Archive for March, 2011

Clark Howard to hold TV special on dealing with economy

Consumer expert Clark Howard has a half-hour TV special Wednesday on dealing with this rough economy.

Howard will highlight how individuals overcame housing and unemployment problems on Channel 2 WSB-TV on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Continue reading Clark Howard to hold TV special on dealing with economy »

Power Breakfast: Big pension holes to fill, hiring school chiefs, test exemptions, Coke connections, Walmart

As Georgia’s lawmakers stare down the barrel of a $1 billion budget gap, they’re also looking at a $1.3 billion payment for 2011 to the state’s two largest pension plans, AJC reporter Russell Grantham writes.

That cost — about $135 for each Georgian — lately has been taking a bigger bite of tax revenues every year, chewing up resources that the state could use for schools or roads or other projects, Grantham writes. Even so, the Teachers Retirement System and the Employees’ Retirement System were under water by at least $10 billion in 2009.

Pension managers and other officials say the plans are not in danger and, in fact, they look good compared with the fiscal train wrecks that some other state pension systems have become, Grantham reports.

Still, Georgia’s plans are under strong pressure from two directions, Grantham writes. First, they lost $11 billion during the stock market crash of 2008 and 2009 — a beating from which they haven’t fully …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Big pension holes to fill, hiring school chiefs, test exemptions, Coke connections, Walmart »

Which businesses are vulnerable to technology?

Business can’t stop the march of technology, no matter how hard it might try.

At Movies Worth Seeing, the video-rental institution in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood, the walls are growing increasingly bare, AJC reporter Arielle Kass writes.

After 25 years in business, owners Jerry and Anne Rubenstein have finally succumbed to the pressures of Netflix, rental kiosks and premium movie channels, Kass reports. They announced this week they would be liquidating more than 6,000 titles and closing their doors.

“People have so many ways to get movies and TV shows,” Jerry Rubenstein told Kass.  “We have a lot of customers, but they don’t come in as often.”

What other businesses are facing similar pressures or fates — now or fairly soon? For starters, the newspaper industry has been greatly affected by advancing technology.

What else?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Which businesses are vulnerable to technology? »

What a real leader does in tough times

How’s this for a class act to save jobs?

Worried about possible layoffs, school principal Michele Miller spotted a potential solution in her own home, Associated Press writes.

The principal of Jackson Elementary in El Dorado Hills, a suburb east of Sacramento, decided to part with most of a shoe collection gathered over the past 15 years, AP reports.

She is selling 285 pairs to help close a district budget gap of up to $2.2 million, AP writes. She’s asking for a donation of $1,000 a pair to help save the jobs of 17 teachers, three vice principals, library technicians and others.

Miller felt the urge to act after leaving a late-night school board meeting March 8, when she learned the district faces a budget deficit of no less than $1.4 million, AP writes.

Volunteers are uploading photos of the size 7-7½ high-tops, cowboy boots, leopard-print rain boots, sandals, platforms and high heels to a website.

This is real leadership, in my view. More bosses in the public and …

Continue reading What a real leader does in tough times »

Power Breakfast: Georgia’s jobless fund nearly empty, state taxes, Equifax, Home Depot, GE, Japan

Georgia’s fund that sends checks to the unemployed is nearly empty, and legislation in the General Assembly won’t refill it, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

The state may take money from Medicaid and job-creating budgets just to cover the fund’s $24 million interest payment due in October, Chapman reports.

State officials said this week that the legislation, pushed heavily by the tax-averse business community, won’t return the unemployment insurance trust fund to solvency, Chapman writes. So far, the state has borrowed $672 million from Washington to pay tens of thousands of unemployed Georgians. And the tally rises daily.

More than 191,000 Georgians — one of every three jobless people in the state — received unemployment insurance payments last week, according to the Labor Department. The average payment is $269 per week. Labor officials say all jobless recipients will be paid, regardless of the state’s depleted trust fund, Chapman reports.

The …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Georgia’s jobless fund nearly empty, state taxes, Equifax, Home Depot, GE, Japan »

Power Breakfast: Political rhetoric does not match reality on creating jobs, AirTran agreement, Aflac, minority firms

There’s an interesting story today from AJC reporter Aaron Gould Sheinin about how Georgia leaders’ rhetoric on the need to create jobs has not matched reality.

