Tuesday, May 26, 2009

SMC³ Celebrates Tenth Annual “Varsity Day”

Community, government leaders and local businesses join SMC³ at its elegant new campus

SMC³, an industry association specializing in data services, technology tools and educational programs for the freight transportation industry, announces its celebration of two company milestones: the organization’s tenth anniversary as a Fayette community business and its recent completion of a campus environment developed for it and other local businesses to enjoy and grow within.

“We at SMC³ could not be more pleased with the choice made ten years ago to headquarter our business in Peachtree City,” commented Jack E. Middleton, SMC³ president and CEO. “The company’s annual “Varsity Day” event celebrates that success—our opportunity to show our long-term commitment to the community, and to be a good neighbor.”

Middleton also recalled the December 2008 completion of the company’s second local building, Commerce Pointe, which is adjacent to its corporate headquarters in the Commerce Center building. The addition of the new building has created a lush, wooded campus for SMC³ employees, as well as new and existing tenants, and “completes our vision set forth five years ago,” Middleton said.

Over 220 people attended yesterday’s tenth annual Varsity Day celebration, including members of the Peachtree City fire and police departments; SMC³ tenants, retirees and employees; and many friends of the company. Participants enjoyed a catered meal of Varsity restaurant mainstays, listened to entertainment from the band Timeless Highway, and used the opportunity to establish and reestablish personal and business relationships.

Peachtree City Mayor Harold Logsdon noted, “We’re just so proud of Jack. He’s got a successful business here, and we’re proud to have him in Peachtree City. We’re really proud of the company’s record first-quarter earnings in the economic downturn; that’s just a tribute to him, his leadership, and the entire SMC³ staff. And for him to make the investment in the new building says he’s confident in Peachtree City. And we’re confident in him.”

Since 1935, SMC³ has provided data, technology and education for the less-than-truckload (LTL) motor freight industry. SMC³’s customers include shippers, carriers, logistics service providers and freight payment companies. For more information about SMC³ and its products and services, visit www.smc3.com or call 770-486-5800. For information about space availability in the new Commerce Pointe building contact Quantum Commercial Real Estate at 770-486-8200 or visit www.quantumcre.com.
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Pliant Announces Expansion Plans for Dalton, GA Facility

/PRNewswire/ -- Harold Bevis, Chief Executive Officer of Pliant Corporation announced today that Pliant will be keeping the Dalton, GA manufacturing facility open, and in fact, has plans to upgrade and expand it. Stabilized markets, strong customer preference and local and state incentives led to this decision by Pliant.

"The city of Dalton, Dalton Utilities, Whitfield County and the Georgia Department of Economic Development have created a very appealing place to do business and grow. Governor Sonny Perdue's support of our expansion plans and the favorable manufacturing environment were instrumental in our decision. We envision the Dalton facility becoming a second Medical Center of Excellence to complement the Medical Center of Excellence under construction in Danville, Kentucky. Since the closure announcement in April, 2008, Dalton personnel have continued to operate safely, efficiently and professionally. We are very pleased to express our appreciation of that commitment, and we are now able to secure their future with Pliant," stated Mr. Bevis.

Pliant also operates 2 additional facilities in the state of Georgia, and is in the process of expanding their Washington facility in Wilkes County.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chrysler LLC Update Regarding Current Condition of Chrysler LLC Dealer Network

/PRNewswire/ -- The following are details on the current condition of Chrysler LLC dealer network.

Comments can be attributed to Steven J. Landry, Executive Vice President, North American Sales and Marketing, Service and Parts -- Chrysler LLC:

"The automotive industry cannot support the number of dealers currently in the marketplace. From 1990 until 2007, the industry averaged roughly 16 million new vehicles sold each year. In 2009, new vehicles sold are expected to be 10.5 million units.

"In 2008 Chrysler dealerships did not make a profit. The average loss was $3,184 per dealer.

"Chrysler is treating the rejected dealers fairly by assisting in the redistribution of remaining vehicle and parts inventory, paying incentive and warranty payments due.

"It was not an easy decision to ask the court to reject a portion of our dealer contracts, but the reality is Chrysler's viability depends on a vibrant, profitable dealer network. As presently configured, Chrysler's dealer network does not meet that test. If the sale to Fiat is not approved by the Bankruptcy Court, the stark reality is all 3,181 dealers will face elimination.

"The process to evaluate dealers was a thorough, rigorous process that used a data-driven metric that included the following factors:

-- Minimum Sales Responsibility
-- A scorecard that measured sales, share, shipments, customer
satisfaction index, service satisfaction index and warranty repair
-- Facility (capacity, Millennium II standards)
-- Location (optimum retail area)
-- Dual (Dealer is dualed with a competing manufacturer)
-- The market's total sales potential

"Under this plan, 2,392 dealers across the United States move forward with the new company. It doesn't mean that the 789 rejected dealers will close if this motion is approved by the Court:

-- 44 percent of the 789 "rejected" dealers are dualed with another
(competing) new vehicle franchise and can continue to sell those makes
of vehicles
-- 83 percent of the 789 "rejected" dealers sell more used than new
vehicles, many of these dealers will continue selling and servicing
pre-owned vehicles

"Chrysler began the process to consolidate dealerships and locate all three brands under one roof more than 10 years ago. The Company made the decision it was cost prohibitive to continue to manufacture and market overlapping products. Going forward, we will not do that, so it is critical the majority of our dealers offer customers all three brands under one roof."

