Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt

Series produced by Changing Gears

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Changing Gears explores the economic transformation of the industrial Midwest, through the stories of people driving and experiencing this change.

Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt is a multi-year project that will look at the future of the industrial Midwest, with a two fold mission: journalism and public engagement.

Changing Gears is a product of the Upper Midwest Local Journalism Center, created through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Its host stations are Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, Chicago Public Radio and ideastream in Cleveland.


37 Pieces

Order by: Newest First | Oldest First
Caption: Wendy Whitmore, Credit: Preeti Upadhyaya
Unemployment numbers in the Midwest are bad. Not as bad as when the recession was at its worst, but there are still a lot of people looking for job...

  • Added: Mar 30, 2012
  • Length: 03:38
Caption: Part-time farmer Howard Haselhuhn at his West Michigan hops farm., Credit: Lindsey Smith
Our Changing Gears team has been looking into some of the hidden assets of the Midwest - the parts of our economy that don’t often get noticed when...

  • Added: Mar 21, 2012
  • Length: 03:58
Caption: Instructor Steve Henkelman programs a CNC machine at Grand Rapids Community College., Credit: Dustin Dwyer
Our Changing Gears team is looking into some of the hidden assets of the industrial Midwest - the parts of our economy that don’t often get noticed...

Bought by New Hampshire Public Radio


  • Added: Mar 16, 2012
  • Length: 03:22
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Victor Gregory teaches high schoolers about cars. He worries when they take on debt after graduation.
Americans owe close to a trillion dollars in student loan debt. Our Changing Gears project has been reporting on that debt, much of which comes fro...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and New Hampshire Public Radio


  • Added: Mar 08, 2012
  • Length: 03:50
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Like most of his classmates, Tom Amundson took out federal loans to attend barber school, Credit: Kate Davidson
Our Changing Gears project is looking at student debt. We know many families struggle to afford traditional colleges. But a lot of student debt com...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio and WAMC


  • Added: Feb 29, 2012
  • Length: 03:33
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Tom Wahlrab from Welcome Dayton speaks to Global Detroit.
While Alabama was putting out the most restrictive laws against illegal immigrants in the country, Dayton officials were putting out the welcome ma...

  • Added: Feb 27, 2012
  • Length: 03:34
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Here in the Midwest, people are looking for any way to help the economy be strong again. But there’s one asset in our economy that is sometimes ove...

  • Added: Feb 20, 2012
  • Length: 03:51
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Midwest states are changing the relationship between unions and workers. This year, Indiana became the first in the region to become a right to wor...

  • Added: Feb 20, 2012
  • Length: 04:15
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The nation was riveted on Madison Wisconsin last year when tens of thousands of people protested Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to dismantle most uni...

  • Added: Feb 20, 2012
  • Length: 04:03
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In the Midwest, it’s hard to get around without a car. These days, people are holding onto them longer … the average vehicle age is almost 11 years...

Bought by Delta College Public Radio


  • Added: Feb 20, 2012
  • Length: 03:46
  • Purchases: 1
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It’s been a tough few years for teachers. Classes are bigger. Pay is down. Benefits cost more. Pensions are under threat. And, in the last year, te...

Bought by WAMC


  • Added: Feb 20, 2012
  • Length: 03:34
  • Purchases: 1
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More than 2 million manufacturing jobs were lost during the recession. But employers are starting to hire again – the new jobs, however, require mo...

  • Added: Jan 13, 2012
  • Length: 04:03
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The Midwest has 13 percent of the country’s population, but it still produces more than a third of the nation’s cars, steel and the lion’s share of...

Bought by WRST-FM Oshkosh


  • Added: Jan 13, 2012
  • Length: 03:46
  • Purchases: 1
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Here's one way an economy can begin to turn around: a business person sees an opportunity - maybe it's a building that's been sitting empty, a bloc...

  • Added: Jan 13, 2012
  • Length: 03:22
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The industrial Midwest might not be the industrial Midwest if it weren’t for the iron-rich regions of northern Minnesota and Michigan. These “iron ...

  • Added: Jan 13, 2012
  • Length: 03:47
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All across the Midwest, cities and suburbs are tackling the problem of Empty Places. Changing Gears reporters took a look at some of the challenges...

  • Added: Dec 15, 2011
  • Length: 19:06
Caption: Memorabilia from the now defunct AutoWorld in Flint
Changing Gears reporters will tackle a subject that’s long been a part of the Midwest mind frame: magic bullets. By magic bullets, we mean the big...

Bought by Louisville Public Media


  • Added: Dec 14, 2011
  • Length: 15:59
  • Purchases: 1
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Changing Gears reporters spent a week on the road, traveling to places throughout the Midwest where local economies and town cultures revolve aroun...

  • Added: Dec 14, 2011
  • Length: 20:12
Caption: Open Books program director Anna Piepmeyer and second grader Jayla Mercado. , Credit: Niala Boodhoo
Some nonprofits in the region that rely on government funding are in trouble. As a result, many are now looking at how they can get other sources o...

  • Added: Jun 24, 2011
  • Length: 03:14
Caption: Amelia Cummings celebrates her new room ... and four months clean. , Credit: Kate Davidson
Non-profits are a vibrant part of the regional economy. They employ many people and the need for their services has grown. But charities that contr...

  • Added: Jun 24, 2011
  • Length: 03:56