Friday, September 25, 2009

UPS Launches Global Initiative to Improve Disaster Response

(BUSINESS WIRE)--UPS (NYSE:UPS) today announced a multi-year, multi-million-dollar initiative to improve the capabilities of relief organizations to respond to global emergencies.

The effort, which will involve both UPS and The UPS Foundation, begins with a commitment of up to $9 million over the next two years in the form of substantial financial grants, in-kind services and the deployment of logistics expertise. The commitment will support some of the world’s most respected relief organizations, including the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, CARE and the Aidmatrix Foundation.

“This broad strategy for global disaster preparedness and response extends well beyond traditional financial support,” said Ken Sternad, president of The UPS Foundation. “We are combining our supply chain expertise, our assets and linking our key partners to enable more effective response to global emergencies.”

Hundreds of millions of lives are affected daily by natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. According to UNICEF, in the last decade an estimated 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes and more than 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families as a result of these tragedies. “If UPS can impact even a small percentage of these disasters that are happening daily somewhere around the world, this initiative will have been a success,” added Sternad.

UPS and The UPS Foundation announced the multi-faceted strategy at the Clinton Global Initiative’s (CGI) 2009 Annual Meeting today, where the company was recognized for its CGI “Commitment to Action.”

In launching the initiative, UPS and The UPS Foundation announced major donations to organizations committed to disaster preparedness and relief. They include:

* A $500,000 cash and in-kind donation to the American Red Cross to provide logistics, shipping and warehouse support, enabling the Red Cross to strategically preposition supplies to more effectively respond to the needs of those affected by disasters.
* A two-year, $1 million commitment to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, including a grant to strengthen UNICEF’s emergency response capacity for its disaster preparedness program in the Asia-Pacific region. That program is particularly designed to protect the 580 million children who live there. Separately, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF recently announced that Dan Brutto, president of UPS International, had joined its Board of Directors.
* Collaboration support for CARE and Aidmatrix to establish integrated and standardized supply chain management systems. The UPS Foundation is supporting CARE with a $250,000 cash grant for the use of Aidmatrix technology that will enhance CARE’s ability to track relief supplies and the hiring of a logistics professional to manage CARE’s global supply chain. Also, UPS logistics experts are on the ground to help implement these improvements.
* Expansion of the UPS commitment to the Logistics Emergency Teams (LETs) initiative that provides logistics experts to the World Food Programme. LETs operate in support of the United Nations Logistics cluster following natural disasters and consist of logistics experts who deploy within 48-to-72 hours for three-to-six weeks in the aftermath of major natural disasters. Twenty UPS employees will be trained and available globally as LETs responders.
* A $250,000 grant to Aidmatrix to help fund the international expansion of the organization’s transportation aid relief program. UPS is matching this grant with $250,000 in donated transportation.
* A $50,000 grant to Safe America for its program encouraging American families to conduct “communication drills” and other activities as part of an annual rehearsal for a natural disaster or emergency.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Al Calhoun Rejoins Hodges Ward Elliott as Senior Managing Director, Select Service Division

Hodges Ward Elliott, Inc. (HWE), the nation’s premier hotel brokerage and investment banking firm, today announced that Al Calhoun has rejoined the firm as senior managing director, select service division.

“Our relationship with Al goes back nearly two decades, and it is a delight to welcome him back to our firm after a nine-year sabbatical,” said Mark Elliott, principal of Hodges Ward Elliott. “His experience in the select service segment is unparalleled, and he adds tremendous depth to our 10-person select service team. Combined with our full-service and Europe divisions, we now have the deepest and most experienced hotel transaction team in the industry.”

In his new role, he will be responsible for leading and growing HWE’s select service division, including brokerage, investment and advisory services. He will work closely with Anthony Falor, who will remain managing director of the select service division. HWE has closed more than $2 billion in select service transactions in the past five years. Select service currently represents approximately 30 percent of HWE’s transaction volume.

Calhoun has nearly 30 years experience in the hotel industry. He began his career in hotel development and held corporate positions with both Marriott International, Inc. and Choice Hotels International. He joined HWE in 1991 as a select service hotel specialist and left to form Thompson Calhoun Fair in 2000, which was subsequently acquired by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels in 2005.

An expert in both single asset and portfolio transactions and advisement, Calhoun has personally been involved in more than 500 hotel transactions. In his career, he has represented the vast majority of major hotel ownership groups in their select service hotel transactions.

“Select service transactions, especially those under $10 million, are getting done and financing is available,” Calhoun said. “However, transactions have to be more solidly structured, and pre-existing relationships with lenders are critical. HWE has long-standing relationships with everyone from local and regional banks to institutional lenders, which greatly assists us in completing transactions.

