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The National Federation of Independent Business’s small business optimism index rose in February for the sixth month in a row. The index edged up 0.4 points as owners became slightly more optimistic about future sales growth but more pessimistic about the outlook for business conditions. NFIB Georgia says state small business owners also have mixed emotions about a potential recovery.

Don’t be surprised if you notice a few new faces in the office this Spring.  According to Manpower, 20% of local companies polled plan to hire, while only 5% plan to lay off workers.

“So that gives us a net employment outlook of 15%,” says regional director of Manpower in Atlanta, Beth Herman.

“And then that other indicator of who plans to maintain is still at a very high level at 69 percent,” she also says.

Home Depot

The Home Depot’s shift from bricks and mortar retailing could pay off big for Metro Atlanta.  According to this week’s Business Chronicle, the company could create 500 new jobs this year as it grows its e-commerce business.

An expansion of Alcon’s Johns creek campus couldn’t come soon enough according to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle.  When Alcon acquired CIBA Vision last year, it moved 100 high paying corporate jobs to the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, TX.

Starting in June, some Wells Fargo customers with free checking accounts will have to a pay $5 to  $7  a month. The bank started moving customers with basic checking accounts in 23 states to the fees last year and is now expanding to Georgia and five other states.

Wells Fargo spokesman Jay Lawrence says the fees are a result of recent regulatory changes and the competitive banking environment. He says customers can avoid the fees if they have a minimum balance of $1500 or make direct deposits of at least $500 a month.

The "Get Home Now" program won't just increase home ownership.  Executive Director of the Riverdale Downtown Development Authority, Michael Syphoe, says the city will see the direct impact of the program.

"This program basically puts these properties back on the tax roles and the city can immediately get the tax revenue."

Randstad

According to Randstad, 69% of workers polled, say it's unlikely they'll get laid off.  But if they do, they're not too worried.  Not only that, but 43% say they're confident in their ability to find another job. 

The merger of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways Thursday cleared a key  hurdle, after the Federal Aviation Administration issued Southwest a “single operating certificate.” 

That means the Dallas-based carrier can speed up its absorption of the AirTran Airways.

“It’s essentially Uncle Sam saying it’s OK to start tearing down walls and moving planes and people around,” says Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins, adding that passengers won't notice much of an immediate change.  

Georgia's Unemployment Rate dips

Mar 1, 2012
Georgia Dept. of Labor

 

Georgia’s unemployment rate was 9.2% last month. Relatively speaking, the number is high and is higher than the current national average. However, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler says you have to put the latest unemployment numbers in perspective.

Black History Month's financial impact

Feb 29, 2012
Charles Edwards / WABE News

On this the last day of February, local African-American attractions are closing their financial books on Black History Month. For some, the month long focus on African-American history means good business. For others, it’s a reminder the month and the history don’t get enough attention.

Caterpillar boosts economy in Athens

Feb 17, 2012
Charles Edwards / WABE News

At a time when Georgia’s unemployment rate is just below 10%, more than a thousand new jobs are coming to the Northeast part of the state.

Construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar announced today it will start building a one-million square foot plant in Athens.

“This plant will be about 1400 people,” said Caterpillar Chariman and CEO Doug Oberhelman. “We’ll make the most famous image I think of Caterpillar. That’s our bulldozer.”

Construction Jobs in Atlanta Remain Elusive

Feb 10, 2012

The new data comes as no surprise. Since 2006, metro Atlanta has lost more construction jobs than just about every city in the country. 

These days in Atlanta, it's a rare sight. Cranes raising beams high in the air, workers in hard hats shouting orders, heavy machinery moving chunks of earth. 

A 23-story apartment complex is being built in Midtown. It's one of only two construction projects going on in the area. 

Georgia's natural gas providers filed into the Public Service Commission Thursday to explain a recent federal report that said gas prices are nearly 40 percent higher in Atlanta than the national average.

Many of them stepped up to the podium, questioned the report's methodology and called the data unreliable.

"Significant unknowns in the methodology," said one company representative.

Many of the providers went a step further and said the report was an attack on the free market.

Atlanta, GA – Host: Among the many indicators pointing to a fragile U.S. economy are ongoing bank failures. Twenty-three banks have failed, just since July. And no state has seen more banks close than Georgia. Since 2008, 70 banks have failed in the state. That's almost a quarter of all banks there. From WABE in Atlanta, Jim Burress reports on why Georgia's been especially hit hard.

There was no drought to keep people away and the economic downturn didn't deter vacationers from the North Georgia water haven.
WABE's Rose Scott has more:

The pie was big enough for all merchants to get a slice from boat rentals to restaurants, the summer was chock full of people spending money.
That's a big turnaround from the two previous summers and Joanna Cloud says the lake at full pool is one of the reasons.

