Archive for January, 2011
Government regulators shut down four banks this afternoon, details below. That makes 11 so far in 2011. I’ll update with a new post if they close any other banks before I leave the office today.
No. 8: The First State Bank, Camargo, Okla., was closed, then taken over by Bank 7 of Oklahoma City. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $20.1 million.
No. 9: Evergreen State Bank of Stoughton, Wis. was closed, then taken over by McFarland State Bank of McFarland, Wis. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $22.8 million.
No. 10: FirsTier Bank of Louisville, Colo. was closed and not taken over by any bank. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $242.6 million.
No. 11: First Commuity Bank of Taos, N.M. and its 38 branches were closed, then taken over by U.S. Bank. Estimated cost to the FDIC: $260 million.
Here’s a press release from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, officially announcing rates will go up 12 percent after taking public input:
TUMWATER – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) today announced a final decision to increase workers’ compensation premium rates by an average 12 percent or 6.5 cents per hour for 2011.
The new rates already took effect on Jan. 1 on an emergency basis. Individual employers could see their rates go up or down, depending on their recent claims history and any changes in the frequency and cost of claims in their industry.
“I know that many businesses are running on thin margins,” said L&I Director Judy Schurke. “That is why the Governor and I decided to use $117 million from the trust fund reserves to offset the costs of claims and keep the rate increase as low as possible.”
The 12 percent increase will bring in an additional $196 million and when combined with $117 million from the reserve funds will provide the additional $290 million needed to cover workers’ comp costs in 2011.
It’s tough to find a vacant apartment in Whatcom County these days, and that could mean higher rents in the coming months.
Last fall the apartment vacancy rate was estimated at 1.6 percent locally, according to a report published earlier this month by the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at Washington State University. That’s the lowest apartment vacancy rate recorded by the center since it began studying this area in the fall of 2000.
“That (vacancy rate) is extremely low,” said Glenn Crellin, director at the research center. He noted many developers are comfortable building more units when the vacancy rate is around 5 percent. “I see two trends that usually happen when the vacancy rate gets this low: the first is more pressure will be put on rental rates. The second is developers will build more units.”
The low vacancy levels already are affecting rental rates. According to the report, the average rent for an apartment in the fall of 2010 was $746 a month, up from $737 in fall 2009. The peak average rent paid, according to the report, was $759 a month in fall 2008, when the vacancy rate was 2.5 percent.
Carrie deKubber and Cody Hurlburt have opened The Reserve, a restaurant, lounge and event coordination center at the Homestead Golf and Country Club in Lynden.
The restaurant closed briefly earlier this week, re-opening on Wednesday, Jan. 26, according to a company press release. Below is the press release:
Full-Service Venue Opens in Lynden
Lynden, Wash. – January 27, 2011 –The Reserve made its first step toward the limelight when it opened its doors at Homestead Golf and Country Club in Lynden, Wash. on Wed., Jan. 26.
Carrie deKubber and Cody Hurlburt finalized their plans to lease the business in 2010, taking control of operations on Dec. 1. The business, which includes a restaurant, lounge, and event coordination, closed early this week in preparation for the grand opening.
“It’s exciting to have something with such great potential,” deKubber said. “I feel like we’re on the brink of something amazing and I hope to see this place flourish like I know it can.”
The Reserve offers a new menu aimed to deliver quality food at an affordable price. Customer service is another priority Hurlburt said he and his colleagues are focusing on, especially during this critical stage of the business.
“I want people to recognize that this is essentially a new facility, having been remodeled last year and now being taken over by new management,” Hurlburt said.
Coldwell Banker Miller Arnason has launched its relocation service to help companies that are moving employees to Whatcom County.
Coldwell Banker Relocation is dedicated to providing businesses and institutions, and their relocating employees, with a variety of services. Members of the team serve as the transferee’s personal concierge service, offering pre-move counseling, area tours, home finding, neighborhood and school reports, and assistance with all aspects of their move, according to company press release.
“This is a unique service in Bellingham,” says Gragg Miller, managing partner of Coldwell Banker in the press release. “The real strength of this service is that it takes over the responsibility from the hiring company for assisting the new employee to find a community, neighborhood, home and schools that meet their personal and family needs.”
Members of the relocation team consist of Ann Peterson, George Geer, Monte Young and Tom DeRose. Coldwell Banker is at 3610 Meridian St in Bellingham. For additional information, contact the Relocation Team at 360-220-9355, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a press release from the Washington State Department of Revenue, which is taking suggestions from the public on how to simplify the tax system for business owners:
Have an idea on how Washington can simplify its tax system to help small businesses? If so, the Department of Revenue would like to hear from you through an online survey at this (link).
