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Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO, Thomas A. Fanning, left, sits next to John W. Somerhalder, II, AGL’s Resources Chairman and CEO at the Southern Company and AGL merger press conference.
Stephanie Lennox / WABE

Atlanta's Southern Company is buying natural gas distributor AGL Resources Inc. for approximately $7.93 billion, which would create the second-biggest utility company in the U.S. by customer base.

CEO Tom Fanning says the merger gives the company more options.

"It is a matter of fact that America will still need coal in its portfolio," Fanning said. “But it is also irrefutable that gas will play a greater and greater role."

Atlanta Has Earned Bragging Rights For Going 'Green'

Aug 21, 2015
Kasim Reed
City of Atlanta

When it comes to the environment, it's not often for Atlanta to have bragging rights.

But when it comes to the Better Buildings Challenge -- a national program to promote energy efficiency -- Atlanta ranks No. 1.

Atlanta has outpaced all its other competitors when it comes to cities that have pledged to reduce energy consumption by 2020. Atlanta has more property square footage signed up in the program than any other city.

A travel advocate accuses Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines of shaming certain customers into buying a higher fare ticket. Delta says it's providing transparency as a way to better inform customers.
Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press

Delta's lowest published fare, Basic Economy, comes with a lot of restrictions -- no changes, upgrades or assigned seats, to name a few. And you'll be last on the plane.

For customers who choose that fare online -- what some call the "Economy Minus" rate -- Delta shows a screen letting travelers know exactly what they're not getting.

Noble Investment Group hopes to build two new hotels to Midtown at what's now a parking lot along 14th Street.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports Marriott's AC and Moxy brands will share a single building. 

Co-branding hotels under one roof is a somewhat new trend in the hotel industry, said Georgia State University School of Hospitality director Debby Cannon. 

Coca-Cola Merger Plans Create Uncertainty For Atlanta

Aug 14, 2015
Coca-Cola bottle top
Justin Taylor / flickr.com/bludgeoner86

What a week for the Coca-Cola Company! 

First, Coca-Cola Enterprises announced a merger that will lead to Atlanta having one less Fortune 500 company but would make the company the largest independent bottler of Coca-Cola's products.

Then the Coca-Cola company announced a new president and COO, a position that has not existed since 2007. James Quincey clearly is being positioned as the possible successor to Muhtar Kent after he retires.

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo sponsored 96 national health organizations between 2011 and 2014, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Ric Feld / Associated Press

Coca-Cola says it named company veteran James Quincey as president and chief operating officer, creating a new No. 2 position in its chain of command.

The Atlanta-based company says Quincey's appointment is effective immediately and that he will report directly to CEO Muhtar Kent.

That means Coca-Cola's operating groups will now report to Quincey, rather than Kent. The company also says the president of Coca-Cola International, Ahmet Bozer, will retire in March. His position will not be refilled.

Bozer, 55, joined the company in 1990 as a financial control manager.

An apple hanging on an apple tree at Hillcrest Orchards
Courtesy of Hillcrest Orchards

It’s the beginning of apple season in Georgia. The northern part of the state around the cities of Ellijay and Blue Ridge is the center of the state’s apple industry, where the climate is just right for growing the fruit.

Last year growers, including Georgia, reported a bumper crop of apples – one of the biggest apple hauls in 25 years. This year Georgia growers, like Janice Hale of Hillcrest Orchards, don’t expect the same volume.

“It’s not nearly as big as last year,” Hale said. “Last year was phenomenal. This year we’ve had a few challenges.”

A worker carries a box while loading up trucks before deliveries at the United Parcel Service sorting facility in Roswell, Ga.
David Goldman / AP Photo, File

President Barack Obama unveiled a new proposal in June that would ensure that millions more Americans would earn overtime wages for working more than 40 hours a week. The measure would raise the threshold for paying salaried workers overtime to those who make $50,440 or less a year.

Forget Car Jacking, Auto Hacking A Danger To Drivers

Aug 6, 2015
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)

Drivers were once worried about leaving their vehicles running while unattended for fear of a car jacking. Now a bigger fear for drivers is auto hacking.

If you’re driving one of several Chrysler Fiat models, you’re at risk of losing control of your vehicle to hackers.

Fast food worker Qiana Shields chants during a demonstration outside a Burger King restaurant calling for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in College Park, Ga.
David Goldman / AP Photo

Many people who are working minimum wage jobs are women, and many of those women are African-American or Latina.

Leaders of several advocacy groups recently joined together in Washington to discuss the issue on women of color working theses jobs. The panelists expressed the need to raise the minimum wage.

