Business

A Closer Look
4:41 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Fortune 500 Has No Female CEO From Georgia – Yet

Veritiv’s Mary Laschinger would be the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company in Georgia.
Credit veritivcorp.com

Few people have even heard of the company Veritiv. But by next year, it will become one of Atlanta’s best-known companies. That’s because it will have the first woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company based in Georgia.

When the company eventually is included on the Fortune 500 list in 2016, it likely will be ranked near No. 300 – thanks to its sales of about $9.3 billion a year.

Veritiv formed last July through a merger of Unisource and a division of International Paper – xpedx.  The company held its first annual meeting this Wednesday. 

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A Closer Look
2:24 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Ga. Tech Group Helps Spur Start-Up Development In Atlanta

The winners of the 2015 TAG Business Launch competition from left to right: Chris Hart, David Hartnett, Allyson Eman, Tino Mantella, Cory Hewett, Evan Jarecki and Amanda Hendley.
Credit Courtesy of Tech Association of Georgia

The Technology Association of Georgia, or TAG, sponsored a recent business tech start-up competition to help connect investors with new enterprises.

TAG is a leading technology industry association. The group’s president and CEO, Tino Mantella, says TAG is the “largest tech trade association in the nation.”

TAG is “dedicated to the promotion and economic advancement of the state’s technology industry,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Decatur Dog Owners Save Area Near Dog Park From Development

For the last few months, residents have spoken out against any development on the half-acre plot of land adjacent to the Oakhurst Dog Park in Decatur.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Dog owners in Decatur have won out for now.

Decatur city commissioners voted last night to reject a plan to redevelop a half-acre lot that includes part of the Oakhurst Dog Park.

Jay Weaver, president of Weaver Capital Partners, wanted to buy the land from the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta and build two homes there.

Weaver says he understands why fans of the dog park were so passionate, but believes he was treated unfairly.

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A Closer Look
2:03 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Georgia Vineyards Pop The Cork On Booming Wine Sales

Crane Creek Vineyards is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, just three miles north of the quaint college town of Young Harris and a two hour drive from Atlanta.
Credit Crane Creek Vineyards

Georgia’s wine business is booming, creating jobs and millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue.

It’s quite an accomplishment when you consider there were just a handful of vineyards in the state in 1995. But with steady growth over the past two decades, Georgia now boasts more than 40.

Grape grower and winemaker Eric Seifarth is the president of Crane Creek Vineyards, which is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia.

Seifarth is also a member of the Winegrowers Association of Georgia.

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A Closer Look
6:51 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Ga. Loses To SC In High-Stakes Bidding War For Volvo Plant

Volvo picked South Carolina over Georgia and other states for the Swedish carmaker's first American manufacturing facility in a deal valued at $500 million.
Credit volvocars.com

Georgia lost out on its bid to host the first U.S. auto plant by Swedish carmaker Volvo.

Gov. Nathan Deal lobbied hard to bring the $500 million facility to Georgia, but South Carolina beat out the state for the plant, which is expected to produce 100,000 vehicles in its first year.

Volvo has not said why it picked South Carolina over the other states vying for the plant. South Carolina already has a BMW and Mercedes-Benz factory.

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A Closer Look
6:35 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Georgia's Craft Beer Industry Brewing Up Big Bucks

If you haven’t grabbed a craft brew this week, you’ve still got time.
Credit Courtesy of Sweetwater Brewery

If you haven’t grabbed a craft brew this week, you’ve still got time. The Brewers Association is celebrating American Craft Brew Week.

In Georgia, the industry is hopping. Craft beer had an impact of almost $700 million on the state’s economy in 2012.

The Brewer’s Association, an industry group that promotes and protects small and independent American brewers, ranks Georgia 24th in the country in the number of craft breweries in the state.

And the numbers are still on the rise, despite complaints from brewers about laws that limit the amount of beer they can sell.

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A Closer Look
3:05 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Atlanta Entrepreneurs Summit Offers Networking, Inspiration

Rodney Sampson, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Opportunity Ecosystem, talked on ''A Closer Look'' about his business and the Black Enterprise Business Summit.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The 20th annual Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit kicked off in Atlanta Wednesday.

The three-day event brings together the nation’s top African-American entrepreneurs, executives, and business owners for an opportunity at networking, learning, and inspiration.

Comedian, media personality and entrepreneur Steve Harvey, journalist Roland Martin, HGTV host and real estate agency CEO Egypt Sherrod, NFL Hall of Fame inductee and ESPN anchor Cris Carter are just a few of  the successful business people expected at the summit.  

