When Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm gives her State of the State address tomorrow, one of her proposals will be to save money by ending funding for the 160-year-old Michigan State Fair, one of the oldest in the country.
Denny's Super Bowl ad, announcing a free Grand Slam breakfast for a limited time, drew crowds early Tuesday morning, Feb. 3, 2009.
Alex Slitz, The Saginaw News / AP
Denny's gave away Grand Slam breakfasts for one day in its 1,152 restaurants nationwide.
Alex Slitz, The Saginaw News / AP
Salvage groceries are items that get returned to warehouses for some reason -- dented cans, over-ordering, use-by dates are getting close or items that don't sell well. This "remainders" business is getting hot in our bad economy.
Many libraries across the country are experiencing an increase in patrons, especially job seekers who use the Internet to look for work and borrow DVDs for cheap entertainment. Even with budget cutbacks, some are thinking of buying more computer terminals and expanding wi-fi options.
Pat Wellenbach, AP
To try to spur tourism and help out local businesses, the state of Massachusetts is sponsoring a new program called MassValuePass which has coupons, special offers and huge discounts.
You don't have to just let unwanted gifts sit around in your house, gathering dust. With belts tightening, you need to make use of all your assets, so a new site, barterquest.com has found a way to match up people and their stuff to barter.
To deal with the rising cost of food, Royal Caribbean is adding a surcharge for steaks served in its dining rooms.
Hybrids are one option for fuel-conscious drivers, of course, but many are now opting for even smaller vehicles: scooters. Sales are up 66 percent so far in 2008. Honda is releasing its 2009 model early to capture as many customers as possible.
M. Spencer Green, AP
Blaming inflation and rising food and energy prices, the 99 Cents Only discount store announced it was bumping its top price to 99.99 cents -- or one-hundredth of a cent less than a dollar -- the first price increase in the chain's 26-year history.
Nick Ut, AP
As economic troubles keep diners at home, restaurants are starting to cut back on portion sizes and are using cheaper ingredients -- even high-end hot spots. In New York, restaurant owners admit to shrinking lobsters, subbing shiitake mushrooms for morels and offering discount appetizers.
Larry Crowe, AP
The fair hasn't made money for 20 years and attendance has steadily declined. As a result, the state must provide a subsidy that in some years has been as high as $1.3 million.
The idea of deep-sixing money for the fair caused the usual gnashing of teeth that accompanies any proposal to cut much of anything from a state budget.Agriculture is Michigan's second-largest industry after automobiles. The state leads the nation in producing 20 separate agri-food commodities, ranking second to California.
It doesn't surprise me that the Michigan State Fair doesn't do all that well, considering that it's located in a rundown neighborhood in the City of Detroit -- not an agricultural hotspot.
Celebrating Michigan's agricultural industry seems like a good idea, but in these economically troubled times, it also seems like an excellent idea to ask the event to pay for itself.
There have been several proposals over the years to use the fair property for something else, but none of them has made it off the drawing board. In this latest plan, Gov. Granholm wants the property to be associated with job creation and public-private partnerships.
If creating new jobs in Michigan were easy, it would have been done a long time ago, but here's an idea.
Let's build a former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick Marriage Counseling Center for Wayward Politicians. It would certainly be busy. After all, Kilpatrick has lots of recent compatriots, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Sen. John Edwards. And who better to run this operation than Kilpatrick himself -- it will give him something to do when he gets out of jail on Tuesday.
In fact, this might solve two economic problems in one fell swoop. Kilpatrick needs work in order to pay the City of Detroit $1 million in restitution, and the fairgrounds needs a purpose other than a state fair that loses money.
It could be a public-private partnership even a straight-laced governor could love.