Thursday, August 26, 2010

German-based Plastics Manufacturer Locates Plant in Elberton

Moeller Tech to create 75 jobs, invest $9.75 million
Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Bielefeld, Germany-based plastics manufacturer Moeller Tech will locate a manufacturing plant in Elberton. The project is expected to create 75 direct jobs, and represents a $9.75 million investment.

“Georgia has a vibrant advanced manufacturing industry that is aided by our strategic assets like QuickStart,” said Governor Perdue. “Our talented workforce, transportation network and location make our state an ideal home to growing advanced manufacturing companies.”

A division of the Möller Group, Moeller Tech produces injection molded plastic parts for the automotive industry. The company’s Elberton plant will manufacture plastic injection molding for BMW. In addition to BMW, Moeller Tech’s primary customers include Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota and Honda.

“It has been an exciting time for MollerTech to find a home and set up a new plant in a Southern state to supply our automotive customers. We looked across different states and were very pleased to settle in Elberton,” said Moeller Tech CEO Wolfgang Bruns. “We found that the plant, together with the attitude and commitment from the local community and Development Authority was second to none, and we look forward to a long, healthy and prosperous future together.”

Elbert County was certified as one of Georgia’s Certified Work Ready Communities of Excellence in December 2009. This community is home to a highly-skilled pool of talent for operations such as the Moeller Tech manufacturing operation, which will facilitate the company’s efforts to staff its local workforce. The Georgia Work Ready program works with counties throughout Georgia to ensure that the state’s workforce remains a primary competitive advantage. Moeller Tech will locate in an existing 130,000-square-foot Elberton facility already outfitted for plastics manufacturing.

“We are excited Moeller Tech chose Elbert County for its manufacturing plant, and look forward to welcoming the company to our corporate community,” said Jackson McConnell, chairman of the Development Authority of Elbert County. “This project represents the successful collaboration between the state, county, city and company representatives to secure this location. I look forward to the positive economic impact Moeller Tech will bring to our county and this region.”

Georgia’s nationally recognized Quick Start workforce training program will assist Moeller Tech’s manufacturing operation in preparing new hires for work at the Elberton facility. Quick Start provides customized workforce training free-of-charge as an incentive for companies to create new jobs in Georgia.

Georgia Department of Economic Development senior project manager Chip Mitchell assisted the company with this location.

About The Möller Group
The Möller Group is a privately owned company now in its eighth generation of family management. Its success is based on the Group’s global orientation and innovative technological know-how. The Möller Group’s core expertise lies in the areas of plastics technology and the manufacture of flexible products.

Monday, August 23, 2010

US Labor Department's OSHA cites SeaWorld of Florida following animal trainer's death

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited SeaWorld of Florida LLC for three safety violations, including one classified as willful, following the death of an animal trainer in February. The total penalty is $75,000.

"SeaWorld recognized the inherent risk of allowing trainers to interact with potentially dangerous animals," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta, Ga. "Nonetheless, it required its employees to work within the pool walls, on ledges and on shelves where they were subject to dangerous behavior by the animals."

On Feb. 24, a six-ton killer whale grabbed a trainer and pulled her under the water during what SeaWorld describes as a "relationship session," which was also observed by park guests. Video footage shows the killer whale repeatedly striking and thrashing the trainer, and pulling her under water even as she attempted to escape. The autopsy report describes the cause of death as drowning and traumatic injuries.

OSHA's investigation revealed that this animal was one of three killer whales involved in the death of an animal trainer in 1991 at Sea Land of the Pacific in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. SeaWorld had forbidden trainers from swimming with this whale because of his dangerous past behavior, but allowed trainers to interact with the whale, including touching him, while the trainers were lying on the pool edge in shallow water.

In addition to the history with this whale, the OSHA investigation revealed that SeaWorld trainers had an extensive history of unexpected and potentially dangerous incidents involving killer whales at its various facilities, including its location in Orlando. Despite this record, management failed to make meaningful changes to improve the safety of the work environment for its employees.

