Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Working Alcoholics Cause Headaches for Companies

/PRNewswire/ -- April is Alcohol Awareness Month and one way companies are getting involved is with public awareness campaigns about workplace alcoholism. The cost of alcoholism and other drug addictions in the U.S. workforce exceeds $100 billion a year, according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI). Part of Alcohol Awareness Month is educating companies in identifying the signs of an alcoholic and help problem drinkers.

"Most people wrongly assume that if an alcoholic employee does not drink at work there is no harm to the company since the abuse takes place on his/her own time. But damage does occur because alcoholics have reduced mental function, distorted perception, poor judgment and performance, even during work hours when they are not drinking," explains Arthur Jackson, author of "Raise the Bottom: How to Keep Secret Alcoholics from Damaging Your Business."

"A job masks the problem since a common myth is that the typical alcoholic is unemployed. Yet studies show over 85 percent of active alcoholics are functional and employed. Alcoholism in the workplace is hidden in plain sight, virtually affecting every business. Because of the stigma of alcoholism, people prefer to see the cause of problems as competition, cash flow, bad management, weak economy -- anything but alcoholism," Jackson says.

Alcoholism is progressive and work performance declines in the middle and later stages of the disease. That is why it's important to know how to identify alcoholics early to protect the business. "Once alcoholism takes hold, the alcoholic has less and less control over his willpower and behavior. He doesn't understand what is happening to him," says Jackson.

Jackson says that alcoholic behaviors to watch for include:
-- Frequent tardiness and absences, excuses for missing work.
-- Sloppy work, missed deadlines, declining performance.
-- Strained relationships with coworkers and confused thinking.
-- An inability to admit mistakes.
-- Avoiding certain people, including managers and supervisors.

"Employers are in a unique position to help the possible alcoholic employee. They must make sure problem drinkers fully experience the consequences of their behavior so that not drinking looks like a better approach to life," says Jackson. The threat of a job loss is one of the strongest leverage points that can influence an alcoholic to seek treatment.

"The first thing we can do to help an active alcoholic is to stop enabling," said Jackson. "Since alcoholics are often receptive to help when there is an accumulation of negative consequences -- a bottom -- then we do them a favor by letting them fully experience those consequences. This helps to raise the bottom so they seek recovery sooner."

Recommendations for dealing with an employee with signs of alcoholism include:

-- Make and keep the possible alcoholic accountable.
-- Don't "lower the bar" for him or her by shifting responsibilities or
assigning tasks to others.
-- Don't do for the alcoholic what he should do for himself.
-- Don't put favorable spins on situations. Don't lie, cover up, or make
excuses for the alcoholic's behavior or results.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Landscape Industry Can Now Train Employees Anytime, Anywhere

Continuing education for employees is important. But in hard economic times, many business owners can’t afford to train their staff. A new series of online videos from the University of Georgia provides training for workers in the landscape industry, and it’s free.

Developed by the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, the five “Safety Makes Sense” videos cover topics like lawnmower and equipment safety, poisonous plants and animals, appropriate clothing, sun protection, heat stress, heat stroke and repetitive motion injury as well as communicating with supervisors.

OSHA approved

The videos are approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and were funded by an OSHA Susan Harwood Grant. They are offered in both English and Spanish.

“We knew the Spanish versions of our training videos would be popular,” said Ellen Bauske, the center’s program coordinator. “And, with the state’s budget situation, we can’t hire a full-time Spanish-speaking educator. The videos allow us to provide this training despite that.”

In January, the videos made their debut on the center’s Web site, www.ugaurbanag.com/safety. Three weeks ago, they were added to youtube.com. They will soon be available on UGA’s iTunes site at www.itunes.uga.edu.

The videos were placed online first and foremost because that’s what the industry requested, she said.

What the industry wants

“We surveyed the landscape industry and found out they need rainy-day, any-day training,” she said. “It’s hard for them to attend trainings on specific days because they need to plan work around Mother Nature. The videos allow them to be in control of when and where they train their staff.”

For the next phase, Bauske is working with University of Florida Cooperative Extension to offer video training for English-speaking supervisors of Spanish-speaking employees.

“We’d also like to offer video training on best management practices,” she said. “Where we go from here depends on whether we find a fund source.”

In addition to the online videos, the center’s Web site provides English and Spanish versions of the Safety for Hispanic Landscape Workers manual. It’s designed in an easy-to-understand format with images to ensure employees understand the information regardless of language skills or literacy level.

Employees aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the Web site’s resources. It also has information to help supervisors better communicate with a Hispanic workforce.

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia

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PFK Says Worsening Economy Extends U.S. Lodging Recovery Timeline

But Data Shows Impact Varies Across Markets

PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) recently announced that, according to its March 2009 edition of Hotel HorizonsSM, the current decline in the U.S. lodging industry will be deeper and last longer than the company had previously predicted. RevPAR is now expected to drop 13.7 percent in 2009, and a quarter-over-quarter gain in sales is not anticipated until the first quarter of 2011. The revised lodging forecast is based on worsening economic projections from Moody’s Economy.com.

Hotel HorizonsSM is a quarterly series of reports containing five-year forecasts of performance for the U.S. lodging industry and 50 major markets across the country. The lodging forecasts presented in the March 2009 edition of Hotel HorizonsSM are based on Smith Travel Research (STR) hotel performance data through December 2009 and Moody’s Economy.com’s February 2009 economic forecast for the nation. The latter reflects the expected impact of the recently enacted federal legislation aimed at stimulating the economy.

“Our national forecast encompasses the aggregate performance of thousands of hotels located all across the country. At that level, the outlook for the U.S. lodging industry is grim,” said R. Mark Woodworth, president of PKF Hospitality Research. “However, when analyzing the data for each of the 50 individual markets that comprise our Hotel HorizonsSM universe, it is clear that lodging behavior can vary considerably from market to market.”

The Pain Is Now

The PKF-HR March 2009 national forecast calls for a 13.7 percent decline in RevPAR during the current year, representing a downward revision to the 9.8 percent decline anticipated earlier this year, a time when the economic outlook was not quite as severe. The revised 2009 forecast is the result of a 7.8 percent fall off in occupancy and a 6.4 percent drop in Average Daily Rate (ADR) for the year.

