Archive for December, 2010
After taking a break for a couple weeks, government regulators closed two banks this afternoon. Details below. It’s 151 so far this year (140 in 2009).
No. 150 Paramount Bank of Farmington Hills, Mich. was closed, then taken over by Level One Bank of Farmington Hills. Paramount had four branches. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $90.2 million.
No. 151: EarthStar Bank of Southampton, Penn. was closed, then taken over by Polonia Bank in Huntingdon Valley, Penn. EarthStar had four branches. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $22.9 million.
A Bellingham restaurant will be closing at the end of the month.
Du Jour Bistro on 1319 Cornwall Ave. will discontinue food service as of Friday, Dec. 31, according to an e-mail from owner Mike Petersen. The Vines, which is also in the same space, will remain open, selling retail wine and acces-sories.
The holiday schedule will be Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with food service from 5 to 9 p.m. It will be open on Christmas Eve, closed on Christmas.
The number of Whatcom County residents filing for bankruptcy took a big drop in November.
Last month Whatcom County posted 48 bankruptcies, the lowest monthly total since September 2008, according to data from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District in Seattle. November’s total was down significantly from Octo-ber, when Whatcom posted 74 bankruptcies.
Through the first 11 months of 2010, Whatcom County has posted 752 bankruptcies, 2.2 percent higher than for the same period in 2009.
For the western district, which includes King County, 1,226 bankruptcies were filed in November, down 13.6 per-cent from October. Skagit County had 58 bankruptcies last month, up from 53 in October.
Today the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had an article about how much the Bellingham International Airport is drawing passengers away from Vancouver International Airport. Here’s the (link).
One thing that caught my eye was an unattributed reference to Bellingham planning to offer flights to Mexico sometime in 2012. We’re checking to see if anyone will confirm that statement.
Columbia Bank will soon have a presence in the downtown district.
The Tacoma-based bank purchased the former Horizon Bank property at 211 E. Holly St., kitty-corner from the YMCA. Columbia Bank plans to establish its own branch in the building and is expected to be ready by the end of March, said Dennis Joines, the retail banking group manager for Columbia Bank.
Columbia Bank purchased the property for $1.25 million, according to documents recorded at the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office.
Joines said Columbia was already interested in establishing a branch in downtown Bellingham when the building became available earlier this year.
“It’s one of the best corners in the downtown corridor,” Joines said.
Joines said the Holly Street branch will offer full-service consumer and commercial banking products and make the drive-through window available for customers.
Columbia Bank first entered the Whatcom County market three years ago, opening a branch at 115 W. Kellogg Road, near Whatcom Community College. Joines said the bank is reviewing its options about the future of the Kellogg Road branch.
“We haven’t come to a decision on that (Kellogg Road) branch,” Joines said.
The downtown building was operated for years by Horizon Bank before the bank was shut down by government regulators in January. Horizon was taken over by Washington Federal, which closed the Holly Street branch this past spring.
Once open, the downtown branch should have between nine and 11 employees, Joines said.
Here’s a press release from Manpower about its quarter job hiring survey… it’s one of the most optimistic in the past two years…
MILWAUKEE, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — Reporting the most optimistic hiring expectations in more than two
years, U.S. employers anticipate small staffing gains for Quarter 1 2011, according to the seasonally adjusted results
of the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, conducted quarterly by Manpower Inc.
The adjusted Outlook for Quarter 1 2011 is +9%, up from +5% during the same period last year and +5% during Quarter 4 2010.
This quarter’s survey reveals:
• Five Straight Quarters of Employment Growth: Employers report a positive overall hiring Outlook since the
start of 2010, according to seasonally adjusted data.
• Widespread Stability: The percentage of employers planning to keep staff levels unchanged persists at
unsurpassed levels, and those in seven of the 13 industry sectors surveyed expect to remain relatively stable compared to Quarter 4 2010.
• Current Outlook Still Below Past Decade’s Average: Despite positive signals, the Quarter 1 2011 Outlook is
nearly five percentage points below the average Outlook from 2001 to 2010.
“Across nearly all geographies in the world, the confidence to do additional hiring is improving,” said Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Joerres. “However, like the U.S., the lack of robust demand for products and services is creating a persistent level of uncertainty.”
