Archive for April, 2011

Power Breakfast: Alpharetta becoming high-tech magnet, tax breaks for tourism, Wi-Fi, Turner, Aflac, oil prices

Alpharetta is becoming a key hub for high-tech firms, AJC reporter Pat Fox writes.

When Bob Trotter toured Alpharetta as a possible site for his company’s IT operation, he was struck by the miles of underground fiber-optic cable and a world-class broadband network, Fox reports.

But what really blew him away was what was above ground.

“If it was just technology, we’d have located to Chicago or Dallas,” Trotter, North American president of ThyssenKrupp Corp., told Fox.

But what distinguishes Alpharetta from other tech-wired cities, Trotter said, is its proximity to all the elements that contribute to an inviting lifestyle — good schools, good roads, access to university systems, quality housing, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, Fox writes.

ThyssenKrupp, a German-based industrial conglomerate, invested a year researching 138 cities for its North American IT Shared Services operation. Its selection of Alpharetta in January will bring $30 million and 110 …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Alpharetta becoming high-tech magnet, tax breaks for tourism, Wi-Fi, Turner, Aflac, oil prices »

Ted Turner puts his money to work tackling global issues

Ted Turner during interview in his Atlanta office. (Photo by Vino Wong of AJC)

Ted Turner during interview in his Atlanta office. (Photo by Vino Wong of AJC)

I failed you, Atlanta. I sat down to interview Ted Turner last week with one main goal: to get an answer to a question that several local business and political leaders have been asking themselves lately.

The question: How can Atlanta get its mojo back? Big ideas like going after the Olympics and building Hartsfield-Jackson have largely been responsible for turning the metro area into what it is today. But to our detriment over the past several years — to this very day — there has not been a big idea capturing our imagination.

So who better to ask about what the next big idea might be than a visionary like Turner?

He wouldn’t bite.

“I’m not a business consultant,” he said.

I asked the question a few different ways, but his head and heart are elsewhere now — on tackling nuclear disarmament, containing population growth and reducing global warming by investing in alternative …

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Is Ted Turner interested in an Atlanta sports team? No chance

I had a long interview with Ted Turner this week over a wide range of topics. You’ll be able to read that here Saturday afternoon.

For now, though, here’s something you may find interesting. I asked him if he’d be interested in returning to the Atlanta sports scene.

After all, as the previous owner of the Braves and Hawks, he was instrumental in bringing pro hockey back to Atlanta in 1997 when he won the Thrashers franchise from the NHL.

Ted Turner

Ted Turner

Now, the Thrashers are on the market and there are rumors they could end up back in Canada, where the Flames went after leaving Atlanta.

That sale also could trigger a new owner for the Hawks and the rights to Philips Arena, since the Atlanta Spirit owns all three properties. Turner was the one who decided to build Philips Arena downtown when others wanted it in the suburbs.

So Ted, are you going to get back in the local sports game?

“No, I’ve done sports — been there, done that,” Turner, 72, said.

Please return Saturday for my …

Continue reading Is Ted Turner interested in an Atlanta sports team? No chance »

Power Breakfast: Southwest-AirTran deal about to land, nuclear reactor, Kia, SunTrust, Coke, Delta, Apple and Google

It’s a date many Atlanta fliers have been waiting for.

Southwest Airlines said it plans to close its buyout of AirTran Airways on May 2, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

The deal will bring Dallas-based Southwest to Atlanta and will eventually bring an end to Orlando-based AirTran, Yamanouchi writes. But for months after the closing, Southwest expects to maintain AirTran’s brand and policies, she reports.

Southwest is still waiting for clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice for the deal, but said Thursday it expects to receive all regulatory approvals by May 2, Yamanouchi writes.

Southwest also announced that Bob Jordan, executive vice president of strategy and planning, will become president of the AirTran subsidiary once the deal closes. He’ll oversee the operation as AirTran is folded into Southwest, a process that will take until 2013. Jordan will continue to be based in Dallas, Yamanouchi reports.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Southwest-AirTran deal about to land, nuclear reactor, Kia, SunTrust, Coke, Delta, Apple and Google »

Have you given up your landline?

A growing number of Americans are getting rid of their old telephones and using only cellphones — a trend being led not by the high-tech elite but by people in poorer states as a way to save money, Associated Press reports.

Government estimates released Wednesday show at least 30 percent of adults in 10 states rely entirely on cellphones, with the highest percentage in Arkansas and Mississippi, where many cannot afford to pay for two separate lines, AP writes.