“We expect to see a steady rise in select service transactions over the next 12 to 36 months with portfolios coming to market at a much faster pace than in the past two years,” he noted. “Based on previous cycle experience and the amount of valuation inquiries we are receiving, deal flow is beginning to gain momentum.”

Calhoun is a member of the CCIM Institute and the American Hotel and Lodging Association. He is a graduate of Georgia State University and has published post graduate research.

Hodges Ward Elliott is world renowned for representing hotel asset and real estate investment opportunities spanning all categories and markets. HWE is consistently ranked the leading hotel brokerage and investment firm with greater than 30 percent market share of hotel transactions, according to independent outside sources. Since 1990, HWE has structured the sale of more than 1,500 hotels, totaling over 300,000 rooms and $33 billion of lodging transactions.
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Federal Court Bars Georgia Man & Tax Preparation Businesses From Preparing Returns

/PRNewswire/ -- A federal court has permanently barred Wayne Perry, a Macon, Ga., man, and his tax preparation firms, Premier Choice Inc. and Perry Tax Services, from preparing federal tax returns, the Justice Department announced today. Perry agreed to the injunction.

The government's complaint alleged that Perry fraudulently claimed fuel tax credits for customers who were not entitled to them. The fuel tax credit is available only to taxpayers who operate farm equipment or off-highway business vehicles. Perry allegedly claimed absurdly large credits by falsely reporting purchases of huge quantities of gasoline where, in most cases, the cost of the gasoline was greater than the customers' annual income. Perry had prepared over 6,300 federal tax returns since 2004, according to the government.

Fuel credit scams were on last year's IRS list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. In the past few years the Justice Department has obtained injunctions shutting down many tax preparers who claim the phony credits on customers' returns.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Nomination Guidelines for SBA 2010 Awards

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking nominations for the 2010 Georgia Small Business Person of the Year and Small Business Champion awards.

Each year since 1963, the President of the United States has designated a National Small Business Week. The highlight of Small Business Week activities is the presentation of awards at the state and national levels. The 2010 Small Business Week celebration next year will honor the small business community's many contributions to the American economy and society. National Small Business Week will be observed May 23 – 29, 2010.

“You can be part of this celebration by nominating an outstanding small business owner or small business champion in your community for one of these awards,” said SBA Georgia District Director Terri Denison.

In Georgia, the SBA District Office selects the state’s 2010 Small Business Person of the Year. That individual will attend the national celebration in Washington, DC to compete for the National Small Business Person of the Year award. At this celebration, a national winner is selected from all the winners from across the country. Scott Blackstock, President of Tidal Wave Auto Spa of Thomaston, won the honor in 2009.

Small Business Champions of the Year award categories are for those who promote small business, including volunteering time and services to small business interests and groups. Champions may or may not be small business owners. Award categories include:

Minority Small Business Champion
Veteran Small Business Champion
Financial Services Champion
Home-Based Business Champion
Women in Business Champion
Small Business Exporter of the Year
Jeffrey Butland Award for Family-Owned Small Business of the Year
SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year

Nomination packages must be received at the Georgia District Office in Atlanta on or before Friday, November 13, 2009. To find nomination guidelines and information for these and other awards visit the SBA Georgia web site: Look under “Spotlight.”

Nominations may be mailed to Jim Hightower, Public Affairs, SBA Georgia District Office, 233 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 1900, Atlanta, GA 30303.
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HBCU Alum and Branding Guru Selected to Appear on Tom Joyner Morning Show

LaVon Lewis to Speak on Benefit of Attending an HBCU for Building His Business

Branding guru and Chief Cre8ive Officer of Pencilworx Design Group, LaVon Lewis, will appear on the nationally-syndicated radio program, the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Twenty-nine year old Lewis was invited on the program as part of the show’s tribute to historically black colleges and universities (HBCU). Lewis will speak on how his decision to attend the HBCU, Alabama A&M, has played a role in his success as an entrepreneur today.

“I’m privileged to have been selected by Alabama A&M to represent the university as a distinguished alumnus on the Tom Joyner Morning Show,” said Lewis. “I started my business in my college dorm room at A&M and even landed my first client on that campus. It’s quite an honor that my accomplishments thus far as an entrepreneur can be a source of inspiration and an example of what an HBCU can offer young people.”

Lewis has won over 40 awards for his work in the marketing and graphic design industry. Recently he was named the Atlanta Regional Minority Technology Firm of the Year by the U.S Department of Commerce. He frequently hosts seminars based on tips from his how-to book on small business branding, “Today is a Great Day for a WOW Image.” Over the years Lewis has accumulated a prestigious roster of clients including Focus Brands (Cinnabon, Schlotzkys Deli, etc.) Atlanta mega church Newbirth, gospel musician Marvin Winans Jr., InterContinental Hotel Group, and many more.