"All employers are obligated to assess potential risks to the safety and health of their employees and take actions to mitigate those risks," said Les Grove, OSHA's area director in Tampa, Fla. "In facilities that house wild animals, employers need to assess the animals under their care and to minimize human-animal interaction if there is no safe way to reliably predict animal behavior under all conditions."

OSHA has issued one willful citation to SeaWorld for exposing its employees to struck-by and drowning hazards when interacting with killer whales. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

A serious citation is being issued for exposing employees to a fall hazard by failing to install a stairway railing system on the front side, left bridge of the "Believe" stage in Shamu Stadium. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

One other-than-serious violation has been issued for failing to equip outdoor electrical receptacles in Shamu Stadium with weatherproof enclosures. An other-than-serious violation is described as a situation that relates to job safety and health that would not likely cause death or serious physical harm.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Tampa or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Marietta Business Association Announces "Thriving in the New Economy"

September 1, 2010 · 12pm until 8pm
Cobb County Civic Center
548 South Marietta Parkway
Marietta, GA 30060

F E A T U R I N G
Job Seeker Workshops · Small Business Workshops
Business Showcases

Sign up at www.mariettabusiness.biz or contact Lynda Hale,2010 EXPO Chairman, at 404.435.6852 or lynda_hale@comcast.net

Entrance Cost: $5.00 at Door includes workshops and expo admission

First Quality Baby Products Announces Macon Modernization Project

Absorbent hygiene products manufacturer increasing Macon presence

Governor Sonny Perdue announced Friday that First Quality Baby Products, LLC, a Great Neck, New York-based manufacturer of absorbent hygiene products, will modernize and expand its manufacturing presence in Bibb County. The company plans to invest up to $200 million and bring its employee count to 375 over the coming years at the company’s Macon facilities.

“Since acquiring its manufacturing operation in Georgia in 2008, First Quality has played a significant role in the Macon business community, and in Georgia's ever-growing advanced manufacturing sector,” said Governor Perdue. “We are always excited to see our existing industries grow and thrive in Georgia.”

First Quality will construct a diaper manufacturing facility, with construction scheduled to begin during the fourth quarter of 2010. First Quality’s current manufacturing operation in Macon produces multiple configurations of private label baby diapers and training pants for major retailers. The company’s expanded Macon operation will serve markets throughout the Southeast.

“First Quality is very pleased to expand our relationship with Macon-Bibb County, Georgia, and we look forward to working together to create real opportunities here with all our partners, both in government and the private sector, that will benefit the entire community,” said Bob Schiek, director of manufacturing for First Quality. “The strength of our existing workforce as well as our confidence in the pool of skilled labor contributed to the decision for First Quality to commit to Macon-Bibb County. As important, however, is the pro-business environment that you have created here in Georgia, especially in Macon-Bibb County.”

The new First Quality diaper manufacturing plant in Macon will make use of high-tech manufacturing advancements utilized at the company’s other recently completed plant in Lewistown, Pennsylvania.

“First Quality’s culture is focused on producing high quality products in their market segments and on exceeding customer expectations,” said Sam Hart, Chairman of the Bibb County Commission. “Based on my visit to their facilities in Pennsylvania last fall I would say they excel in both areas. We are proud to partner with First Quality to both retain good jobs and generate new employment opportunities for the citizens of our community! We look forward to a long and productive relationship.”

“First Quality is a great fit for our community, and is a high performing, high quality organization with a proven track record since its founding more than 20 years ago,” said Robert Reichert, Mayor of the City of Macon. “I am proud that the company has chosen to expand its presence in our community!”

“First Quality’s new facility in Macon validates our efforts to recruit high-tech manufacturing operations to Bibb County,” said Clifford Whitby, Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority chairman. “We are both pleased and honored that the owners of First Quality have chosen to make their latest investment in our community, and see this as the beginning of a long and productive relationship between First Quality and our community!”

