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The Trump administration is still a long way off from ditching NAFTA
A pre-election "action plan" released by President Donald Trump listed a plan to renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement as the top strategy it will pursue to protect American jobs. But it could be quite some time before a new version of that deal is formally set in motion, according to trade experts. To renegotiate NAFTA, under a law passed in 2015, the White House must open an official 90-day negotiating window with Congress, during which time the legislative and executive branches will debate how the deal should be changed. That hasn't happened yet, according to congressional aides with knowledge of the process. CNBC
Submitted yesterday

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Business executives' optimism surges under Trump, survey finds
Business executives are feeling more confident with Donald Trump in the White House, according to an annual survey from JPMorgan Chase. The survey found that 76% of the executives believe the new administration will have a positive impact on their businesses. The respondents cited the new administration's policy plans, including tax reform and reduced regulation. Only 12% said they expect a negative impact. CNN Money
Submitted yesterday

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Corning to add 410 jobs in North Carolina
RALEIGH -- Corning will add 410 jobs in Cabarrus and Catawba counties, according to an economic development announcement Monday by Gov. Roy Cooper. The New York-based Corning already employs more than 3,000 people at five sites in North Carolina. It will add 200 jobs at Corning Inc. in Cabarrus County, and create 210 jobs at Corning Optical Communications in Catawba, where the company is building a $67 million manufacturing facility. Corning will receive up to $11.3 million in state and local incentives over a 12-year-period if it meets certain hiring and retention goals. Charlotte Observer
Submitted yesterday

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What if the Louisiana Legislature fails to eliminate the $304 million deficit?
The Louisiana Legislature was getting closer to an agreement Monday (Feb. 20) on erasing state government's $304 million midyear deficit after a week of negotiations. The lawmakers' special session to rebalance the budget must end by Wednesday at midnight, leaving them less than three days to finalize a deal. Gov. John Bel Edwards, the Senate and the House leadership still need to persuade enough House members to support using reserve money, commonly called the rainy day fund, to resolve the impasse. Much of those negotiations hinge on passing another piece of legislation -- which would shift money around in the next budget cycle and create new government cuts July 1. NOLA.com
Submitted yesterday

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Atlanta traffic among worst in the world, study finds
To no Atlanta commuter’s surprise, the metro recently ranked among the top most congested cities in the world, according to a new report by transportation analytics firm INRIX. According to INRIX’s 2016 Global Traffic Scorecard, Atlanta ranked eighth in the world for congestion with the average commuter spending 70.8 hours in traffic each year. Nationally, the metro came in fourth. Last year, Atlanta was No. 11 on the global list. AJC.com
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Tampa cruises will add millions to Cuban economy
TAMPA — Major cruise lines will start sailing from Port Tampa Bay to Havana in the coming months, with possibly more than 40,000 passengers spread out over 22 voyages who could add more than $5 million to the Cuban economy this year and next. These statistics are from a new report by the New York-based U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which crunches numbers on business between the two nations. John Kavulich, president of the council, said he based his figures on if the ships are at full passenger capacity. Tampa Bay Times
Submitted yesterday

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FPL accelerates plans to add solar power
TALLAHASSEE -- Florida’s largest electric utility intends to double its solar-energy plans for the coming year, leading solar proponents to praise the announcement — and say they would like to see more. A month after outlining plans to build four solar plants this year, Florida Power & Light on Monday said it will put up eight such facilities by early 2018. The company anticipates the plants — combining to create nearly 600 megawatts of power, enough for about 120,000 homes at peak production — will save customers “millions” over the lifetime of each center. Miami Herald
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Edsels of energy? Duke Energy may find new AP1000 nuclear plants are already outdated
In October and then again in December of 2016, Duke Energy won long-pursued federal operating licenses to build and run what was meant to be cutting edge nuclear power plants at sites in Florida and South Carolina. Duke has no current plans to proceed on either project. The dilemma? Now that Duke has finally secured these hard-to-get licenses, years have passed since these projects were first proposed. More than $1 billion (much of it still to be charged to customers via higher electric rates) have been spent on early site preparations. And what was once the modern design of the chosen nuclear plants, known as the AP1000, at both sites now looks outmoded by newer plans for smaller, less costly and quicker-to-build nuclear plants. Tampa Bay Times
Submitted yesterday

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Japan company agrees to buy firm that owns 33 Arkansas newspapers for $3.3B
Tokyo-based SoftBank Group Corp. has agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash to acquire Fortress Investment Group of New York, an owner of more than 120 newspapers nationwide, including 33 in Arkansas. Gatehouse Media, which Fortress acquired in 2005, owns daily newspapers in Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Fort Smith, Arkadelphia, Stuttgart and Hope; paid weeklies in 17 communities in the state; and free weeklies in 11 communities. Fortress is a diversified global investment company with $70 billion in assets under management and 1,100 employees. It manages assets for 1,750 institutional clients and private investors worldwide. Arkansas Democrat Gazette
Submitted yesterday

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Here's how much the Charlotte Hornets, as well as the 29 other NBA teams, spend per win
As the NBA finished its All-Star break, it's worth a look to see how much each team pays for each win. Perhaps because they win so many games, the Golden State Warriors spend a league-low $2.1 million per victory; Steph Curry and his mates are 47-9. The Brooklyn Nets occupy the other end of the spectrum, doling out $8.7 million per victory. The Nets are 9-47 going into the break. Triangle Business Journal
Submitted yesterday

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Features & Opinion

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

For those who still languish over "losing to China" or believe that the economy is still in recession, wake up and smell the data. Economic development in the South was about as good as it gets in calendar year 2015 according to the data. And as for China, borrowing a quote from the late football coach Bear Bryant that he made in the half-time locker room down 15-0 to Georgia Tech in 1960, "We got 'em right where we want 'em." For those of you who don't know the rich history of Alabama Crimson Tide football, Bama scored all of its 16 points in the fourth quarter, kicking a field goal on the last play of the game to beat Tech 16-15.
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

 FEATURE  
By Mike Randle
Today, factories in the U.S. make twice as much product as they did in 1984. And they are doing it with one-third of the manufacturing workforce. In fact, the output of durable goods in 2015 was the highest in the nation's history. So, we do have a strong manufacturing base, at least in the South, much of the Midwest and parts of the West, and it is getting stronger because on a cost-basis, we can compete with any major manufacturing nation in the world.  
 

 Randle Report - Business News in the South

FEATURE     
The argument for or against a minimum wage hike continues between the reds and the blues, as well as within the economic development community in the South. Should we stay the course with a minimum wage under $8 an hour to better compete with Mexico, the South's biggest competitor for jobs, or set a minimum wage just over $10 an hour, a wage floor most centrists support? That $10 per hour is, according to the MIT Living Wage Calculator, about right in most states in the South for one adult to be able to cover basic expenses plus all relevant taxes.
 
 Randle Report - Business News in the South
Recent data from the Computing Technology Industry Association (Comp TIA) showed that the technology industry is one of the fastest growing job generators in the South and the nation. The report also indicated that technology job compensation is growing faster than any other sector.
 


 

 

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