The Tom Joyner Morning Show features hosts Tom Joyner, Sybil Wilkes, J. Anthony Brown, Ms. Dupre and Myra J. for four hours of news, comedy, music and more every weekday morning. The program weaves together an upbeat, energetic and laugh-filled show with the celebrity guest appearances (among them: Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes, Babyface, Seal and Oprah Winfrey), a radio soap opera (It's Your World) and the frequent call-ins from listeners.
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Can Companies Maintain Quality as They Cut Costs?

This week, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke announced that the "recession is very likely over." While there are indicators to suggest the American economy is in recovery, executives at most companies are still grappling with ways to manage costs.

Indeed cutting jobs continues to be a leading method companies use to prop up their bottom line. In August, economic concerns prompted businesses to shed a net 216,000 jobs, driving the national unemployment rate up to 9.7% last month, according to the latest U.S. Department of Labor report.

But is cutting human capital always the best option? Faculty at Emory University and its Goizueta Business School say indiscriminate cuts can yield unintended consequences over the long term, and add that trimming away expenses instead of hacking at them may be a better strategy.

“The steps that companies should be taking during this recession are different from what they usually actually do,” warns Al Hartgraves, a professor of accounting at Goizueta. “Often, they reduce spending in training, maintenance, advertising and other discretionary cost areas just because it’s easier to cut in these areas. That may help profitability in the short term but it may hurt in the long term. Another common solution is an egalitarian approach where each department is required to cut its budget by a fixed percentage.”

But a better alternative is a “zero-based” approach, a sort of clean-slate strategy where each department has to justify and prioritize every component of its budget, he says.

“The advantage is that a zero-based approach adds transparency to the process and may help to highlight the essential costs and benefits of different functions,” Hartgraves explains. “Zero-based budgeting can help management to zero in on strategies that might have made sense during the boom times but are now dragging down earnings.”

Another important issue involves analyzing fixed costs to current revenues, he notes.

“During the boom years when companies expected to continue their growth curve, many firms increased their manufacturing, storage, distribution and other capacity,” Hartgraves says. “But in a downturn, the underutilized assets may have an outsized negative effect on the bottom line. [To counter this,] it may be a good time to dispose of machinery and equipment, buildings and other fixed assets that are older or less productive, thereby lowering their break-even point. When the economy rebounds, those assets can be replaced with newer, more productive assets.”

For decades, companies in trouble have first turned to downsizing, reducing human capital and operations in terms of the number of products and services offered, notes Shawn Davis, a visiting assistant professor of accounting at Goizueta. “However, in times of recession companies should proceed with caution,” she says. “To begin with, businesses should engage in activity-based costing and management: effectively evaluating their core operations and core projected operations to identify and eliminate non-value-added activities and costs.”

Non-value-added activities are operations that are either unnecessary or inefficient, Davis explains. “As such, they’re dispensable and their removal will not affect the quality, performance, and perceived value of the company’s main products and services.”

Externally, a firm also should conduct customer-profitability analysis to determine the activities, costs and profit associated with individual customers, according to Davis. “Companies are likely to make better decisions about customer service if they have a good understanding of which customers are generating the greatest profit,” Davis explains. “Cost-cutting strategies that result in the loss of a profitable customer would weaken, not improve, the company's position. As such, this profitability analysis would better help companies determine where to devote its limited resources in serving customers.”

Davis also says it’s not uncommon for companies to take an axe to research and development efforts in tough times. But they should proceed with caution, she adds.

“R&D tends to be a primary target when cutting costs is underway because these efforts generally do not provide immediate returns,” she says. “The key here is for companies to instead review their R&D efforts and weed out the ones that have the least long-term potential.”

Firms are better served if they forge ahead with efforts that offer a high pay-off expectation, she adds.

“Moreover, statistics indicate that companies that spend more on innovation during a downturn fair much better and get a higher return on capital in a recovery compared to ones that use a downturn as an excuse to scrimp on R&D.”

Quick-thinking firms may even find opportunities in a recession, according to Charles F. Goetz, an adjunct professor of organization and management and a distinguished lecturer in entrepreneurship at Goizueta.

“During a tough economy, many companies scale back their activity,” Goetz notes. “But a business that can invest in its operations may be able to expand its market share.”

Meanwhile, he says, all companies should be looking for ways to cut waste from their operations.

