Officials in Detroit who helped bring the Red Bull Air Race to this area appear to be in no rush to win back the event's return next year, but applauded Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis for travelling to London this weekend to meet with the company.

"Anything he can do to get them to seriously consider coming back to Detroit is positive," said Chris Baum, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Red Bull came to Detroit on a one-year deal thanks to Detroit Air Racing, whose leaders spearheaded the effort to form a committee and pursue the event.
That same committee is in the midst of assembling a three-year contract for Red Bull to return, Baum said.

"There is a committee and process in place," he said. "In terms of the proposal, it will be Detroit Air Racing's call on how to approach this."

Francis and Windsor's tourism boss Gordon Orr went to London this weekend because they felt Red Bull is leaning to moving the event elsewhere because of some operational concerns.
The company is poised to lock in its 2009 global air race schedule sometime within the next week or so, the mayor said.

But Baum did not seem overly concerned, noting this year's air race event in Detroit was not finalized until sometime around last Christmas.

Red Bull media officials could not be reached Friday, with a company spokesman indicating they were busy in Ottawa with its Flugtag event -- where everyday people build homemade flying machines and pilot them off 22-feet-high ramp.

Baum said everyone in Detroit was very pleased to host the Red Bull Air Race and are poised to gladly welcome them back.

"They drew large crowds -- paid and unpaid," he said.

Red Bull officials alone booked 5,000 room nights at the Ren Cen's Marriott Hotel, Baum said.

"From our perspective we are always interested in filling rooms. it was a very positive event, no negatives. The fact we outdrew San Diego (the only other U.S. stop) by a wide margin bodes well for a return to Detroit."
The new $431-million North Terminal is expected to open Sept. 17, right on schedule, at Detroit Metro Airport, ending the era of the shabby Smith and Berry terminals.

"With the McNamara and North terminals, we now have two beautiful front doors for anyone arriving in our region by air," Michael Conway, Metro Airport spokesman, said as the Free Press got a sneak-peek tour Friday.

On Sept. 16, after their last flights, airlines will transfer during the night to the new terminal.

North will open for business Sept. 17 with 24 gates open and two more to follow next summer.
Built directly across the street from the Big Blue Deck parking structure, the terminal is about half the size and with a fifth as many gates as McNamara. Yet in many ways it looks like McNamara -- light, lots of glass, straight-line design, lots of stainless steel.

The main thing passengers will notice is that the terminal will be easier to navigate than McNamara. Because it is smaller, it's easy to find the passenger walkway to the parking deck, baggage claim and the right gate.

The new terminal likely won't be named North very long, either. The airport is selling the naming rights to the terminal, perhaps even before it opens.

The new terminal is about a half-mile-long end to end. It won't have a tram.
Other features:
• Far more color than the understated McNamara. Many of North's walls, jetways and part of its terrazzo floor are a bright shade of royal blue. Funky white orb lights decorate the terminal at both ends.
• Four sets of moving walkways and 50,000 square feet of stores and restaurants, including a Hockeytown Café, a Borders and a Ruby Tuesday. Unlike McNamara, there also will be a restaurant at baggage claim and restrooms in the departures area before security.
• Many electrical outlets so travelers can plug in their laptops. (Like the rest of the airport, it also will have terminal-wide Wi-Fi.)
• Like McNamara, a transit center for airport shuttles, taxis and limos will be across the pedestrian bridge adjacent to the parking deck.

North does have some things McNamara doesn't, including the newest passenger screening machines, a hidden high-tech luggage screening system and a modular construction that makes layout changes easier.

Each gate also will have sophisticated, energy-efficient jet-refueling and power stations that save airlines fuel and electricity.

"We tried to take lessons learned from McNamara, which was built pre-9/11," said Scott Roberts, deputy director of public affairs who has been involved in the North project since it took off in October 2005.

From the main lobby, there are two security checkpoints on either side of the ticket counters. The terminal will be able to take international flights and have a complete customs and immigration facility.

North will service Spirit, Southwest, American, United, USAirways, Frontier and Air Tran, all of which have been forced to operate out of the 51-year-old Smith.

USA 3000 airlines will transfer from the virtually empty Berry Terminal.

Lufthansa and Royal Jordanian airlines, now based at McNamara, also will move there.

Northwest Airlines and its partners will remain at the McNamara Terminal.

Smith and Berry terminals will be demolished in the coming months.

The new terminal is built for 7 million passengers. About 4 million are expected to pass through it the first year. Five more gates could be added if necessary, Roberts said.

One other change? "Airlines aren't going to chisel their logos into the finish" at the gates, said Scott Wintner, another Metro spokesman.

In a nod to the swiftly changing airline picture, electronic signs will tell passengers which gate and ticket counter belongs to which airline.

