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Posted on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 10:15 a.m.

'PBS NewsHour' highlights Ann Arbor's economy, digital media, dining scene

By Nathan Bomey

Ann Arbor's resiliency during the economic crisis, exemplified by a vibrant dining scene and an innovative economy, was featured Tuesday night on "PBS NewsHour."

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman told PBS that the university's $108 million acquisition of the 174-acre ex-Pfizer campus in Ann Arbor was an example of the university's strategy of investing during the economic crisis.

"To build that kind of lab space costs $600 a square foot. We got it for less than $50 a square foot. So for us it was a huge bargain," Coleman said. "We’re making investments in the future and we’re making the investments at a good price that we believe is going to be an enormous return."

U-M's student entrepreneurial movement, which spawned the TechArb student-led business incubator, was held up as an example of the area's economic vitality.

The segment also focused on Ann Arbor's "gourmet dining" scene, including Zingerman's.

"The city is like a life preserver, floating in a state whose economy has been sinking for a decade," PBS reporter Ray Suarez said in the 8-minute segment, part of a regular series called "Patchwork Nation," which is exploring how various communities are addressing the nation's economic crisis.

Among the local officials interviewed: U-M President Mary Sue Coleman, U-M College of Engineering Associate Dean for Entrepreneurial Programs Thomas Zurbuchen, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and RPM Ventures partner Marc Weiser.

Here's the video of the segment, provided by PBS:

PBS also posted an online-only segment on Ann Arbor's evolving digital media market. The 2-minute segment featured a discussion of the Ann Arbor News' closing, the launch of and the launch of Here's the video of the segment:

Finally, PBS also discussed Zingerman's success in Ann Arbor in another online-only segment. In the segment, Zingerman's co-founder Ari Weinzweig said his 500-employee company's business plan does not include expanding outside of Ann Arbor:

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter.



Wed, Dec 16, 2009 : 8:54 a.m.

This shows one person that did not care about the Ann Arbor News...The daily Ann Arbor paper is missed by many and that should have been reported....


Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 1:48 p.m.

Jessica, Of course it is typical to pay seasonal workers less than regular staff. Just thought I would try to remind people that Zingerman's is indeed a business, and not some type of Ann Arbor utopia.


Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 1:44 p.m.

Wow, what fantastic coverage for Ann Arbor! Love it!

Jessica Webster

Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 11:08 a.m.

voiceofreason: The article you link to is one about their plans to hire seasonal workers. It's pretty standard to pay seasonal workers considerably less than your regular staff.


Thu, Dec 10, 2009 : 12:23 a.m.

I am surprised that everyone is so eager to stick up for Zingermans based on info they have "heard" about "decent living wage". Anyone who happily purchases a $14 dollar sandwich from Zing's should forcibly have the word "Sucker" tattooed on their forehead. Here is an article from the good ole' highlighting the $8.50/hr "Living Wage" everyone is willing to pay a $6-7 premium per sandwich for.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 7:28 p.m.

This story is unbelievable. As a journalist maybe Ray should have dug a little deeper for information beyond what the usual boosters fed him. Our city, county and school district are in terrible shape. Police and fireman are being laid off and crime doesn't seem to be diminishing. Our roads and infrastructure are crumbling. Unemployment is not as bad as some parts of the state, but it is not good. I guess he couldn't see beyond Mary Sue, John and those great big sandwiches.

god's hammer

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 4:54 p.m.

Sounds surprise there.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 4:44 p.m.

whats coquillie st jacques?


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 4:14 p.m.

Zingermans was charging $15 for a sandwich in Bush's America too. I didn't buy them then either.

David Briegel

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 3:01 p.m.

Good Grief, what do you think the Subway employee is going to live on? Do you really believe they get more and better pay and benefits than Zingerman's employees? Do you think their ingredients are of equal quality? Get a grip! In a civilized society we wouldn't be speaking of health insurance. All would have it!


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 2:40 p.m.

Unemployment in AA is still over 8%. I wish the people commenting here would state what they consider a living wage in AA is? Also, an employer offering insurance is not the same as an employer providing insurance. It is great to enjoy and be able to afford Z's food all the while imagining the person serving you could actually afford to eat that way on their wage.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 1:59 p.m.

Wow -- I didn't know I could get a liverwurst with red onions and spicy mustard on rye at subway... and for $3 yet!! Sarcasm aside, Zingerman's has done so much for Ann Arbor through the products they offer, the number of jobs they create and by founding Food Gatherers. I am always stunned when someone feels a need to bash them.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 1:54 p.m.

We love living in Ann if only the wasteful city spending and property taxes were brought under control, it would be ideal.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 1:38 p.m.

I guess that decent wages, health benefits and such for workers on the bottom rung is God's way of telling us the real cost of things.

god's hammer

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 12:42 p.m.

News Flash! Not all of us can afford a $15 sandwich in Obama's America! So making high priced sandwiches for the A2 elite must be the new manufacturing jobs that Jenny's been rattling on about...

David Briegel

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 12:08 p.m.

a2tom and moose, great posts! Yugo and Mercedes both get you where you want to go! Zingerman's is the finest example of a company that pays a living wage, offers benefits, uses the finest ingredients in everything it sells and, even more important, gives back to the community! That sandwich feeds two easily!


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 11:04 a.m.

that's like comparing ground chuck to a delmonico....actually not even, those two come from the same place only god and con agra know what subway puts on a cold cut combo.


Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 11:01 a.m.

There is no comparison between what passes for a sandwich from Subway and one from Zingermans. If all you eat is based on price, then Ramen beats Coquille St Jacques from the Earle every time. If the only thing you care about is price, then minimum wage, no benefit workers everywhere are a better way to go than an employees who get a decent wage, health care and better workplace conditions. Changed your mind? I thought not.

god's hammer

Wed, Dec 9, 2009 : 10:48 a.m.

Only in Ann Arbor could someone happily pay $15 for a sandwich that you can get for $3 at Subway!