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A Closer Look
6:56 pm
Mon May 11, 2015

How New Trade Partnership Could Impact Georgia Businesses

President Obama is pushing for fast-track status for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between 12 nations that could affect up to 40 percent of U.S. business.
Credit Stephen B. Morton / AP Photo, File

President Barack Obama visited the headquarters of Nike in Oregon last week to raise support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, also known as the TPP.

The TPP is a trade agreement that is under negotiation by twelve countries, including the United States, Japan and Mexico, and it could affect up to 40 percent of U.S trade.

The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a bill this week that would grant the president the right to speed up the negotiating process. But both parties are split on the TPP and a lot of politicking still needs to play out.

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Business
6:27 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Georgia Companies Could Profit From Florida Flag Bill

Florida's bill says government agencies in the Sunshine State can only buy Florida's state flag and American flags made in the USA.
Credit eric lynch / flickr.com/royal65

Georgia flag makers could benefit from a bill recently passed by the Florida legislature. The bill says government agencies in the Sunshine State can only buy Florida's state flag and American flags made in the USA.

Steve Erlich owns a company called U.S. Flag maker in Marietta and could benefit from Florida’s push for patriotism. Erlich says even though only a small part of his business is with government agencies, he’ll likely see his sales increase.

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Business
5:50 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Mercedes CEO: Tax Incentives Not Critical In Relocation

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon says the tax incentives were not a big factor when choosing which city to build its new headquarters in.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon says tax breaks were not critical to the company’s decision to move to metro Atlanta.

"If you make a 50-year decision, tax incentives mean almost nothing," Cannon says. "You spread a few million dollars of incentives across 50 years, it has zero impact on the business case." 

At an event at the Atlanta Press Club on Thursday, Steve Cannon says the region's quality of life and close-knit business community were the primary reasons.

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Technology
11:53 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Executives Prepare For Potential Cyberattacks On Energy Industry

During the first cyberattack simulation, executives, law enforcement officers and IT professionals worked to respond quickly to a water plant explosion.
Credit Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Department of Homeland Security says more than half of all cyberattacks in 2013 targeted the energy industry.

On Tuesday, more than 100 executives and law enforcement officials went through a series of mock cyberattacks at Kennesaw State University’s Marietta campus.

In the first portrayal: a couple of military veterans buy explosives on eBay. They used the explosives to bomb a fictional water plant in Cobb County. 

Cybersecurity professionals and executives have one hour to come up with a response.

Utility companies are popular targets. 

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Business
1:26 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

DaVita Settles Atlanta Whistleblower Lawsuit For $495M

The 2011 lawsuit involves claims that DaVita tossed out medicine, but then billed Medicaid and Medicare for the drugs.
Credit Charles W. Jones / WABE

DaVita HealthCare Partners, Inc. ─ a dialysis provider with nearly 2,200 U.S. locations ─ will pay $495 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit.

The 2011 lawsuit involves claims that the Denver-based company tossed out medicine, but then billed Medicaid and Medicare for the drugs.

Dr. Alon Vainer and nurse Daniel Barbir, both DaVita employees in Atlanta, filed the suit. They could share in more than $130 million of the settlement.

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A Closer Look
10:49 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Atlanta's Clock Ticking To Make Peace For Nobel Peace Summit

Atlanta was selected to host the 2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates ─ a prestigious gathering of all the individuals and organizations who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Credit Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

Atlanta has until May 9 to make peace for a peace summit set to take place this November.

The international body that selects cities to host the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates met in Rome over the weekend and issued a statement. All the parties in Atlanta must come together within one week, or the summit will be awarded to another city.

Atlanta was selected to host the 2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates ─ a prestigious gathering of all the individuals and organizations who have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Business
2:26 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Chooses Gensler For New Georgia Headquarters

Mercedes-Benz USA announced Gensler will design its new headquarters in Sandy Springs. It is expected to be complete by 2018.
Credit Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz USA has chosen an architecture firm, Gensler, for its new headquarters in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Based in San Francisco, it has 46 offices around the world, including one in Atlanta.

Gensler designed the Shanghai Tower ─ the second tallest building in the world ─ and corporate offices for Facebook, Coca-Cola and General Electric. 

Mercedez-Benz USA says it selected Gensler from a dozen global design firms, "for its creative building concept, which seamlessly integrates functionality and the beautiful surrounding landscape."

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Airlines & Aviation
1:42 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

Frontier Adds 6 New Flights From Atlanta, Fares Start At $19

Frontier will now fly non-stop to major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas from Atlanta.
Credit Daniel Betts / flickr.com/Daniel Betts

Frontier Airlines announced Thursday it’s adding six new non-stop flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

That makes the Denver-based carrier the third largest airline serving Atlanta.

Frontier will now fly non-stop to major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Also in the mix are New Orleans, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Delta-stronghold Cincinnati. 