“Of most concern are declining room rates,” Woodworth noted. “The 6.4 percent decrease in ADR forecast for 2009 is the largest annual decline observed by PKF-HR since the firm began compiling data in 1932. When revenue contraction is heavily influenced by declines in ADR, the downward impact on profit is amplified.” PKF-HR is forecasting that the average U.S. hotel will experience a 30.1 percent decline in profits during 2009. This, too, is a level of deterioration not seen since the 1930s. Profits are defined as income before the deduction for capital reserves, rent, interest, income taxes, depreciation, and amortization.

Although double-digit declines in both revenues and profits appear certain, the new report indicates there is a small pinpoint of light at the end of the economic tunnel. The most severe declines in performance for U.S. hotel owners and operators are forecast to occur in the current quarter, and should begin to subside by mid-2009. “Fading revenues will persist throughout 2009 and 2010. However, the magnitude of RevPAR declines will taper off to single digits beginning in the fourth quarter of 2009,” Woodworth said. “Continuing declines will further erode profits, but the leaching will become less painful as we move through this deep and extended trough in the business cycle.”

Minn-ea and Mickey

Most everyone has conceded that 2009 is going to be a year of poor performance for U.S. hotels. Therefore, the focus of industry participants has shifted to the recovery. When will things start to improve?

“All 50 markets forecast by PKF-HR are projected to experience an annual decline in RevPAR in 2009,” Woodworth said. “However, by the end of the year, two of the 50 markets are forecast to show year-over-year gains in their fourth quarter RevPAR, and will sustain this growth into 2010.”

PKF-HR’s Hotel HorizonsSM econometric model forecasts a fourth quarter 2009 RevPAR gain of 6.8 percent in Minneapolis over the fourth quarter of the prior year. Much of this improvement can be explained by the extremely weak fourth quarter realized in Minneapolis in 2008. Year-over-year increases in RevPAR are forecast to continue each and every quarter from the fourth quarter of 2009 through 2013.

In California, Orange County hoteliers should also see some relief beginning in the last three months of 2009. Hotels in and around Disneyland are forecast to enjoy a slight improvement in RevPAR of 1.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2009, and another relatively big upward push of 7.7 percent in the first quarter of 2010. Well below average increases in supply in Orange County should help to improve industry fundamentals.

While San Antonio and Baltimore are both forecast to suffer declines in occupancy during the current year, they are the only two markets in the country where an improving local economy will generate more lodging demand in 2009 than in 2008. “Unfortunately, significant net increases in supply will far out-strip the gains in market area demand in these cities. The room inventories in San Antonio and Baltimore are projected to grow 8.6 and 7.2 percent, respectively, in 2009,” Woodworth cautioned.

Some Will Enjoy 2010

“Economics can be a dismal and disappointing science. In today’s environment, a slowdown in the pace of revenue declines may be hailed as an improvement,” says John B. (Jack) Corgel, the Robert C. Baker professor of real estate at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and senior advisor to PKF Hospitality Research. “The darkest hour is always just before the dawn, and we expect to see that in mid-2009. Subsequently, the rate of decline will begin to moderate, and national RevPAR is forecast to decline just 3.2 percent in 2010, the result a 0.9 percent drop in occupancy and a 2.3 percent decrease in ADR.”

In 2010, the vast majority of cities are still forecast to experience a decline in RevPAR for the year. However, emerging signs of economic recovery are expected in many markets, and 14 cities across the U.S. will enjoy RevPAR increases over 2009. Joining Anaheim and Minneapolis as the markets expected to lead the lodging industry recovery are the cities of Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Oahu, Fort Worth, Raleigh, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, Columbus, Albuquerque, and Houston.

“The upward trajectory of revenue projected for these markets in 2010 will draw some attention,” Woodworth observed. “However, lenders, investors, and operators should continue to be cautious because all but the hotels in Houston are forecast to continue to report occupancy levels below their long-term average.”

By 2011, all 50 markets covered by PKF-HR Hotel HorizonsSM forecasts are projected to achieve gains in performance. All three of the major top-line measures (occupancy, ADR, and RevPAR) are forecast to grow each and every year from 2011 through 2013.

Are There Any Winners?

“Knowing that local market conditions vary, we evaluated which cities will have suffered the most, and the least, by the time this protracted downturn has ended,” Woodworth said. “Using 2008 and 2011 as the bookends of the current industry recession, we calculated the changes in supply, demand, and RevPAR for all 50 markets included in our Hotel HorizonsSM universe. Some of the results are positive in nature; however, most are depressing.”

Compounding the negative impact of the economic recession, hotel managers in San Antonio will have to endure a 24.1 percent increase in competition from 2008 through 2011. This is the greatest rate of increase in supply in the nation during this time period. On the other end of the spectrum, operators on the island of Oahu are seeing a 6.1 percent decline in the number of hotel rooms they have to compete with. Unfortunately, the demand for accommodations in Oahu is simultaneously falling at an annual rate of 1.2 percent.

Aided by a 2008 boost in oil prices, as well as the unfortunate displacement of residents due to Hurricane Ike, Texas hotel markets are enjoying the greatest increases in lodging demand. From 2008 through 2011, the cities of Fort Worth, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Austin are forecast to benefit from annual demand growth in excess of 2.0 percent.

In total, 25 lodging markets are forecast to accommodate fewer guests in 2011 that they did in 2008. Leading the way in annual declines in demand are Oakland, Los Angeles, Detroit, and Tampa. All four of these cities are forecast to suffer annual declines in demand greater than 2.0 percent.

“Using RevPAR as the measure of a market’s health, only six of the 50 cities analyzed will be able to match their 2008 RevPAR levels by 2011. This just further illustrates how deep and long this industry recession is expected to be,” Woodworth noted. The six markets able to post a positive RevPAR growth rate from 2008 to 2011 are Austin, Oahu, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Houston, and Chicago.

Compound annual declines in RevPAR in excess of 6.0 percent from 2008 to 2011 are forecast for the cities of Charlotte, New York, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, and Tucson. “The reasons for the protracted poor performance in these markets vary. In New York, it is a matter of supply growth outpacing gains in demand. In the four other markets, we are projecting declines in demand, brought on by weaker economic conditions,” Woodworth observed.

Pay Attention

Research conducted by PKF Hospitality Research found that 70 percent to 80 percent of a hotel’s performance is systematically linked to the local economy. Therefore, it is imperative for all lodging industry participants – lenders, investors, and managers alike – to gain a thorough understanding of the unique local factors that influence each individual asset in which they have a stake.