Jennifer Nelson, Georgia Department of Economic Development deputy director of Existing Industry & Regional Recruitment, assisted the company and community with this project.

About First Quality Enterprises, Inc.
Founded in 1990, First Quality Enterprises, Inc. and its affiliates are a closely-held diversified group of companies manufacturing, selling and distributing branded and private label absorbent hygiene, paper and non-woven products into the healthcare, retail and commercial channels. First Quality is dedicated to meeting the demands of the market by providing innovative and high-quality products manufactured utilizing state of the art technology. For more information please visit www.firstquality.com.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jekyll Island Authority Board Boasts Bright Outlook at Annual Meeting

/PRNewswire/ -- The Jekyll Island Authority (JIA) Board along with executive staff members of the JIA met for its regular monthly meeting. As the designated Annual Meeting, election of new board officers was held. Chairman Bob Krueger has been reappointed to an additional term as Board Chairman by Governor Perdue, Steve Croy was re-elected as Vice Chairman and Mike Hodges was reelected Secretary. Revitalization updates were briefly presented along with reports from the finance, personnel and marketing committees.

"I'm pleased to continue the important work of Jekyll revitalization," said Krueger. "We are in a critical stage, but with the support of this dedicated board, excellent staff and a superb plan I have no doubt that we will accomplish our goals and restore Jekyll Island to its proper place as a premier and unique public beach destination."

Revitalization construction plans on the Flash Foods gas and convenience store and Dairy Queen Grill & Chill restaurant are moving forward. Robert Williams, the Director of Maintenance and Construction for Flash Foods out of Waycross, GA, presented a revised construction plan at the board meeting. Construction has not progressed as quickly as planned due to construction priorities within Flash Foods. The construction is now slated for a completion by January 2011.

Good news was reported on the current state of the JIA's finances, giving this fiscal year a positive start. Revenues for July 2010 exceeded July 2009 revenues by 9% and hotel revenue was up 23%. The largest increases for JIA operations were achieved at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, Summer Waves Water Park and the parking fees collected at the Greeting Station.

"July is a crucial month for Jekyll financially," said Mike Hodges, Chair of the Finance Committee. "I'm pleased to see such a significant increase in Jekyll Island's earnings in spite of tough economic times."

In addition to the solid financial report, two of Jekyll Island's resorts were acknowledged for their recent awards. The Jekyll Island Days Inn &Suites was the recipient of the Smith Travel Research (STR) Best Performing Award for the Economy Chain Segment as the number one hotel out of 10,000 in its class. Pinkerton & Laws of Georgia, Inc. received the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) Excellence Award in the commercial $5-$15M category for the construction of the Jekyll Island Hampton Inn & Suites.

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Georgia Manufacturer of Food Service Equipment Hardware Pays $3.3 Million Fine for Role in Customer Allocation Conspiracy

A New York corporation, whose principal place of business is Newnan, Ga., was sentenced to pay a $3.3 million criminal fine for conspiring to allocate customers in the food service equipment hardware market, including walk-in refrigeration equipment, the Department of Justice announced August 17.

Kason Industries Inc., a food service equipment manufacturer, pleaded guilty on May 19, 2010, in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Kason Industries and its former president, Peter A. Katz, were charged on May 6, 2010, with one count of participating in a conspiracy from December 2004 until at least December 2008, to allocate customers for food service equipment hardware sold in the United States and elsewhere. The department said that the purpose of the conspiracy was to reduce and eliminate competition in the sale of the food service equipment hardware manufactured or sold by Kason Industries, Katz and their co-conspirators. Katz, who also pleaded guilty, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 5, 2011.

Food service equipment hardware includes fabricated parts, such as cafeteria hardware, equipment legs and casters, and fabrication supplies, and walk-in refrigeration components, such as metal racks, door hinges, handles, latches, closers and panel fasteners.

