<![CDATA[NBC 10 Philadelphia - Business News - [PHI Feature]Business]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/businessen-usSat, 23 Sep 2017 21:36:03 -0400Sat, 23 Sep 2017 21:36:03 -0400NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[Could the Pa. Budget Battle Sink Philly's Amazon HQ Dreams?]]>Sat, 23 Sep 2017 16:24:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-696672170.jpg

Mass transit system? Check. Big population center? Check. Top-notch universities? Check. Predictable state government with a top-notch credit rating?

Pennsylvania business boosters and economic development professionals couldn't help noticing this week that state government got slapped with another credit downgrade amid an ugly budget stalemate just as officials in the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh regions are polishing their resumes to try to land the golden goose: Amazon's second headquarters.

Perhaps Amazon doesn't care that Pennsylvania state government is prone to unpredictable fights over an entrenched post-recession deficit, as long as the right taxpayer-paid financial incentives are greased into law.

Perhaps Pennsylvania's lousy credit rating is of no concern as long as it has low taxes.

Perhaps Amazon will see the stalemate — the second in three budgets under Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and this Republican-controlled Legislature — as hardly different from the gyrations of any state government.

"There's a recognition of that, for sure, but we don't feel like it is a unique enough situation to cause Amazon or any other observers to say, 'Wow, what's going on there?'" said Matt Cabrey, the executive director of Select Greater Philadelphia Council, which is collaborating with Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's administration in a pitch to Amazon.

Amazon declined to answer questions about it, while officials involved with the regional applications — including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's administration — downplayed the practical effect.

Dennis Davin, Wolf's economic development secretary, said Amazon will look at Pennsylvania's business environment, not its budget fisticuffs.

And while the stalemate and downgrade are not causing handwringing or panic among Pennsylvania's business leaders, there is head-shaking, said Gene Barr, president of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. That's because how Pennsylvania state government is viewed from the outside is crucial to attracting business investment, said Barr and others.

"That doesn't spur economic development or investment, when you have such a credit downrating," said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. "And that credit downrating affects not only state government, but municipal governments, school districts, and it raises the cost of business significantly."

Bids are due to Amazon on Oct. 19. It plans to select a winner next year and construction could begin in 2019. The $5 billion price tag, projected over 15-17 years, would be the biggest-ever business investment in Pennsylvania, at least on par with Shell's proposed construction of a petrochemical refinery in suburban Pittsburgh.

For Pennsylvania, the stakes may be higher than many other East Coast states.

An Amazon headquarters with up to 50,000 employees could revive the economy in one of the nation's oldest states. It could also ease worrisome projections that show the growth of Pennsylvania's retirement-age population ballooning in the coming decade, while its working-age population shrinks.

Should Amazon select a site in Pennsylvania, the Legislature will be called on to approve a package of economic incentives. One of Amazon's requests in its eight-page request for proposals is a total value of financial incentives being offered, as well as the timelines necessary to secure the approvals of each incentive.

Davin said it should be an easy case to make to lawmakers that an Amazon campus in one part of Pennsylvania would benefit the whole state and produce revenue that makes up for whatever financial breaks the state delivers.

"It would take special legislation, and I think we will be in a good position to get everybody on board," Davin said.

To be sure, the Legislature is willing to shell out for private business. In 2012, lawmakers approved an uncapped tax credit for 25 years to secure Shell's commitment to a petrochemical refinery. The tax credit is a nickel per gallon of ethane used.

Meanwhile, the state footed well over $700 million in economic development incentives in the 2014-15 fiscal year, the Legislature's Independent Fiscal Office reported.

Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery, who has pushed to squeeze out "corporate welfare," said Pennsylvania has repeatedly failed to use it wisely.

Still, it would be terrific if Amazon picks Pennsylvania, Stephens said, and he would support the right kind of incentives.

"We would have to make sure that it would truly create lasting, family-sustaining jobs for Pennsylvanians," Stephens said, "which has not been the case for most of our economic development programs in Pennsylvania."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Senate Bill Would Make Online Political Ads More Transparent]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 19:00:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/markwarnerd-va_1200x675.jpg

Legislation floated by two Democratic senators would enhance transparency for online political ads, requiring social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to keep a public file of election ads and communications.

The bill by Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota would try to fill what they call a "major gap" in election advertising transparency. In a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the two say the legislation would also require companies to "make reasonable efforts" to ensure that election ads are not purchased directly or indirectly by a foreign national.

The letter was sent Thursday, the same day that Facebook said it will provide the contents of 3,000 ads bought by a Russian agency to congressional investigators and make political advertising on its platform more transparent.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company will require political ads to disclose who is paying for them. Warner and Klobuchar said their bill would "formalize, and expand" what Facebook has promised, bringing regulation of online electioneering more in line with broadcast and print advertising. Federal regulations now require television and radio stations to make publicly available the details of political ads they air. That includes who purchased the ad, when it runs and how much it costs.

The legislation would require digital platforms with 1 million or more users to maintain the file of electioneering communications purchased by a group or person spending more than $10,000 on online political ads. The file would also include copies of the ads, a description of the audience targeted, the number of views generated and other relevant information.

After months of Facebook secrecy about the issue, the two senators write the company "now seems to realize that there is a major gap in transparency and accountability for digital ads."

The bill would also apply to other popular social media outlets like Twitter, which is meeting with the Senate intelligence committee next week. Warner is the top Democrat on that panel, which is one of several congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The panel has been scrutinizing the spread of false news stories and propaganda on social media.

Congress has so far been reluctant to regulate social media companies. But Warner and others have called for better transparency laws since Facebook acknowledged earlier this month that hundreds of phony Facebook accounts, likely run from Russia, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues such as gun control and race relations during the 2016 campaign.

Lawmakers have said they want to know more about the content of the ads pushed out by the Russian-based Internet Research Agency and whether they targeted specific voters or locations in the United States.

"With social media you can specifically target these ads, and if you don't happen to see it, you may never know what's out there in the ether," Warner said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

Clint Watts, a counterterrorism expert who tracks social media accounts pushing Russian talking points, said Twitter may have even more to answer for than Facebook. The company may not even know the identities behind some Russian-operated accounts on its platform.

"There's gotta be some sort of legislation, or this will happen again," said Watts, a Robert A. Fox fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mazda 6 Recalled; Wiring Short Can Knock Out Power Steering]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 20:24:58 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/mazdalogo_1200x675.jpg

Mazda is recalling more than 60,000 midsize cars in the U.S. and Canada because a wiring problem can knock out power-assisted steering and the passenger air bag.

The recall covers Mazda 6 sedans from 2015 and 2016. The company says in documents posted by the U.S. government that wires under the front passenger seat can rub against welding debris, causing them to short. A loss of power-assisted steering can increase the risk of a crash, although none have been reported.

Owners should see multiple warning lights if the problem happens.

Dealers will inspect the cars and install insulating tape or a protective pad to shield the wires. The recall is expected to start on Sept. 29.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Harold Cunningham/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trade Panel: Cheap Imports Hurt US Solar Industry ]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:53:53 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/solarpanelschicago_1200x675.jpg

Low-cost solar panels imported from China and other countries have caused serious injury to American manufacturers, a U.S. trade commission ruled Friday, raising the possibility of the Trump administration imposing tariffs that could double the price of solar panels from abroad.

The 4-0 vote by the International Trade Commission sets up a two-month review period in which the panel must recommend a remedy to President Donald Trump, with a final decision on tariffs expected in January.

White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said Trump "will examine the facts and make a determination that reflects the best interests of the United States. The U.S. solar manufacturing sector contributes to our energy security and economic prosperity."

Georgia-based Suniva Inc. and Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas brought the case, saying a flood of imports have pushed them to the brink of extinction. Suniva declared bankruptcy, while SolarWorld had to lay off three-quarters of its workforce.

Cheap imports have led to a boom in the U.S. solar industry, where rooftop and other installations have surged tenfold since 2011.

The main trade group for the solar industry and many governors oppose tariffs, saying they could cause a sharp price hike that would lead to a drop in solar installations by more than 50 percent in two years.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, called the trade commission's vote disappointing for nearly 9,000 U.S. solar companies and the 260,000 Americans they employ.

"Foreign-owned companies that brought business failures on themselves are attempting to exploit American trade laws to gain a bailout for their bad investments," Hopper said, warning that potential tariffs could double the price of solar installations, lowering U.S. demand and risking billions of dollars in investment.

Suniva's U.S. operations are based in Georgia, but the company's majority owner is in China. SolarWorld Americas is a subsidiary of German solar giant SolarWorld, which declared insolvency last month.

Suniva hailed the ruling.

"It will be in President Trump's hands to decide whether America will continue to have the capability to manufacture this energy source," the company said in a statement. "President Trump can remedy this injury with relief that ensures U.S. energy dominance that includes a healthy U.S. solar ecosystem and prevents China and its proxies from owning the sun."

Trump has not cozied up to the solar industry, as he has for coal and other fossil fuels, but he is considered sympathetic to imposing tariffs on solar imports as part of his "America first" agenda.

Governors of four solar-friendly states — Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts and North Carolina — oppose the tariff, warning it could jeopardize the industry. They cited a study showing that a global tariff could cause solar installations to drop by more than 50 percent in two years, a crushing blow as states push for renewable energy that does not contribute to climate change.

"The requested tariff could inflict a devastating blow on our states' solar industries and lead to unprecedented job loss, at steep cost to our states' economies," the two Republicans and two Democrats wrote in a letter Thursday to the trade commission.

A group of former U.S. military officials also urged the Trump administration to reject solar tariffs, noting that the Defense Department is the nation's largest energy consumer and follows a federal law calling for the Pentagon to procure 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Suniva called the case a matter of fairness. Even with better manufacturing methods, lower costs and "dramatically improved efficiency," the company has "suffered substantial losses due to global imports," Suniva said in its petition. The company declared bankruptcy this spring after laying off 190 employees and closing production sites in Georgia and Michigan.

SolarWorld Americas, meanwhile, has trimmed its workforce from 1,300 to 300, with more cuts likely.

"After nearly 30 factories have shut down in the wake of surging imports, the legacy of this pioneering American industry hangs in the balance," said Juergen Stein, CEO and president of SolarWorld Americas.

"We believe that the promise of solar - energy sustainability and independence - can be realized only with healthy American manufacturing to supply growing U.S. demand," Stein said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Hopper countered that a tariff would likely decrease the number of U.S. manufacturers, because of reduced demand.

While the U.S. solar industry employs about 260,000 people, fewer than 2,000 are involved in making solar panels like those made by Suniva and SolarWorld. More than half of solar jobs are in installation, with another 66,000 in sales, distribution and development.

About 38,000 jobs involve manufacture of inverters, racks and other products related to solar panels.

Hopper told reporters she was optimistic that Trump would not impose tariffs on solar imports.

"The president wants to create jobs and increase energy security and economic prosperity, and that is the story of the solar industry," she said. "I think that is entirely resonant with his rhetoric and his concern."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Uber to Lose Its License to Operate in London]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:08:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/uber-lyft-icons.jpg

Uber's license to operate in London won't be renewed because its practices endanger public safety and security, the local regulator said Friday, in a blow to a company already facing big questions over its corporate culture.

Transport for London says the company, whose app is used by 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers in London, isn't "fit and proper" to hold a license to operate a private-hire vehicle service.

"TfL considers that Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications," the regulator said in a statement.

Uber was first licensed to operate in the city in 2012 and will see its current license expire on Sept. 30. The company said it plans to appeal the regulator's decision, and can continue to operate until the appeals process is exhausted.

For its part, Uber accused the city of caving in to special interests "who want to restrict consumer choice."

"Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the U.K.," the company said. "This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers."

Uber, founded in 2010 in San Francisco, has often faced opposition as it expanded. Taxi drivers complain that Uber drivers don't have to comply with the same licensing standards, giving the ride-hailing service an unfair advantage and placing the public at risk.

The company, which provides a smartphone application that connects passengers with drivers who work as independent contractors, argues it isn't a traditional transportation company.

In its decision, Transport for London singled out Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offenses and how it conducts background checks on drivers. TfL also took issue with Uber's explanation of software that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app and "prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties."

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he supported the decision, saying any operator of taxi services in the city "needs to play by the rules."

"Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security," he said. "I fully support TfL's decision — it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security."

Police in London accused Uber last month of not reporting a sexual assault by a driver on a passenger, allowing the driver to strike again. Metropolitan Police Inspector Neil Billany suggested in a letter that the company was putting concerns for its reputation over public safety.

At the time, Uber said it was surprised by the letter and that it had a good working relationship with the police.

But the company has been dogged by questions on its workplace culture. In July, former CEO Travis Kalanick resigned following criticism of his management style. Some 20 people, including some managers, were fired in June amid allegations of sexual harassment and bullying.

Its aggressive corporate culture has resulted in litigation around the world. John Colley, a strategy professor at Warwick Business School, said poor values ultimately bring companies down. Uber is now effectively banned from France, Spain and Belgium, and it is facing litigation and investigations around the world, he said.

"There is a very long list of businesses who have suffered for failing to uphold the level of values necessary," Colley said. "Until Uber gets this message then it will suffer lost trade as a result of its deteriorating reputation."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Jenny Kane/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Liliane Bettencourt, World's Richest Woman, Dies at Age 94]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 14:59:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/LilianeBettencourt.jpg

Liliane Bettencourt, the L'Oreal cosmetics heiress and the world's richest woman, has died at her home in a chic Parisian suburb. She was 94.

Bettencourt's daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, said in a written statement Thursday that her mother "left peacefully" overnight in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Liliane Bettencourt was the only child of Eugene Schueller, who founded L'Oreal in the early 20th century. Forbes magazine estimated her fortune to be worth $39.5 billion this year.

L'Oreal Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon expressed "great admiration" for Bettencourt. Agon said she "always looked" after the company and its employees and "she has personally contributed greatly to its success for many years."

Born in 1922 in Paris, she married French politician Andre Bettencourt at the age of 27. Her husband notably served as a minister at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. He died in 2007.

Liliane Bettencourt inherited the L'Oreal fortune upon the death of her father in 1957. When the company went public six years later, she continued to own a majority stake.

As the world's leading beauty company, L'Oreal generated sales amounting to 25.8 billion euros in 2016 and employs 89,300 people worldwide, according to the company.

Bettencourt's name has been involved in a politico-financial scandal known in France as the "Bettencourt Affair", which has wound its way through French courts and newspapers for years.

The case stemmed from a 2007 complaint filed by Bettencourt's daughter accusing one of her mother's closest friends, the photographer Francois-Marie Banier, of manipulating the elderly widow into giving him artwork and cash.

In 2015, a French court handed Banier a three-year prison sentence on charges of swindling millions of euros from Bettencourt by taking advantage of her weak mental state. The court acquitted a former ally of former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the case.

Sarkozy's former campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth, was acquitted on charges of "abuse of weakness" and taking donations from Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential election campaign.

Sarkozy himself was cleared in 2013 of preliminary charges.

Bettencourt is survived by her daughter, Francoise, who was born in 1953.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jacques Brinon, File]]>
<![CDATA[The Man Who Created Emoji Says He Saw Nuance in Pictures]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:54:29 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/djanoco.jpg

The tiny smiley faces, hearts, knife-and-fork or clenched fist have become a global language for mobile phone messages. They are displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. They star in a new Hollywood film.

The emoji is heir to a tradition of pictographic writing stretching back millennia to Egyptian hieroglyphics and the ideograms used to write Chinese and Japanese.

Despite their ubiquity, they started in 1998 with one man: A 25-year-old employee of mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo who created the first set of 176 in one month as he rushed to meet a deadline.

"I happened to arrive at the idea. If I hadn't done it, someone else would have," said Shigetaka Kurita, who now is a board member at Dwango Co., a Tokyo technology company.

Kurita's challenge: NTT DoCoMo's "i-mode" mobile internet service limited messages to 250 characters, which cried out for some kind of shorthand.

A message that said, "What are you doing now?" could be menacing or nosey, but adding a smiley face softened the tone.

"Digital messaging was just getting started, and so I was thinking about what was needed," said Kurita.

Following i-mode's launch in 1999, that nuance made emoji an immediate hit in Japan, where the demands of courtesy make for a complex art and a tiny mistake can prove costly. Emoji combines the Japanese for "picture," or "e'' (pronounced "eh"), and "letters," or "moji" (moh-jee).

Kurita collected common images including public signs, weather symbols, the zodiac and comic book-style pictures such as a light bulb or a ticking bomb.

With simple lines, he made five faces — happy, angry, sad, surprised and perplexed. The heart and a smiley face are still his favorites.

Some visuals transcend culture. A drop of sweat rolling down a cheek means exasperation or anxiety. Others confuse: A camcorder was misread by many as a fish.

"Japanese tend to excel at making the most of limitations. It's a nation filled with limitations, a small piece of land," said Kurita. "We do well at carrying out tasks within a framework, rather than being given a free hand."

Western players Apple and Google made emoji a global phenomenon.

"Perhaps because of the popularity of the iPhone, Apple's art style for its emojis also became extremely influential, to the point that when most people think of emoji imagery, they're thinking of Apple's take on it," said Jason Snell, a tech journalist and podcaster.

Kurita shrugs that off. The dozen-member team designing i-mode was making something for Japan long before smartphones.

"Japanese always are too ahead of our time," said Kurita, an unpretentious man with a quick smile.

"I think Galapagos is OK. It's cool," he said, referring to the remote Pacific Island, used in Japan to describe the nation's insularity. "After all, how can Japan hope to win as a global standard?"

"And so we go ahead with our Galapagos ways in Japan, and people abroad will see it as wonderfully Japanese."

Kurita's invention inspired "The Emoji Movie," an animated film by Sony Pictures about emojis that live inside the world of a smartphone. It has yet to be shown in Japan but was modestly popular in the United States.

In 2010, the 12-by-12-pixel designs were adopted as a global standard by the Unicode Consortiums. That means any phone or operating system that follows the standard will use the same images, making them a universal language.

Some initially opposed making emoji a Unicode standard, according to Yasuo Kida, a technology expert who was involved in their adoption.

Among the arguments: emoji was mere pictures, too infantile and uniquely Japanese. But Kida said companies that saw Japan as an important market won out.

What began as primitive digital drawings is growing into an elaborate tool for communication with more choices for pictures and animation, such as Apple's latest Animoji, Kida said.

Unlike Kurita, Kida finds it sad Japanese lose out on opportunities to reap benefits of their innovations on a global scale due to lack of language skills and international influence.'

Yuka Kubo, a researcher at the University of Tokyo, is working on a book about how young Japanese women pioneer innovations such as selfies and use of emojis as art that are ridiculed but become hits.

"The young women are expressing their rebellion against the adult world, but in a playful way," said Kubo.

These days, Kurita works on a popular live video streaming service called Niconico. He believes such services will become more interactive, building online communities, possibly with artificial intelligence.

Kurita doesn't feel all that involved with emoji today because they have evolved beyond his original set. He receives no royalties and is little-known in Japan outside technology circles.

He paid his own air fare to New York last year to see the Museum of Modern Art exhibit, which cited him by name.

Kurita was overcome with emotion.

"There they were, something I'd been involved with, although I'm neither an artist nor a designer," he said. "The museum saw value in the design that had the power to change people's lifestyles."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]]>
<![CDATA[PPL Center Breathes New Life Into Allentown]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 20:26:16 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/PPL_Center_Breathes_New_Life_Into_Allentown.jpg

Excitement is in the air in Allentown, as the Flyers are going to be playing at the town's main attraction, the PPL Center. NBC10's Steven Fisher has the story.]]>
<![CDATA[Taco Bell Plans New Locations That Will Serve Alcohol]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:42:20 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Taco+Bell+Sign.jpg

Taco bell plans to serve alcohol at 300 new locations as part of its expansion into urban markets, the fast food chain announced Tuesday.

The company will build new "Cantina style" locations throughout the country where alcohol will be offered. The new locations, in urban areas like New York City, Chicago and Detroit, will not include drive-thrus, the company said.

"The drink offerings certainly complement the experience and give customers a reason to stay longer, but we want to make sure these Cantinas blend in with the local aesthetic and you feel like you’re in your favorite neighborhood restaurant," the company said in a statement.

The expansion is expected to be completed by 2022.

Taco Bell currently has over 7000 locations around the world.

Taco bell plans to ditch the drive-through and serve alcohol at 300 new locations, as part of its expansion into urban markets, the fast food chain announced. 
The fast food chain will build new "Cantina style" locations throughout the country where customers are free to buy alcohol. 
"The drink offerings certainly complement the experience and give customers a reason to stay longer, but we want to make sure these Cantinas blend in with the local aesthetic and you feel like you’re in your favorite neighborhood restaurant," reps for a company said in a statement. 
The company is planning to open new locations in New York City, Chicago, Detroit and other urban areas with high foot traffic by 2022. 
Taco Bell currently has over 7000 locations around the wor

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Accidentally Sends Baby Registry Emails to Customers]]>Wed, 20 Sep 2017 09:30:35 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/amazon+huracan+irma+envios.jpg

Thousands of Amazon users were probably delighted to get emails from the online retailer Tuesday notifying them someone bought items from their baby registries.

But there was just one problem: most of those users weren't expecting or didn't have registries with the retail giant.

The online retailer accidentally sent countless customers emails saying an item on nonexistent registries was on its way to their homes, sparking confusion and humor on social media.

It's not clear what sparked the mishap, but Amazon later sent users a second email saying that the note was sent in error.

The company also told The Verge that the mass emailing was caused by a "technical glitch."

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[NJ, Pa. Residents Might Live in Some of USA's Best Places]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 14:49:14 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/house-generic-neighborhood.jpgSome of the Top 100 places to live in America are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[T-Mobile, Sprint in Talks About a Merger: Sources]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 11:58:54 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-141770730.jpg

T-Mobile and Sprint are in active talks about a merger, though negotiators are still weeks away from finalizing a deal to unite the nation's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers, people close to the situation told CNBC.

T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom would emerge as the majority owner in the stock-for-stock merger. Sprint's parent company is Softbank.

The companies declined to comment on the report.

A big factor looming over a possible deal is the risk of rejection by antitrust regulators.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Toys R Us Files for Bankruptcy But Keeps Stores Open]]>Tue, 19 Sep 2017 06:47:31 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Black-Friday-Toys-R-Us-2013-1.jpg

Toys R Us, the big box toy retailer struggling with $5 billion in debt and intense online competition, has filed for bankruptcy protection ahead of the key holiday shopping season — and says its stores will remain open for business as usual.

The company based in Wayne, New Jersey, said late Monday that it was voluntarily seeking relief through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond — and that its Canadian subsidiary would be seeking similar protection through a Canadian court in Ontario as it seeks to reorganize.

Toys R Us said court-supervised proceedings will help restructure its debts and set the stage for long-term growth. Its announcement said separate operations outside the U.S. and Canada are not part of the filings. And it emphasized that its stores worldwide will remain open and that it will continue to work with suppliers and sell merchandise.

"The company's approximately 1,600 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores around the world — the vast majority of which are profitable — are continuing to operate as usual," the company statement said. "Customers can also continue to shop for the toy and baby products they are looking for online."

Dave Brandon, company chairman and CEO, said that the court filing provides a path for the company and its investors to work with its debtholders and other creditors to work on restructuring the debt beleaguering the pioneering toy retailer.

"Together with our investors our objective is to work with our debtholders and other creditors to restructure the $5 billion of long-term debt on our balance sheet, which will provide us with greater financial flexibility to invest in our business ... and strengthen our competitive position in an increasingly challenging and rapidly changing retail marketplace worldwide," he said in the announcement.

The move comes at a critical time ahead of the peak holiday shopping season that is crucial to retailers' bottom lines. Brandon expressed confidence in the looming reorganization, vowing that the iconic Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands known to shoppers for generations would continue on.

Toys R Us, a major force in toy retailing in the 1980s and early 1990s, started losing shoppers to discounters like Walmart and Target and then to Amazon. The company has struggled with debt since private-equity firms Bain Capital, KKR & Co. and Vornado Realty Trust took it private in a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout in 2005. The plan had been to take the company public, but that never happened because of its weak financial performance.

With such debt levels, Toys R Us has not had the financial flexibility to invest in its business. Analysts say Toys R Us hasn't been aggressive about building its online business, and has let those sales migrate to rivals. And they say the company should have also thought of new ways to attract more customers in its stores, such as hosting birthday parties.

A Toys R Us bankruptcy filing would join a list of those from other major retailers since the beginning of the year — including shoe chain Payless Shoe Source, children's clothing chain Gymboree Corp. and the True Religion jean brand — as people shop less in stores and more online.

While toy sales overall have held up fairly well, they are shifting toward discounters and online companies. U.S. toy sales rose 6 percent last year on top of a 7 percent increase in the prior year, says NPD Group Inc., a market research firm. That was the biggest increase since 1999 and was fueled by several blockbuster movies.

But for the first half of 2017, sales rose 3 percent. That puts more pressure on the later part of the year, when most toy sales occur, for the industry to meet NPD's estimate for a 4.5 percent annual increase. Lego is laying off 1,400 workers after saying profits and sales dropped in the first half. And the nation's two largest toy makers, Mattel and Hasbro, reported disappointing second-quarter results.

In a separate statement late Monday, the company said its online sales sites worldwide remain open for business during the court-supervised process. It added that the company's operations outside of the U.S. and Canada, including operations in Europe and Australia as well as some 255 licensed stores and joint venture partnership in Asia — all separate entities — were not part of the Chapter 11 filing or the parallel Canadian move.

The company has nearly 65,000 employees worldwide and bills itself as a leading global retailer of toy and baby products. Merchandise is sold through 885 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stories in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Guam, and in more than 810 international stores and over 255 licensed stores in 38 countries and jurisdictions.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Kena Betancur/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Toys R Us' Bankruptcy Could Come by This Week: Sources]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:57:27 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP091126044436.jpg

Toys R Us, which reportedly faces a large debt load as it heads into the new year, could file for bankruptcy by the end of the week, sources familiar with the matter told CNBC.

The sources said that plans to file for bankruptcy are not set in stone, and if it does go through, the timing could change.

Declaring bankruptcy would simplify Toys R Us' capital structure, complicated by its three owners — none of whom commented to CNBC.

Doing so would give vendors like Mattel and Hasbro clarity as the holiday season approaches.

Photo Credit: Carolyn Kaster/AP, File]]>
ALISON BURDO | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[3 Closed Bucks Schools Bought For Senior Living Conversion]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 19:55:29 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/generic+school+desk+books+student+pencil.jpg

A construction company scooped up three shuttered Bucks County elementary schools for a total of $770,000 and a nonprofit bought a fourth for $180,000 with plans to convert the Bristol Township properties into age-restricted housing, according to a report.

Zoned residential, all four schools can be converted into age-restricted housing-- or properties that cater to residents over 55 and do not permit children to live there.

Renovah Construction Co. spent $210,000 on John Fitch Elementary School on Greenbrook Drive; $350,000 on Lafayette Elementary School on Fayette Drive; and another $210,000 on Abraham Lincoln Elementary School on Plumtree Place, the suburban newspaper said.

A fourth school Maple Shade Elementary School on Prospect Avenue sold to nonprofit Interfaith Housing Visions of Bristol Borough for $180,000, the Bucks County Courier Times said.

The sales must be approved by Bucks County Court, a process that could take several weeks, and the dollars would go to the township's general fund.

To read the full story click here.

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

<![CDATA[Two Equifax Executives Retire After Data Breach Disclosure]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 19:55:59 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-844182436.jpg

Equifax said Friday that its top information and security executives were retiring, effective immediately, as the company reels from its disclosure last week that it suffered a data breach potentially affecting 143 million people in the U.S., CNBC reported.

Chief information officer David Webb will be replaced by Mark Rohrwasser, who has led Equifax International IT operations since joining the company in 2016.

Chief security officer Susan Mauldin will be replaced by Russ Ayres, who will serve in the position in the interim. Before his appointment, Ayres served as Equifax's vice president of IT.

Equifax announced last week it experienced a data breach that could potentially affect 143 million consumers in the U.S. The company said it first noticed suspicious traffic on July 29.

Photo Credit: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Protecting Your Credit Following Equifax Breach]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 06:38:24 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Protecting_Your_Credit_Following_Equifax_Breach.jpg

Following the massive Equifax data breach, many are having problems securing their information and credit. NBC10s Keith Jones reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Google Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Gender Pay]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 03:12:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/New+Image31.JPG

Google faces a new lawsuit accusing it of gender-based pay discrimination. A lawyer representing three female former Google employees is seeking class action status for the claim.

The suit, filed Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, follows a federal labor investigation that made a preliminary finding of systemic pay discrimination among the 21,000 employees at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California. The initial stages of the review found women earned less than men in nearly every job classification.

Google disputes those findings and says its analysis shows no gender pay gap.

The suit, led by lawyer James Finberg of Altshuler Berzon LLP, is on behalf of three women — Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelli Wisuri — who all quit after being put on career tracks that they claimed would pay them less than their male counterparts. The suit aims to represent thousands of Google employees in California and seeks lost wages and a slice of Google's profits.

"I have come forward to correct a pervasive problem of gender bias at Google," Ellis said in a statement. She says she quit Google in 2014 after male engineers with similar experience were hired to higher-paying job levels and she was denied a promotion despite excellent performance reviews. "It is time to stop ignoring these issues in tech."

Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano said the company will review the suit in detail, "but we disagree with the central allegations."

"Job levels and promotions are determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiple levels of review, including checks to make sure there is no gender bias in these decisions," she said.

Charges of gender discrimination have swirled at Alphabet Inc.-owned Google since the U.S. Labor Department sued in January to bar Google from doing business with the federal government until it released thousands of documents related to an audit over its pay practices. The sides have been battling in court over how much information Google must turn over.

The lawsuit also follows the firing of male engineer James Damore, who wrote a memo circulated on internal message boards that blamed inherent differences between men and women for the underrepresentation of women in engineering roles.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FTC Probing Equifax After Massive Data Breach]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:47:38 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cms936.jpg

Equifax, already facing lawsuits in the wake of its disclosure last week that it exposed vital data like Social Security numbers of about 143 million Americans, is the subject of a Federal Trade Commission investigation as well, the federal agency told CNBC Thursday.

The agency does not usually comment on investigations but did so because of the massive scope of the breach, and the reaction to it.

"The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations. However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach," spokesman Peter Kaplan said.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., had asked the FTC to investigate the Equifax hack and the company's CEO, Richard Smith, has been invited to testify to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The company and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, gauge how much of a risk people are for borrowing money. So they have some of the most sensitive information about Americans' financial lives — all of it a trove for identity theft.

Warner said in a letter to the FTC that Equifax's lapses in security and methods of handling customers' inquiries "may potentially represent a systemic failure by firms currently incentivized to collect and store highly sensitive identification and financial data for Americans."

Some state authorities and several law firms have already announced lawsuits against Equifax. If the firms' suits become class-action cases, they would be one of the largest class-action suits, by number of affected customers, in history.

The FTC has suggested that consumers concerned about protecting themselves in the wake of the breach check credit reports for accounts or activity that they don't recognize — a sign on identity theft. They can also consider putting a credit freeze or fraud alert on their files, and file taxes early.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Mike Stewart/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Target Bumps Up Holiday Hiring By 40 Percent This Year]]>Fri, 15 Sep 2017 08:46:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/1Target+bldg.jpg

Target is hiring 100,000 people to work during the hectic holiday shopping season, up 40 percent from last year.

The retailer said Wednesday that the seasonal hires, an increase of 30,000 workers from the 70,000 people it hired last year, will stock shelves at its more than 1,800 stores or fulfill online orders that customers pick up in stores. In addition, it plans to hire 4,500 people to help pack and ship online orders at its warehouses.

Online orders have soared since the Minneapolis company strengthened its digital business and increased the speed of deliveries. Target revealed last month that online sales jumped 32 percent during the second quarter. Rival Walmart also reported a surge in online orders as well.

Both companies are trying to hold their own against Amazon.com, which is encroaching on multiple fronts. The Seattle company acquired Whole Foods over the summer, not only putting it in direct competition with the grocery operations of Target and Walmart, but also providing hundreds of new locations from which to deliver goods to customers.

Representatives for Walmart did not immediately respond for comment on their seasonal hiring plans.

Best Buy said that while they do increase hiring during the holiday season they do not publicly release specific numbers. Macy's said that they will hire about 80,000 workers, which is roughly in line with last year's numbers. Kohl's has no information to release at this time.

Last week, Target said that it would slash prices on cereal, paper towels and thousands of other items. The company said Wednesday that it wants to ensure that the experience for customers is seamless at stores.

Target Corp. said it will hold nationwide hiring events from Oct. 13 through Oct. 15.

--NBC’s Teddy Grant contributed to this story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Girl, 12, Recognized for 'Stellar' Business]]>Wed, 13 Sep 2017 08:08:13 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Twelve_Year_Old_Won_Stellar_Start_Up_Award.jpg

Anna Welsh, 12, of Wynnewood, Pennsylvania won a Stellar Start Up Award in the student category at the Franklin Institute. Anna makes her Little Bags. Big Impact clutches out of recycled material and then donates 15 percent of the proceeds to a giving library and literacy center in North Philadelphia. ]]>
<![CDATA[New Lawsuits, Gestures to Customers in Equifax Data Breach]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:19:27 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/equifax-data-breach-EM.jpg

Equifax faces new lawsuits and is trying to make new gestures to customers in the wake of its disclosure last week that it exposed vital data like Social Security numbers of about 143 million Americans.

It's already come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and customers.

The company and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, gauge how much of a risk people are for borrowing money. So they have some of the most sensitive information about Americans' financial lives — all of it a trove for identity theft.

Here's the latest on what you need to know about the breach:

Several law firms have already announced lawsuits against Equifax, and are all seeking to become class-action cases. If a class-action lawsuit is approved, it would be one of the largest class-action suits, by number of affected customers, in history.

Some state authorities have announced their own lawsuits against Equifax, including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.

Healey said Tuesday the Equifax breach "may be the most brazen failure to protect consumer data" her office has seen. Healey will claim in the lawsuit that Equifax violated state laws by not maintaining safeguards needed to protect people's data.

Equifax, under pressure over how it's handled the breach, now says it is allowing customers to freeze their credit reports for free for the next 30 days.

That comes after consumers calling the number Equifax set up complained of jammed phone lines and uninformed representatives, and initial responses from the website gave inconsistent responses. Many got no response, just a notice that they could return later to register for identity protection. Equifax says it's fixed many of the issues people ran into.

The site is equifaxsecurity2017.com and the number is 866-447-7559. Equifax also says it'll send a notice to all who had personally identifiable information stolen. Equifax already had said it would offering free credit monitoring for a year, which people can sign up for at the website. And it says it won't automatically re-enroll people afterward to charge them.

Considering the size and scope of the breach, it's probably better to assume you were part of it. And ultimately, consumers will probably have to look out for themselves. They should:

— Closely monitor their own credit reports, which are available free once a year, and stagger them to see one every four months.

— Stay vigilant, possibly for a long time. Scammers who get ahold of the data could use it at any time — and with 143 million to choose from, they may be patient.

— Consider freezing your credit reports. That stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So if you want to apply for something, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.

State and federal authorities, as well as politicians. The chairmen of at least two U.S. House committees say they want to hold hearings.

Like the Wells Fargo sales scandal, the Equifax breach is causing bipartisan outrage and concern, but there has been no talk of any new laws to further regulate the industry. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system.

Several state attorneys general have also said they would investigate, which could result in fines at the state level.

And the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's watchdog for financial issues, says it has the authority to investigate the data breach, and fine and sanction Equifax if warranted.

Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach. Equifax said the three executives "had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time."

Equifax's stock has fallen more than 25 percent since Thursday. The company was scheduled to meet with investors publicly this week at a financial conference in New York, but pulled out and instead executives are giving one-on-one meetings with investors, a spokeswoman said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: David Goldman/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Announces iPhone 8 and iPhone X]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 15:59:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/iphonex.jpg

Apple announced their new line of iPhones, which will ship later this year. The lineup includes iPhones 8, 8 Plus and the all-new iPhone X.]]>
<![CDATA[Wawa Reopening Florida Stores, Helping Victims After Irma ]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 23:20:00 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Wawa-Logo1.jpg

Philadelphia-area convenience store icon Wawa has had its sights on getting its Florida stores back on track in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Wawa CEO Chris Gheysens says it's been a whirlwind trying to get the chain’s 122 stores in Florida online – as of midday Tuesday about 85 of them are open.

