Archive for January, 2010

Are tax cuts the right tool to create jobs?

Despite revenue shortfalls, both the state and federal officials are proposing business tax cuts to create jobs.

In Georgia, legislation sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger) would give a $2,400 tax credit to any company that hires and employs for 24 months someone who has been out of work at least four weeks, AJC staffer Nancy Badertscher reports.

The legislation also calls for creation of a $10 million pool of money that would be doled out annually to so-called “angel investors” who are willing to help finance small and start-up businesses with 20 or fewer employees.

In Washington, meanwhile, President Obama is pushing a proposal that would give companies a $5,000 tax credit for each new worker they hire in 2010, Associated Press reports. Businesses that increase wages or hours for their existing workers in 2010 would be reimbursed for the extra Social Security payroll taxes they would pay.

With double-digit unemployment, tax cuts to create jobs are understandable. But …

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Should the state try to keep the Falcons downtown?

Should the state get involved in keeping the Falcons from leaving their downtown nest?

Local hospitality leaders say a state House bill that would extend the hotel-motel tax collections that pay for the Georgia Dome is a good first step in keeping the team from flying off, AJC staffer Leon Stafford reports.

State Rep. Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) is sponsoring a bill that move the sunset date of the taxes — currently pegged at 2020 — to 2045.

The bill stipulates that the extension is contingent upon keeping the Falcons on the campus of the state-operated Georgia World Congress Center, the Dome’s current home, Stafford reports.

With all of today’s economic problems, should the state be getting involved in this? Team owner Arthur Blank is capable of financing his own stadium.

On the other hand, the Falcons bring much-needed revenue to the heart of the city.

Are you in favor or do you oppose this tax extension for the Falcons?

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Power Breakfast: Developer to buy GM Doraville site, tax incentives, Synovus, Falcons, Obama, Bernanke

There’s good news on the real estate front for a change.

An Orlando developer has a contract to buy the old General Motors plant in Doraville and plans to build a “clean and green” community of houses, shops, restaurants and offices on the site, AJC staffers Gertha Coffee and April Hunt report.

New Broad Street Cos. said it has been in discussions with GM for more than 18 months. The  Doraville plant closed in September 2008.

“It could be any mix of uses,” New Broad Street spokeswoman Barbara Koenig said Thursday. “Any mix of commercial, retail, residential.”

The deal is expected to close in early summer. The purchase price will not be disclosed, Koenig said.

“This is the best urban infill site in the country for a large transit-oriented development,” New Broad Street president David Pace said in a statement.  “It will be clean and green, incorporating environmental remediation of the former industrial site with best practices for sustainable development.”

Also in the …

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Do you still trust Toyota?

For decades, Toyota’s name has been synonymous with quality.

But its latest troubles threaten the reputation it has built over the years.

What can Toyota do to earn back your trust?

What car would you consider buying instead? Why?

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Power Breakfast: Developers hurt by credit crunch, Atlanta unemployment up, Toyota, Coke, Obama

Atlanta developers and attorneys shared frustrating stories with a federal panel Wednesday, detailing the banking industry’s reluctance to finance new developments or refinance existing deals, AJC staffer Gertha Coffee reported.

“There is a complete drought in meeting the needs of new legitimate properties or refinancing existing loans,” Brian Olasov, managing director for Atlanta law firm McKenna, Long and Aldridge, told the federal panel meeting at Georgia Tech.

Atlanta developer Hal Barry lamented the difficulty of obtaining bank financing to build four government-leased buildings, Coffee reports.

“Finding a lender to finance these buildings has been a real joke,” Barry said.

His pointed words were directed at a panel overseeing the government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Under the TARP program, the U.S. Treasury Department has put more than $6.2 billion into Georgia banks.

The chairman of Barry Real Estate explained his difficulties in working with …

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Metro Atlanta unemployment rises to 10.1 percent

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate rose to 10.1 percent in December, up from a revised 10.0 percent in November, the state labor department reported Thursday.