“Yes, the general direction of the lodging industry is downward. However, as a national consulting firm with professionals that have on-the-ground experience throughout the country, we see significant differences in the major measures of each local lodging market,” Woodworth said. “In some areas, increased competition is driving the poor performance. In other markets, declining employment or income levels are suppressing demand. In the face of poor market conditions, some hoteliers will retain pricing power, while others will not. The differences are striking and require deep thought and analysis.”

To purchase Hotel HorizonsSM forecast reports for the United States, or one of 50 individual markets, please visit the firm’s online store at www.HotelHorizons.com, or call (866) 842-8754.

* * *
PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR), headquartered in Atlanta, is the research affiliate of PKF Consulting, a consulting and real estate firm specializing in the hospitality industry. PKF Consulting has offices in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta, Miami, Indianapolis, Houston, Dallas, Bozeman, Sacramento, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Georgia State Park Lodges Offer Businesses an Affordable Alternative for Meetings in Tough Times

/PRNewswire/ -- In today's challenging economic times, cutting corporate budgets doesn't have to mean giving up the annual executive golf outing or sales retreat. It just might mean rethinking the venue. Georgia State Park's seven lodges are ideal venues for meetings and corporate retreats. The modern accommodations, scenic environments and unparalleled recreational opportunities provide groups the perfect blend of business and pleasure at an affordable cost.

"Many businesses don't realize the tremendous resources our state parks offer in terms of corporate meetings, retreats and team building," said Vickie Slack, regional director of sales for Georgia State Park Lodges. "Our seven lodge facilities located throughout the state are the perfect blend of technology and nature, which is ideal for planning a relaxing and productive meeting."

Diverse Facilities & Recreational Offerings for Custom Experiences

Facilities for group meetings at Georgia State Park Lodges range from cozy lodge meeting rooms perfect for small groups of 5 to 28, to larger meeting room and convention space to accommodate up to 475 people. And, each of the lodges features wireless Internet service and the latest audiovisual equipment necessary for conducting successful meetings.

After the business of the day is done, the parks offer boundless recreational opportunities to fit every interest and fitness level. For hiking and biking enthusiasts there are miles of secluded trails with breathtaking views of mountainous peaks, waterfalls, and secluded lakes and streams. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy championship golf and fishing enthusiasts will appreciate some of the finest trout steams in the Southeast. The on-site coordinators are also available at each lodge to customize retreats to include special workshops, nature programs, entertainment and team-building exercises designed to challenge participants by taking advantage of the natural environment.

Convenient Locations and Packages Makes Planning a Breeze

Georgia State Park Lodges offer seven locations from the north Georgia mountains to secluded coastal areas; there is a lodge convenient to all major southeastern cities.

The "Breath of Fresh Air" meeting package includes overnight guest room, meeting facilities, meals (dinner upon arrival, breakfast the next morning and lunch the day of departure), morning and afternoon breaks, basic audio/visual equipment and all gratuities. Package prices range from $130 to $170 per night, based on time of year. Rates are based on single occupancy, with a 2-night minimum stay required on weekends. Taxes are applicable. This package is available at all of the lodges except The Lodge at Smithgall Woods and The Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo Island, due to the intimate setting of these properties.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

“JOBS” Act for Georgia’s Economy Clears Senate

Today the Georgia State Senate voted for a true stimulus package with the passage of the Jobs, Opportunity, and Business Success Act of 2009 (JOBS Act). Sen. Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) supported the bill.

“What we are proposing is harnessing the greatness of Georgia…the intellectual capital, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the true grit of Georgians,” said Seabaugh. “This bill will get Georgia’s economy flourishing in a fast, efficient, and stable manner. This is a long-term, sustainable solution, not an instant knee jerk reaction like the Federal stimulus package.”

House Bill 481 and 482 comprise the JOBS Act with HB 481 providing a new business filing fee holiday, a $500 credit towards the unemployment insurance tax for each eligible employee hired, a $2,400 income tax credit for each eligible employee hired, and the elimination of the sales tax deposit. HB 482 would eliminate the state inventory tax on all Georgia businesses.

The Senate inserted a provision that will allow for the gradual elimination of the corporate income tax, which will be phased out over the next 10 years providing that the state maintains a 5 percent rainy day fund. Seabaugh also praised the Act as the most pro-business legislation the General Assembly has ever considered and believes its focus on protecting small business will be the key to bringing Georgia through the current recession.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Employees Would Like to Purchase Non-Traditional, Voluntary Benefits at Work

/PRNewswire/ -- Many full time working adults whose company provides them with employee benefits say they would be at least somewhat likely to purchase computers (45%) and home appliances (37%) through payroll deduction at work if the option were available.

The recent nationwide survey of 868 working U.S. adults employed full-time by companies who provide employee benefits was conducted online by Harris Interactive(R) on behalf of Purchasing Power(1).

According to the survey, more than three-fourths of full time employees whose company provides them with employee benefits (76 percent) said they would purchase a desktop, laptop, high definition television or home appliance (washer, dryer or refrigerator), power tools and/or a lawnmower in the next 12 months if credit or financing were not an issue.

However, in today's economic climate, many people are holding off making purchases. Some employers offer payroll deduction plans to aid employees in acquiring these types of items. The survey asked full time employees whose company provides them with employee benefits how likely they would be to purchase items like computers and household appliances if they could do so through payroll deduction. Specifically, 45 percent say they would be "at least somewhat likely" to purchase a desktop or laptop; 38 percent indicate they would be at least somewhat likely to buy a high definition television; and 37 percent report they would be at least somewhat likely to buy a home appliance (washer, dryer, refrigerator) if they were able to do so through their employer.

In fact, nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of full time employees whose company provides them with employee benefits said they would be "likely or very likely" to purchase a laptop or desktop computer through payroll deduction if it were an option. For high definition televisions, 19 percent of these adults said they would be likely or very likely to purchase through payroll deduction if possible, while 17 percent said they were likely or very likely to buy home appliances.

"Providing non-traditional voluntary benefits as part of the benefit package is a logical service employers can offer their employees, especially in today's economic climate, to help them acquire life-enhancing products should they choose to do so," said Richard Carrano, Purchasing Power President and Chief Financial Officer. "Although it's a benefit fully paid for by the employee, offering this type of employee benefit helps employers show they care about their employees and want to help. Adding a benefit like this also helps raise employee morale in today's economic environment," he added.