"All the way down into Naples we just opened a couple weeks ago where the eye passed right over," he said.

Some are open with just gas, but not the store. One of the biggest challenges is power. They have about 10 portable generators and are borrowing another 10 (including from competitor Sheetz).

"Portable generators are really the way to go," Gheysens said. "There's always been a debate. Do you have generators in every store? Power comes in and out."

Wawa is working to get employees to the stores where they need help the most. Some volunteers from the Philadelphia region will be going down to help.

The company has learned some lessons from Sandy, including closing stores early so employees could take care of their family, Gheysens said. Employees can come back as they are ready, hence the need for more help.

Like they did with Hurricane Harvey, Wawa is launching an in-store donation drive for Irma relief starting Tuesday with money going toward the American Red Cross' Irma relief efforts. The fundraiser will run for 10 days. The Harvey drive raised $700,000.

"I think we're still getting a sense right now of what the damage is and what the need is," Gheysens said. "I can tell you it's going to be significant."

They're also sending out trucks of ice, water and food made here and going to Food pantries in Florida.

"We have two water tankers now deployed down to Fort Myers where they have boil advisories on water," Gheysens said. "They're putting water in our store so we can make coffee for customers down there as well."

<![CDATA[Investigators Fault Driver in Tesla Autopilot Crash]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 16:25:55 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/teslainvestigation_1200x675.jpg

Design limitations of the Tesla Model S's Autopilot played a major role in the first known fatal crash of a highway vehicle operating under automated control systems, the National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday.

The board said the direct cause of the crash was an inattentive Tesla driver's over reliance on technology and a truck driver who made a left-hand turn in front of the car. But the board also recommended that automakers incorporate safeguards that keep drivers' attention engaged and that limit the use of automated systems to the conditions for which they were designed.

Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, was traveling on a divided highway near Gainesville, Florida, using the Tesla's automated driving systems when he was killed. Tesla had told Model S owners the automated systems should only be used on limited-access highways, which are primarily interstates. But the company didn't incorporate protections against their use on other types of roads, the board found. Despite upgrades since the May 2016 crash, Tesla has still not incorporated such protections, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.

"In this crash, Tesla's system worked as designed, but it was designed to perform limited tasks in a limited range of environments," he said. "Tesla allowed the driver to use the system outside of the environment for which it was designed."

The result, Sumwalt said, was a collision "that should never have happened."

In a statement, Tesla said "we appreciate the NTSB's analysis of last year's tragic accident and we will evaluate their recommendations as we continue to evolve our technology." The company added that overall its automated driving systems, called Autopilot, improve safety.

NTSB directed its recommendations to automakers generally, rather than just Tesla, saying the oversight is an industrywide problem. Manufacturers should be able to use GPS mapping systems to create such safeguards, Sumwalt said.

Manufacturers should also develop systems for ensuring operators remain attentive to the vehicle's performance when using semi-autonomous driving systems other than detecting the pressure of hands on the steering wheeling, the NTSB recommended. Brown had his hands on the sedan's steering wheel for only 25 seconds out of the 37.5 minutes the vehicle's cruise control and lane-keeping systems were in use prior to the crash, investigators found.

As a consequence, Brown's attention wandered and he didn't detect the semitrailer in his path, they said.

The Model S is a level 2 on a self-driving scale of 0 to 5. Level 5 vehicles can operate autonomously in nearly all circumstances. Level 2 automation systems are generally limited to use on interstate highways, which don't have intersections. Drivers are supposed to continuously monitor vehicle performance and be ready to take control if necessary.

Investigators found that the sedan's cameras and radar weren't capable of detecting a vehicle turning into its path. Rather, the systems are designed to detect vehicles they are following to prevent rear-end collisions. The board re-issued previous recommendations that the government require all new cars and trucks to be equipped with technology that wirelessly transmits the vehicles' location, speed, heading and other information to other vehicles in order to prevent collisions.

Last December, the Obama administration proposed that new vehicles be able to wirelessly communicate with each other, with traffic lights and with other roadway infrastructure. Automakers were generally supportive of the proposal, but it hasn't been acted on by the Trump administration.

Brown's family defended his actions and Tesla in a statement released Monday. Brown was a technology geek and enthusiastic fan of the Model S who posted videos about the car and spoke to gatherings at Tesla stores. "Nobody wants tragedy to touch their family, but expecting to identify all limitations of an emerging technology and expecting perfection is not feasible either," the statement said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates auto safety, declined this year to issue a recall or fine Tesla as a result of the crash, but it warned automakers they aren't to treat semiautonomous cars as if they were fully self-driving.

While the NTSB was meeting to consider the Tesla crash, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao was in Michigan unveiling new self-driving car safety guidelines for automakers. The guidelines encourage companies to put in place broad safety goals, such as making sure drivers are paying attention while using advanced assist systems. The systems are expected to detect and respond to people and objects both in and out of its travel path "including pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and objects that could affect safe operation of the vehicle," the guidelines say.

There is a 12-point safety checklist, but the government makes it clear that the guidelines are voluntary and not regulations.

AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Ann Arbor, Michigan, contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[In Blow to Murdoch, UK Refers Fox Bid for Sky to Regulator]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 13:27:14 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rupertmurdoch_1200x675.jpg

The British government will refer Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.'s bid for satellite broadcaster Sky to the country's competition regulator for further examination, in a blow to Rupert Murdoch's takeover plans.

Culture Secretary Karen Bradley told lawmakers Tuesday that she intended to refer the takeover to the Competition and Markets Authority because of concerns that the deal might concentrate too much power in one company's hands. Murdoch already owns British newspapers including the Sun and The Times of London.

And, in a change of view, she said she was also "minded" to refer it out of concerns about broadcasting standards. Bradley said there is a risk, "which is not purely fanciful," that the merger would not be in the public interest.

Twenty-First Century Fox said it was disappointed in the decision, noting that U.K. broadcast regulator Ofcom had advised the government that the deal did not raise concerns about broadcast standards. Ofcom has said that the takeover could give the Murdoch family too much influence over Britain's media.

"We urge the secretary of state to take a final decision quickly," Fox said, adding that the deal, announced in December 2016, was now likely to be completed by June 30, 2018, "subject to any further delays in the decision-making process."

Murdoch's media group is trying to buy the 61 percent of Sky it doesn't already own. The takeover values Sky, which broadcasts Premier League soccer and top film and television offerings in Britain and other European markets, at 18.5 billion pounds ($25 billion).

An earlier attempt to buy the remaining shares was scuttled by the 2011 phone-hacking scandal that rocked Murdoch's British newspapers and led him to close the 168-year-old News of the World.

Bradley's announcement is a victory for Murdoch's critics, who have been emboldened by scandals over alleged racial discrimination and sexual harassment at his U.S. TV network Fox News. They say Murdoch does not meet the requirement that U.K. media owners be "fit and proper" people.

Bradley said that because of submissions she had received over the summer, "I am now minded to refer the merger to the (regulator) on the grounds of genuine commitment to broadcasting standards."

She said one area raised by critics of the deal was "what they termed the 'Foxification' of Fox-owned news outlets internationally."

British broadcasters are bound by stricter rules governing balance and neutrality than those in the United States, where Fox News' partisan style has won it a large audience.

Bradley said it was "important that entities which adopt controversial or partisan approaches to news and current affairs in other jurisdictions should, at the same time, have a genuine commitment to broadcasting standards here."

Tom Watson, media spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, congratulated Bradley on her decision.

"This is the first time a minister in the current government has ever stood in the way of what the Murdochs want, and frankly it's about time," he said.

Douglas Wigdor, a U.S. lawyer representing current and former employees who are suing Fox for racial discrimination, also welcomed the announcement.

Wigdor, who previously wrote to Ofcom listing allegations against Fox News, said he was "hopeful that Fox will now waive any gag orders so that other individuals can provide relevant information without fear of reprisal."

Once a formal referral takes place, the regulator will have six months to conduct an investigation.

Sky said in a statement it was "disappointed by this further delay."

"Nevertheless we will continue to engage with the process as the secretary of state reaches her final decision," the company said.

Sky shares fell 1.7 percent on the news, to 936 pence.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer-Pool/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[American Household Income Finally Topped 1999 Peak Last Year]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 12:47:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shopper_1200x675.jpg

In a stark reminder of the damage done by the Great Recession and of the modest recovery that followed, the median American household last year finally earned more than it did in 1999.

Incomes for a typical U.S. household, adjusted for inflation, rose 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to $59,039, the Census Bureau said. The median is the point at which half the households fall below and half are above.

Last year's figure is slightly above the previous peak of $58,665, reached in 1999. It is also the first time since the recession ended in 2009 that the typical household earned more than it did in 2007, when the recession began.

Trudi Renwick, the bureau's assistant division chief, cautioned that the census in 2013 changed how it asks households about income, making historical comparisons less than precise.

Still, the Census data is closely watched because of its comprehensive nature. It is based on interviews with 70,000 households and includes detailed data on incomes and poverty across a range of demographic groups.

The median U.S. income has now posted solid gains for two straight years. Yet that growth came after a steep recession and a slow recovery that left most American households with only meager pay increases. The lack of meaningful raises has left many people feeling left behind economically, a sentiment that factored into the 2016 elections.

The Census report covers 2016, the last year of the Obama administration.

The income gains reflect mostly a rise in the number of Americans with jobs and in people working full time, the agency said. About 1.2 million more Americans earned income in 2016 than in 2015, and 2.2 million more had full-time year-round jobs.

The improved incomes have been widely shared. African-American median household income jumped 5.7 percent to $39,490 year over year. Among, Latinos it rose to 4.3 percent to $47,675. For whites, the gain was 2 percent to $65,041.

Asian-Americans reported the highest household incomes, at $81,431, which was little changed from 2015.

Other measures of Americans' economic health also improved. The poverty rate fell last year to 12.7 percent from 13.5 percent, Census said. The number of people living below the poverty line dropped 2.5 million to 40.6 million.

And the proportion of Americans without health insurance declined to 8.8 percent, the report showed, down from 9.1 percent.

The report found that the gender gap in wages narrowed last year for the first time since 2007. Women earned 80.5 percent of men's earnings, up from 79.6 percent in 2015.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philly, Delaware Vie to Become New Amazon HQ Home]]>Tue, 12 Sep 2017 06:44:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Philly_and_Delaware_Vie_to_Become_New_Amazon_HQ_Home.jpg

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Wilmington, Delaware are both competing to be the new home for Amazon's headquarters. The HQ should boost the economy. NBC10's Ste]]>
<![CDATA[Getting Up to Speed on the Equifax Data Breach Scandal]]>Mon, 11 Sep 2017 14:53:07 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/credit-cards-data-breach.jpg

Equifax has been scrambling to explain itself since disclosing last week that it exposed the vital data of about 143 million Americans — effectively most of the U.S. adult population. It's come under fire from members of Congress, state attorneys general, and people who are getting conflicting answers about whether their information was stolen.

The company keeps track of the detailed financial affairs of all Americans in order to gauge how much of a risk they are for borrowing money. That means it and its competitors, TransUnion and Experian, are a detailed storehouse of some of the most personal and sensitive information of Americans' financial lives. And all of it could be used for identity theft.

Here's the latest on what you need to know about the breach:

Equifax is trying again to clarify language about people's right to sue, and said Monday it has made other changes to address customer complaints.

The company is trying to staff up its call centers more in order to handle the increased customer service calls. It also now says people will get randomly generated PINs when they try to put a security freeze in place. People had complained about PINs being based on the time and date requests were made.

Equifax also acknowledged that its language particularly over the right to sue has been confusing at best, and said it was removing that language from their website. "Enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action," it said.

Some lawyers have already announced suits that they hope will be class-action cases.

Equifax has been the focus of anger and distrust, not only for the breach but over how it initially was handled.

It discovered the hack July 29, but didn't publicly announce it until more than a month later. People trying to find out if they were affected have gotten some confusing or contradictory information. Consumers calling the number Equifax set up complained of jammed phone lines and uninformed representatives, and initial responses from the website gave inconsistent responses. Many got no response, just a notice that they could return later to register for identity protection. Equifax says it's fixed the issue of inconsistent responses, in which people could get one response on the computer and a different one when checking on the phone.

The site is equifaxsecurity2017.com and the number is 866-447-7559. Equifax also says it'll send a notice to all who had personally identifiable information stolen. Equifax is offering free credit monitoring for a year, which people can sign up for at the website.

But considering the size and scope of the breach, it's probably better just to assume you were part of it.

There has been a significant amount of confusion about that. It partly comes from the industry practice of mandatory arbitration, in which the fine print on many financial products says customers have to use a private third-party arbitration service in order to resolve their disputes. Regulators are trying to crack down on the practice, particularly after the Wells Fargo sales practices scandal.

Equifax released a statement Friday evening declaring that the arbitration requirement and class-action waiver will not apply to this particular breach. In its statement Monday, it said it had again adjusted the language in the FAQs on its website.

Ultimately, the onus will probably be on consumers to try to protect themselves. People should do all the things they're probably already heard about:

— Closely monitor their own credit reports, which are available free once a year, and stagger them to see one ever four months.

— Stay vigilant, possibly for a long time. Scammers who get ahold of the data could use it at any time — and with 143 million to choose from, they may be patient.

— Consider freezing your credit reports. That stops thieves from opening new credit cards or loans in your name, but it also prevents you from opening new accounts. So if you want to apply for something, you need to lift the freeze a few days beforehand.

A host of state and federal authorities as well as politicians have stepped in to investigate. Credit bureaus like Equifax are lightly regulated compared to other parts of the financial system. Expect more scrutiny from regulators over the credit bureaus.

The chairmen of at least two U.S. House committees say they want to hold hearings. Like the Wells Fargo sales scandal, the Equifax breach is causing bipartisan outrage and concern, but there has been no talk of any new laws to further regulate the industry. Several state attorneys general have also said they would investigate, which could result in fines at the state level.

Lastly the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the nation's watchdog entity for financial issues, says it has the authority to investigate the data breach, and fine and sanction Equifax if warranted.

Company executives are also under scrutiny, after it was found that three Equifax executives sold shares worth a combined $1.8 million just a few days after the company discovered the breach, according to documents filed with securities regulators. Equifax said the three executives "had no knowledge that an intrusion had occurred at the time they sold their shares."

Given the seriousness of the breach, there are worries about the long-term future of the company. The sole purpose of why Equifax and the other credit bureaus exist is to be a secure storehouse of crucial financial information. Equifax failed at that.

The stock has fallen more than 25 percent since Thursday and the company is meeting with investors this week in New York in hopes to contain the fallout.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Probe Uber's Tracking of Lyft Drivers: AP Sources]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 16:34:51 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/uber-lyft-icons.jpg

The Justice Department in Manhattan is investigating whether Uber illegally used software to track drivers for Lyft, its main ride-hailing competitor, to gain an advantage in attracting and recruiting drivers, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York's Southern District want to know if use of the software, which created fake customer accounts, broke any federal laws, said the people, who didn't want to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

An Uber spokeswoman said Friday it is cooperating in the probe and that use of the software has been discontinued. The U.S. Attorney's Office would not comment on the case.

The investigation adds to mounting legal problems for Uber, including allegations of corporate espionage involving autonomous vehicle technology and at least one other federal investigation into use of software to thwart local government efforts to monitor its operations. Earlier this year, Uber's board ousted co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick in a move to fix cultural problems within the company. Last month it replaced him with former Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who has inherited the legal troubles.

The latest probe apparently centers on software known inside Uber as "Hell." A federal class-action lawsuit filed by a Lyft driver in San Francisco alleges that Uber developed the "spyware" that allowed it to pose as Lyft customers and gain access to its computer systems. The software let Uber access the location of up to eight Lyft drivers at one time and get their unique Lyft identification number. Uber then used that number to track the drivers' locations, the lawsuit alleged.

Uber then matched the Lyft drivers' identities with Uber internal records to find drivers working for both services, and gave those drivers incentives to work mainly for Uber "thereby reducing the supply of Lyft drivers, which resulted in increased wait times for Lyft customers and diminished earnings for Lyft drivers," the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit, which Uber said was recently dismissed, alleged that the practice violated the federal Wiretap Act. No dismissal paperwork is listed in federal court records, and attorneys for the plaintiff, Michael Gonzales, could not be reached Friday.

Uber attorneys, in a legal response to the lawsuit, said that Gonzales is alleging only that Uber used "commonly available software" to collect data that would be accessible to anyone using the Lyft app. "The communications were therefore 'readily available to the general public' and the Wiretap Act does not apply," the Uber lawyers wrote.

News of the investigation was reported earlier Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

Uber's other legal problems include a lawsuit filed by Waymo, the autonomous car unit spun off from Google, alleging that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer, stole trade secrets before departing in January 2016 to found a robotic vehicle startup that Uber acquired seven months later.

The lawsuit maintains that Uber then transplanted the property into its own fleet of self-driving vehicles — a charge that Uber has adamantly denied. A federal judge overseeing the case has referred it to the U.S. Attorney in San Francisco for possible criminal investigation.

Uber also is under federal investigation over allegations that it used phony software to prevent city officials from looking into whether the company was following local regulations. Local officials in Portland, Oregon, and Philadelphia confirmed that they were told by federal authorities of the investigation.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Target Announces Price Cuts, Sending Shares Tumbling]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 13:40:37 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/target+store+getty.jpg

Target shares dropped after the retailer posted a blog on Friday about lowering prices on thousands of items, CNBC reported.

The price cuts will be on items including cereal, paper towels, baby formula, razors and bath tissue, Target said. And the news comes just days after Amazon started cutting prices at Whole Foods' stores across America.

Target shares were trading around 3 percent lower Friday afternoon on the news.

"We want our guests to feel a sense of satisfaction every time they shop at Target," Mark Tritton, Target's chief merchandising officer, said in a statement.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images]]>
KENNETH HILARIO | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Visit Philadelphia Launches Messaging Toolkit]]>Fri, 08 Sep 2017 10:06:56 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/philadelphia+skyline.PNG

Philadelphia has a lot going for it, but are local entrepreneurs and business owners on the same page as city leaders when it comes to touting its advantages?

Visit Philadelphia has launched a new messaging toolkit meant to be a resource for local businesses when it comes to marketing Philadelphia.

The destination marketing organization and Rakia Reynolds of local full-service communications agency Skai Blue Media in May 2016 partnered to create an entrepreneur-in-residence program to brainstorm fresh ideas and incorporate more of the entrepreneur community’s voice into Visit Philadelphia's marketing efforts.

The latest initiative is what is called the Philadelphia Messaging Toolkit, aimed at entrepreneurs and business leaders to help them talk about Philadelphia in a unified manner.

The toolkit includes Philadelphia facts and news that can be used in speeches, talking points and conversations, according to Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia.

See below for a few highlights.

City officials and industry leaders have recognized for some time that Philadelphia lacks a clear and consistent message and identity, and that the city needs to be more unified in how it markets itself to attract business and talent.

To read the full story click here.

For more Business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

<![CDATA[Philly, Pittsburgh to Bid for Amazon 2nd Headquarters]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 18:31:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Amazon-Seattle-Headquarters.jpg

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh plan to make pitches to be Amazon's second home.

Philadelphia's Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney says the city would be a "prime" location.

Kevin Acklin, chief of staff to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, says Pittsburgh is "uniquely positioned to submit a winning bid."

Seattle-based Amazon said Thursday it will be spending over $5 billion to build another headquarters in North America to house as many as 50,000 employees.

It wants to be near a metro area with more than a million people, have direct access to mass transit and be within 45 minutes of an international airport. It also wants a lot of room to grow and be able to attract top technical talent.

An Allegheny county executive says Pittsburgh's affordability and local talent put it in a good positon.

A city spokeswoman says Philadelphia's rapidly growing millennial talent pool makes it a great fit.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Equifax Execs Sold Stock Before Revealing Massive Breach]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 20:24:59 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Equifax-Generic.jpg

A data breach discovered in July may have affected as many as 143 million U.S. consumers, credit tracker Equifax said Thursday.

And three of the company's executives sold nearly $2 million in Equifax shares days after the cyberattack was discovered, SEC filings show.

It was unclear whether their share sales had anything to do with the breach, CNBC reports. An Equifax spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Leaked data includes names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses and some driver's license numbers, CNBC reported. The company added that 209,000 U.S. credit card numbers were also obtained.

Equifax said it is alerting customers whose information was included in the breach via mail, and is working with state and federal authorities. Its private investigation into the breach is complete, the company said.

Consumers who think their personal information may have been compromised in this incident can find out more here.

Photo Credit: AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[2 Philly Law Firms, Mergers Expand Nationwide Presence]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 12:23:24 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/hand+shake1.jpg

Two Philadelphia-based law firms have announced separate mergers that will expand their nationwide presences.

Philly.com reports Ballard Spahr LLP and Saul Ewing LLP each announced mergers Tuesday.

Saul Ewing has merged with the Arnstein & Lehr LLP. Arnstein & Lehr's largest office is located in Chicago. The combined firm will have 408 attorneys and 409 staffers in 15 different offices beginning Friday.

Ballard Spahr will merge with the Minneapolis-based firm Lindquist & Vennum. According to Ballard, the move to join the firm, which specializes in finance along with mergers and acquisitions, will bring together more than 650 lawyers in 15 offices nationwide. The merger is expected to be completed Jan. 1.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FB Sold Political Ads to Russian Company During Election]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 17:39:06 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/FB-event-int.jpg

It is “likely” Russian political operatives spent $100,000 on Facebook ads with “divisive messages” between June 2015 and May 2017, the company said Wednesday.

In a blog post on the issue and the company’s internal investigation, Facebook said the operation involved 3,000 separate ads purchased over a two-year period and appears to have been run out of Russia.

In addition, Facebook found 470 affiliated fake accounts and pages.

About $50,000 of the funds — about 2,200 ads— were potentially related to U.S. politics. The majority of the ads did not reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or a specific candidate.

As CNBC reports, the ads focused on "divisive social and political messages" about hot-button topics including LGBT rights, race, immigration and gun rights. Facebook has shared its findings with U.S. authorities.

Photo Credit: Noah Berger/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Trump's Harsh Message to Immigrants Could Drag on Economy]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 17:46:40 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DACA_1200x675.jpg

James Harrison, the owner of a Phoenix-based specialty construction firm, employs three workers protected by an Obama-era immigration program that the Trump administration took steps Tuesday to eliminate .

Should those workers — who were brought to the United States illegally as children — be deported, Harrison doubts he would find other workers to replace them anytime soon.

"These are some of my top guys," Harrison said. "They don't drink, they don't do drugs, they don't do anything but work."

His own grandfather, Harrison said, immigrated to the United States from England without any paperwork.

His on-the-ground viewpoint couldn't be more different from that of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who made the questionable assertion Tuesday that the Obama administration's measure "denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens."

Nearly all economists and most business leaders reject Sessions' view. Ending the program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, won't boost U.S. employment at a time when an aging workforce and a low jobless rate have left many employers struggling to find skilled workers. Eliminating the program might even cost jobs in the long run, they say.

The program allows immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the United States, attend school and find jobs. Those who benefit are sometimes called "Dreamers," after early proposals in Congress that never passed. President Barack Obama implemented the program in 2012.

The administration said the measure will phase out over six months, giving Congress an opportunity to approve a replacement plan.

More broadly, economists warn that eliminating DACA, along with other steps the Trump administration has taken, such as banning travel from several Muslim nations and proposing cuts to legal immigration, could inflict long-term damage on the economy. The proposals could discourage potential immigrants, including those with advanced degrees and skills, from entering the United States. Some immigrants already in the U.S. might refrain from starting businesses, analysts say.

"It says to immigrants in the United States that you have no certainty in this country," said Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "That will have economic impacts that will go well beyond the employment circumstances and prospects of the Dreamers themselves."

Immigrants are generally more likely to start companies than are native-born Americans, Alden said. About 40 percent of Silicon Valley companies have had at least one immigrant founder.

Harrison's company performs sand-blasting work that strips lead paint and mold. He was planning to leave for Houston to take part in recovery work from Hurricane Harvey.

Last week, Harrison signed a letter , along with about 400 other CEOs, urging the administration to preserve the DACA program. The letter says nearly three-quarters of the top 25 Fortune 500 companies employ some of the roughly 800,000 people protected by the measure.

Microsoft, which says it employs at least 39 beneficiaries of the program, urged Congress to approve legislation that would keep the policy before it takes up tax reform.

Studies have found that the economic damage caused by expelling those protected by the measure would be modest but noticeable. The libertarian Cato Institute estimated it would cost the U.S. economy $215 billion over 10 years, a small drop given that the nation's output is roughly $17 trillion every year.

But most economists see immigration generally as an economic boon. That's particularly true as the U.S. ages, which means more Americans are retiring. Those retirements have slowed the growth of the U.S. workforce — a trend that, in turn, limits the economy's potential expansion.

The U.S. economy has expanded at a 2.2 percent annual rate since the Great Recession ended in 2009. President Donald Trump has said he wants to raise that pace to at least 3 percent.

"If you want to raise the economy's underlying growth rate, we should be increasing immigration, not reducing it," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

The Cato study notes that beneficiaries of DACA are similar to the highly-skilled immigrants who are granted H-1B visas to work in the United States. The average beneficiary is 22, has a job, and earns about $34,000 a year, Cato says.

Nearly three-fifths reported finding work after the program was implemented, a 2014 survey found, and 45 percent said they received a pay increase.

Deporting DACA recipients would reduce Social Security and Medicare tax revenue by $24.6 billion over a decade, according to research by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.

Like Harrison, many business owners say they are struggling to fill open jobs. The unemployment rate is near a 16-year low, and the number of available jobs in June reached the highest level on records dating to 2001.

Andy Shallal, the owner of Busboys & Poets, a six-restaurant chain in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, said he is always looking to hire more people.

"Immigrants are the ones who show up looking for work," he said. "We're not passing over people who are citizens."

Shallal, who once ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Washington, D.C., emigrated from Iraq in 1966.

Dan Finnigan, CEO of Jobvite, a company that makes recruiting software, also signed the business letter opposing Trump's decision.

He agrees that the U.S. needs more workers and believes the information technology industry has benefited from greater immigration. But he was also moved by other concerns.

"It just struck me as immoral and un-American to send children who are not responsible for the decisions of their parents back to a nation, wherever they come from, that they don't know," he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP/John Minchillo]]>
<![CDATA[Gap to Shift Focus to Old Navy, Athleta Stores]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 13:23:15 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-512020368.jpg

Gap Inc. plans to shift its focus to its growing Old Navy and Athleta stores, and away from the Gap and Banana Republic brands.

The company said Wednesday it will close about 200 Gap and Banana Republic stores in the next three years and open about 270 Old Navy and Athleta locations during the same period.

Lower-priced Old Navy has been a bright spot for the clothing retailer, posting rising sales even as they fell at the Gap and Banana Republic.

The San Francisco-based company says Old Navy is on track to surpass $10 billion in sales in the next few years. And Athleta, which sells athletic clothing, is expected to exceed $1 billion in sales. The company expects to reap about $500 million in savings over the next three years by better taking advantage of its scale.

"We continue to move with the customer and meet them where they are," Gap CEO Art Peck told analysts Wednesday at a Goldman Sachs Global Annual Retailing conference that was broadcast over the internet.

Gap's moves are the latest to reinvent the chain and are being spearheaded by Peck, who took the helm in 2015. The company faces the same problems as other fashion retailers, as shoppers buy less clothing in general and shop more at off-price chains or buy online when they do. That has resulted in sluggish traffic at the stores. But Gap Inc. also has long struggled with its own problems, mired in a sales slump as its clothes don't stand out in an overcrowded landscape.

The company has been offering frequent discounts to get shoppers to buy, but recently it's been trying to pull back on price cutting. It's also been working hard to improve fit — a problem that has long bedeviled the retailer— and it's been trying to rework its fashions. The company has been cutting its store numbers over the last decade or so. Since 2005, the chain has closed 650 stores and reduced its square footage by 5 million square feet, Peck said.

Peck told analysts that its online and mobile business has seen the highest sales and profitability growth of the divisions. The company has also been expanding its online services to meet the demands of its customers, including an option that allows shoppers to reserve an item online and pick it up at a store. It's also testing a subscription service at its Baby Gap brand.

Shares of Gap rose almost 6 percent to $25.39 in midday trading.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1.6 Million Chests of Drawers Recalled Over Tip-Over Risk]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 07:07:08 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Mainstays-drawers-recall.jpg

More than 1 million chests of drawers that pose a threat of tipping over onto children have been recalled, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said Wednesday.

One injury involving the chests has been reported to the agency: a four-year-old boy was hurt when one tipped over. Anyone who has one that isn't anchored to the wall is urged to move it to a place where children can't access it. (See a list of recalled models below.)

About 1.6 million Ameriwood-made Mainstays chests were sold across the country at Walmart and other stores from April 2009 until last May.

Ameriwood is offering a free repair kit with feet for the chests and a device that anchors them to the wall. The company can be reached at 877-222-7460 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT on weekdays, and online at Ameriwood.com.

The Mainstays models being recalled are 5412012WP, 5412301WP, 5412328WP, 5412015WY, 5412301WY, 5412012PCOM, 5412015PCOM, 5412026PCOM, 5412213PCOM, 5412214PCOM, 5412301PCOM, 5412317PCOM and 5412328PCOM. Model numbers can be found on the instruction manual.

The chests are 40 5/16 inches high by 27 11/16 inches wide by 14 11/16 inches deep and have four drawers with a decorative pull on each and plastic drawer glides. They came in these colors: alder, black forest, white, weathered oak, walnut and ruby red.

Photo Credit: Ameriwood Via CSPC]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle Says Queso Will Fill Gap in Menu, Boost Sales]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 21:48:59 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chipotle-ext.jpg

Chipotle hopes its new queso dip will satisfy its customers' cravings — and help reinvigorate sales that have been hurt by food scares.

The Mexican food chain said it will begin offering all-natural warm queso in restaurants nationwide next Tuesday.

Chipotle marketing director Mark Crumpacker had said earlier this year that company research showed the top reason why "lapsed customers" weren't visiting as frequently as in the past was "boredom" with the menu. The No. 2 reason?

"No queso," Crumpacker said.

Steve Ells, Chipotle's chairman and CEO, said queso was the No. 1 requested menu item, but the company didn't want to use industrial additives. The chain said it developed a recipe with cheddar cheese, peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos that passed customer tests in 350 restaurants, but will vary a bit from batch to batch. It'll cost $1.25 with a meal or $5.25 for a side order.

Denver-based Chipotle is trying to move past a norovirus outbreak in Virginia this summer and an E. coli outbreak from 2015.

It may seem like a lot is riding on queso, given the drop in sales at established locations after the E. coli outbreak and a norovirus case later that year. Sales have shown some improvement, and were up 8 percent at established locations for the three months ended June 30.

Angela Lee, a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, says focusing on the positive and the chain's food is the right strategy. If the company simply talks about the safety measures it is taking, she said people will just be reminded of the past food scares.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[The Mall ‘Experience': Can Luxury Offset Retail's Struggles?]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 19:33:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/SavorWestchesterEdit.jpg

This is one of a two-part series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves. Read the other part, on online retail's effect on mall workers, here.

Malls have long been a staple of American consumer culture. But as sales for traditional retailers continue to decline, malls of the past are undergoing serious changes to make sure they're still attracting consumers in the age of the internet.

Developers are experimenting with a range of experience-based offerings, from luxury movie theaters to upscale food courts, to give shoppers a reason to make their way to the mall rather than browse for goods online. 

They are exploring their options in an effort to avoid the fate predicted by some financial experts, who are seeing department stores begin to shut their doors around the country. Analysts at the financial services company Credit Suisse project that 25 percent of malls will close by 2022. The retail industry has lost 87,000 jobs since a peak in January, according to the latest U.S. jobs report.

"There's an enormous shift that's causing these malls to collapse," said Mark A. Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School.

That decline can be chalked up to overarching trends in the retail industry caused by changing technology, Cohen said. "Just as it was irrevocable that most downtowns would disappear, it's irrevocable that the majority of these malls do the same."

The disappearance of malls has grabbed the attention of people across the country, who fear that the shopping centers they grew up with may be the next to go. Filmmaker Dan Bell has created a Youtube series to try and capture the phenomenon of "Dead Malls," plagued by empty storefronts and sparse foot traffic. 

Competing with tech behemoth Amazon — which has unlimited reach, product diversity and strong customer loyalty — may require malls to search for creative solutions as they combat bleak forecasts for the future. Some malls are already reaching for their wallets.

For years, shoppers were drawn to malls for the convenience of visiting a variety of stores in one trip. Now, thanks to the emergence of e-commerce, customers can purchase goods from nearly any store imaginable without having to leave home.

"Amazon's spectacle is derived from an unlimited virtual space, the seemingly endless array of products that can be offered and purchased there, its ease of use (one need not physically travel to the site) and the speed with which an order can be placed and received by express delivery," wrote George Ritzer, a University of Maryland professor of anthropology who specializes in American consumerism, in a 2012 post on his blog.

Although they may no longer be able to compete in terms of accessibility or variety, malls can work to appeal to shoppers' senses and use the face-to-face aspect of in-store shopping to boost foot traffic, said Jason Brewer, vice president of communication and state affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association.

"Stores have advantages — see, feel, taste, touch," Brewer said. "To compete, you're going to have to enhance the in-store experience."

Some mall owners are taking this advice to heart, spending top dollar to make contemporary shopping centers a reality.

Half an hour north of New York City, Simon Property Group recently completed a multimillion-dollar renovation on The Westchester Mall in White Plains, described as "the ultimate shopping experience."

New features include an indoor children's play area incorporating principles of the educational approach STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), an outdoor dining terrace complete with a fireplace and a media lounge with flat-screen TVs, charging stations and iPads.

At Savor Westchester, the mall's new food court, shoppers can indulge in upscale eateries like Bluestone Lane, Hai Street Kitchen, Whitmans and Mighty Quinn's.

"It's all about amenities," Robert Guerra, regional vice president for Simon Property Group, told The Journal News in September. "We've tried to make coming here more of an experience."

Michal Barnea, a mall-goer from White Plains who has been coming to the Westchester Mall since it opened in 1995, said she feels the update was necessary; the mall was beginning to look outdated.  

"I've started coming here more now that they've renovated," she said.

Although Barnea said she thinks the atmosphere has improved, she added, "it does make it more expensive to grab a bite to eat." 

The Westchester Mall isn't alone. In San Diego, the Westfield UTC mall is finishing up a $600 million renovation likely to appeal to wealthier clientele. New additions include Swarovski and Larsen's Steakhouse. 

Updates like these could potentially lead to a demographic shift among mall-goers.

"I think these new malls will attract probably a more affluent audience who are willing to pay several dollars more to do things like see a movie, and pay the prices in these pricier chain restaurants that tend to populate these malls," said Ritzer, the anthropology professor.

These changes are all part of an industry-wide effort to reduce malls' dependence on department stores, which have struggled to attract customers as the pool of competitors has increased.

Anchor stores, such as Sears, Macy's and J.C. Penney, have experienced widespread closures in recent years. Sears Holdings, which owns Sears and Kmart, reported roughly 10 percent decreases in sales at the stores in the first two quarters of this year, which has seen 180 store closings. Nearly 180 more are in store, while in March, J.C. Penney announced the closure of 138 stores.

w"The old-style mall … was really built on the premise that their anchor tenant department stores were going to be the bedrock of their business. That's not happening anymore," said Amanda Nicholson, professor of retail at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. "Relying on them is really a danger, even though department stores were the anchors of all malls."

In their place, entertainment venues, residential spaces and offices are being used to drum up business.

At the Valley View Mall in Dallas, the closures of J.C. Penney, Macy's and Sears led developers to abandon their old strategy and demolish the mall, opting for a mixed-use outdoor venue instead.

The first phase of a $4 billion redevelopment project is underway, with plans to combine retail spaces with an apartment complex, a luxury movie theater, a fitness and wellness facility and more.