The number of unemployed workers in the metro area increased 3,252 to reach 269,422 in December, the labor department said.

In December 2008, the unemployment rate was 7.6 percent.

Metro Atlanta lost 105,300 payroll jobs from December 2008 to December 2009.

For comparison, the state’s previously reported unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent in December.

The national unemployment rate is 10.0 percent. For 25 of the last 26 months, Georgia’s unemployment rate has exceeded the national unemployment rate.

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Will you consider buying the new iPad?

After much fanfare and speculation, Apple introduced its new iPad tablet today.

“It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, Associated Press reported.

Jobs said the iPad will be better for reading books, playing games and watching video than either a laptop or a smart phone.

No price information was immediately announced, but it was later disclosed that the basic models will cost $499, $599 and $699, depending on the storage size. The models with pay-as-you-go data plans from AT&T will cost $629, $729 and $829, depending on the memory.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch touch screen. It is a half-inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds and comes with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash memory storage, AP said. The device comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology.

Do you think the iPad fits your needs? As more information becomes available, do you think you will buy it?

Or do you think you’ll stick with what you already …

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Power Breakfast: Home Depot job cuts, Toyota, Delta, Coke, Obama, GM

The jobs cuts keep on coming.

For the third consecutive January, Home Depot handed out pink slips Tuesday, announcing 1,000 layoffs companywide, AJC staffer Rachel Tobin Ramos reports.

Home Depot CEO Frank Blake said the latest job losses are part of a further centralizing of human resources and accounting functions.

“I want to reiterate that this is not a case of the company cutting expenses in reaction to broader economic pressures or our business performance,” Blake wrote in a memo. “That said, it is never good news to announce layoffs. The personal hardship that this will cause for many of our associates makes this a very difficult decision.”

Blake called it the “right” decision for the company and shareholders.

Since the housing market began to crash, the home improvement giant has cut nearly 20 percent of its Atlanta corporate headquarters workforce, or about 1,150 people, Ramos reports. There are now 4,300 employed there.

Chainwide, including Canada and Mexico, the …

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Retraining in a tough economy

It’s hard to ignore when terms like “linchpin” and “best-kept secret” are tossed around.

Ron Jackson

Ron Jackson

That’s what happened at last week’s Georgia Jobs Summit when several speakers referred to the state’s technical college system as an important resource that more unemployed workers need to tap.

So I decided to sit down with the commissioner of the state’s tech colleges, Ron Jackson, to see if the schools can be as helpful as some said they were.

You be the judge.

A little background first. Many jobs, especially in manufacturing, are not going to return, even when the economy decides to adopt a kinder posture than it has over the past two years. So many unemployed workers are going to have to learn new skills. If there’s an alternative to that, I don’t know it.

A place to do that relatively quickly and cheaply is at one of the 28 tech colleges. Since Georgians now collect unemployment insurance benefits for an average of 14 weeks, it’s possible to get certified in some job …

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Power Breakfast: DeCosta leaving as airport chief, home prices rise, Delta, Coke, Obama, Haiti, Google, Apple

There’s big news at the airport — Ben DeCosta will be leaving his job at the end of June as general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson.

DeCosta, 64, who’s managed the city of Atlanta-owned airport for 11 years, said in a statement Monday it was time for a “change in direction,” AJC staffer Eric Stirgus reports.

“The time feels right to now move on to new challenges and pass the torch to someone else,” he said.

Mayor Kasim Reed, in his fourth week on the job, said in a statement he will conduct a national search for a replacement. The airport, the world’s busiest, is one of the most important economic engines for the entire region.

DeCosta, a Brooklyn-born gadget aficionado, did not discuss his future plans in his statement, Stirgus writes. He could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

DeCosta’s announcement surprised some city leaders, such as Councilman H. Lamar Willis, who serves on the council’s transportation committee. The city is in the midst of building an …

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