The city of Atlanta has imposed the maximum fine against a developer who cut down five large trees, each estimated to be about 150 years old.

Commissioner of Planning and Community Development Tim Keane told WXIA-TV on Wednesday that Intown Renewal Developers must pay $11,400.13 for cutting down two white oaks and three poplars in the Ormewood Park community of southeast Atlanta.

Keane says the developers accepted full responsibility for cutting down the trees without permits.

Jordan Williams and Brandon Iverson, both high school seniors and business owners, started the Young Moguls clothing line to help empower young people.
Lily McGregor Photography

President Obama hosted a so-called Demo Day at the White House this week where he renewed his commitment to those underrepresented in entrepreneurship, like women and people of color.

In Atlanta, many young entrepreneurs are involved with tech start-ups and are working on owning their own businesses.

Atlanta teenagers Jordan Williams and Brandon Iverson are part of that group of emerging business owners. At the tender age of 10, the pair started their first company and now, at 17, they have a new brand called Young Moguls.

Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Atlanta has been making slow but steady progress in recovering from the Great Recession. But when it comes to jobs and economic growth, it’s often hard – even for the experts – to predict whether those sectors will pick up momentum and when.

But, according to the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Dennis Lockhart, the city is faring well.

“We have a rather balanced economy in Atlanta, no particular industry on which the city is dependent,” Lockhart said during an interview on “A Closer Look.”

Atlanta Medical Center is hosting a job fair for registered nurses.

The event is set for 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at Atlanta Medical Center at 320 Parkway Drive N.E. in Atlanta.

Experienced Registered Nurses with at least two years of experience are being sought.

Fallout From New EPA Rules On U.S. Power Plants Underway

Aug 4, 2015
In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama presented his final plan for carbon dioxide reduction targets on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, which would reduce emissions.
Jim Cole / AP Photo

President Obama unveiled a sweeping and unprecedented plan to significantly cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants over the next 15 years.

The plan requires a 32 percent reduction below 2005 levels of carbon emission by 2022.

The president compared the emissions reduction to taking 166 million cars off the road. He also said the new Environmental Protection Agency rules will create jobs, reduce energy bills for homes and businesses, protect public health and push the development of sustainable energy sources.

Savannah Port Expansion Set To Begin Ahead Of Schedule

Aug 3, 2015
Georgia imports and exports shipped through the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal, in Savannah, Ga.
Stephen B. Morton / AP Photo

A record-breaking amount of cargo moved through the Port of Savannah last year. The port, the nation’s fourth busiest, handled 3.6 million shipping containers in 2014, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. And traffic is expected to increase even more with the expansion of the Savannah Harbor.

The dredging of the Savannah River is an important step in the expansion project and is now scheduled to begin in September, months ahead of schedule, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced.

Greece Struggles To Restructure Debt As Deadline Nears

Jul 30, 2015
The Greek, right, and the European flags wave under the ancient Acropolis hill in Athens, Sunday, July 5, 2015. Greeks lined up at polling stations and ATMs alike Sunday as the country voted on its financial future
Petr David Josek / AP Photo

The Greek government is swimming in debt and can’t pay its creditors. European finance officials are trying to work out a $95 billion bailout, the third, for the financially strapped nation.

Talks on the bailout among the Greek government, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund have been fractured and contentious in recent weeks.

It’s a complicated situation, but Atlanta resident and Greek-American Rom Papadopoulos said during an interview on “A Closer Look,” that he has faith that Greece will be able to overcome the economic chaos.

MARTA Commuter Rail Possible For Clayton County

Jul 29, 2015
MARTA North Avenue station in Atlanta
Scott Ehardt / Wikipedia

MARTA buses have been rolling in Clayton County since March, but what the county really wants is commuter rail.

The good news is that MARTA is working on it.

A female rides down the slide at Slide The City.
IQRemix / flickr.com/IQRemix

A water boil advisory that was in effect for three days in DeKalb County hurt some local businesses.

The county issued the advisory because crews had to drop the water pressure three times within 36 hours to repair a transmission line that broke late Thursday. It all started last week when a fire hydrant was struck by a crew that was mowing the grass along the road near the transmission line at Henderson Mill and Evans Road.

Tyler Perry attends the premiere of "Selma" at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in New York.
Evan Agostini/Invision / Associated Press

Filmmaker Tyler Perry's plans for a sprawling movie studio at Fort McPherson may include an amphitheater and a museum, according to documents obtained by an Atlanta newspaper.

A map provided to the U.S. Army shows the amphitheater and museum, but gives little other information, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Perry, who acquired most of the closed Army post in June, has said the studio will feature tours but has been otherwise silent on any public aspects of the project.