“You have to cut costs in a way that’s appropriate for your individual circumstances,” Goetz cautions. “Let’s say you’ve got a service-based business that rarely brings clients back to its home base. In that case, you may be able to jettison some office space—saving the outlay of lease costs—and perhaps have your people work from home.”

Healthcare and travel costs also represent cash drains that may be addressed and reduced.

“Outsourcing your employees, through professional employer organizations (PEO), may save money,” Goetz says. “Besides taking care of administrative tasks, PEOs may be able to group together large numbers of small business workers under a single PEO umbrella and offer more leverage when it comes to negotiating healthcare coverage.”

Businesses also should reconsider their inventory order processes and such mundane matters as travel policies, he says.

”If your company maintains inventories of items, can you reduce your stock of goods?” Goetz asks. “Consider analyzing your inventory levels to see if you can maintain a leaner volume of goods, and see if you can negotiate with your suppliers for discounts, longer payment periods, or both. Additionally, try to convert fixed costs to variable costs that more closely track your sales by taking such steps as outsourcing more processes and leasing your equipment instead of buying it.”

If a business’s owners decide they need to cut salaries to survive, it is important to consider the psychological impact as well as the financial impact, Goetz notes.

“Make sure that top management is also taking a cut in salary, and it may be a good idea for the owners to take an even larger percentage cut,” he says. “Let the employees know that management is sharing the pain; otherwise you’ll have disgruntled employees who may hesitate to put much effort unto their jobs.”

One of the simplest and least painful ways to cut costs involves eliminating unnecessary product lines, or SKUs [stock keeping units], according to Jagdish Sheth, a chaired professor of marketing at Goizueta. The problem is that many companies focus on the wrong attributes when they pursue this strategy, he says.

“When companies reexamine their SKUs, they frequently focus on the cost of production, but ignore vital issues like logistics and storage costs,” he explains. “They also need to execute a thorough profitability analysis to determine if they’re carrying too many lines of products.”

As an example, Sheth cites consumer products companies that may produce multiple varieties of toothpaste and shampoos, manufacturers that make a wide range of appliances that serve similar functions with minimal differentiating characteristics, or flavor and fragrance firms that make a wide variety of flavors and fragrances that are essentially variations on a few central themes.

“Along with too many SKUs, companies with multiple product lines tend to lose sight of their individual products’ profit margins,” he cautions. “The aggregate business may be profitable, but a close examination may reveal that certain product lines are operating at a loss and are being subsidized by other, successful ones.”

“In a slow economy, it may not be advisable to keep carrying the laggards,” he counsels. “This may be the time to jettison the unprofitable lines unless there are compelling reasons to keep carrying them.”

The challenge has been compounded by the trend of “bundling,” or offering a variety of services (or occasionally goods) at a discounted price. One example is automobile companies that offer option packages, or suites of add-on configurations, like a larger engine, a specific transmission and perhaps an upgraded sound system. Another example is cable companies that offer bundled telephone, Internet and television packages that cost less than the total of the individual services purchased separately.

“For a long time, bundling was seen as a positive move since it enabled a company to get more of a customer’s business,” Sheth says. “The disadvantage is that it can mask cross-subsidies that may actually eat into a business’s profit.”

Firms should review their customers to determine if too many resources are being devoted to clients that are minimally profitable, Sheth adds.

“Some of the larger food production companies will service their bigger customers directly from company-controlled distribution centers,” he says. “But their smaller or less profitable accounts could be outsourced to third-party logistics companies that can still turn a profit with the smaller client companies.”

In some cases, it simply may not be worthwhile to keep a customer, Sheth adds.

“An effective analysis will utilize activity-based costing to allocate all of the related costs, including transportation and other overhead, by each customer,” he explains.

“Companies often overlook costs like vendor management and support activities including accounting, finance and procurement that are tied to specific customers but are not accounted for. Even worse, some of these overhead support systems may be unique to the customer, instead of being performed as part of a centralized department that can at least deliver economies of scale,” he says.

Analyzed like this, it is not unusual for some companies to find that 80 percent of their profits are generated by 20 percent of their customers, adds Sheth.

“If you discover this is the case, then some tough decisions may have to be made,” he says. “We’re already seeing this in some service firms, like accountants and lawyers who set up new offices or expand existing ones to make it easier to service a key account, only to shut down the new locations after discovering that the marginal growth did not yield the anticipated profits.”

At a time when the economy is spurring companies to reduce costs, executives must remember to balance expense reduction and quality, Sheth warns.

“Keep in mind that good service tends to increase revenue, so don’t compromise on quality,” he said. “On the other hand, bureaucracy and other inefficiencies hurt your bottom line. So be sure to keep your priorities in order as you seek to improve your operations.”