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Georgia Collaboration Produces First Southeastern Center Focused on Developing Medical Devices

Global Center for Medical Innovation to support growth of medical device, technology industry

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that four of Georgia’s leading research and health care organizations have joined together to create an innovative new center that will accelerate the development and commercialization of next-generation medical devices and medical technology. The first of its kind in the Southeast, the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) will include a comprehensive medical device prototyping center.

“By bringing together these public and private resources, we have provided a strong foundation for accelerating the growth of the medical device and medical technology industry in Georgia,” said Governor Perdue. “This partnership demonstrates the strengths Georgia provides industry through collaborations among its research universities, health care organizations and the Georgia Research Alliance.”

The Governor made the announcement during a press conference in the Georgia Pavilion at the 2009 BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the global biotechnology community. The convention is being held in Atlanta May 18 through May 21, its first-ever meeting in the southeastern United States.

Supported by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute (SJTRI), Piedmont Healthcare and the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), the new center will bring together a complete medical device marketplace – which includes universities, research centers and clinicians; established drug and device companies; investors, and early-stage companies. The new center will be located adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus in Technology Enterprise Park.

“The convergence of the life sciences with engineering provides a unique opportunity to expand our technology in areas that will support the health care industry of the future,” said G. P. “Bud” Peterson, president of Georgia Tech. “The Global Center for Medical Innovation will bring together in one location the key infrastructure needed to rapidly move new medical devices and new medical technologies to market.”

The new center will include a complete medical device prototyping center and have the capability to produce evaluation devices using “good manufacturing practices” mandated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). It will also be able to manage, coordinate and aggregate intellectual property from the partner organizations and interested private companies.

The Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute (SJTRI), the research division of Saint Joseph’s Health System, will add the capability for preclinical studies of new devices and technologies. SJTRI has recently opened a new, state-of-the art, 32,000-square-foot preclinical research facility at Technology Enterprise Park. With the GCMI resources, it will provide a comprehensive set of services for developing, testing and prototyping medical innovations.

The leading-edge medical research conducted at the founding institutions will be the engine behind the new center. By bringing together physicians with direct experience at treating patients with scientists and engineers, GCMI will facilitate the development of technology that meets real-world medical needs.

“Physicians on the front lines of patient treatment have a very real appreciation of the need for new technology, but they often lack the resources to translate their ideas and solutions into new medical devices,” said Jay S. Yadav, M.D., chairman of the Piedmont Healthcare Center for Medical Innovation, a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart Institute Physicians and CEO of Atlanta medical device company CardioMEMS. “By collaborating with institutions like Georgia Tech, we can meet patient needs and create new business opportunities.”

The proximity to university resources will also make the center attractive to outside industry and startup companies.

“Investments in Georgia’s research universities are helping to create the knowledge and innovation necessary to expand the medical device industry in the state,” said Mike Cassidy, president and CEO of the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA), a public-private organization that supports the development of technology industry in Georgia. “Through activities like GCMI and Georgia Research Alliance commercialization activities at the state’s research universities, we are supporting the development and growth of this promising industry.”

Because of the research strengths of the partnering institutions, the center’s initial focus is expected to include devices and technologies in cardiology, orthopedics and pediatrics. The only one of its kind in the Southeast, the new center is expected to attract companies from outside Georgia.

“Medical device companies in the Southeast have long suffered a disadvantage compared to competitors that have access to long-established support networks,” said Nicolas Chronos, M.D., president of the Saint Joseph’s Translational Research Institute and an internationally-known cardiologist and researcher. “The new Georgia center will allow companies to contract with a single entity for comprehensive development activities, create a single location for investors seeking qualified medical device companies, and allow innovations developed by multiple institutions to be combined to create more useful devices.”

GCMI is a not-for-profit entity that will have its own governing board with representatives from its partners and stakeholders. A startup manager who will direct the center is expected to be named in the next few months.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips for Small Businesses to Avoid Cash Reserves in a Recession

/PRNewswire/ -- As if the recession is not enough to deal with, for small and medium businesses that are growing during these hard times you need to be aware that your credit card processor may view your growth as a potential indicator that you are at risk of going under and institute cash reserves. Unfortunately the industry has learned from experience that some merchants, about to go under, commit fraud by processing bogus orders to bolster cash flow; which is seen by the processor as a spike in sales from the merchant. In a time where bankruptcies and business closures are rising it is only natural that processors are nervous.

An unfortunate byproduct of this negative behavior is that legitimate merchants showing too much growth over a short timeframe can also be branded as being at "risk." For those of you that may not understand the way the relationship between merchants and processors works, the processor is on the hook to pay for any consumer losses, chargebacks, if a merchant goes out of business and cannot, or decides not to, cover those losses.

This being said, it should be understood that a spike in sales is not the only reason a processor may want to implement reserves, there are a number of factors that are looked at. The point is if you are one of the lucky few merchants experiencing growth you can take proactive steps that could help you avoid the reserves scenario.

First: Open Communications -- Talk with your processor, tell them about your growth, show them recent press releases or financials that show your growth is in fact healthy. Make sure to talk about why you are experiencing growth in a down market. Did you reduce your prices? Do you have the market cornered? New hot product releases? Did you get better pricing on your goods?

Second: Set Expectations -- Let them know if you are going to be having any type of large promotion, sales event or hot new product release. No one likes to be surprised, and you don't want the processor to sound the alarm when they see your sales skyrocketing from sales of the next Tickle-Me Elmo craze they didn't even know you were selling.

Third: Customer Service Signals -- I can't say this with enough emphasis, you need to manage your customer service signals, chargebacks, credits and refunds. If you successfully open a dialogue and set expectations but your customer service signals don't support the story you are telling; you are going to have a tough road to travel.

