Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NADA Statement on GMAC's Announcement to Expand Retail Auto Financing

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) says the actions of the federal government to support GMAC Financial Services will bring stability to consumer and dealer lending and help restore consumer confidence on Main Street.

"Credit is the lifeblood of the auto industry, both for consumers at the retail level and dealers at the wholesale level," says Annette Sykora, NADA chairman and owner of two domestic-brand dealerships near Lubbock, Texas. "Lowering minimum credit scores from 700 to 621 will expand credit availability to thousands of potential car buyers and further increase consumer confidence at this critical time in the auto industry."

GMAC's application to become a bank holding company was approved by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on Dec. 24. The company received a $6 billion aid package from the U.S. Treasury Department as part of the Troubled Assets Relief Program.

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Comverge Selected as One of Georgia's Mid-Market 'Fast Forty' Growth Companies

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Comverge, Inc. (NASDAQ:COMV) , a leading provider of demand response and energy efficiency announced today that it has been selected as one of Georgia's Mid-Market "Fast Forty" by Georgia Trend Magazine. The elite list of 40 of the fastest growing middle market businesses in Georgia is based on success factors which include a diversified customer base, solid financial position, commitment to quality service, employment growth and strategic acquisitions.

"In today's challenging business climate, we achieved this significant honor through the dedicated work of our Comverge Georgia team serving our electric utility customers", said Comverge's Robert M. Chiste, chairman, president and CEO. "As we continue our rapid growth we are pleased to be recognized for our dedicated hard work and contribution to Georgia's and the Nation's energy efficiency initiatives. With the upcoming administration's emphasis on stimulus in the energy efficiency area we look forward to this continued growth."

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Monday, December 29, 2008

GMAC Receives $5.0 Billion Investment from the U.S. Treasury

/PRNewswire/ -- GMAC Financial Services today announced that it has sold $5.0 billion of GMAC's preferred membership interests and warrants to the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a participant in the Troubled Assets Relief Program established under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. The sale was completed today.

GMAC also announced that General Motors Corp. (GM) and an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management contributed to GMAC the $750 million subordinated participations in the $3.5 billion senior secured credit facility, as amended, between GMAC and Residential Capital, LLC in exchange for new common equity of GMAC. In addition, GMAC announced that GM and an affiliate of Cerberus Capital Management entered into agreements to purchase $1.25 billion of new common equity. The U.S. Treasury and GM intend to enter into an agreement for the Treasury to fund GM's share of the new common equity.

GMAC also announced that the conditions to its previously announced separate private exchange offers and cash tender offers have been satisfied and that GMAC has accepted all of the validly tendered GMAC old notes and ResCap old notes. The GMAC offers and the ResCap offers are expected to settle promptly.

GMAC received approval of its bank holding company application from the U.S. Federal Reserve Board on Dec. 24, 2008. As a bank holding company, GMAC has improved access to funding to provide financing to consumers and businesses. In particular, the company intends to act quickly to resume automotive lending to a broader spectrum of customers to support the availability of credit to consumers and businesses for the purchase of automobiles.

About GMAC Financial Services

GMAC Financial Services is a global finance company operating in and servicing North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. GMAC specializes in automotive finance, real estate finance, insurance, commercial finance and online banking. As of Dec. 31, 2007, the organization had $248 billion in assets and serviced 15 million customers. Visit the GMAC media site at http://media.gmacfs.com/ for more information.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains various forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable federal securities laws, including the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, that are based upon our current expectations and assumptions concerning future events, which are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated.

The words "expect," "anticipate," "initiative," "plan," "intend," "may," "would," "could," "should," "believe," or the negative of any of those words or similar expressions is intended to identify forward-looking statements. All statements contained in or incorporated by reference into this press release, other than statements of historical fact, including, without limitation, statements about our plans, strategies, prospects and expectations regarding future events and our financial performance, are forward-looking statements that involve certain risks and uncertainties.

While these statements represent our current judgment on what the future may hold, and we believe these judgments are reasonable, these statements are not guarantees of any events or financial results, and our actual results may differ materially due to numerous important factors that are described in Item 1A of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, as updated by our subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and our Current Reports on Form 8-K. Many of these risks, uncertainties and assumptions are beyond our control, and may cause our actual results and performance to differ materially from our expectations. Factors that could cause our actual results to be materially different from our expectations include, among others, the settlement date of the GMAC offers and the ResCap offers and the success, or lack thereof, of the transactions and other initiatives described in this press release. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements contained or incorporated by reference in this press release. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date on which the statements were made. We undertake no obligation to update publicly or otherwise revise any forward-looking statements, except where expressly required by law.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Aflac Named America's Best Managed Company for Insurance Industry by Forbes.com

/PRNewswire/ -- Aflac has been named to the Forbes.com list of America's Best Managed Companies for 2008. The insurance giant was also included in Forbes's list of the 400 Best Big Companies, based on sales and earnings growth, debt to total capital, earnings outlook and stock market returns. Editors rate companies on one- and five-year data, considering both long-term success and latest performance. Guided by these rankings and other data, one company is chosen as the best managed for each industry.

"It is an honor to be recognized by Forbes.com as one of America's best managed companies. It illustrates management's commitment to the company's core values and the financial strength of the company," said Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos.

This year marks the ninth time that Aflac has been included on the Forbes.com list of 400 Best Big Companies. The list of 400 Best Big Companies and America's Best Managed Companies is available at www.forbes.com.

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Lockheed Martin's Environmental Focus Earns 'Green' Awards at Company Operations in Texas, Georgia and California

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) has invested more than $40 million since 2001 in capital improvements to increase energy efficiency and lower emissions from its business operations. As a result, Lockheed Martin saves more than 125 million kilowatt hours of energy annually - enough to power 10,000 homes for a year.

In 2007, the Corporation launched a comprehensive environmental program with the long-term goal of eliminating adverse impact on the environment as a result of its operations. This includes annual carbon, waste, and water use reduction goals and an aggressive 2012 target of an absolute 25 percent reduction in each of those areas.

"At Lockheed Martin, we recognize the value of effective environmental, safety and health programs," said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our Energy, Environment, Safety & Health (EESH) team supports our customers' objectives, builds community confidence, promotes employee health and well-being, and helps us to achieve our business goals. Most significantly, delivering environmental and safety excellence is the right thing to do for this and future generations."

The company recently won several awards for environmental stewardship at its operations in Fort Worth, Texas; Marietta, Ga.; and Palmdale, Calif. Some examples of accomplishments follow:

Fort Worth - The North Texas Clean Air Coalition awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics several clean air awards, including the TryParkingIt.com Employer Highest Participation Rate award. In addition, the company also received the Clean Air Champion and Vanpool of the Year award. Company employee Debbie Boles, a data processor, won the TryParkingIt.com Individual award for reducing her community mileage by 14,580 miles in a year.

Marietta - The Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia recognized Lockheed Martin Aeronautics with the Continual Improvement Award. The Partnership presents this award annually to an organization that makes strides toward a more sustainable Georgia.

"Lockheed Martin Aeronautics demonstrated environmental excellence by reducing hazardous waste, improving water quality, saving 27 thousand gallons of fuel, and reducing water use by 62.2 million gallons of water," said Suzanne Burnes, assistant director of P2AD and manager of the Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia. "We look to see other organizations in Georgia follow their lead."

Palmdale - The California Environmental Protection Agency awarded Lockheed Martin Aeronautics the state's Waste Reduction and Awards Program.

Last year the Palmdale facility diverted 1,094 tons of waste from landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 1.8 million pounds of CO2, and earned $156,167 (a total savings of $440,607) from recycling and reuse efforts. The state awarded the Lockheed Martin Palmdale facility with the WRAP award because it has incorporated waste reduction, reuse and recycling efforts into daily business activities and is steering the community along a path towards zero-waste.

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Consumer Confidence Study Shows Americans Pulled Back on Spending Long Before Economic Crisis Hit

/PRNewswire/ -- Consumer confidence and spending began slowing as early as Spring 2007, according to a recent analysis by Experian Marketing Services, a part of global information company Experian. The analysis, based on data from Experian(R) Simmons(SM) and Experian Hitwise(R), found that from Spring 2007 to Summer 2008, the percentage of U.S. adults who felt they would be financially better off in the next year dropped considerably from 46 percent to 37 percent.

The analysis, which compared the self-reported economic confidence and spending habits of adult Americans along with online site traffic and searches on major purchase items, revealed consumer behaviors to be a strong indicator of a downturn months before the current economic crisis. Not only did the percentage of confident consumers slump, but the number of adults who felt they would be worse off in the coming year grew by 9 percent to 22 percent.

