From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

By: Damon Cline on February 3, 2008 - 7:36pm - Add new comment

I did something I wasn’t proud of the other day – I booked a flight out of Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

What made me feel even worse was that I clicked the “accept” button on my computer to buy for a round-trip ticket to Phoenix while ink was still wet on the invitations to Augusta Regional Airport’s new-and-improved terminal building – a facility specifically designed to encourage greater use of the airport.

By: Damon Cline on January 27, 2008 - 7:37pm - Add new comment

As a more-than-casual observer and sometimes critic of Augusta’s* politico-business establishment, I am comfortable making this statement: The city is moving forward.

In fact, I’d say Augusta’s leadership is about to shift into second gear**.

That’s an accomplishment, considering that it wasn’t all that long ago the city was stuck in neutral, with occasional shifts into reverse.

By: Damon Cline on January 20, 2008 - 8:05pm - Add new comment

Augusta State University economics professor Mark Thompson last week unveiled the Greater Augusta Economic Activity Index, a statistical measurement of the region’s economic health based on a variety of economic indicators, including wage growth, unemployment and construction activity.

One noticeably absent component to the index is new-job announcements. I consider the omission a good thing because new-job announcements are one of the most unreliable economic indicators.

By: Damon Cline on January 13, 2008 - 9:06pm - Add new comment

boon·dog·gle (bün’-däg-el) n. work or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value

No one in our area, particularly readers of this column, should have been surprised at the revelation last week that alternative energy company Xethanol Corp. might sell its Augusta plant.
You know, the plant it said would be employing more than 100 people and producing 50 million gallons of ethanol by now.

By: Damon Cline on January 6, 2008 - 7:33pm - Add new comment

“Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them.”
– Warren Buffett, Jan. 17, 2006

Chances are, you enjoy a better standard of living than your parents, certainly much better than your grandparents or great-grandparents. As an American, it is normal to expect that your children and grandchildren will have a higher standard of living than what you enjoy today.

What if the opposite were to happen?

By: Damon Cline on December 30, 2007 - 6:49pm - Add new comment

Psst. I have a little secret I’d like to share with you – I can predict the future.

The following events will occur somewhere in our metro area during 2008:

- A longtime local business, which some residents consider an “institution,” will close.
- A local entrepreneur you’ve never heard of will open a business.

- A large national company will announce plans for a major operation in the area that will create hundreds of jobs.

By: Damon Cline on December 23, 2007 - 8:10pm - Add new comment

A civic club recently asked me to speak on the topic of the local economy.

I’m not an economist, but I accepted the offer because communicating economic news is a good part of what I do for a living. I speak to economists, analyze economic data and translate it into language that the average person can (I hope) understand.

I also knew accepting the offer would get me a free breakfast and a nifty pen.

By: Damon Cline on December 16, 2007 - 10:01pm - Add new comment

How much extra would you be willing to pay on your monthly phone bill in order to have an Augusta to Thomson call be considered “local,” not “long-distance?”

How much would you pay to have a call from Hephzibah to Waynesboro, Ga., be considered local? How about Wrens to Grovetown? Or Harlem to Midville, Ga.?

If you are one of those wireless-only people who don’t have a landline phone (you know, the kind of phone your parents have), your answer is probably “nothing.” For everyone else, the answer probably depends on how often they make such calls.

By: Damon Cline on December 9, 2007 - 9:43pm - Add new comment

I started thinking about my Rolodex the other day.*

Blame The Wall Street Journal, which recently published a story on how the venerable Rolodex – the large rotary-wheel models in particular – are still used by many executives in this age of the BlackBerry.

The story rhapsodized that “the hulking, 6,000-card wheels that once signaled a huge network of contacts” are no longer manufactured, which I suppose means the Rolodex is now officially in the Pantheon of Banished but Beloved Products, probably between a box of Lawn Darts and a 3-gallon toilet.

By: Damon Cline on December 2, 2007 - 8:55pm - Add new comment

In business, it’s not easy being the new kid on the block.

You have to fight a little harder, work a little smarter and move a little faster than your entrenched competitors to win the hearts and minds of potential consumers.

That’s the situation that Columbia -based First Citizens Bank and Trust Co. is preparing for as it enters the Augusta market.

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