Fourth: Create a Competitive Situation -- If you are experiencing significant growth, consider connecting to a second credit card processor and running a small portion of your transactions through the second account. This will reduce load on the first processor, making growth look smaller, and it provides you leverage to pressure your credit card processors to reconsider cash reserves.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

The Coca-Cola Company Introduces Innovative Bottle Made from Renewable, Recyclable, Plant-Based Plastic

(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company unveiled yesterdayge a new plastic bottle made partially from plants. The “PlantBottle™” is fully recyclable, has a lower reliance on a non-renewable resource, and reduces carbon emissions, compared with petroleum-based PET plastic bottles.

“The ‘PlantBottle™’ is a significant development in sustainable packaging innovation,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. “It builds on our legacy of environmental ingenuity and sets the course for us to realize our vision to eventually introduce bottles made with materials that are 100 percent recyclable and renewable.”

Traditional PET bottles are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource. The new bottle is made from a blend of petroleum-based materials and up to 30 percent plant-based materials.

“The Coca-Cola Company is a company with the power to transform the marketplace, and the introduction of the ‘PlantBottle™’ is yet another great example of their leadership on environmental issues,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of World Wildlife Fund, U.S. “We are pleased to be working with Coke to tackle sustainability issues and drive innovations like this through their supply chain, the broader industry and the world.”

The “PlantBottle™” is currently made through an innovative process that turns sugar cane and molasses, a by-product of sugar production, into a key component for PET plastic. Coca-Cola is also exploring the use of other plant materials for future generations of the “PlantBottle™.”

Manufacturing the new plastic bottle is more environmentally efficient as well. A life-cycle analysis conducted by Imperial College London indicates the “PlantBottle™” with 30 percent plant-base material reduces carbon emissions by up to 25 percent, compared with petroleum-based PET.

Another advantage to the “PlantBottle™” is that, unlike other plant-based plastics, it can be processed through existing manufacturing and recycling facilities without contaminating traditional PET. So, the material in the “PlantBottle™” can be used, recycled and reused again and again.

Coca-Cola North America will pilot the “PlantBottle™” with Dasani and sparkling brands in select markets later this year and with vitaminwater in 2010. The innovative bottles will be identified through on-package messages and in-store point of sale displays. Web-based communications will also highlight the bottles’ environmental benefits.

“The ‘PlantBottle™’ represents the next step in evolving our system toward the bottle of the future,” said Scott Vitters, Director of Sustainable Packaging of The Coca-Cola Company. “This innovation is a real win because it moves us closer to our vision of zero waste with a material that lessens our carbon footprint and is also recyclable.”

The Coca-Cola Company – the first company to introduce a beverage bottle made with recycled plastic – has been focused on ensuring the sustainability of its packaging for decades. It has put resources behind creating packaging that is recyclable and investing in recycling infrastructure to ensure that its packages are collected, recycled and re-used. Earlier this year, the Company opened the world’s largest plastic bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Spartanburg, S.C. The plant will produce approximately 100 million pounds of recycled PET plastic for reuse each year – the equivalent of nearly 2 billion 20-ounce Coca-Cola bottles. These efforts are all focused on helping “close the loop” on packaging use and produce truly sustainable packages for consumers.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Organization Formed To Save Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers

/PRNewswire / -- To ensure that the independent home medical equipment (HME) providers have a voice in public policy and a seat at the table for any healthcare reform initiative, a group of home medical equipment suppliers formed the Committee to Save Independent HME Suppliers, LLC (CSI: HME). This non-profit business league was created to respond to growing threat recent policy changes pose to the future of independent medical suppliers and the patients they serve.

"For a long period, the industry has taken various positions and directions that have proven to be ineffective in changing political thinking about the home medical equipment industry," said David Petsch, owner of Petsch Respiratory in Augusta, GA, and Managing Director of CSI: HME. "CSI: HME will implement strategies designed to change political mindsets by embarking on a new path to ensure the concerns of the independent HME provider community are being addressed."

To advance its agenda, CSI: HME has retained the Capitol Hill Consulting Group, Inc., a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm to help advance its issues on Capitol Hill and the Baker Wright Group, LLC, a full service public relations firm that will work with the lobbying firm to raise consumer and media awareness of the independent home medical supplier industry. The message taken to Washington and the activities of both the lobby and public relations firms will be determined by CSI: HME's 15-25 member Legislative Activity Board (LAB).

CSI: HME's initial legislative priorities will be lobbying Congress to repeal the 36-month cap on oxygen reimbursement and the proposed competitive bidding restrictions for medical equipment.

Repeal of the 36-Month Oxygen Reimbursement Cap

Effective January 1, 2009, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) stopped payment to suppliers for oxygen equipment and services when patients reach 36 months (three years) of continuous use. Suppliers continue providing service and supplies to patients for an additional two years without payment, even if the patient relocates to another state.

This flawed policy will negatively impact patients' access to life-sustaining oxygen therapy to treat lung diseases and jeopardizes the ability for independent home medical equipment suppliers to stay in business. Other consequences include higher healthcare costs due to increased emergency room visits and nursing home care. One year of home oxygen service costs less than one day of in-patient care.

In an effort to reverse this bad policy, The Home Oxygen Patient Protection Act of 2009 (HR 2373) was introduced on May 12, 2009. CSI: HME will work with other industry partners and key legislators and their staff to gain co-sponsors and passage of the bill.