"Our data shows a clear indication that the preferences and behaviors of consumers trended toward a slowdown well before the economic woes experienced over the past few months," said Joe Paulsen, general manager of Consulting and Analytics for Experian Marketing Services. "Having this level of insight into the confidence levels and buying behaviors of consumers is critical for businesses seeking to better understand and communicate with their customers during challenging economic times."

The analysis also found that:

-- Households earning $250,000 or more were the fastest to abandon the notion they would be somewhat or significantly better off in the coming year, dropping by 40 percent from Spring 2007 to Summer 2008

-- Middle- and upper-middle-income Americans (incomes ranging from $50,000 to $249,000) had the largest declines among those who planned to purchase big- or medium-ticket items within the next month, falling nearly 25 percent

-- From October 2006 to October 2008, overall visits to retail Web sites slowed, with a 4 percent year-over-year decline

-- During the same time period, overall visits to Web sites in the travel category were down 10 percent year-over-year

-- Online searches for major electronic items saw significant, year-over-year decreases, with "televisions" down 33 percent, "laptops" down 48 percent and "computers" down 57 percent

-- While online interest in big-ticket purchases decreased, visits to grocery Web sites are up 29 percent, and visits to coupon Web sites are up 27 percent

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'Green' Investing Remains Priority Despite Economic Conditions, According to SunTrust Survey of Wealthy Business Owners

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Even while citing a down economy and concerns about the earth's ecosystem, business owners continue to be optimistic about giving to environmental causes, according to a survey released today by SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management. The study surveyed more than 200 business owners with at least $10 million in annual revenue about their outlook on "green" giving and investing.

Sixty-nine percent of business owners claimed, "Even if there is an economic downturn that moderately affects my business, I plan to maintain my current level of giving to environmental causes in the coming year."

Balancing sentiments about the nation's economy and the health of the planet, most survey respondents believe it is a "good" or "average" time to invest in mutual funds or other financial instruments that are specifically marketed as "green" or environmentally responsible. In addition, forty percent of respondents believe it is a "good time" for all businesses to adhere to the highest possible environmental standards.

"The survey shows that business owners recognize that environmental stewardship can have genuine bottom-line results," says Dave Johnston, Senior Vice President, SunTrust Private Wealth Management. "Through our Business Owner Specialty Group, we see that business owners want to give back to the community while also supporting strategic, 'green' investing."

In addition, business owners feel confident about investing in environmental funds. Fifty-nine percent believe that a "green" investment would generate a rate of return similar to any other fund.

An Environment Ripe for Change

Certainly a motivating factor in "green" investing is business owners' belief that the earth's environment is slowly deteriorating (45 percent). When assessing the larger world around us, nearly half characterized the health of the earth's environment as "fair" (47%), with 30 percent citing it as "good," 18 percent as "poor" and five percent as "excellent."

"In the surveys we have conducted over the past year, we have found business owners give altruistically and abundantly," added Johnston. "This survey indicates that business owners consider it a priority to take action based on their personal concerns about changes in the world around them."

Pollution and energy policy topped the list of concerns that prompted business owners to invest in environmental funds and causes. Other influencers included a personal desire to make positive changes in the world, and past performance of a particular investment fund.

Personal and Professional Investment in the Cause

There were some caveats: Eighty-eight percent of business owners surveyed lend financial support only to environmental organizations they have researched thoroughly. And 72 percent give only to environmental organizations that are "well established."

And, as a whole, while attitudes and preferences toward green investing remain strong, most business owners had neither invested personal money nor business money in mutual funds or financial instruments marketed as "green" or environmentally responsible. Only 31 percent had invested personally this way. Only 28 percent had allocated business funds to these investments.

However, nearly half said their company had an official "green" policy that included recycling, energy saving plans and other measures. And, nearly half of the business owners donated personal money to organizations devoted to helping the environment, such as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Wilderness Society or some other such organization.

"Business owners believe in the integrity and prosperity that can come from green investing," said Johnston. "As they balance personal concerns and economic needs, they continue to see eco investing and 'green' workplace policies as viable and appealing."

Methodology

GfK Roper Public Affairs conducted an online survey for SunTrust Bank Private Wealth Management to better understand the key issues and concerns among high net worth business owners. In total, 202 business owners with $10 million or more in revenue were surveyed. All interviews were self-administered using GfK's proprietary web-based platform. Respondents were drawn from GfK's online panel. The random sample was conducted in November 2008.

The Bank's Commercial and Private Wealth Management lines of business have formed a strategic partnership, through the Business Owner Specialty Group, to address the unique business and personal financial complexities faced by this high net worth population.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Toyota Predicts First-Ever Operating Loss




Toyota Motor Corp. on Monday forecast its first-ever operating loss this year as the global slowdown creates "an unprecedented crisis" for the long profitable automaker
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Federal Reserve Approves NADA-Backed Initiative Aimed at Increasing Inventory Financing

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Following President Bush's announcement Friday to provide $17.4 billion in bridge loans to General Motors and Chrysler, the Federal Reserve Board, in a related action, addressed a key request from the National Automobile Dealers Association by including floorplan securitizations in a new $200 billion credit facility the Federal Reserve is establishing.

The Federal Reserve on Friday clarified the eligibility requirements under the new Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) and, in doing so, for the first time included loans for dealer inventory financing as a qualifying asset class.

"This move meets a key need that NADA had identified for greater liquidity in the auto retailing marketplace," said Andy Koblenz, NADA vice president of legal and regulatory affairs.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Nov. 25 that the Fed would be establishing the TALF credit facility, a $200 billion program designed to facilitate the issuance and sale of securitized auto loans. However, at the time the TALF was announced, it was unclear whether it would include loans for dealers at the wholesale level. That uncertainty has now been resolved.

In addition to confirming the eligibility of floorplans loans, the Federal Reserve also extended the term of TALF loans from one to three years and provided that TALF loans could have fixed or floating interest rates. These changes will make it easier for auto finance companies to use the TALF to issue floorplan securitizations.

"NADA's goal all along was to restore liquidity in the credit markets for all dealers and their customers," Koblenz added. "By working with the Federal Reserve and the Department of Treasury to ensure that floorplanning loans were included, NADA was able to give creditors confidence to once again make loans available to dealers to finance the inventory on their lots. This will, in turn, help ensure that dealers have at their dealerships the selection of vehicles that consumers want to buy."

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Clayton State SBDC Puts Clayton County Business Start-Ups on a Fast Trac

The Clayton State University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is partnering with the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Regional Workforce Board to put potential entrepreneurs on a FastTrac to success.

SBDC is offering a class for people interested in starting a business in Clayton County. A 10-session course that teaches potential entrepreneurs, as well as entrepreneurs who are just getting started, Fast Trac New Venture is a comprehensive program that goes over all aspects of a business.

The program will be offered to 30 people, starting on Feb. 2, 2009. Fast Trac New Venture costs $495 for the 10 week program and there are scholarship opportunities, including full scholarships. Applications for Fast Trac New Venture can be downloaded from the SBDC website, www.business.clayton.edu/sbdc. The deadline for scholarship applications is Jan. 5, 2009.

The 30 hours of class time will be a hands-on, interactive program that will cover all areas of business start-up, planning and management by working with peers and successful entrepreneurs. The course has two phases – a Concept Analysis component from Feb. 2 to Feb. 23, and an Effective Business Planning component from Mar. 2 to Apr. 20.

For more information on this initiative, go to http://www.sbdc.uga.edu/newsite/index.aspx?cart=7cd83c9b-1365-4c08-bb5b-7c6fc4931957&page_name=portability, or call the Clayton State SBDC at (678) 466-5100.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ford Motor Company Welcomes Action to Provide Emergency Funding to GM and Chrysler

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said today that it welcomes action by the Administration to provide emergency funding for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC.

"As we told Congress, Ford is in a different position. We do not face a near-term liquidity issue, and we are not seeking short-term financial assistance from the government," Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally said. "But all of us at Ford appreciate the prudent step the Administration has taken to address the near-term liquidity issues of GM and Chrysler. The U.S. auto industry is highly interdependent, and a failure of one of our competitors would have a ripple effect that could jeopardize millions of jobs and further damage the already weakened U.S. economy."

