Archive for February, 2011

Government stimulus boosts health firm

Count Tee Green among the seemingly small group of CEOs who support the federal government’s economic stimulus plan.

Tee Green

Tee Green

Of course, there’s good reason. Government money helped put his business — electronic health records — on steroids.

To be fair, Green’s Carrollton-based company, Greenway Medical Technologies, would be growing anyway. More doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals are stepping into the 21st century when it comes to paper vs. electronic recordkeeping.

The stimulus, however, has made the transition a no-brainer. The government is providing $50 billion over five years for the medical profession to go electronic, which will improve efficiency, accuracy and speed, as well as reduce costs.

That adds up to $44,000 per eligible Medicare provider — considerably more than the $12,500 his firm charges a doctor for the software, Green said. There are, however, related costs incurred by the provider than can average another $15,000 to $20,000.

Still, …

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Power Breakfast: Recession causes county tax chief to quit, Atlanta schools, Chick-fil-A, Delta, union fights

This economy has been tough to deal with for many people on many levels.

Now comes AJC reporter Jeffry Scott, who writes the following beginning to a compelling story:

Acid reflux gnawed at David Fields’ gut. Sleep came in fits. The waking hours were worse, as he battled depression with medications.

Inevitably, the antidepressants failed to temper the toll taken by a job he once loved and now feared would kill him: Cherokee County tax commissioner.

“My doctor told me, ‘If you don’t quit, you’re going to have a stroke or heart attack,’ ” Fields said Monday, explaining why, after 28 years, he resigned from his post with two years left on his term.

Fields, 62, became a poignant reminder of the housing bust’s impact on thousands of lives across metro Atlanta, where almost 100,000 properties were foreclosed on in 2010. Property owners are not the only ones hurt; so are people, such as Fields, at the end of a ruinous process set in motion by recession.

“I …

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Taking off Monday

I’m going to be off Monday.

Power Breakfast and other business news will return Tuesday.

Please return then. Thanks.

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Power Breakfast: First bank in Georgia repays TARP, whistleblowers, HOPE, Delta, Spa Sydell, Coke

Let’s end the week on some good news written by AJC reporter Scott Trubey.

An Atlanta community bank this week became the first in the state to repay Uncle Sam for aid it received during the depths of the financial crisis, Trubey writes.

The parent company of Georgia Commerce Bank has repurchased $9.1 million in preferred shares and warrants held by the federal government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, Trubey reports.

The announcement is a jolt of good news for a beleaguered state banking industry better known the past few years for leading the nation in bank failures, Trubey writes.

Georgia Commerce used the funds it received in February 2009 not as a bailout to fill holes in its balance sheet, but to make new loans, bank Chairman and CEO Mark Tipton said.

“We grew our loans 13 percent from the moment we got TARP to Wednesday, when we paid it off,” he said.

Also in the AJC:

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Are employers bypassing unemployed job applicants?

There have been a number of reports about employers shunning unemployed applicants for those already holding jobs.

Now, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying to figure out whether it’s a widespread practice, Associated Press reports.

In Georgia, the long-term unemployed — those out of work for at least 27 weeks — now make up more than half of the jobless.

What’s been your experience? Are companies bypassing jobless workers?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: DeKalb seeks funds to redevelop GM Doraville, jobless claims, bogus tax returns, Sunday alcohol

What’s the latest with the shuttered GM Doraville plant?

AJC reporter Megan Matteucci writes that DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis is hoping the federal government can contribute funding to help redevelop the site.

This week, Ellis visited Washington, D.C. to lobby federal officials, Matteucci reports. During his visit, he met with John Fernandez, Assistant Secretary over the Economic Development Administration in the U.S. Department of Commerce, to discuss possible redevelopment funding.

On Wednesday, Ellis met with U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to talk about his ideas for the GM site, Matteucci writes.

Last year, the county commission voted against a $54 million proposal to use federal stimulus bonds to turn the 165-acre site into an Atlantic Station-like development.

Also in the AJC:

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Initial jobless claims rise in Atlanta and Georgia in January

There was a double-digit increase in the number of laid-off workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits in January in metro Atlanta and Georgia, the state labor department reported late Wednesday.

A total of 35,038 laid-off workers in metro Atlanta filed initial claims for unemployment benefits — an increase of 11.9 percent from December, the labor department said. But there was a 13.4 percent decline from a year ago.

Most of the monthly increase in claims came in manufacturing and construction, the labor department said.

Statewide, 89,659 laid-off workers filed initial claims in January — an increase of 18.5 percent from December. But there was a drop of 5.9 percent from January 2010.

Much of the monthly increase in statewide claims occurred in manufacturing, construction, administrative and support services, and trade, the labor department said.

“Most of these were seasonal layoffs that occur each year,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a news …

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Georgia’s financial distress worse than nation’s

Georgia continues to be more financially distressed than the nation as a whole, according to a quarterly study released Wednesday.

For the fourth quarter of 2010, the Peach State was the eighth worst on the Consumer Distress Index compiled by CredAbility, an Atlanta-based nonprofit credit counseling service.

“Two factors that make Georgia’s consumers among the country’s most distressed are significantly higher underemployment and higher mortgage delinquency,” CredAbility spokesman John McCosh said in an email to the AJC.

The group’s index tracks the financial condition of average U.S. households in all 50 states. Michigan posted the lowest score and North Dakota the highest.

The study found that rising stock prices helped to push up consumers’ net worth, CredAbility said in a news release. But lower scores in three of the index’s other categories — employment, housing and household budget –- drove down the nation’s overall index in the fourth quarter.

For the …

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Power Breakfast: Metro homebuilding starting to pick up, Coke’s secret, casinos, Delta, Madoff

Homebuilding may be on the mend.

This year could be metro Atlanta’s strongest for the battered industry since 2008, AJC staffer Michelle Shaw writes after talking with industry experts.

In 2010, new home starts rose 28 percent in metro Atlanta from 2009, according to Eugene James, head of the Atlanta division of the research company Metrostudy, Shaw reports. Construction levels are still down down 78 percent since the peak in 2006.

Builders large and small see 2011 as a their opportunity to build more than they have in at least two years, Shaw writes.

James cautioned there are trying times ahead, Shaw reports.

“We don’t anticipate housing starts ramping up astronomically,” he said. “But we do expect to see an increase by the end of the year.”

There are fewer than 20,000 unsold new homes across metro Atlanta, he said. While still a significant inventory, that’s about half the number there were in 2006, Shaw reports.

Also in the AJC:

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Will you apply for temp spot at Home Depot?

Home Depot will hire more than 60,000 temporary workers, including 1,500 in Atlanta, to help with its busy spring season, AJC staffer Arielle Kass is reporting.

That brings up two questions for you:

Although not permanent, will you apply given the tough job market out there? Or will you keep looking for a permanent spot somewhere?

If you’re a homeowner, are you one of those that will help prop up the retailer’s busiest season? With what type of project?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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