Repeal of the Competitive Bidding Program

Competitive bidding is another short-sighted policy where Medicare patients will receive diminished quality of care and denied access to the supplier of their choice with whom they've built a trusted relationship. CMS will award contracts for home medical equipment patient distribution to a limited number of suppliers who are the lowest bidders in selected regions across the country.

The program, which was initially scheduled to begin July 1, 2008 but then postponed by Congressional action last year, will be re-launched in 9 metropolitan areas and gradually expanded to include 70 other areas throughout the country. CMS will begin soliciting bids from suppliers this summer.

This policy will likely have a disastrous effect on patients who are forced to use suppliers far from where they live and will reduce the number of suppliers capable of serving Medicare in bid areas by 90%. This comes at a time when demand for such services is increasing due to the rise in Medicare beneficiaries. Durable medical equipment represents less than 1.7% of Medicare expenditures each year. In contrast, inpatient hospitals represent 27.5% and physicians 10.6% of Medicare costs.

According to CMS, about 85% of Medicare durable medical equipment suppliers are small, independent suppliers. Congress must repeal this program which will harm patient health and lead to higher costs because of reduced access to quality, experienced suppliers.

CSI: HME leadership believes that we cannot continue to do the same things and expect a different result. The organization intends to work with and compliment other organizations to further the goals of the industry. The organization will use contributions from the HME industry solely to support the lobby and PR efforts. Providers interested in helping the cause and having a voice in the message are urged to contact CSI: HME at or David Petsch at dpetsch@csihme.org.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Large Employers Strongly Oppose New Taxes On 161 Million American Workers' Health Benefits

/PRNewswire / -- The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) issued the following statement regarding proposals from some policymakers that would increase taxes on American workers' health benefits to finance health reform. NBGH represents 300 large employers - including 60 of the Fortune 100 - providing health benefits to over 55 million Americans:

"With our nation reeling from the worst economy in generations, the idea that now is the time to increase taxes on 161 million American workers' health benefits boggles the mind.

"We have serious concerns that modifying the tax exclusion of health benefits could have the unintended consequence of driving the cost of health benefits higher and potentially force businesses and/or workers to drop private coverage altogether. In particular, modifying the tax exclusion for health benefits could have a disproportionate impact on older workers and Americans residing in states with comparatively low costs of living or more efficient health care systems.

"As a vocal and steadfast advocate of comprehensive national health care reform, NBGH strongly supports bipartisan efforts to expand coverage to all Americans and make the hard choices around delivery system and payment reforms that would eliminate the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on care that is wasteful, duplicative, and even harmful."

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

General Mills to Locate New Distribution Center in Social Circle

Multinational company will create 112 jobs and invest $42 million in Walton County facility

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that global food company General Mills plans to locate a new distribution center in Social Circle, investing $42 million and creating 112 jobs.

“I am thrilled to see one of the world’s largest food companies continue to grow right here in Georgia,” said Governor Perdue. “Georgia’s status as the ‘corner store’ of the Southeast makes it a perfect location for distribution centers, and our quality workforce ensures that businesses will get their products to market on time and under budget.”

General Mills will contract with a third-party logistics provider to staff and run the 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center, which will be located along Hightower Road in Walton County. The facility will distribute the General Mills family of products throughout the Southeast.

The distribution center will be built to meet LEED certification, an internationally recognized certification system that measures how well a building or community performs across the following metrics: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. This will make it one of the largest buildings in the country to meet LEED certification standards.

General Mills has been an employer in Georgia since 1989, when the company opened a manufacturing facility in Covington. Governor Perdue visited the General Mills facility in Covington in September 2008 to recognize the plant’s reduction in water usage after the company installed a $6 million treatment plant that trimmed the plant’s water usage by an average of 46 percent – or about 5.3 million gallons per month, enough to supply about 1,000 homes.

For the new distribution center, the company will use the services of the Georgia Department of Labor to solicit applications and Georgia Quick Start to train employees. Permanent job hiring will not occur until early 2010.

“General Mills is pleased to be growing our presence in Georgia with the new distribution center in Social Circle,” said Kevin Schoen, Vice President of Logistics for General Mills. “Our Covington team demonstrates day after day the dedication of Georgia employees, and we are excited by the strategic logistic location that Social Circle offers.”

“On behalf of the Board of Commissioners and citizens of Walton County we are extremely proud to welcome General Mills to our community,” said Kevin Little, Chairman-Walton County Board of Commissioners. “With our current economy, this is a great commitment from General Mills to invest in new jobs and investment.”

“Metro Atlanta and Georgia continue to be one of the global gateways of choice and a premier location for companies to manage their supply chains,” said Bob Pertierra, vice president of supply chain for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “Our location in the Southeast, access to market and world-class airport continue to be a draw for companies.”

Mary Douglass, project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, assisted General Mills in its location process.

About the company
One of the world's leading food companies, General Mills operates in over 100 countries and markets more than 100 consumer brands, including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Green Giant, Old El Paso, Progresso, Cascadian Farm, Muir Glen, and more. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A., General Mills had fiscal 2008 global net sales of US$14.9 billion, including the company’s $1.2 billion proportionate share of joint venture net sales. For more information, please contact Heidi Geller at 763-764-6364.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

SunTrust Responds to U.S. Government's Stress Test Report

/PRNewswire / -- SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE:STI) announced today that it has been advised by the Federal Reserve that, under the Supervisory Capital Assessment Program (SCAP) previously announced by the United States Treasury, SunTrust has Tier 1 capital well in excess of the amount required to be well-capitalized through the forecast period under both the baseline scenario and the more adverse-than-expected scenario prepared by the Treasury ("More Adverse").