Ford recently submitted to Congress its comprehensive business plan, which details the company's plan to return to pre-tax Automotive profitability by 2011. In the plan, Ford said the transformation of its North American automotive business will continue to accelerate through aggressive restructuring actions and the introduction of more high-quality, safe and fuel-efficient vehicles -- including a broader range of hybrid-electric vehicles and the introduction of advanced plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles.

"Ford has a comprehensive transformation plan that will ensure our future viability -- as evidenced by our profitability in the first quarter of 2008," Mulally said. "While we clearly still have much more work to do, I am more convinced than ever that we have the right plan that will create a viable Ford going forward and position us for profitable growth."

Ford is asking for access to a line of credit of up to $9 billion in bridge financing, but reiterated that it hopes to complete its transformation without accessing a government loan.

"For Ford, a line of credit would serve only as a critical backstop or safeguard against worsening conditions, as we drive transformational change in our company," Mulally said.

Ford reiterated that it is continuing aggressive actions to reduce costs and improve Automotive gross cash to fund its product-led transformation plan, despite the continued weakness in the global automotive market and economic environment. Ford said it is more committed than ever to deliver more of the safe, affordable, high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers want and value. The company's plans include:

-- Delivering best-in-class or among the best fuel economy with every new vehicle introduced.

-- Investing approximately $14 billion in the U.S. on advanced technologies and products to improve fuel efficiency during the next seven years.

-- Introducing industry-leading, fuel-saving EcoBoost engines on today's vehicles for up to 20 percent better fuel economy and up to 15 percent fewer CO2 emissions versus larger-displacement engines.

-- Bringing to market by 2012 a family of hybrids, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

-- Upgrading the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury lineup in North America almost completely by the end of 2010.

-- Bringing six European small vehicles from global B-car and C-car platforms to be built in Ford's North America plants.

-- Retooling three North American truck plants to produce small, fuel efficient vehicles.

-- Building on vehicle quality that is now on par with Honda and Toyota - and that consistently is being recognized by important third-parties like J.D. Power and Associates' Initial Quality Study - driven by Ford's disciplined and standardized processes for every product.

-- Building on vehicle safety leadership - with the most U.S. government 5-star safety ratings of any auto company and recently moving past Honda for the industry's most IIHS "Top Safety Picks" - plus new smart safety features, such as the industry-first MyKey technology that limits top speed and audio volume for teens and the first forward crash-avoidance system for mainstream vehicles.

-- Supporting Ford's products with a lean, flexible global manufacturing system on par with leading Japanese and European facilities.

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Changes in Major Workplace Laws Affecting Sick Workers, Caretakers and People With Disabilities to Take Effect in January

/PRNewswire/ -- New rules affecting the ability of employees to take time off to care for sick relatives and the rights of workers with disabilities to obtain workplace accommodations will take effect in January, and employers need to make sure they're prepared for these changes in two landmark employment laws.

Chicago labor and employment law firm Franczek Radelet & Rose reminds business owners that changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) take effect on January 1 and revisions to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) become effective on January 16.

The ADA amendments enacted earlier this year by Congress are meant to restore rights granted in the original 1990 law that had eroded as a result of recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and federal regulations.

"We anticipate that as of January 1, employers will start seeing more requests for workplace accommodations as a result of these changes, which broaden the scope of disabilities currently covered by federal law," says partner Sally J. Scott of Franczek Radelet & Rose (FRR). Scott says the changes to the 18-year-old ADA mean that many employees currently not covered by the law may now be considered to have a disability.

For example, the use of hearing aids, medication, prosthetics or other forms of treatment designed to mitigate the effects of disabilities may not be used to deny protection under the law - undoing a 1999 Supreme Court decision that restricted the number of individuals potentially protected by the law. Another change mandates that an impairment qualifies as a disability if - when active - it limits one major life activity, such as hearing, seeing, eating, walking or communicating.

"The changes to the ADA send a clear message from Congress that prior court decisions have been too restrictive in defining who is covered under the Act," said Scott.

"However, the amendments give very little guidance as to exactly what standards employers and courts should apply in the future when determining whether an employee has a 'disability' that entitles the employee to protection under the Act. This uncertainty is likely to result in increased litigation," said Scott.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn child or a family member with a serious illness or to recover from their own medical condition without losing their jobs.

"The revisions to the FMLA regulations, which are the first major changes since the statute was enacted, were designed primarily to clarify provisions of the law for employers and employees alike, and to implement new leave for members of military families," said FRR partner Michael A. Warner, Jr.

For example, under the new rules, workers with chronic conditions will have to certify for the first time that they visit a doctor at least twice a year for the condition. And workers will be required - "absent unusual circumstances" - to warn employers that they plan to miss work. Employers will also be allowed to require employees to submit a "fitness for duty certification" before returning to work from FMLA leave. To protect workers' privacy, the changes will prohibit an employee's direct supervisor from contacting a health care provider for medical certification.

Under new FMLA provisions affecting military families, workers will be allowed to take up to 26 weeks off each year to care for family members seriously injured in the military. Relatives of active-duty National Guard members and military reservists may take up to 12 weeks off to manage family affairs in certain cases, such as when a reservist is called up to active duty on short notice.

"Because these revised ADA and FMLA regulations will require significant management changes, we advise employers to make sure they are updating policies and procedures, revising appropriate forms and employee communications, and training supervisors at all levels about new responsibilities," Warner said.

"The difficulty and risk in implementing these changes is compounded by the current economic downturn, as employers are facing unprecedented economic pressure to 'do more with less.' The combination of large scale layoffs and significant changes in existing law create a volatile mix that increases the risk of legal liability for employers," Warner said.

Warner noted that these changes may soon be followed by even more sweeping revisions to employment law. For example, Democrats are expected to push for legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick leave. The FMLA requires medical leave, but not that it be paid.

"Whether the result of the current economic crisis or changes in political leadership, when it comes to labor and employment law, change is definitely in the air," Warner said, advising employers to "stay tuned" for expected efforts to expand the rights of workers in a variety of areas, whether mandatory paid medical leave or the ability to more easily unionize.

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Chrysler LLC Thanks the Administration and Treasury for Their Confidence

/PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli said on behalf of the men and women of Chrysler and its extended enterprise, that he would like to thank the Administration and Treasury for their confidence in the Company.

"A letter of intent was signed which outlines the specific requirements that must be achieved," said Nardelli. "These requirements will require consideration from all constituents, requiring commitment first in principal, leading to implementation this coming year. Chrysler is committed to meeting these requirements."

Nardelli said the Company would remain focused on its challenge and this initial injection of working capital would help bridge the liquidity crisis the industry is facing and assist in helping return Chrysler to profitability.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rolls-Royce Marks 50 Year Partnership with Gulfstream with New Scholarship Program

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rolls-Royce, the world leader in engines for the business jet market, today marked 50 years of partnership with Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation - the longest partnership in business aviation - by establishing a 50th Anniversary Partnership Scholarship Program for eligible children of Gulfstream’s employees.

Under the terms of this new Scholarship Program, Rolls-Royce will provide an annual stipend of $1,500 for each of the winners’ four years of college.

This Scholarship Program is offered through the National Merit Scholarship Program, an annual academic competition open to all US high school students who meet published participation requirements. The National Merit Scholarship Program is conducted by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC). Candidates for the 50th Anniversary Scholarship Program must meet all eligibility requirements as defined by NMSC and have a parent employed by Gulfstream. Winners are determined by NMSC and are judged to have the strongest combination of academic skills and achievements, extracurricular accomplishments and potential for success in rigorous college studies.

The new Scholarship Program was announced at a ceremony in Savannah, GA, celebrating the two companies’ long-standing success in the corporate aircraft market.

Over the past five decades, Rolls-Royce has been relied upon to deliver power and services for thirteen high-performance Gulfstream business jets and has delivered more than 3,500 Dart, Spey, Tay and BR710 engines. No other civil aerospace customer has received more engines from Rolls-Royce, which is a testament to the strength of the partnership.

Gulfstream’s first business aircraft, the GI, made its maiden flight powered by Rolls-Royce Dart engines more than fifty years ago. This twin-engine turboprop was the first aircraft specifically designed for business travel. This year, the two companies continued the legacy of establishing new milestones in style with the unveiling of the latest, all-new business jet, the Rolls-Royce BR725-powered Gulfstream G650.

Speaking at the celebration ceremony, James M. Guyette, President & CEO, Rolls-Royce North America said: “We are honored to have this successful partnership with Gulfstream – at 50 years, the longest in business aviation. The scholarship program we’re announcing today honors our shared history and looks to a shared future, through the next generation. Rolls-Royce was there from the very beginning with Gulfstream and we’ll be here for the future as we continue this historical partnership.”