According to court documents, Katz and co-conspirators agreed during meetings and telephone and e-mail discussions to allocate customers of food service equipment hardware; not to compete for one another’s protected customers or to submit intentionally high prices or bids to certain customers; to exchange prices to customers so as not to undercut one another’s prices; and to sell food service equipment hardware at collusive and noncompetitive prices.

Yesterday’s sentencing is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation of customer allocation in the food service equipment hardware industry. The investigation is being conducted by the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office and the FBI’s Atlanta Office.

Anyone with information concerning customer allocation or other anticompetitive conduct in the food service equipment hardware industry should contact the Antitrust Division’s Atlanta Field Office at 404-331-7100 or visit www.justice.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Great Dane Trailers to Open Plant in Statesboro

World’s top trailer manufacturer to create 400-plus jobs

Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that Great Dane Trailers will construct a new manufacturing facility in Statesboro, investing $33.5 million and creating more than 400 jobs over the next four years.

“We are very pleased that Great Dane’s experience with our business-friendly environment in the state has motivated the company to expand their presence here,” said Governor Perdue. “Great Dane is an important part of the nation’s supply-chain logistics infrastructure, and Georgia’s deep background and workforce expertise in both logistics and manufacturing is an ideal match for the company’s needs.”

The facility will manufacture refrigerated trailers for Great Dane, the world’s leading trailer manufacturer, and the advanced technology featured in the Statesboro plant will rank the facility the most efficient Great Dane plant in the world. Construction for the new 450,000-square-foot facility will begin in 2011 and the plant will open in 2012. The company will utilize the services of Georgia Quick Start, the state’s top-ranked workforce training program, in equipping its workforce with the skills they need to operate the plant the day it opens.

“Choosing to build our new plant in the state of Georgia offered Great Dane the prime Southeast location necessary to more efficiently serve our customers in this region,” said company President and Chief Operating Officer Phill Pines. “Even more importantly, the site allows us to continue building Great Dane’s rich legacy in this state.”

Great Dane, which produces dry vans, refrigerated and platform trailers, is known for its innovation, technology and quality. The company was founded in Savannah in 1900 as the Savannah Blowpipe Company, and the first Great Dane trailer ever built was assembled at its Savannah plant, which closed in 2009. Great Dane still maintains one of its two division offices in Savannah, home of its sales, marketing, engineering, and research and development center.

The company has seven other strategically located manufacturing plants in the U.S. In addition, Great Dane utilizes a network of company-owned branches, full-line independent dealers, and parts-only independent dealers and has distribution points across North and South America.

“We are proud to welcome Great Dane Trailers to Bulloch County. Our entire region will benefit from these much desired manufacturing jobs. We are confident that our community and Great Dane will enjoy a long, mutually rewarding partnership,” said David Holland, chairman of the Development Authority of Bulloch County. Bulloch County is a Certified Work Ready Community.

“Great Dane coming to Bulloch County is going to be an outstanding partnership,” said State Sen. Jack Hill. “This very fine company is a good fit for the community and I know will be welcomed with good old- fashioned Southern hospitality. I salute the leadership of Bulloch County for a job well done and we all appreciate the hard work by the Department of Economic Development to bring this industry to Bulloch County.” Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Regional Project Manager Chris Pumphrey assisted the company with its location.
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Rate of Wage Growth Likely to Turn Around, BNA Index Predicts

/PRNewswire/ -- The pace of wage growth in the private sector likely will pick up in the coming months from recent historic lows, according to the preliminary third quarter Wage Trend Indicator(TM) (WTI) released today by BNA, a leading publisher of specialized news and information.

The WTI rose to 96.97 (second quarter 1976 = 100) from 96.85 in the second quarter. If confirmed by the revised and final readings, it would be the index's first gain in more than two years, ending nine straight quarterly declines, dating back to early 2008.