Purchasing Power, a voluntary benefit provider of employee purchase programs, helps working Americans to purchase life-enhancing items such as computers, electronics and appliances, through a disciplined, payroll deduction option. With its short pay back period, only 12 months, and with payments automatically taken from the paycheck, employees who struggle to acquire consumer goods in today's economy due to higher interest rates on credit cards or tightened access to credit have another choice.

"Purchasing Power gives employers another great way to improve their employees' lives during our country's unprecedented economic downturn," Carrano continued. "We are especially cognizant of those employees who do not have the means to pay in full upfront or have the ability to qualify for traditional financing during these lean credit times."

According to a November report by the Federal Reserve, nearly 60 percent of banks severely tightened their lending standards on credit card loans and 65 percent on other consumer loans in the last three months.

Survey Methodology

Harris Interactive(R) fielded the study on behalf of Purchasing Power from January 28 through January 20, 2009, via its QuickQuery(SM) online omnibus service, interviewing a nationwide sample of 2,219 U.S. adults aged 18 years and older, of which 982 were employed full-time, with 868 of those at a company that provides employee benefits. Data were weighted using propensity score weighting to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of region, age within gender, education, household income, race/ethnicity, and propensity to be online. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

SpaAtlanta, Inc. Job Fair

Friday, March 27, 2009
11 am - 4 pm
Southwest Library Conference Room
3665 Cascade Road
Atlanta, GA 30331
(404) 699-6363

*All applicants welcome to apply
*Numerous positions available
*On-site interviews
*Training provided for all positions (Previous Sales Experience Helpful)
*Part & Full-Time Positions
*Please bring resume

Friday, March 20, 2009

Delta Meteorologists Decline Union Representation

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today issued the following memo from Neil Stronach, senior vice president - Operations Control, to the airlines operations control employees regarding today's meteorologist representation results.

"Today the National Mediation Board notified Delta that our combined meteorologist group has chosen not to have union representation. As a result, we expect that the Northwest Airlines Meteorology Association (NAMA) certification will be terminated.

"This decision will allow us to move forward with a transition plan that aligns the pay, benefits and work rules for our combined meteorologist team. We've already agreed to a joint seniority list, which will be implemented as soon as operationally feasible.

"I commend NAMA for their contributions to Northwest and for recognizing the importance of and working with us to quickly resolve union representation and seniority integration issues for the meteorologists. As a result of this partnership and swift action, we're now able to press forward in our efforts to become one team.

"This is yet another important milestone in Delta's overall integration efforts. Our team joins the pilots and aircraft maintenance technicians in resolving union representation and seniority integration. Next week, our dispatchers, and likely the Northwest Technical Operations employees represented by ATSA, will be added to this list. And you've also probably heard that the seniority integration committees representing pre-merger Delta Flight Attendants, ACS/Cargo, Reservation Sales and TechOps stores employees made recommendations for a fair and equitable seniority integration method.

"All of this work, along with the achievements we're making with our operational and customer integration initiatives, is helping us bring the two operations together quickly. This will better position us to take advantage of all the merger benefits.

"Thank you for all you do."

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Coweta-Fayette EMC Appoints New Members to Board of Directors

Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas has elected Dwight D. Ellison and Anthony H. “Tony” Sinclair to its Board of Directors.

“Dwight and Tony bring a tremendous amount of energy, security and community knowledge to Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas,” said Dan Hart, President and CEO of Coweta-Fayette Natural Gas. “They are both accomplished in business and civic leadership and offer levels of expertise that our customers and shareholders will find of value.”

Mr. Ellison was formerly Vice President of Corporate Security for Turner Broadcasting System and Deputy Assistant Director of Investigations for the U.S. Secret Service. He is a Board Member and immediate past President of the Summit Family YMCA and a Board Member for First Coweta Bank. A former English teacher for the LaGrange (GA) Public School System, he volunteers his time as a mentor for Coweta County Schools. Mr. Ellison is a graduate of Clark College, now known as Clark Atlanta University, and resides in Newnan with his wife, Kathy. He has two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

Mr. Sinclair is the current President and CEO of Coweta-Fayette EMC. He was most recently General Manager for the Missoula Electric Cooperative in Missoula, Montana, where he was responsible for the cooperative’s engineering, operations, accounting, and customer service and information technology. During his time in Missoula, he served as a Director of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corporation, actively supported the Seeley Lake Chamber of Commerce, and founded an employee team to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event. A native of Baldwin County, Alabama, Mr. Sinclair also was formerly Chief Financial Officer of Joe Wheeler EMC near Decatur, Alabama, and Manager of Member Services for Baldwin EMC on the Alabama Gulf Coast. He is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He resides in Coweta County with his wife, Susan, and has two children.

Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas is a natural gas marketer registered with the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) that offers customers easy to understand bills, simple pricing structures, and local customer service. Coweta-Fayette EMC Natural Gas customers can choose monthly variable-rate pricing without a contract or fixed pricing that allows them to lock in their natural gas price for the winter heating season.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Coca-Cola Company Commits US$30 Million to Clean Water Projects across Africa

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company announced today that it has committed US $30MM over the next six years to provide access to safe drinking water to communities throughout Africa through its Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN). Implemented by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, RAIN will provide at least 2 million Africans with clean water and sanitation by 2015.

“Africa’s water crisis threatens the health of its population and, therefore, its prospects for economic growth,” said Muhtar Kent, President and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “Communities need strong, healthy people to thrive, and our business needs strong, healthy communities to grow and be sustainable. Helping African communities tackle their water challenges is an important priority for our Company and our bottling partners and is an area where we can make a positive and lasting impact.”

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million Africans lack access to safe drinking water, and millions of them die each year from preventable waterborne illnesses. Up to half of the region’s population at any one time suffers from diseases related to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation.

Between 2004 and 2015, the number of people living without access to safe water in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by 47 million people. Africa is expected to miss the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals target for access to clean drinking water by 111 million people and the sanitation target by 289 million.

“No single organization can resolve Africa’s development challenges, but together with civic society, nongovernmental organizations and government we can make a positive difference in the lives of the people who make up our communities,” said William Asiko, President of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation currently has water projects in 19 African countries – Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia – reaching over 300,000 people.