Joe Lombardo, President, Gulfstream said: “We are delighted to celebrate this milestone with Rolls-Royce and appreciate the scholarship in its honor. Our partnership has combined expertise and technology to achieve numerous milestones and world records, which will extend to the next generation of Gulfstream business aircraft.”

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Cooper Tire Announces Intent To Close Albany, Ga., Facility

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:CTB) today announced the pending closure of its manufacturing facility in Albany, Ga. This announcement follows a network capacity study analyzing the Company's optimal manufacturing footprint in the United States. The impact on net profit of this closure is estimated to be $150 million to $175 million in restructuring charges, between 50 and 60 percent of which will be non-cash charges. Annual savings after implementation are estimated at between $75 million and $80 million. A portion of these savings will begin to materialize in 2009 as production from the plant is moved to other locations.

United States manufacturers have come under intense pressure in recent years from increased lower-priced imports and softening domestic demand for products. Roy Armes, chief executive officer, said, "This was a difficult decision and we regret the impact it will have on our employees in Albany and the surrounding community. The detailed study we performed was fair, objective, and conclusive that we needed to consolidate our capacity and close one of our U.S. facilities. The government and community agencies were actively engaged and involved and offered a high level of support, but the final outcome was clear."

The facility was acquired by Cooper in 1990 and employs approximately 1,400. Cooper intends to realign the mix of products at its remaining U.S. facilities located in Findlay, Ohio, Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo, Miss., to meet customer demand.

Armes continued, "Cooper customers in the North American market must have competitive products of the highest quality from Cooper in order to grow and prosper in this intense market. This capacity rationalization will help us meet that demand. Employees in Albany were notified of the outcome and will be provided support as the facility winds down operations in the next 12 months. We appreciate the hard work and efforts that our employees have always demonstrated and will assist them where possible through this transition. Unfortunately, this was a very necessary action to position Cooper to compete in a global market environment.

"The current state of the economy and demand for our products in the United States has caused us to rethink how we could best leverage our fixed costs. We will also continue with our existing ongoing lean, six sigma, and automation initiatives to improve our cost structure throughout our operations, in addition to this capacity rationalization effort. This capacity reduction, along with improvements at our other facilities, will allow Cooper to optimize our global footprint and capitalize on current and future market opportunities."

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Georgia Economic Development Leaders Outline Plans to Ensure a Strong Future

Three leading members of Georgia’s economic development community held a briefing today during which they acknowledged the challenges currently facing the state but also reflected upon the achievements of the past year and the core assets that will ensure Georgia’s future success.

Ken Stewart, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, George Israel, President of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and Sam A. Williams, President of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, expressed their commitment and that of the economic development community as a whole to continue working to identify investment opportunities, increase jobs, and maintain programs and assets that will attract new business to the state.

“We have an extensive and very professional economic development community in Georgia that is working tirelessly to bring jobs to our citizens,” said Commissioner Stewart. “The fact is that our state has strong assets upon which we will continue to build. Working together, I have no doubt that we will not only survive this recession, but come out of it well positioned for growth.”

The state has implemented several initiatives to step up its sales and marketing efforts, including a focus on existing industries with multiple locations in the U.S. and around the world, targeted outreach to company CEOs, meetings with key strategic industry players in aerospace and agriculture, and familiarization tours for international companies and journalists.

The state has worked 313 business location and expansion projects thus far in 2008, which are in various states of progress from completed to newly active. Companies such as NCR Corporation, Newell Rubbermaid, Toyo Tire, PETCO, Wendy’s/Arby’s
Group and Telfair Forest Products are adding jobs and corporate infrastructure throughout the state. In addition, the Kia manufacturing facility is on track to begin production in 2009, bringing with it numerous supplier companies and ultimately projected to be responsible for 6,000 of jobs.

“It is not surprising that businesses continue to establish or expand their presence in Georgia,” added Israel. “Key assets including our ports and airport, workforce and training opportunities, international connections and our business friendly reputation continue to make us attractive to companies of all kinds.”

Georgia consistently enjoys high rankings with regard to a number of key business factors including workforce training, fiscal policy and the ability to attract a dynamic young population. These factors, combined with a comparatively low cost of living and corporate tax structure are keeping companies interested in the state.

“There is no doubt that these are challenging times, but Georgia’s economic development community is working together more closely than ever to recruit companies from all over the globe and create jobs,” Williams said. “And companies are still incredibly interested in metro Atlanta and Georgia because of key competitive strengths that are hard for others to duplicate. We are home to the world’s busiest airport and the world’s largest airline, 57 colleges and universities, and the fifth-highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the nation – and we’re leading the nation in attracting the college-educated young professionals that every city and state are competing for.”

Williams said that in 2009, the Metro Atlanta Chamber will conduct economic development missions in target countries around the globe, including Brazil, India, China, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. Domestic trips are planned in major cities such as Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and others.

Among Georgia’s economic development “bright spots” cited in the briefing were the state’s strong in-migration of a young, professional workforce and the HOPE scholarship program as well as its diverse economy, thriving international community and the strength of its ports.
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Monday, December 15, 2008

German Instrument Transformer Manufacturer to Open North American Headquarters in Hartwell

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that RITZ Instrument Transformers plans to open a new manufacturing facility in Hartwell, creating 50 jobs and investing $3 million.

“Georgia’s business assets continue to appeal to international manufacturers such as RITZ that are looking to expand their U.S. presence,” said Governor Perdue. “Our strong workforce, business-friendly environment and transportation network make Georgia an ideal location for RITZ’s North American headquarters.”

RITZ Instrument transformers will expand its U.S. presence by opening a new facility in Hartwell. The company plans to manufacture medium and low voltage instrument transformers at the new facility, expected to be approximately 30,000 square feet in size. The facility will also serve as North American corporate and sales headquarters. The manufacturing processes will include transformer winding, assembly, molding and electrical testing, creating job opportunities for employees of various skill sets. RITZ hopes to develop a pool of domestic suppliers for its component needs.

“We are excited about the prospect of having a manufacturing facility in Hartwell,” said Ingmar Grambow, the leader of the RITZ Management Board. “The decision to build a manufacturing facility in the U.S. was a logical extension of the market development work that has taken place over the last several years. Hartwell was ultimately chosen as the plant site because of our confidence in the quality of the workforce that RITZ will be able to attract and the level of support offered by the state and local community. We believe that this is sufficient grounds to feel confident in the success of this undertaking. There are many years of sales and employment growth ahead of us.”

“The Hart County Board of Commissioners is proud to welcome RITZ Instrument Transformers to our industrial community,” said Jon Caime, Hart County Administrator. “Hart County’s low taxes, ideal location and strategic emphasis on high-tech and growing industrial sectors make this RITZ investment in our community an ideal match with the goals of the Hart County Board of Commissioners. We look forward to their long-term profitability and success in Hart County.”Scott McMurray, project manager with GDEcD, assisted the company in its location.

About the company

The RITZ company was founded in 1945 by Dr. Hans Ritz with the goal of making the instrument transformer the most reliable part of the electrical power system. With the addition of the Hartwell facility, the RITZ Group will consist of seven factories located in five countries around the world. RITZ is the world’s largest manufacturer of instrument transformers in the 600 V through 72 kV range. Its many important clients include Siemens, ABB, AREVA and most large electrical utilities. The company has been able to grow and prosper by focusing on maintaining a very high quality standard, product innovation and cost-effective lean manufacturing. In addition to instrument transformers, the group also manufactures cast coil power transformers, resin insulated bus bar systems and specialty resin products.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Governor Perdue Participates in Rbbon-Cutting Ceremony

Last week Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Suniva, the Southeast’s first solar cell manufacturer. The Atlanta-based company will manufacture high-efficiency, low cost solar cells. The company announced in June 2008 it expects to create 100 green jobs in 2009 with the potential for more as it scales to full production capacity by 2010.

“With patents developed in the laboratories of Georgia Tech, Suniva’s story is a prime example of how Georgia can lead the nation by teaming the strengths of public and private institutions,” said Governor Perdue. “Georgia made a strong commitment to the clean energy industry through its Energy Innovation Center and Bioenergy Corridor, and Suniva’s new facility makes us one of the first states in the nation manufacturing solar cell technology.”

The output of Suniva’s new Gwinnett County production facility will grow in stages. The first 32 megawatt (MW) manufacturing line is already producing cells that are being shipped to customers around the world. The company plans additional production lines to bring the facility’s capacity to 175 MW by early 2010, potentially adding more jobs to its workforce.