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Tennis Star Melanie Oudin Joins the AirTran Airways Team

/PRNewswirel/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AAI) , announced today its partnership with U.S. Open quarterfinalist and Marietta, Ga., resident Melanie Oudin. The 17-year-old sensation has become the newest team member on the low-cost carrier's roster of sports endorsers and will be featured in radio spots and state-of-the-art, high-impact billboards in Atlanta, where AirTran is the second largest carrier, and in other markets throughout the carrier's coast-to-coast network.

"Melanie Oudin has quickly become a household name in the world of tennis, and we are so proud of her accomplishments both on and off the court," said Tad Hutcheson, AirTran Airways' vice president of marketing and sales. "Melanie joins a great lineup of celebrity endorsers including Indy Racing Star Danica Patrick, Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Matt Ryan, Atlanta Thrasher Ilya Kovalchuk and Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning just to name just a few."

Oudin is currently ranked number 44 in the world on the Sony Ericsson WTA Singles Tour and, appearing in only her second U.S. Open, recently topped seeded players Elena Dementieva (#4), Maria Sharapova (#29) and Nadia Petrova (#13) before being eliminated in the quarterfinals. Oudin was the youngest quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open since Serena Williams' appearance in 1999, and is now the third highest ranked American singles player behind Serena and Venus Williams.

"I am thrilled to have AirTran as a partner as I strive to reach my goals as a professional tennis player," commented Melanie Oudin. "It means so much to me that a local company is supporting me and I am truly excited about this partnership."

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

U.S. Labor Department proposes exemption to allow new health plan for General Motors retirees to acquire company securities

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) today announced a proposed exemption that, if granted, would allow the General Motors Co. (GM) to transfer company securities including common stock, preferred stock and a $2.5 billion promissory note, to a health plan established for the company's retirees. The retiree health plan will cover approximately 700,000 retirees and dependents when it becomes effective on Dec. 31, 2009.

GM is the successor company that purchased substantially all of the assets of General Motors Corp. (the old GM), which filed for bankruptcy on June 1, 2009. GM is headquartered in Detroit, Mich.

The large transfer of employer securities to the plan violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). ERISA prohibits certain plans from holding large percentages of plan assets in the form of employer securities. The law gives the department authority, however, to grant exemptions that protect the interests of plan participants and beneficiaries.

The exemption would allow the securities transfer, permit GM and its health plans to reimburse each other for benefit payments mistakenly paid by the wrong entity during the transition to the new plan, and permit GM to recover mistaken deposits to the plan.

A major condition of the proposal is the appointment of an independent fiduciary to represent the plan with regard to GM securities transactions. The independent fiduciary will determine in advance of taking any action regarding the securities that the action is in the interests of the plan and its participants and beneficiaries. The proposed exemption also requires the review of benefit payments by an independent third party administrator and auditor for each of the plans and an objective dispute resolution process. In addition, the proposal set time limits for return of mistaken deposits and an objective dispute resolution process.

The proposed exemption is scheduled to be published in the Sept. 18, 2009, edition of the Federal Register. Comments on the proposal and any requests for a public hearing should be submitted to or by fax to 202-219-0204. Paper-based comments should be sent to the Office of Exemption Determinations, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5700, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, Attention: Application Number L-11568.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Delta Air Lines Announces Proposed Private Debt Offering

/PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) today announced that it is planning a private offering of $500 million in aggregate principal amount of senior secured notes due 2014. Delta intends to use the net proceeds of this offering, together with initial borrowings under its proposed new senior secured credit facilities, to repay all outstanding borrowings under Northwest's senior corporate credit facility and to use any remaining net proceeds for general corporate purposes.

The notes will be secured by Delta's Pacific route authorities, slots and gate leaseholds. These assets will also constitute the collateral for the company's new senior secured credit facilities.

This press release is neither an offer to sell nor the solicitation of an offer to buy the notes or any other securities. The notes have not been registered under the Securities Act and may not be offered or sold in the United States without registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements.

The notes will be offered in the United States only to qualified institutional buyers in reliance on Rule 144A under the Securities Act and outside the United States in reliance on Regulation S under the Securities Act. The notes have not been registered under the Securities Act and may not be offered or sold in the United States without registration or an applicable exemption from the registration requirements.