"The increase in the latest WTI is pointing to an improvement in labor market conditions -- albeit a small one," economist Kathryn Kobe, a consultant who maintains and helped develop BNA's WTI database, said. "The rate of wage increases should show a turnaround in the coming months, but I think it's going to be a slow change in that direction," Kobe said.

Year-over-year wage and salary increases for private sector employees in the coming months are expected to equal or exceed the 1.6 percent recorded over the 12 months ended in June, as measured by the Department of Labor's employment cost index (ECI). During the past year, the rate of annual wage growth has ranged from a record low of 1.4 percent to 1.6 percent.

Reflecting recent labor market conditions, three of the WTI's seven components made positive contributions to the preliminary third quarter reading, while two components were negative and two others were neutral.

Over its history, the WTI has predicted a turning point in wage trends six to nine months before the trends are apparent in the ECI. A sustained decline in the WTI is predictive of a deceleration in the rate of private sector wage increases, while a sustained increase forecasts greater pressure to raise wages.

Contributions of Components

Of the WTI's seven components, the three positive components in the preliminary third quarter reading were job losers as a share of the labor force, from DOL; industrial production, measured by the Federal Reserve Board; and the share of employers planning to hire production and service workers in the coming months, also shown in BNA's quarterly Employment Outlook Survey. The negative contributors were the unemployment rate, reported by DOL, and economic forecasters' expectations for the rate of inflation, compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. Two components were neutral: the proportion of employers reporting difficulty in filling professional and technical jobs, tracked by BNA's employment survey, and average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory workers, from DOL.

BNA's Wage Trend Indicator(TM) is designed to serve as a yardstick for employers, analysts, and policymakers to identify turning points in private sector wage patterns. It also provides timely information for business and human resource analysts and executives as they plan for year-to-year changes in compensation costs.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Groupon Launches in Charleston

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Groupon (http://www.groupon.com), a shopping website that offers a daily deal on the best local goods, services and cultural events in more than 165 markets around the world, launched in Charleston, South Carolina on August 2, 2010.

“Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way”

“Charleston is among South Carolina’s largest cities and a top tourist destination rich in culture and history, making it perfect for Groupon,” said Groupon founder Andrew Mason. “We look forward to helping residents and visitors experience the best that Charleston has to offer, while establishing a new stream of customers to local businesses.”

Using the principles of collective buying, Groupon negotiates unprecedented deals with top businesses. Groupon subscribers receive free daily emails alerting them to the deal. These deals are only activated if a minimum number of people agree to buy, encouraging subscribers to share the promotion with family and friends via social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. By guaranteeing a large number of new customers, Groupon creates a win-win for local merchants. So far, this innovative approach to e-commerce has generated millions in revenue for local businesses while saving millions of subscribers in North America more than $370 million.

“Groupon brings buyers and sellers together in a fun and collaborative way,” said Mason. “We offer the consumer a great deal they can’t get anywhere else and deliver the sales directly to the merchant.”

During its first week in Charleston, Groupon's featured deals included a local café, a spa and a historic pub tour. Upcoming features include a Bikram yoga package, an ice cream shop and a kayaking tour. Charleston is the first city in South Carolina to enjoy savings from Groupon.

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Sea Island Company Reaches Agreement to Sell Substantially All Assets to Limited Partnership Formed by Investment Funds Managed by Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and Avenue Capital Group

-(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sea Island Company, a private resort and real estate development company, today announced that it has reached an agreement to sell substantially all of its assets to Sea Island Acquisition LP (“SIA”), a limited partnership formed by investment funds managed by the global investment firms Oaktree Capital Management, L.P. and Avenue Capital Group. The sale agreement follows a robust process – begun late last year – in which Sea Island Company reviewed all of its strategic alternatives and determined that this agreement is the best possible outcome for the Company and its stakeholders.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with an investment group that has come to know Sea Island well and appreciate what made us special from the start”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Company’s businesses will remain intact and retain their core values and culture. After the sale, the businesses will continue under the leadership of Bill Jones III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and David Bansmer, President and Chief Operating Officer.