Suniva’s founder and CTO, Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, who is also the founder and director of Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP) funded directly through the Department of Energy (DOE), spoke at the event.

“Though Suniva is barely a year old, in some ways today’s ceremony is twenty years in the making,” Rohatgi said. “My life’s work in advancing solar technologies has been made possible as a direct result of government funding and involvement with Georgia Tech. Suniva is the realization of all those years of hard work.”

About Suniva

Based in Atlantra Metro Area, Suniva develops, manufactures and markets high-value crystalline silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells for clean solar power generation. The company has an exclusive license to critical patents and patent-pending intellectual property developed by founder and CTO Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP), the nation’s premier silicon PV research center. In addition, the company’s deep process know-how and unique approach to manufacturing delivers leading solar cell performance while dramatically cutting the cost of PV-generated electricity. For additional information, please visit http://www.suniva.com .
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Friday, December 12, 2008

Suniva Opens the South’s First Solar Cell Factory

(BUSINESS WIRE)--At a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning, Suniva Inc., a manufacturer of high value crystalline silicon solar cells, officially opened the first solar factory in the Southeastern US with the help of Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue. Located in the Atlanta metro area, Suniva’s manufacturing facility will create over 100 high-paying, permanent green jobs by year-end 2009 and even more as it ramps to full production capacity in 2010.

Governor Perdue spoke at the event about the company’s importance to the state economy and Georgia’s presence on the national energy stage, “With patents developed in the laboratories of Georgia Tech, Suniva’s story is a prime example of how Georgia can lead the nation by teaming the strengths of public and private institutions,” said Governor Perdue. “Georgia made a strong commitment to the clean energy industry through its Energy Innovation Center and Bioenergy Corridor, and Suniva’s new facility makes us one of the first states in the nation manufacturing solar cell technology.”

Today’s announcement comes at a crossroads in the nation’s pursuit of new energy policies during tough economic times. President-elect Barack Obama and his transition team have discussed advancing the new energy economy as part of the US’s economic recovery plan. As a company whose major intellectual property was developed in a government-funded lab, Suniva is a stand out example of how government-backed initiatives can generate new US-based companies and facilitate the growth of renewable energy production and adoption.

Suniva’s founder and CTO, Dr. Ajeet Rohatgi, who is also the founder and director of Georgia Tech’s University Center of Excellence for Photovoltaic Research and Education (UCEP) funded directly through the Department of Energy (DOE), spoke at the event: “Though Suniva is barely a year old, in some ways today’s ceremony is twenty years in the making. My life’s work in advancing solar technologies has been made possible as a direct result of government funding and involvement with Georgia Tech. Suniva is the realization of all those years of hard work.”

In October — less than six months after announcing plans to build a manufacturing facility — Suniva completed installation of its first production line in this new facility and began shipping its proprietary ARTisun™ solar cells. Suniva’s solar cells are delivered to solar module manufacturers around the world under existing contracts worth over USD$1B.

“As the U.S. economy retools to become an international leader in the new energy economy, Suniva stands at the forefront, supplying a superior homegrown product to the international solar industry,” said John Baumstark, CEO of Suniva. “With our first factory officially open today, we are driving down the cost of solar and keeping clean energy technology and jobs in the US.”

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The Coca-Cola Company Announces Neville Isdell Will Not Stand for Re-Election to Board of Directors; Board Intends to Elect Muhtar Kent as Chairman

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company announced December 11 that it received a letter from its Chairman of the Board, Neville Isdell, confirming that, consistent with the succession plan announced in December 2007, he will not stand for re-election to the Board of Directors at the April 2009 Annual Meeting of Shareowners. James D. Robinson III, Presiding Director of The Coca-Cola Company, also announced that the Board intends to elect President and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent to succeed Mr. Isdell as Chairman of the Board following the April Annual Meeting of Shareowners.

“I have always believed that well-conceived and well-executed succession planning is a vital responsibility of public company boards,” said Mr. Isdell. “We met that responsibility when we announced one year ago just such a plan, including placing the future leadership of the Company in the experienced and talented hands of Muhtar Kent, who is providing outstanding leadership as he manages both for today and tomorrow.”

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LG Electronics USA Opens Training Academy in Georgia; Consolidates Local Mobile Phone and Appliance Operations

/PRNewswire/ -- LG Electronics USA announced the grand opening today of the LG Training Academy in Roswell, Ga., to support LG's fast-growing commercial air conditioner business. At 16,000 square feet, this state-of-the art facility has the capability to train hundreds of engineers, contractors and technicians each month.

The city of Roswell was a natural choice for LG Electronics USA. The strategic location of the new facility places LG in a position to deliver the best hands-on product training for a region of the country with high demand for commercial air conditioning systems.

The training academy is the centerpiece of the new LG Roswell facility, which also houses the company's local operations for LG Mobile Phones and LG Digital Appliances. This location now has a total of 30 employees and plans to hire additional staff in 2009.

Michael Ahn, president and CEO, LG Electronics North America, called the new Roswell location "a symbol of LG's growth and vitality" in North America. "This is another important milestone in LG's tremendous expansion in the United States. Particularly noteworthy now during the U.S. recession is LG's investment in the communities where we live and work and our commitment to economic development and education here in the greater Atlanta area," he said.

The new academy will drive additional revenue to the City of Roswell with the use of local lodging and hospitality venues to support the influx of trainees. The academy will also partner with Atlanta-area printing and office suppliers for general business needs.

"LG Electronics' presence in Roswell shows its confidence in our workforce. LG Electronics will boost our economy through partnerships with local businesses and the use of our lodging and hospitality venues," said Roswell Mayor Jere Wood. "We look forward to working with LG as they build their commercial air conditioning business and add jobs and revenue to the city of Roswell."

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

U.S. Military Veteran Opens Store Under Little Caesars Veterans Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. today proudly celebrates the grand opening of another store under the Little Caesars Veterans Program, as former U.S. Air Force Airman Eddie Underwood opens his Little Caesars Pizza restaurant at 4870 Floyd Road SW in Mableton, Georgia.

"I am proud to be part of the Little Caesars Veterans Program because it offers veterans like me the chance to enter the next stage in our careers by owning and operating a business," said Underwood. "I always wanted to be in business for myself and after researching Little Caesars, I was sold on the brand."

Born in Plattsburg, New York on an Air Force base, Underwood took after his father who also served in the military, and joined the U.S. Air Force after high school. Stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, he served as a financial management specialist responsible for accounts payables and receivables from 1985 to 1988.

Underwood transitioned to the U.S. Postal Service as a mail handler and has held several other positions before joining Little Caesars and becoming an entrepreneur.

"Little Caesars is focused on offering great products and giving back to the community and this choice is the right fit for me," said Underwood. "Little Caesars has always believed in providing terrific value to customers and I'm happy to be bringing that value to the Mableton community with my brother Isaac." Eddie Underwood will be responsible for the day-to-day operations in his Little Caesars store, while Isaac Underwood will help co-manage the business.

The Little Caesars Veterans Program was created in 2006 to thank veterans for their service and provide them with career opportunities when they transition to civilian life or seek a career change. It offers honorably discharged, service-disabled veterans, such as Underwood, who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees, a benefit of up to approximately $68,000. Honorably discharged, non-service-disabled veterans who qualify as Little Caesars franchisees are eligible for a benefit of up to approximately $20,000.

"With talented veterans such as Eddie joining the Little Caesars team, the Little Caesars Veterans Program continues to grow and offer veterans business ownership opportunities," said David Scrivano, president, Little Caesar Enterprises, Inc. "The skills Eddie gained in the military, such as teamwork, dedication and a familiarity with processes, will enable him to become a strong Little Caesars franchisee."

Some of the menu items Underwood will feature in his store include HOT-N-READY(R) Pizza, Crazy Bread(R), Caesar Wings(R) and Caesar Dips(R).

In one of the largest U.S. quick serve restaurant research studies in 2007, Little Caesars was named the best value for the money of all quick serve restaurant chains.* Sandelman & Associates' Quick-Track(R) research study tracks key consumer behavioral and attitudinal measures for all major fast-food chains. Surveys were conducted among more than 84,000 quick service restaurant customers in 70 major markets across the U.S. Little Caesars was also named highest rated pizza chain for "Convenience of Locations" and "Speed of Service."