While SunTrust is - and is projected to remain - well-capitalized, SunTrust said it has also been advised that based on the More Adverse future scenario it would need to adjust the composition of its Tier 1 capital resources to increase the common equity portion of Tier 1 capital by $2.2 billion. The additional common equity is necessary to maintain Tier 1 common capital at 4% of risk-weighted assets under the More Adverse scenario, as specified by a new regulatory standard that was introduced as part of the stress test process. SunTrust's Tier 1 common capital ratio was 5.8% at year-end, well in excess of the newly enacted 4% regulatory requirement.

James M. Wells III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SunTrust, noted that, "We are not surprised that the stress test has confirmed that SunTrust is a well-capitalized institution and that we do not need to add to our total Tier 1 capital resources. This underscores our capacity to continue to execute our current strategies, including making sound loans to qualified borrowers, growing deposits, managing costs, and focusing on risk-mitigation in the current environment. Looking beyond the current recession, we are well positioned for the opportunities that will come with a resumption of economic growth."

As part of the process outlined by the Treasury, SunTrust will submit a formal capital plan. Alternatives include both internally and externally generated capital to increase the Tier 1 common capital level. The Company said it is confident that it can comply with the newly enacted regulatory requirement using internal and non-Governmental sources of capital. In addition, the Company said it intends to reduce government preferred equity, subject to regulatory approval.

"We believe we already have the capital resources we need to withstand expected, and even more severe, economic pressures. That said, we also have access to ample sources of additional capital to support our efforts to serve our clients and support our communities," Mr. Wells added. "We will evaluate multiple alternatives in working with our regulators to determine how best to realign our capital and comply with this new regulatory requirement."

SunTrust Banks, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, is one of the nation's largest banking organizations, serving a broad range of consumer, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. As of March 31, 2009, SunTrust had total assets of $179.1 billion and total deposits of $119.0 billion. The Company operates an extensive branch and ATM network throughout the high-growth Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States and a full array of technology-based, 24-hour delivery channels. The Company also serves customers in selected markets nationally. Its primary businesses include deposit, credit, trust and investment services. Through various subsidiaries the Company provides mortgage banking, insurance, brokerage, investment management, equipment leasing and capital markets services. SunTrust's Internet address is suntrust.com.

Important Cautionary Statement About Forward-Looking Statements

This news release may contain forward-looking statements. Statements regarding the availability of capital in the future and our ability to comply with the Federal Reserve's new Tier 1 Common Equity requirement are forward-looking statements. Also, any statement that does not describe historical or current facts, including statements about beliefs and expectations, is a forward-looking statement. These statements often include the words "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "estimates," "intends," "plans," "targets," "initiatives," "potentially," "probably," "projects," "outlook" or similar expressions or future conditional verbs such as "may," "will," "should," "would," and "could." Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of management and on information currently available to management. Such statements speak as of the date hereof, and we do not assume any obligation to update the statements made herein or to update the reasons why actual results could differ from those contained in such statements in light of new information or future events.

Forward-looking statements are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Investors are cautioned against placing undue reliance on such statements. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements include changes in market interest rates or capital markets could adversely affect our revenue and expense, the value of assets and obligations, and the availability and cost of capital or liquidity; our stock price can be volatile and current levels of market volatility are unprecedented, and these could impede our ability to increase our Tier 1 Common Equity; the fiscal and monetary policies of the federal government and its agencies could have a material adverse effect on our earnings; regulation by federal and state agencies could adversely affect our business, revenue, and profit margins; recently declining values of residential real estate, increases in unemployment, and the related effects on local economics may increase our credit losses, which would negatively affect our financial results; deteriorating credit quality, particularly in real estate loans, has adversely impacted us and may continue to adversely impact us; and any reduction in our credit rating could increase the cost of our funding from the capital markets. Additional factors can be found at Item 1A of our annual report on Form 10-K, at Part II Item 1A of our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and in our current reports on Form 8-K, each filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and available at the Securities and Exchange Commission's internet site (http://www.sec.gov/).

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oglethorpe Power Purchases Biomass Site in Warren County

/PRNewswire/ -- Oglethorpe Power Corporation today closed on the purchase of a 355-acre tract in Warren County, Ga., for a proposed biomass electric generating plant. The Warren County site, off East Warrenton Road, was one of five Georgia tracts optioned by Oglethorpe Power last fall as potential sites for two, and possibly three, planned 100-megawatt biomass facilities.

All five sites that were identified appear to meet project criteria. Following several months of further study, two of those sites, located in Warren and Appling Counties, are preliminarily identified as preferred locations for the first two biomass plants. A third site under option in Echols County remains in consideration as an alternative to the two preliminarily preferred sites, or as the site for a potential third plant. Oglethorpe Power also retains options on two alternative sites in Washington County.

Although preliminarily preferred, the sites in Warren and Appling Counties cannot be considered final until they undergo an independent environmental review and evaluation as required by the National Environmental Policy Act. This process, which will examine all the alternative sites, will include several public meetings near the preferred sites to gather input on environmental issues.

Oglethorpe Power Chief Operating Officer Michael W. Price said the environmental review will take place over the next 18-24 months. During this time, Oglethorpe Power will also be working with the state Environmental Protection Division to begin the process of obtaining the necessary environmental permits.

"This purchase of land in Warren County is an important milestone as our plans to build and operate Georgia's largest group of biomass generating plants continue to move forward," Price said. "These plants will have a very positive economic impact on the host communities and surrounding regions while bringing much-needed, renewable energy to EMC consumers throughout the state."

