids along Michigan Avenue.
Medical Mile includes the Van Andel Research Institute, Spectrum Health’s Butterworth Hospital complex, Michigan State University’s Secchia Center Medical School, Meijer Heart Center, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and more.
Construction has been so rampant that the building crane is joked about by some as the official bird of Grand Rapids.
It’s about economic development and providing world-class healthcare and R&D.
David Van Andel, son of the late Jay and Betty Van Andel, is chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute. (Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos co-founded Amway, the global direct selling giant over 50 years ago. Mr. DeVos is on Amway’s board.)
It was Van Andel’s parents’ dream to have a world-class medical research facility that David worked to make happen.
The Van Andel Institute was founded in 1996 to do biomedical research in life sciences with a focus on cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
“West Michigan has a lot going for it in the competition with established and emerging life science industries, both in the United States and abroad,” said Van Andel.
“Strong and crucial relationships have been established between independent research institutes, universities and colleges, and clinical organizations, which can create partnerships critical for grant funding and large-scale clinical trials.”
He referenced the region’s R&D prowess as helping build a stronger future.
“A history of manufacturing, research and development, and technological expertise also makes the region a natural for investment and start-ups in the medical device industry,” Van Andel said.
Oakland’s Medical Main Street
When Southeast Michigan’s economy was tanking a decade ago and manufacturing jobs were leaving in droves, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson decided diversification was the solution.
He came up with an action plan he called Emerging Sectors that looked to grow jobs in 10 sectors, and recognized the medical sector as the most promising on his list.
As a result, the county created its Medical Main Street initiative to foster business growth, which has led to more than $831 million in investments and 4,504 jobs.
More important, it is helping the region as it continues to build its reputation as a world-class destination for medical service.
“My goal was to bring together the disparate assets, create an awareness that over the last 15 to 20 years Oakland County had indeed become a center for excellence in healthcare, and that it was only a matter of time before Medical Main Street and Oakland County could challenge the Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic for top honors – and we are well on our way,” Patterson said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 May 2012 03:21
Category: Top News Written by Patrick Keating
Gov. Rick Snyder is attending the Mackinac Policy Conference for the second time this year. Prior to last year’s conference, he said one of the themes he wanted to see was “people coming together in the new culture we need for our state.” Asked to what degree people have come together, he said there has been progress.
“It’s a work in progress, so it’s not done,” Snyder said. “You don’t change a culture overnight, but I think we’ve made tremendous progress.”
He pointed out that people are working better together, and that the jobs environment has improved dramatically since last year.
He also noted that a number of things discussed last year have been accomplished.
“And now we’re going to continue that dialogue,” he said. “I hope both on working on the cultural issue of better teamwork, working better together, and continuing to work on the same subject matter, which is the need for more and better jobs, and a brighter future for our kids.”
As to the state’s relationship with Detroit, Snyder said his administration has been very proactive about wanting to engage the city in a positive, constructive and supportive way.
His goal, he noted, isn’t to run Detroit, but to be a supporting resource.
Snyder also said he hopes there’s an environment in place to create that working relationship to provide additional supporting resources, particularly on growing the city.
“To grow the city, we need to deal with better financial stability, and we need better services for the citizens of Detroit,” he said.
Asked if he’s ever taken a drive through a random neighborhood, and if so what his assessment was, Snyder said he does things like that on a regular basis. and that he acknowledges that there’s tremendous room for improvement.
“One thing I try to do when we’re in the Detroit area is get off the freeways just drive around,” he said.
Snyder was at a recent No Kid Hungry campaign at Gompers Elementary School. He called it “an illustration of a really nice school” where the kids were excited, but also noted that there were four abandoned homes across the street.
“That’s not the kind of environment you want to have,” he said, adding that such a dichotomy clearly shows there are things that must be improved on.
Last September, a partnership between the state and the Council of Michigan Foundations led to the creation of the Office of Urban and Metropolitan Initiatives, which is based in Detroit. The office is overseen by Harvey Hollins III, whom Snyder called an important asset.
