Archive for August, 2010

Power Breakfast: DeKalb kills GM redevelopment, low interest rates, housing setback, credit card debt, Carter

The big local business story comes out of DeKalb.

Balking at giving public money to a private developer, DeKalb County voted Tuesday against investing in the redevelopment of the shuttered Doraville GM plant, AJC staffer Megan Matteucci reports.

Instead, the county will likely use $36 million in federal stimulus bonds to upgrade its aging water and sewer system.

After months of closed-door meetings and negotiations, the DeKalb County Commission voted 5 to 2 to kill the $54 million project that called for a mixed use of retail and office space, as well as residential units at the site near I-85 and I-285, Matteucci writes.

The plan called for giving $36 million in federal stimulus bonds to Florida developer New Broad Street. It also required another $18 million in interest, which would be paid for by a property tax increase, Matteucci reports.

“The commission realized this wasn’t the right time to give $36 million to a developer,” said Commissioner Elaine Boyer, who …

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Is new report on job market on the mark or all wet?

Do you buy this?

In its annual Labor Day outlook, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says the job market is well on the road to recovery. In fact, Challenger, Gray says it’s rebounding sooner and faster compared with the jobless recoveries that followed the previous two recessions.

The firm, known for regularly tracking corporate jobs cuts, says positive trends include the pace of layoffs and job creation.

“By most accounts, we are barely a year into the recovery,” John Challenger, chief executive of the firm, said in a statement. “At this point in the previous two recoveries – following the 1991 and 2001 recessions – the job market was actually getting worse.”

Challenger said “many people are so caught up looking at the weekly and monthly numbers, that they fail to look at the bigger trends, which indicate just how much the job market has improved over the last 12 months.”

In Georgia, the unemployment rate fell slightly to 9.9 percent in July. But that …

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Power Breakfast: Airport seeks hike in business fees and new GM, bank suit, Cousins, aquarium, Fed, H-P

The airport makes the news with two stories today.

Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson want to sharply raise fees on many businesses that operate there, saying the revenue boost is needed to help secure construction financing for the new international terminal, AJC staffer Kelly Yamanouchi reports.

The airport plans to restructure and hike fees for regional shuttles, hotel shuttles, limos, off-airport parking lots and others — in some cases boosting the annual cost to a business by 400 percent or more, Yamanouchi writes. The move comes as the airport prepares to try to sell bonds to finish the $1.4 billion terminal project.

Businesses are balking at the size of the increases, saying the economy makes it hard to pass costs onto travelers, Yamanouchi reports.

Meanwhile, nearly two months after the departure of the airport’s general manager, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed has selected three finalists in the search for a successor, Yamanouchi and AJC staffer Ernie Suggs write.

John …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Airport seeks hike in business fees and new GM, bank suit, Cousins, aquarium, Fed, H-P »

How important is home ownership to you?

Has your view of the rewards of home ownership changed? Permanently?

Housing will eventually recover from its great swoon, the New York Times reports. But many real estate experts now believe that home ownership will never again yield rewards like those enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century, when houses not only provided shelter but also a plump nest egg, NYT writes.

The wealth generated by housing in those decades did more than assure the owners a comfortable retirement. It powered the economy, paying for the education of children and grandchildren, keeping the cruise ships and golf courses full and the restaurants humming, the NYT writes.

More than likely, that era is gone for good, the NYT says.

“There is no iron law that real estate must appreciate,” Stan Humphries, chief economist for the real estate site Zillow, told the NYT. “All those theories advanced during the boom about why housing is special — that more people are choosing to spend more on …

Continue reading How important is home ownership to you? »

Power Breakfast: AT&T’s new high-tech pill bottle, Coke after next real thing, Fulton schools, Varsity Jr., CCE, credit cards

Sometime this fall, patients are going to head home from the pharmacy with a free, flashing, noisy tattletale of a pill bottle, writes AJC reporter Margaret Newkirk.

The bottle will glow and ring aloud when it’s time to take a pill. And it will report slackers: A pill-skipper can expect at least one robotic telephone call per missed dose, Newkirk reports.

Insurers, drug makers and pharmacies will pay for the bottle, on the grounds that it will keep people healthier and sell more pills.

And benefiting quietly in the background will be Atlanta-based AT&T Mobility, whose wireless system supports the bottle’s smarts, Newkirk writes.