These water projects are all implemented in partnership with local communities in each country. They also contribute to The Coca-Cola Company’s aspirational water stewardship goal of returning to communities and to nature an amount of water equivalent to what we use in all of our beverages and their production. The Company’s strategy for achieving that goal has three components:

* Reduce - Improving water efficiency by 20 percent by 2012, compared to a baseline year 2004.
* Recycle - Returning all water the Company uses for manufacturing processes to the environment at a level that supports aquatic life and agriculture by the end of 2010.
* Replenish - Expanding the Company’s support of healthy watersheds and sustainable community water programs to balance the water used in its finished beverages.

“Having access to clean water still remains a luxury, not a given, in large parts of the continent,” Asiko said. “RAIN helps us both fulfill our environmental goals while also providing health benefits that will allow our communities and our business to grow and prosper.”

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lodgian Receives Audit Report with Going Concern Explanation

Lodgian, Inc. (NYSE Alternext US: LGN) today announced that the audit report of its independent registered public accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche LLP, included in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 (the “Form 10-K”), while expressing an unqualified opinion regarding the company’s audited financial statements, identified matters which raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. The company’s announcement does not represent any changes or amendment to its 2008 financial statements or to its Form 10-K which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on March 13, 2009.

As disclosed in the Form 10-K, the audit report raised substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern because approximately $128 million of the company’s mortgage debt is scheduled to mature in July 2009. This mortgage debt cannot be extended without the approval of the loan servicers, which extension has been requested but not yet granted. To address the pending maturities, the company is also pursuing opportunities to refinance the maturing mortgage debt or to acquire new mortgage debt using currently unencumbered properties. However, in light of the current state of credit markets generally and the real estate credit markets specifically, the company cannot currently predict the outcome of these efforts.

About Lodgian
Lodgian is one of the largest independent owners and operators of full-service hotels in the United States. The company currently owns and manages a portfolio of 40 hotels with 7,448 rooms located in 22 states and Canada. Of the company’s 40-hotel portfolio, 20 are InterContinental Hotels Group brands (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Select and Holiday Inn Express), 12 are Marriott brands (Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott and Fairfield Inn by Marriott), three are Hilton brands, and four are affiliated with other nationally recognized franchisors including Starwood, Wyndham, and Carlson. One hotel is an independent, unbranded property, which is currently closed and held for sale. For more information about Lodgian, visit the company’s website:

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws. All statements, other than statements of historical facts, including, among others, statements regarding Lodgian’s future financial position, business strategy, projected performance, financing needs and ability to extend, refinance or repay its debt, are forward-looking statements. Those statements include statements regarding the intent, belief or current expectations of Lodgian and members of its management team, as well as the assumptions on which such statements are based, and generally are identified by the use of words such as “may,” “will,” “seeks,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “should” or similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties that actual results may differ materially from those contemplated by such forward-looking statements. Many of these factors are beyond Lodgian’s ability to control or predict. Such factors include, but are not limited to, the effects of regional, national and international economic conditions, our ability to refinance mortgage debt that matures on July 1, 2009, competitive conditions in the lodging industry and increases in room supply, requirements of franchise agreements (including the right of franchisors to immediately terminate their respective agreements if we breach certain provisions), our ability to complete planned hotel dispositions, the effects of unpredictable weather events such as hurricanes, the financial condition of the airline industry and its impact on air travel, the effect of self-insured claims in excess of our reserves and our ability to obtain adequate insurance at reasonable rates, and other factors discussed under Item IA (Risk Factors) in Lodgian’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008. We assume no duty to update these statements.
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SBA Holding Veterans Symposium on March 26th

—Will Cover Agency Programs/Services Available to Veterans—

The U.S. Small Business Administration will present a symposium for veterans on March 26 in Atlanta which will cover agency programs and services for both active and retired military personnel who are starting or expanding small businesses.

The free symposium will run from 8:30 a.m. until noon at 75 Fifth Street, ATDC Community Room, Suite 202, Atlanta, GA 30308. The symposium will focus on loan programs and other assistance available from the SBA and its resource partners including the agency’s SCORE Program, the University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network and the Georgia Institute of Technology Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC).

Attendees will also be given information on the SBA Patriot Express Loan Initiative. This program offers guaranteed business loans of up to $500,000. It can be used by:

Veterans, service-connected disabled veterans, active duty military personnel within 24 months of retirement or 12 months to transition into civilian society,

National Guard and Reservists and the current spouse of all the aforementioned,

The widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or from a service-connected disability.

The symposium, also supported by the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency, will discuss unique federal contracting opportunities for service-connected, disabled veteran-owned small businesses. Small business provisions in the new Recovery Act will also be discussed including tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans.

Pre-registration is mandatory. To register, email Jorge Valentin-Stone at Jorge.valentin-stone@sba.gov. You can register by fax at 202/481-5239. To register online, go to www.sba.gov/ga and select Public Training and Seminars, “Register Now,” in the Spotlight section of the web site’s main page. Please include your name, telephone number and/or email address.

For additional information on SBA programs for veterans, go to www.sba.gov/vets.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Georgia Power's ENERGY STAR(R) Program Wins National Award for Third Time

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have named Georgia Power as a 2009 Excellence in ENERGY STAR Promotion Award winner for its Lighting and Appliance program. This marks the third consecutive year that Georgia Power has been named an award winner in this category.

"Each year we strengthen our ENERGY STAR program to increase its effectiveness with our customers, so the fact that Georgia Power was selected again for this highly coveted award is both humbling and extremely gratifying," said Lamont Houston, senior vice president of customer service and sales for Georgia Power. "And with the current economic conditions, now more than ever consumers are looking to us to provide ways to be energy efficient and save money. We're honored that EPA and DOE have chosen to recognize Georgia Power's achievement."

An ENERGY STAR partner since 2004, Georgia Power has given away more than 330,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) through its lighting program over the last three years. The company promotes the "Change the World, Start with ENERGY STAR" campaign which encourages consumers to pledge to change at least one standard light bulb in their home to an ENERGY STAR CFL. Georgia Power currently ranks second in the nation for the number of pledges collected.

Georgia Power's Lighting and Appliance program included a multi-media advertising campaign, in-store consumer and awareness events, retail sales associate training, numerous community and corporate outreach events, as well as a refrigerator recycling program. In addition, Georgia Power was selected to host one of only six national stops for the ENERGY STAR Home Tour in October 2008, gaining national exposure for the southeast and escalating our customer outreach efforts.