The Department is soliciting tax simplification ideas in response to a directive from Governor Chris Gregoire.
The Department is in the process of scheduling meetings with stakeholders to gather information on the burdens and costs of complying with the tax system. The online survey is intended to supplement that process and ensure that ideas and feedback are received from as broad a segment of the small business community as possible.
Revenue Director Suzan DelBene said the goal is to lay a strong foundation for the private sector to grow and create family-wage jobs.
“Simplifying the tax code and reducing administrative burdens will save small businesses time and money and let owners and employees focus less on paperwork and more on their core business in this tough economy,” she said. “This will help small businesses in all of our communities to thrive and improve our entire state’s competitiveness.”
She noted that Washington’s tax system is relatively unique and can be complicated, with both state and local gross receipts taxes and sales taxes that vary by location.
The Department plans to present its findings and recommendations to the Governor by June 30.
Learn about contracting and procurement opportunities with various local government agencies in a free business forum on Thursday, Feb. 3.
Doing Business in Bellingham, co-hosted by the City of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham, is scheduled 9 a.m. to noon at the Port’s Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Avenue. This free event is open to business owners and operators throughout Western Washington.
The forum is an opportunity to meet with representatives from a variety of government agencies and learn about upcoming contract and procure-ment opportunities throughout our region. Participants can learn how each agency’s purchasing process works and how to get their businesses listed on the various procurement rosters.
“This event will help businesses understand local government purchasing and permitting, and provide a unique opportunity to network with other business owners,” said City Purchasing Superintendent Joan Cady in a press release.
There is no need for registration and the forum is free. For more information, contact Joan Cady, Purchasing Superintendent, City of Bellingham, at 360-778-7700 or email@example.com.
Below is a snippet from The Associated Press about Alaska Air Group’s latest earning report. For those flying out of Bellingham, the more interesting part is the retiring of the Horizon name. According to the company’s website, the only changes customers will notice is the paint scheme, signage and horizonair.com.
Alaska Air Group, which operates Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, said Tuesday its fourth-quarter profit nearly tripled as traffic improved and it added routes. The company also said it will take delivery of an additional 15 Boeing 737s and will retire the Horizon name to fly all its planes under one banner.
As part of the brand change, Horizon’s fleet will be repainted with a new paint scheme prominently featuring “Alaska” across the fuselage and the Eskimo on the tail. The plane will continue to include the Horizon logo on the sides of the aircraft, which will now appear in Alaska’s dark blue color.
Travelers will begin to see changes to airport signs, advertising and planes starting next month. Horizon expects to unveil its the first plane with its new look in February as well.
The company reported net income of $64.8 million, or $1.75 per share, in the last three months of last year, compared with $24.1 million, or 67 cents per share, a year ago.
Here’s an interesting survey/press release from the AGC about what state contractors are saying about how long it will take before the construction industry recovers. Further details can be found at this (link).
The rebound for the construction industry is still a couple years away, according to a poll of Washington State contractors by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America.
When asked, “When do you expect the construction market to grow again?”, 45 percent of contractors polled in Washington State said 2013; 34 percent said 2012; 14 percent said 2011 and seven percent said 2014.
Washington State contractors have a more pessimistic view than those in other states. On a national level, the largest slice of contractors surveyed (48 percent) believe that 2012 will be the year the industry grows again.
On a more positive note, the construction industry in this state has clearly stabilized. More firms (26 percent) plan to add staff than lay off staff (16 percent) in 2011. In 2010, a whopping 67 percent of firms laid off staff, and only 19 percent added staff.
A new national report shows more Whatcom County residents are significantly late on their home loan payments.
According to CoreLogic, 4.09 of all Whatcom County mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent in November, up from a revised October rate of 3.97 percent. The delinquency has risen steadily since January 2009, when the rate was 2.1 percent. Whatcom’s November delinquency rate remains below the state (5.96 percent in November) and national (7.88 percent).
The percentage of home loans in some stage of foreclosure stood at 1.5 percent in November, up from 1.34 percent in October. It’s also been steadily rising since January 2009, when the rate was 0.68 percent. The state foreclosure rate in November was 2.14 percent, while the national rate was 3.48.
The number of loans returned to the lender in November was 0.24 percent, down from 0.26 percent in October. The state REO rate was 0.44 in November, while the national rate was 0.67 percent.