To facilitate the sale, Sea Island Company, Sea Island Coastal Properties, LLC and their subsidiaries today filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The Chapter 11 cases and sale enjoy the support of all of the Company’s secured lenders and are expected to be completed by year-end. In the interim, the Company has secured a debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan from certain of its secured bank lenders, providing access to additional liquidity should it be required during this period.

The action, filed in the Southern District of Georgia in Brunswick, allows the Company’s businesses to continue normal operations. All of Sea Island Company's operations, including The Lodge, The Cloister, The Cloister Spa and Fitness Center, The Sea Island Club, the Ocean Forest Golf Club, The Sea Island Beach Club, as well as the golf facilities, are open and business will continue without any disruptions to the superior service provided to members and guests. All reservations will be honored and guests will enjoy all of the facilities and experiences they booked at the time of their reservation.

In conjunction with its Chapter 11 filing, Sea Island Company today filed a Plan providing for the sale of substantially all of its assets free of its approximately $600 million of existing secured debt. SIA will own and operate the resort and golf courses without any interruption in services. All obligations owed by Sea Island Company to its trade vendors will be assumed by SIA. All existing employees of Sea Island Company will be offered employment by SIA. All club members will be offered the opportunity to continue to enjoy the same benefits and services at their respective clubs and receive full credit for their deposits paid.

The Board of Directors of Sea Island Company has approved the Asset Purchase Agreement, which is subject to a court-supervised auction process. The agreement was filed with the Court today, along with the DIP financing commitment and a variety of “First Day” motions that will allow the Company to continue to conduct its business as usual.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with an investment group that has come to know Sea Island well and appreciate what made us special from the start,” stated Bill Jones III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sea Island Company. “Our commitments to our members, employees, guests and community were carefully considered throughout our review of strategic alternatives and we believe this is the best outcome. The purchasers have seen first-hand the value of what we have built – the finest collection of resort assets in the world with the highest accolades and best service. The additional financial strength gained through the transaction provides an ideal foundation for our future.”

Sea Island Company President and Chief Operating Officer David Bansmer added, “Today’s actions are the culmination of a comprehensive process initiated by Sea Island Company’s management and Board of Directors to put our financial challenges definitively in the past and secure a more certain future for our businesses. After completing the Chapter 11 process and the related asset purchase agreement, our businesses will be financially strong – with the same superior service and southern hospitality.”

Sea Island Company's financial advisors are FTI Consulting and Goldman Sachs & Co., and its legal advisor is King & Spalding LLP.

Information about the proposed sale and Sea Island Company's Chapter 11 proceedings is available on the Company's website at www.ourfuture.seaisland.com. Information about the claims process and court filings can be accessed at www.epiqsystems.com. Vendor inquiries can be directed to 1- 888-886-6162 or vendors@seaislandnews.com.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Jekyll Island Foundation and Jekyll Island Authority Announce New Executive Director

/PRNewswire/ -- The Jekyll Island Foundation together with the Jekyll Island Authority announced today the hiring of Mac DeVaughn as the new Foundation Executive Director. DeVaughn will assume leadership of the fundraising arm of the Jekyll Island Authority replacing outgoing director Cindy McDonald who recently retired.

With more than 20 years of development experience, DeVaughn has delivered proven fundraising success, managerial expertise and innovative leadership in diverse enterprises resulting in sustained performance and revenue growth. DeVaughn provides a strong history of implementing goal orientated long-term strategic plans while leading organizations through start-up, re-organization and growth phases.

"It is with great pleasure that we announce the hiring of Mac DeVaughn who embodies the talents, experience and ability to lead the Jekyll Island Foundation into a very exciting future," announced Bill Lattimore, Chairman of the Jekyll Island Foundation Board of Directors.