Forward Looking Statements

Statements in this news release that are not historical facts, including statements regarding our estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections or strategies for the future, may be "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All forward-looking statements involve a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the estimates, expectations, beliefs, intentions, projections and strategies reflected in or suggested by the forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the cost of aircraft fuel; the effects of the global recession; the effects of the global financial crisis; the impact of posting collateral in connection with our fuel hedge contracts; the impact that our indebtedness may have on our financial and operating activities and our ability to incur additional debt; the restrictions that financial covenants in our financing agreements will have on our financial and business operations; labor issues; the ability to realize the anticipated benefits of our merger with Northwest; the integration of the Delta and Northwest workforces; interruptions or disruptions in service at one of our hub airports; our increasing dependence on technology in its operations; our ability to retain management and key employees; the ability of our credit card processors to take significant holdbacks in certain circumstances; the effects of terrorist attacks; the impact of the rapid spread of contagious illnesses; and competitive conditions in the airline industry.

Additional information concerning risks and uncertainties that could cause differences between actual results and forward-looking statements is contained in our Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008 and Form 10-Q for the quarterly period ended June 30, 2009. Caution should be taken not to place undue reliance on our forward-looking statements, which represent our views only as of September 16, 2009, and which we have no current intention to update.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Shaw Expansion Brings Up to 200 New Jobs to Calhoun

Longtime Georgia manufacturer to re-commission idled facility

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Shaw Industries Group, Inc., will expand its manufacturing operations in Calhoun, creating up to 200 new jobs.
“It’s great news for Georgia that one of our longtime manufacturers is planning for future growth in the state,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “It is a testament to the strength of our workforce and infrastructure that, even during this economic downturn, Shaw still finds Georgia the best place to invest in its future.”

Shaw plans an overall expansion of operations within its carpet division and will occupy its formerly idled facility in Calhoun, investing in equipment and infrastructure to increase the company’s capacity to process filament yarn, which is used in residential carpet products. Shaw expects the facility’s expansion to be completed by mid-2010, in time to meet customer demand and to allow for future growth in this segment of its business.

“Our commitment to our customers and future growth drives our long-range planning,” said Vance Bell, Shaw Industries CEO. "This expansion of operations, which is located in a community and state we’ve had great experiences with, will give us the best competitive advantage and position for the long term.”

Georgia’s top-ranked Quick Start program will provide customized workforce training as a key part of the state’s support for Shaw’s expansion. Since 1967, Georgia Quick Start has delivered nearly 6,000 training projects helping qualified companies assess, select and train employees for successful startups and expansions.

Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Regional Project Manager Brooks Mathis assisted the company with its location, as did the Development Authority of Gordon County.

“We appreciate the investment and the large number of jobs that will be created in our community. The team effort put together by our local representatives, the State of Georgia and Shaw Industries has made this project possible. The future is bright because of the partnership we have with Shaw,” said Larry Roye, Chairman of the Development Authority of Gordon County.

Previous Shaw employees in the community who have been displaced over the past few months due to economic conditions will be given the first opportunity to fill the new positions.

About Shaw Industries Group

Shaw Industries Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., is the world’s largest carpet manufacturer and a leading floor covering provider with $5 billion in annual sales and approximately 26,000 associates. Headquartered in Dalton, Ga., the company manufactures and distributes carpeting, rugs, hardwood, laminate and ceramic tile for residential and commercial applications worldwide. A recognized leader in environmental stewardship, Shaw has implemented hundreds of sustainability initiatives and cradle to cradle design solutions, collectively termed the Shaw Green Edge. For more information, visit
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Issue to watch: China Moves to Retaliate Against U.S. Tire Tariff

Saw a little bit about this yesterday on Fox News. Interesting in a number of ways... China is backing a lot of our dollars right now, plus we buy a lot of their products and vice versa. Is Obama going to back down under pressure? Is this something Obama's White House plans to do more often? Is this something Obama plans to continue to do just for the unions or will it be universal? What are the long-term implications of the tariffs (on both sides of the world). I'd suggest, if you're interested, that you do a search and read an assortment of articles. - Editor

The following is from the New York Times:

China Moves to Retaliate Against U.S. Tire Tariff

HONG KONG — China unexpectedly increased pressure Sunday on the United States in a widening trade dispute, taking the first steps toward imposing tariffs on American exports of automotive products and chicken meat in retaliation for President Obama’s decision late Friday to levy tariffs on tires from China...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

72 Stites & Harbison Attorneys Honored in “Best Lawyers in America"

Two honored from Atlanta office

Stites & Harbison announced today that 72 of its attorneys were recently selected by their peers for their work in 33 areas of practice in The Best Lawyers in America® 2010. Two of the attorneys honored are based in the Atlanta office. Those two attorneys, with their practice areas, include:

R. Daniel Douglass
Construction Law

J. D. Humphries, III
Construction Law

“The recognition we have received from Best Lawyers validates our firm-wide commitment to providing the best level of service possible to our clients,” said Kennedy Helm III, managing partner of Stites & Harbison, PLLC.