But don't look for Frontier to steal much business from Delta. That's not the airline's purpose, says Frontier's Senior VP Daniel Shurz. 

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Airlines & Aviation
4:29 pm
Wed April 29, 2015

Airlines Quickly Adapting To Apple Watch's Technology

Airlines are already embracing the Apple Watch technology.
Credit Yasunobu Ikeda / flickr.com/clockmaker-jp

The Apple Watch has been on the market for less than a week. While many companies are still developing apps for it, airlines are already embracing the technology. 

That includes Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, which five years ago was among the first airline to introduce an iPhone app.

Spokesman Paul Skrbec says customers quickly adopted the technology.

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Business
5:52 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Georgia Peanut Farmers See New Opportunity, Profit In China

Peanuts are China's biggest crop. But peanut growers there can't keep up with the demand. That means Georgia peanut producers could fill the gap, and in the process bring hundreds of millions of dollars back to the state.
Credit Clint Thompson / flickr.com/ugacommunications

What's the main thing the Georgia Peanut Commission's Don Koehler took away from his recent trip to China?

“We’re gonna realize that we have a lot more in common than we have that separates us.”

That includes a love of the 花生. Uh, make that the peanut.

Koehler says a growing demand in China means Georgia could soon grow more peanuts and export a half-million tons there each year.

That’s a big deal.

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Commentary
11:41 am
Tue April 28, 2015

NCR's Virtual Shareholders Meeting Has Real-World Implications

When NCR ─ a Fortune 500 company based in Gwinnett County ─ held its annual meeting this year, the only way one could participate was online.
Credit Dayton Daily News, Ron Alvey / Associated Press

When NCR ─ a Fortune 500 company based in Gwinnett County ─ held its annual meeting last Wednesday, the only way one could participate was online. 

It's the first time in Georgia's history a major public company held a virtual annual meeting.

So NCR shareholders were unable to interact with the executives and directors running their company. The meeting was only available online in audio ─ not even video ─ and not one shareholder asked a question.

Not surprising. An online-only meeting is an unfriendly forum for shareholders.

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Business
10:09 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Georgia Power Shutters Power Units To Meet State Regulations

Georgia Power is shuttering coal and oil powered units throughout the state.
Credit Gene Blythe, File / Associated Press

Georgia Power is shuttering coal and oil powered units throughout the state as part of a plan that was approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Georgia Power spokesman Brian Green says Plant Branch in middle Georgia was shut down Wednesday. Green says five units at Plant Yates in Newnan, Georgia, are also being closed and two will be converted to natural gas. Green says two units at Plant McManus in Brunswick, Georgia, will also be shut down.

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Business
6:00 am
Fri April 17, 2015

Bitcoin Advocates Attempt To Make Currency Popular In Atlanta

Dustin Farist gets a shave from Feim Krasniqi at Gino’s Classic Barber Shop in Atlanta. Farist paid for his haircut in Bitcoin.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

This weekend, Atlanta will host its first-ever Bitcoin Consumer Fair.

Currently, there are only about two dozen shops in metro-Atlanta that accept Bitcoins. Organizers want to make Bitcoins more popular here by teaching people how to use the digital currency. 

Andrew Hayes is getting a haircut at Gino’s Classic Barber Shoppe in Dunwoody. 

“I’m getting a crew cut with a taper, short on the sides, and trying to keep as much as I can on the top,” Hayes says.  

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Kaiser to bring 900 new jobs
3:25 pm
Thu April 16, 2015

Atlanta Woos Kaiser Permanente Without Huge Incentives

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stands with city economic development officials Thursday to announce Kaiser Permanente will bring 900 tech jobs to Atlanta.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente announced Thursday it will bring a health information technology hub to Midtown Atlanta.

Most of the 900 new jobs are tech-related, company officials say. And those jobs pay well – an average of $107,000 a year.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says the city’s reputation as a health IT center meant officials didn’t have to sweeten the pot very much to attract Kaiser.

“We provided about $300,000 in incentives today for 900 net new jobs," Reed says. "I think that most folks at home will think that’s a good investment."

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Airlines & Aviation
3:16 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Delta Sees Record Profit, Slower International Traffic

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines again posted record earnings, despite facing a stiff headwind on international routes.
Credit Don Ryan / Associated Press

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines posted on Wednesday a record profit for the first three months of the year. Net income climbed to $746 million. After special items, Delta posted a profit of 45 cents per share, beating analysts' expectations. 

“The business on the whole is performing quite well," said Delta CEO Richard Anderson on an investor conference call. 

Part of the increase comes from a strengthening U.S. economy and strong domestic demand. Fees for baggage and premium seats also helped, the airline said. 

But there were a few rough spots.