Wealthier households have been slower to use wireless technology as their sole means of making calls, AP reports.

Rich or poor, have you given up your landline? If so, what has been your experience? Any regrets?

If you have not, are you considering it? Why or why not?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Metro home prices continue to fall, Atlanta pensions, airlines, hospitals, BP

The median sales price of a home in metro Atlanta dipped by $14,600 to just under $100,000 in March, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors, AJC reporter Rachel Tobin writes.

“We’re back to almost 1997 levels,” Steve Palm, of housing data firm SmartNumbers, told Tobin. “It’s pretty bad and it’s not going to get better either.”

The volume of home sales in the area also dipped — by 6.5 percent compared to the same month a year ago — according to the data released Wednesday.

Palm said getting the housing market in better shape hinges on the economy, which he believes has not turned the corner, Tobin writes.

Also in the AJC:

In other media:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Metro home prices continue to fall, Atlanta pensions, airlines, hospitals, BP »

Noticing an uptick in the economy?

Are you noticing more signs of economic life?

This week we learned that Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 10 percent in March from 10.2 percent in February.

A new survey from the National Association for Business Economics showed that more companies reported sales gains in the first quarter than at any time since 1994, Bloomberg News reported. Sixty-three percent of businesses reported an increase in sales in the past three months, while fewer companies reported a drop in revenue, the survey said.

And in Cobb County, commissioners approved a mix of commercial and residential development projects on Tuesday, providing more signs of economic recovery, AJC reporter Janel Davis writes.

A new subdivision in east Cobb, a 170-unit suite hotel along Cumberland Boulevard and even a large gas station and convenience store along Windy Hill Road were all given the go-ahead, Davis reports. Incremental developments like these signal a slow economic revitalization, industry experts …

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Power Breakfast: McDonald’s big hiring day, Gulf spill, immigration, alcohol sales, AirTran, Medicare

People want jobs.

McDonald’s held its first National Hiring Day and was awarded with a strong response from job seekers, AJC reporter Jeremiah McWilliams and the Associated Press write.

Thousands showed up at restaurants nationwide to apply for jobs mixing shakes and serving Happy Meals, AP reports. The company planned to hire 50,000 new workers in one day, boosting its staff by about 7 percent.

At restaurants around metro Atlanta, the company plans to hire 1,000 new people — an average of four new employees per restaurant, McWilliams reports. In a shaky economy, the fast food chain is enjoying taking its pick of a stronger pool of applicants.

McDonald’s painted the event as a boon for an economy where more than 13 million Americans are looking for work, AP writes. But the real purpose, industry experts told AP, is that McDonald’s needs to portray itself as a decent employer.

That will be a challenge for a company whose name is often synonymous with …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: McDonald’s big hiring day, Gulf spill, immigration, alcohol sales, AirTran, Medicare »

How would you deal with work fatigue?

Have you worked the graveyard shift? Got any survival tips?

Despite several recent incidents of controllers suspected of sleeping on duty, they won’t be allowed to schedule naps into their work shifts to mitigate fatigue, AJC reporter Marcus Garner writes.

At the same time, new work rules have been designed to address the problem, Garner reports.  One change: Controllers will get what officials called recuperative breaks, in which they will be allowed to step away from their work stations, stretch their legs, grab some coffee or get some fresh air.

Will that work?

Reports of sleeping controllers highlight an often ignored hazard: Workers on night shifts can have trouble concentrating and even staying awake, Associated Press writes.

“Government officials haven’t recognized that people routinely fall asleep at night when they’re doing shift work,” Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told AP. Czeisler said …

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Pro women’s soccer at crossroads in Atlanta and U.S.

If there’s a tougher business in America than selling women’s pro soccer, I don’t know what it is.

Fitz Johnson

Fitz Johnson

One national league failed and the current league has no margin of error with only six teams playing this season. Last season’s champ from the San Francisco Bay Area folded, shrinking the league’s domain to the East Coast, from Boston to Boca Raton.

“Six is the minimum,” said Fitz Johnson, owner of the Atlanta Beat, which started its second season in the Women’s Professional Soccer league earlier this month.

Johnson said he is fighting against what he called “owner fatigue.”

“Business people do not got into business to lose money,” he said. “I’m not in this to make a lot of money. But it has to make economic sense.”

Johnson, 47, invested $2.5 million to bring pro women’s soccer back to Atlanta after selling his defense contracting business to Lockheed Martin. His two girls played soccer growing up, and he wants to help provide role …

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