Archive for October, 2009
Anne-Marie Faiola, founder of Bellingham-based Bramble Berry Inc. and Otion, won the 2009 Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year award last week in Seattle.
The award is given out by Women Business Owners of Western Washington. Judging criteria for the award was weighted on entrepreneurial spirit, ethics, community spirit, financial/managerial skill and difficulty of business. The Nellie honors Puget Sound area women entrepreneurs who have made an outstanding contribution to the status of women business owners through their leadership in business and the community, according to a press release from the organization.
Whatcom County’s unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in September, equal to the revised August rate of 7.9 percent.
I’m working on a story now, but at first blush it looks like a situation where a bunch of people dropped out of the workforce with the start of school. There were 4,000 less people in the workforce (people employed and people actively seeking work). There were 8,450 actively seeking work in September, down 320 from August.
The Washington state rate was 9.3 percent in September, up from a revised August rate of 9 percent. The U.S. rate is 9.8 percent.
It’s just about time for retailers to start hiring for the holiday shopping season, but one report suggests it won’t be a good one for many people hoping to make some extra cash.
According to a national survey from SnagAJob.com, managers plan to hire an average of 3.1 employees for the holiday season. That is 45 percent lower than two years ago and down 16 percent compared to 2008.
When asked why they did NOT intend to hire this season, the 53 percent of managers in this category pointed to the ability for current staff to take over additional hours (45 percent), lack of budget for seasonal hires (30 percent) and slower business levels (25 percent) as their reasons for not hiring. Overall, 58 percent of hiring managers expect holiday sales to be even with last year’s numbers, but one quarter anticipate a down season (18 percent expect sales to be better than last year), according to the press release discussing the survey.
I haven’t had a chance to check in with local retailers, but I’m guessing (based on the lack of help-wanted advertisments/signs) that it’ll also be tough to snag a seasonal job around here. What are you seeing out there?
Surprisingly, Friday afternoon has come and gone without a single bank closure in the U.S. (well, as of 6:30 p.m., anyway). I can’t remember the last time there were no closures on a Friday. It would seem especially tempting for regulators to close one today, since there is a Monday holiday that would give them more time to figure out the books.
No closures is a good way to end the week (and allows me to get caught up on other office stuff). Have a good weekend!
Below is a press release offering a free workshop for business owners who are having a tough time with staffing in today’s economic climate.
Free Oct. 15 workshop advises on workforce needs
Join in a free workshop scheduled for Oct. 15 focusing on workforce, staffing and employment needs during both challenging and prosperous economic times. Experts from workforce development, education and human resource agencies will provide resources and tools companies can use to help manage staffing and workforce needs.
Managing Staffing and Workforce Needs in an Up or Down Market
Keeping Local Business Strong Workshop Series
8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, October 15
Mount Baker Theatre’s Walton Room
This is the sixth of six free monthly sessions in the Keeping Local Business Strong Workshop Series, designed to help keep business strong and healthy in this challenging economy.
Panel members include Gary Smith, Regional Manager with Northwest Workforce Council, Terry Cox, Workforce Education Director at Whatcom Community College, Kiera Berghof, Managing Director, Kelly Services, and Larry Boone, retired Human Resources professional.
Smith will bring information from our Workforce Council, whose mission is to prepare a skilled, successful workforce aligned to the needs of business and industry. He will have information about programs, such as the Shared Worker Program, that help keep your valuable staff employed during periods of economic hardship.
Cox will update us on options for continuing education for skill and professional development, which is available from a number of sources such as Whatcom Community College. She will have ideas for creative staff development and leveraging ideas in lean times.
Berghof will provide insights into accessing services available through an employment agency that may surprise you. Boone will bring successful examples of staff and workforce management tips that, with the right investment of time and careful planning, explore solutions that optimize results for both you as the owner, and your employees.
The series is sponsored by the City of Bellingham, Sustainable Connections, Center for Economic Vitality (formerly SBDC), Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington, Northwest Economic Council and the Downtown Bellingham Partnership.