The biomass plants will generate electricity by burning a woody biomass mixture expected to consist primarily of whole tree chips and chipped pulpwood, along with wood waste from saw mills and wood remaining in the forest after clearing. Each plant will require a capital investment of $400 million to $500 million. Several hundred workers will be employed during construction, with about 40 permanent jobs required for operating each plant. In addition, an estimated 400 to 500 more jobs per plant could be generated within the forest industry to gather and transport the more than one million tons of wood chips expected to be required annually to fuel each plant.

Price said Oglethorpe Power expects to begin construction on the first plant in 2011, followed by commercial operation by the summer of 2014. The second plant will be placed into service in early 2015. A decision will be made later on whether a third plant will be built. If so, it would also go into service in 2015.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ford Invests $550 Million to Build New Global Small Cars, Electric Vehicle at Michigan Plant

/PRNewswire / -- Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) said today it is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford's next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market.

The plant, formerly the production site for Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigators SUVs, is one of three North American light truck plants Ford is retooling to build fuel-efficient global small cars in the coming years. The new Focus will begin rolling off the line next year and the battery-electric version of the Focus - Ford's first all-electric passenger car - debuts in 2011.

As part of the retooling, Ford will consolidate its operations from Wayne Assembly Plant. When production launches in 2010, approximately 3,200 employees will be building the new Focus at Michigan Assembly Plant. At the plant, Ford and United Auto Workers are developing modern new operating practices to ensure high quality and even greater efficiency.

"The transformation of Michigan Assembly Plant embodies the larger transformation under way at Ford," said Ford President and CEO Alan Mulally. "This is about investing in modern, efficient and flexible American manufacturing. It is about fuel economy and the electrification of vehicles. It is about leveraging our expertise and vehicle platforms around the world and partnering with the UAW to deliver best-in-class global small cars. It is about skilled and motivated teams working together in new ways to create the future of automobile manufacturing in the United States."

The reinvention of Michigan Assembly, once one of the world's most profitable auto plants during the SUV boom of the late 1990s, is rooted in the fundamental strategic shift by Ford to leverage its global assets to bring six world-class small cars to the American market by the end of 2012. To produce the vehicles, Ford is converting three truck and SUV plants to car plants - Michigan Assembly, Cuautitlan Assembly in Mexico, which begins building the new Fiesta subcompact early next year; and Louisville (Ky.) Assembly, which will be converted to produce small vehicles from Ford's global Focus platform beginning in 2011.

The new Focus is being developed in Europe - where Ford is a leader in small cars - off a new global C-car platform. Over time, the new platform will be the basis for more than 2 million units annually around the world, including Focus and other derivatives, allowing Ford to leverage economies of scale to improve investment efficiency.

The zero-emission Focus battery-electric vehicle, which is being developed in partnership with Magna International, features a high-voltage electric motor powered by a high capacity Lithium Ion battery pack and charged by plugging in to a 110-volt or 220-volt outlet. The vehicle is one part of a larger strategy Ford announced in January to develop electric vehicles for North America quickly and affordably by leveraging its global platform capability.

In addition to the Focus battery electric vehicle, Ford is collaborating with Smith Electric to sell a Transit Connect battery electric commercial vehicle for North America in 2010. Ford's product plans also include a next-generation hybrid vehicle in 2012 and a plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2012.

"We're changing from a company focused mainly on trucks and SUVs to a company with a balanced product lineup that includes even more high-quality, fuel-efficient small cars, hybrids and all-electric vehicles," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas. "As customers move to more fuel-efficient vehicles, we'll be there with more of the products they really want."

Investing in American manufacturing

The $550 million investment in Michigan Assembly includes more than $430 million in manufacturing investment at the site, as well as $120 million for launch and engineering costs. In addition, Ford will be making significant investment in supplier tooling to support the plant.

The state of Michigan, Wayne County and the city of Wayne contributed more than $160 million in tax credits and grants to support Ford's expansion opportunities. Key elements include:

-- Tax incentives based on job retention at the site;
-- A Brownfield tax incentive for economic rehabilitation of the site;
-- Tax incentives to support integration of advanced batteries into new
product development programs and
-- Local property tax incentives for new investments at the site

Michigan Assembly Plant will be designated as the state's first automotive technology anchor site. This designation will support Ford's efforts by providing additional tax incentives to locate advanced technology suppliers in Michigan, related to future automotive technology applications.

"Ford is investing in both the future of the American auto industry and the state of Michigan by bringing together world-class products, advanced technology applications and strong partnerships with the UAW to build the next generation of vehicles that will help end our nation's dependence on foreign oil," Granholm said. "In these challenging economic times, we applaud and appreciate Ford's commitment to Michigan and to our talented workforce."

Michigan Assembly Transformation

At the heart of the plant's manufacturing transformation is a flexible body shop operation, which uses reprogrammable tooling in the body shop, standardized equipment in the paint shop and a common-build sequence in final assembly, enabling production of multiple models in the same plant.

Aiding in the implementation of flexible manufacturing is Ford's industry-leading virtual manufacturing technology. In the virtual world, engineers and plant operators evaluate tooling and product interfaces before costly installations are made on the plant floor. This method of collaboration improves launch quality and enables speed of execution.

In a flexible body shop, at least 80 percent of the robotic equipment can be programmed to weld various sized vehicles. This "non-product specific" equipment gives the body shop its flexibility and provides more efficient use of the facility.

The plant also will employ an efficient, synchronous material flow, where the material will move in kits to each operator, providing employees with the tools they need in the sequence they will need them. The plant features an integrated stamping facility, which allows the stamping and welding of all large sheet-metal parts on-site, ensuring maximum quality and minimum overhead.

