Archive for November, 2010

Another Super Bowl here: Is the reward worth the cost?

Are you in or out on this kind of deal?

The best way to get another Super Bowl in Atlanta — and the economic boost from it — is to build a new stadium, AJC staffer Aaron Gould Sheinin reports.

But to build a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons, public bonds and the hotel-motel tax are likely to be involved. Of course, the stadium would be used for many seasons, not just for the big game.

Still, how much of an incentive do you think the Super Bowl should be? Economic impact estimates range from not much to as much as $500 million, Sheinin reports.

The NFL tries to dangle the game as a reward to cities with new venues.

How much of a reward do you think it is?

How much weight should public officials give it in negotiations with the Falcons over a new roost?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Another Super Bowl here: Is the reward worth the cost? »

Are you eating out more?

Restaurant visits from families with kids increased this past summer after three years of declines, AJC staffer Jeremiah McWilliams reports.

The NPD Group research firm said visits by parties with kids increased by 1 percent in the quarter ending August 2010.

That’s important, McWilliams writes, because parties with kids accounted for 14 billion meals and snacks, and $70 billion in sales last year.

In general, McWilliams points out, Atlanta-area residents eat out more than the U.S. average, according to Zagat Survey.

But, our unemployment rate has been worse than the nation’s during this Great Recession.

So, are you eating out more? Feeling a little more confident?

Or are you still watching your pennies, unsure of where the economy is headed?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Are you eating out more? »

Power Breakfast: Metro home prices fall, Super Bowl, Mrs. Winner’s, Von Maur, G-20, debt plan

The housing numbers here are still depressing.

Sale prices of existing single-family homes in metro Atlanta saw a large drop in the third quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw reports.

Across the metro area, the median sale price of $113,500 declined 7.4 percent from the second quarter, Shaw writes.

The current median price also is 12.2 percent lower than the $122,700 seen in the same quarter a year ago, the Realtors said.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Metro home prices fall, Super Bowl, Mrs. Winner’s, Von Maur, G-20, debt plan »

Will graphic cigarette labels make a difference?

Corpses, cancer patients and diseased lungs are among the images the federal government plans for larger, graphic warning labels that would take up half of each pack of cigarettes sold in the United States, Associated Press reports.

The images are part of a new campaign announced by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce tobacco use, which is responsible for about 443,000 deaths per year, AP writes.

“Some very explicit, almost gruesome pictures may be necessary,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Will they be effective?

Will they make a difference for smokers addicted to nicotine?

Will they stop more young people from trying cigarettes?

Or do most people already know the dangers, so the effect will be limited?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Will graphic cigarette labels make a difference? »

Power Breakfast: VA swamped with vets seeking help, jobs money, Gwinnett credit, teachers, deficit, Google, Wal-Mart

Many VA facilities across the country are being swamped this Veterans Day by a rising tide of vets seeking help for medical, psychological and financial problems, AJC reporter Craig Schneider writes.

“We’ve got a terrible mess on our hands,” Wayne Hagan, state adjutant for the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Georgia, told Schneider.

Georgia has about 770,000 veterans and 453,000 live in areas served by the Atlanta VA Medical Center. The center served about 77,000 patients in fiscal 2009, an increase of 8 percent above the prior year, said spokesman Gregory Kendall.

He expects similar yearly gains for the next decade as soldiers come home due to the draw-down of troops in Iraq and later Afghanistan, Schneider writes.

Nationally, of the 1.2 million veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, nearly half – 49 percent – have obtained VA health care since 2002, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: VA swamped with vets seeking help, jobs money, Gwinnett credit, teachers, deficit, Google, Wal-Mart »

Google giving holiday bonus and 10% raise to workers

It’s going to be a nice holiday season for Google workers.

Google is giving all of its employees $1,000 cash “holiday bonuses” and 2011 salary increases of at least 10 percent, according to Business Insider.

The 10 percent company-wide raise will take effect January 1.