Little Caesars was recently listed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as one of the best loan performers among franchises with more than 60 SBA-guaranteed loans.** Little Caesars also works with preferred lenders who understand the business, which becomes increasingly important as it gets more difficult for entrepreneurs to secure financing in today's economy.

Since the program launched two years ago, interest has remained high in the Little Caesars Veterans Program. Currently, 45 veterans collectively are applying more than $1.25 million in credits and benefits to help them grow their Little Caesars businesses. To date, 2,400 inquires have been made about the program. Several veterans have also opened second stores and many are expected to open their first stores under the program in the coming months.

The Center for Veterans Enterprise (part of the Department of Veterans Affairs), Marine For Life (an organization that helps Marines and Sailors transition to civilian life), and the International Franchise Association (through its VetFran program) are points of contact for the Little Caesars Veterans Program. They can provide information about the requirements and qualifications of becoming a Little Caesars franchisee.

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Electrostatic Spraying Systems Wins EMS EXPO 2008 Top Innovation Award

/PRNewswire/ -- Too many people are getting sick, and even dying, from infections and diseases that they are acquiring in places that should be safe...like ambulances, hospitals, schools, restaurants, hotels, athletic facilities, and other public area. The old traditional ways of spraying disinfectants are just not effective any more.

"It's not just what you spray," says Bruce Whiting, owner and President of ESS, "It's how you spray the disinfectants that matters."

Electrostatic Spraying Systems, Inc. (ESS), the world leader in electrostatic spraying technology, recently won the EMS EXPO 2008 Top Innovation Award for its breakthrough electrostatic disinfecting sprayer, the SC-1.

Bruce Whiting said, "We are very proud to receive this honor on behalf of the entire ESS design and production teams. We have a mission to get our sprayers into the hands of the emergency, healthcare and other personnel who are so often exposed to dangerous infectious organisms. By using an SC-1 sprayer, with an effective disinfectant, EMS personnel and the public will be better protected from bacteria, MRSA, Staph and microorganisms - which are causing so many sicknesses and infections. Better spraying of disinfectants will save lives."

Scott Cravens, publisher of EMS Magazine says, "The EMS EXPO 2008 Top Innovation Awards are designed to recognize innovations in products and services for the pre-hospital market." The Top Innovation Awards were chosen from exhibitors at the 2008 EMS EXPO in Las Vegas, and presented at the Texas EMS State Conference in Fort Worth, TX, in November. EMS Magazine will feature the Top 20 Innovation Awards in their January issue.

The ESS SC-1 sprayer is a compact, stand-alone, electrostatic sprayer that allows the user the ability to spray disinfectants in such a way that the chemicals reach around objects and into cracks and crevasses to better control dangerous microorganisms such as MRSA (Multi-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus). The SC-1 sprayer applies a very thin even coating that covers the target and dries quickly.

Built into a poly-resin Pelican case, the SC-1 has wheels and a retractable pull handle. Its small size makes it easy to carry and yet still has the advantage of being a full-powered electrostatic sprayer. ESS manufactures electrostatic sprayers for the agricultural, post-harvest, food processing, disinfection, mold prevention, pest control and restoration markets. More information about ESS sprayers can be found at http://www.maxcharge.com/ and http://www.prevent-staph.com/.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Secretary Handel Gives Advice on Donating to Charities

Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel offered advice to individuals planning to donate to charities during the holiday season. Secretary Handel serves as Georgia’s chief charities regulator.

“Donators should thoroughly research a charity before giving to ensure funds are being used for the stated cause, and that it is a legitimate charity organization,” Secretary Handel said.

Secretary Handel issued the following tips for charitable giving:

It is important to research charities before you contribute. The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, other expenses and the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.

A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau (give.org) and GuideStar (guidestar.org) provide detailed information about nonprofit organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.

In addition, many charities must register with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. You can research charities at the Secretary of State's website (sos.state.gov/securities).

Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask that the individual put their request in writing and provide complete information about the charitable program. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid solicitor.

Never give your credit card, debit card or bank account information to a telephone solicitor.

If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax deductible status with the IRS. The IRS website (irs.gov/charities) has a searchable database of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax deductible.

Many charitable solicitors ask for contributions of clothing, other household items and vehicles. IRS rules concerning valuations and receipts have changed significantly; be sure you understand them completely (irs.gov/charities/contributors).

Not all organizations with charitable sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution.

Watch out for organizations that use questionable techniques such as sending unordered merchandise or invoices after you have turned them down for a donation. You are under no obligation to pay for or return items received under these circumstances. Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or office to pick up your contribution.
Anyone with more questions can call the Georgia Secretary of State’s Securities and Business Regulation Division, which oversees charities, at (404) 656-3920.

Karen Handel was sworn in as Secretary of State in January 2007. The Secretary of State's office offers important services to our citizens and our business community. Among the office’s wide-ranging responsibilities, the Secretary of State is charged with conducting efficient and secure elections, the registration of corporations, and the regulation of securities and professional license holders. The office also oversees the Georgia Archives and the Capitol Museum.
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PKF Forecasts 7.8 Percent RevPAR Decline in 2009

/PRNewswire/ -- U.S. hotels have entered the initial stages of one of the deepest and longest recessions in the history of the domestic lodging industry. The 7.8 percent drop in RevPAR that PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) is now forecasting for 2009 will be the fifth largest annual decline in this important measure since 1930. Further, PKF-HR is forecasting that the nation's hotels will not experience a year-over-year quarterly increase in RevPAR until the second quarter of 2010. The projected seven consecutive quarters of declining RevPAR, beginning with the just reported third-quarter decline of 1.1 percent, according to data from Smith Travel Research (STR), marks the longest stretch of falling revenues endured by U.S. hotels since STR began tracking performance data in the late 1980s.

PKF-HR recently updated its forecast based on STR lodging performance data through September of 2008 and the November release of Moody's Economy.com economic forecast for the nation. The forecast results are presented in the fourth quarter 2008 edition of Hotel Horizons(SM), a quarterly series of reports containing five-year forecasts of performance for the U.S. lodging industry and 50 major markets across the country.

Mark Woodworth, president of PKF-HR, noted that, "the speed and severity of the downturns in employment and income continue to accelerate. Given the strong correlation between these two economic measures and demand for lodging accommodations, we are forecasting 2.5 percent fewer occupied rooms in 2009. This follows an estimated 1.0 percent decline in demand for year-end 2008."

The expected 2.5 percent fall off in demand, combined with a 2.9 percent increase in supply, will result in a 2009 year-end occupancy level of 57.6 percent. This represents a 5.3 percent decline in occupancy, and is 5.1 percentage points below the long-term average occupancy level for U.S. hotels tracked by STR of 62.7 percent. "The combination of above average net increases of supply occurring simultaneously with dramatic declines in demand is something we have not seen in recent industry recessions. This is what makes this downturn so severe," Woodworth said.

Discounting Impacts Profits

Through the first three quarters of 2008, U.S. hoteliers were holding the line against discounting despite declining levels of demand. In fact, room rates were up 3.7 percent through the first nine months of the year, a pace greater than the long-term average for ADR growth. "The severity of four consecutive down quarters of occupancy was too much for hotel operators to bear," Woodworth observed. "Starting in October 2008, we began to observe year-over-year declines in ADR. Given the expected deterioration of market conditions, we are forecasting a 2.7 percent decline in rates for 2009. This is just shy of the combined 2.9 percent decline in ADR suffered during the two-year period 2001 and 2002."

The ability to drive revenue by increasing room rates creates the most profitable environment for hotels. Therefore, the 2.7 percent fall in room rates leads to the projection of a 14.0 percent decline in net operating income (NOI) for the average U.S. hotel from 2008 to 2009. NOI is defined as income before deductions for capital reserves, rent, interest, income taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

"Looking back at previous industry recessions, we know that hotel managers will respond and cut costs," Woodworth said. "Fewer occupied rooms will reduce variable expenses such as payroll and operating supplies. In addition, management will eliminate some fixed overhead costs and non-essential guest services and amenities. Recent declines in energy prices will help this cost reduction effort." PKF-HR is forecasting unit-level operating expenses to decline by 4.5 percent in 2009, but this falls short of the 7.3 percent loss in revenue.