Although this may be a time of uncertainty for retailers and mall owners, ultimately, Nicholson said that consumers are likely to benefit from the changes.

"I think this is the transition period, and like all transition periods it's uncomfortable and it's awkward because you don't know where it's going, and it's really bad if you're in it," the professor of retail said. "But they leave transition periods with new and creative ideas."

Read the other part in this series on how malls in America are changing as the retail industry evolves here.

An earlier version of this story misstated the changes at Westfield UTC mall.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Liebson ]]>
<![CDATA[Storied NY Tabloid Daily News Sold to Tribune Spin Off]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 00:45:02 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/214*120/GettyImages-166739234.jpg

Newspaper publisher Tronc has acquired the Daily News, a storied New York tabloid newspaper that won a Pulitzer Prize this year but has been buffeted by the changing media environment.

Chicago-based Tronc Inc., the publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune, announced the deal Monday night, and the Daily News posted a story on its website. It was first reported by The New York Times.

Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn said acquiring the paper and its popular website would "provide us with another strategic platform for growing our digital business, expanding our reach and broadening our services for advertisers and marketers," and both Tronc and Daily News executives said the company would maintain the quality of the paper's journalism.

"Over the past near-century, the New York Daily News has served New York City and its surrounding areas with its award-winning journalism and helped shape the dynamics of the city," News owner Mort Zuckerman said in a release. A New York real estate magnate, he had owned the paper since 1993.

The deal puts the Daily News under the umbrella of one of the nation's major newspaper chains, with properties spanning from the Hartford Courant in Connecticut to the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida.

Tronc — which evolved from Daily News founder the Tribune Co. — gets a presence in the New York media market, a news site with about 25 million unique monthly visitors and other assets. Under the terms of the deal, Tronc said it assumed the Daily News' operational and pension liabilities and got 100 percent ownership of its Jersey City, New Jersey, printing plant and a 49.9 percent interest in the plant's 25-acre (10-hectare) property, which overlooks the Manhattan skyline.

With the deal, News Editor-in-Chief Arthur Browne was also named publisher, though he plans to retire at the end of the year.

Founded in 1919, the Daily News considers itself "New York's Hometown Newspaper," informing everyday New Yorkers about their city and more. It has been known over the years for zesty headlines — perhaps most notably "Ford to City: Drop Dead" during the New York's financial woes in 1975 — gossip, city coverage and star columnists that included Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill and Liz Smith.

Lately, the tabloid has also attracted attention with its unsparing criticism of President Donald Trump. (Trump, in return, branded the paper "worthless" and Zuckerman "dopey" in tweets last year.)

The Daily News and ProPublica together won this year's Pulitzer Prize in public service journalism for uncovering how authorities used an obscure law to evict hundreds of people, mostly poor minorities, from their homes. It was the Daily News' 11th Pulitzer Prize, and the fifth during Zuckerman's tenure.

But the paper has also contended with the shifts in news consumption and advertising that have affected newspapers in general in the digital age. The newspaper industry has been suffering for years from declining print circulation and advertising revenue, as readership and ad dollars have shifted online. Online ad sales have increased for newspaper companies, but not always enough to offset the decline in print revenue.

The Daily News also grappled with a muscular hometown tabloid rival, the News Corp.-owned New York Post.

Zuckerman eyed selling the Daily News in 2015 but ultimately took it off the market.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: John Moore/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Roku Seeks $100M in IPO]]>Fri, 01 Sep 2017 22:26:07 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/roku-.jpg

Video streaming player pioneer Roku is going public, hoping to raise money to expand into more households and fend off competitive threats from bigger technology companies.

Roku listed a $100 million fundraising target in a Friday regulatory filing. But that figure is likely to change after its investment bankers gauge the demand for its initial public offering of stock. Companies typically complete their IPOs two to four months after filing then getting approval from government regulators.

The documents provided the first peek at Roku's finances and other previously confidential information.

Like many young tech companies, Roku is still unprofitable. Last year, it lost nearly $43 million on $399 million in revenue. Since its 2002 inception, Roku has amassed $244 million in losses.

The Los Gatos, California, company boasted 15 million active users at the end of June, but that number doesn't reflect the total audience that watches online video through its streaming players, which are usually connected to large-screen televisions. That's because multiple players can belong to the same account. People streamed 9.5 billion hours of video on Roku players last year, according to its IPO documents.

Roku generates most of its revenue from selling its streaming players, but it's increasingly bringing in money from advertising and commissions from subscriptions and other transactions made on its devices. In an attempt to broaden its audience, Roku said it may cut the prices on its players and try to increase its revenue from advertising sales.

Pursuing that strategy may require more money, one of the reasons that Roku is going public now. The company currently has about $70 million in cash.

That isn't much to combat Amazon, Google and Apple, Roku's deep-pocketed rivals in the video-streaming player market.

Even though it's much smaller, Roku has emerged as the U.S. market leader in streaming players, with a 37 percent share during the first three months of this year, according to the market research firm Park Associates. Amazon Fire TV ranked second with a 24 percent market share, followed by Google's Chromecast at 18 percent and Apple TV at 15 percent.

Most of Roku is currently owned by Anthony Wood, its founder and CEO, and Menlo Ventures, a venture capital firm. Wood, who previously invented one of the first digital video recorders, owns a 28 percent stake in Roku and Menlo Ventures has a 35 percent stake.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Patrick Sison/AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[US Job Growth Slows to 156K in August]]>Fri, 01 Sep 2017 08:47:26 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hiring-jobs.jpg

U.S. job growth slowed in August as employers added 156,000 jobs, still enough to suggest that most businesses remain confident in an economy now in its ninth year of recovery from the Great Recession. 

The unemployment rate ticked up from 4.3 percent to a still-low 4.4 percent, the Labor Department said Friday. Job growth in June and July was revised down by a combined 41,000, leaving an average monthly gain this year of a solid 176,000. 

Average hourly pay has risen just 2.5 percent over the 12 months ending in August. Pay raises typically average 3.5 percent to 4 percent when the unemployment rate is this low. 

The job market has remained healthy even though the economy has grown at a subpar annual pace of 2.1 percent during the first six months of 2017. 

Friday's jobs report comes as Americans have grown more optimistic about the economy. A measure of consumer confidence in August hit its highest level in 16 years, the Conference Board said this week. 

Inflation is low. Consumer spending in July rose at its fastest pace in three months. The stock market is up 10 percent so far this year. One measure of factory orders suggests that business investment is increasing. 

Even the traumatic damage caused by Harvey around the Houston region is unlikely to break the national economy's stride. Gasoline prices are rising as the flooding from Harvey knocked out refineries and ports, but any possible fallout will likely surface in economic reports over the next two months. 

Still, in some respects, the U.S. economy appears less than vigorous. Auto sales have slipped. Fewer homes are being listed for sale. And the tax relief promised by President Donald Trump to boost growth faces an unclear path through a Congress that has failed to pass major legislation. 

Overall, hiring this year has averaged 176,000 a month, roughly in line with 2016's average of 187,000. It was the 83rd straight month of job gains. 

The August jobs report showed that more/fewer people either have a job or are looking for one. Anyone not actively looking for a job isn't considered part of the labor force and isn't counted as unemployed. This so-called labor force participation rate held at 62.9 percent. The participation rate has tumbled from 66 percent over the past decade, but some of that decline reflects an aging U.S. population that is retiring and lowers the participation rate. 

Some economists say a stable participation rate is a positive sign for the economy in recent years, since retirements mean it should in theory be falling slightly. 

The leading source of job growth was in manufacturing, which added 36,000 jobs. Another 28,000 jobs came from construction. 

The economy expanded at a healthy 3 percent annual pace in the April-June quarter, a substantial increase from a weak 1.2 percent in the first three months of the year. This puts economic growth slightly above 2 percent in the first half of the year, roughly the same middling pace of growth the U.S. has experienced since the downturn.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[US Awards Contracts for Concrete Prototypes of Trump's Wall]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 17:01:46 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/CBP-Wall-Prototype-Presser.jpg

The Trump administration has taken another step toward building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico, even as funding for the project remains in question.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday it will award contracts to four companies to build four prototypes for the wall.

CBP is providing few details of the concrete prototypes and says funding for four other prototypes for a see-through structure will be awarded next week. The prototypes will cost a total of $3.6 million.

Trump made the construction of the wall his signature issue in the presidential campaign. He promised that Mexico would pay for it, but Mexico has refused.

Trump is now demanding that Congress fund the wall and has threatened to shut the government if it doesn't do so.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Policies on Immigrants, Tariff Could Hurt Harvey Help]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 12:12:53 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/donaldtrumpalone_1200x675.jpg

During President Donald Trump's visit to hurricane ravaged Corpus Christie in Texas he pledged to provide immediate recovery assistance, "We are going to get you back and operating immediately," but economists do not have the same level of confidence as Trump does, NBC News reported. 

According to a survey from the National Association of Homebuilders, there will be a significant shortage of workers for construction.  

The survey revealed more than 70 percent of builders reported shortages of framing crews and carpenter and more than 60 percent reported an ongoing decrease of drywall installers, concrete workers, and bricklayers.

With the fear of deportation and a decline in migration over the southern border and new tariffs on the lumber industry, economists fear the numbers will get grimmer.

Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wells Fargo Says 3.5 Million Accounts Involved in Scandal]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 15:26:31 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wellsfargosign_1200x675.jpg

The scope of Wells Fargo's fake accounts scandal grew significantly on Thursday, with the bank now saying that 3.5 million accounts were potentially opened without customers' permission between 2009 and 2016.

That's up from 2.1 million accounts that the bank had cited in September 2016, when it acknowledged that employees under pressure to meet aggressive sales targets had opened accounts that customers might not have even been aware existed. People may have had different kinds of accounts in their names, so the number of customers affected may differ from the account total.

Wells Fargo said Thursday that about half a million of the newly discovered accounts were missed during the original review, which covered the years 2011 to 2015.

After Wells Fargo acknowledged the fake accounts last year, evidence quickly appeared that the sales practices problems dated back even further. So Wells Fargo hired an outside consulting firm to analyze 165 million retail bank accounts opened between 2009 and 2016.

Wells said the firm found that, along with the 2.1 million accounts originally disclosed, 981,000 more accounts were found in the expanded timeline. And roughly 450,000 accounts were found in the original window.

The scandal was the biggest in Wells Fargo's history. It cost then-CEO John Stumpf his job, and the bank's once-sterling industry reputation was in tatters. The company ended up paying $185 million to regulators and settled a class-action suit for $142 million.

New managers have been trying to amends with customers, politicians and the public.

But it's been tough, as new revelations keep coming. Wells Fargo said last month that roughly 570,000 customers were signed up for and billed for car insurance that they didn't need or necessarily know about. Many couldn't afford the extra costs and fell behind in their payments, and in about 20,000 cases, cars were repossessed.

Other customers have filed lawsuits against Wells Fargo saying they were victims of unfair overdraft practices. Wells Fargo is also still under several investigations for its sales practices problems, including a congressional inquiry and one by the Justice Department.

Wells Fargo said Thursday that of the 3.5 million accounts potentially opened without permission, 190,000 of those incurred fees and charges. That's up from 130,000 that the bank originally said. Wells Fargo will refund $2.8 million to customers, in addition to the $3.3 million it already agreed to pay.

In addition, San Francisco-based Wells admitted that 528,000 customers were likely signed up for online bill payment without authorization. It'll refund $910,000 in fees to those customers.

Since last fall, Wells has changed its sales practices, ousted other executives and called tens of millions of customers to check on whether they truly opened the accounts.

"To rebuild trust and to build a better Wells Fargo, our first priority is to make things right for our customers, and the completion of this expanded third-party analysis is an important milestone," Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke]]>
<![CDATA[US Unemployment Claims Rise Slightly, Remain Low]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 10:42:01 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/unemployment_1200x675.jpg

More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but the numbers remained low and consistent with a healthy job market.

The Labor Department says 236,000 people filed claims for jobless aid, up from 235,000 a week earlier. The less volatile four-week average slipped by 1,250 to 236,750, lowest since May.

Unemployment claims are a proxy for layoffs. They have come in below 300,000 for 130 straight weeks, the longest such stretch since 1970. The low level suggests that companies are confident enough in the economy to be hanging onto staff. The unemployment rate is at a 16-year low 4.3 percent, and employers last month added a healthy 209,000 jobs.

The number of Americans collecting unemployment checks fell slightly to 1.94 million, down 9.5 percent from a year ago.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez]]>
<![CDATA[32,000 Lbs of Chicken Sausage Recalled]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 10:35:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/chicken+label+zzzz.jpg

Federal officials say a Massachusetts company is recalling about 32,228 pounds of cooked chicken sausage product due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.

The U.S Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service said Wednesday that Demakes Enterprises Inc. is recalling "Thin 'n Trim Fully Cooked Chicken Sausage Buffalo Style."

The item was produced and packaged between Jan. 20 and Aug. 10. The products had been shipped to retail locations in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Officials say there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions from the product. Anyone who has purchased the product is urged not to consume the food.

Demakes is based in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

CORAL GARNICK | PUGET SOUND BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[KOP Mall Owner Suing Starbucks Over Teavana Closures]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 18:33:29 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/teavanafeuerherd.jpg

The nation’s largest shopping mall operator, Simon Property Group Inc., has sued Starbucks Corp. over the Seattle company's plan to close all its Teavana stores, including 78 locations in Simon malls across the U.S.

In a lawsuit, Indianapolis-based Simon, which has 11 shopping centers in Pennsylvania, says that Starbucks is “shirking its contractual obligations at the expense of Simon’s shopping centers.” The lawsuit was filed in Marion County Superior Court in Indiana on August 21 and first reported by the Indianapolis Business Journal.

“We are responding to the lawsuit and are working to resolve this dispute," Starbucks said Monday.

Simon seeks to enforce the continued operations of its leases with Starbucks and says it has the right to do so in its leases.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
MICHELLE CAFFREY | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Temple's Fox Dean Talks Growth, Rankings & Biggest Challenge]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 18:12:02 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Temple-University.jpg

In the past 21 years since Dean Moshe Porat took over the helm of Temple University's Fox School of Business, a lot has changed.

The student body of Fox has doubled, it's online MBA program has sat at the top spot of U.S. News & World Report's rankings three years in a row, its part-time MBA program shot nine spots up the national rankings to land at No. 7 and it's in the midst of a major, 75,000 square-foot expansion of its presence on campus. Next year also marks a major milestone for the university — its 100th birthday.

As the school geared up for a new semester, Porat sat down with the Philadelphia Business Journal to discuss the growing trends in business education and the biggest challenge facing Fox.

This conversation was edited for clarity and brevity.

To read the full story, click here

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

<![CDATA[Harvey Knocks Out More Refineries, Shifting Global Oil Flows]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 00:52:49 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/refineAP_17242014806890.jpg

Hurricane Harvey is sending pump prices higher for U.S. motorists and causing temporary shifts in the flow of oil and gasoline around the world after taking down a huge chunk of U.S. refining capacity.

It will be days or even weeks before the energy sector in the southeast Texas Gulf Coast is back to normal operations as it deals with flooding in the aftermath of Harvey, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm. The region from Corpus Christi, Texas, where Harvey made landfall, to the Louisiana state line accounts for about 3 percent of the U.S. economy and is a crucial export market for oil and chemicals.

Wednesday brought news that the nation's biggest refinery, which was already running below half-speed, had begun a complete shutdown. The Motiva Enterprises plant in Port Arthur, Texas, run by a unit of the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, was the latest domino to fall among Gulf Coast refineries.

More than one-fifth of U.S. refining capacity has been shuttered, according to S&P Global Platts.

With that, gasoline futures headed higher for a third straight day. They had climbed 10 cents to $1.88 a gallon Wednesday

Retail gas prices climbed, too, up 2 cents a gallon on Wednesday and 7 cents in the past week, to a national average price of $2.42 per gallon, according to Gasbuddy.

"In terms of product price increases, it might get worse before it gets better," said Rob Smith, an energy analyst with IHS Markit.

It could take two weeks or longer before big refineries in the Houston area can recover from a record-setting deluge and resume normal operations. That assumes they didn't suffer serious damage, which is still unknown.

As much as 2 million pounds of potentially hazardous airborne pollutants may have been released from oil refineries and other facilities in the Houston area, NBC News reported.

Officials estimate that in some cases the amounts released far exceed the legal limits, according to regulatory filings submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. However, the state agency can't know for sure how much of the contaminants have gone out, as air-quality monitoring stations were shut down before Harvey made its first landfall.

Harvey isn't the first big storm to hit the refinery-rich Gulf Coast, but the oil industry has undergone big changes since the last major interruption from Hurricane Ike in 2008.

The so-called shale revolution has led to a surge in oil production in the U.S., increasing the nation's exports of crude oil and gasoline to Mexico and other places in Latin America, and diesel to Europe.

When the U.S. can't produce enough gasoline or diesel to meet export demands, other regions are forced to look for replacement supplies "and the backfill has to come from further away," said Richard Joswick, an analyst with S&P Global Platts. "It has to come from Asia even."

The result will be higher prices, but it should be just a one- or two-week problem, Joswick said.

Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for GasBuddy, predicts that U.S. gasoline prices will top out around $2.50 or $2.55 a gallon, an increase of up to 20 cents since Harvey hit, with bigger spikes closer to the Gulf.

The recovery from Harvey will mimic the storm's path from west to east. Flint Hill Resources' refinery in Corpus Christi, where Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, could begin to restart — a process that takes days — as early as Wednesday. Other refineries in the area are likely to do the same later this week.

"It takes some time to start up a refinery under normal circumstances, and it wouldn't be surprising if they run into hiccups," said Smith, the HIS Markit analyst. "It could be a week if not longer before Corpus Christi is at normal operations."

Exxon, Shell and other companies have reported to Texas regulators that some of their storage tanks and other facilities near Houston were damaged by the torrential rains and flooding. Most of the reports seem to indicate relatively minor damage, but still it could be days before crews can assess matters and make repairs.

Even once the refineries are running, pipelines and ports are needed to carry their gasoline, diesel and other fuels to consumers.

Parts of the Colonial Pipeline, the main fuel line that runs from Texas to New York, remains shut down — partly because with refineries closed, there is nothing to ship, but also because of Harvey-related damage.

Colonial Pipeline Co., the biggest fuel transporter in the U.S., said Wednesday night in a statement that a line carrying diesel and jet fuel is temporarily shut down and that a line carrying gasoline would close Thursday. The company plans to resume normal operations as conditions improve.

Another pipeline that carries crude from the big Permian Basin field in Texas to Houston-area refineries is also closed.

Other sectors are also slowly emerging from Harvey's mess.

INSURANCE: Damage estimates from wind, storm surges and flooding are soaring, with Moody's Analytics putting them between $51 billion and $75 billion. RMS, a company that advises insurers, estimates the cost at $70 billion to $90 billion. TD Economics said Harvey will cut 0.1 to 0.4 points from U.S. third-quarter economic growth.

SHIPPING: In a hopeful sign, port officials in Corpus Christi say that an initial check turned up some damage from Harvey's landfall over the weekend, but they hope to restart shipping on Monday. First, however, the Coast Guard will have to declare the shipping lanes clear, and boat pilots will have to be satisfied it's safe.

All four ports in the Houston area remain closed and aren't likely to reopen for several days.

TRAVEL: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Houston's two airports would resume limited service late Wednesday afternoon.

United Airlines planned to operate three departures and three arrivals Wednesday night at Bush Intercontinental Airport, a spokesman said. Other carriers, such as American Airlines, planned to wait until Thursday. At Hobby Airport, Southwest Airlines, the dominant carrier, doesn't plan any flights before Saturday, according to a spokeswoman.

More than 1,600 U.S. flights had been canceled by afternoon, most of them at the Houston airports, according to tracking service FlightAware.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP/David J. Phillip]]>
NATALIE KOSTELNI | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[New $21M Project Planned for Kensington ]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 18:22:40 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Kensington-Hit-and-Run1.jpg

As residential development has marched north in Philadelphia to Northern Liberties and Fishtown, the lack of prime development sites has meant those still available are getting expensive and has sent developers looking for deals in abutting neighborhoods such as South Kensington and opened more opportunities for them.

The Riverwards Group, a Philadelphia-based real estate company that has done work in Fishtown, Northern Liberties and Port Richmond, is the latest to seize on the widening of the traditional boundaries for development.

The firm is planning its biggest project to date at 1620-50 N. 5th St. It paid $4 million for the 56,000-square-foot parcel at the corner of 5th and Cecil B. Moore.

The developer wants to construct a $21 million residential complex that will total 147,000 square feet. It will have 57 residential units – a mix of 41 townhouses and 16 multifamily units. There will be 6,000 square feet of retail space as well.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Google Maps]]>
<![CDATA[Man Sues United Airlines Alleging Harassment Over His Name]]>Wed, 30 Aug 2017 14:05:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/united+airlines1.png

A Wisconsin man filed a federal lawsuit against United Airlines alleging he was harassed by a reservation agent over his name.

William J. Dicks filed the lawsuit Aug. 25 in federal court, claiming he received harassing telephone calls from a United Airlines employee while looking for information about a flight earlier this year.

According to the lawsuit, the incident started when Dicks called United's reservation department on Feb. 15, a 48-minute call, that he said resulted in sexual harassment, disrespect and humiliation.

The lawsuit claims the agent on the phone told Dicks his name was “controversial” but that “he like[d] it.” He also asked Dicks what he would do to the agent if the pair were alone and asked if Dicks used “protection” when being intimate with his then-girlfriend.

The agent also allegedly inquired about Dicks’ Facebook account info so that he could see “photos or personal information” about him, the suit states.

“This sequence of events caused [Dicks] to be reminded of the trauma he suffered as a child when he was teased because of his last name,” the suit reads.

Minutes after the phone call ended, Dicks alleges he received two more phone calls from the reservation department, but declined to answer.

Despite repeated attempts to report the phone call, Dicks said he had no luck in getting answers, though he feared the agent had accessed his personal information.

The lawsuit, which seeks a trial by jury, alleges the agent invaded Dicks’ privacy and caused him “great emotional stress.”

In a statement, United Airlines said it “has zero tolerance for harassment of any kind and we are reviewing the suit.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Domino's, Ford Team Up to Test Self-Driving Delivery]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 07:06:57 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17240516874592-Self-Driving-Delivery-Pizza.jpg

No ring of the doorbell, just a text. No tip for the driver? No problem in this test, where Domino's and Ford are teaming up to see if customers will warm to the idea of pizza delivered by driverless cars.

Starting Wednesday, some pizzas in Domino's hometown of Ann Arbor will arrive in a Ford Fusion outfitted with radars and a camera that is used for autonomous testing. A Ford engineer will be at the wheel, but the front windows have been blacked out so customers won't interact with the driver.

Instead, people will have to come out of their homes and type a four-digit code into a keypad mounted on the car. That will open the rear window and let customers retrieve their order from a heated compartment. The compartment can carry up to four pizzas and five sides, Domino's Pizza Inc. says.

The experiment will help Domino's understand how customers will interact with a self-driving car, says company President Russell Weiner. Will they want the car in their driveway or by the curb? Will they understand how to use the keypad? Will they come outside if it's raining or snowing? Will they put their pizza boxes on top of the car and threaten to mess up its expensive cameras?

"The majority of our questions are about the last 50 feet of the delivery experience," Weiner told reporters last week.

Domino's, which delivers 1 billion pizzas worldwide each year, needs to stay ahead of emerging trends, Weiner says. The test will last six weeks, and the companies say they'll decide afterward what to do next. Domino's is also testing pizza delivery with drones.

Weiner said the company has 100,000 drivers in the U.S. In a driverless world, he said, he could see those employees taking on different roles within the company.

Ford Motor Co., which wants to develop a fully driverless vehicle by 2021, said it needs to understand the kinds of things companies would use that vehicle for. The experiment is a first for Ford. But other companies have seen the potential for food deliveries. Otto, a startup backed by Uber, delivered 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer from a self-driving truck in Colorado last fall.

"We're developing a self-driving car not just for the sake of technology," said Sherif Marakby, Ford's vice president of autonomous and electric vehicles. "There are so many practical things that we need to learn."

Only one car will be deployed in Ann Arbor, and it has a special black-and-white paint job to identify it as a research vehicle.

Customers in the test area will be chosen randomly when they order a pizza, and will get a phone call to confirm they want to participate. If they agree, they'll get a text message letting them know when the vehicle is pulling up and how to retrieve their food.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Dee-Ann Durbin]]>
<![CDATA[Anheuser-Busch Sends Water to Hurricane Harvey Victims]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 11:10:58 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/LPCS2025.jpg

Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Budweiser and one of the largest beer producers in the world, is transporting truckloads of cans — of drinking water — to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Company spokeswoman Taylor Tchoukaleff said more than 100,000 cans will be delivered to Arlington, Texas, in addition to a delivery that arrived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Monday. Anheuser-Busch's distribution partner, Mockler Beverage, works with the Red Cross to deliver the canned water to communities in need.

MillerCoors is also sending canned water to the Texas region battered by Harvey. The beer purveyor said it is sending 50,000 cans of drinking water to their Revolver brewery in Granbury, Texas, about 250 miles northwest of Houston. The company said it is also donating $25,000 to the Red Cross.

"Providing clean water to communities enduring a crisis will aid in recovery and hopefully give some sense of comfort to those in need," said Karina Diehl, MillerCoors' director of community affairs, in a statement. 

The relief comes four days after Harvey ravaged the Texas coastline as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing with it 130 mph winds and flooding rains. Harvey remained a tropical storm Tuesday, dumping nearly 40 inches of rain in some places in Texas and inundating entire cities. 

Anheuser-Busch Cartersville brewery in Georgia produces cans of emergency relief water a few times a year, according to the company, partnering with the American Red Cross to provide to places in need within the United States.

"Throughout the year, we periodically pause beer production at our Cartersville, Georgia, brewery to produce emergency canned drinking water so we are ready to help out communities across the country in times of crisis," Bill Bradley, Vice President of Community Affairs at Anheuser-Busch said. "Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations."

In 2016, Anheuser-Busch produced and shipped over 2 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities hit by natural disasters, including the California wildfires, the Louisiana floods and Hurricane Matthew.

In May 2015, Anheuser-Busch completely halted beer production at its Georgia brewery in order to produce drinking water for those displaced by heavy storms and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma, NBC News reported.

CORRECTION (August 29, 2017, 8:12 a.m.): Earlier versions of this story incorrectly described Anheuser-Busch’s relief efforts. The company is providing water for Harvey victims, but has not halted production or shipments of beer.

Photo Credit: Anheuser-Busch ]]>
JOHN GEORGE | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[$91M Deal: CSL Gets Cali Stem Cell Gene Therapy Developer]]>Mon, 28 Aug 2017 21:28:01 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/CSL+bering.JPG

CSL Behring, a Montgomery County-based global developer of biotherapeutic products, has entered into a deal to buy Calimmune Inc. for $91 million.

The deal also includes the potential for Calimmune to earn additional performance based milestone payments of up to $325 million over a period currently anticipated to be around eight years or more following the closing of the transaction. The transaction is expected to close within the next two weeks.

Calimmune, a biotechnology company specializing in hematopoietic stem cell gene therapy, has research and development facilities in Pasadena, Calif., and Sydney, Australia. [Hematopoietic stem cells are responsible for the production of all cellular blood components.]

The acquisition provides CSL Behring of King of Prussia, Pa., with Calimmune’s pre-clinical asset, CAL-H, an experimental gene therapy for the treatment of sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia. Officials at CSL Behring, a division of CSL Ltd. of Australia, said CAL-H complements CSL Behring’s current product portfolio and its "deep expertise" in hematology.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Google Maps]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. Liquor Stores Up Prices by at Least $1 on 421 Items]]>Mon, 28 Aug 2017 19:39:32 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/liquor+bottles+generic.jpg

Your favorite wine or spirit could be costing you more in Pennsylvania, but you won't know until you get to the store.

The Keystone State’s system of state-owned liquor stores upped prices at least $1 on 421 items Monday. About seven percent (around 40 items) saw an increase of $2 or more per bottle.

A 2016 state law gave the agency authority to raise prices for 150 of the top-selling brands of wine and the 150 most popular brands of liquor.

The agency has not increased prices since the early 1990s. The changes won't affect sales pricing and discounts the stores regularly offer.

The PLCB refused to reveal an exact list of Monday’s price increases because they didn’t do so with other past price changes. Instead, the agency focused on how the price increases could have been more extensive.

"The 421 price increases effective today under flexible pricing represent less than 5 percent of the more than 10,000 products we offer at any given time in our stores and online, and less than 10 percent of the items carried in a Premium Selection Store," PLCB communications director Elizabeth Brassell said.

"In fact, 421 items is only 18 percent of the nearly 2,300 items subject to flexible pricing for which we have the authority to adjust retail prices."

The announcement of the higher prices earlier in August drew criticism from a lobbyist for the Distilled Spirits Council, a national trade association of producers and marketers. David Wojnar, the council's vice president for government relations, said consumers would prefer adding more retail outlets to increading prices.

"The legislature and the PLCB should work together to better serve Pennsylvania consumers instead of trying to pick their pockets," Wojnar said.

The higher prices followed a review of costs in neighboring states, a comparison with prices of competing products and analysis of what the market will bear. The PLCB can raise prices monthly, Brassell said.

Brassell said the agency considered raising prices on 496 items but narrowed the list after negotiating "cost concessions and considerations" with suppliers.

Before the 2016 law was enacted more than a year ago, the liquor board used a standard 31 percent markup.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association predicted higher prices will lead more customers to buy wine and liquor from stores in neighboring states. The association said lawmakers should "rein the state monopoly in" or privatize the system.

"They've kind of cemented our philosophy that they can't operate an effective cost structure," said the association's president, John Longstreet. "In business, when you have excessive costs, you look for a way to reduce your costs, you can't always pass along your cost to consumers."

The price increases could change how consumers shop.

"I am not going to drink any more or less. I'm just going to shop differently," Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania resident Mel Brodsky said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[It's a Done Deal: Amazon Takes Over Whole Foods]]>Mon, 28 Aug 2017 13:50:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/kaleamazonwholefoods_1200x675.jpg

A half-gallon of milk was 50 cents cheaper at a Whole Foods in New York. Ground beef was down by $2 a pound. And an organic avocado cost a buck less.

Amazon kicked off its first day as the owner of Whole Foods by slashing prices, adding its logo on signs and setting up a stand of "farm fresh" Amazon Echo voice-assistant devices by store entrances. It's just the first taste of the moves the e-commerce giant will make at the organic grocer after it completed the $13.7 billion deal on Monday.

More changes are coming: The company aims to make Amazon Prime the rewards program at Whole Foods and some Whole Foods products will show up on Amazon's site. The deal could also spur big changes in how people shop for groceries overall.

Here's what you need to know:

Amazon already lowered prices at Whole Foods Monday on a range of items, including rotisserie chicken, organic eggs and baby kale. The price of organic Fuji apples at one store in Manhattan dropped 43 percent, to $1.99 a pound, the same price organic avocados dropped to, CNBC reported.

Whole Foods had been just starting to test a loyalty program. But soon, shoppers at all stores will be able to tap Amazon's $99-a-year Prime program to get discounts at stores. And they will eventually be able to buy some Whole Foods products from Amazon.com. Lockers will be added in some locations so Amazon shoppers can pick up e-commerce orders or return items they don't want.

Amazon said those changes were just the beginning, but didn't give details on what more is coming. Those who watch the industry expect Amazon to push further into grocery deliveries, among other things. Whole Foods stores can serve as new distribution points for the AmazonFresh delivery service, allowing Amazon to expand where it offers home deliveries. That could include an expansion of ready-to-cook meal packages it's been testing in selected markets, including Seattle.

The deal gives Amazon more than 465 physical stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Before the acquisition, Amazon had a small brick-and-mortar presence with less than a dozen bookstores, a prototype convenience store in Seattle and pickup locations in some cities near college campuses. The tie-up may also give the Seattle-based company valuable data on how people shop in stores, where the vast majority of retail sales still take place. Amazon is an expert in using data on past purchases and browsing to offer suggestions that might make people buy more, and could start applying that in stores as well as online.

Whole Foods, meanwhile, gets to exhale. Before the deal, the chain was under intense pressure from shareholders to improve its financial results and figure out how to stop customers from going to lower-priced supermarkets to buy natural foods. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who will stay in that role, said Amazon's history of innovation could transform Whole Foods from "the class dunce" to "valedictorian."

Shares of supermarkets took a hit when the deal was announced in June, and again when Amazon said last week that it planned to cut prices at Whole Foods. Rivals are scrambling to keep up: Kroger is testing online grocery delivery in several cities. And Walmart, the nation's largest grocer, is expanding its online grocery ordering and store-curb pickup to more stores. Last week, Walmart said it is joining forces with Google to let customers order goods with their voice on Google-run smartphones and other devices.

Despite Amazon's dominance online, Walmart remains the leading retailer overall, with more than three times Amazon's retail revenue. A union that represents food-industry workers had asked the Federal Trade Commission to examine the deal carefully, saying it could hurt competition, but the U.S. regulator didn't see it that way. The FTC said last week that it conducted an investigation to see if the acquisition lessened competition and "decided not to pursue" the matter. Typically, deals that bring two direct competitors together raise flags with regulators, but Amazon — despite its online dominance — doesn't currently have a big groceries business.

Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Joseph Pisani]]>
<![CDATA[Uber Selects Expedia CEO to be Its New Chief: Sources]]>Mon, 28 Aug 2017 02:54:23 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/uber-file.jpg

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has been named Uber's top executive, taking the difficult job of mending the dysfunctional ride-hailing giant and turning it from money-losing behemoth to a profitable company.

San Francisco-based Uber's fractured eight-member board voted to hire Khosrowshahi late Sunday, capping three days of meetings and the withdrawal of once-top candidate Jeffery Immelt, former CEO and still chairman of General Electric, two people briefed on the decision said. They didn't want to be identified because the decision had not been officially announced as of Sunday night.

Khosrowshahi has been CEO of Expedia since August of 2015. The online booking site is one of the largest travel agencies in the world.

He'll replace ousted CEO Travis Kalanick and faces the difficult task of changing Uber's culture that has included sexual harassment and allegations of deceit and corporate espionage. Uber also is losing millions every quarter as it continues to expand and invest in self-driving cars.

The company currently is being run by a 14-person group of managers and is without multiple top executive positions that will be filled by Khosrowshahi.

Khosrowshahi has served as a member of Expedia's board since it was spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp. two years ago. An engineer who trained at Brown University, Khosrowshahi helped to expand IAC's travel brands which were combined into Expedia, the company's website says. He also serves on the boards of Fanatics Inc. and The New York Times Co.

He immediately will face troubles on many fronts, including having to deal with multiple board factions that had once pushed Immelt and Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. Several factions of the board are suing each other.

Whitman, an investor in Uber, denied multiple times publicly that she was interested in the job. Although she spoke to some board members remotely Friday night, they could not guarantee an end to their infighting or that Kalanick would not become board chairman, said another person with knowledge of the board discussions. That person also didn't want to be identified because board discussions are supposed to be private.

Khosrowshahi also must bring together a messy culture that an outside law firm found was rampant with sexual harassment and bullying of employees. He also must deal with driver discontent, although Uber already has started to fix that by allowing riders to tip drivers through its app.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: File Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon to Lower Some Prices at Whole Foods]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 16:14:42 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/amazon-whole-foods.jpg

Amazon announced Thursday that its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods will close on Monday, CNBC reported.

As the two companies work to integrate their business, all customers will immediately see "lower prices on a selection of best-selling staples across [Whole Foods] stores."

And Amazon promises "more to come," as the internet giant begins to integrate Prime into the Whole Foods ecosystem. Eventually, Prime members will receive "special savings and in-store benefits."

Amazon didn't disclose how long that would take, but said it would first need to integrate Amazon Prime into the Whole Foods point-of-sale system. Once complete, the offers will begin and eventually Prime will become Whole Foods' customer rewards program.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sears to Close Another 28 Kmart Stores Nationwide]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 18:46:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/kmart3.jpg

Sears continued to struggle in its second quarter with declining sales amid heightened competition from the likes of Walmart to Amazon. It now says it will close even more stores.