The dispenser is one of a group of products targeted by the company’s emerging devices team, in an effort to expand the reach of AT&T’s wireless business.

Connected devices such as the pill bottle are a different kind of business than traditional cellphone contracts, Newkirk reports. With the cellphone market is almost saturated, connecting …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: AT&T’s new high-tech pill bottle, Coke after next real thing, Fulton schools, Varsity Jr., CCE, credit cards »

Georgia’s jobless rate falls slightly to 9.9% as discouraged workers give up search

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell slightly to 9.9 percent in July from 10 percent in June, as discouraged workers gave up their job search so they are no longer counted as unemployed, the state labor department reported Thursday.

“Although the unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged, a growing number of discouraged workers dropped out of the workforce,” state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond said in a statement. “For the second consecutive month, the number of jobs in our state declined, new layoffs increased and long-term unemployment continued to rise.”

There were 230,100 long-term unemployed Georgians in July — those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or longer, the labor department said. This represents an increase of 90 percent from July 2009.

The long-term unemployed now account for 49.8 percent of the 462,372 jobless workers in Georgia. That’s one out of two people searching for a job.

During the past two months, Georgia’s labor force has declined …

Continue reading Georgia’s jobless rate falls slightly to 9.9% as discouraged workers give up search »

Office tenants in control for years to come

Not many businesses can claim to be in the driver’s seat in this economy. But you’d have to search far and wide to find any in more command of the situation than the firms representing large office tenants at a time when landlords are scrambling to pay their bank notes.

Michael Colacino

Michael Colacino

“We’re in a position of control like never before,” Michael Colacino, president of Studley, said. “The landlord is [supposed to be] the lord of the land and the tenant is the ant. It’s been inverted now.”

I sat down with Colacino and Clark Dean, a senior exec at Studley, to discuss the crisis in commercial real estate. Studley represents large occupants of buildings in lease negotiations with landlords. Colacino is based in New York, where Studley is headquartered. Dean is based in Atlanta, where he helps lead Studley’s national corporate services group.

They were able to give me a crash course about what’s in store over the next few years. It’s not a pretty picture for …

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Going fishin’

I’m off for most of the week, but I’ll be posting three stories.

The first one was posted this morning — record foreclosures in the metro area.

Tuesday, my column will be about the crisis in commercial real estate. And Thursday, I’ll report on the latest Georgia unemployment numbers.

Power Breakfast and the rest of this blog will return next week. Have a good one!

Continue reading Going fishin’ »

New record set for metro Atlanta foreclosures

The foreclosure picture in metro Atlanta is getting worse.

The number of foreclosure notices in the 13-county region skyrocketed 59 percent in August from July, shattering the previous monthly record, according to data released Monday by Equity Depot.

Barry Bramlett

Barry Bramlett

“I will say the foreclosure crisis now is clearly a self-feeding monster,” Barry Bramlett, president of Alpharetta-based Equity Depot, said in an e-mail to the AJC. “People are underwater and clearly many are making the judgment that a credit hit is better than throwing money away they don’t feel they’ll recover.”

Bramlett said “this month’s totals are off the charts.”

There were 13,130 foreclosure notices published — up from 8,264 in July. The 59 percent increase is the largest monthly increase on record, Bramlett said. The number of foreclosure notices is 4.5 percent above the previous record set in March.

Some of the increase, perhaps about half of it, can be explained by the calendar, Bramlett said. Lenders …

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Will you buy Delta ticket on Facebook?

Delta Air Lines says passengers can now book flights directly from its Facebook page, AJC staffer David Markiewicz reports.

Atlanta-based Delta said any of Facebook’s 500 million users can use the page to book without having to navigate to the airline’s website.

Do you see an advantage in buying a ticket this way? Is this an added convenience for you?

Or will you just continue to use Delta.com?

Worried at all about security issues?

This may be more of a marketing effort than a major booking initiative.

“Our customers are spending more time online and are looking for new ways to connect with us,” said Bob Kupbens, Delta’s vice president of eCommerce. “Unlocking the full power of social media and mobile apps is the next step for Delta.”

The airline plans to eventually expand the service to other websites, Markiewicz reports.

Smart? Not so much?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Will you buy Delta ticket on Facebook? »