Fortunately for U.S. hotel owners and lenders, the vast majority of properties are fiscally fit entering the current downturn. Unit-level profit margins are estimated to be 29.4 percent in 2008, well above the 26.1 percent long-term average. Interest coverage ratios for the hotels in PKF-HR's Trends in the Hotel Industry exceed 1.7. While PKF-HR does not believe the current forecast will generate abundant hotel foreclosures and bankruptcies, operating conditions are at vulnerable levels and further deterioration could impact the solvency of U.S. hotels. "In view of the significant volatility in the domestic and global economy, a negative bias on this outlook is appropriate," noted Jack Corgel, the Robert C. Baker Professor of Real Estate at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and senior advisor to PKF-HR.

Most Markets Will Suffer

"In keeping with our long-standing view that the lodging industry is a street corner business, we focused heavily on the outlook for the major hotel markets in the nation," Woodworth said. "We have developed 100 unique econometric forecasting models that project the performance of both the upper- and lower-tier properties in 50 of the largest cities in the country."

Except for New Orleans, all of the 50 markets analyzed by PKF-HR are forecast to suffer a decline in RevPAR in 2009. The main culprit for the decline in RevPAR is the forecast fall-off in demand. In 40 of the 50 markets, PKF-HR is forecasting a lower number of rooms to be occupied in 2009 as compared to 2008. In 18 of these markets, an above average increase in the supply of hotel rooms exacerbates the competitiveness of the marketplace.

"When analyzing the declines in RevPAR forecast for the nation's major markets, it certainly appears that warm-weather, leisure-oriented, and seasonal markets are most vulnerable in 2009," Woodworth observed. Five of the top seven forecast city declines in RevPAR are expected to occur within the State of Florida. The other two markets in the top seven are Phoenix and Oahu. "Further reductions in airline capacity amplify the negative operating environment in these markets brought on by weak economic conditions." Previous research by PKF-HR found that a 1.0 percent increase/decrease in airline capacity yields a 0.39 percent increase/decrease in lodging demand at the national level.

Beyond 2009

Come 2010, the relevant economic indicators are forecast to begin to drive lodging demand upward. This will happen simultaneously with diminished levels of new supply, thus resulting in gains in occupancy and, eventually, pricing power. "Given all the lodging industry will have to deal with in 2009, it is hard to look beyond a 12-month window. However, a glance at 2010 does reveal the beginning of an upward trend," Woodworth concluded.

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Lockheed Martin Recognized for Excellence in F-22 Raptor Sustainment

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT) F-22 Raptor was recognized as the winner of the Contractor-Military Collaboration Of The Year award for F-22 Sustainment at an awards ceremony Dec. 3 at the Defense Logistics 2008 Conference in Arlington, Va.

The F-22 was designed for supportability and self-sufficiency with a focus on reduced logistics costs. The improved reliability resulting from the performance based logistics strategy of the F-22 Raptor is projected to save the taxpayer $14 billion, or more than 35 percent in support costs over the life of the aircraft.

"We have a strong government partnership, built on a foundation of trust, transparency of operations, and collaborative problem solving. We are very proud to receive recognition for this extraordinary team," said Dennis Haines, Lockheed Martin vice president for F-22 Sustainment.

The award follows recent recognition, in September, when Lockheed Martin and the F-22 team received the 2008 Performance Based Logistics System Level award from the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, at the Aerospace Industries Association Fall Product Support Conference.

Defense Logistics is a cross-Service examination of the issues surrounding logistics strategies and support. Running since 1999, the Defense Logistics Conference has become a set date on the calendars of 650+ logisticians and has proven to be the most influential forum of great logistics minds in the U.S.

A total of 183 production Raptors are currently on contract. The F-22 is built by Lockheed Martin in partnership with Boeing and Pratt & Whitney. Parts and subsystems are provided by 1,000 suppliers in 44 states. The F-22 is the only aircraft that blends supercruise speed, super-agility, stealth and sensor fusion into a single air dominance platform.

Raptors are assigned to six U.S. bases: Edwards AFB, Calif., Nellis AFB, Nev., Tyndall AFB, Fla., Langley AFB, Va., Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, and Holloman AFB, N.M. Raptors will also be based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

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Georgia Gulf Announces Closure of Sarnia PVC Resin Plant

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Georgia Gulf Corporation (NYSE: GGC) announced today it is permanently closing its Sarnia, Ontario (Canada) PVC resin plant. The plant had operated only periodically in 2008 due to decreased demand in the housing and construction markets. In response to continued weakening in the markets, Georgia Gulf has made the decision to permanently close the facility, which had the capacity to produce 450 million pounds of PVC resin annually.

“We operated the Sarnia facility as a swing plant with the intention of re-starting production as soon as the markets recovered and demand improved. In light of prevailing market conditions, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close this facility in an effort to better match our supply with the realities of the marketplace,” stated Paul Carrico, President and CEO of Georgia Gulf Corporation.

As a result of the Sarnia PVC resin plant closure, the Company expects to record a non-cash charge of about $50 million in the 4th quarter of 2008. The Company expects the cash costs related to the Sarnia plant closure and other cash restructuring costs incurred in the third and fourth quarters of 2008 to be approximately $12 million. Under the terms of the last credit facility amendment, these charges can be excluded from EBITDA for purposes of Georgia Gulf’s covenant calculations.

About Georgia Gulf

Georgia Gulf Corporation is a leading, integrated North American manufacturer of two chemical lines, chlorovinyls and aromatics, and manufactures vinyl-based building and home improvement products. The Company's vinyl-based building and home improvement products, marketed under Royal Group brands, include window and door profiles, mouldings, siding, pipe and pipe fittings, and deck, fence and rail products. Georgia Gulf, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has manufacturing facilities located throughout North America to provide industry-leading service to customers.

Safe Harbor

This news release contains forward-looking statements subject to the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are based on management's assumptions regarding business conditions, and actual results may be materially different. Risks and uncertainties inherent in these assumptions include, but are not limited to continued compliance with covenants in our credit facility and availability of funds thereunder, future global economic conditions, economic conditions in the industries to which our products are sold, uncertainties regarding competitive conditions, industry production capacity, raw materials and energy costs, uncertainties relating to Royal Group's business and other factors discussed in the Securities and Exchange Commission filings of Georgia Gulf Corporation, including our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007.

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

FedEx Freight, FedEx National LTL Announce General Rate Increase

(BUSINESS WIRE)--FedEx Freight and FedEx National LTL will implement 5.7% general rate increases (GRI) effective January 5, 2009. Both less-than-truckload (LTL) companies are part of the FedEx Freight Corp. operating segment of FedEx Corp. (NYSE:FDX). Rates for other operating companies within FedEx Corp., specifically FedEx Express and FedEx Ground, are not affected.

Delivering approximately 80% of its shipments next-day and second-day, FedEx Freight provides regional LTL service designed for companies operating fast-cycle logistics. FedEx National LTL provides long-haul service, supporting businesses with planned distribution.

“At both FedEx LTL companies, we are committed to supporting our customers’ supply chains by investing in key elements of infrastructure—safe and reliable, EPA compliant equipment; new or expanded facilities in strategic locations; technology enhancements to provide customers with greater shipment visibility; and most importantly, our people,” said Dennie Carey, senior vice president of Marketing, FedEx Freight. “We have a fully engaged workforce in the industry to better serve our customers.”

Since January 2008, FedEx Freight has improved service standards in key markets throughout the U.S., and reduced transit times in more than 3,300 transportation network lanes. The company also streamlined Canadian cross-border processes, enabling next-business-day coverage between major Canadian gateway cities and several regions across the U.S.

Now fully re-branded, FedEx National LTL is operating in expanded facilities in San Bernardino, Calif., Phoenix, Ariz., Decatur, Ala., and Rock Island, Ill. The company is also transitioning from non-decking trailers to units with decking, which reduces the potential for damage to freight.

Customers of both FedEx Freight and FedEx National LTL will benefit from enhanced technology that provides greater shipment tracking information while freight is in transit.

The GRI will apply to interstate and intrastate traffic, as well as certain shipments between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico. Various additional adjustments will include minimum and accessorial charges, as well as adjustments in select lanes and service areas.

After January 5, the new base rate and rules tariffs for FedEx Freight will be available on the company’s Web site, www.fedex.com/us/freight/main/ and new base rates and rules tariffs for FedEx National LTL will be available at http://fedex.com/us/national/main/. Customers may access rate quotes via these sites.

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Detroit Bailout: Many Questions Remain, Says Finance Expert

As the Big Three automakers defend their restructuring plans before Congress this week, finance professor Ray Hill of Emory's Goizueta Business School points out that many Americans remain skeptical that a Detroit bailout is anything more than rewarding a failed status quo.