The Best Lawyers in America® is a nationally recognized referral guide to the legal profession that has been published biennially since 1983. Attorneys selected for the publication are reviewed by professional peers through an extensive survey.

About Stites & Harbison
Stites & Harbison, PLLC, is a regional business and litigation firm with attorneys in Atlanta; Alexandria, Va.; Jeffersonville, Ind.; Louisville, Frankfort and Lexington, Ky.; and Nashville and Franklin, Tenn. Tracing its origins to 1832, Stites & Harbison is one of the oldest law practices in the nation and among the largest law firms in the Southeast. Our attorneys are consistently recognized by their peers in the following leading legal directories: Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory®, The Best Lawyers in America®, Chambers USA and Super Lawyers magazine. Recent firm honors include being named: one of the 50 Best Overall Law Firms in America (Global Research), one of the Leading Law Firms in America (The American Lawyer), a Go-To Law Firm® (Corporate Counsel), one of the Top 100 Law Firms for Diversity (MultiCultural Law Magazine) and a Top 10 Growth Firm (National Law Journal).
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Hunter Realty Associates, Inc. Names Gary C. Mills Vice President

Will Oversee Brokerage Operations of Newly Opened Dallas Office

Officials from Hunter Realty Associates, Inc., a leading national hotel investment services firm, today announced that Gary C. Mills has joined the company as vice president. A Dallas, Texas resident, he will oversee the brokerage operations of the firm’s new Dallas office.

“As our brokerage service continues to grow, we continue to seek out the best talent in key markets to help establish our expertise in new locations,” said Teague Hunter, president of Hunter Realty Associates, Inc. “Gary brings with him more than three decades of hospitality industry experience in numerous markets across multiple segments. Particularly with his longstanding local reputation and knowledge, he is an ideal choice to spearhead our planned growth in the Southwest.”

Mills spent more than 18 years with Hilton Hotels leading their development efforts in the Southwest U.S. With over thirty years experience in the hotel industry, he has orchestrated strategies to develop, own, acquire, improve and dispose of hotel assets. Additional industry experience includes founding a hotel development company, as well as holding senior management positions at Westmont Hospitality, John Q Hammons, Holiday Inn, Laventhol & Horwath and Compri Hotels. Mills received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa.

About Hunter Realty Associates, Inc.
Hunter Realty Associates, Inc., founded in 1978, has offices in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis, Minn. The firm’s exclusive focus is in hotel brokerage and financing. For more information or to view current listings, please visit or contact the company at 770-916-0300 in Atlanta, 301-215-7507 in Washington, D.C. or 952-837-6207 in Minneapolis.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Department of Justice Will Not Challenge Hospitals' Joint Purchasing Agreement

/PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice announced today that it will not challenge a proposal by Memorial Health Inc. (Memorial), and St. Joseph's/Candler Health System (St. Joseph's/Candler) to enter an exclusive joint purchasing agreement with respect to the purchase of certain medical and surgical supplies. The Department said that the proposed joint purchasing agreement may yield volume discounts and reduced transaction costs for the hospitals and ultimately could result in lower costs and increased hospital services for consumers.

Under the proposed agreement, Memorial and St. Joseph's/Candler would jointly evaluate medical and surgical products, designate suppliers and negotiate prices and other terms with them.

Memorial and St. Joseph's/Candler are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that own acute tertiary care hospitals in Savannah, Ga., that serve Southeast Georgia and the low-country area of South Carolina. Memorial owns and operates the Memorial Health University Medical Center. St. Joseph's/Candler owns and operates St. Joseph's Hospital and Candler Hospital.

The Department determined that the proposal meets the requirements of the antitrust safety zone set forth in Statement 7 of the Department's and Federal Trade Commission's Statements of Antitrust Enforcement Policy in Health Care. The safety zone requires that the cost of all products purchased through the joint purchasing agreement account for less than 20 percent of the total revenue of all products and services sold by each participant in the agreement. It also requires that products purchased through the joint purchasing agreement from a given supplier account for less than 35 percent of that suppliers' sale of those products in the relevant market. Memorial and St. Joseph's/Candler represented that they will abide by these limitations.

Under the Department's business review procedure, an organization may submit a proposed action to the Antitrust Division and receive a statement as to whether the Division currently intends to challenge the action under the antitrust laws.