Atlanta, GA – A new federal study shows those without health insurance pay significantly more for hospital stays than the insured, and that price gap has widened in the past decade.

Atlanta, GA – After a dismal 2009, Atlanta hotels are looking to New Year's Eve for a reason to celebrate.

An analysis of 30,000 booking requests by website Priceline.com shows downtown Atlanta as the 7th most popular spot in the nation for New Year's Eve.

Upscale locales are going for more than $300. A few, including the Hyatt Regency, Hotel Indigo and St. Regis, are sold out.

Atlanta, GA – 2009 will be remembered as a year of extraordinary demand for Atlanta's nonprofits.

Unfortunately, many of those nonprofits are still having trouble keeping up.

Atlanta's Toys for Tots program was looking to collect 900,000 toys this holiday season, a number that was to serve nearly a half million local kids.

The donation period is over now, and early reports indicate they collected only half their goal.

Atlanta, GA – Despite signs that the national economy is beginning to recover, a leading indicator of Georgia's economy shows continued weakness here. Each month, the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University releases its Purchasing Managers Index report, a barometer of manufacturing strength in the state.

For November, Georgia's index was 43.5 compared to a national average of 53.6. Several factors make up the score, but new orders are the main driver of the rating.

Atlanta, GA – Nine different reports of stolen copper in the last few weeks have AT&T concerned.

"It's a very hazardous and dangerous endeavor for those who are doing it," says AT&T spokesperson Dawn Benton. "And it's also a public safety issue because there are temporary service disruptions - I mean we get out there quickly and restore service still there's an impact on public health and emergency services."

Atlanta, GA – Here at Georgia's Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Southeast Atlanta responders like Danielle Graham field calls for help from cities and counties across the state.

"It has been very busy. A lot of just updates on just what's going on and requests for anything from sand bags to bottled water."

Atlanta, GA – Federal stimulus dollars will help the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority save money and go green.

Today, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Atlanta's rapid transit authority is getting about $10 million.

Secretary LaHood says MARTA will use the money to buy solar panel roofs for 22 bus canopies.

Atlanta, GA – Georgia's average Internet connectivity speed is higher than the national average but still slow compared to population centers in the Northeast and the West.

Metro Atlanta's Internet speeds are relatively fast, but the rest of Georgia lags behind, says Annie Hill of the Communications Workers of America, the organization behind the study.

Atlanta, GA – Each month, the Econometrics Center at Kennesaw State University compiles the "Purchasing Managers Index" report. It's a gauge of manufacturing vitality.

For July, Georgia's PMI Report suggests the manufacturing sector is still contracting. That's the bad news. But the good news, according to Kennesaw State's Don Sabbarese, is that manufacturing is contracting a much slower pace than even one month ago.

Mortgage Fraud A Major Factor in Atlana Foreclosure Rates

Atlanta, Ga. – Georgia is reportedly number-one in the country, when it comes to mortgage fraud.

But that statistic is just one reason while residential foreclosures in metro Atlanta have doubled, between 2000 and 2004.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle's Crystal Edmonson has part two of her series on Atanta's high foreclosure rate.

Atlanta, Ga. – Recently, the Texas Transportation Institute released a report, showing that Atlantans have the fourth-worst commute in the nation, ranking behind Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. The study also shows that a 20 minute commute to work in Atlanta, (assuming the driver is going 60 miles per hour) would take almost 30 minutes during peak drive times.

Atlanta – Georgia-Pacific Corp. continued to be weighed down by asbestos litigation and settlements, posting a deeper loss in 2002.
The Atlanta-based pulp and paper products giant (NYSE: GP) had a net loss of $735 million on $23.3 billion in sales in 2002, compared with a net loss of $407 million on $25 billion in sales in 2001. Loss per share was $3.09, compared with loss per share of $2.10 in 2001.

Atlanta – Atlanta-based Centennial HealthCare Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 20.
Centennial, which operates and manages 86 nursing homes in 19 states, including Ashton Woods Rehabilitation Center in Chamblee, listed debts of more than $100 million, according to court filings. It had estimated assets of up to $50,000, according to the documents.

Atlanta – Northwest Airlines Corp. has extended its e-ticketing service through an arrangement with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines Inc.
The agreement allows passengers to use e-tickets for travel on either of the airlines. Until this agreement, different tickets had to be issued for each leg of a trip involving both Northwest and Delta (NYSE: DAL).
Eagan-based Northwest already has similar arrangements with American, United, Delta and Continental.

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