Lamont Houston and Vicki Nichols will accept the award on behalf of the company at an awards ceremony March 31, 2009 in Washington, D.C.

The Excellence in ENERGY STAR Promotion Award is given to a variety of organizations to recognize their efforts to improve energy efficiency and reduce pollution, resulting in significant cost savings. Award winners are selected from more than 12,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

Georgia Power encourages its customers to practice energy efficiency year-round. Take the "Change the World" pledge online at http://www.georgiapower.com/energystar/home.asp.

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SBA’s March Web Chat Will Highlight the Recovery Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be the focus of discussion for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s March Web chat. SBA Associate Administrator for Capital Access Eric Zarnikow will help small business owners get answers to their questions about what the Recovery Act means for the nation’s small businesses.

The Recovery Act is a national effort to grow the U.S. economy by stimulating job creation, freeing credit markets, and investing in small business. The Act contains a package of loan fee reductions, higher guarantees, new SBA programs, secondary market incentives, and enhancements to current SBA programs that will help unlock credit markets and begin economic recovery for the nation’s small business sector.

SBA is working to enact the new programs created by the passage of the bill and make changes to the programs already in existence. Additional information on the Recovery Act is available online at www.sba.gov/recovery/index.html.

WHO: Eric Zarnikow, associate administrator for the Office of Capital Access at the U.S. Small Business Administration will host the SBA’s March Web chat on the topic “The Recovery Act and Your Small Business.” Zarnikow will answer a range of questions to help chat participants understand the elements of the Recovery Act that pertain to the SBA and the nation’s small businesses.

WHAT: SBA’s Web chat series, providing small business owners with an opportunity to chat about relevant business issues online with experts, industry leaders and successful entrepreneurs. Chat participants will have direct, real-time access to the Web chats via questions they submit online, both in advance of and during the live session.

WHEN: March 19, 2009, 1 – 2 p.m. ET

HOW: Participants can join the live Web chat by going online to www.sba.gov, and clicking the “Online Business Chat” icon. Web chat participants may post questions for Zarnikow before the January 15th chat by visiting http://app1.sba.gov/liveMeeting/mar09/, and posting their questions online.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Aflac Lands on List of 100 Best Corporate Citizens

/PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Aflac Incorporated was named to Corporate Responsibility Officer (CRO) magazine's list of 100 Best Corporate Citizens for 2009. The survey ranks Russell 1000(R) companies on their performance in seven key areas: environment, climate change, human rights, philanthropy, employee relations, financial and governance. Aflac was tied for first place with several other companies under the category of corporate governance. The full list was announced on Friday, March 6, and will appear in the next issue of the magazine.

The 2009 100 Best Corporate Citizens List(R) methodology is based solely on publicly-available data, putting a premium on companies with high levels of public disclosure and transparency. All members of the Russell 1000 Index were considered for the honor.

"At Aflac we believe that transparency with shareholders and the public is good for business," Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said. "We are proud to receive this recognition, which focuses on our company's enthusiasm for disclosing information and demonstrating strong corporate ethics."

"In good times, checkbook citizenship can win the day. But in tough times, strong reputations and transparency pack as much punch as a strong balance sheet. In today's deep recession, human capital and financial capital seek safety -- and companies like Aflac that are on the 100 Best Corporate Citizens List(R) are today's safest harbors," said CRO magazine publisher Jay Whitehead.

The Russell 1000 Index measures the performance of the large-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe. It is a subset of the Russell 3000(R) Index and includes approximately 1000 of the largest securities based on a combination of their market cap and current index membership.

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Georgia Super Lawyers Honors Four Stites & Harbison Attorneys

Four Stites & Harbison attorneys in the Atlanta office were recently honored in the 2009 Georgia Super Lawyers magazine.

The attorneys named to the Super Lawyers list include: R. Daniel Douglass under the practice area of Construction/Surety, J.D. Humphries, III, under the practice area of Construction Litigation and T. Matthew Mashburn under the practice area of Real Estate. Ron C. Bingham, II, was named to the Rising Stars list under the practice area of Bankruptcy & Creditor/Debtor Rights. All attorneys are members of Stites & Harbison (www.stites.com).

Super Lawyers (www.superlawyers.com) is a guide compiled by Law & Politics Magazine that honors exceptional attorneys, representing a wide range of practice areas, firm sizes and geographic locations. Candidates are nominated by peers in their state or region and evaluated by an expert panel system. Only 5% of the lawyers in each state or region are named to the Super Lawyers list and no more than 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list. Rising Stars are selected based on the same criteria as Super Lawyers with the exception of peer evaluation by practice area. Rising Stars must be 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less to be considered. Stites & Harbison has a total of 48 attorneys listed in Super Lawyers and three listed in Rising Stars.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Neal McCoy and Troy Volhoffer to Appear on Fox Business Channel and FoxNews.com Live Streaming "Stratety Room"

Veteran music festival executive producer Troy Volhoffer and country music star Neal McCoy will be making special back-to-back appearances on Fox Business Channel at 11:30 am (EST) and FoxNews.com’s Strategy Room at 3:00 pm (EST) on March 10, 2009, to discuss the upcoming Country Thunder USA festival taking place April 1 -4 in Florence, Arizona.

In an economy that is down, Country Thunder USA is experiencing an increase in overall support of the festival. Here are the exciting statistics showing evidence that our economic condition has affected very little in the region – and reasons why more are expected to turn out than years past:

  • Ticket sales are up 40% from 2008, with more than 3 weeks left ‘til the event
  • Camping sites are 90% sold out, and another camping area will likely be created to accommodate the demand
  • New layaway program instated to allow patrons who are on a tight budget to attend the festival
  • Lowered beverage sale prices
  • Local hotels including the newly created Holiday Inn in Florence, AZ are completely sold-out
  • Main stage concert performances will be off-stage by 10:30pm to allow families to enjoy the full event without staying out too late
  • A second - late-night – stage has been added, with a dance floor, to allow younger and late-night fans to stay and enjoy more country music
Troy and Neal will discuss how the new fresh approach to music event promotion and sales has turned the industry on its ear – sparking curiosity amongst sponsors and other entertainment buyers alike.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Imperial Sugar Updates Port Wentworth Rebuild Project

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Imperial Sugar Company (NASDAQ:IPSU) provided an update on the project to rebuild its Port Wentworth, Georgia refinery which was extensively damaged in an explosion and fire in February 2008. The Company reported that through February 28, 2009, it had spent approximately $44 million of the estimated $200 million to $220 million construction costs.