A file containing the business review request and the Department's response may be examined in the Antitrust Documents Group of the Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 Fifth Street, N.W., Suite 1010, Washington, D.C. 20530. After a 30-day waiting period, the documents supporting the business review will be added to the file, unless a basis for their exclusion for reasons of confidentiality has been established under the Business Review Procedure.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Seven Georgia Counties Reach Certified Work Ready Community Status

Creating skilled workforce, improving public high school graduation rates

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced seven new Certified Work Ready Communities, a designation showing the county has the skilled workforce businesses demand and the educational infrastructure to drive economic growth and prosperity.

“By becoming Work Ready these communities are positioning themselves for future growth,” said Governor Perdue. “The communities are building the skilled workforce that employers rely on to succeed and grow.”

Barrow, Bleckley, Catoosa, McDuffie, Pike and Ware counties were named Certified Work Ready Communities of Excellence. Brooks County has been named a Certified Work Ready Community. These counties represent the sixth group to complete their Work Ready Certificate goals and have successfully met at least the required minimum increase in their county’s public high school graduation rate.

The new Certified Work Ready Communities achieved the following:

- Barrow County: 866 Work Ready Certificates earned (33 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 69 percent to 75.5 percent
- Bleckley County: 533 Work Ready Certificates earned (118 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 72.1 percent to 82.6 percent
- Brooks County: 424 Work Ready Certificates earned (95 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 50.5 percent to 63.3 percent
- Catoosa County: 860 Work Ready Certificates earned (25 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 70.9 percent to 76.2 percent
- McDuffie County: 869 Work Ready Certificates earned (164 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 72.7 percent to 77.6 percent
- Pike County: 507 Work Ready Certificates earned (121 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 76.4 percent to 80.2 percent
- Ware County: 1,147 Work Ready Certificates earned (102 percent above goal); increased high school graduation rate from 62.6 percent to 76.6 percent

To earn the Certified Work Ready Community designation, counties must demonstrate a commitment to improving public high school graduation rates through a measurable increase, and show a specified percentage of the available and current workforce have obtained Work Ready Certificates.

Each community created a team of economic development, government and education partners to meet the certification criteria. Counties are given three years to reach the goals necessary to earn the designation. One additional county – Berrien County – has met its Work Ready Certificate goal and continues to work to improve it high school graduation rate.

To date, 19 counties have earned the Certified Work Ready Community designation and 120 others are working toward their individual goals.

Once counties attain their Certified Work Ready Community goals, they are able to maintain their status by ensuring a small percent of their available workforce continue to earn Work Ready Certificates, engage local businesses to recognize and use Work Ready, and continue to increase their public high school graduation rate until they reach a threshold of 75 percent. Once they reach 75 percent, they must maintain that graduation rate to maintain their certification status.

To continue their work, each county will receive a $10,000 grant. Their Work Ready Community teams will also receive a two-year membership to their local chamber of commerce and a budget for additional Work Ready outreach materials. Counties that are fully certified receive road signs and a seal denoting the year they achieved certification.

Georgia’s Work Ready initiative is based on a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses. By identifying both the needs of business and the available skills of Georgia’s workforce, the state can more effectively generate the right talent for the right jobs. The Certified Work Ready Community initiative builds on the assessments and job profiling system to create opportunities for greater economic development.

For more information on the Work Ready initiative please visit the Web site at .
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Accounting Resources’ Alice Reeves Completes QuickBooks Certification to Help Local Small Businesses Better Manage Their Finances

Georgia Resident is Latest Accounting Professional to Join Nationally-recognized Group of Intuit QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors

Fayette County-based businesses looking for help with Intuit QuickBooks® accounting software can now get assistance from a local accounting professional. Alice Reeves of Accounting Resources in Fayetteville has completed Intuit’s coursework and examination and is now accredited as an official QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisor® for QuickBooks 2008 & 2009. Intuit is a leading provider of business and financial management solutions for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals.

Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors are independent accounting professionals and consultants who work with small businesses that have completed a comprehensive training curriculum developed by Intuit. Alice Reeves is now available to help local small businesses better manage their finances and prepare for tax reporting with specialized training, software installation and customization, as well as recommendations on QuickBooks add-ons that can benefit their businesses.

“Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors represent those professionals who have demonstrated not only their expertise in QuickBooks, but also their commitment to excellence,” said Jody Weir, Intuit’s manager of the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program.

“Our aim is to provide a level of service that goes beyond financial reporting,” says Alice Reeves. “We offer a combination of accounting and software expertise, along with the personal understanding that comes from being a part of the business community ourselves.”

About Accounting Resources
Accounting Resources is unique in their approach to accounting, offering individualized services. In additional to support and training for QuickBooks® they provide monthly write-up, check writing, payroll processing, preparation of sales tax returns and individual and corporate tax returns. Accounting Resources provides quality services at a fair price and in a timely manner. Contact them at 770-632-5562.

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