Archive for February, 2011

Guard against Valentine’s Day scams

Don’t fall victim to a Valentine’s Day scam, warns the Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta.

Watch out for three different types:

Phishing Scams

As February 14 approaches, the BBB expects email notes of love to increase. Cyber crooks use this time of year to trick those who are “love-struck” into divulging their personal and financial information, the BBB says.

One email claims to be from a flower company and indicates the flowers you ordered for your sweetheart won’t be delivered unless you log in and re-enter your credit-card information. A significant number of these messages will reach people that have actually ordered flowers. If you click the link in that email and enter your credit card information, you could get ripped off.

Even if you think a message like this is real, go directly to the florist’s website or call them on the phone, the BBB says.

Online Dating Scams

Scammers often create fake profiles designed to match a certain kind of person. Whether you are …

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Power Breakfast: Doubling of black-owned businesses in Atlanta, state taxes, traffic, horse betting, Cousins

Black-owned businesses in metro Atlanta grew 99 percent between 2002 and 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday, AJC writer Leon Stafford reports.

The numbers were taken from the “Survey of Business Owners: Black-Owned Businesses: 2007,” which is compiled every five years, Stafford writes. It found metro Atlanta recorded more than 127,000 black-owned businesses in 2007, up from 64,000 in 2002.

That exceeded national figures that showed a 60.5-percent increase for black business ownership over the same period, Stafford reports. Georgia had the second-highest number of black-owned businesses among states, trailing only New York, with more than 183,000 black-owned businesses, or 9.6 percent of the national total.

Local leaders said black business people come to Atlanta because of the city’s strong black middle class, support among other black entrepreneurs and black colleges and universities, Stafford writes.

Also in the AJC:

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Should free speech on Internet trump employers’ rights?

Should free speech win out over an employer’s right to limit what employees say on the Internet?

Employers should think twice before trying to restrict workers from talking about their jobs on Facebook or other social media, Associated Press writes.

That’s the message the government sent on Monday as it settled a closely watched lawsuit against a Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss, AP reports.

The National Labor Relations Board sued the company last year, arguing the worker’s negative comments were protected speech under federal labor laws, AP writes.

Under the settlement with the labor board, American Medical Response of Connecticut Inc. agreed to change its blogging and Internet policy that barred workers from disparaging the company or its supervisors, AP reports.

What do you think of this? Essential in a democracy? Or does it infringe on employers’ ability to run their companies like they want to?

- …

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New vacancy rules: Good idea or piling on?

Faced with foreclosures and other abandoned properties tarnishing metro Atlanta neighborhoods, a growing number of local governments are requiring owners to register vacant structures — and pay a fee, AJC reporters Shane Blatt and David Wickert write.

Fulton and DeKalb counties and the cities of Loganville, Riverdale and Powder Springs already have enacted ordinances, the reporters write. Gwinnett County and Lawrenceville are considering similar legislation.

What do you think of this?

Will it help limit vacancies and improve neighborhoods?

Is this piling on to owners who are already hurting?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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New labor commissioner tackles unemployment amid money crunch

At least his new job is not boring.

As state labor commissioner for just a month, Mark Butler is trying to figure out:

Mark Butler

Mark Butler

– How to help reduce Georgia’s double-digit jobless rate;

– How to repay a $620 million federal loan, which could lead to higher employer taxes for unemployment insurance;

– And how to preserve two popular jobs program that are under the gun because of the state’s fiscal crunch.

“I don’t think anyone likes crises. It’s a tremendous challenge. I enjoy a challenge,” said Butler, a former state representative for Carroll and Haralson counties, who worked in his family’s real-estate appraisal business.

If Butler, 40, truly enjoys challenges, he’s going to have a ball. Georgia’s job market has been worse than the nation’s for well over three years now — and there’s no end in sight for that depressing streak.

To try to attract new jobs, Butler said he will increase the coordination between his department and those involved in …

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Power Breakfast: Reynolds Plantation may sell golf courses, Delta, DeKalb schools, Cobb EMC, AOL, Toyota

Another golf shoe is dropping in the fallout from this economic mess.