The Hoffman Estates, Illinois retailer, which operates Sears and Kmart stores, has been trying to cut costs by closing stores, including 180 this year and already had plans to cut another 150 stores. It now plans to shutter an additional 28 Kmart stores.

"The retail environment remained challenging," Sears Holdings Corp. said in a statement.

The company reported Thursday that its second-quarter loss narrowed to $251 million, or $2.34 per share. Losses, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, came to $1.16 per share.

Revenue fell 23 percent to $4.37 billion in the period. Sales at stores open at least a year, a key measure of a retailer's health, dropped 11.5 percent. At Kmart, the measure dropped 9.4 percent, while at Sears stores, that figure was down 13.2 percent.

Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert, whose hedge fund has forwarded millions in funding to keep Sears afloat, has long pledged to turn the company's fortunes around and that the retailer would find ways capitalize on its best-known brands like Kenmore appliances and DieHard car batteries, as well as its vast holdings of land.

Last month, it began selling its appliances on Amazon.com, including Kenmore smart appliances that can be synced with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa. The announcement that day sent shares of Sears soaring.

But Sears is battling challenges on all fronts. Like many department stores, Sears is feeling pain as shoppers change their preferences and behavior. They're spending more online and spending less on clothing and more on experiences like spas. But analysts say Sears has much to blame for its woes. While Sears has ramped up online services, it's having a hard time disguising its age. Stores are in need of a major redo. And old rivals have made it tougher as they aim to compete with online leader Amzon.com, which is pushing ahead with innovative services as part of its juggernaut Amazon Prime membership.

A number of chains like Walmart and Target have been sprucing up their stores. J.C. Penney has brought back to its floors major appliances more than 30 years after abandoning the sale of refrigerators and stoves. And Walmart announced earlier this week that it was joining forces with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping through Google Assistant as it tries to challenge Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo devices.

While Sears said in a pre-recorded transcript that it was seeing "significant progress" in its transformation, analysts see a different picture.

"As much as Sears deserves credit for the various actions it has been taking to shore up the company, there is no denying that this is a miserable set of numbers," wrote Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail in a report published Thursday. "Indeed, the precipitous drop in comparable sales and the continued lack of progress on profit suggests the company isn't moving far or fast enough to ensure its long-term survival."

In March, Sears said there is "substantial doubt" it could continue as a viable concern, with intense pressure coming from companies like Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon.com. It has insisted that its actions to turn around its business should help reduce that risk.

The company said Thursday that it has used about $605 million of its $1.5 billion revolving credit facility due in 2020. Its cash balances were $442 million as of July 29.

Shares added 62 cents to $9.19 in premarket trading.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[AAA Study: True Cost of Car Ownership in 2017]]>Thu, 24 Aug 2017 06:51:41 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/honda+accord+stock+photo.JPG

The costs of owning and operating a brand new car in the United States can cost on average $8,469 annually, or $706 a month, according to a new study from the American Automobile Association.

AAA's Your Driving Costs study, which analyzes ownership costs for sedans, SUVs and minivans, added four new vehicle types in the 2017 report – small SUVs, pickup trucks, hybrids and electric vehicles.

The study concluded small sedans are the least expensive carrs to own at $6,354 annually and pickup trucks are the most expensive vehicles to drive at $10,054 a year. Small SUVs averaged $7,606 a year, while hybrids cost about $7,687 annually.

"Determining the cost of a new vehicle car is more than calculating a monthly payment," said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. "While sales price is certainly a factor, depreciation, maintenance, repair and fuel costs should be equally important considerations for anyone in the market for a new vehicle."

AAA evaluated 45 2017 model-year vehicles across nine categories and found the average cost of annual maintenance was $1,186 and new vehicles lose an average of $15,000 in value during the first five years of ownership.

The study also revealed electric vehicles are cheaper than conventional cars to maintain, but they're more expensive upfront and lose value at a much faster pace over time.

Electric vehicles have lower-than-average driving costs at $8,439 per year. Without a gasoline engine to maintain, maintenance costs averaged at $982 per year and fuel costs were under 4 cents per mile, compared with 10 cents per mile — $1,500 a year — for the average new vehicle. However, depreciation was extremely high averaging at nearly $6,000 in value every year.

"Although electric vehicles can have higher upfront costs, lower fuel and maintenance costs make them a surprisingly affordable choice in the long run,"said Nielsen. "For even lower costs, car shoppers can avoid high depreciation costs by selecting a used electric vehicle."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP/FILE
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<![CDATA[Drawing Nears for Powerball Jackpot That's Climbed to $700M]]>Wed, 23 Aug 2017 09:27:02 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/175*120/GettyImages-504805806.jpg

The estimated jackpot for Wednesday night's Powerball lottery game has climbed to $700 million, making it the second-largest in U.S. history.

Some details about the game and how the prize has grown so large:

The drawing will be Wednesday at 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time in Tallahassee, Florida. Five white balls will be drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball will be selected from a drum with 26 balls. To win, players need to have paid $2 for a ticket and either have chosen numbers or opted to let a computer make a random choice.

The jackpot is listed as $700 million, but that refers to the annuity option, doled out in 30 payments over 29 years. Nearly all winners favor the cash option, which pays significantly less. For the current jackpot, the cash prize would be $443.3 million.

The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. Tom Rietz, a professor at the University of Iowa who researches probabilities, says one way to think about it is to envision the 324 million U.S. residents. Your chance of winning is roughly comparable to being that one lucky person out of the entire population, with everyone else losing.

Federal income taxes will take a 25 percent bite from winnings. State taxes vary, so the amount winners will pay in taxes depend on where they play. Some of the nation's biggest states, including California and Texas, don't assess state taxes on lottery prizes, so winners in those spots would be just a bit richer.

Face it, you're almost certainly not going to win the jackpot, but players have much better odds of one in 25 of winning a lesser prize. Those odds range from one in 11.7 million of winning $1 million for matching the five regular balls to one in 38 for matching the Powerball and winning $4.

Amid all the talk about sudden wealth, it is easy to forget that the purpose of Powerball is to raise money for government programs in the 44 states where the game is played, as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each jurisdiction decides how to spend the money raised by Powerball and other lottery games, with some funding college scholarships, others spending the money on transportation and many using it for general state programs.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Whole Foods Shareholders OK Amazon Takeover Deal]]>Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:46:07 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/amazon-whole-foods.jpg

Whole Foods shareholders and federal regulators approved Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of the organic grocer, a deal that could bring big changes to the supermarket industry and how people order groceries online.

By buying Whole Foods, Amazon is taking a bold step into brick-and-mortar, with more than 460 stores and potentially very lucrative data about how shoppers behave offline.

Two moves forward came Wednesday. Whole Foods shareholders gave their blessing to a union that its CEO had called "love at first sight." And the Federal Trade Commission said in a brief statement that it had looked into competition concerns and would not block the deal.

The FTC investigated whether the takeover "substantially lessened competition" or "constituted an unfair method of competition," said Bruce Hoffman, the acting director of the agency's Bureau of Competition. "Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further."

A union that represents food-industry workers had asked the FTC to scrutinize the deal closely, saying it could hurt competition and lead to job cuts. Regulators tend to block deals when two direct competitors are combining, and Amazon — despite its dominance in the online marketplace — doesn't currently have a big groceries business.

Still, rivals are scrambling to catch up with the e-commerce giant. Walmart, which has the largest share of the U.S. grocery market, is expanding its grocery delivery service with ride-hailing service Uber and announced Wednesday that it will join forces with Google to let shoppers order goods by voice on Google devices.

Before the deal was announced in June, Whole Foods had been under intense shareholder pressure to improve results and retain customers who have more choices about where to get natural foods. As Whole Foods grew, more supermarkets offered similar organic and natural foods, but at cheaper prices.

Amazon and Whole Foods have not given many details about what might change for customers, though Whole Foods CEO John Mackey gave some general clues at a town hall with employees after the deal was announced. He said he thought Amazon would help with efforts on cost-cutting and a loyalty program. He noted Amazon is known for its innovation and said that company could turn Whole Foods from "the class dunce" to "valedictorian."

Mackey had said the deal came about after a "whirlwind courtship" and that "it was truly love at first sight."

As part of the deal, Amazon will pay Whole Foods shareholders $42 for each share they own. That was an 18 percent premium from its stock price the day before the tie-up was announced on June 16. Shares of Whole Foods Market Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, ended Wednesday at $41.68.

Earlier this month, Amazon.com Inc. sold $16 billion of bonds in order to pay for Whole Foods. Seattle-based Amazon has said it expects the deal to close before the end of the year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Famed Village Voice Announces End of Print Edition]]>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:20:09 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/VVoice-boxes.jpg

The Village Voice, the famed alternative weekly that's been in print for decades, is going online-only. 

Owner Peter Barbey announced the change on Tuesday. 

He says the paper, founded more than 60 years ago, "has been a beacon for progress and a literal voice for thousands of people whose identities, opinions, and ideas might otherwise have been unheard." Barbey says he expects that to continue, with reporting and stories posted on its website. 

The Village Voice was the country's first alternative newsweekly, and has won multiple Pulitzer Prizes. It has been celebrated for its arts and culture coverage and its investigations. 

Barbey bought the paper in 2015. He's the president and CEO of The Reading Eagle newspaper in Pennsylvania.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA['Pipe Dream': $758.7M Powerball Winner Claims Huge Prize]]>Fri, 25 Aug 2017 06:48:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17236644107243.jpg

The woman who won Wednesday night's massive $758.7 million Powerball jackpot has come forward to claim the prize.

"I just want to sit back and relax," Mavis L. Wanczyk said at lottery headquarterswhen asked what's the first thing she'll do with the money. "I had a pipe dream and my pipe dream came true."

It's the second-largest Powerball jackpot in U.S. history but the largest to be won by a single ticket.

Wanczyk, a 53-year-old resident of Chicopee, Massachusetts, said she is a regular lottery player, who regularly plays keno with her mother, stepfather and a friend. Their lucky number is 4 — the Powerball number in Wednesday night's draw. The other five numbers drawn were 6, 7, 16, 23 and 26.

Wanczyk discovered she'd won when finishing her shift at Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, where she works in patient care. She said she was talking to a firefighter she works with and didn't initially believe him when he told her she'd won.

"He goes, 'Sign that ticket now,'" Wanczyk recalled, adding that he followed her home to make sure she was safe.

She said the reality of her winning was hitting her at the news conference she gave at 1 p.m. ET, and still had lots of planning to do. She plans to pay off a new car she purchased last year.

Asked how she'd celebrate Thursday night, Wanczyk said, "I'm going to go hide in my bed."

Lottery officials say she chose to take a lump sum payment of $480 million, or $336 million after taxes.

A mistake by the Massachusetts State Lottery injected a little extra drama into the drawing hours after the drawing Wednesday night when lottery officials initially bungled their announcement and gave the wrong shop and location.

The lottery corrected the site where the single winning ticket was sold to Chicopee, Massachusetts. Overnight, they had announced the winning ticket was sold at a shop in Watertown, just outside Boston.

But shortly before 8 a.m., the lottery said it had made a mistake, and that the winning ticket was sold at the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, about halfway across the state.

The store in Watertown did sell a ticket that won a $1 million prize. Reporters had descended on the store hours before it opened around 6:30 a.m.

"Still happy, but what can we do," Marjeet Paaur Khan, an owner of that store, told NBC Boston.

Mike Donatelli, a spokesman for the Pride Station & Store in Chicopee, says they were told shortly before 8 a.m. that the store had actually sold that ticket.

Massachusetts State Lottery Executive Director Michael Sweeney said the store will pocket $50,000 for selling the jackpot winner, though owner Bob Bolduc said the money would all go to local charities.

"We support all local charities anyway, so they'll just get a little bonus," Bolduc said.

Powerball is played in 44 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of which collectively oversee the game. Drawings are held twice a week. Five white balls are drawn from a drum containing 69 balls and one red ball is selected from a drum with 26 balls. Players can choose their numbers or let a computer make a random choice.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Josh Reynolds/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Solar Eclipse Helps Local Businesses]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 18:29:01 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Solar_Eclipse_Helps_Local_Businesses.jpg

Although America was expected to lose millions of dollars in productivity due to how many would stop work to watch, Monday's total solar eclipse helped out many local businesses. NBC10's Deanna Durante has the details.]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL STAFF]]><![CDATA[Study Says Philly Ranks in Top 5 Most Improved Economies]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 17:26:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/philadelphia+skyline.PNG

According to federal employment data, Philadelphia posted the fourth most improved economy of all large metropolitan areas, from 2015 to 2016. The study, done by Headlight Data, took national data and examined federal employment numbers year over year to determine how much individual economies had grown.

The number of employed citizens in the Philadelphia metro area grew more than 45,000.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

ALISON BURDO | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Bucks Co. Biotech Firm Gets $3.9M Loan From Hong Kong Firm]]>Tue, 22 Aug 2017 06:54:17 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Checkbook-GettyImages-88305571.jpg

Windtree Therapeutics Inc. announced Friday it will receive a $3.9 million loan from a Hong Kong-based investment holding firm as part of the Bucks County biotech company's financial restructuring plans.

The deal makes good on a goal of Windtree CEO Craig Fraser, who told the Business Journal in May he wanted to enter a partnership before the end of 2017 that would help the Warrington-based firm's Aerosurf product get to market.

Aerosurf is Windtree's lead drug-device combination and it's being developed to prevent respiratory distress syndrome in premature infants.

The $3.9 million loan from Lee's Pharmaceutical (HK) Limited, according to Windtree, will be dispersed in three equal monthly installments beginning with the first portion that was received on Aug. 15.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eclipse Will Cost Almost $700M in Productivity: Researchers]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 13:09:32 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/eclipse+photo.jpg

American workers ducking out to view Monday's total solar eclipse will cost employers at least $694 million, according to one estimate.

Reuters reported that a outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas found workers will head out of the office for roughly 20 minutes a piece, though that may be a conservative estimate, according to a vice president at the Chicago-based firm.

"There's very few people who are not going to walk outside when there's a celestial wonder happening above their heads to go out and view it," Andy Challenger said.

But those hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity pale in comparison to the amount lost to other events, like March Madness and Cyber Monday.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Jersey Shore Amusement Park Recalls Eclipse Glasses]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 08:23:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Countdown_to_Solar_Eclipse.jpg

A New Jersey shore amusement park is warning customers who bought special glasses to watch the solar eclipse to return them.

Jenkinson's Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach announced on Facebook Sunday that EverythingBranded.com does not recommend using the glasses to view Monday's eclipse. The company says there are questions about the glasses' certification.

Jenkinson's says it will issue a full refund to anyone who purchased the glasses.

"We will issue a full refund to anyone who purchased our solar eclipse glasses. Please return them to where you purchased them or mail them to 500 Boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742 for a full refund. Please contact information@jenkinsons.com with any questions," Jenkinson's posted to Facebook.

"We would like to apologize for this inconvenience, as we were assured by the supplier that the Solar Eclipse Glasses we purchased were in fact ISO Certified and safe to distribute."

Monday's total eclipse will cast a shadow that will race through 14 states. All of North America will get at least a partial eclipse.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

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ALISON BURDO | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Free People Drives UO in Q2 But Analysts Heed Caution]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:48:28 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Urban-Outfitters-Resized.jpg

Urban Outfitters soaring shares began to level off Thursday as analysts suggest investors should remain cautious with the retail brand, despite revenue in the second quarter beating expectations.

Free People, one of the South Philadelphia-based retailer's three brands, had an unusually strong showing in the three month period. Sales at Free People increased 2.9 percent, according to CNBC, while the other brands' sales both fell – Anthropologie by 4 percent, Urban Outfitters by 7.9 percent.

The success at Free People helped the company overcome the other brands' shortcomings and beat expectations. Urban reported $873 million in revenue in the quarter, compared with the $861 million estimated.

Yet the most recent quarter's revenue still lagged behind the same year-ago period, when the retailer reported $891 million in net sales.

To read the full story click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Walmart Files Patent for Floating Warehouse ]]>Fri, 18 Aug 2017 23:40:40 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/walmart_722x406_2166097556.jpg

Walmart has applied for a U.S. patent for a warehouse in the sky, which could make deliveries to shoppers' homes with drones.

CNBC reported that it could be the big-box retailer's latest move to take its e-commerce business to the next level.

Bloomberg first reported the news Friday, while the patent was first submitted in February.

The machine, similar to a blimp, could fly as high as 1,000 feet, the application says, and it would be operated either autonomously or remotely by a human pilot.

Photo Credit: NBCPhiladelphia.com]]>
<![CDATA[No Winner: Powerball Jackpot Swells to $650M]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:24:10 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/230*120/Powerball+Pennsylvania+Ticket.JPG

Powerball officials say there was no grand prize winner in the latest drawing, meaning one of the nation's largest lottery jackpots will continue growing.

Maura McCann of the New Hampshire Lottery says no ticket matched all six numbers following Saturday night's drawing. The winning numbers are: 17, 19, 39, 43, 68 and Powerball 13.

The new jackpot for Wednesday's drawing is $650 million, which would be the third-largest jackpot in U.S. history.

The prize has grown so large because no one has matched all six balls in more than two months, so the jackpot has grown after every drawing.

The odds of winning the giant prize is one in 292.2 million.

Powerball is played in 44 states as well as Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Despite there being no jackpot winner, six $1-million tickets matching five numbers were sold in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, California, Florida, Missouri and North Carolina. And, two $2-million Power Play tickets were sold in South Carolina and Tennessee.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Docs Criticize Move by Top Drug Middleman to Limit Opioids ]]>Thu, 17 Aug 2017 11:54:02 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Opioid-Pills1.jpg

The nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager will soon limit the number and strength of opioid drugs prescribed to first-time users as part of a wide-ranging effort to curb an epidemic affecting millions of Americans.

But the new program from Express Scripts is drawing criticism from the American Medical Association, the largest association of physicians and medical students in the U.S., which believes treatment plans should be left to doctors and their patients.

About 12.5 million Americans misused prescription opioids in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More than 33,000 deaths that year were blamed on opioid overdoses.

Express Scripts launched a yearlong pilot program in 2016 aimed at reducing patients' dependency on opioids and the risk of addiction, said Snezana Mahon, the Missouri-based company's vice president of clinical product development.

Mahon said analysis of 106,000 patients in the pilot program showed a 38 percent reduction in hospitalizations and a 40 percent reduction in emergency room visits, compared to a control group. The program is scheduled to take effect nationwide on Sept. 1 for Express Scripts members whose employer or health insurer has enrolled to participate.

Under the program, new opioid users are limited to seven-day prescriptions, even if the doctor orders scripts for much longer. Mahon said the average prescription is for 22 days.

The program also requires short-acting drugs for first-time opioid prescriptions, even though many doctors prescribe long-acting opioids. Dosage is also limited, and the company will monitor and try to prevent for patterns of potential "pill shopping," where a patient goes from doctor to doctor to collect prescriptions.

The program does not apply to patients in hospice or palliative care, or to cancer patients.

A competitor, CVS Caremark, has a similar program.

"A lot of times physicians are prescribing these drugs blindly," Mahon said. "They don't know that a patient may be going to see multiple prescribers."

She said some physicians "are actually appreciative and saying, 'Thank you, I didn't know this was happening.'"

But Dr. Patrice Harris, an Atlanta psychiatrist who chairs the American Medical Association's Opioids Task Force, said doctors are already working toward addressing the opioid epidemic.

Harris said doctors have reduced such prescriptions by 17 percent over the past couple of years and are directing patients to other forms of pain management, including physical therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.

"We want to be pro-active in making sure the alternatives are available, versus a sort of blunt, one-size-fits-all-all approach regarding the number of prescriptions," Harris said. "The AMA's take has always been that the decision about a specific treatment alternative is best left to the physician and their patient."

Express Scripts said that if a doctor wants a patient to have more than a seven-day supply of medication, he or she can request it. Harris said those additional steps create an administrative burden for the doctor, "but more importantly they delay care for the patient."

Harris said the AMA has not contacted Express Scripts to raise concerns about the program or taken any action to stop it.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already requires label warnings about misuse on all prescription medications, but Express Scripts will take the additional step of sending a letter to new opioid patients warning about the dangers of misuse and addiction.

CVS Caremark already has a 10-day limit on opioids and limits the dosage, the company said. Patients must start on short-acting drugs, and physicians are required to regularly assess patients using opioid prescriptions.

CVS Caremark also has a monitoring process to identify pill shopping and other forms of misuse or fraud, and works with its retail pharmacies to review "prescribing trends and irregular behavior and with physicians to ensure appropriate therapy for patients with chronic pain," spokeswoman Christine Cramer said in an email.

Express Scripts also is providing data analytics as part of Missouri's new prescription drug-monitoring program. Republican Gov. Eric Greitens announced details last month at the Express Scripts corporate headquarters in suburban St. Louis. Missouri was the last state without a program to track prescription drugs.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: John Moore / Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Campbell's CEO Leaves Trump Council, President Dissolves It]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:01:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Denise+Morrison+Campbell+Soup.jpg

A day after pledging she would stay on a business advisory board to President Donald Trump, Campbell's Soup CEO Denise Morrison announced she's defecting from the group.

Shortly after her resignation, the president dissolved the manufacturing council.

Morrison, in a statement released by her Camden, New Jersey-based food company Wednesday afternoon, cited Trump's latest remarks on the Charlottesville attacks as the primary reason for leaving.

"Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and are not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville. I believe the President should have been – and still needs to be – unambiguous on that point," Morrison wrote in that statement.

Morrison was the sixth CEO to leave the president's American Manufacturing Council. 3M CEO Inge Thulin announced his departure shortly before Morrison.

Kenneth Frazier, a North Philadelphia native who heads up pharmaceutical giant Merck, as well as the leaders of Under Armour, AFL-CIO, and Intel previously left the group.

Within minutes of the departures of Morrison and Thulin, the president tweeted that he is ending the manufacturing council and the President's Strategic and Policy Forum.

"Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both. Thank you all," the tweet read.

On Tuesday, Campbell's said Morrison felt it was important to "have a voice and provide input on matters that will affect" the industry and company.

That statement came a mere five hours before Trump doubled down on his initial comments about this weekend's violent and deadly white supremacist rally in the Virginia college town saying "there is blame on both sides."

"You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was very violent. And nobody wants to say that," Trump said.

Trump's unplanned comments, made during a news conference about infrastructure at Trump Tower in New York City, immediately enraged politicians from both parties and the public. It also seemed to wipe away the statement he made Monday when he denounced white supremacists, Klu Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis as "criminals and thugs."

The president's new comments were applauded by former KKK leader David Duke with him tweeting: "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth."

Here's a list of business leaders who were part of the manufacturing council before either leaving or the group being disbanded:

Bill Brown, Harris Corporation

Michael Dell, Dell Technologies

John Ferriola, Nucor Corporation

Jeff Fettig, Whirlpool Corporation

Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company

Kenneth Frazier, Merck

Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson

Greg Hayes, United Technologies Corp.

Marilynn Hewson, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Jeff Immelt, General Electric

Jim Kamsickas, Dana Inc.

Klaus Kleinfeld, Arconic

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation

Rich Kyle, The Timken Company

Thea Lee, AFL-CIO

Andrew Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company

Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel

Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Company

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing

Elon Musk, Tesla Motors

Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar

Scott Paul, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Kevin Plank, Under Armour

Michael Polk, Newell Brands

Mark Sutton, International Paper

Inge Thulin, 3M

Richard Tumka, AFL-CIO

Wendell Weeks, Corning

Photo Credit: Mel Evans/Associated Press
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<![CDATA[Grocery Delivery Service Expands in Lehigh Valley]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:34:06 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Instacart-Hero.jpg

Price Rite Supermarkets is expanding its partnership with Instacart at Price Rite’s Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania stores.

Instacart is a nationwide on-demand grocery delivery service that Sarah Mastrorocco, Instacart’s Head of New Retail Accounts, says, "has always been about bringing customers’ favorite stores directly to their doors."

Through this partnership, those who shop with Price Rite, the store that claims prices from 20 to 50 percent of traditional supermarkets.

When you order at Price Rite on the Instacart website or app and it will be delivered to their steps as little as one hour.

“Price Rite is committed to providing our customers with outstanding customer service, variety, value and low prices, and the Instacart partnership allows us to deliver the Price Rite experience with the added ability to bring groceries straight to our customers’ doorstep,” Price Rite Supermarkets president Neil Duffy said.

“Our partnership with Price Rite allows us to continue that commitment and bring the convenience of same-day grocery delivery to Lehigh Valley customers,” Mastrorocco said.

Until now, the Price Rite-Instacart partnership only benefited Price Rite stores in other states.

"We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Instacart and offer our customers a new way to shop while saving time and money,” Duffy said.

Photo Credit: Instacart]]>
<![CDATA[Facebook Bans White Nationalist's Accounts Over Hate Speech]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 17:54:11 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/FBlaptopgeneric_1200x675.jpg

Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.

Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja tells The Associated Press that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast. Cantwell was featured in a Vice News documentary about the rally and its aftermath.

Facebook has also removed at least eight pages connected to the white nationalist movement over what Budhraja says were violations on the company's polices on hate speech and organizations.

Cantwell, of Keene, New Hampshire, was listed on rally flyers and labeled an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A former information technology worker who moved to New Hampshire from New York in 2012, the 36-year-old Cantwell describes himself as a white nationalist and said he voted for President Donald Trump. He has a podcast and blog that promote his views.

Cantwell says Facebook shut down his account in an attempt to silence him for his views. He also said his PayPal account had been closed. The company wouldn't confirm that because it has a policy of not commenting on the status of accounts.

"I'm not surprised by almost any of this because the whole thing we are complaining about here is that we are trying to express our views, and everybody is going through extraordinary lengths to make sure we are not heard," Cantwell said in a phone interview from an undisclosed location.

"Frankly, whatever you think of my views, that is very scary to me," he said. "Facebook and Instagram is one thing but not being able to participate in the financial system because of your political opinions is something that, you know, people should worry about in America."

In response to the Charlottesville rally and protests, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed racism in America and shared his experiences in a post on the social media site.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[After Sales Scandal, Wells Fargo Announces Board Shakeup ]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 18:31:15 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WellsFargo11.jpg

Wells Fargo announced a board shakeup Tuesday, including the coming retirement of three directors, in a restructuring effort following the bank's consumer sales scandal, CNBC reported.

Elizabeth "Betsy" Duke will take Stephen Sanger's position as independent chair effective Jan. 1, 2018, according to the bank's announcement.

Board members Cynthia H. Milligan and Susan G. Swenson will also leave the board after over a decade in order to “facilitate Board refreshment and provide for an appropriate transition of committee membership," the bank said in a statement.

In 2016, Wells Fargo paid $185 million in penalties following the revelation that since 2011, workers trying to meet aggressive sales goals had opened about 2 million consumer deposit and credit card accounts without customers' authorization. The bank has since abandoned those sales goals.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Costco Must Pay $19 Million for Selling 'Tiffany' Rings]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 13:17:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Costco4.jpg

Costco has been ordered by a federal judge to pay Tiffany & Co. more than $19 million for selling diamond rings that were identified as “Tiffany.”

In her ruling, Manhattan judge Laura Taylor Swain wrote that upper management at the wholesale club “displayed at best a cavalier attitude toward Costco’s use of the Tiffany name” when selling about 2,500 rings, The Washington Post reported

In a 2015 trial, Costco argued that the word “Tiffany” had become a generic descriptor used to define a specific style of engagement ring. Nevertheless, the jury concluded the retailer had unlawfully taken advantage of the Tiffany brand to generate $3.7 million in profits over several years.

In addition to paying the damages, the wholesale club will be prohibited from labeling their products as “Tiffany” without using a modifier like “setting,” "style" or “set.”

Costco plans to appeal this week’s decision, calling it “a product of multiple errors in pre-trial, trial, and post-trial rulings.” 

“This was not a case about counterfeiting in the common understanding of that word — Costco was not selling imitation Tiffany & Co rings,” the company added in a statement.

The rings in question were first brought to Tiffany’s attention by a customer in 2013. The original complaint filed that same year states, “There are now hundreds, if not thousands of people who mistakenly believe they purchased and own a Tiffany engagement ring from Costco,” CNN reported.

Costco has since tried to refute this, pointing to the fact that out of approximately 2,500 buyers, Tiffany was able to identify fewer than 10 who said they had misunderstood Costco’s signage.

"The rings in question were not stamped or otherwise marked with the Tiffany & Co. name (but rather were stamped with the name of the company that manufactured them)," Costco said. "They were sold in plain beige and brown wooden boxes (rather than with blue boxes or bags that said Tiffany & Co.); they were accompanied by appraisal documents that did not mention Tiffany & Co., and with sales receipts that did not say Tiffany or Tiffany & Co. Notably, Tiffany & Co. did not claim in the lawsuit that it lost a single sale to Costco as a result of any sign."

In a statement to NBC News, Tiffany & Co. said the judge's ruling “validates the strength of the Tiffany trademark and the value of our brand.”

The decision sends the message that "Tiffany is much more than a name. It stands for responsible sourcing, exacting standards and exceptional craftsmanship."

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[High-Tech US Plants Offer Jobs Even as the Laid-Off Struggle]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:24:16 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17212064899758-Stihl-Factory.jpg

Herbie Mays is 3M proud, and it shows — in the 3M shirt he wears; in the 3M ring he earned after three decades at the company's plant in suburban Cincinnati; in the way he shows off a card from a 3M supervisor, praising Mays as "a GREAT employee."

But it's all nostalgia.

Mays' last day at 3M was in March. Bent on cutting costs and refocusing its portfolio, the company decided to close the plant that made bandages, knee braces and other health care supplies and move work to its plant in Mexico.

At 62, Mays is unemployed and wants to work, though on the face of it he has plenty of opportunities: Barely 10 miles from Mays' ranch-style brick home in this blue-collar city, GE Aviation has been expanding — and hiring.

In the state-of-the-art laboratory in a World War II-era building the size of 27 football fields, workers use breakthrough technology to build jet engines that run on less fuel at higher temperatures. Bright flashes flare out as GE workers run tests with a robotic arm that can withstand 2,000 degrees (1,090 Celsius).

The open jobs there are among 30,000 manufacturing positions available positions open across Ohio. But Mays, like many of Ohio's unemployed, lacks the in-demand skills.

"If you don't keep up with the times," he said, "you're out of luck."

This is the paradox of American manufacturing jobs in 2017. Donald Trump won the presidency in great measure because he pledged to stop American jobs and manufacturing from going overseas, winning Rust Belt votes from Mays and other blue-collar voters.

It's true that many jobs have gone overseas, to lower-wage workers.

But at the same time, American manufacturers have actually added nearly a million jobs in the past seven years. Labor statistics show nearly 390,000 such jobs open.

The problem? Many of these are not the same jobs that for decades sustained the working class. More and more factory jobs now demand education, technical know-how or specialized skills. And many of the workers set adrift from low-tech factories lack such qualifications.

Factories will need to fill 2 million jobs over the next decade, according to a forecast by Deloitte Consulting and the American Manufacturing Institute. Workers are needed to run, operate and troubleshoot computer-directed machinery, including robots, and to maintain complex websites

Last year, software developer was the second-most-common job advertised by manufacturing companies, behind only sales, according to data provided by Burning Glass Technologies, a company that analyzes labor market data.

Yet the United States for now remains a follower, not a leader, of the trend. Workers in many European and Asian countries are more likely to be working with robots than U.S. workers, studies show. In such countries as Japan and Denmark, robotics and advanced automation have created solid jobs while increasing efficiencies for manufacturers.

Trump continues to make promises about adding U.S. manufacturing jobs. In blue-collar Youngstown, Ohio, he talked about passing by big factories whose jobs "have left Ohio" on his way to a July 25 rally, then told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are "coming back. They're all coming back."

But Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican and a former U.S. trade representative, conceded in an interview: "We're not going to see the kind of manufacturing renaissance that we all want in this country unless we focus on skills training."

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, in a visit to a Detroit factory in June, acknowledged the need to address the skills gap by developing advanced computing skills. And when Trump visited Pewaukee, Wisconsin, in June, he touted the value of training while doing.

"Apprenticeships teach striving Americans the skills they need to operate incredible machines," Trump said. "This is not the old days. This is new and computerized and complicated."

Of the 146 million jobs in the United States, only about 0.35 percent were filled by active apprentices in 2016. Filling millions of open jobs through apprenticeships would require a substantial increase in government resources. So far, the Trump administration has called for more funding but hasn't made any progress securing the funding from Congress.

Apprenticeships are much more common at some European companies, notably German firms. At Germany-based Stihl Inc.'s plant in Virginia Beach, Virginia, for example, A.J. Scherman is learning to be a "mechatronics technician." Mechatronics combines electrical and mechanical engineering as well as computer skills.

Stihl makes chain saws, leaf blowers and weed trimmers at the factory. Once he's completed his final year in Stihl's four-year apprenticeship program, Scherman will read diagnostic software on computer screens attached to each robot to repair and upgrade them. If necessary, he'll hook up a laptop to program changes.

Scherman, 37, is also earning a college degree as part of the apprenticeship. Thanks to financial aid from Stihl, he'll finish with zero debt.

Skip Johnson, Stihl's apprenticeship coordinator, said it's critically important to bring bright students into the plant, where they can see that the grime and dust they associate with factories are giving way to clean operations using futuristic technology.

"They just come in here, and they're wide-eyed," Johnson said.

U.S. manufacturing workers, excluding managers, make an average of $44,000 a year, according to government data. That's just 2.8 percent higher, adjusted for inflation, than a decade ago after years of shifting of jobs overseas or to nonunion states. And it compares with a much higher 8 percent gain for the labor force as a whole over the past decade.

But a typical mechatronics engineer with a four-year degree can earn $97,000 a year; a typical software developer makes just over $100,000.

Festo Didactic, the education arm of Germany-based Festo, last year launched two-year mechatronics apprenticeship programs in Ohio with Sinclair Community College, and is already expanding its U.S. apprenticeship offerings. At Festo's plant in Mason, workers monitor a robotic distribution system that self-adjusts its work flow to prevent backups.

"This kind of factory has nothing to do with the factory we knew in the 1960s or 1980 or even 2000," said Yannick Schilly, who heads global supply for Festo's North American business.

But there's not much demand locally these days for the kind of repetitive tasks done in those factories by workers such as Herbie Mays.

He acknowledged that there are "plenty of jobs out here.

"What you have to do is get training or education."

Contributing to this report were Associated Press business writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo, AP writer Jan M. Olsen in Kalundborg, Denmark; AP videojournalist Mike Householder in Detroit, and AP photographer John Minchillo in Cincinnati.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Old City Bar Owners Pen 'Eulogy'; Blame Drugs for Closure]]>Sat, 12 Aug 2017 07:21:22 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/186*120/Eulogy+Bar+Old+City.JPG

Eulogy Belgian Tavern near 2nd and Chestnut streets in Philadelphia is no more.

The owners of the 15-year-old Old City bar in their own eulogy for the shuttering business cited the "current epidemic drug and crime spree" in Philadelphia.

"Everything dies baby that's a fact," the company wrote Friday in a Facebook post. "But maybe everything that dies someday comes back"

"Unfortunately, we feel the current epidemic drug and crime spree in Philadelphia has made it too difficult to safely staff and operate our business anymore so we're taking a break," the company wrote.

To read the full story click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Google Street View]]>
<![CDATA[The TV-Streaming Paradox: Why You May Miss the Cable Bundle]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:20:36 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Netflix-GettyImages-464215297.jpg

The future of TV may well be a mishmash of streaming services that could rival the cost of a $100 cable bundle — but that are way more difficult to use.

Disney's plan for two new streaming services (and possibly more) is just the latest sign that everyone is jumping into the streaming business. It intends to launch a kids-oriented movie and TV streaming service in 2019 that will pull Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, as well as an ESPN sidekick service (minus pro football and basketball) expected early next year. The company is even exploring the possibility of separate streaming services for its Star Wars and Marvel superhero films.

All of that will simply add to a cacophony of existing Netflix-style video services that let you watch what you want, when you want. More are probably on their way, as entertainment companies see profits in controlling not only the creation of their films and shows, but also their distribution.