WellStar Health System

WellStar Health System says it’s in discussions with Tenet Healthcare to buy Tenet's five hospitals in Georgia.

Tenet, a for-profit company that operates 81 hospitals nationwide, has been considering selling its facilities in Georgia, according to an earnings call with analysts earlier this year.

Hospitals have been looking to scale their operations as part of a bigger trend in the industry, but the lack of Medicaid expansion in Georgia could also be another factor for Tenet's sale, said Chris Kane, principal at DHG Healthcare.

Germany's Toni Kroos, centre, celebrates after scoring his third goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between Brazil and Germany near a Coca-Cola advertisement at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil on July 8, 2014.
Matthias Schrader / AP Photo

The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF, Gold Cup semifinals begin today in downtown Atlanta with a sold-out first match between the U.S. and Jamaica in the Georgia Dome.

CONCACAF is the organization that oversees soccer in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. It's affiliated with FIFA, the sport's international governing body.

FIFA has been embroiled in controversy in recent months over recent corruption charges among top leaders at the organization and allegations of human rights abuses in Qatar.

Lisa George / WABE

 

    

Critics dismissed it as a rough draft for "To Kill a Mockingbird" and readers despaired over an aging, racist Atticus Finch.

But Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" is still a million seller.

HarperCollins announced Monday that "Go Set a Watchman" has already sold 1.1 million copies in the U.S. and Canada, a figure which includes first-week sales and months of pre-orders. The publisher stunned the world in February when it revealed that a second novel was coming from Lee, who had long insisted that "To Kill a Mockingbird" would be her only book.

Federal authorities are testing a mobile device used to scan fingerprints from a sample of foreign air travelers as they depart from the United States through Atlanta's airport.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jennifer Evanitsky said Tuesday that officers began using the devices last week to scan fingerprints and passports of some foreign passengers on selected flights at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Atlanta's Airport Receives Bond Ratings Upgrade

Jul 14, 2015
Victor Villanueva / flickr.com/bikoy

Atlanta’s airport has received a bond ratings upgrade from Fitch Ratings.

This week, the agency boosted two of the airport’s bonds from an A to an A+.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s Chief Financial Officer and Deputy General Manager, Roosevelt Council, says upping those bond ratings, which represent the corporation's bond credit quality, will save the airport millions of dollars in borrowing costs. He says that the cost savings will help Hartsfield-Jackson pay for current and future projects. 

Old Doraville Assembly Plant Mostly Gone, Film Studio Coming

Jul 10, 2015
Courtesy of The Integral Group

    

The old General Motors Doraville plant along Interstate 285 near Peachtree Industrial Boulevard is mostly gone and a new development at the site is taking shape.

The Integral Group is part of the team leading the development, which includes Third Rail Studios as the anchor for a new media complex, called Assembly, after the old factory it’s replacing.

Project Executive with Integral Eric Pinckney explained during an interview on “A Closer Look” how developers sold Third Rail on the project.

Sarah Richter / flickr.com/sarowen

Blue Bell is beginning a trial run of ice cream production at its Alabama plant after a national recall that followed a series of listeria illnesses.

Alabama Health Officer Don Williamson said Wednesday the company notified the department that it will begin a trial run of production later this month. The ice cream will not be sold to consumers. Williamson says both state health officials and Blue Bell will test the product for listeria.

Former student Nathaniel Simmons operates a crane during a day of training at Georgia College of Construction.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

The job numbers in Georgia are released every month to inform people about the status of Georgia's unemployment rate. However, the job numbers can be inaccurate and they may not always help job seekers get their first and second interview.

On "A Closer Look," Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler discussed the various trends in employment and the improvement he wants people to know about the Georgia's job market.  

 

Trading was halted on the New York Stock Exchange in the late morning because of a technical issue.

The halt occurred at about 11:30 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday.

The exchange said in a statement that it was experiencing a "technical issue" that it was working to resolve as quickly as possible.

Before trading was halted, U.S. indexes were lower as investors worried about China's ability to stem a stock market slide.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 215 points, or 1.2 percent, to 17,561.

UPS Cargo Bike Utilized in Hamburg, Germany
ups.org

Atlanta-based United Parcel Service is testing out a tricycle delivery bike in Switzerland that could carry up to 330 pounds. 

The bike is picking up packages and delivering mail through downtown Basel, Switzerland this summer for four weeks. 

The bike is only three feet wide and UPS says its size will save the company time and money because its easier to park than its standard trucks. 

These bikes are already being used in Hamburg, Germany, but if the pilot program in Basel is successful, you may soon be seeing more of these cargo bikes in other European cities.

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