Modern Work Rules

Along with the physical transformation at Michigan Assembly Plant, the UAW and Ford are working on a framework of new and class-leading operating practices that will enable the plant to operate at a high level of productivity while producing best-in-class quality products in a safe work environment.

As part of this framework, Ford and the UAW are committed to establishing a strong, progressive culture at Michigan Assembly Plant that is based on teamwork, joint problem solving and continuous improvement.

"The UAW is a key partner in enabling us to build these world-class vehicles competitively in the United States," said Joe Hinrichs, group vice president, Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs. "This agreement will allow the work force to build on their quality commitment while improving productivity at the plant."

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Dominick M. Moore joins Stites & Harbisonin Atlanta

Dominick M. Moore has joined Stites & Harbison’s Atlanta office. Moore serves clients in the areas of business law, securities and finance, and general corporate law.

Over the past couple of years, Moore has participated in multiple deals that cover various aspects of corporate law. He was a member of the team that represented a multinational lender, as loan sellers counsel, in connection with its securitization of fixed rate commercial mortgage loans in the amount of almost $30 billion in eighteen months. Additionally, Moore has participated in the representation of multiple companies seeking to engage in equity financing and was a member of the team that represented an entity, as purchaser, in conjunction with a reverse triangular merger.

Prior to joining Stites & Harbison, Moore served as an intern in the South Carolina Governor's office as well as for the Honorable Ann O'Malley Shake, Jefferson Circuit Court, Division 13, in Kentucky.

Moore received his undergraduate degree and Juris Doctorate (cum laude) from the University of Louisville, where he served as President of the Black Law Students Association and a member of the Brandeis Law Journal (published). He was also a member of the Honor Council.

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) and a Top 10 Growth Firm (National Law Journal).


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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Georgia Farm Bureau Joins NICB

/PRNewswire / -- The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) announced today that the Georgia Farm Bureau is the newest addition to NICB's 1,000-plus member companies. They join existing NICB farm bureau members in Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance Companies, headquartered in Macon, Ga., include the Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company and the Georgia Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company. Both are dedicated to serving the more than 430,000 member families of the Farm Bureau in Georgia.

Founded in 1959, the Georgia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company is celebrating its 50th year of service to its members. The company was started at a time when farmers and rural Georgians were having a difficult time finding insurance coverage.

The Georgia Farm Bureau Federation members decided to act and pooled their money to create a company which is now the state's largest domestic property-casualty insurance company. The company employs over 550 insurance agents and claims representatives located throughout the state to serve its members' needs.

Georgia Farm Bureau is a preferred risk writer of farm, home, auto and light commercial insurance.

"We're proud to add the Georgia Farm Bureau to our growing organization," said Joe Wehrle, NICB president and chief executive officer. "NICB continues to add new members as insurers recognize the value of NICB's services in vehicle theft and insurance fraud and show interest in our increased emphasis on medical fraud, cargo theft and heavy equipment theft. NICB member companies now write more than 81 percent of the nation's nearly $416 billion worth of property casualty insurance premiums."

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: headquartered in Des Plaines, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to preventing, detecting and defeating insurance fraud and vehicle theft through information analysis, investigations, training, legislative advocacy and public awareness. The NICB is supported by more than 1,000 property and casualty insurance companies and self-insured organizations.

Anyone with information concerning vehicle theft and insurance fraud can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 1-800-TEL-NICB (1-800-835-6422) or by visiting our web site at www.nicb.org.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Chicken of the Sea to Open Canning Operation in Lyons

Company will create 200 jobs and invest $20 million in Toombs County facility

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Chicken of the Sea International plans to return tuna canning to the United States and open a domestic canning operation in Lyons. The company will create 200 jobs and invest $20 million.

“We are proud that Georgia will be home to Chicken of the Sea’s first domestic canning operation,” said Governor Perdue. “Our state’s strong workforce and extensive transportation network make it a natural choice for food processing plants that want to keep costs down and reach their markets quickly and efficiently.”

Chicken of the Sea is bringing canning operations to a 200,000-square-foot facility in Lyons, where workers will process frozen tuna loins into shelf stable Chicken of The Sea canned tuna to be shipped throughout the United States. The company expects to begin operations in October and will utilize Georgia Quick Start to train its employees.

“State and local officials in Lyons presented us with a tremendous opportunity that ensures our ability to compete in the marketplace for the long term,” said Shue Wing Chan, President of Chicken of the Sea International. “The state of Georgia provided a business development package that makes for a smooth transition. We expect this new canning operation will ensure Chicken of the Sea will remain viable and competitive, and we are looking forward to being part of the Lyons community.”

“We are extremely excited that Chicken of the Sea realizes the great potential of opening a major facility in Toombs County and has decided to join our family of respected companies,” said Sam Polk, Chairman of the Toombs County Development Authority. “The decision reflects on Toombs County’s efforts to improve economic opportunities in our region. The jobs and investment will greatly assist in our efforts to strengthen the industrial base. On behalf of the Toombs County Development Authority, I thank Chicken of the Sea for the positive contribution to our citizens.”

Chris Pumphrey, project manager for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, assisted the company in locating a site for its operation.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chrysler LLC Receives Court Approval of 'First Day Motions'

/PRNewswire/ -- Chrysler LLC announced Friday that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has granted the relief the company requested in a series of court filings known as "First-day motions." The orders issued by the court will help the company continue to operate its business during the reorganization proceedings.