DeVaughn's executive experience includes both for profit and non-profit companies in the fields of insurance, sports promotions and cause-related fundraising. His previous executive positions include Founder and CEO of Crescent City Classic 10K, Inc., a New Orleans-based road race which, at one time, was the largest 10k event in the world; and Executive Director for both the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Throughout his professional career DeVaughn has exhibited proficiency in fiscal management and the ability to leverage relationships and negotiate agreements while establishing responsible corporate citizenship, goodwill and community responsiveness.

"With the revitalization of Jekyll Island in full gear, the Foundation has a critical role to play in marketing philanthropic opportunities for preservation, conservation and education projects," stated Jekyll Island Authority Executive Director Jones Hooks. "We need a leader that can take us to the next level, and Mac rose to the top of the list of many excellent candidates."

DeVaughn, a Georgia native from Washington, GA, attended the University of Georgia and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Georgia State University. He and his wife Cathleen have two college-age children.

"The citizens of Georgia are blessed with Jekyll Island, one of nature's true gems," stated DeVaughn. "My goal with the Foundation is to help ensure that financial resources are available to aid the Jekyll Island Authority in preserving and enhancing the island's uniqueness for the enjoyment and education of present and future generations."

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Postal Service Ends Third Quarter With $3.5 Billion Loss

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Postal Service ended the third quarter of fiscal year 2010 (April 1 - June 30) with a net loss of $3.5 billion, compared with a net loss of $2.4 billion for the same quarter last year. Third-quarter mail volume totaled 40.9 billion pieces - down approximately 700 million pieces, or 1.7 percent, compared to a year ago.

Complete USPS third-quarter results include operating revenue of $16 billion, some $294 million less than the same period last year, and operating expenses of $19.5 billion, an increase of $789 million, or 4.2 percent, over the third quarter last year.

The increase in operating expenses was attributable largely to higher workers' compensation expenses due to a non-cash fair value adjustment and higher retiree health benefits expenses. Lower interest rates adversely affected the workers' compensation liability, resulting in a $2 billion expense for the quarter - $870 million higher than the same quarter last year.

A significant portion of USPS losses in the past few years has been due to an unprecedented decline in mail volume - down by more than 20 percent since 2007. The replacement of letter mail and business-transactions mail by electronic alternatives continues to cause downward pressure on mail volume.

The organization's financial situation is compounded by its obligation to pay $5.4 billion to $5.8 billion annually to prefund retiree health benefits. This requirement, established in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), is an obligation unique to the Postal Service.

Liquidity remains a major concern as the end of the fiscal year approaches. Although cash flow appears to be sufficient for 2010 operations, it is uncertain whether cash flow, together with maximum available borrowing of $3 billion, will be enough to fund the Congressionally-mandated $5.5 billion payment to the Retiree Health Benefit Fund on September 30 and retain sufficient liquidity into 2011, according to Joseph R. Corbett, the Postal Service's Chief Financial Officer.

"Given current trends, we will not be able to pay all 2011 obligations," said Corbett. "Despite ongoing aggressive cost reductions totaling over $10 billion in the last three years, it is clear that a liquidity problem is looming and must be addressed through fundamental changes requiring legislation and changes to contracts."

The Postal Service has incurred net losses in 14 of the last 16 fiscal quarters. The fiscal 2010 year-to-date net loss is $5.4 billion, compared to a loss in the same period last year of $4.7 billion.

Postmaster General John Potter noted that despite the cost-cutting, the Postal Service has continued to maintain a high level of customer service. The third-quarter service score for overnight single-piece First-Class Mail was 96.7 percent on-time, an improvement of 0.4 percent from the same period last year.

"Our dedication to customer service remains a top priority," Potter said. "We continue to provide dependable customer service even as we focus on reducing costs. With the dedicated efforts of our entire organization, we are well on track to achieve approximately $3 billion in total cost reductions in 2010," said Potter.