The downside? Potentially bigger bills, and more work for people who just want to find something to watch. "Ultimately for consumers, it means that experience is dreadful," says Paolo Pescatore, a vice president with research firm CCS Insight.


New Yorker David Berkowitz still pays for cable, streams from Netflix and Amazon, and sometimes buys individual movies from Amazon; his three-year-old daughter already watches "Finding Dory" and "Finding Nemo" on two separate services. The prospect of a new Disney-only service isn't reassuring. "Having a third thing in the mix seems like a lot to juggle," he says.

To find stuff to watch, Berkowitz's family uses a Roku box attached to their TV, which suggests streaming channels the family may like and lets them search for the shows and movies he wants to watch. There are also websites to guide streamers, like justwatch.com.

That's fine if you know what you're looking for. But the modern-day channel surfer has it much harder. "There's going to be a proliferation of niche content," says Colin Petrie-Norris, CEO of Xumo, a streaming-channel provider for smart TVs. "The way for it to be managed, findable for a user — that has not emerged yet."


People quit cable because they can't justify a $100-and-always-climbing monthly payment, especially with so much good stuff on cheaper services. But the cost of multiple streaming services adds up, too.

A $30 TV antenna gets you local channels — CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS, Univision — for free, though you have to watch whatever's on at the moment unless you have a DVR. If you want to see the edgy shows everyone talks about, then Netflix is, for most, $10 a month; Amazon is $8.25 a month if you sign up for a year. Hulu starts at $8. HBO Now, $15.

Tickled by ads for a specific network show? "The Sinner," an eerie-looking new Jessica Biel vehicle on USA, costs $20 on Amazon for the season. All that together is already more than $60 a month. It's even worse if you're a sports fan. MLB.TV is $113 for the year, and you won't get hometeam games .

Berkowitz says he's curious about the Disney service, especially since he expects to save money by cutting cable. "For us, if it's $5 a month it'll almost be like that impulse buy, go to a store and pick up a candy bar," he says.

Disney hasn't settled on prices yet, saying only it wants an affordable service that's broadly appealing. Its DisneyLife streaming video app in the U.K. launched at 10 pounds a month in November 2015 and now costs half that — about $6.50.

Of course, Disney might still bundle Marvel movies and the Star Wars franchise into its service, which would help it appeal to a wider demographic. For kid's programming, there's already a lot out there. Much of it is free.

Darcy Hansen, a communications consultant and stay-at-home mom in the Dallas suburbs, has two kids under age 5 whose favorite show — "Sheriff Callie's Wild West" — is a Disney series on Hulu. But a Disney app isn't a must-have for her.

Her kids already watch "all sorts of things" on YouTube and on the free PBS Kids app, and they have Netflix too, Hansen says. "I don't think Disney has a monopoly on children's programming, in our house at least."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images, File]]>
JEFF BLUMENTHAL | PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[South Jersey Headquarters Reducing Workforce by Hundreds]]>Tue, 15 Aug 2017 14:51:23 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/212*120/PHH.JPG

Mortgage company PHH Corp. said last week that its total workforce would be reduced from 3,500 to 1,250 by the end of 2018 but did not indicate how many of those cuts would take place at its South Jersey headquarters.

On Monday, a company spokesman provided clarity on the impact to be felt at Mount Laurel, where PHH will reduce headcount from 1,900 to under 1,200. Virtually all of those reductions will occur via layoffs.

Dico Akseraylian, senior vice president for marketing and communications at PHH, said about half of the 2,250 cuts happening company-wide before 2019 are due to the sale of two units to other companies and about half of those individuals have been offered roles with their new employers.

PHH said in February that it would end its joint venture with Realogy Holdings Corp. It sold its share to a new joint venture that Realogy has formed with Guaranteed Rate called Guaranteed Rate Affinity, which is expected to begin doing business later this year. Guaranteed Rate offered jobs to the majority of affected PHH employees, Akseraylian explained, though some were laid off.

To read the full story click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Google Street View]]>
<![CDATA[Back to School Spending]]>Sat, 12 Aug 2017 10:02:45 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Back_to_School_Deals.jpg

This is the time of year when parents are scrambling to find good back to school deals.]]>
<![CDATA[Wall Street Starts to Pay Attention to North Korea Tensions]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:18:28 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wall-street-sign.jpg

Wall Street reaction to threats between President Donald Trump and officials in North Korea was muted earlier in the week, but cracks are beginning to show, NBC News reported.

The Dow saw its biggest dip since mid-May on Thursday, down 205 points, following similar drops in the Asian and European markets.

The VIX, or volatility index widely used as a proxy to gauge market fear, soared by 44 percent to its highest level since Trump was elected. Still, some market observers downplayed the tensions as verbal bluster.

Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute, attributed this week’s downturn in the major indices mainly to economic indicators rather than geopolitical brinkmanship.

Kent Boydston, a research analyst at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that "historically, there’s relatively little volatility when it comes to stock market and North Korean provocations.” But if North Korea were to launch missiles toward Guam or Hawaii "that would certainly be more of an escalation" that could potentially roil markets more.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Philly Home to Pro Sports' First Chief Tattoo Officer]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 19:26:20 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/tattoofficer.JPG

The Philadelphia Union established a first in professional sports Wednesday when they hired a chief tattoo officer.

The Major League Soccer club said Jay Cunliffe, owner of Bonedaddys Tattoo in Delaware County, has been named the organization’s chief tattoo officer.

His shop, according to a release issued by the team, will serve as the "go-to place for Union players and staff in need of tattoo services."

To read the full story click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Philadelphia Business Journal]]>
<![CDATA[Former QVC Director Charged with Defrauding Company]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:45:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/QVC+Logo1.jpg

Authorities say a former director of the home shopping network QVC has been charged with defrauding the company out of more than $1 million that he used to buy lavish gifts for himself and friends.

Prosecutors on Thursday said James Falkowski, of Buffalo, New York, duped the company into paying for hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing, spa treatments and first-class travel.

Falkowski is also accused of engaging in kickback schemes with two vendors that paid him $240,000 for arranging favorable deals with QVC. In addition, prosecutors say he used the vendors to launder money he spent on personal expenses, such as a vacation to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

No phone number was listed for 42-year-old Falkowski and attempts to reach him on social media were unsuccessful.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Applebee’s to Shutter More Than 100 Restaurants]]>Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:52:37 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_APPLEBEES_CLOSING_081017-150239613234800001.jpg

DineEquity, the parent company of Applebee’s, announced Thursday it will close more than 100 of the chain’s locations. The announcement came with the release of the company’s second-quarter fiscal results, which showed sales dropped by 7 percent during the first half of 2017.]]>
<![CDATA[More Uber Woes: Exec Resigns, Investor Sues Ousted CEO]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 18:51:48 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/TravisKalanickFile.jpg

Uber Technologies Inc. faced a fresh round of turmoil Thursday, with its global operations chief resigning and a major investor suing the ride-hailing company's former CEO.

Ryan Graves told Uber staff in an email Thursday that he will transition out of his role as senior vice president of global operations in mid-September. Graves will remain on Uber's board.

That board — and its support for former CEO Travis Kalanick — was the subject of a lawsuit filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court by Benchmark Capital Partners.

Benchmark holds 13 percent of Uber's stock. It claims Kalanick is trying to pack Uber's board with his allies and eventually return to his post as CEO. The venture capital firm says that would harm Uber's shareholders, employees, drivers and customers.

A spokesperson for Kalanick said the lawsuit is "completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations."

In the lawsuit, Benchmark claims Kalanick concealed material information from investors when he created three new board seats in 2016 and gave himself the right to appoint people to those seats. Among other things, Benchmark said, Kalanick knew Uber might be accused of stealing trade secrets from Waymo, Google's self-driving car unit. Waymo sued Uber earlier this year.

The lawsuit also says Kalanick didn't discuss his failure to curb Uber's pervasive culture of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Kalanick resigned under pressure in June after a monthslong investigation into harassment and other behavior problems at the San Francisco-based company. But he quickly appointed himself to one of the three board seats. The other two remain vacant.

Benchmark says Kalanick has acquired "a disproportionate level of influence over the board, ensuring that he would continue to have an outsized role in Uber's strategic direction even if forced to resign as CEO." The firm says Kalanick has already interfered in the board's attempts to hire a new CEO.

Benchmark wants to remove the three additional seats and return the board to eight members. It's also asking the court to prevent Kalanick from participating in board meetings.

Uber said it had no comment on the lawsuit. But in a statement, Kalanick's spokesperson said the lawsuit is an attempt to deprive Kalanick of his rights as an Uber founder and shareholder.

"Travis will continue to act in the interests of Uber and all of its stakeholders and is confident that these entirely baseless claims will be rejected," the statement said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Beware at the Pump: Black Market Fuel Is Making Millions]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 16:47:19 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/pumpinggas_generic_1200x675.jpg

A black market for diesel and gasoline has rapidly spread around the nation, with organized crime gangs using fraudulent credit cards to syphon millions of dollars in fuel from gas stations into large tanks hidden inside pickup trucks and vans.

Stealing fuel can be less risky than selling drugs or other illegal endeavors, and criminals can make $1,000 or more a day re-selling the stolen fuel at construction sites and unscrupulous gas stations, or to truckers looking to cut costs, investigators and industry experts say.

"It's pretty rampant," said Owen DeWitt, whose Texas-based company, Know Control, focuses solely on helping gas stations prevent fuel theft. He said the crime is worst along Interstate 10, from Jacksonville, Fla., to the Los Angeles area. "California and Florida are the two worst; Texas is No. 3."

Black market diesel started becoming a big business when credit card "skimmers" became more prevalent around 2006, DeWitt said. Thieves install these devices at gas station pumps, where they record card information as unsuspecting customers fuel up. The information is later transferred to a magnetic strip on a counterfeit card. The problem has only grown as the devices become more sophisticated.

The black market has grown quickly in part because the thefts total a few hundred dollars at a time, and prosecutors were slow to prioritize them. But as fuel thefts become more organized, they have caught the attention of state and federal authorities around the country.

Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam's department takes the lead on prosecuting these crimes in Florida. He said they used to be considered a "victimless" or "slap-on-the-wrist-type crime, and yet they were making more money doing this than a lot of other criminal activities that had a lot higher sentences."

The U.S. Secret Service, which investigates financial crimes, is involved because the gangs use credit card skimmers. Agent Steve Scarince says Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are hot spots, together accounting for about 20 million gallons a year in stolen diesel.

"The crews that we've investigated over the past couple of years — the least profitable group is $5 million a year. And then there are groups that will gross $20 million plus," Scarince said. "The gang-bangers in Los Angeles have been migrating to financial crimes instead of street crimes because it's much more profitable and if you get caught, you get probation."

Court records from a single Secret Service case prosecuted in 2014 illustrate how much money even a small crew can take in.

Agents in the Los Angeles area surveilled a group with seven pickup trucks and SUVs with hidden fuel tanks holding up to 300 gallons each. For 10 months, they observed drivers using credit card information stolen from about 900 people to fill up three times a day. They transferred the diesel into a 4,500-gallon industrial fuel tanker that made daily runs to sell the fuel to gas stations.

Agents estimated they stole close to $16,000 in fuel every day, with the potential to steal $7 million a year. Records indicated it was in operation for about five years before agents shut it down.

"Theft has been involved with fuel for as long as retailers have been selling fuel," said Jeff Lenard, a vice president of the National Association of Convenience Stores in Alexandria, Virginia, but today's criminals are "trying to steal hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons."

Thieves often use dozens of fraudulent cards at a time, inserting one after another to fill up hidden tanks. One gang used fraudulent credit cards for a month to steal $100,000 in diesel from two stations in central Florida. In other cases, one thief parks a truck to block the clerk's view while another pumps diesel directly from an underground tank through a hole in the vehicle's floorboards, investigators say.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has pursued sellers of black market fuel for breaking state motor fuel tax evasion laws, securing some stiff sentences: In 2015 alone, his office worked to indict more than 100 suspected motor fuel thieves. A Gorman, Texas, man got 40 years in 2015, and a Haskell, Texas, man was sentenced to 10 years last August.

There are ways of foiling these thieves, including security devices that can shut down a pump if someone tampers with it. It's an expensive arms race, but in addition to the economic impact, there are safety concerns.

In 2014, a convicted fuel thief's van exploded as he filled a secret tank in Miami-Dade County. In 2015, a man driving a truck carrying 1,650 gallons of stolen diesel led police on a high-speed chase, weaving in and out of traffic on Interstate 5 before crashing into a highway barrier.

"God forbid that hits a school bus with a bunch of kids on it," said Ned Bowman, executive director of the Florida Petroleum and Convenience Store Association. "A car full of that much fuel is like a bomb going down the street."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amtrak Strikes 30th Street Station Deal With Lyft]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:53:05 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/l_30th-street-station-passengers_1200x675.jpg

Travelers departing from Amtrak's 30th Street Station now have a new option for catching a ride home from the University City transit hub.

The rail service provider and Lyft announced last week a new partnership that allows train passengers to book a trip with the rideshare company through Amtrak's mobile app.

The deal came as a surprise to medallion taxi leaders in Philadelphia, where there has been a lengthy history of contention between the traditional cab companies, ridesharing firms and the agency tasked with overseeing them – the Philadelphia Parking Authority.

To read the full story including reaction from cabdrivers, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[South Jersey Company Plans to Cut 2,250 Jobs]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:52:03 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/208*120/PHH+Mortgage.JPG

Mortgage lender PHH Corp. said it will cut its employee headcount by 64 percent by the second half of 2018.

In a supplement to its second quarter earnings report, the Mount Laurel, New Jersey-based company said to expect PHH to have a headcount of 1,250 by the end of 2018, down from 3,500 at the end of 2016. PHH said it has reduced 650 full-time positions “and we expect the pace of head-count reductions to accelerate over the next four quarters,” CEO Robert Crowl said during a Wednesday conference call with investors.

Crowl said the company notified each employee about their status in PHH 2.0, the product of an almost year-long review of its strategic options that resulted in plans to operate a much smaller, focused mortgage company. The job cuts are part of that rightsizing.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Google Earth]]>
<![CDATA[How Your Phone Can Detect Card Skimmers]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:39:49 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/skimmer-gas-pump-tda.jpg

Card skimmers at gas pumps and ATMs are a growing problem, but did you know your cell phone can protect you?

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller made a video explaining a few tips to remember when filling up your gas tank.

First, avoid pumps at the end of gas stations. They're often too far for the store clerk to have a clear view of the pump.

Next, leave your debit card in your wallet. It's all too easy for a thief to skim your debit card's magnetic strip. If they catch your pin number, you can bet your bank account is up for grabs.

Have a look around the pump. Look for tampering, a loose credit card reader or a broken seal on the pump's cabinet.

The best way to check for skimmer devices is using your phone, Miller said. Thieves often use Bluetooth technology to transmit card and pin information. Just turn on Bluetooth and search for a device. If you see a long string of numbers trying to connect, that's a bad sign.

As NBC Responds in DFW reported in April, law enforcement across the U.S. have seen a spike in skimming cases this year, and it's expected to keep rising. More credit and debit cards are using chip technology, making it increasingly difficult for thieves to skim your information.

Miller also noted to always print a receipt. You'll need the receipt to file a claim with the gas station's insurance in case you pump bad fuel, or if your identity is stolen.

If it looks like a pump or ATM has been tampered with, move to another pump or pay inside. If you notice suspicious charges on your account, contact your financial institution immediately, the TDA said.

Photo Credit: Texas Department of Agriculture
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<![CDATA[Lawsuit: CVS Charges More for Drugs Paid for With Insurance]]>Thu, 10 Aug 2017 06:16:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cvsgeneric_1200x675.jpg

A California woman sued CVS Health Corporation Monday, accusing the company of charging customers more when they use insurance to pay for certain generic prescriptions, NBC News reported.

Megan Schultz claims in the lawsuit that she paid $165.68 for a prescription at CVS, America's largest pharmacy chain. Had she bought the same drug without using insurance, she said it would have only cost $92.

"CVS never told her that paying in cash would allow her to pay 45% less for the drug," the complaint says, claiming that the higher costs come from the pharmacy overcharging and remitting the excess payments to its pharmacy benefit manager, which negotiates between the insurance company and pharmacy.

CVS denied the allegations, responding in a statement that they "are built on a false premise and are completely without merit."

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Airbnb Removes Accounts Ahead of Far-Right Rally in Va.]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 21:40:11 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-810944488.jpg

Airbnb has deleted accounts and canceled bookings of users who appear to be connected to "Unite the Right," a far-right political rally set for Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Neo-Nazi and white supremacist website The Daily Stormer had organized a series of large rally-weekend gatherings through the home-sharing site, Airbnb told NBC News. Concerned Airbnb users flagged the thread, leading the company to investigate potential violations of its user contract, which calls for unbiased hospitality.

Airbnb said they decided to remove the far-right lodgers because they were "pursuing behavior on the platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment."

Jason Kessler, organizer of the "Unite the Right" rally and self-described "pro-white" activist, said Airbnb's blocking of certain users is "outrageous and should be grounds for a lawsuit." 

Clay Hansen, the executive director of the nonpartisan Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, said Airbnb's choice to terminate accounts does not violate the First Amendment.

"I would say that while Airbnb's actions wouldn't necessarily comport with general free speech principles, they are a private company and are entitled to enact and enforce their terms of service as they see fit," Hansen told NBC News.

The rally, scheduled to take place Saturday in Charlottesville, is shaping up to be the "the largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

As of Tuesday, Aug. 8, almost 700 people said they would be attending, and another 1,200 showed interest in the event on its Facebook link. The rally aims to "to affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests."

"It's the racial targeting of white people for their ethnic advocacy," Kessler wrote in an email to NBC. "Would Airbnb cancel the service of black nationalists or Black Lives Matter activists for their social media activity? Of course not!"

White supremacists gathered in Charlottesville in May to protest the removal of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's statue. They chanted "All White Lives Matter" while carrying torches. Klu Klux Klan members also protested there in July for the same cause.

The statue has not yet been taken down, but Charlottesville has gained the reputation for hosting white nationalism rallies. 

Photo Credit: Chet Strange/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Pa. Casino Makes Stadium Gaming Section Largest in U.S]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 18:23:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Sands-Casino-Hack.jpg

A Pennsylvania casino now reportedly has the largest live electronic table game section in the country thanks to the recent addition of blackjack to its offerings.

Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem announced Monday the addition of the live blackjack stadium gaming, which allows players to take part in a game through a touchscreen.

The company says incorporating blackjack makes it "home to the nation's largest live Electronic Table Games (ETG) installation."

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Disney to Remove All Content on Netflix for Own, New Service]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:48:15 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/207*120/11-11-2015-bob-iger-disney-GettyImages-492431088.jpg

Disney wants to own a piece of the streaming pie.

The company announced during its latest earnings report on Tuesday it intends to pull all its content from Netflix for its own streaming service in 2019, CNBC reported. 

CEO Bob Iger told CNBC's Julia Boorstin Disney had a "good relationship" with Netflix, but decided to exercise an option to move its content off the platform. Movies to be removed include Marvel as well as Disney titles.

It will also be making a "significant investment" in exclusive movies and television series for the new platform.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Airlines Bump Fewer Passengers After Dragging Backlash]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 16:12:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/columbusairport.jpg

Following widespread outrage over a passenger who was violently dragged off an overbooked plane, U.S. airlines are bumping customers at the lowest rate in at least two decades.

The Transportation Department said Tuesday that just one in every 19,000 passengers was kicked off an overbooked flight in the first six months of this year.

That's the lowest rate since the government started keeping track in 1995.

The biggest decline took place between April and June, partly because airlines began paying many more passengers to give up their seats.

Airlines have routinely overbooked flights for years in the expectation that some passengers won't show up. When a flight is overbooked, airlines typically offer travel vouchers to encourage a few passengers to take a later flight.

That practice backfired in April when United employees, whose offers of vouchers were ignored, asked Chicago airport officers to help remove four people from a United Express flight to make room for airline employees commuting to their next flight.

A 69-year-old man was dragged forcibly down the airplane aisle and other passengers captured the spectacle on camera phones, turning the incident into a public-relations disaster for United.

Since then, United and other large U.S. airlines have introduced new measures to reduce overbooking, and raised the maximum amount that passengers can be offered to give up a seat.

Passengers still get bumped, however. Besides instances in which airlines sell too many seats, passengers may get booted when a mechanical breakdown causes an airline to use a smaller aircraft, or when the plane's weight must be reduced for safe takeoff.

United Airlines spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said the carrier has sharply reduced bumping since the April incident. United booted 1,964 passengers in the first six months of 2017, with more in the second quarter than the first.

However, McCarthy said, bumpings dropped from 957 in April to 61 in May and 46 in June. The Transportation Department did not provide a monthly breakdown.

Travelers were least likely to be bumped on JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines. Spirit Airlines had the highest rate of booting passengers, although Southwest Airlines, a much bigger carrier, bumped the most people, 2,642 in six months. United's rate exactly matched in the industry average.

United, JetBlue, Delta and Southwest all convinced more passengers to give up their seats than they had in the same period a year ago.

The Transportation Department issued the latest numbers of bumped passengers as it released its monthly report card on airline performance. The department said 76.2 percent of flights in June arrived on time, down from 78.0 percent in June 2016. The government counts a flight on time if it arrives within 14 minutes of schedule.

Hawaiian Airlines had the best rating among the 12 largest U.S. airlines, and JetBlue Airways had the worst rate — two of every five flights arrived late.

Consumer complaints about U.S. airlines ticked up 3 percent to 1,115 in June. That is a tiny fraction of the millions of airline travelers, but most people who complain go straight to the airline, not the government.

United had more complaints than average but not the worst rate. That belonged to discount carrier Spirit Airlines by a wide margin. Alaska Airlines had the lowest rate of complaints.

The on-time ratings will be expanded next year to cover 18 airlines, including Allegiant Air, a discount carrier, and Envoy Air, a major operator of American Eagle flights.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images (File)]]>
<![CDATA['Trump Effect' Hits Workplace Morale: HR, Leadership Experts]]>Mon, 07 Aug 2017 09:42:01 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tru9AP_17216011307728.jpg

President Donald Trump's leadership style could be affecting workplace behavior on a large scale, NBC News reports.

HR and leadership experts say a "Trump effect" has permeated through corporate America, with reports of cursing in the office, lying about resume details and spreading rumors about co-workers on the rise.

Unethical behavior can hurt productivity and affect workplace morale, the experts say. A survey by the Workplace Bullying Institute in April found that 46 percent of workers said their relationships with colleagues have deteriorated since the 2016 election.

"Trump is serving as a negative kind of role model," said Seth Spain, an assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. "They see his behavior, they see that it worked, it was effective, and use that as a model."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File]]>
<![CDATA[Nissan Workers Vote Against Unionizing in Mississippi]]>Sat, 05 Aug 2017 01:01:57 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17215795085024_opt.jpg

Workers at a Nissan assembly plant in Mississippi have voted against forming a union, adding to decades of futility by United Auto Workers organizers at foreign-owned auto plants in the American South.

Representatives of Nissan Motor Co. and the UAW said late Friday voters at the plant cast ballots against the UAW. Nissan spokeswoman Parul Baraj said the final total was 2,244 to 1,307 against the union.

"They have rejected the UAW and chosen to self-represent, continuing the direct relationship they enjoy with the company," Bajaj said in a statement "Our expectation is that the UAW will respect and abide by their decision and cease their efforts to divide our Nissan family."

The UAW has never fully organized an international automaker in the traditionally anti-union South, although it did persuade some maintenance workers to join at a Volkswagen AG plant in Tennessee. The UAW's lack of influence among southern auto workers has reduced its bargaining power when Detroit automakers lose market share and close plants. After pouring resources into the organizing drive at Nissan, this loss could leave UAW leaders with tough decisions.

"The result of the election was a setback for these workers, the UAW and working Americans everywhere, but in no way should it be considered a defeat," UAW President Dennis Williams said in a statement. 

The union filed seven new charges with the National Labor Relations Board just before polls closed Friday alleging that Nissan had broken federal labor laws during the campaign. If the labor board rules in favor of the charges, the board could order a fresh election. Among the claims: Nissan provided a faulty contact list to the union, it caused a contract worker to be filed because of his union support, and a manager told workers July 28 that they would lose benefits it they voted for a union.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel had telegraphed the move Monday, when he alleged illegal activity by the company and said that if the union lost, it would be a "direct result of the unlawful behavior."

Nissan spokeswoman Parul Bajaj said the company lived up to its obligations in providing the list. She generally denied the other charges.

"The UAW is again launching baseless and unsubstantiated allegations against Nissan Canton in a desperate, last-minute attempt to undermine the integrity of the secret ballot voting process," Bajaj said in a statement.

The labor board has already issued a complaint against Nissan alleging other labor law violations that predate the election, but a judge has yet to rule on those. A decision on the new charges could be months or years away.

The union also could try to encourage a backlash against Nissan outside the United States, where it has tried to build pressure on the company through unions at other plants and supporters in the French government, which owns nearly 20 percent of the Renault Group, Nissan's business partner. Nissan has sought to finesse its position against unions in the U.S. while defending its work with organized labor in the rest of the world. Carlos Ghosn, chairman of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, told French lawmakers last year that the alliance "has no tradition of not cooperating with unions."

Nissan denies breaking any laws. Rodney Francis, the plant's human resources director, said the company has a right to make its case to workers that unionization would hurt management flexibility and make the plant less competitive economically. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and anti-union workers blamed the UAW for layoffs and plant closings by Detroit's major automakers.

"With the UAW, all you've got to do is look at their history," said Tony Hobson, a Nissan forklift driver and outspoken union opponent.

For years, union organizers reached out to the majority African-American workforce at the Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant, arguing that workers' rights are civil rights. They pointed to reduced retirement and health benefits for longtime workers, and lower pay scales for 1,500 Nissan workers who began as contract laborers in recent years. The remaining contract laborers, as well as managers, engineers, clerical workers and employees of suppliers at the 6,400-worker complex, weren't eligible to vote.

A 2015 study by the Center for Automotive Research found that Nissan paid an average of $44 an hour in pay and benefits, toward the low end of all automakers. Nissan has given pay raises since then.

Workers at Nissan's plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, voted against UAW representation in 1989 and 2001, but this was the first election at the Mississippi plant. The UAW also lost a 2014 vote among all workers at Volkswagen in 2014 before winning a second vote among 160 maintenance workers. Efforts to organize other foreign-owned plants in Alabama and Kentucky have never come to votes.

Both sides shifted into a frenetic and highly visibly campaign mode after pro-UAW workers filed petitions seeking a vote in early July.

Kristen Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research said that although the UAW was the underdog, odds were unlikely to improve soon, as President Donald Trump's appointees take over the National Labor Relations Board. A corruption scandal involving union employees allegedly taking bribes from a former Fiat Chrysler executive also threatened to spread.

The UAW's failed campaign could leave scars. Pro-UAW worker Earnestine Meeks said a co-worker flashed a gun at her, demanding she leave his property during a home visit by union backers recently. Francis said he hadn't thought about what comes after, saying he was "laser-focused" on the union vote.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wells Fargo May Find More Unauthorized Accounts ]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:21:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/WellsFargo11.jpg

A new review of Wells Fargo’s consumer sales scandal could reveal a “significant increase” in unauthorized accounts, CNBC reported Friday.

"We expect that our review of the expanded time periods ... may lead to a significant increase in the identified number of potentially unauthorized accounts," the firm said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "However, we do not expect any incremental customer remediation costs as a result of these efforts to have a significant financial impact on the Company."

Wells Fargo said legal costs are expected to exceed the $3.3 billion it had already set aside.

Shares fell 1 percent on Friday in light of the news.

The bank has been embroiled in a scandal since last fell when it was discovered that workers had opened about 2 million consumer deposit and credit card accounts without customers’ authorization.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Command Post Inside Trump Tower Has Moved Out]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 17:06:53 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-500449256.jpg

The Secret Service command post inside President Donald Trump's namesake Manhattan skyscraper has been moved.

A spokeswoman for the umbrella company that controls Trump's various businesses said Friday that the Secret Service moved out of Trump Tower to somewhere "more cost effective and logistically practical."

The Secret Service won't say where its Trump Tower command post has relocated. A spokeswoman says the move hasn't affected security.

A Government Services Administration spokeswoman says officials are searching for a permanent space. She wouldn't comment on lease negotiations.

The Trump Organization's Amanda Miller described the location change as a mutual decision. She didn't respond when asked about terms of the government's lease or what prompted the location change.

Trump hasn't visited his Trump Tower residence since moving into the White House.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Toyota, Mazda to Build $1.6B US Plant, Create Up to 4K Jobs]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 09:01:41 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17216345456107.jpg

Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. plan to spend $1.6 billion to build a joint-venture auto manufacturing plant in the U.S. — a move that will create up to 4,000 jobs, both sides said Friday.

The plant will have an annual production capacity of about 300,000 vehicles, and will produce Toyota Corollas for the North American market. Mazda will make cross-over models there that it plans to introduce to that market, the companies said.

Toyota and Mazda are forming a capital alliance and splitting the cost for the plant equally. It is due to begin operations by 2021.

After reassessing the market, Toyota has changed its plan to make Corollas at a plant in Guanajuato, Mexico, now under construction, and instead will produce Tacoma pickups there, Toyota President Akio Toyoda said.

President Donald Trump had criticized Toyota for taking auto production and jobs to Mexico. With the investment, both automakers can hope to prove their good American corporate citizenship and appease the Trump administration's concerns about jobs moving overseas.

Toyoda denied that Trump's views influenced his decision.

"We have been reviewing the best production strategy for our business," he told reporters at a Tokyo hotel, after shaking hands with Mazda's president.

Trump welcomed the announcement in a Tweet: "Toyota & Mazda to build a new $1.6B plant here in the U.S.A. and create 4K new American jobs. A great investment in American manufacturing!"

The companies also plan to work together on various advanced auto technology, such as electric vehicles, safety features and connected cars, as well as products that they could supply each other, they said.

Toyota plans to acquire 31,928,500 shares of common stock newly issued by Mazda through a third-party allotment, which will amount to a 5.05 percent stake in Mazda, valued at 50 billion yen ($455 million).

Mazda, which makes the Miata roadster, will acquire 50 billion yen worth of Toyota shares, the equivalent of a 0.25 percent stake. The investment deal is expected to be final by October, the companies said.

Toyoda noted the growing competition from newcomers in the auto industry like Google, Apple and Amazon, stressing he was worried about autos turning into commodities. He praised Mazda as a great partner in that effort.

"It has also sparked Toyota's competitive spirit, increasing our sense of not wanting to be bested by Mazda. This is a partnership in which those who are passionate about cars will work together to make ever-better cars," he said.

The companies said their collaboration will respect their mutual independence and equality. Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury models, already provides hybrid technology to Mazda, which makes compact cars for Toyota at its Mexico plant.

The sheer cost of the plant also makes a partnership logical, as it boosts cost-efficiency and economies of scale. Working together on green and other auto technology also makes sense as the segment becomes increasingly competitive due to concerns about global warming, the environment and safety.

"Given the massive level of competition in the industry, partnerships are no longer a surprise," said Akshay Anand, an executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

Politics are another incentive.

"The new presidential administration has made it clear investments in the U.S. are a top priority, and this plant may be another nod to that mindset," Anand said.

Mazda President Masamichi Kogai said he hoped that the partnership will help energize the industry.

Toyota is vying for the spot of No. 1 automaker in global vehicle sales against Nissan-Renault and Volkswagen AG of Germany, as the industry gradually consolidates.

Japanese rival Nissan Motor Co. is allied with Renault SA of France and Mitsubishi Motors Corp., and is the global leader in electric vehicles. Their alliance led world vehicles sales for the first time in the first half of this year.

The limited tie-up with Mazda marks the latest addition to Toyota's sprawling empire, which includes Japanese truck maker Hino Motors and minicar maker Daihatsu Motor Co. Toyota also is the top shareholder in Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru cars.

In the past, Toyota was not overly bullish on electric vehicles, which have a limited cruise range. But recent breakthroughs in batteries allow for longer travel per charge.

Mazda, based in Hiroshima, Japan, used to have a powerful partner in Dearborn-based Ford Motor Co., which bought 25 percent of Mazda in 1979, and raised it to 33.4 percent in 1996. But Ford began cutting ties in 2008, and has shed its stake in Mazda.

Also Friday, Toyota reported its April-June profit was 613.0 billion yen ($5.6 billion), up 11 percent from 552.4 billion yen a year earlier. Quarterly sales rose 7 percent to 7.05 trillion yen ($64 billion), as vehicle sales improved around the world, including in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

Toyota stuck to its earlier projection for global vehicle sales for the fiscal year, ending in March 2018, at 10.25 million vehicles. It raised its fiscal full year profit forecast to 1.75 trillion yen ($16 billion) from the earlier forecast of 1.5 trillion yen ($14 billion). It earned 1.8 trillion yen in the previous fiscal year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko]]>
<![CDATA[US Gains 209K Jobs, Unemployment Rate Down to 4.3 Pct.]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 18:11:57 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hiringgenericSFO_1200x675.jpg

U.S. employers added 209,000 jobs in July, a second straight month of robust gains that underscore the economy's vitality as it enters a ninth year of expansion. 

The unemployment rate slipped to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, matching a 16-year low first reached in May, the Labor Department said Friday. 

But growth in Americans' paychecks — a persistent weak spot since the recovery began in June 2009 — remains stubbornly slow. Average hourly pay rose by 2.5 percent from a year earlier, the same tepid annual pace as in June. That's below the 3.5 percent to 4 percent that is typical when the unemployment rate is this low. 

Still, the hiring data points to a healthy economy despite some mixed signals in recent weeks. Employers appear to be optimistic about their businesses and future consumer demand. The solid job gains may also fuel greater consumer spending, which would bolster economic growth. 

"The July jobs report is solid from top to bottom — with the caveat that wage growth, while stronger than expected, remains subdued," Andrew Hollenhorst, an economist at Citi. 

President Donald Trump celebrated the report in a tweet shortly after the numbers were released. "Excellent Jobs Numbers," he wrote, "and I have only just begun." 

Yet the pace of hiring so far this year is pretty much the same as it was last year under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama. Employers have added 184,000 jobs a month this year, compared with 187,000 in 2016. Monthly job gains topped 200,000 on average in 2014 and 2015. 

Investors welcomed the news, with the Dow Jones industrial average rising 43 points in mid-day trading. 

Hiring was particularly strong in restaurants and bars, which added 53,100 jobs. Education and health care, which includes both higher-paying and lower-paying jobs, gained 54,000. 

Manufacturers added a solid 16,000 jobs. Professional and business services, which includes mostly higher-paying jobs such as engineers, accountants and architects, added 49,000. 

Retail jobs were mostly unchanged, as brick and mortar shops continue to struggle. Yet transportation and wahrehousing, which has been boosted in recent years by the rapid growth of e-commerce, also barely added jobs. 

The solid job market is also reflected in recent corporate moves. Amazon held a nationwide "hiring day" Wednesday in an effort to fill 50,000 jobs. And President Donald Trump has highlighted announcements by Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn and carmakers Toyota and Mazda to open plants in the U.S. 

Other recent economic reports had sent mixed signals. Americans are buying homes at a healthy pace, but car sales have fallen off. Factory production is expanding modestly, but a report Thursday pointed to slower growth among services firms, such as retailers, banks and construction companies. Consumers also turned cautious in June and barely raised their spending compared with May. 

The economy expanded at a healthy 2.6 percent annual pace in the April-June quarter, up from an anemic 1.2 percent in the first three months of the year. Still, that leaves the growth at about 2 percent in the first half of the year, the same modest pace of growth the U.S. has experienced since the Great Recession.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Dunkin' Without the 'Donuts'? Maybe in the Name]]>Fri, 04 Aug 2017 12:45:19 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Donuts14.jpg

Dunkin' is thinking about dumping "Donuts" from its name.

A new location of the chain in Pasadena, California, will be simply called Dunkin', a move that parent company Dunkin' Brands Inc. calls a test. The Canton, Massachusetts-based company said Thursday that a few other stores will get the one-name treatment, too.