North Terminal is being paid for with bonds that will be repaid by a $4.50 surcharge on passenger tickets.

The new terminal may draw new airlines to Metro, Roberts said.

"If a new airline wanted to come in, they could start right away," he said, "which gives more service at the airport, keeps the prices down and gives travelers another option to get someplace."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House committee approved a compact Wednesday to prevent the diversion of water from the Great Lakes, one of the world's largest sources of fresh water.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the compact, building momentum in Congress for the Great Lakes agreement.

"The compact will ensure that our Great Lakes will remain stabile and vibrant for generations to come," said Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and the committee's chairman.

The agreement was negotiated by eight Great Lakes states and bars countries or remote states from tapping into the lakes from their natural drainage basin with rare exceptions.

It also requires the states to regulate their own large-scale water uses and promote conservation.

"The sooner this compact can be ratified by the Congress, the sooner it will become effective and the greater protection will be given" to the lakes, said Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis.

The Senate Judic iary Committee was expected to hold a hearing on the compact later Wednesday as lawmakers hope to act on the interstate compact before the end of the year.

State leaders in the region developed the plan amid concerns that the worldwide freshwater shortage would lead thirsty regions to attempt to access the lakes.

Governors in the region negotiated the compact for more than four years before reaching an agreement in December 2005. Michigan was the last of the eight states to approve the pact earlier this month.President Bush has urged Congress to approve the agreement, and both major presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, have said they support the compact.

House and Senate leaders from the region have said they are not aware of any significant opposition to the plan, which is common among states. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia currently belong to at least one interstate water compact, and many state s belong to more than one.
Oakland University and Royal Oak-based William Beaumont Hospitals have raised $25 million in donations to launch their joint medical school in fall 2010, leaders of both institutions announced Thursday.

The Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine will open with an inaugural class of 50 students, presuming it obtains accreditation from the Liaison Committee for Medical Education sometime next year.

Beaumont and OU also announced the appointment of Robert Folberg, currently professor and department head of pathology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, as the school’s first dean.

Gary Russi, president of OU, estimated that “about 25” private and corporate donors have committed the first $25 million toward the $100 million in operating costs needed before the institution can fully fund itself through tuition and other sources. Russi estimates the institutions will need another $100 million or more, in addition to the operating costs, for two construction projects — an instructional building at the OU campus, and a clinical building devoted to medical education at Beaumont’s main medical campus in Royal Oak.

“But with the $25 million we already have in place, there’s enough to get it going,” Russi said.The medical degree program at OU-Beaumont could help change the mix of local doctors and turn more Michigan residents into medical professionals, according to OU Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Virinder Moudgil, and John Musich, vice president and director of medical education programs at Beaumont.

More than 70 percent of students who graduate from OU’s current pre-med programs and apply to medical schools elsewhere are successful, though many end up enrolling out of state.

At the same time, Musich noted, less than 50 percent of any given class admitted to the University of Michigan’s medical school are in-state residents.Moudgil said the university cannot legally give preferential admission treatment to its own pre-med students, but he hopes to see the university help pre-med students prepare for the OU-William Beaumont program.

Moudgil said the university will apply for its LCME accreditation sometime later this year and hopes to obtain at least a probationary approval by 2009, allowing the school to begin recruiting students.
According to Automative News:

-Cash incentives to move trucks, including hybrids.

-Zero percent financing for 72 months for customers with A credit rating on five 2008 vehicles.
-40 percent off sticker price for the Dodge Ram, 25 percent off the Aspen, 24 percent off the Town & Country minivans and 28 percent off Grand Cherokees.
-A lease loyalty incentive former lease customers can apply toward a purchase, including waiver of a $425 lease disposition fee.

Michigan: The Mini Hollywood of the Midwest?

Actor Jeff Daniels loves his native Michigan so much that he produced a movie about deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula and stars in TV ads for the state's economic development. Philadelphia-born Mitch Albom, author of "Tuesdays With Morrie," set his latest best-selling novel, "For One More Day," in his adopted state. It pained him when the TV movie was shot in Connecticut instead.

So it was in keeping for this pair of loyal Michiganders to want to help alleviate the misery in a state where the 8.5% unemployment rate remains three percentage points higher than the nation's. Michigan, they decided, could become a mini-Hollywood of the Midwest, churning out movies, TV shows and commercials the way the slowing factories around here once spit out pickup trucks and SUVs.

Three months ago Messrs. Daniels and Albom got a posse of state legislators and Gov. Jennifer Granholm to push through the nation's most generous rebate for video and film production: up to 42% of the costs a producer incurs on everything from key grips to honey trucks. And Hollywood is marching in.

Just two months later, Michigan already had signed 24 agreements under the new law, representing projects that call for a purported total of nearly $200 million in spending here -- and state-treasury paybacks totaling more than $70 million. Also, the Michigan Film Office reports that 84 scripts were submitted for its consideration just a week after the new law passed, compared with only seven all of last year.