Snyder also said there will be an urban-focused dashboard at some point.
Returning to the subject of the Mackinac conference, Snyder said he wants to emphasize two major things he believes are adding value. The first is Pure Michigan Business Connect.
“Which is that concept of getting Michigan businesses to work more and better with one another,” he said, adding that we’ve already seen great success, particularly with Consumer’s Energy and DTE, as well as with a number of large lenders.
“We’re seeing good results from that, but I want to see many companies and organizations belong,” he said.
“The other one is MI talent.Org, our essentially Pure Michigan Talent Connect equivalent,” Snyder said. “Because we’ve got 80,000 open jobs in our state. And how do we get people connected with these jobs? Because these are great jobs, a lot of them are. And then how do we get more employers telling about their future employment needs?”
He prefers terms like “connecting talent” over “workforce development,” saying it’s more about talent and connecting supply and demand.
“We can do a much better job,” he said.
With respect to the outsider’s impression of Michigan, Snyder, who has traveled around the world, said it’s improving.
“Generally, it’s pretty positive,” he said. “I don’t get a lot of negative feedback, even on some of the Detroit issues.”
Snyder said Michigan has good things to build on; the state just needs to show results.
He reiterated the importance of getting Michiganders to do better business with one another.
“Lowest labor cost is not the driver,” he said. “It’s total cost to quality, and we’re high quality producers here.”
He also plans to stay on the talent question for the next several years.
“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think anyone does it well in our country, in terms of making that connection.”
He said Germany provides the best illustration of how it’s done well.
“They do really well because they’ve built this program, you know this way of getting people into apprenticeships and other programs,” he said. “Skilled trades is a huge opportunity.”
Snyder added that while Michigan isn’t going to be just like Germany, one can see how the Germans were thoughtful and brought all the sectors together.
He emphasized, however, that the solution isn’t government solving problems.
“It’s government being part of a collaborative effort with the for-profit sector, the not-for-profit sector, everyone coming together and us playing a leadership role,” he said. “But it’s not just about spending money. It’s about bringing us together as a team, working together with relentless positive action.”
Snyder added that it’s working.
He said Germans he’s talked to understand what he’s doing for Michigan as opposed to the U.S.
“All I have to do is go through the list of accomplishments,” he said. “We are the role model.”
He added that Michigan has an appealing environment.
“And more than that, we’ve got people working much better together,” he said. “That’s where I view our opportunity here in Detroit. To get Detroit on the path of being a great city. Think about the power of Michigan with Detroit being on a path for success.”
The governor also spoke about the importance of making library services — especially those delivered via technology — available to all.
“Access to intellectual capital is the real question behind all this,” he said.
Snyder acknowledged the many services libraries provide, which in addition to lending out books, magazines, CDs and DVDs, includes computer and Internet access, a plethora of reference materials, and resources for job hunting — some of which are available through online access, and said making access easier for young people will get them engaged in reading and learning more.
Snyder discussed regional transportation, but said he’d like to take it off the Mackinac conference’s “recurring list.”
“We’re not done with that yet,” Snyder said. “We’ve got it in the legislature, so it’s in process. In a perfect world, we would have had that done.”
Asked how close we are to having a regional transportation system within the next five years, Snyder said he believes we’re making progress.
“I think we just have to go through the normal legislative process, and you run into challenges there,” he said.
With respect to the future of Detroit, Snyder said the city needs to go back to doing what it does best — making thing and exporting goods.
“The ‘imported from Detroit’ line is a fabulous visual for where the city’s going,” he said.
Snyder also said it’s about making Detroit a magnet for young people, and that the neighborhoods have to be part of the equation.
For decades, Detroit has been defined by the auto industry. Snyder said the industry remains very important, and is on a parallel path with the state in many respects.
“There’s a symbiotic relationship,” he said. “So it’s not two separate tracks, it’s like they’re interwoven.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 24 May 2012 03:09
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