The Company’s property insurance policy provides coverage for construction replacement cost, as well as business interruption and certain payroll and other costs. Through February 28, 2009, the Company had received $125 million of advances under the property insurance policy, which are not identified with any specific coverage under the policy.

As previously announced, Imperial expects to begin producing granulated bulk sugar at the facility in the spring of 2009, and complete restoration of the packaging capabilities by the fall of 2009. Additionally, at February 28, 2009, the Company reported it had cash balances of $40 million and had available, undrawn revolving credit capacity of $50 million, after deducting $30 million of outstanding borrowings under that facility.

John Sheptor, Imperial’s President and CEO said, “We are pleased with the progress of the rebuild project. The foundation of the new silos was completed in February and substantial portions of the structural steel, walls, ceilings and floors for the packaging and administrative buildings have been erected. The new drying granulator for the refinery has been installed and other repairs to damaged areas are significantly advanced. All major equipment has been ordered and is being expedited by suppliers. Productive discussions with representatives of our insurance companies continue, and an additional $15 million of advances were received in February. Our customers continue to be very supportive and look forward, as we do, to the Port Wentworth refinery coming back on line.”

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Wheego Begins Taking Electric Car Orders

/PRNewswire/ -- WHEEGO ELECTRIC CARS, a division of RTEV, Inc., one of the first companies to deliver a full line of recreational and street electric LSVs (Low Speed Vehicles), has announced that it is taking reservations for its first car, the Wheego Whip, which will begin shipping in May.

"Last week we announced that we are taking applications for Wheego dealerships, and we were pleasantly surprised at how many inquiries we received directly from customers who are ready to buy the car," said Jeff Boyd, President of Wheego. "As consumers make more green-conscious car buying decisions, the Wheego Whip has emerged at the forefront as an affordable all electric solution to the transportation needs of many consumers. The word has spread quickly on the Internet about the first customer-focused test drives of the Wheego Whip conducted in Ontario, CA in December, where there was unanimous praise for the car, and there are lots of people who want to be among the first to make a bold statement. The ensuing demand compelled us to use our website to take customer reservations for the car."

Joe Young from Palo Alto, CA was among the first to make an inquiry to buy a Wheego Whip, and exemplifies the passion that RTEV hopes to elicit from customers. Young explains, "I am a first grade teacher in the Palo Alto Unified School District, and I have always been interested in vehicles that are compact and good for the environment. Conservation and reducing our waste have always been efforts that I value and practice myself. As a first grade teacher I am always looking for ways to impress upon both my students, as well as my colleagues, these values, and by driving a Wheego Whip, I will do exactly that."

The Wheego Whip is a fully loaded two-passenger automobile with fit, finish and features that compete with any other subcompact car on the market. Remote keyless entry, air conditioning and an mp3 stereo system are standard equipment on the Whip. It retails for under $19,000, and it only costs about 3 cents per mile to operate. There is also a 10% Federal Tax credit on the purchase price of the car as a Low Speed Vehicle in 2009. When the Whip is eventually certified and sold as a full speed car, the Federal Tax credit will be $7,500.

"RTEV has employed a 'creep out' versus a 'leap out' launch strategy because I think the electric car industry has been somewhat tainted by credibility issues. Every week I see companies making outrageous claims regarding cars that are simply vaporware, or touting performance capabilities that are beyond the current realm of known physics. Because of this, we have been fairly quiet about our work on the Wheego the last two years, but it's time to share our success, albeit in a realistic fashion. The Whip is being launched as a Low Speed Vehicle with published performance specifications that comprehend real world driving expectations. Just because we can get single charge ranges of 60 miles on a dynamometer in optimal driving conditions doesn't mean that we should publish that as an expected performance parameter. It just sets up customers for a disappointing ownership experience. One of the core values of our company is to make commitments with care, and then live up to them. This philosophy extends to product claims. The Wheego Whip is our first electric car entry into the market, and as an LSV or MSV it has certain limitations. But for the properly educated consumer, it can be a wonderful solution to their driving needs. We are looking for customers who are not afraid of leading edge of technology, and in exchange for their pioneering spirit, we are going to offer some unique upgrade opportunities as technology evolves. It's time to pound the drum that not only do we have the best affordable electric car in the world, but we're setting a new standard in creating a relationship with our customers," said RTEV CEO Mike McQuary.

Wheego has announced several innovative programs to spur the launch of the Whip. Purchasers of the Wheego Whip will be able to upgrade their vehicles as new technology emerges. If you buy an LSV Wheego Whip with AGM batteries and, when available, want to upgrade to:

1. Lithium Ion Batteries - the cost to upgrade will only be the difference
between the net purchase price of your car and the MSRP of a new Whip
LSV with Lithium Ion batteries
2. A new full speed Wheego Whip - the trade in value of your LSV Whip will
be the net purchase price of your car less 2% for every month that you
have owned your car. And you will receive a $7,500 federal tax rebate
when you buy the full speed Whip.

There is also a referral program called the ""Wheego Friendzee" that pays a $250 cash rebate to both the new purchaser, and any owner who refers a new customer to Wheego.

"This is all part of our desire to create a community of customers that has a stake in the success of electric cars," continued McQuary, "buying the car is just the beginning of a relationship and a personal dialogue that we will have with our customers, where together we believe that we can make a significant contribution to the betterment of our lives."

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Career Expert Offers Eight Strategies to Help Layoff Survivors Rebound

/PRNewswire/ -- Many professionals have felt the shock of layoffs during these difficult times -- including those who kept their jobs. According to administrative staffing firm OfficeTeam, employees who survive corporate downsizings often must manage heavier workloads and stay motivated while worrying that their jobs could be eliminated next.

"It's natural for people to have mixed feelings about keeping their jobs when coworkers have been let go," said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "Layoff survivors often experience guilt about being the ones who stay while also working in an environment marked by uncertainty."

According to Hosking, professionals who are spared from layoffs should not pretend it's business as usual. "This is a time to work closely with your manager to ensure your workload reflects company priorities," he said. "Also, try to stay positive. This can be challenging, as losing good people inevitably affects morale, but the more you can do to lift the collective spirit, the better off you will be."