The developers of the Reynolds Plantation, one of Georgia’s most exclusive enclaves of vacation homes and golf courses, have floated a plan to sell off key assets like golf courses, clubhouses and even swimming pools to pay off $45 million in debt to impatient lenders, AJC reporters Rachel Tobin and Scott Trubey write.

It’s another blow to luxury golf communities in Georgia, following the foreclosure of Country Club of the South’s golf course and last year’s bankruptcy and sale of Sea Island Co, the reporters write.

The news about Reynolds Plantation came to light after a letter was sent to homeowners Thursday, detailing issues for the development that is about an hour and a half drive east of Atlanta on I-20 on Lake Oconee, the reporters write.

According to the letter, signed by Reynolds Plantation Chairman Mercer Reynolds III, a group of banks is demanding a hasty payment of $45 million by …

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Power Breakfast: Two more Georgia bank failures, metro foreclosures rise, 200 jobs for Cobb, Coke, AOL

High rates of foreclosure and unemployment are not going away soon. Neither are bank failures in Georgia.

American Trust Bank of Roswell, and North Georgia Bank of Watkinsville, have been closed by state regulators and sold to other institutions by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, AJC staffer Scott Trubey reports.

Four Georgia banks have failed so far in 2011, Trubey writes.

American Trust was acquired by Renasant Bank of Tupelo, Miss.

North Georgia Bank — which is not connected with Bank of North Georgia, a Synovus Financial affiliate — was sold to BankSouth of Greensboro.

Fifty-five banks have now failed in Georgia since mid-2008, more than in any other state, Trubey writes. Both banks closed Friday were founded in the early 2000s and rode the boom of Georgia’s real estate market, only to suffer fatal wounds when it burst.

American Trust’s offices in Roswell, Alpharetta and Cumming will reopen on Monday as Renasant branches. North Georgia Bank branches in …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Two more Georgia bank failures, metro foreclosures rise, 200 jobs for Cobb, Coke, AOL »

Metro Atlanta foreclosure notices up in February

There does not seem to be an end in sight as foreclosure notices keep mounting in metro Atlanta.

The number of foreclosure notices rose 7 percent in February, compared with January, Equity Depot said Monday.

Barry Bramlett

Barry Bramlett

Notices were up 5 percent from February 2010 in the 13-county metro area, Equity Depot said.

For the first two months of the year, notices increased 13 percent from the same time in 2010, which was a record year, Equity Depot data show.

“We just don’t see any changes coming soon,” Barry Bramlett, president of Kennesaw-based Equity Depot, said in an email to the AJC.

“All the factors that cause a high rate still exist. The sluggish economy, unemployment, decreased property values, underwater borrowers and a depressed real estate market all contribute. Any of these factors alone would create foreclosures. With all occurring simultaneously, it’s hard to foresee when this will turn around,” he said.

Foreclosure notices published this month are for …

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Are you seeing a change in the job market?

Is it getting any easier to find a job these days?

The government said Friday that the national unemployment rate fell to 9.0 percent in January, from 9.4 percent in December, Associated Press reported.

That’s the lowest rate since April 2009.

But the government also reported that employers added just 36,000 net new jobs — the fewest in four months and well below economists’ predictions.

The January report illustrates how job growth remains the economy’s weakest spot, even as other economic indicators point to a recovery that is strengthening, Associated Press wrote.

What do you make of these numbers? Is it any easier to get job interviews? Are more employers hiring?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Air fares heading up, Home Depot closures, alcohol sales, NCR, Ford Hapeville plant, Madoff

Fuel prices are heading up and so are air fares.

Just two weeks after announcing plans for growth this year, Delta Air Lines is trimming the forecast and joining other carriers in raising fares to offset higher fuel costs, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

Delta’s No. 2 executive, Ed Bastian, told analysts Thursday that Atlanta’s biggest carrier, along with others, has boosted fares four times in the past 45 days, Yamanouchi reports.

He also said Delta expects capacity growth of 3 to 5 percent in the current quarter, down from its earlier projection of 5 to 7 percent. The cutback is in part because of storm-related cancellations, but also due to “tactical decisions” related to rising costs, he said.

Bastian said full-year capacity growth will be about 1 percent, the bottom end of its initial 1 to 3 percent forecast, Yamanouchi writes.

Also in the AJC:

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