The automakers are promising that with federal loan help, "they will have gotten out of their health care obligations to retirees, and that they will be able to realize compensation costs savings from new hires," says Hill. "But if you look at their data, it's not clear that, three years from now, they still won't be paying their workers more than the international auto companies operating in the U.S."

"The first question is a question of equity: Why are taxpayers being asked to fund the Big Three autoworkers and not other autoworkers in the U.S.?" asks Hill.

The Big Three project that with government help, "in four or five years they could make cars more or less competitively with other companies that make cars in the United States," says Hill. "The question is why should taxpayers finance four or five years of inefficiency, higher wages and benefits for one segment of the population? Carmakers can project future viability on paper, but is anyone going to want to buy those cars four or five years from now?"

Hill questions the efficacy of GM's proposal to eliminate some lines of business. "When they eliminated Oldsmobile, because of state franchise laws, they had huge financial obligations to franchisees when they tried to exit that line of production. Are we actually going to be putting up money to pay car dealers so that the Big Three can meet their obligations under an antiquated system of selling cars?"

Hill also is critical of the two-fleet system, in which American automakers are not allowed to import into the United States the more fuel-efficient cars they make overseas to help meet current U.S. fuel economy standards. "Are we going to continue to have a two-fleet rule, which makes U.S. auto companies unable to make their fuel economy standards, but does help preserve UAW jobs?"

Hill, who is assistant professor in the practice of finance, is a former investment banker who teaches managerial economics and finance.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Governor Sonny Perdue’s Remarks to the Georgia Economic Outlook Luncheon

Our nation faces an economic storm that many are calling the most troubling of our generation. And though that may be true, just yesterday, I sat in the chambers of our nation’s first Capitol at Congress Hall and thought about the utter resiliency of our nation, of our people, of America.

During the almost ten years it served as our nation’s capitol building, Congress Hall witnessed many historic events: three states were admitted to the Union under its roof, the Bill of Rights was ratified there in 1791. The second Presidential inauguration of George Washington took place in the House chamber in 1793, as did the inauguration of President John Adams in 1797.

But, I was quickly jolted back to the reality, that while we can learn from history and prepare a vision for the future, we may only act in the present. An old proverb says, “Vision without action is merely a daydream, while action without vision is a nightmare.”

I joined my fellow Governors in Philadelphia for what the media described as states begging for a Washington bailout. Well ladies and gentleman, let me be the first to tell you … the meeting was anything but that.

From Georgia’s perspective, our meeting with President-elect Obama was not intended to ask the federal government to fill a hole in our state budget. As a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. Many Governors shared what we are doing to balance our budgets, and live within our means.

As President-elect Obama considers putting together a stimulus package, we encouraged him to look at our country’s long term needs – investing in projects, not in budgets. Simply doling out money to states to fill budget gaps is no different than handing it out to companies with flawed business models. I believe it is imperative that we ensure that any stimulus avoids creating an undue burden for the future generations who will be left to foot the bill.

I'm sure you've heard T. Boone Pickens decry what he calls the "greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind" between America and other countries. But what troubles me, and many of my fellow Governors, is that this bailout fever sweeping through our economy will result in the greatest transfer of debt in America's history to our sons, daughters and grandchildren.

As we wrapped up nearly two hours of open, candid discussion, looking at America’s future from both the federal and state perspective, I am confident that many of my fellow Governors, as well as President-elect Obama, realized how much we all had in common when it comes to getting America back on track.

I was especially encouraged that we were able to put partisanship aside. Everyone in the room recognized that governors must be engaged to ensure that America’s economic health is restored. Despite the bitter campaign that has raged, the spirit in Congress Hall yesterday was one of collaboration, and I was proud to be a part of it.

We talked a lot about the issues we are facing in our own states, but we also took a collective message insisting that the federal government act as we governors are forced to year after year balancing the budget, in good times and in the lean years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do with it.” Or, as one of my fellow governors said yesterday, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”

Here in Georgia, we have been and will continue to take a hard look at the ship of state. Any ship at sea is going to pick up some barnacles along the way and at times like these you clean up the ship, making it more responsive and efficient.

Georgia, like other cities and states across America, has been affected by this ebbing tide throughout our national economy. But I can assure you we are plotting a course through rough seas just as we’ve done before, with a ship that is strong and built to last.

Since I have been office, we have made the prudent moves to position our state for growth and prosperity. We kept doing the things that are necessary, but we tightened our belts … Government got leaner, more efficient and more focused on delivering value for the taxpayer dollar.

Most importantly, we did the simple exercise that Georgia families do around the kitchen table every month balancing their checkbooks – we did what we had to do to make ends meet.

After Georgia went through a similar turbulent period six years ago, we spent conservatively and began building a rainy day fund – an action for which we were accused of hoarding money, of not spending enough.

Georgia is a state that has bounced back in the past, and that will continue to bounce back. And once again, we are poised to lead the nation in recovery.

Last year, the Pew Center ranked Georgia one of the best managed states in the nation. So it’s no surprise that Forbes currently ranks our business environment 5th best in the nation … Thanks Steve, we hope to be number one after today’s lunch.

Just recently, Newell Rubbermaid and NCR, both Fortune 500 companies, expanded their headquarters’ operations in Georgia and construction of the Kia plant continues to progress in West Point. And over the past seven years, our OneGeorgia Authority has awarded rural Georgia more than $230 million, resulting in total project investment exceeding $4 billion, while creating more than 40,000 jobs.

This is exactly the kind of investment that results in long-term, sustainable growth and could be a model for the nation.

Now it’s natural that the good things happening in our state are overshadowed in times like these, but I remind you of them today because we have enabled Georgia to weather this economic storm better than many other states.

This year, state revenues are down and probably do not fully reflect the damage from the most recent economic turmoil. But, we will manage this downturn well just like we did six years ago. We will emerge more focused on our basic tasks – leaner and stronger. We will be prepared to take advantage of business looking to invest when the national economy rebounds.

In closing, I would like to share something I read earlier this week about the origins of Thanksgiving.

In 1621, just months after 100 settlers came over on the Mayflower, Plymouth Governor William Bradford set aside a day for thanksgiving. They had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean on a trip that took two months, crammed into an area maybe half the size of your house. That first year; nearly 50 men, women and children died.

Now, let’s look at 1621 and 2008 side by side. In 1621, within a matter of months, nearly every family in that group had lost – not a job, not a big percentage of their 401k, not their house, not their business – but, a loved one. They were scratching out an existence, holding on for dear life, sometimes surviving, sometimes unable to sustain themselves or their families.

In the midst of their trials, Governor Bradford asked his people to be thankful for what they had and for the future that lay in front of them. He led the group with optimism and a hopefulness about the future based on a firm reliance on God.

That is the DNA from which we come … It is that strength of character and confidence from which we can build our future.

In the days ahead, we need – as a people – to recapture that faith and hopefulness. Georgia has been through rough seas and emerged each time stronger than before. Our best days are ahead; and while there will be some tough choices, it is up to us to confidently lay the groundwork that our rebound will be built upon.

Thank you and God bless!
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Big Three Auto Makers Compared To Toyota and Honda by ProCon.org on New Research Website

/PRNewswire/ -- ProCon.org, a nonpartisan 501c3 nonprofit research organization, created the new website bigthreeauto.procon.org to explore the question "Should the Big Three auto makers be bailed out by the US government?"

Pro and con statements addressing this question come from President-Elect Barack Obama, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Nobel Prize winning economists Paul Krugman and Gary Becker, General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, former US Energy Secretary and US Senator Spencer Abraham, and several others.

Also included on the site are:
-- Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws explained,
-- Contracts between the Big Three and the United Auto Workers,
-- Analysis of "legacy" employees and their impact on profits, and
-- 144-point chart comparing GM, Ford, Chrysler, Big Three combined,
Toyota, and Honda.


Some interesting points from this chart comparison include:


* General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler had a combined US market share of 51.8% in December 2007. As of Oct. 2008, their market share declined by 5.1% to 46.5%. Toyota and Honda, during that same nine-month period, increased their US market shares by 3.1% to a combined 28.4%.

* In 2007, the Big Three sold 18 million autos for $387.5 billion. In 2007, Toyota and Honda sold 12.2 millions cars for $304 billion.

* In the US, the Big Three directly employ 242,000 people and an estimated 2.5 to 3 million indirectly.

* Ford received a $1.29 billion tax refund in 2007 while General Motors paid $37.16 billion in 2007 taxes.

ProCon.org made its Big Three research publicly available for free and without advertising on the website bigthreeauto.procon.org.

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