Archive for July, 2011

Power Breakfast: Lessons for transportation vote, college spending, Cobb finances, Grady, NFL, debt talks

Can Atlanta learn from Denver?

That’s the question posed by AJC reporter Ariel Hart when she went west to take a look at what lessons the transportation tax passed out there may provide for us.

If voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta region approve a penny sales tax next year to raise $7 billion over 10 years for transportation, they will be treading new ground, Hart writes. But Denver has done it before, with a 122-mile “FasTracks” rail transit expansion, plus 18 miles of rapid bus service, approved in 2004.

While the promise of FasTracks has some big fans in Denver among commuters and employers, its failings regarding cost and timetable also offer harsh lessons, Hart writes.

In Denver, FasTracks now has a $2 billion deficit, and some projects may be 25 years behind schedule, Hart writes. Cost estimates approved by voters in 2004 stood at $4.7 billion, but rose to $6.8 billion. On the revenue side, estimates over 30 years went from $13.7 billion in 2004 to $8 …

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What’s your prescription for weakening economy?

The economy’s spring slump appears to be extending into the summer, according to a slew of mixed data released Thursday, Associated Press writes.

What’s your prescription?

Layoffs are rising more than two years after the alleged “recovery” began. In fact, Georgia’s jobless rate rose to 9.9 percent in June, the state labor department reported Thursday.

Economic growth is projected to pick up this fall — but not enough to give businesses confidence to hire and speed the recovery, AP writes. The economy could lapse even further if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach an agreement on raising the nation’s borrowing limit in the coming week.

Earlier this week, I wrote about my idea for stimulating more job growth.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your idea to turn around an economy that’s been struggling since December 2007?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Apartment market getting stronger, cheating scandal, Shirley Franklin, AT&T, Aaron’s

At least the apartment market is showing signs of life.

Developers have proposed two high-rise apartment complexes for Midtown, AJC writer Christopher Quinn reports.

Plans for the 23-story Sky House at the northwest corner of West Peachtree and 12th streets were laid out for the Midtown Development Review Committee, along with plans for a 22-story complex at the southwest corner of 12th Street and Cresent Avenue, Quinn writes.

Apartment construction has been coming on strong, in part, because of the real estate and foreclosure crisis, Quinn reports. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s monthly release of housing data showed that apartment construction through June is up more than 30 percent in the U.S. since the beginning of the year.

Sky House will include 320 residential units and parking for about 500 cars in a six-level parking deck, Quinn writes. Novare Group is behind the proposal, according to documents. It will include 8,400 square feet of retail space on the …

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Which iPhone side are you on: AT&T or Verizon?

AT&T reported robust sales for the second quarter, largely because it discounted an older version of the iPhone to prevent customers from switching to Verizon Wireless, AJC staffer Kristi Swartz writes.

If you’re an iPhone user, did you switch from AT&T to Verizon or stick with AT&T?

Did you wait until the iPhone came to Verizon to get one?

In previous blogs, many have criticized the AT&T network, but AT&T has said it’s been investing in improvements. Have things gotten better?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Sale of Atlanta Hawks heating up, Georgia jobless rate up, immigration, Beverly Hall, Emory, Chick-fil-A

There’s interesting news on the sports business front today.

Efforts by the Atlanta Spirit ownership group to sell a majority stake in the Hawks have accelerated since the group’s sale of the Thrashers last month, AJC writers Chris Vivlamore and Tim Tucker report.

People familiar with the process say representatives of a potential buyer are doing due diligence — examining financial records — as the process moves toward a possible offer and more detailed negotiations for the basketball team and Philips Arena operating rights, the reporters write.

The people familiar with the situation would not identify the potential bidder because of confidentiality agreements, but described the process as moving fast, the reporters write. They said no offer or exclusive negotiating agreement is in place but that the potential bidder, who might have partners, has the financial wherewithal to complete a transaction.

The potential buyer has accountants and lawyers working extensively on …

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Georgia’s jobless rate rises to 9.9 percent in June

Georgia’s unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent in June from a revised 9.8 percent in May, the state labor department said Thursday.

The state’s  jobless rate has barely improved from a year ago, when it was 10 percent.

“The unemployment rate inched up slightly because of normal seasonal factors, primarily involving the end of the school year,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement. “Non-contract school workers, such as bus drivers, lunchroom and janitorial workers, are usually laid-off during the summer school break. Also, new graduates began searching for jobs and are counted as unemployed while doing so.”

The loss of 12,400 seasonal jobs in state and local public school systems accounted for the bulk of the 14,600 payroll jobs lost throughout the state, the labor department said. There were 3,818,600 jobs in June — down four-tenths of a percentage point from May.

On the positive side, there were increases of 2,900 construction jobs and 2,400 in the …

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Has your 401(k) plan fully recovered?

Strong profits and a bipartisan plan to lift the U.S. debt limit drove the stock market Tuesday to its biggest one-day jump this year, Associated Press writes.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 202.26 points, or 1.6 percent, to close at 12,587.42.

Have you been sharing in the gains? Since the market hit bottom nearly two-and-a-half years ago, has your 401(k) returned to where it was? Almost returned?

Or did you bail out before your portfolio could rebound?

What is your game plan now, given the still perplexing economy?

Are you sticking with many of the “experts,” who are advising a diversified mix of domestic and international stocks and bonds?

Or have the last few years scared you away from stocks? If so, what is your growth plan?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: Major toll road advances, housing starts up, debt plan, NCR, Murdoch, Borders, NFL

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll starting getting our transportation act together.

Gov. Nathan Deal said the state’s first public-private toll road project will go out to bid, offering congestion relief to thousands of drivers daily along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, AJC writers Ariel Hart and Ernie Suggs report.

Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the federal government has given Georgia access to a subsidized loan, the reporters write. Deal and the Georgia DOT had put the project’s bidding process on hold while they waited to learn if Georgia won the loan. While the state hoped to access a $375 million loan, it has been invited to apply for a $270 million loan, Deal said.

But while the loan made it possible to green-light the project, it remains unclear when the project would go out to bid or in what form, the reporters write.

If acceptable bids eventually come in, it will represent the largest transportation contract by far in the history of …

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Summer job market improves for teens

The summer job market for teenagers has rebounded from last year, according to a new report.

A total of 714,000 teens aged 16 to 19 joined the ranks of the employed in June, the Challenger, Gray & Christmas outplacement firm said.

That’s the biggest June job gain among teens since 2007 and a 44 percent improvement over 2010, Challenger said in a news release.

U.S. employers have now hired 785,000 teens since May 1 — the traditional start of the summer employment season. That is a 56 percent increase over the same time last year.

But, it is still 3 percent below the 809,000 teen jobs added in May and June 2009, Challenger said.

This year’s gains can be attributed largely to the private sector, where teens have been able to take advantage of increased hiring in retail, leisure and hospitality, Challenger said.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Let’s put people back to work

What would happen if the federal government sent unemployed college grads into the classroom to beef up reading, math and science instruction in elementary, middle and high schools?

What would happen if the federal government helped pay for the construction of new reservoirs or the expansion of existing ones?

What would happen if the federal government boosted worthy transportation projects — roads, bridges, rail and ports?

And what would happen if the federal government spent real money — not relative chump change — investing in solar, wind, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy?

We’d have more jobs and fewer foreclosures, that’s what. We’d also have a better quality of life and a more competitive position in the global economy.

I’m not a complete moron. I know that’s not going to happen. And I know the government has been living beyond its means for decades. More than $14 trillion in debt needs to be cut sharply to prevent robbing our kids and grandkids.

But like …

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