This doesn't surprise Mike Binder, a Michigan native and Hollywood director. "People ask me, 'Why did you set "The Upside of Anger" in Detroit but shoot it in London?'" he says. "Because they gave me a tax break."

But it isn't clear that the legislature has done the right thing in selecting the Albom-Daniels script for economic recovery. The obvious weakness of this ploy is that many cities and states are hankering for Hollywood's table scraps. Pittsburgh is trying to create "Hollywood on the Mon(ongahela River)." New Mexico and Louisiana are well ahead on this path. And there's nothing stopping Kentucky, Colorado or Florida from leapfrogging Michigan, which previously hiked its rebate to 20% in 2006.

Critics also have lambasted the new incentives as a Band-Aid that can't come close to covering the state's gaping wounds. Detroit car makers' U.S. market share now stands at a near-historic low of 47%, and Michigan has lost 69,000 payroll jobs in the past year alone. Yet because Michigan retains great competency in complex manufacturing, the law of comparative advantage would argue for redoubling efforts in that arena rather than chasing moviemakers.

Others have knocked the basic unfairness of selecting a single industry for privileged treatment. "It involves picking winners and losers in the marketplace so there is less for everyone else," complains Michael LaFaive, director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a think tank in Midland, Mich.

Besides, the state treasury already is facing a projected deficit of more than $400 million for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 -- after huge new boosts in personal-income and business-receipts taxes. The movie rebates are "an insult to every business that just got a big tax increase," says Patrick Anderson, principal of Anderson Economic Group, in East Lansing, Mich.

Michigan's celluloid pedigree is skimpy -- and checkered. "Somewhere in Time," shot at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in 1979 and starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour, showed the state's breathtaking beauty. Thanks to the Big Three auto makers, Michigan once ranked as a leading site for TV ads. But moviegoers are much more apt to recall tumbled-down images of Detroit, a city that has lost about half its population over the past half-century.

Recently, the producers of "Transformers" joined a roster of peers who have used the crumbling Michigan Central train depot in southwest Detroit, and its now-toothless beaux-arts façade, as an apocalyptic metaphor. And there's "DEA," the new Spike TV series that followed Drug Enforcement Agency officers as they busted down crack-house doors in Detroit. With "the highest murder rate in the country," Detroit "is a deadly city," an announcer intoned. It's no wonder that one of the first new movies announced in the new rebate era was "The Job," whose director wants to take advantage of the "vivid streets" here to depict people living "far on the margins."

Rebate backers don't mind continuing to offer genuine Motown grittiness. But they believe that producers will press many other settings into use, including Michigan's quaint tourist towns, vast deciduous forests and lengthy shoreline. Johnny Depp reportedly has been scouting sites around one watery haven, Traverse City. The new law also includes breaks for digital moviemakers who can work -- inside -- anywhere.

"If you have five films shooting at the same time, with five full working crews, that's a small industry of people constantly working," says Mr. Albom. "And then you've built a creative force that can justify moving to, living in, and staying in Michigan."

Beyond that, however, lies the even bigger question of whether Michigan could ever harbor a critical mass of the creative class for the long term. Are screenwriters, make-up artists, movie agents and paparazzi ever going to haunt Woodward Avenue in Detroit the way they blanket Beverly Hills?

Connecticut has been able to attract some long-term investments in movie-making not just because it preceded Michigan as the most generous rebater -- at 30% -- but also because it's part of greater New York and Boston. "It's important to be in close proximity to creative centers of the world, and schools and universities that feed them," says Joan McDonald, Connecticut's economic and community-development commissioner.

For Michigan to succeed, says Richard Florida, a University of Toronto business professor and author of the new book "Who's Your City," it "will have to knock off a Toronto." He concedes that currency exchange no longer favors the Canadian dollar but notes that, just a few hundred miles from here, Toronto already has leveraged hefty rebates into "a huge infrastructure and very deep networks" that cultivate a thriving film industry.

One local newspaper wag couldn't decide whether the state would become known as "Michiwood" or "Wishigan." In any event, Michigan's Louis Mayer wannabes were encouraged recently by a gathering at a suburban Detroit sound stage. It was publicized only on the state's film office Web site, "but 800 people came out," Mr. Albom reports. "Everyone from hairdressers to actors to producers to camera operators -- they were all there. That tells me there is an enormous base of people who are anxious to work in these fields here and just waiting for the work to come."
The fate of part of Tiger Stadium has gone into extra innings.

Two groups reached a tentative deal Tuesday afternoon to keep a portion of the structure between first base and third base standing until at least next March.

Demolition is expected to continue Wednesday on other sections of the ballpark.Under the agreement with the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy has until Aug. 8 to put $300,000 into an escrow account.