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Business
6:15 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Georgia Shares In $36 Million Housing Counseling Grants

The recently announced HUD grants will go to housing counseling nonprofits. Officials say the money will help prevent foreclosures.
Credit David Zalubowski, File / Associated Press

A little financial education can go a long way in helping people find a home or stay in the one they’ve got. 

That’s the idea behind $36 million in federal grants announced Tuesday. The money is earmarked for housing agencies across the nation, including Georgia.

Ten state agencies – mostly in Atlanta – will share in $1.8 million.

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Business
7:58 am
Tue April 14, 2015

AT&T Planning Faster Internet Service In Atlanta

AT&T's GigaPower network provides access to the company's fastest Internet with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. AT&T is considering bringing the service to metro Atlanta.
Credit Eric Gay, File / Associated Press

AT&T plans to bring faster Internet service to Atlanta.

That's according to a Monday announcement from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Reed says the GigaPower network provides access to the company's fastest Internet with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.

AT&T first gave customers in Austin, Texas, access to the GigaPower network and began an expansion in 2014. The company is considering expansion to up to 100 cities and municipalities in 25 areas.

Officials say AT&T customers also will get faster Wi-Fi speeds on the network.

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Real Estate
6:00 am
Tue April 14, 2015

New Mercedes-Benz Headquarters: Not Your Average Office Park

Luxury car company Mercedes-Benz is moving its U.S. headquarters within a 76-acre mixed-use development in Sandy Springs.
Credit Peter Kirkeskov Rasmussen / flickr.com/peterras

A local developer hired an architecture firm ─ based out of Miami ─ to build out its property with a live-work-play theme.

The Sandy Springs development will include more than 1,000 housing units, 30 acres of greenspace and across the future headquarters for Mercedes-Benz.

But this isn’t your average suburban office park.

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Business
10:50 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Sandy Springs Housing Too Expensive For Mercedes-Benz Workers

Luxury car company Mercedes-Benz is moving its U.S. headquarters to Sandy Springs, Georgia, but employees are looking outside Sandy Springs for affordable housing. In this photo, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, left, holds a model Mercedes-Benz presented to him by Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

    

The mayor of Sandy Springs, Georgia, says his city needs more affordable housing.

The impending arrival of Mercedes-Benz employees in July has put the spotlight back on the affluent suburb.   

In his state of the city address, Mayor Rusty Paul ended on this note: “A lot of the Mercedes people are coming to Sandy Springs, but they’re looking in other places. Why? Because they can’t afford to live in Sandy Springs.” 

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Business
6:00 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Apartment Demand Remains Strong In Atlanta

Most of Atlanta's new apartment demand comes from millennials.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Planning on getting a new apartment in 2015? You're definitely not alone.

Norcross-based RentPath operates websites Rent.com and ApartmentGuide.com. The company says it saw a record 3.1 million leads for apartments in March.  

Much of that traffic comes from millennials, RentPath CEO Charles Stubbs says.   

"A number of them are less interested in home ownership and want the flexibility and amenities of an apartment community," Stubbs says.

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Business
8:21 am
Thu April 9, 2015

MARTA Hosting Job Fair For New Bus Operators Saturday

MARTA officials say the job fair is scheduled for Saturday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the MARTA headquarters atrium on Piedmont Road.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta's public transit agency is hosting a job fair to hire full-time bus operators.

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority officials say the job fair is scheduled for Saturday between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the MARTA headquarters atrium on Piedmont Road.

Officials say candidates must be at least 21 years old, pass background checks, have a valid Georgia license, a high school diploma and more. MARTA officials say participants should bring resumes and dress professionally.

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A Closer Look
4:16 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

US Export-Import Bank Chair Makes Case For Saving His Agency

A Delta Airlines Boeing 757 takes off from Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Delta Airlines is lobbying against reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Credit Daniel Betts / flickr.com/redlegsfan21

Buying a U.S.-made jet engine in a European country isn’t easy.

That’s one reason the little-known U.S. Export-Import Bank exists. The Export-Import Bank is a federal agency that helps American businesses sell their products abroad by providing loans to foreign businesses. If a foreign airline wants to buy expensive jet engines from a U.S. company, for example, the Export-Import Bank helps it out by providing it with the capital it needs, and even insurance on the shipment, in case something goes wrong.  

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A Closer Look
4:08 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

GM’s Old Doraville Assembly Plant Ready For Retooling

The General Motor's Assembly Plant in Doraville, Georgia before it closed down in 2008. The plant fell victim to GM's restructuring plans.
Credit Gene Blythe / AP Photo; File

The sleek new Oldsmobile, with its shiny black body, glinting chrome bumpers and fixtures, and stark whitewall tires rolled off the assembly line at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Doraville, Georgia.

The year was 1947 and the Oldsmobile was the first automobile built at the plant.

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