The chain wants people to think of its stores as a destination for coffee, although it will still sell doughnuts. Dunkin' Donuts said it won't make a decision on whether it will change its name until late next year, when it expects to start redesigning stores.

Dunkin' Donuts added that the company has "been referring to ourselves simply as Dunkin’ in our advertising for more than a decade, ever since we introduced our 'America Runs on Dunkin’' campaign." 

News of the test was first reported by Nation's Restaurant News.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Sue Ogrocki/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Stanford Scholarship: $160K for MBAs Who Return to Midwest]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 19:12:00 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/stanford-campus.jpg

Stanford might pay up to $160,000 for you to get your MBA -- as long as you work in the Midwest after graduation.

That's the deal the Silicon Valley university offered to the winners of its first-ever Stanford USA MBA Fellowship, who were announced Wednesday, CNBC reported.

This scholarship, which follows similar programs for Africa and India, was established because "the Midwest is strategically important to the United States and global economy, and Stanford wants to contribute to its strength," Jonathan Levin, the dean of the business school, said. 

Besides working to support "the region's economic development" in at least two of their first four years out of business school, scholarship applicants must have some connection to the Midwest, such as being a current resident or graduating from high school there.

Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Bucks County Small Business Owner Talks to Trump in Round Table Discussion]]>Thu, 03 Aug 2017 23:51:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Bucks_County_Small_Business_Owner_Talks_to_Trump.jpg

A Bucks County small business owner was in Washington Tuesday to take part in a round table discussion with President Donald Trump Tuesday. It was part of the Trump administration's commitment to help small businesses grow and create jobs. Jim Worthington, who owns and operates a small business out of Bucks County, says government regulations are holding small businesses back. ]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Bucks County Firm Scores Mayweather-McGregor PPV Rights]]>Thu, 03 Aug 2017 06:48:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/fightmayweathert.jpg

A lackluster start to ticket sales for the late August bout pitting the undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. against the trash-talking Irish star of UFC, Conor McGregor, could be a boost for a Bucks County company.

Feasterville, Pa.-based Joe Hand Promotions Inc. announced Monday it will be the exclusive distributor of the boxing event throughout the United States.

The Mayweather-McGregor fight has had a storm of publicity in recent weeks. The duo traded barbs in four different cities in July.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Hundreds Show Up at Amazon Warehouse Job Fairs Across US]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 20:39:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/825622282-Amazon-Jobs-Day-Romeoville.jpg

Thousands of people showed up Wednesday for a chance to pack and ship products to Amazon customers, as the e-commerce company held a giant job fair at nearly a dozen U.S. warehouses.

Although the wages offered will make it hard for some to make ends meet, many of the candidates were excited by the prospect of health insurance and other benefits, as well as advancement opportunities.

It's common for Amazon to ramp up its shipping center staff in August to prepare for holiday shopping. But the magnitude of its current hiring spree underscores Amazon's growth when traditional retailers are closing stores — and blaming Amazon for a shift to buying goods online.

Amazon said it received "a record-breaking 20,000 applications" and hired thousands of people on the spot, and will hire more in the coming days. The number was less than the 50,000 it had announced it was planning to hire before the event took place.

Most of the jobs are full-time positions in packing, sorting and shipping and will count toward Amazon's previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year.

The bad news is that more people are likely to lose jobs in stores than get jobs in warehouses, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

On the flip side, Amazon's warehouse jobs provide "decent and competitive" wages and could help build skills.

"Interpersonal team work, problem solving, critical thinking, all that stuff goes on in these warehouses," Carnevale said. "They're serious entry-level jobs for a lot of young people, even those who are still making their way through school."

The company is advertising starting wages that range from $11.50 an hour in Chattanooga, Tennessee, to $13.75 an hour in Kent, Washington, near Amazon's Seattle headquarters. The $11.50 rate amounts to about $23,920 a year. In Washington state, the current minimum wage is $11.50 but by 2020 this will increase to $13.50. By comparison, the warehouse store operator Costco raised its minimum wage for entry-level workers last year from $13 to $13.50 an hour.

Many of the job candidates Wednesday were looking to supplement other income.

Rodney Huffman, a 27-year-old personal trainer, said the $13-an-hour job in Baltimore would pay enough to help cover bills while he starts his own company.

"I'm looking to do the night shifts and then run my own company during the day," he said.

At one warehouse — Amazon calls them "fulfillment centers" — in Fall River, Massachusetts, the company hired 30 people on the spot in the first two hours. Amazon was looking to hire more than 200 people Wednesday, adding to a workforce of about 1,500. Employees there focus on sorting, labeling and shipping what the company calls "non-sortable" items — big products such as shovels, kayaks, surfboards, grills, car seats — and lots of giant diaper boxes. Other warehouses are focused on smaller products.

While Amazon has attracted attention for deploying robots at some of its warehouses, experts said it could take a while before automation begins to seriously bite into its growing labor force.

"When it comes to dexterity, machines aren't really great at it," said Jason Roberts, head of technology and analytics for mass recruiter Randstad Sourceright, which is not working with Amazon on its jobs fair. "The picker-packer role is something humans do way better than machines right now."

Steve King, 47, a job candidate in Fall River, agreed: "I don't think robots are up to snuff yet. I think they will be. Hopefully I can get in before the robots get that good and get above the robots in administration or something."

In recent years, reports have emerged about difficult working conditions at Amazon's warehouses, including deaths at two Amazon warehouses in 2014. The company also came under fire in 2011 for extreme heat at its warehouses that caused "heat-related injuries" among workers. Amazon said at the time that it took emergency actions during heat waves and subsequently installed cooling systems in its warehouses.

But many of those who showed up Wednesday were excited by the prospects of health insurance and other benefits, as well as advancement opportunities.

"I like to be busy, so I know Amazon is busy and they want hard workers," retired police officer Brian Trice said.

Trice was among those who stood in line in Baltimore on a hot day, as Amazon contractors passed out bottles of water. In Fall River, a line snaked out of the warehouse and under an air-conditioned tent. In Kent, Washington, a vendor offered free cups of shaved ice from a truck playing steel-drum music.

Among those lining up in Kent were 18-year-old Javier Costa and his 49-year-old uncle, Manuel Alvarenga. Costa said the warehouse work wasn't necessarily what he was looking for, but his uncle, a recent immigrant from El Salvador, was looking for whatever he could get.

"He was making $6 an hour in El Salvador; you can imagine what the people below him were making," Costa said. "It's a harder life down there. At this point he just needs a job."

Some left disappointed. Maureen Schell gave up after several hours at the Fall River site, describing it as a publicity stunt and a "drive to get bodies in the door so they can cherry-pick the warehouse staff they want."

"It looks like they're looking for young, healthy warehouse staff only," said Schell, a 57-year-old searching for work that will put more money into her retirement.

Amazon was also holding events at shipping sites in Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Illinois and Indiana.

AP writers Brian Witte, Gene Johnson and Barbara Ortutay contributed to this story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Adding 1,800 Jobs in NJ]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 21:11:00 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/Dia-de-amazon-prime-002.jpg

Amazon is holding a giant job fair Wednesday and plans to make thousands of job offers on the spot at nearly a dozen U.S. warehouses.

The hiring spree includes adding about 1,800 jobs at Amazon's fulfillment center in Robbinsville, Mercer County, New Jersey. The job fair ran from 8 a.m. to noon at the New Canton Way warehouse.

Though it's common for Amazon to ramp up its shipping center staff in August to prepare for holiday shopping, the magnitude of the hiring spree underscores Amazon's growth when traditional retailers are closing stores — and blaming Amazon for a shift to buying goods online.

Nearly 40,000 of the 50,000 packing, sorting and shipping jobs at Amazon will be full time. Most of them will count toward Amazon's previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year.

The bad news is that more people are likely to lose jobs in stores than get jobs in warehouses, said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.

On the flip side, Amazon's warehouse jobs provide "decent and competitive" wages and could help build skills.

"Interpersonal team work, problem solving, critical thinking, all that stuff goes on in these warehouses," Carnevale said. "They're serious entry-level jobs for a lot of young people, even those who are still making their way through school."

At one warehouse — Amazon calls them "fulfillment centers" — in Fall River, Massachusetts, the company hopes to hire more than 200 people Wednesday, adding to a workforce of about 1,500. Employees there focus on sorting, labeling and shipping what the company calls "non-sortable" items — big products such as shovels, surfboards, grills, car seats — and lots of giant diaper boxes. Other warehouses are focused on smaller products.

And while Amazon has attracted attention for deploying robots at some of its warehouses, experts said it could take a while before automation begins to seriously bite into its growing labor force.

"When it comes to dexterity, machines aren't really great at it," said Jason Roberts, head of global technology and analytics for mass recruiter Randstad Sourceright, which is not working with Amazon on its jobs fair. "The picker-packer role is something humans do way better than machines right now. I don't put it past Amazon to try to do that in the future, but it's one of the hardest jobs" for machines.

Besides Fall River and Robbinsville, the event is taking place at Amazon shipping sites in Baltimore; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Etna, Ohio; Hebron, Kentucky; Kenosha, Wisconsin; Kent, Washington; Romeoville, Illinois and Whitestown, Indiana.

The company is advertising starting wages that range from $11.50 an hour at the Tennessee location to $13.75 an hour at the Washington site, which is near Amazon's Seattle headquarters.

Amazon is also planning to hold events for part-time positions in Oklahoma City and Buffalo, New York.

Amazon is "insatiable when it comes to filling jobs at warehouses," Roberts said. He said Amazon's job offers could also help drive up wages at nearby employers, including grocery stores and fast-food joints.

"It has a relatively healthy effect in the surrounding area," he said.

Can't make it in person? You can also apply online.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Delco Shopping Center Sells for Estimated $35M ]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 07:22:53 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Brookhaven+Shopping+Center.JPG

Katz Properties has sold the Brookhaven Shopping Center for an estimated $35 million to Invesco Real Estate.

The seller, based in New York, bought the 211,758-square-foot center at 5005 Edgemont Ave. in Brookhaven, Delaware County, for $12.3 million in 2012. That was when the property suffered some setbacks.

It had been anchored by a 102,700-square-foot Kmart and a 60,000-square-foot Pathmark and both of those stores closed. In the time that Katz has owned the property, those spaces have been re-leased with a 150,000-square-foot Lowe’s Home Improvement store as well as a 65,000-square-foot ShopRite and a PetSmart.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, vist Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo Credit: Google Street View]]>
<![CDATA[Dow Approaches 22,000, Closes at Record High]]>Tue, 01 Aug 2017 16:02:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wall-street-sign.jpg

U.S. stocks traded higher on Tuesday, the first trading day of August, as the Dow Jones industrial average approached another milestone, CNBC reported.

The 30-stock index rose about 82 points to a new record, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains.

The Dow also traded near 22,000. The S&P 500 rose 0.25 percent, with utilities and financials leading advancers. The Nasdaq composite climbed 0.2 percent.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Philadelphia Regional President Out at Wells Fargo]]>Tue, 01 Aug 2017 06:52:00 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wells+fargo3.jpg

Greg Redden is no longer Philadelphia-area Regional President at Wells Fargo, the largest bank in the region by deposits, as part of a company-wide management shakeup.

Redden will be with the San Francisco-based bank through a 60-day notice period, according to a spokesman. The same goes for Anthony Rosado, who just became area president in charge of all of the bank’s Philadelphia locations earlier this year.

Redden has been the Philadelphia regional president since 2013. There are several area presidents in the market and in the bank’s former structure, they report to Redden, whose territory includes all of Pennsylvania and Delaware. New Jersey has a different regional president.

To read the full story, click HERE

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

<![CDATA[Discovery to Buy Scripps Networks for Nearly $12B]]>Mon, 31 Jul 2017 17:08:26 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/196*120/AP_17212423089221.jpg

Discovery Communications will buy Scripps Networks for close to $12 billion, tying together two powerful stables of TV shows ranging from Animal Planet to the Food Network.

The deal, announced Monday, puts the combined company in a stronger position to draw more women viewers and to navigate an increasingly chaotic entertainment landscape, where cable companies and streaming services like Netflix and Hulu fight for eyes.

Discovery, which is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, owns TLC and the Discovery Channel. Scripps owns HGTV and the Travel Channel, among others. The combined company will house five of the top pay TV networks for women and account for more than 20 percent share of women watching prime-time pay TV in the U.S.

By combining the content of each company, Discovery has more power to create "skinny bundle" options for viewers, which offer fewer channels and are cheaper for people unwilling to shell out for a big, monthly cable bill.

The companies on Monday said they will produce approximately 8,000 hours of original programming each year, and possess 300,000 hours of library content. They have the potential to generate 7 billion short-form video streams monthly, according to Discovery.

The transaction is valued at $90 per share, about a 4 percent premium to Scripps' Friday closing price of $86.91. The per-share price includes $63 per share in cash and $27 per share in Discovery's Class C shares. The transaction also includes approximately $2.7 billion in Scripps' debt.

The companies said Monday that they expect about $350 million in cost savings.

The buyout, which still needs approval from the shareholders of both companies, is targeted to close by early next year.

Shares of Discovery Communications Inc. rose 2.6 percent before the market opened. Shares of Scripps Networks Interactive Inc., based in Knoxville, Tennessee, edged up slightly.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP]]>
<![CDATA[With Uber in Turmoil, Lyft's Ridership Surpasses All of 2016]]>Mon, 31 Jul 2017 12:25:36 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/LyftGeneric.jpg

Ride-hailing service Lyft carried more passengers through June this year than it did in all of last year as it capitalized on missteps at Uber.

The company says ridership through June surpassed the 162.5 million rides it gave in all of 2016. A spokeswoman wouldn't give an exact number.

Lyft has made its gains as some shun much larger rival, Uber. Riders boycotted Uber after allegations that it took advantage of a New York taxi boycott in protest of President Donald Trump's first order on immigration. There also were reports of widespread sexual harassment.

Lyft wouldn't comment on Uber but says it added 160 U.S. cities this year. The company operates only in the U.S.

Uber says it's given more than 5 billion rides since 2010.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Companies Say Apple Removed Their Privacy Apps From China]]>Sat, 29 Jul 2017 19:59:36 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/generic_iphone_pic1200x675.jpg

China appears to have succeeded in eliminating software programs that enable its people to view an uncensored internet.

Companies that let people avoid the government filters said Saturday that their programs have been removed from Apple's app store in China.

ExpressVPN, one of the companies, posted on its corporate site a message from Apple saying that its program was illegal in China. The British Virgin Islands-based software company says that all major virtual-private network apps were removed from the Apple app store in China. ExpressVPN claimed Apple was "aiding China's censorship effort."

Star VPN, another company, said it also received notice of being removed.

Apple said in a statement that China began requiring this year that developers of virtual-private networks have a government license. The Califronia-based tech giant said it had removed apps "in China that do not meet the new regulations."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New 'Super' Wawa Opens in Delco]]>Sat, 29 Jul 2017 13:48:50 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Media+Delco+Wawa+Check.jpg

Delaware County has a new "super" Wawa.

Delco Councilman Dave White and District Attorney Jack Whelan joined the celebration at the grand opening of the convenience store’s new location at Baltimore Avenue, Providence Road and State Street in the county seat of Media, Pennsylvania Friday.

The new store features more than just hoagies – it has gas pumps to fuel up at and outdoor seating to eat that Shorti.

As part of the Grand Opening, Wawa presented a $2,500 check to Delco Interfaith Food Assistance Network (DIFAN), through Delco’s Family & Community Service and Department of Human Services, which provides food assistance to families.

Photo Credit: Delaware County]]>
<![CDATA[Public Gardens Work to Pass on Prized Horticultural Skills]]>Sat, 29 Jul 2017 12:40:54 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Longwood+Gardens+Young+Workers.jpg

Growing the so-called "thousand bloom mum" — a show-stopper at Longwood Gardens' fall Chrysanthemum Festival — takes 18 months and thousands of worker hours. In the week before the annual event, at least six people work full-time prep the plant.

But with fewer young people choosing careers in horticulture, Longwood is working to ensure that the effort and expertise that goes into growing this Japanese specialty plant is preserved for future generations. Three college students are documenting how to successfully raise a thousand bloom mum by creating a video archive that can be used to teach future generations of horticulturists and also spark interest in the field.

"The younger generation can't see the reward of doing this," said Jim Harbage, floriculture Leader at the 1,000-acre (405-hectare) garden and education center in Kennett Square, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia. "It's not enough to have a sense of pride. It's not something that pays a lot of money."

The fear of losing the tricks of the horticulture trade is not limited to growing chrysanthemums. Patricia Binder, spokeswoman for National Garden Clubs Inc., said there is a concern "about the potential loss of institutional knowledge and the loss of gardening knowledge in general."

In an effort to spark interest in the trade, the nonprofit organization annually awards scholarships to students studying horticulture and related fields. Similarly, the American Public Gardens Association has partnered with public gardens nationwide, including Longwood, on the Seed Your Future initiative, which promotes horticulture as a career for young people.

Longwood Gardens decided to partner with the University of Delaware as part of its "succession planning," said gardener Tim Jennings, who specializes in water lilies.

In days past, a young gardener would learn trade secrets from a master gardener. Current Longwood mum master, Amanda Galano, worked in the shadow of now-retired Yoko Arakawa, who brought the thousand bloom mum to the public garden.

Arakawa learned the intricacies of growing the complex plant through multiple trips to her native Japan, where successfully growing a thousand bloom is considered an art some call "high-wire horticulture."

By the end of this summer, the students will have produced nine videos that document part of the mum growing process.

Each student has a different role in documenting the processes. Sophomore Rebecca Ralston, who is studying wildlife and the environment, writes the script for the video. Junior Joy McCusker, who is studying landscape architecture and landscape horticulture design, is "the lens," following the master gardeners around as they work and taking precise notes. Senior Max Gold handles visuals and has used drones, a GoPro and a gimbal camera to get his shots.

"We have to find new methods to add to the toolbox to teach new horticulturists what's important," said Ralston, who admitted she wasn't aware chrysanthemums and mums were the same thing until her first day on the job.

This year, Longwood would like to see its thousand bloom top 1,500 blooms in time for the Chrysanthemum Festival in October. It can't get much bigger, Galano said, because it wouldn't fit through the greenhouse door.

Attention to detail is critical. Some practices are simply hard to explain, Galano said, and a carefully narrated how-to video makes a big difference.

That said, best gardening practices are always evolving, Jennings said. He's confident that while the videos will serve as starting points for newcomers, they'll need to be updated as years pass.

"Gardening is not a stagnant field. The nature of being a gardener is wanting to try something new," he said. "Every year it's, 'What if we did this? What if we changed that?' We're always trying to make things easier and less labor-intensive while balancing that with tradition and not straying too far afield."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Rutgers Partners to Help Create Largest NJ Health System]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 18:19:56 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rutgers+sign+small.jpg

A new partnership between Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health will align the New Jersey health care delivery system with the school's education, research and clinical initiatives, and establish the Garden State's largest academic health system, the two organizations said Thursday.

“The affiliation between Rutgers and RWJBarnabas Health to create the premier academic health care system in the state will accelerate the recruitment of world-class clinician-investigators to our health sciences faculty,” said Rutgers University President Robert Barchi in a statement.

By joining forces, the two organizations will create one of the largest medical groups in the nation, Rutgers and RWJBarnabas said, a multi-specialty group that will have more than 2,500 practitioners.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Wells Fargo Paying $80 Million Over Customer Car Insurance]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 14:36:19 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_16260609890795-wells-fargo.jpg

Wells Fargo is paying $80 million to customers who the bank signed up and charged for auto insurance that they did not want or need.

The bank said Friday that roughly 570,000 customers were affected and will be getting refunds.

Like most auto loan companies, Wells Fargo required borrowers to have comprehensive and collision insurance. If they didn't have comprehensive coverage, Wells would purchase it for the customer and charge them for it.

Wells admits its systems signed up customers who already had insurance and that some premiums "may have contributed to a default that led to their vehicle's repossession."

Nearly a year ago, Wells Fargo admitted its employees opened up to 2 million accounts for customers without getting their permission in order to meet sales targets.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple Kills iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle as Music Moves to Phones]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 20:30:32 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-175774110_master-apple.jpg

The iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle have played their final notes for Apple.

The company discontinued sales of the two music players Thursday in a move reflecting the waning popularity of the devices in an era when most people store or stream their tunes on smartphones.

The iPod product line still remains alive, though. Apple plans to continue selling its internet-connected iPod Touch.

In a show of its commitment to the iPod Touch, Apple doubled the storage capacity of its top-of-line model to 128 gigabytes. That version costs $300. An iPod Touch with 32 gigabytes of storage sells for $200.

The Nano and Shuffle came out in 2005 as less expensive and smaller alternatives to Apple's standard iPod. The Cupertino, California, company stopped updating the Nano and Shuffle several years ago.

Apple has long predicted iPods would gradually fade away as more people bought iPhones or other smartphones capable of playing music.

The company's sales of iPods peaked in its fiscal year 2008 when the devices generated revenue of $9.2 billion. The then-nascent iPhone accounted for $1.8 billion in revenue that same year.

Last year, the iPhone generated revenue of nearly $136 billion. Sales of iPods have plunged by so much that Apple no longer provides specifics about the devices in its financial statements.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Health Dept. Shuts Down Main Line Restaurant: Report]]>Fri, 28 Jul 2017 06:50:13 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Margaret+Kuo%27s.JPG

A Main Line eatery has reportedly shut its doors, at least temporarily, following a health inspection that said, among other violations, that the restaurant needs a professional exterminator.

Margaret Kuo's Mandarin, located at 190 Lancaster Ave. in Wayne, offers Chinese and Japanese cuisine and also has a lunch buffet during the work week, according to the restaurant's website.

But diners won't get a taste of its cusisine, which once helped the location earn three bells from Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan, after a Radnor health inspector forced its closure on Tuesday, according to Main Line Media News.

The official said the Wayne restaurant must remain closed until it corrects these violations: "a professional exterminator for mice, flies and other vectors; repair a pipe leaking water over an electrical box in the walk-in refrigerator; thoroughly clean all food preparation areas; clean shelves in refrigerators and freezers; repair a leaking sewer pipe."

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo Credit: Google Street View]]>
<![CDATA[Forbes: Amazon CEO Bezos Was Briefly the World's Richest Man]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 16:56:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/jeffbezos_120-0x675.jpg

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos briefly became the world's richest man Thursday in Forbes magazine's tracking of wealth, as stock in his e-commerce company hit an all-time high.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates reclaimed the lead by afternoon, as Amazon's stock fell nearly 1 percent for the day to $1,046.

Amazon shares have been trading at a record high. They hit $1,083.31 at about noon Thursday. According to securities filings, Bezos owns about 80 million shares, or 17 percent; those shares were valued at more than $87 billion at the peak. Bezos also owns The Washington Post through a holding company.

Forbes said Bezos' net worth was about $90.6 billion when the market opened Thursday. Gates had $90.1 billion. Forbes said Gates would have been the undisputed leader had he not given billions of dollars away to various philanthropic causes. Bezos issued a request for philanthropic ideas in a tweet in June, just before Amazon announced a $13.7 billion deal for organic grocer Whole Foods.

The changes in Bezos' fortune coincided with Amazon's quarterly earnings report. Shares fell another 2 percent in after-markets trading as the company reported net income of $197 million, or 40 cents per share, in the second quarter, down from $857 million, or $1.78 per share, a year ago. Revenue grew 25 percent to $38 billion, compared with $30 billion.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nation’s Top 10 Consumer Complaints in 2016]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:51:40 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/solarpanelsoregon_1200x675.jpg

Shoddy installation of solar panels and leasing lemons vehicles are leading high on the list of complaints to state and local consumer protection agencies last year across the country, according to the annual consumer agency survey conducted by Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators (NACPI).

The report included complaints from 39 state and local consumer protection agencies from 23 states participated in the survey.

The survey asked about the most common complaints they received in 2016; the fast-growing complaints, the worst complaints, new trends in consumer problems and new laws that are needed to better protect consumers.

Complaints about solar energy sales were cited as a new consumer problem that could increase in the future as the green energy industry grows. Despite solar energy being environmentally friendly, and for consumers a sound economical choice, the complaints ranged from ranged from misleading sales practices to inferior installation of the equipment.

"Consumers should check out the company and make sure they understand the terms of the agreement before they sign on the dotted line for solar contracts," said Susan Grant, Director of Consumer Protection and Privacy at CFA.

Another new problem is used car leasing with little to no down payment where state lemon laws may not apply. Grant said the interest rates may be relatively high, however, and state lemon laws and other consumer protections may not apply to these transactions.

"Consumers who lease used cars may be stuck with lemons or be on the hook for costly repairs," Grant said.

In 2015, imposter scams were on the top ten complaints this year -- scams did not make the list but were still widespread, according to the survey.

"Imposter scams are still prevalent," said Amber Capoun, NACPI President and a Legal Assistant in the Office of the State Banking Commission in Kansas.

Some agencies reported a new trend in scammers requesting payment via store gift cards.

"Crooks are looking for ways to get cash fast and avoid being traced," NACPI President Capoun observed. "Gift cards should only be used to buy something for you or someone you know, not to send payments to strangers."

The top complaints were those most frequently cited by the agencies as the most common complaints they received last year:

1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.

2. Home Improvement/Construction: Shoddy work, failure to start or complete the job.

3. Utilities: Installation issues, service problems, billing disputes with phone, cable, satellite, internet, electric and gas service.

4. Retail Sales: False advertising and other deceptive practices, defective merchandise, problems with rebates, coupons, gift cards and gift certificates, failure to deliver.

5. Credit/Debt: Billing and fee disputes, mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit repair, debt relief services, predatory lending, illegal or abusive debt collection tactics.

6. Health Products/Services: Misleading claims, unlicensed practitioners, failure to deliver, medical billing issues.

7. Services: Misrepresentations, shoddy work, failure to have required licenses, failure to perform.

8. Tie - Landlord/Tenant: Unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, illegal eviction tactics; household goods misrepresentations, failure to deliver, faulty repairs in connection with furniture or appliances.

9. Internet Sales: Misrepresentations or other deceptive practices, failure to deliver online purchases.

10. Home Solicitations: Misrepresentations, abusive sales practices, and failure to deliver in door-to-door, telemarketing or mail solicitations, do-not-call violations.

The CFA has joined other groups to better protect consumers by showing support for laws can that telephone companies should be required to do more to block illegal robocalls and other scam calls. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rules which would allow phone companies to block calls in certain circumstances where the Caller ID appears to be spoofed.

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Philly Phish Fan Making Special Doughnuts for Jam Band Shows]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 14:41:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17208490782236.jpg

Phish announced its 13-show run in New York with a video in January that showed giant doughnuts rolling through the city.

That got Felicia D'Ambrosio's phone buzzing, with calls from friends hoping that might mean a role for the Phish superfan and co-owner of a Philadelphia doughnut and fried chicken shop that had made doughnuts dedicated to the band in the past.

"Well, no, I don't want to work on Phish tour," thought D'Ambrosio, who has been to more than 100 shows.

Then came the request. From the band.

Time to make the doughnuts.

Doughnuts are everywhere in Phish's "Baker's Dozen" residency at Madison Square Garden, which kicked off last week and lasts until Aug. 6, from the tickets to a huge mural to the thousands of Federal Donuts being given out to fans each night. The band is even working each night's custom flavor into its setlists.

The band "never stops surprising me and delighting me and I trust them," D'Ambrosio said. "To us at Federal Donuts, it's this weird collaboration of this thing you love and this thing you love."

Phish doesn't need gimmicks to draw fans to their mostly sold-out shows, but they are known for playful gags on stage. One song features guitarist Trey Anastasio and bass player Mike Gordon performing while jumping on trampolines, and drummer Jon Fishman's other instruments include a vacuum cleaner.

It was Fishman's standard outfit — a blue dress covered with red doughnut shapes — that first inspired D'Ambrosio to whip up The Fishman — a blue vanilla raspberry doughnut with a pink glaze — ahead of a 2015 show.

Mark Welker, the executive pastry chef at New York's Eleven Madison Park and NoMad, took notice of the Fishman doughnut and another Federal Donuts creation, The Fluffhead, named for a classic Phish song — and when the band came to him for a recommendation on a doughnut maker for the residency, he recommended D'Ambrosio.

"I knew their doughnuts are really, really good. They're fans. This is the only option," Welker said.

The band sent its flavor ideas to Federal Donuts chef Matt Fein, who came up with his interpretations to send back to the band.

"Then they were like, 'yea, rock and roll, go for it,'" D'Ambrosio said. "It was nice and simple."

For the Phish strawberry doughnut, Fein said that his muse was a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Dessert Bar. He made the shortcake topping out of freeze-dried strawberry and doughnut crumbs.

"It's neat to get their take on what they wanted and then be able to put my name on it," Fein said. "Most of the flavors they chose were pretty traditional. That being said, they said growing up they only really had traditional" doughnuts.

Federal Donuts employees are putting in overnight shifts to get the doughnuts made in Philadelphia and shipped up to New York for each show — but Fein said the fact that the band is working the flavor into the show makes the extra work totally worthwhile.

Coconut on the first night brought a cover of Harry Nilsson's "Coconut" ("she put the lime in the coconut"), strawberry had the band performing the Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" a capella, and night three's red velvet meant an opener from the Velvet Underground and the Phish classic "Wading in the Velvet Sea" to end the second set.

Tuesday nights "jam-filled" honey-dipped doughnut saw the band extending songs that even it doesn't usually jam to. "Lawn Boy" usually lasts a few minutes, but went on for a half hour. It wound up trending on Twitter.

Welker said that his favorite part has been watching D'Ambrosio's reaction when "Strawberry Fields Forever" began.

"She did all of this," Welker said. "To think they're playing songs and she's making doughnuts has just got to be the best experience."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Josh Cornfield/AP]]>
<![CDATA[A Journey Through 100 years of Ford Trucks]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 12:49:09 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/200*120/fordtruck.jpg

The first Ford truck made its debut 100 years ago. The Model TT was made by Henry Ford at the request of his customers who wanted a utility vehicle that could haul heavier loads for work.]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Bezos Is the World’s Richest Man]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 10:19:01 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/450831304_10.jpg

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, with a fortune of over $90 billion, CNBC reported.

According to Forbes and Bloomberg, the Amazon CEO had a net worth of over $89 billion as of the close of markets Wednesday, while Bill Gates had a net worth of just over $90 billion.

Amazon's share price jumped by more than $15 a share overnight, and was recently trading near that level, while Microsoft is down slightly. If the stocks hold up today, Bezos will add more than $800 million to his fortune. That would put him past Gates, assuming the valuations of their non-stock holdings haven't changed.

Of course, Amazon stock could fall or Microsoft could rally. But even if Bezos doesn't end the day as the richest man, he will likely take the crown from Gates more permanently in the coming days and weeks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ford Trucks Celebrate 100th Anniversary]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 15:33:09 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/1954-Ford-F100-pickup-truck-C551-11.jpg

The new Ford 2017 F-Series Super Duty isn’t just a truck, it's luxury hauling on wheels. The motor company’s latest version of the pickup boasts massaging leather seats, a panoramic moonroof and state of the art infotainment system.

Ford Motor Co. has come a long way since debuting its first truck, the 1917 Model TT, 100 years ago today. Henry Ford made the truck after customers requested a utility vehicle that could haul heavier loads for work.

On July 27, 1917, Ford rolled out the first Model TT with a price tag of $600. The vehicle was essentially the cab of a Model T with a hefty frame and bed bolted on that back, enabling the vehicle to carry heavy loads and giving birth to the pickup truck. Ford sold 209 Model TT trucks in 1917.

A century later, Ford trucks remain America’s best selling pickups, holding on to the number one spot for 40 consecutive years, according to the company.

By 1928, Ford had sold 1.3 million TTs before replacing it with the Model AA and its 1.5-ton chassis.

"Model AA trucks in particular had a certain class to them," said Ford historian Bob Kreipke in a statement. "Customers could use them on the farm, yet still take them to church on Sunday."

In 1933, Ford replaced the Model AA with the even more capable Model BB. Many were outfitted as mail and freight vehicles, ambulances and stake trucks. Two years later, Ford introduced the 1935 Model 50 pickup, powered exclusively by its pioneering Flathead V-8 engine.

During the Great Depression, when thousands of families left their farms carrying everything their pickups could from the Dust Bowl to cities around the country, the truck transitioned from workhorse to everyday vehicle.

"A lot of rural Americans moved to urban and suburban centers looking for work, and many took their Ford pickups with them," said Kreipke. "Ford saw this as an opportunity, and began work on the next generation of trucks for 1948, what came to be known as F-Series Bonus Built trucks."

The first of the F-Series trucks arrived for 1948. And while the F designation has remained, the first models had a more basic numbering system. The trucks started with the F-1, a contemporary F-150 equivalent, and went up to the ultra-heavy duty commercial trucks like the F-7. Tack a "50" onto the end of those names and you'll have modern day F-Series trucks.

The Falcon Ranchero joined the line-up in 1957. Marketed as "More Than a Car! More Than a Truck!," this light-duty truck brought car-like amenities to consumers. Ford notes that it was at this time that trucks started getting basic amenities such as automatic transmissions, arm rest, and sun visors.

The first F-150 was introduced in 1975. Just two years later, the Ford F-Series became the best selling truck in America, and it took best selling passenger vehicle in 1982.

In the '70s and '80s, Ford also began offering more luxurious accommodations such as leather, air conditioning, and power windows and locks.

Ford is credited with putting the world on wheels, and its trucks, according to Ford, "helped build America."

"Ford trucks carried the loads, the people and the products necessary to get the job done," Kreipke said.

Keep on truckin'.

Photo Credit: Ford Motor Co.]]>
<![CDATA[What's the Main Line's Best Coffee Shop?]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 07:30:46 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Pour_Richards_Named_Best_Coffee.jpg

Devon's Pour Richard's Coffee Company is just one of 300 businesses that will be celebrated as part of "Best Of The Main Line." NBc10's own Tracy Davidson also takes home an honor.]]>
<![CDATA[High-End Philly Eatery Settles Tips Lawsuit for $230,000]]>Thu, 27 Jul 2017 07:26:18 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/name_zahav.jpg

A high-end Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit filed by a former server who claimed she had to give her tips to other workers.

Court documents show Zahav owners agreed to pay $230,000 to 41 current and former employees.

The former server sued over having to give $5 per shift to the restaurant's silverware polisher. Her lawyers argued the polishers had no customer contact, therefore weren't entitled to tips.

Documents show Steve Cook, half of the Cook & Solomonov team behind Zahav, Federal Donuts and more, signed off on the settlement in June.

The agreement, in which the owners made no admission of wrongdoing, is subject to a judge's approval.

Zahav's chef, Michael Solomonov, took home the outstanding chef award at the James Beard Awards in May.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

<![CDATA[East Market Rises From Market East]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 13:39:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/East_Market_Rises_From_Market_East.jpg

The Philadelphia building boom is bringing new residential and business spaces to the area formerly known as Market East. NBC10's Katy Zachry reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Now Hiring at Amazon: Thousands of People in 1 Day]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 15:26:06 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/amazonfactory_1200x675.jpg

Amazon plans to make thousands of job offers in just one day as it holds a giant job fair next week at nearly a dozen warehouses across the U.S.

Those offered jobs on the spot will pack or sort boxes and help ship them to customers. Nearly 40,000 of the 50,000 jobs will be full time. Most of these jobs will count toward Amazon's previously announced goal of adding 100,000 full-time workers by the middle of next year.

The hiring spree is yet another sign of Amazon's massive growth at a time when traditional retailers are closing stores and cutting jobs.

It's also a way for Amazon to lock in employees before the start of the busy holiday shopping season, when other retailers look to hire seasonal workers. Retailers are facing a tighter job market; the nation's unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, near a 16-year low.


Amazon has long been known for investing the money it makes back into its businesses. Part of that involves opening new warehouses, or fulfillment centers, and filling them with employees. Consequently, Amazon has often reported quarterly losses , even as revenue grows.

The number of full-time and part-time workers at Amazon has swelled from 56,000 at the end of 2011 to more than 340,000 last year. In roughly the same period, the number of people employed by the parent company of Sears and Kmart has been slashed in half to about 140,000 workers.