Here’s a notice from the state about impending layoffs at a Kirkland company:
Company: ZipRealty, Inc. (Kirkland) will lay off 129 employees,
effective January 31, 2011
Date of Notification: December 06, 2010
Here’s a press release from the Washington State Employment Security Department:
Most employers’ unemployment-insurance tax rates are increasing for the second year in a row due to an economic downturn that has set new records for unemployment benefits paid to jobless workers.
The Employment Security Department is mailing 2011 tax-rate notices this week to more than 170,000 Washington businesses. The average tax rate in 2011 will be 3.26 percent, up from 2.39 percent in 2010.
Unemployment tax rates are recalculated each year using a formula established in state law. The Employment Security Department does not have discretion to set or adjust tax rates.
“No one likes announcing that tax rates are going up, especially when the economy is still moving very slowly,” said Employment Security Commissioner Paul Trause. “In recent years, we have worked with the legislature to improve fairness and equity in the unemployment tax system, and we hope to make additional progress while maintaining a stable benefits fund.”
The average rate for 2011 is the highest since 1988 and is a far cry from the rates employers were paying just two years ago. Because the state had historically low unemployment from 2005 through 2008, the 2009 tax rates were the lowest in 40 years.
The 2011 tax rates will range from 1.33 percent to 6 percent for most employers, compared to 0.95 percent and 6 percent in 2010. Taxes will apply to the first $37,300 of earnings for each worker.
Some employers will have rates above 6 percent (as high as 8.64 percent) because they were previously delinquent in filing reports and paying taxes, or if they have not been in business long enough to establish their own tax rate.
Even employers that have had no layoffs in the past four years will see higher tax rates because benefit payouts far exceeded taxes collected in the past year – about $2 billion in benefits payouts from the state’s unemployment trust fund compared to about $1.2 billion in tax collections. When payouts far exceed taxes collected, tax rates increase at the bottom of the rate structure to slow the decline of the unemployment trust fund and keep it solvent.
Unemployment taxes are deposited into a trust fund from which benefits are paid. As of Nov. 30, there was $2.5 billion in the fund, enough to provide about 15 months of benefits in a severe recession. Unlike the worker’s compensation fund, workers do not pay into the unemployment fund.
Employers paying taxes in January 2011 are filing for the last three months of 2010, so they should continue to use their 2010 tax rates. The new tax rates will be used to calculate taxes that are due April 30 for the first quarter of 2011.
There seems to be a lot happening in terms of new retail businesses getting open. Here are some quick updates:
– Last week Mi Casa Taqueria re-opened in bigger space in the same retail center at 505 32nd St., near the Regal Sehome 3 movie theater.
The restaurant had been closed for about two months during the remodel of the 1,200-square-foot space. The new space doubles the restaurant’s seating capacity, said Ken Selvidge, co-owner of the restaurant.
Selvidge said the restaurant was in a difficult position last spring they and considered closing, but then got involved with the Bellingham Farmer’s Market, increasing overall sales and its customer base during the summer months. When he first opened more than two years ago, he expected the biggest customer base for the Mexican restaurant to be college students, but that’s not the case.
“It’s definitely a neighborhood restaurant, and we appreciate the loyal customers we now have,” Selvidge said. “We’re hoping for further growth and improvement, and think the new space will help.”
The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. For further details, visit micasamexicanfood.com.
– Mi Casa’s former space is now occupied The Lunch Bucket, which is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday.
– The Ridge Wine Bar will have a grand re-opening celebration 4 p.m. to midnight on Thursday, Dec. 9 with music, beer and wine. The Ridge Wine Bar is at 1017 N. State St. in the former Chuckanut Ridge Wine Bar space.
Here’s are some details, which will also be in tomorrow’s Retail Tipsheet column:
Laila Yusufali expected to have a quiet soft opening last week, but she underestimated how quickly word gets around about a new restaurant in downtown Bellingham.
Yusufali opened Black Pearl restaurant in the Gateway Building on the corner of Railroad Avenue and Holly Street. It’s her second Bellingham restaurant; the Black Pearl in the Barkley Crossroads shopping center (near Lowe’s Home Improvement) opened three years ago.
Since opening the doors last week with little more notice than turning on the sign, it’s been much busier than expected, she said.