Paula Gardner

Paula Gardner is Bridge’s first business editor, joining the team in April 2020. Paula will be leading our new dive into business reporting, emphasizing Michigan’s economy and policy issues that affect it, along with stories about the people, decisions and changes on the front lines of business in our state.  Her career includes several years at MLive.com, where she was editor of The Ann Arbor News, statewide business reporter and part of an award-winning environmental coverage team that helped uncover and dig into Michigan’s PFAS crisis. Among her honors is an award naming her Michigan’s Journalist of the Year in 2019 from the Michigan Press Association. Paula’s experience includes leading the news team at AnnArbor.com, a digital news startup launched in 2009 that generated company-leading audience growth.  Before that, she worked at Michigan Business Review, the Detroit Free Press and the Ypsilanti Press. Paula moved from Dearborn Heights to attend the University of Michigan, then never left the greater Ann Arbor area after graduation. Find her as Paula_Gardner on Twitter or pgardner@bridgemi.com

Articles

Six of seven Michigan small businesses don’t expect to regain lost sales

Six of seven Michigan small businesses don’t expect to regain lost sales

June 4, 2020 | Paula Gardner

As Michigan begins to reopen, 87 percent of Michigan small businesses forecast sales declines. A survey also shows more business owners favor President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic than they do that of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

In downtown Kalamazoo, store owners erect plywood and brace for damage

In downtown Kalamazoo, store owners erect plywood and brace for damage

June 2, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Windows were smashed along a street filled with small, independent businesses in this West Michigan city. As Tuesday evening loomed, there was sympathy for sincere protests against police violence, and fear of what “outsiders” might have in store.

Michigan recovery plan calls for keeping businesses alive amid coronavirus

Michigan recovery plan calls for keeping businesses alive amid coronavirus

June 1, 2020 | Paula Gardner

‘During a time of crisis when you have limited dollars, you really need to make sure that whatever you are spending helps as many people as possible,’ says Doug Rothwell of Business Leaders for Michigan.

Michigan stores can reopen. It’s unclear how many shoppers will follow.

Michigan stores can reopen. It’s unclear how many shoppers will follow.

May 29, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Coronavirus closed nonessential stores across the state, but now retailers can start to reopen. The return to in-person sales could be the start of a rebound for the struggling sector —  and more jobs for unemployed residents.

‘Unusual situation’ pushes 50-year bookstore owner to make survival decisions

‘Unusual situation’ pushes 50-year bookstore owner to make survival decisions

May 28, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Some of Michigan’s retailers will still wait weeks to reopen, as they align staffing, their finances and how they’ll follow state guidelines. This is one story among them, as the owner of Curious and Archives in East Lansing grapples with coronavirus impacts.

Q&A with Rich Studley: Michigan hurt by ‘arbitrary’ coronavirus shutdown

Q&A with Rich Studley: Michigan hurt by ‘arbitrary’ coronavirus shutdown

May 28, 2020 | Paula Gardner

“Are we heading toward another lost decade?” CEO Rich Studley recently tweeted.

Michigan stores are reopening. Masks are required. Who’ll enforce it?

Michigan stores are reopening. Masks are required. Who’ll enforce it?

May 27, 2020 | Paula Gardner

The state’s retailers can reopen by following coronavirus safety guidelines, but that may cause new problems. Now they’re caught between customers who won’t wear masks - and those who expect it.

Coronavirus air travel: a postcard from a Michigan to Tampa-bound plane

Coronavirus air travel: a postcard from a Michigan to Tampa-bound plane

May 26, 2020 | Paula Gardner

As Michigan creeps toward re-opening, Bridge Business Editor Paula Gardner shares what it’s like at Detroit Metro Airport and on a crowded airplane.

Michigan travel industry feels ‘pressures in all directions’

Michigan travel industry feels ‘pressures in all directions’

May 26, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Tourism drives billions of dollars into the state’s economy. Now, after months of coronavirus shut-downs,  it’s starting summer without answers on when it can attempt to do that again.

6 lessons Michigan restaurants and bars can learn from Florida's reopening

6 lessons Michigan restaurants and bars can learn from Florida's reopening

May 21, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Some Michigan restaurants can reopen this weekend, but COVID-19 is still changing the industry. These lessons from Florida, which reopened dining room access earlier this month, offer insight into how the new rules are reshaping business.

Midland flooding highlights Michigan’s aging stockpile of neglected dams

Midland flooding highlights Michigan’s aging stockpile of neglected dams

May 20, 2020 | Paula Gardner, Meghanlata Gupta

The state’s 2,581 dams, many aging and in need of repair, get little attention from legislators, but their maintenance and costs raise concerns, particularly as water levels rise in Michigan.

Over 1.7 million applicants push Michigan unemployment system to the brink

Over 1.7 million applicants push Michigan unemployment system to the brink

May 13, 2020 | Paula Gardner

State legislators got their first look at overall jobless claims Wednesday after two months of coronavirus layoffs. Eight percent of applicants still await payments.

Long-term changes proposed for Michigan’s unemployment system

Long-term changes proposed for Michigan’s unemployment system

May 12, 2020 | Paula Gardner

With 1.3 million residents filing for jobless benefits, the system is under a spotlight. Now, some policy experts and Democrats say, it’s time to revise it. Business leaders aren’t sure.

Michigan restaurants give Gretchen Whitmer a roadmap for opening May 29

Michigan restaurants give Gretchen Whitmer a roadmap for opening May 29

May 8, 2020 | Paula Gardner

No opening date has been announced for the state’s restaurant industry, which lost over $1 billion in sales during April. Now the industry is outlining what it thinks it needs to do to reopen — and it wants the OK to start planning.

Michigan jobless claims top 1.1 million as state streamlines approvals

Michigan jobless claims top 1.1 million as state streamlines approvals

May 7, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order this week, changing the review process for benefits. The state hopes that step gets money to unemployed workers more quickly.

Q&A with Brian Calley: 1 in 7 Michigan small businesses worry about survival

Q&A with Brian Calley: 1 in 7 Michigan small businesses worry about survival

May 7, 2020 | Paula Gardner

COVID-19 continues to pressure the state’s smallest operations, with 45 percent closed and 60 percent laying off at least one employee. Here is what an advocacy group says about the situation and what is needed next.

Michigan college towns were economically stable. Coronavirus changed that.

Michigan college towns were economically stable. Coronavirus changed that.

May 6, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Cities like Ann Arbor and East Lansing benefit from the ‘economic engines’ of their state universities. Budget shortfalls, potential layoffs and more fallout from COVID-19 now threaten their financial balance, from students shopping in local stores to how many people they employ.

‘Scary times’ for Michigan restaurants won’t end when dining rooms reopen

‘Scary times’ for Michigan restaurants won’t end when dining rooms reopen

April 30, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Coronavirus is still battering the state’s restaurant industry, which lost $1.2 billion in sales in April and saw 75 percent of workers laid off. Switching to carry-out and opening for fewer patrons may not be enough for many to survive.

Some in Michigan make more from unemployment than work during coronavirus

Some in Michigan make more from unemployment than work during coronavirus

April 26, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Businesses in the northeast Lower Peninsula say some workers are not quite ready to return to their jobs, given the boost in income they receive from special federal and state funding during the pandemic lockdown.

How some Michigan counties are insulated against coronavirus unemployment

How some Michigan counties are insulated against coronavirus unemployment

April 23, 2020 | Paula Gardner

Certain places in Michigan are losing more jobs than others. It’s the same old story in a state where manufacturing still dominates the economy in some counties.

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