If the conservancy fails to raise an estimated $15.6 million for the project by March 1, half the $300,000 would go to the city. The conservancy will keep the rest.The DEGC, a nonprofit organization that works with the city to promote economic development in Detroit, is expected to meet Aug. 4 with conservancy officials to negotiate a more detailed framework of financing and deadlines for the preservation effort.

The finished deal will be presented to City Council on Aug. 8 for approval.

The conservancy, led by Hall-of-Fame baseball broadcaster Ernie Harwell, appeared to be running out of time in raising enough funds to meet an Aug. 1 deadline to retain part of Tiger Stadium.

But the group came up with more than $400,000 and convinced a council committee this week to ask the full board to rescind an earlier vote calling for complete demolition of Tiger Stadium.

"We ought to affirm people who want to invest in treasures in this city," said councilwoman JoAnn Watson, who expressed support for preserving part of the stadium. Harwell had been expected to attend Tuesday's meeting, but had to attend to his wife, Lulu, who was hospitalized with chest pains, his attorney Gary Spicer said.

Two companies hired to do the work began knocking down some of the outfield walls last month.

They had expected to make about $1 million by selling off scrap.The city loses a $300,000 payment from the contractor if part of the stadium is saved. The $300,000 from the conservancy makes up that amount.

The conservancy also has agreed to put another $69,000 into an escrow account to pay for six months of security at the ballpark and maintenance of the site.
Six hundred new jobs and $480 million.

In vehicle manufacturing.

In metro Detroit.

That’s the number of new jobs and the revenue projection by Fisher Coachworks L.L.C., a new company that’s developing a 40-foot ultralightweight hybrid bus designed for urban use, which boasts twice the fuel efficiency of current hybrids.

Fisher, which has its first prototype nearly complete, is searching for a 50,000-square-foot production building in the area and is awaiting the results of a request for a $6 million loan from Michigan’s 21st Century Jobs Fund. It currently has offices in Troy.

The company, which is introducing the bus to media today, wants to begin production by next summer. It has $6 million in hand from a U.S. Department of Energy grant and private investment. The loan is part of the $10 million Fisher needs to begin production, and a decision on it is expected Oct. 8.

“We hope to build the vehicle in Michigan,” said CEO Greg Fisher.

That hinges on funding and finding a site. California and Tennessee also are interested in landing the project, said Bruce Emmons, president of Rochester Hills-based engineering firm Autokinetics Inc., where four prototype buses are being built. They declined to offer details on the out-of-state interest.

Fisher predicts it will garner $480 million in revenue by its seventh year if it reaches 15 percent market share for hybrid buses, according to information the company provided at the recent Michigan Growth Capital Symposium.

The company is the brainchild of Greg Fisher, whose family name can attract interest. He’s the grandson of Fisher Body Co. co-founder Albert Fisher, who along with his brothers ran the car body company whose iconic coach symbol was stamped on General Motors Corp. vehicles for most of the 20th century. Fisher later became a GM division.

Now, that insignia will adorn the sleek silver buses.

“We’re essentially getting the band back together after 100 years,” Fisher said in jest. He’s also president of Troy-based Fisher/Unitech Inc., which specializes in improving production for manufacturers. Autokinetics, which first began work on the hybrid bus seven years ago, was one of Fisher’s clients.

At the heart of the new enterprise is the Fisher GTB-40 bus. Because it uses a lightweight nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel unibody and has no traditional engine for propulsion — it relies on Swiss-made batteries to drive motors for each wheel — the buses are half the weight of other hybrids and diesel models and get twice the mileage.

A small diesel engine is used to power a generator that keeps the batteries charged longer. Energy from the brakes is captured for reuse.

“It’s really a different mousetrap, a different widget,” Fisher said.

The buses are estimated in simulations to get 10 miles per gallon versus the 4 to 5 mpg for hybrid buses on the road today, resulting in a projected savings of $2.5 million in fuel costs over the typical 12-year lifespan of a bus. That savings is despite a $550,000 per-unit price tag compared with today’s hybrids that cost about $200,000 less.

The savings because of green technology has transit authorities interested. So far, the company has talked to 10 public bus agencies, including Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids.
A Detroit City Council vote on the fate of Tiger Stadium has been delayed to allow more time for preservationists to reach an agreement with a development group.

The council had been expected to take up the issue of whether to proceed with the complete demolition of the old ballpark Tuesday morning.

But the council broke for lunch without a vote.

Instead, it told leaders of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy and the quasi-public Detroit Economic Growth Corp. to meet privately and work out a deal that could result in a slice of the stadium being saved.

The conservancy says it has raised enough money for its restoration plan. But DEGC officials say the specifics of their agreement with preservationists have not been met.

Crews began demolishing the stadium last month.