In addition, Business Insider reports, Google will give each employee an additional raise equal to the employee’s target bonus for the year. And employees will be eligible for additional “merit increases” based on their individual performance.

When was the last time you got a raise? Bonus? Merit increase?

What’s your company planning for the end of this year?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Google giving holiday bonus and 10% raise to workers »

Have you opened a business or started a new career?

Robin Crawford took a risk after getting laid off from Corporate America one too many times.

Since 2009, she’s worked to carve a space for herself in the crowded field of pet care as owner of Dogma Dog Care in Smyrna, AJC reporter Rosalind Bentley writes.

Crawford, 50, got laid off from her job of 21 years at IBM as an executive in training and development in 2001, Bentley reports. In the following years she was laid off twice more, from senior management positions at WellPoint Health Networks and Coca-Cola.

In a down economy, when it seems you’ve done everything right and you still can’t catch a break, you might have to gamble if you want to work, Bentley writes. That’s what Crawford did.

Have you gambled by starting a business recently? What happened?

Or have you gambled by pushing your career in a completely new direction?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Have you opened a business or started a new career? »

Power Breakfast: Big banks fight marketing war, airport chief, AirTran, tax cuts, UGA, China surplus

As competition for customers gets more cutthroat, some of metro Atlanta’s biggest banks are waging a marketing war, AJC staffer Scott Trubey reports.

Wells Fargo is breaking out stagecoaches. SunTrust Banks is floating blimps. It’s all about grabbing attention, preserving market share and growing client bases, Trubey writes.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo entered metro Atlanta when it bought the city’s No. 2 bank, Wachovia, in 2008. Since then, Wells Fargo has launched a barrage of ads touting its community commitment and last month changed the signs on about 200 metro area branches and its signature Atlantic Station tower overlooking the Downtown Connector, Trubey reports.

Atlanta-based SunTrust, the market leader by deposits, is trying to retain existing clients and woo disaffected customers from banks that have changed hands with ads touting its market strength and offerings, Trubey writes. And then there are those zeppelins flying high above special events like …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Big banks fight marketing war, airport chief, AirTran, tax cuts, UGA, China surplus »

Downtown Ferris wheel: Thumbs up or down?

Downtown could certainly use another attraction.

What do you think of the Ferris wheel notion being floated by the developers of the London Eye?

Bernie Marcus, who funded the Georgia Aquarium, hosted a meeting Tuesday with civic and business leaders to discuss the idea, AJC staffers Rachel Tobin and Leon Stafford are reporting.

About $200 million is needed, along with a 2-acre site downtown. Marcus said he’d love to have a big observation wheel downtown — but made it clear he won’t be putting up any money for the Atlanta version of an Eye, according to a person who attended the private meeting, the reporters write.

Cities like London and Chicago have used Ferris wheels to attract entertainment and tourist dollars.

Do you think it would work here? Why or why not?

Continue reading Downtown Ferris wheel: Thumbs up or down? »

Coca-Cola Enterprises takes cue from investors

Never underestimate the far-reaching power of the stock market, even when it comes to influencing the location of a company’s headquarters.

John Brock

John Brock

I didn’t understand why Coca-Cola Enterprises, with all of its operations in Europe after last month’s sale of its North American unit to Coke, is still headquartered in Cobb County’s Wildwood Office Park. I know Cobb’s a nice place, but I don’t think anyone would mistake it for London or Paris.

And that’s the problem, explained CCE chief John Brock. The bottler, which serves seven Western European countries, wanted to maintain its primary listing on the New York Stock Exchange “to keep all the index funds invested” in CCE, Brock said in an interview. If it became a European company, indexes like the S&P 500 would no longer include CCE — and neither would the funds that use such indexes for stock purchases.

So CCE is keeping about 140 employees at its headquarters here, while the remaining 13,000 work overseas. Brock, meanwhile, …

Continue reading Coca-Cola Enterprises takes cue from investors »