Archive for March, 2011

Duluth company not betting on Georgia for slot machine sales

A Duluth company is growing rapidly in the U.S. and Mexico without selling its bread-and-butter products in Georgia.

Gene Chayevsky

Gene Chayevsky

And while the fiscal crisis in many states is likely to fuel more revenue in coming years, the company is not betting on the Peach State to be one of them.

I’m talking about gambling. To be precise, video slot machines made and sold by Cadillac Jack. (The name comes from an old video Blackjack game.)

Up to now, the company has been primarily selling its slots to tribal casinos, while preparing to go up against the big boys (IGT, Bally, and Williams) that dominate the commercial ones in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, said owner and CEO Gene Chayevsky.

But since more revenue-starved states are considering the legalization of slots and video lottery terminals — or expanding their use — Chayevsky hopes to get a slice of that pie, too.

In this “high-margin” business, he said, a slice from different pies can boost a “medium-sized” company’s …

Continue reading Duluth company not betting on Georgia for slot machine sales »

Power Breakfast: Metro home prices still falling, questions for AT&T-T-Mobile deal, Sunday alcohol, bank indictments

Metro Atlanta’s housing slump is still with us.

The average sales price of existing single-family homes in the metro area tumbled 13.6 percent in February from a year earlier, dashing hopes for the first upward pricing trend since last summer, AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes.

According to data released Monday, metro Atlanta’s average price was $95,100 — down from $110,100 in February 2010, Shaw reports. That was the lowest average price among 17 metro areas in the National Association of Realtors’ monthly report.

Sales fell 4 percent over the same period, the data shows.

Local residential real estate experts were encouraged last month when the NAR report showed average metro area prices rose nearly 2 percent in January 2011 from a year earlier, Shaw writes.

But Monday’s data dampened the optimism.

“The economy is just so fragile right now,” said Steve Palm, of housing data firm SmartNumbers. “There is so much going on out there, in the larger economy, …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Metro home prices still falling, questions for AT&T-T-Mobile deal, Sunday alcohol, bank indictments »

What’s on your transportation wish list?

You’re the ones sitting in traffic, so what would you like to see on the transportation to-do list being developed now?

Proponents of a new penny sales tax for regional transportation dream of putting metro Atlanta in the big leagues of modern transit and roadway systems, write AJC reporters Johnny Edwards and Tammy Joyner.

Some of those visions are already emerging as cities and counties assemble their wish lists of projects, which are due to the state March 30, the reporters write.

Here’s a small sample of the wish lists that the reporters compiled:

Cobb County

  • Creating a high-capacity transit system, likely light rail, in the U.S. 41/I-75 Northwest Corridor from Acworth to MARTA’s Arts Center Station: $2 billion.

Fayette County

  • Making roadway and intersection improvements to the East Fayetteville Bypass, from Ga. 85 to South Jeff Davis Drive: $39.4 million.

Fulton County

  • Widening Cascade-Palmetto Highway from Campbellton Road to Campbellton-Fairburn Road: $36.8 …

Continue reading What’s on your transportation wish list? »

Power Breakfast: AT&T to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion, nuclear plants, Google in China, bank suit

The big business news Sunday was the announcement that AT&T will acquire T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telecom in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $39 billion. That will make AT&T the largest cellphone company in the U.S., surpassing Verizon.

AT&T is based in Dallas, but its wireless unit, AT&T Mobility, is headquartered in Atlanta.

The deal will provide AT&T with additional spectrum for data-hungry smart phone users, Jeff Kagan, a wireless industry analyst from Atlanta, told AJC reporter M.B. Pell. The company has suffered from a lack of capacity due to the proliferation of smart phones, Pell writes.

“It’s a smart move for AT&T,” Kagan said. “Ultimately, I think, since the company and customers are demanding more, this is going to be good.”

The deal would reduce the number of wireless carriers with national coverage from four to three. It still needs to be approved by federal regulators, amid concerns that the consolidation of these companies will decrease competition …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: AT&T to buy T-Mobile for $39 billion, nuclear plants, Google in China, bank suit »

AT&T agrees to buy T-Mobile, creating industry giant

AT&T has agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom AG for $39 billion in cash and stock.

The deal, announced Sunday, combines the No. 2 and No. 4 wireless companies in the U.S. to create the largest provider with 129 million subscribers, surpassing Verizon.

The agreement has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

The companies said AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile USA “provides an optimal combination of network assets to add capacity sooner than any alternative, and it provides an opportunity to improve network quality in the near term for both companies’ customers.”

In the past, AT&T has been criticized in consumer surveys for inconsistent iPhone service.