OfficeTeam offers these tips for rebounding after company layoffs:

1. Make yourself indispensable. Focus your efforts on projects that help
boost your firm's bottom line. Take courses to learn skills that allow
you to contribute in new ways.
2. Build visibility. In uncertain times, it's important to be noticed for
the right reasons. Volunteer for projects that no one wants to tackle
or that fall outside your job description. Also provide periodic
reports updating your supervisor on your achievements.
3. Adapt to change. Managers appreciate employees who can roll with the
punches and maintain productivity when faced with adversity.
Demonstrate your ability to stay positive, motivated and focused on
doing good work.
4. Conduct an audit. Now is the time to be nimble. Evaluate current
processes and offer suggestions for cutting costs or saving your
company time or resources.
5. Avoid the rumor mill. While increased water cooler chatter is
inevitable after layoffs, avoid contributing to the gossip. Also, don't
believe everything you hear. If you have questions about your company's
direction, ask your manager but understand he or she may not have all
the answers.
6. Be generous with praise. After downsizing, employees may begin to doubt
their abilities and question their own future with the company. If you
are a manager, you may not be in a position to make promises of job
security, but you can give direct reports positive feedback on their
performance in challenging times.
7. Reach out. Offer assistance to those who have experienced a job loss by
introducing them to your professional network and helping them with
their job search.
8. Look out for yourself. Layoff survivors often experience increased
workloads, which can lead to burnout. Talk to your manager about
setting priorities, delegating projects or bringing in temporary

Hosking noted that workers need to be aware of the realities of their organizations. "Those who think their job may be in jeopardy should focus on reactivating their professional networks, taking stock of their skills and accomplishments, and putting together a strong resume," he said.

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Target to Open Twenty-Seven New Stores

Two new stores open in Georgia!

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Target (NYSE:TGT) today announced the opening of 27 new stores including its first two locations in Hawaii. The new stores, which include 21 general merchandise Targets and six full-grocery SuperTargets, will hold a grand opening on Sunday, March 8.

General Merchandise Stores

The 21 new general merchandise stores feature a blend of everyday essentials including household products, electronics, clothing, an assortment of food and seasonal merchandise. These stores offer amenities such as a Starbucks®, Target Caf├ęSM, Target PharmacySM and Target PhotoSM. They also feature new and improved design layouts such as larger fitting rooms and the Pharmacy positioned at the front of the store. Each general merchandise store employs 150-250 team members and is approximately 128,000 square feet in size. Cities receiving a general merchandise store include:

Rogers, Ark.
Las Vegas, Nev.
Philadelphia, Pa.
Santa Clarita, Calif.
Paramus, N.J.
Memphis, Tenn.
Pensacola, Fla.
Cincinnati, Ohio
Houston, Texas
Bethlehem, Ga.
Lebanon, Ohio
San Antonio, Texas
Honolulu, Hawaii
Reynoldsburg, Ohio
San Marcos, Texas
Kapolei, Hawaii
Broken Arrow, Okla.
Midlothian, Va.
Council Bluffs, Iowa
Exton, Pa.
Sun Prairie, Wis.

SuperTarget Stores

The six new SuperTarget stores offer everything found in a general merchandise store, but also include amenities such as a full grocery selection, fresh produce, bakery and deli. Target also balances a wide range of national brands with its own Target brands like Sutton & Dodge™ Angus beef, Archer Farms™, Choxie™ and Market Pantry™. Each SuperTarget store employs 200-300 team members and is approximately 186,000 square feet in size.

Cities receiving a SuperTarget include:

Kissimmee, Fla.
Hillside, Ill.
Lewisville, Texas
Canton, Ga.
Allen, Texas
Pflugerville, Texas

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Atlanta CFOs Report on Second-Quarter Hiring Outlook

/PRNewswire/ -- Seven percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) in the Atlanta area expect to add accounting and finance staff during the second quarter of 2009 and 7 percent anticipate reductions in personnel, according to the most recent Robert Half International Financial Hiring Index. The majority of respondents, 85 percent, anticipate no change in hiring.

The local results reflect a two-quarter rolling average based on interviews with 200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in the Atlanta area with 20 or more employees; 1,400 CFOs were queried for the national data. (To view the national results, visit http://www.roberthalf.com/PressRoom.) The studies were conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, the world's first and largest staffing services firm specializing in accounting and finance. Robert Half has been tracking financial hiring activity in the United States since 1992.

"While many companies are maintaining current staffing levels, some are bringing in project professionals, including for senior-level positions, to ensure the completion of key initiatives and assist with rising workloads," said Andy Decker, regional vice president for Robert Half International in Atlanta. "Demand also persists for credit and collections and accounts receivable staff."

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Southeast Venture Conference Bringing $70 Billion in Investment Capital to Atlanta

/PRNewswire/ -- The 2009 Southeast Venture Conference scheduled for March 11-12th, 2009, at the Intercontinental Buckhead is bringing the largest Venture Capital and Private Equity event in Georgia history to Atlanta.

Forty showcase companies representing a wide array of technologies from around the Southeast will present to a national and regional audience representing over $70 billion in investment capital. Presenting companies range from late stage pre-IPO firms to earlier stage high growth firms. Nine of those showcase companies are based in Georgia.

In addition to presenting companies, the conference will feature over 50 prominent speakers and panelists, including venture capitalist heavyweight Tim Draper, founder and managing director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes Magazine; Chip Perry, president and CEO of AutoTrader.com; Governor Robert Ehrlich, Jr. of Maryland; and Robin Weiss, senior vice president of NYSE Euronext.

The nine companies representing Georgia at the Southeast Venture Conference are:

CRE Loaded - Atlanta, Georgia
EndoChoice - Atlanta, Georgia
Femasys - Suwanee, Georgia
FTRANS - Atlanta, Georgia
NanoLumens - Norcross, Georgia
Prenova - Marietta, Georgia
Purewire - Atlanta, Georgia
OpenSpan - Alpharetta, Georgia
TerraGo Technologies - Atlanta, Georgia

"Even more evident than in any time in modern history, our country and our region are depending on technology innovation to remain globally competitive," said Eric Gregg, executive director of the Southeast Venture Conference. "The SEVC showcase companies represent the drivers of the Southeast technology economy and are well on their way, having collectively already raised over half a billion in venture capital."

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