For information or to RSVP, please contact Tara Sundin, City of Bellingham, 778-8300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Fun to Shop!, a clothing store in Fairhaven’s Sycamore Square (1200 Harris Avenue) is hosting a “Yard Sale” starting from noon to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10. The sale is being done to raise money for the victims of American Samoa and Philippines as they’ve been dealing with the aftermath of earthquakes and typhoons. For details or to donate, call 676-5100.
My apologies, I missed a bank that was shut down on Friday, Oct. 2. It’s the 98th bank failure in the U.S. this year. Here are the details:
Southern Colorado National Bank of Pueblo, Colo. was shut down by state and federal regulators, then taken over by Legacy Bank of Wiley, Colo. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $6.6 million.
Everett-based Frontier Bank wasn’t able to complete the merger with SP Acquistion, which was expected to help the bank out of its financial difficulties. A press release from the company below. Frontier’s stock fell 25 percent (about 25 cents) as of 11 a.m. on the news.
Frontier Financial Corporation (NASDAQ: FTBK) (“Frontier”) and SP Acquisition Holdings, Inc. (NYSE Amex: DSP) (“SPAH”) today jointly announced that they have mutually agreed to terminate the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of July 30, 2009, by and between SPAH and Frontier, as amended by Amendment No. 1 to Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of August 10, 2009, effective immediately, due to the fact that certain closing conditions contained in the merger agreement could not be met. As a result, the special meetings of SPAH’s stockholders and warrant holders and Frontier’s shareholders scheduled to be held on October 8, 2009 have been cancelled.
Pat Fahey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Frontier, noted that “After working diligently for several months, the parties could not secure the required regulatory approvals in sufficient time to complete the transaction by the October 10, 2009 deadline. We will continue to aggressively work to resolve our loan problems, and shore up our capital position.”
Frontier previously announced its continued participation in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (“FDIC”) voluntary Transaction Account Guarantee (“TAG”) portion of the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program through June 30, 2010. Under this program, Frontier’s noninterest bearing transaction accounts and qualified NOW checking accounts are fully guaranteed by the FDIC for an unlimited amount of coverage. The coverage under the TAG program is in addition to, and separate from, the coverage available under the FDIC’s general deposit insurance protection.
Because of the termination of the merger agreement and pursuant to the terms of its amended and restated certificate of incorporation, SPAH’s corporate existence will cease on October 10, 2009. The trustee will commence liquidating the investments constituting the trust account and distribute the proceeds to the public stockholders of SPAH in accordance with SPAH’s amended and restated certificate of incorporation, the Investment Management Trust Agreement, and applicable law.
I was looking through the 2009 edition of the Washington State Retail Survey, which is full of stats and graphs about retail in every community in Washington. One thing that caught my eye was a ranking of per captia retail sales.
The top of the list is dominated by smaller communities that have strong outlet mall/retail draws. Burlington, for example, ranked second with $72,759, while Tukwila was third. Not sure why, but Pacific (near Auburn) topped the list. The state average per captia was $8,753.
In Whatcom County, Bellingham ranked 35th in the state, with a per capita retail sales totaling $17,182 a year. Blaine ranked 84th at $10,336, Everson was 160th at $4,675, Ferndale was 131st at $6,890, Lynden was 102nd at $8,649, Nooksack was 164th at $4,478 and Sumas was 150th at $4,975.
So, Blaine and Bellingham were above the state average, while the rest of the Whatcom County communities are below. It would seem to me that those above the state average are drawing in shoppers from somewhere else, while those below the state average have more people going elsewhere to do their shopping. It makes sense, Blaine can draw in Canadians, while Bellingham draws in shoppers from the county and Canadians.
Once again it’s time for the Friday afternoon bank closures. So far today there’s been two banks closed by regulators, bringing the total to 97 this year. I’ll update with a new post if others are shut down later today. Here’s the details on the two that didn’t make it:
No. 96 – Warren Bank of Warren, Mich. was shut down, then taken over by Huntington National Bank of Columbus, Ohio. Cost to the FDIC: $275 million.
No. 97 – Jennings State Bank of Spring Grove, Minn. was shut down, then taken over by Central Bank of Stillwater, Minn. Cost to the FDIC: $11.7 million.