From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

By: Damon Cline on January 13, 2008 - 8:06pm - 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 - 6:33pm - 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 - 5:49pm - 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 - 7:10pm - 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 - 9:01pm - 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 - 8:43pm - 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 - 7:55pm - 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.

By: Damon Cline on November 25, 2007 - 6:15pm - Add new comment

“It’s sad. It’s like losing a part of the family.”
– Diane Chamineak, lunch counter manager, F.W. Woolworth & Co. Broad Street store, June 20, 1991

The former F.W. Woolworth & Co. store at Eighth and Broad streets has gone through a few owners since the lights went out for good in 1992.

Other than a brief period when it was used to warehouse gambling equipment, the old five-and-dime has spent most of those 15 years as just another vacant relic of a bygone era of downtown commerce.

By: Damon Cline on November 18, 2007 - 7:20pm - Add new comment

A PR guy I know dropped by the other day to sell me on a story idea.

During my talk with this PR guy - we’ll call him "Neil Gordon" - our conversation drifted onto the topic of his former employer, eAuction Depot.

The company, which helps you sell your stuff on eBay, is no longer a corporate franchising entity.

It is, in fact, bankrupt.*

By: Damon Cline on November 11, 2007 - 7:39pm - Add new comment

met·ro·sex·u·al (met roh SEK shoo ul) n., adj., – a usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments and fashionable clothes

Most types of “personal service” make me somewhat nervous.

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