Cost reductions center on initiatives to improve efficiency and match work hours to reduced mail volume. Other savings are coming from consolidating excess capacity in mail processing and transportation networks, realigning carrier routes, delaying construction of new postal facilities and a variety of other initiatives.

Work hours were reduced by 63 million in the first three quarters of fiscal 2010, or 6.6 percent compared to the first three quarters of 2009. That is the equivalent of about 36,000 full-time employees.

"Securing the fiscal stability of the Postal Service will require continued efforts in all of these areas, as well as further review of retiree health benefit prefunding," said Potter. "It also will require that the Postal Service gain flexibility within the law to move toward five-day delivery, to adjust our network as needed, to develop new products the market demands, and to work with our unions to meet the challenges ahead."

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Operation HOPE Officially Opens Atlanta Regional Office and Launches Mortgage and Consumer Credit Crisis Hotlines to Georgia and the Southeast Region

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Los Angeles-based nonprofit Operation HOPE (HOPE), the economic empowerment organization that has successfully educated, served and empowered more than 1.2 million Americans in the area of financial literacy and raised, funded and restructured more than $800 million in economic value for the underserved, hosted a grand opening at their Atlanta regional office on July 29, 2010.

“My mentor and HOPE Global Spokesman, Ambassador Andrew Young once told me that living in a capitalistic society with no access to capital is a sophisticated form of slavery”

The open house celebrated the official opening of HOPE's regional office in Atlanta, which will house several regional staff, including HOPE Chairman John Hope Bryant. Along with the open house reception and ribbon cutting ceremonies at the new Peachtree Street offices, HOPE launched two hotlines focused on helping those needing economic counseling. The Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and the HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline are a part of Operation HOPE's commitment to support residents of Georgia and the Southeast Region.

"My mentor and HOPE Global Spokesman, Ambassador Andrew Young once told me that living in a capitalistic society with no access to capital is a sophisticated form of slavery," said business bestselling author John Hope Bryant. "Through the launch of our Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline and the HOPE Consumer Credit Crisis Hotline, as well as the opening of our regional offices here and soon, our HOPE Center, to be located at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Operation HOPE is committed to helping underserved individuals and low-income families in Atlanta and throughout the Southeast better understand our economic system and provide them with a hand up not a hand out."

HOPE's ribbon cutting ceremony and open house reception brought leaders from the banking sector, community, government, and clergy together to celebrate the permanent establishment of HOPE in the region. Representing Mayor Kasim Reed's office, Candace Byrd said, "The American dream of homeownership is being tested by a foreclosure epidemic that not only threatens the stability of our economy but also the stability of family and neighborhoods. That's why it's all the more important that we are here to celebrate the opening of Operation HOPE's Atlanta regional office."

Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Church and HOPE partner in the new and coming HOPE Center to be located at the Martin Luther King Sr. Resource Facility, blessed the new offices. Lending words to the momentous occasion were Ambassador Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, and Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall.

In attendance were such notables as State Senator Donzella James; daughter of civil rights icon Hosea Williams and board member for Hosea, Dr. Barbara Williams-Emerson; Executive Director of the Andrew Young Foundation, Andrea Young; and President of Clark Atlanta University, Carlton Brown; among others.

Several HOPE Board members were active participants including President of Primerica Life Insurance Company, Jeff Fendler; IT Vendor Relations Manager for SunTrust Bank, Pernell Smalley; President of ABBA Associates Inc., William "Bill" Cheeks.

Local staff based out of the new Atlanta offices are Shari Abbott-Aranda for the Office of the Chairman, James Bailey for Banking on Our Future, College Edition, Tara Dennis for Banking on Our Future, Hope Jay for 5MK, Shasta Moore for Special Projects, Nell Patterson for HOPE Partners and HOPE Founder, Chairman and CEO John Hope Bryant.

The HOPE offices are fully functional and located at Peachtree Tower, 191 Peachtree Street, Suite 4000 Atlanta, GA 30303 and can be reached at (404) 941-2919.

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