Archive for May, 2012

Atlanta No. 5 in small business friendliness, Georgia No. 6

Atlanta ranked No. 5 among 40 cities in in the country in “small business friendliness,” according to a new survey, and Georgia was No. 6 among states.

The survey, done by Thumbtack.com in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, rated the top five states for small business friendliness as Idaho, Texas, Oklahoma, Utah and Louisiana. The bottom five were New York, California, Hawaii, Vermont and Rhode Island.

The top cities were Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.

The findings were based on a two-month survey of 6,000 small business owners nationwide.

Atlanta scored well in several categories that survey respondents rated. It ranked No. 3 in networking programs and No. 5 in optimism about the future.

It ranked No. 30 in growth rate last year, however, No. 26 in current economic health, and No. 25 in environment.

Other categories with Atlanta’s rankings: ease of starting a business, No. 6; training programs, No. 11; employment, labor and hiring, No. 12;  …

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Delta pulls ads from ‘The Daily Show with Jon Stewart’

(Special)

(Special)

(Updated at 6:27 p.m.)

Delta Air Lines has pulled its advertising from cable TV’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart ,” following fallout from the host’s reference to a controversial Nativity scene as a “vagina manger.”

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based airline told Buzzfeed.com that the ad pullout had nothing to do with the Catholic League’s campaign to get Stewart to apologize for the April 16 segment on the Comedy Central show.

The “Daily Show” segment featured Stewart mocking the Fox News Channel for not covering a so-called Republican “war on women.” He said, “Maybe women could protect their reproductive organs from unwanted medical intrusions with vagina mangers.”

The Catholic League noted that  that during the segment a  “picture flashed on the screen of a naked woman with her legs spread with a Nativity scene ornament in between.”

In a statement, the Catholic civil rights group called the segment “the most vulgar expression of …

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Stay tuned: Oprah Winfrey Network battles red ink

(George Burns/OWN)

(George Burns/OWN)

(updated 3:29 p.m.)

The Oprah Winfrey Network hopes trimming its payroll, dumping Rosie and coming up with a new line of shows will help stem the flow of red ink, but the network continues to be a financial drag on its major partner.

OWN, which the queen of talk shows launched last year but has been in the making since 2008, continues to struggle with ratings, which hinders its ability to attract advertisers and make money. Bloomberg Businessweek reports the network may have lost up to $330 million since its inception.

The red ink was reflected in the quarterly results reported by Discovery Communications, which is Oprah Winfrey’s 50-50 partner in the network. Discovery’s first-quarter profits fell by $84 million, a 28 percent drop from the same period a year earlier. The results were below Wall Street analysts’ expectations.

In a conference call, Discovery President and Chief Executive David Zaslav conceded, “We have a long way to go.” But …

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Consumer borrowing up

American consumers pulled out the plastic more often in March and also borrowed more to pay for school, according to the Federal Reserve, while taking  on the most overall debt since November 2001.

Consumer borrowing increased $21.4 billion in March, marking the seventh straight monthly increase.

Auto and student loans rose $16.2 billion, and credit card debt surged $5.2 billion. Plastic use was down in January and February.

Total borrowing hit a seasonally adjusted $2.54 trillion, just below the all-time high of $2.58 trillion in July 2008.

Consumers cut back on debt  at that time, just after the recession began, but borrowing again increased in the fall of 2010.

One reason for the increase was a big surge in school borrowing, possibly the result of students taking out loans before a scheduled rate jump in July.

Some experts said they expect the increased borrowing to continue. While there’s debate on the subject, some economists say the uptick is a positive sign for the …

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Georgia puts 15 companies on Fortune 500

Rock-Tenn, the Norcross-headquartered producer of consumer and corrugated packaging, has jumped into the Fortune 500, the prestigious listing of America’s biggest companies.

In doing so, it boosted the total number of Georgia companies on the list to 15. That’s one more than last year.

Rock-Tenn ranked No. 449 in the Fortune 500, with revenues of $5.4 billion.

Topping the list of Georgia companies is Home Depot, which also led the way last year. The home improvement retailer ranks No. 35 this year, slipping from its spot at No. 30 nationwide in 2011. Its revenues were up, to $70.4 billion from $68 billion.

Here is how the other 13 Georgia companies ranked, within the state, and within the U.S., with revenues:

No. 2: UPS ( 52), $53.1 billion; No. 3 Coca-Cola (59), $46.5 billion; No. 4. Delta Air Lines (83), $35.1 billion; No. 5 Aflac (128), $22.2 billion; No. 6 Southern (152), $17.7 billion; No. 7 Genuine Parts (214), $12.5 billion; No. 8 First Data (243), $10.7 billion; No. 9 …

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Gas prices drop 7 cents in the last week

Good news for folks planning holiday travel this month.
 