Here’s the beginning of his story:

Speaking to the state’s top business leaders in January, newly sworn-in Gov. Nathan Deal said Georgians would hear a common theme from their top officials.

“There is a mantra all of us will be repeating, and that is creating jobs for our state,” Deal said at the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, offered similar assurances to a state where unemployment remains above 10 percent.

“It’s time that we in state government focus on doing those things that will make us No. 1 in terms of sustaining jobs and creating new jobs,” Ralston said.

But with the 2011 legislative session more than three-quarters done, legislation specifically tied to job growth has largely been absent, or if it exists, is stuck in committee. …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Political rhetoric does not match reality on creating jobs, AirTran agreement, Aflac, minority firms »

Metro Atlanta is No. 1 in minority-run firms

Metro Atlanta is attracting the most minority-run firms on a per capita basis, according to a survey of 52 metro areas released late Wednesday by Forbes magazine.

“The ‘capital of black America’ has become a buzzing hive of Hispanic and Asian immigrants and entrepreneurs,” Forbes writes.

Baltimore, Nashville, Houston and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale round out the top five spots. The next five are the metro areas of Oklahoma City, Riverside-San Bernadino, Washington, D.C., Orlando and Phoenix.

Forbes looked at metro areas with populations of more than 1 million. It said metro Atlanta was No. 2 in self-employed minorities and No. 2 as an entrepreneurial region. Combined with a growing population, increasing household incomes and affordable housing, Atlanta took first place, Forbes said.

Metro Atlanta’s foreign-born population nearly doubled — to 710,000 — between 2000 and 2008, Forbes said.

The magazine added, however, that “business leaders fear strict anti-immigration laws may choke …

Continue reading Metro Atlanta is No. 1 in minority-run firms »

Will you save or spend your tax refund?

What are you going to do with your tax refund?

Forty-two percent of those surveyed said they will save at least part of their refund, which is expected to average about $3,000, writes Palm Beach Post reporter Laura Green.

And of those who are spending, the biggest segments plan to pay off debt (41.9 percent) or cover everyday expenses (29.7 percent), Green reports, citing a study by the National Retail Federation.

“The bad news is the recession has greatly affected people,” MassMutual financial adviser Alfred Hovis told Green. “The good news is it’s woken up a lot of folks to understanding that they have to be more self-reliant.”

Financial advisers are starting to believe that the trend of the past few years, when more Americans plowed refunds into a retirement or an emergency account, could signal a more lasting shift, Green writes.

Are they right or wrong? What do you plan to do and why?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on …

Continue reading Will you save or spend your tax refund? »

Power Breakfast: Delta cuts Japan flights, Cobb EMC indictment tossed, foreclosure fraud, Sunday alcohol

Delta Air Lines is cutting flight capacity as it grapples with higher fuel costs and the effect of the earthquake in Japan, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

Delta expects the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis  in Japan to reduce revenue at its Tokyo Narita Airport hub by $250 million to $400 million, or as much as 20 percent, Yamanouchi reports. Since the 2008 Northwest merger, about 8 percent of Delta’s revenue is generated in Tokyo.

The carrier is reducing its flight capacity in Japan by 15 percent to 20 percent through May, including the suspension of its new flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Yamanouchi writes. Delta is cutting some capacity at Narita, and will increase charter flights and flight capacity to other places in Asia including China and Seoul, South Korea.

“Then, we’re going to monitor how demand comes back,” said Delta president Ed Bastian at a J.P. Morgan conference in New York on Tuesday. He said the company expects the impact of the …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Delta cuts Japan flights, Cobb EMC indictment tossed, foreclosure fraud, Sunday alcohol »

How are higher gas prices affecting you?

Not everybody laments gas prices that could approach $4 a gallon, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

He then cites some of the winners from higher prices — including oil companies, bike shops, MARTA, rail freight companies, alternative energy firms and even the state of Georgia, which is likely to gain higher gas-tax revenues this summer.

But average consumers are taking it on the chin.

How are higher prices affecting you? What are you doing to cope? Car pooling? Telecommuting? Staying close to home for vacation?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading How are higher gas prices affecting you? »