Yesterday, Chrysler announced that, as a result of the comprehensive restructuring plan agreed to by many of its stakeholders, it had reached an agreement in principle to establish a global strategic alliance with Fiat SpA. Chrysler filed voluntary petitions under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to facilitate the restructuring and alliance.

First-day motions were filed to support Chrysler's employees, dealers, vendors and suppliers, together with its customers and other stakeholders. The Court granted approval for the company's request to continue payment of wages and health and welfare benefits to employees and contractors, and continue its customer warranty programs.

Bob Nardelli, Chrysler Chairman and CEO, said, "We accomplished a great deal today, including approval of certain First-day motions, which will enable us to transition into Chapter 11 and maintain normal operations as we move forward. Our focus now is on the next steps of this process, which we will pursue as efficiently and deliberately as possible."

The Chrysler Chapter 11 case was filed on April 30 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York. The case number is 09-50002, with the Honorable Arthur J. Gonzalez presiding. More information about Chrysler's restructuring is available at www.ChryslerRestructuring.com.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Rieman Joins Flammer Relations

Mike Rieman of Kennesaw recently joined the staff of Flammer Relations, Inc., a public relations agency specializing in residential real estate and related business-to-business accounts.

As Senior Account Manager, Rieman provides leadership for other Flammer Relations account managers and staff and is involved in recruiting new business for the company.

Prior to joining Flammer Relations, he spent the past 10 years working in public relations, newspapers, radio and television. He has extensive experience working on large public relations accounts, including Atlanta Spirit, LLC, Belk, THE TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola and LongHorn Steakhouse.

At Flammer Relations, Rieman manages several real estate accounts, both residential and commercial, for which he establishes media relationships, writes news releases, newsletters and articles and organizes special events.

“Mike’s depth of traditional public relations and knowledge of social media is a huge asset to the Flammer team,” said Carol M. Flammer, President of Flammer Relations, Inc. “He is an accomplished communications executive with a consistent history of achievement in public relations, newspaper reporting and television/radio production,” added Flammer.

Rieman graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in speech communication. He is a member of the Atlanta Press Club, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association’s Sales and Marketing Council and the Hemingway Society. He resides in Kennesaw, Ga. with his wife Loretta and two children.

Flammer Relations, Inc. is a public relations agency specializing in residential real estate, non-profit and business-to-business accounts. Flammer Relations has extensive real estate experience in the Southeast, including single family, townhomes, active adult, condo conversions and mixed- use projects. Services include strategic public relations, media relations, Social Media and blogging for SEO, special events coordination and copy writing for newsletters, Web sites and advertorials. For more information on Flammer Relations, Inc., visit www.flammerpr.com or call 770-383-3360.
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Scott Blackstock of Thomaston Joins Nation’s other Top Small Business Winners

Top entrepreneurs from each state, including Scott Blackstock, owner of Tidal Wave Auto Spa car washes in Georgia, will soon head to the nation’s capital to compete for the honor of National Small Business Person of the Year. The competition is a highlight of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week celebration, May 17-23, 2009.

This year, Small Business Week will be a three-day event in Washington, D.C., taking place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Events can be viewed virtually through SBA’s free, live webcasting, which will be accessible at http://www.nationalsmallbusinessweek.com/.

The National Small Business Person of the Year and runners-up will be selected from among the 53 state small business winners, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam. More than 100 outstanding small business owners will be honored, reflecting a broad range of business products, services and innovations offered by our nation’s entrepreneurs. They include a bed and breakfast owner, Web site developer, printer, brewer, and mobility aid maker.

Blackstock was selected the SBA Small Business Person of the Year for Georgia by a three-judge panel earlier this year. He is president and owner of S.S. Blackstock Inc., which operates 11 Tidal Wave express car washes, with a 12th location set to open this summer in Stone Mountain, Georgia. A 1979 graduate of Georgia Tech, Blackstock operated a tire and auto repair business in Thomaston for 20 years before he opened his first car wash location in Riverdale in 2003. Since the first unit opened, Blackstock’s Tidal Wave business has grown to nearly 100 full and part-time employees and annual sales that have reached over $6 million.

Blackstock and other small business owners will be recognized during five major award events that will focus on the achievements of America’s top entrepreneurs. Besides the State Small Business Persons of the Year, men and women involved in disaster recovery, government contracting, small business champions as well as SBA partners in financial and entrepreneurial development will be honored.

The 2009 National Small Business Week award events will include the following individuals and groups:

· The National Small Business Person of the Year, selected from the 53 State Small Business Persons of the Year.
· The Champion Awards, recognizing both individuals and organizations for their achievements on behalf of small business, including minority, women and veteran-owned small businesses.
· The Phoenix Awards, recognizing a public official, two business owners and a volunteer whose efforts have helped their businesses or communities recover successfully from a disaster.
· The Lender of the Year, honoring financial institutions, including those that provide financing for small business exporters and inner city businesses.
· The Entrepreneurial Development Awards honoring Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and the National SCORE Chapter of the Year for their innovation and excellence in assistance to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
· The Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for Excellence, recognizing large prime contractors who have excelled in their utilization of small businesses as suppliers and subcontractors.
· The Gold Star Award, recognizing exemplary performance of federal staff who manage the aggressive goals and strategic initiatives that help ensure a role for small business in the federal marketplace.
· The Frances Perkins Vanguard Award, honoring government and industry for excellence in the use of women-owned small businesses as prime contractors and subcontractors.
· The Small Business Prime Contractor and Small Business Subcontractor of the Year, honoring small businesses that have provided government and industry with outstanding goods and services as prime or sub contractors.
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