The city of Battle Creek is working to help its homeless population by rehabbing some foreclosed homes to put a roof over the heads of those who need it.

City officials did not immediately support the idea, saying only a percentage of vacant homes in Battle Creek survive the wrecking ball, and only a portion of the ones that don't remain vacant. Of course, this follows the normal tack taken in real estate: someone rents or buys those homes.

However, there does not appear to be a mechanism in place whereby vacant homes are taken over, rehabbed and offered as living space for someone who needs it. That becomes a more difficult batch of red tape to cut through.

Dr. Brian Long, director of supply chain management research at Grand Valley State University and a monitor of the west Michigan economy, discussed the overall economy and the real estate issue on The Richard Piet Show Monday.

When it comes to the economy and jobs, Long said, "We are still rebounding."

"This slow growth that we have had for this last five or six years is continuing," Long said. "The good news is — as far as our calculated unemployment rate is most of our statics are now at about a 10-year low."

While the statistics are positive, Long noted that the downside of this positive trend is "that doesn’t mean everybody who has a job has the job that they want – or that thee are necessarily high paying jobs."
"We have 80,000 jobs in the state of Michigan job right now that we can’t fill because we don’t have the trained people to fill them," said Long, noting such jobs include computer numerical control (CNC) operators, certified welders, health care jobs and even certified social workers."
Long said the people who have no problem finding jobs aren't necessarily those who hold college degrees, rather they are people who hold post-high-school certifications such as technical ones or Microsoft office certifications.

Hear more of Long's remarks by clicking the player below:

The Richard Piet Show is heard weekday mornings from 5:30-9 on WBCK.

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