Originally created 12/06/01

Business briefs



Commission pushes history for tourism

ATLANTA - A group of state lawmakers, historians and history enthusiasts began a yearlong assignment Tuesday to look for ways to use Georgia's history as a tool to boost tourism.

Gov. Roy Barnes swore in the 33-member Commission on Georgia History and Historical Tourism. The group includes Ed Cashin, director of Augusta State University's Center of Georgia History.

Edwin Jackson of Athens, the panel's chairman, said tourism can be the key economic development resource in many parts of Georgia, particularly rural counties, if an area's historical assets are identified and promoted.

Coca-Cola gets 'Greatest' ads

ATLANTA - Muhammad Ali has signed on to help Coca-Cola boost its products through marketing and public appearances with a two-year deal that could make the boxing icon an integral part of the beverage giant's advertising.

The deal announced Wednesday calls for Mr. Ali initially to appear as a Coke representative around the world, said Mr. Ali's agent, Bernie Yuman. Beyond that, Mr. Ali could appear in an array of Coke marketing and promotional events.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Mr. Ali agreed to the deal with Coke because of the broader platform it will give him to promote social change and causes such as reducing world hunger, Mr. Yuman said.

"This is a relationship of substance," he said. "It was entered into by a great company with great integrity. He's highly selective about the relationships that he enters into."

Gulfstream Aerospace wins Israeli contract

SAVANNAH -Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. said Wednesday it has been awarded a contract worth as much as $206 million for three Gulfstream V jets and support services from the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

The initial $174 million is for the jets and service through 2011. Israel also has an option for a second 10-year contract worth an additional $32 million. The jet will be used for surveillance missions.

Savannah-based Gulfstream, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, has sold its flagship G-V model to 30 governments, including the United States, Japan and Sweden. Last month, the Japanese Coast Guard ordered two G-Vs in a contract worth $100 million.

Japanese group shuts two Georgia plants

COLUMBUS, Ga. -Swift Spinning Mills has closed two of its five Columbus plants, leaving 212 people without jobs.

Another plant, Marubeni Denim, will be put up for sale immediately. If a purchaser is not found within two months, it also will close, company officials said Tuesday.

"The employees and their families deserve a better resolution to this difficult situation," said Shiro Kobayashi, chairman and chief executive of Swift Spinning Mills. "However, global economic concerns have dictated this unsavory course of action."

Swift Spinning is owned by Tokyo-based Marubeni Corp.

The company's decision to close the Columbus plants affects 212 of its 888-person work force immediately at the main mill and open end spinning operations.

The adjacent combed yard division plant, which has about 165 workers, will remain open, as will its east Columbus plant. That facility also has about 165 workers.

All the plants turn cotton into yarn used in apparel.

The high-tech Marubeni Denim plant, opened less than four years ago at a cost of about $61 million, has 346 employees. It is being put up for sale because of sluggish denim sales, company officials said.

Insurer cutting jobs over attack claims

CHICAGO -CNA Financial Corp., hit by insurance claims linked to the World Trade Center attacks, announced a restructuring Wednesday that will eliminate 1,850 jobs, or about 10 percent of its work force.

The nation's second-biggest business insurer said it is restructuring its property-casualty and life insurance operations, discontinuing its variable life and annuity business, consolidating real estate locations and making related job cuts nationwide.

The insurance holding company plans to close 101 offices in the first half of 2002, leaving it with 68 in 63 cities - the same number of cities it serves now.

BEYOND LAYOFFS

According to a new survey among corporate benefits staff members by MetLife, keeping the best employees is the biggest benefits priority. The survey of 481 benefits and compensation staff conducted in June showed that 78 percent view employee retention as their most critical goal, while 73 percent cited controlling benefits costs.

To meet the goals, 58 percent of employers think programs that encourage work/life balance are their most important benefits strategies.

BANKRUPTCY

The American Bankruptcy Institute provides these national statistics:

Personal, nonbusiness bankruptcy filings totaled 287,570 in 1980; 718,107 in 1990 and more than 1.2 million in 2000.

Business bankruptcies during the same junctures were 43,694; 64,853 and 35,472.

RIBBON CUTTING

Corner Cuts Custom Framing and Gifts, 706 Edgefield Road in North Augusta, has scheduled a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Friday and a holiday open house Dec. 14-15.