Average gas prices in metro Atlanta dipped 7 cents in the last week, and should continue to drop for the rest of the month, said AAA South spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

 “Retail gas prices are likely to continue their downward trend in May which is good news for those who plan to travel for the upcoming holiday weekend,” she said.  

 Georgia’s average price of $3.61 and Tennessee’s average of$3.58 both dipped 7 cents from last week. The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.78 – 3 cents less than last week.
 
Brady said gas prices are following the drop in oil prices. The price of a barrel of oil dropped below $100 – to 98.49 — on Friday for the first time since Feb. 10.  Oil prices dropped after U.S. payrolls — projected to increase by 160,000 — only went up 115,000.

 “Nationwide, motorists are paying 20 cents less today than they did this time last year,” said Brady. She noted …

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Average price of new vehicle: 30k

$30,000 for a new car or light truck.

Average.

Wonder who would have believed that years ago.

That was the average price (actually $30,303) in April, however, according to research from forecaster TrueCar.com, The Wall Street Journal reported.

(That figure excludes the average $2,446 incentive from dealers).

Just a year ago, the average price was $1,219 less.

On the bright side, the cost of a new set of wheels in April actually was down $445 or 1.4 percent from March.

Still, automakers have to be thrilled. Not long ago it seemed they would have to give away their product.

Now, the rising cost isn’t even hurting sales. An annualized 14.4 million light vehicles were sold last month, up 10 percent from the year-earlier period.

And don’t think it’s any better buying used.

“Experienced” vehicles cost more, too. The Journal report suggests that’s the result of the lack of quality used rides available. Consumers slowed their purchases of new vehicles during the economic downturn, and …

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Price tag for White House: $110 million

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

Any real estate agent worth his or her salt will tell you that when it comes to buying or selling a home the most important consideration in determining the value is “location, location, location.”

It should come as no surprise that the most valuable address in Washington, D.C., is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The real estate site Movoto.com asked the Koitz Group luxury real estate firm to put a value on the White House and Koitz came up with $110 million.

For that tidy sum, the buyer gets a 55,000-square-foot Executive Mansion on six levels, with 132 rooms and 35 bathrooms. It comes with three elevators, 28 fireplaces, tennis court, bowling alley, movie theater, basketball court, swimming pool and jogging track.

And the White House is just a stroll from area restaurants, museums, monuments and the Metro train line.

Jason Koitz told Movoto his firm, which specializes in D.C. properties, came up with the price tag based on value of other luxury …

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Did Yahoo CEO pad academic record?

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

How did the academic record of Scott Thompson, Yahoo’s latest chief executive officer, end up showing he holds bachelor’s degrees in both accounting and computer science?

A firestorm has erupted at the online commerce company, forcing the board of trustees  to order a review of its top executive’s academic record after the revelation that Thompson actually holds only an accounting degree, according to published reports.

Thompson is a former president of eBay’s PayPal division who joined Yahoo in January.

A major Yahoo investor claims Thompson has padded his academic credentials. In a letter to Yahoo’s board, Dan Loeb, the founder a of the Third Point hedge fund, said Thompson “embellished” his resume by claiming he’d received both degrees from Stonehill College near Boston.

Loeb, whose hedge fund owns 5.8 percent of Yahoo stock, said the CEO only holds an accounting degree. A Yahoo spokesman confirmed Loeb’s findings and called the …

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Got the munchies? Oregon eatery will take care of that

Ever had the munchies?

Yeah, those kind.

Seems that in Oregon some restaurants have figured out a legit way to build a business, and satisfy their customers, by playing to pot-induced hunger pangs.

There, see, medical marijuana is legal. So a few enterprising entrepreneurs have come up with a way to cater to the cravings of people who need weed for their health.

They put it in the food.

The Associated Press reports one eatery serves up Mongolian beef and vegetables with hashish-infused oil.

Probably won’t find that one in Zagat.

There are some drawbacks, though, speaking purely from the business perspective. For one, there’s a pretty limited customer base: only card-carrying, medical marijuana-approved users can eat there. Too, law enforcement keeps a vigilant eye on such operations, as you’d expect.

Still, some restaurateurs are trying. One place is that Mongolian joint, called the Earth Dragon Edibles Restaurant & Lounge, in Ashland.

Here’s how AP describes the …

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