Amazon plans to expand further: It recently announced a $13.7 billion deal to buy organic grocer Whole Foods, it added Sears' Kenmore appliances to its website and it's rolling out its own ready-to-cook meal kits, competing with companies such as Blue Apron.


Amazon's stock increased $10.03, or 1 percent, to $1049.90 in early afternoon trading Wednesday, after Amazon announced its plans.

Amazon.com Inc. said its jobs offer health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans and company stock. Pay differs based on location, according to job postings on Amazon's site. It is offering a starting rate of $13 an hour for a full-time job in Baltimore and $12.25 an hour for a similar position in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The job fair will take place next Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon local time and will include tours and sessions with company representatives. Job prospects will also be introduced to robots and other automation technology Amazon uses at its warehouse operations.

The event will take place at 10 Amazon shipping sites. Besides Baltimore and Kenosha, they are Chattanooga, Tennessee; Etna, Ohio; Fall River, Massachusetts; Hebron, Kentucky; Kent, Washington; Robbinsville, New Jersey; Romeoville, Illinois and Whitestown, Indiana. Amazon will also hold events for part-time positions in Oklahoma City and Buffalo, New York.

AP writer Michelle Chapman in Newark, New Jersey, contributed to this story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Announces $10B Foxconn Plant in Wisconsin]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:22:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-477550758.jpg

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

The announcement comes at a critical juncture for a Trump administration that pledged to generate manufacturing jobs but has struggled to deliver results as quickly as the president promised. Trump's plans for health care and tax cuts face a murky future in Congress, while his administration is bogged down by an investigation into Russia's possible ties with his presidential campaign.

In a White House speech, Trump said the financial commitment by Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was a direct result of his electoral win.

"If I didn't get elected, he definitely would not be spending $10 billion," Trump said. "We are going to have some very, very magnificent decades."

But the decision to build the plant in Wisconsin also stemmed from $3 billion in state economic incentives over 15 years if Foxconn invests $10 billion in the state and ultimately adds 13,000 jobs. The incentives would only be awarded if Foxconn creates the jobs and pays an average salary of nearly $54,000.

The Wisconsin factory, scheduled to be open by 2020, would be massive. The campus dubbed "Wisconn Valley," would cover nearly 1.6 square miles and be three times the size of the Pentagon.

It will produce liquid-crystal display panels, or LCDs, that are used in televisions and computer screens. It will be located in the congressional district of House Speaker Paul Ryan. It would mark a substantial gain for a state that currently has 472,000 manufacturing jobs and is still recovering from factory layoffs — including the closure of a General Motors plant in Ryan's hometown — that hit after the 2008 financial crisis.

Taiwan-based Foxconn is perhaps best known for assembling Apple iPhones in China.

Inside the White House, discussions with Foxconn about opening a U.S. plant were led over several months by Jared Kushner, a senior adviser and the president's son-in-law, and Reed Cordish, an assistant to the president on technology initiatives. The president had met personally with Gou, who on Wednesday complimented Trump's leadership at the event by saying, "Mr. President, the eagle flies."

Seven states had competed for the Foxconn plant. By awarding the plant to Wisconsin, Foxconn would appear to be giving a victory to both Trump and the state's Republican governor, Scott Walker, who is up for re-election next year.

Other states that vied for the plant are Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. Foxconn said in a release the announcement was just the first of several investments the company will be making in the U.S.

Walker and several other Wisconsin officials, including Ryan, attended the White House announcement.

Landing the multistate competition has been cast as a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Foxconn is the biggest contract assembler of smartphones and other devices for Apple and other brands. It has been eyeing building the plant in a part of Wisconsin represented by Ryan, who said he has met with company officials at Walker's request.

Critics have cautioned that Foxconn has made promises before to invest in the U.S. and not followed through. Foxconn promised in 2013, for example, to invest $30 million and hire 500 workers for a new, high-tech factory in Pennsylvania that was never built. State Sen. Alberta Darling, co-chair of the Wisconsin Legislature's budget committee, said any deal would be examined with a "fine-toothed comb" and need to win approval by the Republican-controlled Legislature.

Walker said he planned to call a special legislative session to consider the incentives. They include up to $1.5 billion in income tax credits for job creation, $1.35 billion in income tax credits for capital investment and up to $150 million in a sales tax exemption for the purchase of construction materials.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who is from Ryan's congressional district in southeast Wisconsin, told WTMJ-TV on Tuesday that Trump, when flying over the area in Kenosha County during a visit to Wisconsin in April, noticed vacant land where a former Chrysler Motors plant used to be.

"He said, 'That land should be used,'" Priebus said. "So when Foxconn came into the White House, into the Oval Office, the president said, 'I know a good spot that you should go to, that place in Kenosha.'"

That part of the state is an attractive location for a large plant because of the area's proximity to Lake Michigan and its abundant water supply. To make flat-panel displays, the company will need access to great quantities of water to keep work spaces dust-free, among other things.

The news sent a jolt of excitement across Wisconsin, even among longtime Democratic critics of Walker.

"It's an exciting opportunity," said Democratic state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca.

Barca, like many Democrats, voiced concern about how much taxpayers may have to contribute in tax breaks and other incentives.

"We want to make sure it's a fair deal for everybody," he said. "We want a win-win-win."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Building Boom Transforms Market East]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 13:40:19 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Philadelphia_Building_Boom_Is_Giving_New_Life.jpg

Philadelphia's building boom is giving new life to a part of Center City. The old Market East stretch of storefronts are getting a makeover. It will soon be known as East Market and include residential buildings, new retail space and offices.]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle's Norovirus Outbreak the Result of Lax Sick-Policy]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 19:00:49 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cms872.jpg

Chipotle Mexican Grill's recent norovirus outbreak in Virginia was the result of lax sick policy enforcement by store managers, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

The company said in their earnings conference call that they believe an employee was the cause of the outbreak.

"We conducted a thorough investigation, and it revealed that our leadership there didn't strictly adhere to our company protocols. And we believe someone was working while sick. And we took swift action and made it clear to the entire company that we have a 0 policy -- or a 0-tolerance policy for not following these protocols," CEO Steve Ells said during the conference call.

It has been about two years since an E. coli outbreak rattled the food chain. In Oct. and Dec. 2015, at least 60 people were infected with the illness after eating at locations across the country. At least 22 people were hospitalized.

CLARIFICATION (July 26, 2017, 6:58 p.m. EST): An earlier version of this story implied that a direct quote was made from a Chipotle executive about the cause of the outbreak.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[IRS Sees Big Drop in Identity Theft, Stolen Tax Refunds]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 08:39:07 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/taxformsgenericIRS_1200x675.jpg

The IRS is seeing a big drop in the number of identity theft victims after the agency teamed up with tax preparers to fight the problem, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Tuesday.

The number of victims was nearly cut in half last year, compared to the previous year. At the same time, he said, more businesses are being targeted.

In 2015, thieves stole the identities of nearly 700,000 victims. Last year, the number dropped to 377,000.

Koskinen said the IRS identified 107,000 identity theft victims in the first five months of this year.

Thieves use stolen identities to try to obtain fraudulent tax refunds. They get the refunds by obtaining private information about victims — Social Security numbers, birth dates and income data — and using it to file fraudulent tax returns in their name.

Victims then have to go through a sometimes lengthy process to get their legitimate tax refund.

The IRS is a popular target for sophisticated identity thieves because the agency issues more than $300 billion in tax refunds each year. Several years ago, the IRS started teaming up with the major tax preparers to crack down on the problem.

The IRS has updated its computer filters to identify more fraudulent tax returns while tax preparers have stepped up their security.

"They are having more trouble getting past our security protections in our tax processing systems, so they are increasingly taking aim at the places where large amounts of taxpayer data reside," Koskinen said.

"That means trying to access data belonging to tax return preparers and other tax professionals, as well as the payroll community, small employers and human resources departments," Koskinen said.

One ploy involves thieves emailing workers in the payroll department of a large employer, masquerading as a supervisor seeking W-2 information about other workers.

The payroll worker thinks they are emailing the information to the company CEO, but "instead of going to the CEO it goes to someone in Belarus," Koskinen said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Michael Kors Buying Jimmy Choo for $1.2 Billion]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 11:51:39 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Michael+Kors+Jimmy+Choo.jpg

American fashion brand Michael Kors is buying luxury shoemaker Jimmy Choo in a deal worth $1.2 billion (896 million pounds).

Kors says that Jimmy Choo, which counts Jennifer Lopez, the Duchess of Cambridge and Beyonce among its fans, is "the ideal partner" and will have its online presence bolstered.

Jimmy Choo CEO Pierre Dennis will stay in his job, as will Creative Director Sandra Choi.

The deal gives Jimmy Choo shareholders $3.01 (2.3 pounds) in cash for each share, a premium of 36.5 percent on the firm's share price of $2.20 (1.685 pounds) on April 21.

John Idol, CEO of Michael Kors, says the handbag maker believes "that Jimmy Choo is poised for meaningful growth in the future and we are committed to supporting the strong brand equity that Jimmy Choo has built."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Major Toy Manufacturer Brings 400 Jobs to Pa.]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 09:51:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_385757462677.jpg

A major toy manufacturer plans to hire about 400 new workers to staff a new distribution center in eastern Pennsylvania.

Mattel has opened the 1 million-square-foot center in the Gateway Logistics Park area of Jonestown.

The company will package popular toys including Barbie and Hot Wheels brands at the center, which will also handle Mega Brands and, eventually, Fisher-Price. The company says the center will employ as many as 400 during peak season.

The center is located at the junction of Interstates 81 and 78. It will be Mattel's East Coast hub because it's centrally located to most customers in that region. Mattel is headquartered in El Segundo, California.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Projects to Transform University City]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 12:09:06 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/New_Projects_Coming_To_University_City.jpg

Philadelphia is in the midst of a building boom. NBC10's Katy Zachry tells us what is luring in businesses.

Correction: The text of this story misstated the level of expansion of the University City area. ]]>
<![CDATA[US Maker of Panels in London Fire: Others Install Them]]>Tue, 25 Jul 2017 08:54:07 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/grenfelltowerfeuerherdII.jpg

The U.S. company that manufactured panels on a London apartment tower where at least 80 people perished in an inferno has quit selling them for high-rises because it has no control over their installation, a top company executive said Monday.

Arconic Inc. is continuing to work with investigators to determine what caused the flames to spread so rapidly at Grenfell Tower on June 14, interim CEO David Hess told investors during an earnings call.

"Cladding systems contain various components selected and put together by architects, contractors, fabricators and building owners, and those parties are responsible for ensuring that the cladding systems are compliant under the appropriate codes and regulations," the company said in a news release Monday.

About 12 days after the blaze, the company announced it would discontinue making its Reynobond PE panels available for high-rises.

That decision was made out of "an abundance of caution as Arconic does not control the ultimate design and installation of the final cladding system," the company said.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to those who have lost so much," Hess added Monday.

An Associated Press review this month found that some building owners in the U.S. were unaware that the same Reynobond panels, which feature a polyethylene core, were used on their buildings as well. Polyethylene is combustible, according to federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In many cases, building owners and regulators did not know the product was used on their structures, or exactly how it was applied. In several cases, old building records had been destroyed.

Among U.S. buildings that used this cladding is the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel, which towers than 30 stories over the city's harbor; the Cleveland Browns' stadium; and a school in Alaska, according to Arconic brochures. Cleveland city officials say it was installed on the stadium in a different way, and that the venue is safe for fans.

No one has declared any of the U.S. buildings unsafe, nor has the U.S. government ordered widespread testing of building panels that British authorities ordered after the London catastrophe.

But in the wake of the London fire, samples were collected from the exterior of the hotel in Baltimore, and test results are expected soon, a Marriott spokesman has said.

Arconic has corporate offices in Pittsburgh and New York. Its Reynobond product has been on the market since it was first produced in 1989 at the company's manufacturing plant in Eastman, Georgia.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle Faces Backlash After Norovirus, Rodent Incidents]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 12:36:26 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/cms872.jpg

Between a recent norovirus outbreak at one restaurant and rodents falling from the ceiling at another, Chipotle Mexican Grill is facing a stark decline in consumer’s perception of the brand.

Credit Suisse’s online sentiment tracker, which measures how consumers feel about a brand, showed the perception of the beleagured Chipotle brand fell to near record lows following the two headline-grabbing incidents last week, CNBC reports.

"Not surprisingly, online sentiment plummeted in recent days," said Credit Suisse analyst Jason West.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Philly Real Estate Is Booming]]>Mon, 24 Jul 2017 08:33:17 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Real_Estate_Is_Booming_In_Philadelphia.jpg

Philadelphia is seeing a major shift in how companies are finding new talent. The Philadelphia skyline is growing, which means more companies and people are moving in as are young people. NBC10's Katy Zachry has more on how this is helping to put Philadelphia on the map.]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Eagles Going Greener With New Waste Initiative]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 21:58:09 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/copa-oro-2015-concacaf-piojo-lincoln-financial-field-philadelphia1.jpg

The Philadelphia Eagles are teaming up Waste Masters Solutions on a new environmentally friendly initiative to "properly and efficiently" minimize food waste at Lincoln Financial Field.

This expansion of the team’s "Go Green" program will provide for a food waste digester, and an associated data analytics platform, at Lincoln Financial Field.

Delaware-based Waste Masters Solutions will work with BioHiTech Global – a green technology company based in New York that develops and deploys innovative waste management technologies – on the design, construction and operation of an an Eco-Safe Digester for the stadium. The digester will be used to dispose of food waste during the pre- and post-consumer periods.

Last September, a waste digester was installed at the team’s South Philadelphia practice facility, the NovaCare Complex, to help decompose pre-consumer food waste. Since the installation, more than nine tons — about 18,100 pounds— of food waste has been decomposed and, as a result, diverted from landfills.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphia Business Journal

<![CDATA[Lyft Launches Own Autonomous Vehicle Unit]]>Fri, 21 Jul 2017 18:06:34 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-464248971.jpg

Lyft said Friday that it is setting up its own unit to develop autonomous vehicle technology, but its approach will be different from other companies and partnerships working on self-driving cars.

The San Francisco-based ride-hailing service said it will open its network, inviting automakers and tech companies to use it to haul passengers in their self-driving vehicles and gather data. It may even share computer software and sensor technology.

Raj Kapoor, the company’s chief strategy officer, says Lyft is pursuing the open strategy as a way to bring the environmental and safety benefits of autonomous vehicles to market faster. Lyft brings network expertise to the table, he said.

“We believe this is inevitable where the world is going,” he said. “We need to be playing this role.”

Like other tech companies and automakers, Lyft has partnerships with companies like Google’s Waymo autonomous vehicle operation and with General Motors. It does not want to produce cars, but wants to make a standardized system for use on its network. At first, the network will be open to Lyft’s current partners.

Just how it would make money off the system is yet to be determined, but it likely would take a cut of passenger fares from everyone who uses its network or shares its system.

For example, General Motors, which has invested $500 million in Lyft, would be invited to run its own autonomous vehicles on Lyft’s network. Data gathered by GM and vehicles from other companies would be used to help build high-definition maps that are needed for the vehicles to navigate streets across the world. The data also would be used to develop computers that would make decisions to run the autonomous vehicles.

Lyft is calling its unit “Level Five,” the industry term for fully-autonomous vehicles. It expects to have several hundred employees working on the vehicles in Palo Alto, California, by the end of 2018.

The company, which carries passengers in 350 cities worldwide, says even when autonomous vehicles are in operation, it will still have humans in the driver’s seat. In many places, detailed maps won’t be available to guide the autonomous vehicles, so humans will still be needed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McDonald's Adds Big Mac Onesie ]]>Wed, 26 Jul 2017 04:19:31 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/BigMacOnesie18003200.jpg

With McDonald's now offering a delivery service, the fast-food giant is looking to make customers comfortable eating at home with a new clothing line that includes an adult-size Big Mac onesie.

Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's describes the McDelivery Collection as "a selection of fun, fashion forward items you can wear or use whenever and wherever you order." It also includes french fry-themed sweatsuits and sandals, hamburger pillowcases and a picnic blanket dotted with McDonald's items.

Customers can get the items for free, while they last, by ordering meals from McDonald's restaurants in select cities through the UberEats app on July 26.

McDonald's joins KFC, which recently released its own fast-food apparel. KFC's chicken-themed line consists of socks, shirts and accessories, including a "finger-lickin' good" necklace.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: McDonald's
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<![CDATA[Exxon Fined $2M for Tillerson-Era Breach of Russia Sanctions]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 19:16:28 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rextillersonrussaisanctionsmobil_1200x675.jpg

Exxon Mobil Corp. must pay a $2 million fine for showing "reckless disregard" for U.S. sanctions on Russia while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil giant's CEO, the Treasury Department said Thursday. Exxon sued the U.S. government to stop the fine.

Treasury said that Exxon violated sanctions when it signed contracts in May 2014 with Russian oil magnate Igor Sechin, chairman of government-owned energy giant Rosneft. The U.S. blacklisted Sechin, Tillerson's longtime business associate, as part of its response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea.

The same month that Exxon signed the deals, Tillerson said the company generally opposes sanctions and finds them "ineffective."

Exxon maintained it had done nothing wrong. Hours after the fine was announced, the Texas-based company sued Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and the government, saying the U.S. had clearly told companies that doing business with Rosneft was allowed — just not with Sechin himself.

As America's top diplomat, Tillerson has insisted the sanctions will stay in place until Russia reverses course in Ukraine and gives back Crimea. Still, the sanctions breach on his watch raises significant questions about his ability to credibly enforce the sanctions and to persuade European countries to keep doing so.

Yet the Treasury Department said that Exxon's "senior-most executives" knew Sechin was blacklisted when two of its subsidiaries signed deals with him. The Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, said Exxon caused "significant harm" to the sanctions program.

The dispute between Exxon and the government centers on whether the sanctions differentiated between "professional" and "personal" interactions with Sechin, who had been blacklisted only weeks earlier.

Exxon, in its lawsuit, noted that the former Obama administration had said the sanctions strategy was to identify individuals like Sechin who were contributing to the Ukraine crisis and to "target their personal assets, but not companies that they may manage on behalf of the Russian state," according to a White House fact sheet from the time.

The company pointed out that Treasury had even said it would be permissible for an American CEO to attend a Rosneft board meeting with Sechin as long as it wasn't related to Sechin's "personal business." Rosneft itself was not subject to sanctions at the time.

"OFAC seeks to retroactively enforce a new interpretation of an executive order that is inconsistent with the explicit and unambiguous guidance from the White House and Treasury," Exxon said in the suit.

The Treasury Department disagreed, arguing that it never said there was an "exception or carve-out for the professional conduct of designated or blocked persons." The government noted that its website at the time explicitly warned companies not to enter any contracts signed by people on the blacklist.

The U.S. said that the presidents of two Exxon subsidiaries and Sechin had signed eight legal documents in May 2014. That same month, Neil Duffin, president of subsidiary Exxon Mobil Development, signed several deals to continue their work on the massive Sakhalin oil and natural gas project on Russia's eastern coast.

A photo posted on Rosneft's website shows Sechin and Duffin smiling broadly and shaking hands at a conference table with documents and a pen in front of them. A few days later, Tillerson was unambiguous about Exxon's opposition to the sanctions during his company's annual meeting.

"We do not support sanctions, generally, because we don't find them to be effective unless they are very well implemented comprehensibly and that's a very hard thing to do," Tillerson said.

Tillerson had played a central role over the years in developing that multibillion dollar deal. Tillerson knew both Sechin and Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than a decade before he became secretary of state.

The Treasury Department called the violation an "egregious case" and noted that Exxon "is a sophisticated and experienced oil and gas company that has global operations" and should know better when it comes to U.S. sanctions. It leveled the statutory maximum civil penal of $2 million for the breaches. Exxon's suit asks the court to set aside the fine.

After the Ukraine-related sanctions were put in place under President Barack Obama, Tillerson saw Exxon's stake in a lucrative offshore drilling project with Rosneft come under threat. Tillerson visited the White House numerous times as CEO in the immediate aftermath of the sanctions being announced, but they remained in place.

Concerns about Tillerson's potential conflict of interest dominated his confirmation hearings in January, and the secretary has recused himself from matters dealing with his former company. The State Department said it wasn't involved in the decision to punish Exxon for violating the sanctions.

"The secretary continues to abide by his ethical commitments, including that recusal from Exxon-related commitments," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.

As a diplomat, Tillerson has struck a different tone on sanctions and sought to maintain pressure on Russia to stop interfering in eastern Ukraine.

"The U.S. and EU sanctions on Russia will remain in place until Moscow reverses the actions that triggered these particular sanctions," Tillerson said earlier this month during a visit to Ukraine.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Former Philly Mayor Joins Nation's Largest Law Firm]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:27:03 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Mayor+Nutter+Joins+Law+firm.jpg

Since completing his two terms as Philadelphia mayor in January 2017, Michael Nutter taken on more part-time jobs than Wawa has stores.

His latest was announced Wednesday when the world’s largest law firm, Dentons, said it was hiring Nutter and former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake as senior advisers for its local government solutions practice.

Nutter will work with local governments, private businesses and organizations throughout the country focusing on topics like economic development and redevelopment projects, tax increment financing, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, public finance and pension reform.

For more on Nutter's new position, click here.

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

<![CDATA[Slight Tuition Increase for Rutgers Students]]>Thu, 20 Jul 2017 06:45:47 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/rutgers+university+generic+FB+courtesy.jpg

Rutgers University has approved a tuition increase for the coming school year.

The university's board of governors voted Wednesday to raise tuition and fees 1.85 percent for undergraduate students.

The increase means that a typical in-state, full-time arts and sciences undergraduate living at the school's main New Brunswick campus will be charged $27,090.

Tuition rose 1.7 percent last year, about 2 percent in 2015 and 2014, and by 3.3 percent in 2013.

Costs vary depending on which school and campus a student attends.

Rutgers president Robert Barchi says that public colleges across the country face significant financial challenges and he's proud that Rutgers has kept its cost increases to a minimum.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/RutgersU]]>
<![CDATA[Carrier Cuts Jobs at Factory Where Trump Said He Saved Jobs]]>Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:44:42 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/trump-pence-carrier1.jpg

The Carrier factory where then-President-elect Donald Trump announced that he had made a deal to save U.S. jobs from moving to Mexico has started the process of laying off workers.

NBC News reports that 338 employees at the Carrier Corporation fan coil manufacturing facility in Indianapolis will be let go Thursday under previously announced plan, the company said in a statement.

The positions will be shifted to Mexico, where workers are paid in a day what the Rust Belt employees make in an hour.

Trump said in late November 2016 that he had worked out a deal with Carrier to keep 1,100 jobs in the state.

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci/AP]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Instacart to Hire 100+ for Expansion Into Lehigh Valley]]>Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:21:21 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/instacart.PNG

Instacart is expanding into Lehigh Valley, and it's looking to on-board over 100 new shoppers, those who deliver items to customers' doors in one hour.

The on-demand delivery service is also expanding its partnership with Wegmans to more stores in the Philadelphia region and South Jersey.

The San Francisco-based company launched in the Philadelphia market in February 2014 and has expanded to more areas in the region and more company partnerships, including one with the Reading Terminal Market in September 2014.

Instacart in August 2016 then expanded into South Jersey.

The company expands where there is demand from customers and from retail partners, and demand has told Instacart to expand into Lehigh Valley, from which the company received several thousand unique user requests, according to general manager David Schloss.

Starting Wednesday, July 19, Instacart will serve more than 206,000 households in the Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton areas of the Valley. See below to see delivery areas.

Service in Lehigh Valley includes deliveries from its retail partners, Wegmans, Whole Foods Market, Petco and Costco.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit Philadelphian Business Journal

PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Delco Town Accuses Wells Fargo of Discriminatory Practices]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 20:29:53 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/wells+fargo3.jpg

On the heels of a similar action filed by the city of Philadelphia, the tiny Delaware County borough of Sharon Hill has filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo & Co., accusing the bank of engaging in discriminatory lending practices that have targeted minority borrowers.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on June 23, claims Wells Fargo has a "longstanding, unbroken policy and practice of intentionally steering minority borrowers in Sharon Hill into 'discriminatory’ mortgage loans (defined herein as loans that have higher costs and risk features than more favorable and less expensive loans issued to similarly situated white borrowers) and engaging in facially neutral business policies and practices that created and artificial, arbitrary and unnecessary barrier to fair housing opportunities for minority home purchasers and owners."

In addition, it says Wells Fargo maintained a policy of refusing to extend credit to minority borrowers seeking to refinance the more expensive loans they previously received when such credit was extended to white borrowers.

The lawsuit, which claims the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was violated, seeks relief and damages caused by: the origination of discriminatory mortgage loans to minority borrowers that are the result of unlawful practices by Wells Fargo; the bank’s subsequent refusal to extend credit to minority borrowers seeking to refinance previously issued loans deemed discriminatory.

"These illegal practices suppressed property tax values in the borough, a minority and low-income community, reduced the borough and supporting school district’s tax revenues and increased the cost of providing municipal services such as police fire fighting and code enforcement, as well as the housing counseling and other housing-related services that the borough provides and/or funds," the complaint said.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC), the Philadelphia region’s largest bank by deposits, released almost the identical statement it did in May when Philadelphia made similar claims of discriminatory lending. The statement called Sharon Hill’s accusations "unsubstantiated" and said it does not reflect how it operates in the borough or elsewhere.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news visit Philadelphia Business Journal

<![CDATA['Main Event' Family Fun Center Coming to Delaware]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:59:22 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Christiana_Is_Getting_A_New_Family_Fun_Center_1200x675_1002408003629.jpg

Christiana is getting a new family fun center that will open next year. Main Event Entertainment signed a lease for a space at Christiana Fashion Center.]]>
<![CDATA[Walmart Apologizes for N-Word in Product Description]]>Tue, 18 Jul 2017 09:51:00 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/walmart26.jpg

Walmart apologized after the n-word was used on its website in the product description for a third-party seller's item, NBC News reported. 

“We are very sorry and appalled that this third party seller listed their item with this description on our online marketplace,” Walmart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said on Monday.

Walmart removed the racial slur in the description of the item -- a wig cap for hair extensions -- and posted a disclaimer online saying it does not verify product information for third-party items. Later, it removed the wig cap from its site entirely. 

Chizo Onuh, the owner of a brand called Jagazi Natural, said that a third party used her company's name without her permission and posted it on Walmart's site.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Netflix Adds 5.2 Million Subscribers, Crushing Estimates]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 18:10:33 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-613157194-netflix.jpg

Netflix's second quarter report released Monday showed an addition of 5.2 million memberships, crushing Wall Street estimates of 3.23 million.

New seasons of Netflix hits such as "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black" contributed to the company's success since its last earnings report, according to CNBC. Netflix series garnered 91 Emmy nominations.

The company's stock rose more than 10 percent after the news broke about the increase in memberships.

Photo Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for The New Yorker, File]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Iconic Philly Diner Selected for Exclusive Local Initiative]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 16:35:50 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Hard+Rock+Cafe+Philadelphia.jpg

The Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia is in exclusive company.

The restaurant-venue has been chosen to be one of only 12 in the world to pilot a new companywide initiative that will support small businesses in respective local markets while pushing the brand's menu evolution forward.

The restaurants chosen for the Test Kitchen initiative, launching July 25 in Philadelphia, will act as "the front line for Hard Rock Cafe's menu evolution," according to the company.

The Test Kitchen program will also highlight local businesses. The fresh catch of the day menu item, for example, will use fish from Philadelphia-based Samuels Seafood Co.

For the full scoop on the Hard Rock's new flavor, click here.

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Hard Rock Cafe]]>
<![CDATA[Guest Worker Boost Comes Too Late, Some Small Businesses Say]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 18:03:38 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/John-Kelly-cree-que-DACA-puede-ser-ilegal-434183013.jpg

The Trump administration acted Monday to allow 15,000 more visas this year for temporary seasonal workers, but some business owners say the effort comes too late.

Under authority from Congress, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly extended the cap on H2B visas, which cover non-agricultural guest workers in seasonal industries like landscaping, fishing and resorts.

Local economies in New England and the Great Lakes with small round-year populations rely on the program to cope with a major surge in business over the summer.

Jane Nichols Bishop, who runs an agency in Mashpee, Massachusetts, that works to secure visas for local businesses, said earlier this month that the H2B program serves to fill temporary, often minimum-wage jobs that Americans don't apply for.

“It’s not that Americans don’t want work, it’s that Americans don’t want these jobs because they’re back-breaking hard work,” Bishop said. “You’re standing on your feet in the heat of the kitchen peeling onions and washing dishes until 2 in the morning.”

A federal law caps the number of available H2B visas at 66,000 a year. Until last year, guest workers who had already participated were not counted toward the cap.

But after Congress effectively reduced the number of guest workers allowed in for the summer, it gave DHS the power to authorize more visas in May.

Some employers have complained that relief on the issue was coming too late into the season, given the two months it took DHS to take action on increasing the visa cap.

“There are still so many hotels and restaurants that have been impacted by this in a negative way,” Steve Hewins, president of the Maine Innkeepers Association, said after Monday's decision. “It’s still going to be weeks before any of the workers who are available can make it here.”

The Colony, an oceanside hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine yards away from a Bush family property, may not even hire some H2B visa workers this year because they would only be arriving by summer's end, general manager John Martin said.

DHS spokesman David Lapan told NBC News that Congress gave his department the authority to allow additional visas at least six months later than normal.

Last year, the federal government allowed 13,382 additional visas beyond the cap in order to meet seasonal demand.

Sarah Mace Diment, the owner of a bed and breakfast in Ogunquit, Maine, called the delay on the issue "ridiculous" and said that the additional visas are only a "drop in the bucket" that may not fulfill business needs.

“I have no idea if I’m even going to get a visa once they’re processed,” Diment said. “It’s going to be anywhere from a three to six-week process to see if I get my visas, and by then we’re talking mid-August.”

Because tourist season in Maine runs until September or October, the six workers she’s currently missing will only be able to help her make up a fraction of the peak season, Diment said.

Sam Bradford, the CFO of Mac’s Seafood on Cape Cod, said that the DHS announcement is only the first step in a complex process.

Starting Monday, business owners can mail in applications, which must then be reviewed and approved by DHS, Bradford said. Afterwards, the business must hire a candidate, submit paperwork, schedule an interview at the local embassy, and secure a plane ticket for the worker to come to the US.

While President Trump has expressed his opposition to guest worker programs, he has made an exception for the H2B visa — one his Mar-a-Lago resort regularly applies for in order to supplement its staff.

"This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper," a senior DHS official told NBC News.

Because businesses applying for the program must state that they will be irreparably harmed without a workforce boost, the additional visas are consistent with an "America First" policy, the official said.

But Daniel Costa, who directs immigration research at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said that the H2B program lacks enough enforcement to make sure American workers can benefit.

As it stands, Costa said, employers can advertise jobs to Americans with unusually low wages and create a “fake labor shortage” that they’re then allowed to fill with vulnerable, easily exploited foreign workers.

“Nationally, there isn’t actual evidence of labor shortages people talk about,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there aren’t some shortages in some places, but there need to be rules in place to ensure that a fair wage is being offered to American workers first.”

And while more visas may create a workforce boost, the damage — and its effect on other industries — may already be done.

Mike Hutt, director of the Virginia Seafood Council, said that crab and oyster companies on the Virginia coast provide much of the business for local boat and net manufacturers.

“If there aren’t enough workers to come in here legally, we’re going to have a weak economy, and we’re going to lose segments of the economy we have that already depend on these workers,” Hutt said.

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Wells Fargo Set to Launch Digital Mortgages]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:50:12 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_16260609890795-wells-fargo.jpg

Wells Fargo, the country's largest mortgage lender, is the latest big bank to say it's setting its eyes on a digital mortgage experience.

Tim Sloan, CEO and president of Wells Fargo, said the company is expecting to launch a digital mortgage application tool by the end of 2018. Sloan shared details about the bank's need to digitalize some of the mortgage application process during the bank's second-quarter earnings call Friday.

Banks hope to streamline the often arduous mortgage application process by making parts of the loan application available online or through mobile apps.

For more details on the new program, click here

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Inside Look at Comcast Technology Center's Luxury Hotel]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 11:40:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Four+Seasons+Room+1.jpgTake an inside look at renderings of the Four Seasons Hotel, which is set to open in the new Comcast Technology Center next year.]]><![CDATA[JPMorgan CEO Shifts Topic to Politics From Financial Results]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 18:31:13 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-603214992-jpmorgan.jpg

After JPMorgan Chase posted a record $7 billion quarterly profit, the last thing a contentious Jamie Dimon wanted to talk about Friday was his company's earnings.

Instead, the CEO of the nation's largest bank vented his irritation with politicians and what he called gridlock that's preventing the economy from doing even better.

Dimon, a member of President Donald Trump's business advisory council, has a reputation for speaking with little to no filter. He's complained in the past that U.S. policymakers spend too much time arguing rather than improving the economy.

The U.S. economy has been expanding at less than 2 percent a year since the Great Recession, which is below the typical growth after an economic downturn. Dimon said growth would be higher if Washington gridlock would ease.

"It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world ... listening to the stupid (expletive) we have to deal with in this country," he said in a call. "At one point we all have to get our act together or we won't do what we're supposed to do for the average Americans."

As head of the nation's biggest bank, Dimon has a big stake in how Washington operates and how the U.S. economy performs. And while Trump's business advisory council cannot make policy decisions, it does have input on what the White House's priorities should be for big companies like JPMorgan.

Republicans who control of both houses of Congress and the White House have proposed cutting corporate income taxes, which would directly benefit JPMorgan's bottom line, and infrastructure spending would add to U.S. gross domestic product. There is also talk about trimming back some of the strict regulations put in place following the financial crisis that bank CEOs like Dimon have argued are restricting the ability of banks to lend money.

Whether those regulations are really restricting lending is a topic of debate. Nearly all banks are making more loans, including JPMorgan Chase, and bank profits are up.

"What's the evidence that regulations are seriously impeding the banking industry or any other industry?" said Dean Baker, an economist with the left-leaning Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Baker said one reason for the gridlock is the inability of Republicans to coalesce around a unified agenda. For example, some want tax cuts to stimulate growth, but other Republicans are worried about deficits that could rise if taxes were cut too sharply.

Dimon, when asked by a business journalist about the firm's bond trading results following the Federal Reserve's interest rate increase last month, called for reporters to focus less on the quarter-to-quarter changes in its business and more on bigger issues like infrastructure, the opioid epidemic, taxation and jobs.

"(Reporters) should be writing a lot more about that the stuff that is holding back and hurting average Americans. Who really cares about fixed-income trading in the last two weeks of June, I mean seriously?" he said.

While the bank overall has benefited from the Fed's decision and has been making more loans across all its businesses, this quarter's quiet stock and bond markets depressed the bank's trading revenue by 17 percent. Fixed-income trading revenue was down 19 percent from last year, while stock trading was mostly flat.

Even so, the bank reported a profit of $7.03 billion, or $1.82 per share, an improvement from a profit $6.20 billion, or $1.55 a share, a year ago. The results beat analysts' expectations, but its shares fell 1 percent to $92.08 in afternoon trading.

JPMorgan's investment and corporate banking division earned $2.71 billion compared with $2.49 billion a year earlier, and saw a 17 percent rise in investment banking fees.

It was part of a trio of big banks, with Citigroup and Wells Fargo which reported their quarterly results Friday. All three reported a rise in interest income, and were generally lending more across all their businesses.

Citigroup also reported a decline in trading, albeit not as big as JPMorgan. Typically less-volatile markets result in lower trading revenue for the major banks, as its traders cannot take advantage of heavy trading and bigger swings in stock and bond prices.

One area of concern, particularly for JPMorgan, is bad loans in its credit card business. The bank also set aside more money this quarter to cover bad loans, mostly in its credit card division. JPMorgan executives have said the bank is starting to offer and approve applications for credit cards to higher-risk borrowers that it previously would have rejected.

Despite the money designated to address bad loans, Dimon said: "the U.S. consumer remains healthy."