The companies said customers will see service improvements — including improved voice quality — as a result of additional spectrum, increased cell tower density and broader network infrastructure. When the deal closes, AT&T will immediately gain cell sites equivalent to what would have …

Continue reading AT&T agrees to buy T-Mobile, creating industry giant »

Power Breakfast: Gulch project to take years, tough summer job market, Thrashers, Aflac, Japan, Fed

Even with a development team now selected, transforming the Gulch downtown will take years — possibly decades, AJC staffer Rachel Tobin reports.

Cousins Properties and a team of other well-connected firms were chosen this week to develop a transit hub and “mini-city” downtown in the Gulch — the forlorn tangle of railroad tracks and parking lots, Tobin writes.

Expectations are high for the Cousins team, which beat out two similarly connected firms to become the master planner of a grand central station downtown, which will be surrounded by green space, shops, homes and offices, Tobin reports.

But progress might be measured in years — even decades – and not in days or months, Tobin writes. Before the first shovel hits the Gulch, the Cousins team must complete a master plan and then find ways to fund it.

“Many in the real estate community, while hopeful and optimistic that this project will proceed, will not be surprised if it takes many years before an actual …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Gulch project to take years, tough summer job market, Thrashers, Aflac, Japan, Fed »

Weak summer job market forecast for teens

Budget deficits affecting federal, state and local government agencies across the country are expected to have a negative impact on the job prospects for teenagers this summer, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said Thursday.

In its annual teen summer employment outlook, the firm projects that summer hiring among teenagers is likely to see little improvement from last year’s historic lows.

Last year, teen job seekers experienced the weakest summer job market in decades, Challenger said. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that from May through July employment among 16- to 19-year-olds increased by just 960,000 jobs, Challenger said. That was down 17.5 percent from 2009.

The 960,000 summer jobs filled by teens represents the lowest level of summer hiring since 1949, Challenger said. Also, government statistics reveal that the 5.29 million 16- to 19-year-olds employed last July was the lowest July total since 1959.

“Any teen hiring gains achieved in the …

Continue reading Weak summer job market forecast for teens »

Power Breakfast: Decline in small-business bankruptcies, Ga. unemployment dips, Sunday alcohol sales, toll project

The number of bankruptcy filings by small businesses in metro Atlanta fell sharply last year from 2009, AJC staffer David Markiewicz reports.

Filings in the fourth quarter of 2010 dropped to 231, the lowest number for a three-month period since the first quarter of 2008, when there were 226 petitions, Markiewicz writes, citing a new report by Atlanta-based Equifax.

Bankruptcy filings among area small businesses peaked at 425 in the second quarter of 2009, Markiewicz writes. The number last fell below 200 in the third quarter of 2007, when the total was 163.

When the economy turned down late in 2007, the number of small business bankruptcies began to rise gradually, quarter by quarter, Markiewicz reports. They increased every three month period from the summer of 2007 to the summer of 2009, then began a gradual and almost unbroken descent through the end of last year, Markiewicz writes.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Decline in small-business bankruptcies, Ga. unemployment dips, Sunday alcohol sales, toll project »

Georgia unemployment falls slightly to 10.2 percent in February

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent in February from a revised 10.3 percent in January, the state labor department said Thursday. Initially, the January rate was pegged at 10.4 percent, which had tied an all-time high.

The February rate was down slightly — 0.1 percent — from a year ago, the labor department said.

February marked the 41st consecutive month Georgia has exceeded the national unemployment rate, which is currently 8.9 percent.

“Job creation is the most important aspect of an economic recovery, and the slight increase in jobs in February gives me reason for cautious optimism,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “Also, I’m encouraged that we continue to see a reduction in the number of new layoffs. However, the growing number of long term unemployed is troubling.”

In February, there were 3,795,400 payroll jobs — up 0.7 percent from January, the labor department said. Most of the increases came in construction and …

Continue reading Georgia unemployment falls slightly to 10.2 percent in February »

Will you have enough money to retire?

Americans continue to have serious doubts about their retirement security, Associated Press reports.

Are you one of them?

The percentage of workers who said they’re “not at all” confident about having enough money for a comfortable retirement grew to 27 percent from 22 percent in 2010, according to an annual survey released Tuesday, AP writes.

That’s the highest level in the 21-year history of the Retirement Confidence Survey, conducted by the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute and market researcher Mathew Greenwald & Associates, AP reports.

All told, half of all workers seriously question whether they’ll have enough money for retirement, AP writes. That’s because another 23 percent said they are “not too confident” about whether their savings will be adequate.

Do you think you’ll have enough?

What is your game plan? Work longer? Save until it hurts — and then save some more? Hit the lottery (that hasn’t worked for me)?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For …

Continue reading Will you have enough money to retire? »