Government figures released Friday showed that Americans curtailed their shopping in June, with less spending at restaurants, department stores and gasoline stations. That came despite a healthy job market and suggests that economic growth could remain sluggish.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Hootie Johnson, Former Augusta National Chairman, Dies]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 17:34:22 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hootiejohnsonaugustagolfculbDEAD_1200x675.jpg

Hootie Johnson, the South Carolina banker and Augusta National chairman who stubbornly stood his ground amid pressure for the club to invite female members, died Friday morning. He was 86.

Augusta National announced his death and celebrated the sweeping changes to the Masters during his eight years as chairman. But it was his battle with Martha Burk and her National Council of Women's Organizations that defined his legacy at the Masters.

Burk wrote to Johnson in 2002 and urged Augusta National to invite female members so that it wouldn't become an issue at the Masters.

In a blistering, three-page statement to reporters, Johnson said women might one day be invited, but it would be on the club's timetable and "not at the point of a bayonet." That became a symbol of his resolve as Johnson and Augusta National dug in deep against relentless media pressure.

He went so far as to drop the Masters' television sponsors — IBM, Coca-Cola and Citigroup — to keep them out of the fray. That led to the first commercial-free broadcast of a sporting event on network television.

Johnson stepped down as chairman in 2006 and was succeeded by Billy Payne, who ran the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Augusta National, which opened in 1931 and did not have its first black member until 1990, invited two women to join in 2012. One was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The other was South Carolina financier Darla Moore, whom Johnson nominated.

Burk, who currently is working on gender-equity salary projects, said Johnson "personified the thinking of dinosaurs."

"What I have to say, and I thought this for years, is it's really a shame that he engaged in the Augusta controversy the way he did," Burk said. "But I think history will remember him as the Lester Maddox of golf. And I think that's unfortunate."

Maddox, a segregationist and former governor of Georgia, was known for violating the Civil Rights Act by refusing to serve black customers in his Atlanta restaurant.

Johnson's public image clashed with his legacy in business, where he was among the most progressive bankers in the South.

He was born William Woodward Johnson on Feb. 16, 1931, and a childhood friend gave him the nickname "Hootie" when he was 5. Johnson was a second-team fullback for South Carolina in the 1950s and became the youngest bank president in South Carolina in 1965 at Bankers Trust of South Carolina.

Johnson was a key figure in integrating higher education in South Carolina in 1968, getting the state to pay for an undergraduate business program at South Carolina State, which then was attended only by blacks.

"It's about nothing more or less than doing the right thing," Johnson told Golf Digest in a 2000 interview. "It was the most satisfying public service work I've ever done."

He later invited South Carolina State president M. Maceo Nance to serve on the board at Bankers Trust, the first black man appointed to a bank board in the state.

Johnson was invited to join Augusta National in 1968, and he was close with co-founder Clifford Roberts because of their banking interests.

Before the protest over the male-only membership at Augusta National, Johnson was behind significant changes at the Masters. All but four of the holes were strengthened during his tenure, stretching the course from 6,985 yards to 7,445 yards.

The changes were criticized initially, though Johnson showed his foresight for the modern game of power. Tiger Woods set the scoring record of 270 in 1997. Jordan Spieth matched it in 2015.

Under Johnson, Augusta National was among the first golf organizations that relied on the world ranking as criteria for a major. He introduced a second cut of rough at the Masters. Television coverage was expanded to five hours on the weekend, allowing for all 18 holes to be shown.

"During his eight-year tenure, we always admired his genuine and unrelenting respect for the traditions and vision of the club and tournament established by our founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts," Payne said in a statement. "He boldly directed numerous course improvements to ensure that Augusta National would always represent the very finest test of golf."

Payne also noted that Johnson re-opened the waiting list for tickets for the first time in more than 20 years.

He called Johnson his personal mentor on matters at Augusta National, business and in life. It was that camaraderie at Augusta National to which Johnson clung during his stand against Burk's insistence on female members.

He never backed down, all the way until Burk and about 40 protesters met in the rain in a 5-acre lot down the street from the Masters in 2003. Television sponsors returned in 2005. "We will prevail because we're right," Johnson said in a November 2002 interview with the AP.

"I seldom have any regrets. I don't look back much," he said that day. "I regret that she threatened us. And I regret that she threatened our sponsors."

Payne did not mention funeral plans but said Augusta National would privately honor Johnson and celebrate his "extraordinary life" in the days ahead.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[S&P 500 Closes at Record, Topping June High]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 16:29:32 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/stockAP_16285765944687.jpg

Stocks rose to record levels on Friday as earnings season kicked off, CNBC reported.

The S&P climbed 0.6 percent to close at 2,459.27, setting intraday and closing records. The index's previous intraday record was 2,453.82, which was set June 19.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 84.65 points higher at 21,637.74, a record. The 30-stock index also notched an intraday record.

The Nasdaq composite outperformed the Dow and the S&P, rising 0.6 percent to close at 6,312.47.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Will PPA Crack Down on Ride Sharing Giants?]]>Fri, 14 Jul 2017 10:22:24 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Uber+philly.jpg

It’s a muggy Tuesday night when a Lyft driver pulls up beside Ron Blount and his cab parked in the taxi stand at 18th and Cherry streets.

“Are you Jennifer?,” the Lyft driver calls to me from inside his silver SUV.

Blount, the head of the Unified Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, says this happens all evening despite the Philadelphia Parking Authority mandate designating taxi stands as an area only for cabs.

“It is like it is a joke,” he said.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, visit the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Investors: 'Pharma Bro' Shkreli Was Shady -- and Profitable]]>Thu, 13 Jul 2017 12:59:31 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shkreli2.jpg

The jury at the securities fraud trial of "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli has heard investors accuse the quirky former biotech CEO of repeatedly giving them the runaround when they tried to pull their money out of his failing health care hedge fund.

But the government witnesses have made a concession that the defense hopes plays in its favor: In the end, they made a killing.

Whether jurors at the trial that began June 26 in federal court in Brooklyn will see Shkreli's clients as victims of a crime is central to a case that's featured odd subplots, including a self-serving rant by the defendant to reporters and email evidence by a mentor about wanting to touch his "soft skin."

Testimony was to resume Thursday with the government still in the middle of its case.

The lack of clear-cut financial harm separates the alleged fraud from others like Bernard Madoff's notorious Ponzi scheme, which wiped out the nest eggs of ordinary investors. Prosecutors have argued it doesn't matter because Shkreli still broke the law by blowing investors' funds with bad stock picks and then lying to them for months - or even years - while he cooked up a way to get out of it.

"I don't think it mattered to him - it was just what he thought he could get away with," said Richard Kocher, a New Jersey construction company owner who invested $200,000 in with Shkreli in 2012. "It was insulting."

Darren Blanton, a Dallas-based investment firm founder, testified Shkreli stalled for three years when he tried to redeem his $1.3 million investment.

Over time, "I was worried Martin might be lying to me and not credible," Blanton, who notified the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Shkreli, 34, was arrested in 2015 after he already had gained notoriety by using his drug company to raise the price of a life-saving medication by 5,000 percent and for his nonstop posturing and trolling on social media, a compulsion that spawned the "Pharma Bro" nickname.

Federal authorities focused instead on his MSMB Capital hedge fund, accusing him of lying to investors by boasting about too-good-to-be-true returns at a time when he had lost more than $7 million on a 2011 trade and let the fund dwindle to about $2 million in assets. He's also charged with starting a new drug company, Retrophin, and looting it for $11 million to pay his investors back.

An unrepentant Shkreli has denied wrongdoing, complaining to reporters last month that prosecutors "blame me for everything. They blame me for capitalism." The comments prompted the judge to order him to shut up about the case in and around the courthouse.

On cross-examination, the investor witnesses have admitted that Shkreli made settlement deals that ultimately proved profitable. Blanton got $2.6 million - $200,000 in cash and the balance from shares of Retrophin he sold, and in addition still holds shares worth $3 million; Kocher made an estimated $350,000 the same way; a third witness, Schuyler Marshall, doubled his initial $200,000 investment.

Marshall, another Dallas-based financier, testified that Shkreli reminded him of "Rain Man," but that didn't mean he was making fun of him, as the defense has suggested.

Marshall saw Shkreli as more of a potential rainmaker "who was intensely focused on one small segment of the stock market, and just lived it day and night, and that was his investing advantage," he said.

The trial got got personal this week when another investor, former American Express executive Steven Richardson, testified about growing close to Shkreli after meeting him at cocktail party, helping him launch Retrophin and becoming the company's chairman before Shkreli was fired in 2014.

The 63-year-old gay witness testified Shkreli made him uncomfortable with comments about gay sex and sought assurances that their relationship was platonic, even as he told him he loved him as a friend and bought him clothes to clean up his "disheveled" appearance.

Richardson struggled on cross-examination to explain emails he wrote saying he'd with Shkreli "only if I can touch your soft skin" and another asking, "I'm drunk, where are you?" He insisted he was referring to how a rash on Shkreli's neck had cleared up and that he couldn't remember writing the "drunk" email.

He also testified that his $400,000 stake in Retrophin is now worth $1.9 million.

"That's a good investment, fair to say?" Shkreli's lawyer asked.

He could only answer "Yes."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP]]>
<![CDATA['We Haven't Modernized': McDonald's Fights Fading Popularity]]>Thu, 13 Jul 2017 08:09:20 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17186526763578-McDonalds-Fading-Popularity-.jpg

McDonald's is hoping to make a difference in its future seven seconds at a time.

The company that helped define fast food is making supersized efforts to reverse its fading popularity and catch up to a landscape that has evolved around it. That includes expanding delivery, digital ordering kiosks in restaurants, and rolling out an app that saves precious seconds.

Much of the work is on display in an unmarked warehouse near the company's headquarters in suburban Chicago, where a blowup of a mobile phone screen shows the app launching nationally later this year. McDonald's estimates it would take 10 seconds for a customer to tell an employee their order number from the app, down from the 17-second average of ordering at the drive-thru, a difference that could help ease pileups. Elsewhere at the Innovation Center, the digital ordering kiosk shows how customers can skip lines at the register.

"Five, 10 years ago, we were the dominant player in convenience, as convenience was defined in those days," CEO Steve Easterbrook said last month. "But convenience continually gets redefined, and we haven't modernized."

The push come as McDonald's Corp.'s stock has hit all-time highs as investors cheer a turnaround plan that has included slashed costs and expansion overseas. Yet the asterisk on the headlines is the chain's declining stature in its flagship U.S. market, where it is fighting intensifying competition, fickle tastes and a persistent junk food image.

In an increasingly crowded field of places to eat, the number of McDonald's locations in the U.S. is set to shrink for the third year in a row. At established locations, the frequency of customer visits has declined for four straight years — even after the launch of a popular "All-Day Breakfast" menu.

The chain that popularized innovations like drive-thrus in the 1970s acknowledges it has been slow to adapt, and is scrambling to better fit into American lifestyles.

Lots of once-dominant restaurant chains are feeling the pressure of people having more eating options.

An estimated 613,000 places were selling either food or drink in the U.S. last year, up 17 percent from a decade earlier, according to government figures. Supermarkets and convenience stores are offering more prepared foods, and meal-kit delivery companies have been expanding.

"Better burger" places like Shake Shack and Habit Burger Grill don't come close to McDonald's roughly 14,000 U.S. locations, but they're growing. And even if Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts don't serve burgers and fries, they are among those promoting food more aggressively.

"They're still taking customers from the same market pool," said Nick Karavites, a McDonald's franchisee with 22 locations in the Chicago area and chairman of a regional leadership committee.

Richard Adams, a former McDonald's franchisee who is now a consultant to those businesses, has questioned whether the chain can return to the height of its popularity in such a fragmented marketplace. He also noted that many of the new offerings the company is pursuing, such as delivery, are already available at other places.

"They're following the marketplace," he said.

Still, McDonald's needs to make changes to keep customer visits from falling further.

One main focus is the drive-thru, where McDonald's gets roughly 70 percent of its business.

Customers who place orders on the mobile app, for instance, could also pull into a designated parking spot where an employee would bring out their order. That would theoretically ease backups at the drive-thru, which in turn might prevent potential customers from driving past without stopping during peak hours.

Then there's the partnership with UberEats to offer delivery. McDonald's gives an undisclosed percentage of the sale to UberEats, in addition to a fee of about $5 that customers pay. So a risk is that delivery could draw from in-store sales, eating into profitability.

So far, however, McDonald's says delivery is bringing in new business during slower times at the roughly 3,500 locations where it has rolled out since the start of the year.

Either way, such changes aren't likely to transform operations overnight, since most of McDonald's customers might prefer to order the way they always have.

"That's like turning a very large ship," said Karavites, noting the range of company efforts intended to build sales over time. At his remodeled restaurant in Chicago where delivery was recently launched, he said sales are already climbing.

To bring more people in over the short-term, the company is promoting $1 sodas and $2 McCafe drinks. Glass cases displaying baked goods are also popping up in stores. And at about 700 locations, the company is testing "dessert stations" behind the counter where employees can make sundaes topped with cake or brownie chunks.

Those stations could eventually handle an expanded menu of sweets.

At the same time, McDonald's is still trying to shake its image for serving junk food, especially since its appeal to families with children has long helped keep it ahead of rivals like Burger King and Wendy's.

It's made changes to its Happy Meal, and made a high-profile pledge to offer healthier options. It plans to start using fresh beef instead of frozen patties in Quarter Pounders. But as other chains emphasizing quality or health keep emerging, it may get harder for McDonald's to hold onto families or change perceptions.

"The ingredients aren't fresh or clean," Mary Beth Holland, who works in sales in the Chicago area, said about McDonald's.

Larry Light, a former chief marketing officer at McDonald's, says the company strayed in recent years by chasing customers who may have been going to places like Chipotle, but that it is refocusing on burgers and fries. He thinks that will help get people visiting more often.

"You cannot build an enduring, profitable business on a shrinking customer base," Light said.

And Bernstein analyst Sara Senatore cited the changes the company is pursuing in raising her rating on McDonald's to "buy" in April.

"I wouldn't underestimate the power of scale," Senatore said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast]]>
<![CDATA[Apple to Open Data Center in China With Government Ties ]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 20:46:48 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/apple+getty.jpg

Apple will open a data center in mainland China with ties to the country's government, raising concerns about the security of iCloud accounts that store personal information transferred from iPhones, iPads and Mac computers there.

The data center announced Wednesday will be located in the Guizhou province and run by a company owned by the Chinese government. Apple is teaming up with the company, Guizhou on the Cloud Big Data, to comply with a new Chinese law requiring data-storage providers to keep the information of mainland China customers on computers located within the country.

The Guizhou data center will store photos, video, documents and other personal information uploaded to iCloud accounts by Apple customers who live in mainland China, even when they're traveling outside the country. Backups and other data stored in iCloud accounts by customers outside China will continue to be stored in data centers in the U.S. and eventually Denmark.

Other major technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, have already made similar deals to run data centers in mainland China to remain in the good graces of the country's Communist government.

But Apple's acquiescence is striking because CEO Tim Cook has made preserving customers' privacy a company cornerstone. The Cupertino, California, company underscored that commitment last year in a high-profile battle with the U.S. government over a legal demand to crack open the iPhone of a suspected killer in a mass shooting.

Apple has a strong incentive to toe the line in China because that country already is its third-largest market behind North America and Europe, with all signs pointing to it become an even bigger profit center. China currently accounts for about 20 percent of Apple's revenue.

Even though it's working with a government-owned company, Apple sought to reassure customers in China that the arrangement won't compromise their privacy. "As our customers know, Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems," the company said in a statement.

What's more, Apple says it will hold to the security keys protecting the data that people routinely back up in iCloud accounts.

But experts believe the data center will make it easier for the government to retrieve the information through legal demands or other means.

Apple will find it more challenging to resist any order from a Chinese court to give authorities there access to an iCloud account that they want to sift through, predicted Nate Cardozo, a senior staff attorney specializing in privacy for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. Currently, the Chinese government has to funnel those demands through the U.S. court system, a more difficult process to negotiate.

Cardozo recommends that Apple customers in mainland customer turn off the iCloud feature on their iPhones and other devices to protect their information from prying eyes.

Data stored on the devices themselves should remain secure as long as they lock them with passwords that only the user knows. Even if the government seizes a device, Apple won't have the keys to unlock data. But with iCloud, Apple does have the keys. The exception is passwords and credit card data synced with iCloud Keychain.

Ajay Arora, CEO of data security specialist Vera, also warns that Apple's partnership with a company owned by the Chinese government increases the chances that authorities could secretly pry their way into iCloud accounts.

"It's like Apple is putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," Arora said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL ]]><![CDATA[Caesars Bankruptcy Plan Gets OK From NJ Casino Commission]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 22:02:42 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/edt-71372625_10.jpg

The New Jersey casino commission has given the OK to the bankruptcy plan of Caesars Entertainment's largest business unit that operates two Atlantic City casinos.

Caesars Entertainment Operating Co., which owns casinos Caesars and Bally's in the Shore town, in early 2015 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to restructure its finances.

The restructuring would significantly reduce long-term debt and annual interest payments — a move that could potentially benefit Caesars and Bally's since less debt meant more money allocated toward refreshing the casino floor and marketing efforts.

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission on Tuesday approved the plan that would lease operations of Caesar Entertainment Operating Co.'s properties to a newly-formed operating company, The Press of Atlantic City reports.

As part of the restructuring announced in 2015, the company would shake up its corporate structure by separating its gaming facilities and real property assets into two companies: An operating entity and a newly formed, publicly-traded real estate investment trust.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news visit Philadelphia Business Journal

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Security Lapse Leaks Data From Millions of Verizon Customers]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 21:29:33 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-670885606-verizon.jpg

A security researcher says a lapse has exposed data from millions of Verizon customers, leaking names, addresses and personal identification numbers, or PINs.

Verizon Wireless says 6 million customers were affected, but the company says that none of the information made it into the wrong hands. The company says the only person who got access to the data was the researcher who brought the leak to its attention.

The security firm, UpGuard, says the problem stemmed from a cloud server that a third-party vendor had misconfigured.

Gartner analyst Avivah Litan says the issue comes down to human error and it doesn't make sense to blame cloud service providers like Amazon and Google. She says such lapses are likely common, but it's hard to know since we only know what's disclosed.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Prime Day 2017 Was Amazon's Biggest Shopping Event Ever]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 10:08:26 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-prime.jpg

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are big shopping days on Amazon, but the online retailer's own shopping holiday, Prime Day, has them both beat, the company said Wednesday. 

The July 11 event that saw 3.5 million toys purchased around the world was "the biggest day ever in Amazon history," Amazon said in a news release.

Only Prime members can make purchases as part of the day, and tens of millions did so this year, according to the statement, more than half again as many as the of Prime members made a purchase on Prime Day 2017, more than 50 percent higher than the prior year — though Amazon didn't give specific numbers.

Amazon's Echo Dot was the most popular item globally, while the most popular non-Amazon products purchased in the United States were a programmable pressure cooker and the 23andMe DNA test.

Some deliveries came incredibly quickly — in Sunnyvale and Berkeley, California, and Kirkland, Washington, people who ordered snacks, writeable DVD packs and a Samsung hard drive through Prime Now received their purchases in 12 minutes, according to the company.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[Microsoft Eyes Buffer Zone in TV Airwaves for Rural Internet]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 17:37:06 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/microsoftUSA_1200x675.jpg

Microsoft wants to extend broadband services to rural America by turning to a wireless technology that uses the buffer zones separating individual television channels in the airwaves.

Microsoft plans to partner with rural telecommunications providers in 12 states stretching from Washington to Maine to get about 2 million rural Americans connected to high-speed internet over the next five years.

It's also calling for regulatory cooperation from the Federal Communications Commission and broader support from the public sector to expand rural broadband to the more than 20 million people who don't have it.

Microsoft's initiative, unveiled Tuesday , comes as policy makers struggle to extend high-speed internet services to rural areas, which cable and phone companies have often shunned as cost prohibitive. Getting more people connected in rural areas has been a priority of President Donald Trump's administration.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's president and chief legal officer, said the company won't make money on the operations, but could benefit from serving rural users with its services, many of which run ads or require paid subscriptions.

The project still faces several challenges, including the costs of setting up antennas and service base stations, as well as the devices individual homes will need. Those costs are expected to decline over time, though.

Microsoft has tried using the TV buffer zones, or white space, to provide broadband internet in several countries. But the idea is "still in its infancy," said Parmesh Ramanathan, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Ramanathan said this technology could prove cheaper than existing methods, such as laying down fiber-optic cables, but telecom companies will still need subsidies to make it economical.

"It requires a sustained effort," he said. "It's not something where you can show profit in a quarter. They have to have longer-term vision."

The initiative also faces objections from the National Association of Broadcasters, which said it was the "height of arrogance" for Microsoft to "demand free, unlicensed spectrum after refusing to bid on TV airwaves" in a recent FCC auction. The group said the buffer zones, though currently unused, are important for preventing adjacent channels from interfering with each other.

That's less of a problem in most rural areas, said Doug Brake, a telecommunications policy analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank that includes Microsoft among its donors.

"In rural areas, there aren't that many television broadcasters so there's a lot of unused spectrum," Brake said. "The real challenge is getting the number of users, the scale. Is there enough of a market for the device manufacturers to build these devices?"

To make it work, Microsoft said the FCC will have to guarantee that these buffer zones remain available nationwide — and make even more such zones available in rural areas. Other companies, including Google, have made similar requests.

Of the three TV channels that Microsoft wants the FCC to free up around the country for what it describes as "public" use, the biggest controversy has centered around one used by low-power television broadcasters that often provide niche programming to small communities. Brake said some of those stations "might get bumped off in a few markets" if those airwaves are reserved for broadband internet service.

Microsoft is already piloting its idea in a sparsely populated region of southern Virginia, where it's providing $250,000 to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. The South Boston, Virginia-based telecommunications provider will contribute another $250,000 and use a $500,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. The project is providing free internet for local students to access educational websites, and charging customers who want expanded service.

Mid-Atlantic's chief executive, Ted Deriso, said he reached out to Microsoft several years ago after seeing the Redmond, Washington, company deploy the technology in other parts of the world.

"We said, 'Wow, the problems they're trying to solve in rural parts of Africa are the same we have in rural Virginia, on the technology side,'" Deriso said.

He said the use of television white spaces is great for rural areas with lots of trees, hills and other obstacles.

"You need a type of technology that can go longer distances and has better penetration," he said. "You're trying to reach more customers without using a ton of equipment."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai visited Deriso's southern Virginia office on Tuesday to talk about the project, around the same time Smith was unveiling Microsoft's plan to industry and political leaders at a Washington hotel near the White House.

Microsoft said it will pilot its initiative in rural communities in Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Battle Over New 'Super' Wawa in Montco]]>Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:26:38 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Super_Wawa_Hearing_In_Horsham.jpg

A plan to build a "super" Wawa featuring gasoline will go before the zoning board in Horsham, Pennsylvania Wednesday. The building of the gas pumps are in a residential zone and there has been some strong public opposition.]]>
<![CDATA[Dow Falls 100 Points, Then Recovers, After Trump Jr.'s Tweet]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 16:00:04 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/dowjonesdrop_1200x675.jpg

Moments after Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the email exchange that led to his meeting with a Russian attorney the Dow fell 100 points Tuesday, CNBC reported. 

Stocks initially fell on concerns the Russia controversy that has plagued Donald Trump's presidency would worsen, but major indexes recovered later in the day. By 2:01 p.m. the Dow was posting slight gains. 

"People just got spooked by that. Selling begot more selling," said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities. "This isn't anything we didn't know."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Job Openings Slipped in May, but Hiring Increased]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 12:13:37 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/hiringgenericSFO_1200x675.jpg

U.S. employers posted fewer job openings in May. But hiring picked up and more people are quitting their jobs — both positive signs for the economy.

Job openings fell 5 percent in May to 5.7 million, the Labor Department said Tuesday. The setback occurred after advertised job postings nearly reached 6 million in April, a figure that has been revised downward from the initial report. Meanwhile, hiring climbed 8.5 per cent to just under 5.5 million.

The data is a sign the economy at 4.4 percent unemployment is nearing "full employment," when nearly all those who want a job have one and the unemployment rate mostly reflects the normal churn of people who are temporarily out of work. Typically, when unemployment falls that low, companies are forced to offer more pay, but that hasn't yet happened.

Workers have certainly become more confident in the past year that they can find jobs.

The number of people quitting their jobs has increased 7.1 percent to 3.2 million. People usually quit when they either find a new job, often at higher pay, or are confident they can soon be hired elsewhere.

May job openings fell by a meaningful amount in construction and transportation, warehousing and utilities. Advertising openings increased for retailers and educational services.

Hiring was most robust in the professional and business services sector in May, as well as educational services.

When unemployment is this low, wages generally rise. But average hourly earnings have increased just 2.5 percent over the past 12 months, staying ahead of inflation but hardly a substantial pay hike. The last time the unemployment rate was this low, wages were rising by about 4 percent.

The government said Friday that employers added 222,000 jobs in June and revised the prior two months' hiring figures upward. Friday's figures represent a net total of jobs added minus jobs lost, while Tuesday's report includes overall hiring data.

Those figures are net gains after layoffs, quits and retirements are subtracted from overall hiring.

Tuesday's data come from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, or JOLTS. They are more detailed and provide a fuller view of the job market than the monthly jobs

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How and Why Amazon Ships So Many Packages So Quickly]]>Tue, 11 Jul 2017 07:07:43 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-prime.jpg

Amazon’s Prime Day, a carefully fabricated “retail holiday” meant to take advantage of the company's vast shipping network, takes place in a time of year when the busy holiday shopping season is still a ways off.

“If you had to build a machine that could handle peak operations, and it was idle for 10 months of the year, Prime Day now lets you leverage that machine for profit,” said Marc Wulfraat, the president of supply chain consulting company MWPVL.

Indeed, an Amazon spokesperson told NBC in a statement that the day is “nothing out of the ordinary for a summer sale.”

The company has not released information about last year's sales, but analysts estimated $500 million to $600 million in total, according to CNBC.

For the past five years, Amazon has been busy creating a network of warehouses, trucks — and now, planes — that can handle the surge in orders expected on Prime Day. Wulfraat said the company has made big strides in increasing the "level of control they have over the outbound transportation operations."

"They've made tremendous gains to...get close to the customers,” Wulfraat said.

In addition to its massive distribution hubs, which are known as “fulfillment centers,” Amazon has built at least 58 warehouses specifically for Prime deliveries in dense urban areas.

One of these hubs — each of which is around 50,000 square feet — is inside a corporate tower in midtown Manhattan. Inside, employees called "pickers" weave through mazes of the company’s 10,000 top-selling products, TIME reported.

“We have high-tech algorithms that we have taken from our normal fulfillment centers, and we use them in this smaller building,” Stephenie Landry, Amazon's worldwide director of Prime Now, told TIME. "It takes the picker on the fastest path possible to grab all of the items.”

The much larger fulfillment centers are usually a few hundred miles from cities, but these smaller Prime-only facilities like the one in New York mean that Amazon can deliver products to many of its Prime customers within an hour or two.

Amazon used to rely mostly on FedEx and UPS to transport goods from its warehouses to customers’ doorsteps, but this process was sometimes unreliable and often expensive, Wulfraat said.

Shareholder data shows that between 2010 and 2014, the company spent more on shipping than what it made in shipping revenue, according to Quartz. Taken as a share of product sales, these expenses rose from about 8 percent in 2009 to 17 percent two years ago.

To cut down on shipping costs, Amazon also has been trying to take over more of the actual shipping process — with planes that can fly Prime products from one coast to another — and more warehouses that can pass on packages to postal workers, who are cheaper and more efficient than FedEx might be, Wulfraat said.

This complex system is only filled to capacity during the holidays — when Amazon gets up to 8 times more orders than during the rest of the year — so Prime Day is a chance to operate these systems at full capacity and make some profit.

“Amazon is trying to shift some of the shopping towards the average part of the year in order to leverage all of the investment they’ve made for peak operations during the holidays,” Wulfraat said.

Photo Credit: Mark Lennihan/AP Photo, File]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Prime Day Now Backed by Cargo Plane Fleet]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 21:55:30 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-amazon-airplane.jpg

For this year's Prime Day, Amazon is taking to the skies. 

A fleet of cargo jets will be used in the company's annual day of online deals for the first time in the U.S., it said in a press release Monday.

As anticipation builds for Prime Day shopping deals, background operations look to make sure every order on the company's busiest day of the year arrives on time.

By the end of last year, Amazon had leased about 40 planes from cargo partner Atlas Air and had been flying them between at least 10 airports, Fortune reported

While the company's plans to deliver packages by drone have drawn plenty of attention — and scrutiny — these Amazon planes are the first functional piece of Prime Air operations.

Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren/AP Photo, File]]>
PHILADELPHIA BUSINESS JOURNAL]]><![CDATA[Main Line Home to Philly's Wealthiest: New Analysis Shows]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 13:49:55 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Woodmont+house.jpg

There’s no debating the city of Philadelphia is on an upswing. Millennials are moving in at a faster rate than anywhere else in the nation, housing prices are rising and commercial development is thriving.

But amid overarching change, a constant remains. The wealth in the region is still deeply entrenched in its suburbs.

A comprehensive data analysis from American City Business Journals using 12 varying data points related to population, housing values, income and education levels to rank the most affluent areas in the country showed that the Main Line continues to be home to Greater Philadelphia’s wealthiest households.

It’s a finding that regional experts said speaks to the area’s strength among major U.S. markets vying for national economic vitality — as well as the dangers that come with a concentration of wealth in geographic areas.

To read the full story, click here.

For more business news, vist the Philadelphia Business Journal.

Photo Credit: Brian X. McCrone]]>
<![CDATA[More Retailers Hope to Take a Bite Out of Amazon Prime Day]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 20:04:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-696679794.jpg

Amazon's annual Prime Day kicks off Monday night, but the online superstore isn't the only retailer hoping to capture your business during a regularly sleepy month for retail.

Stores such as Toys"R"Us, Target, Sur La Table and more are jumping on the bandwagon, hoping to take a swing at Amazon by staging their own versions of this summer twist on Black Friday, which for Amazon runs from 9 p.m. July 10 to the early hours of July 12.

Unlike Amazon's sales event, these retailers are opening their deals to anyone, not just subscribers. It will pay to comparison shop; keep multiple tabs open to find the best deal.

"July is not a traditional shopping window," said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. But, he said, Amazon has "called the party and invited all sorts of people who might not otherwise be interested in shopping in July."

Amazon gave shoppers a window into most of its Prime Day deals starting Sunday, and Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us followed a similar strategy. Customers can receive 20 percent off their entire purchase online for 36-hours starting Monday at 6 p.m., said Joseph Contrino, spokesperson for Toys"R"Us, via email on Monday.

Best Buy waited until Monday to announce it will mark down prices on technology such as Apple Watches, iPads and select computers starting Tuesday, said Boua Xiong, Best Buy spokesperson, via email. Some deals will be available all week in stores and online.

"That's a strategic move on the retailer's part," said Henry Fonvielle, president of Rappaport, a retail leasing management and acquisition company focused on the D.C.-area market. "If they announce what they're doing ahead of time, Amazon will out price them before they go live. It's also creating a sense of discovery, that sense of 'ah ha, I've found this.'"

Sears is promoting a Summer Splash event, boasting deals online only on Monday and Tuesday -- the same time span as Prime Day -- all with free shipping, said Brian Hanover, spokesperson for Sears, via email. The store is also discounting clothes, mattresses, tools and bikes Monday through Saturday.

Kitchenware store Sur La Table will introduce a one-day shopping event called Lime Day, launching July 10. The tagline: Get primed for Lime Day. The day will feature more than 300 items on sale for up to 75 percent off, according to its Facebook advertisement.

Others are jumping in on the action:

  • Target is offering "season-long low prices" on back-to-school items, with specifics available in their circular, said Target spokesperson Shandra Tollefson. The deals began Sunday.
  • Newegg, an online tech retailer, will launch the Fantastech sale beginning Tuesday at 12 a.m. PDT.
  • Macy’s is promoting up to 60 percent off clearance items online. They promoted up to 70 percent off clearance items with a one-day sale last Friday and Saturday.

With Prime Day, Amazon is "going to take all the legacy retailers down the rabbit hole with them, who will have to compete in price," Cohen said.

Consumer interest might drive sales for retailers trying to compete with Prime Day, but the added volume may not translate into profit, Cohen said. Brick-and-mortar stores can offer high-quality value, service, convenience and quality to keep customers loyal, Fonvielle said.

"The reason why there's the gold rush is because the people that get the largest market share are going to ultimately going to lead the next evolution of retail sales," Fonvielle said.

Amazon, however, benefits twofold from Prime Day, Cohen said. They sell both product and subscriptions, generating loyal customers who are likely to return to Amazon to use their Prime memberships in the future -- including during the holiday season.

"Amazon is doing this and everyone is paying attention because they're not used to it," Cohen said. "This is a new toy to play with."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Companies Target Sleep With High-Tech Slumber Products]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 08:08:27 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/armus-sleep-number.jpg

Pillows that track your snoozing patterns? A bed that adjusts based on how much you twist and turn? Companies are adding more technology into their products, hoping to lure customers craving a better night's sleep.

Some specialized businesses are making gadgets that promise to measure and improve the quality of slumber, while mass-market retailers like Best Buy are offering simpler ideas like the effect different lighting can have on falling sleep. But with ever-growing options, people may find items that are getting more sophisticated — but may still not be accurate.

The interest in sleep has intensified. The number of sleep centers accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine nearly tripled from 2000 to 2015, the group says. People are more likely to brag about how much they spent for a mattress than on their clothes, says Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America.

"Sleep is the new status symbol," she says.

It's a big business. One of the more expensive products is Sleep Number's 360 Smart Bed, which runs from $3,449 to $4,999. It makes adjustments based on how restless people are while they're sleeping. The Zeeq pillow, which sells for $299 and is from bedding brand REM-Fit, monitors snoring and can gently vibrate to nudge someone into a different sleep position.

"I'm willing to spend more on sleep technology because it will hopefully help me fall asleep quicker, stay asleep longer and be more rested when I wake up," says Frank Ribitch, a self-described gadget junkie from Martinez, California, who tracks his sleep with apps connected to a Sleep Number bed and the Zeeq pillow.

Insufficient sleep is a public health concern, federal officials say, with more than one-third of American adults not getting enough on a regular basis. That can contribute to problems like obesity and diabetes. And a study published by the Rand Corp. put the financial loss to U.S. companies at up to $411 billion a year.

Finding solutions could be a lucrative enterprise. Earlier this year Apple Inc. bought Finland-based Beddit, which was making an app and sleep monitoring device that's placed under the sheet on top of the mattress. The $150 sensor begins tracking when a person lies down, and analyzes data such as the portion of time someone is in bed asleep before waking up. It also monitors heart rate, temperature, movement — and even snoring.

"Previously, it was about the sleeping pill and people didn't want to talk about sleep apnea," Lasse Leppäkorpi, co-founder and now former CEO of Beddit, said before Apple bought the company. "Snoring is embarrassing. But this has been untapped opportunity."

Apple, whose own Apple Watch tracks activity and offers sleep-tracking experiences through third-party apps, declined to talk about the future of Beddit. Leppakorpi noted before the acquisition that Beddit had been working with sleep labs like the MIT Lab, which used the devices to collect data on patients.

At the Stanford Sleep Medicine Center, neurologist and medical director Clete A. Kushida tests new therapies and medications. Over the past two years, the analysis has expanded to wearable devices. The scientists assess how well the devices match the center's own overnight sleep studies, which use measures such as heart rate and brain wave activity to determine the length and the stages of sleep.

Kushida's conclusion? "Consumer wearable devices are not there in accurately detecting the stages of sleep," he said. The problem: They focus on motion, which can be deceptive since a person could be lying in bed awake.

In fact, San Francisco-based startup Hello, the maker of a product aimed at tracking sleep via a clip attached to a person's bedsheet, recently announced it was shutting down amid reports the device didn't correctly track sleep patterns.

Still, Kushida believes the consumer products are getting better and will be able to accurately monitor and solve sleep issues in the next five to 10 years.

Separate from gadgets, some stores are highlighting sounds and smells they say can help people sleep better. Longtime insomniac favorite HSN Inc. offers a $299 Nightingale Sleep System that masks indoor and outdoor noises. Best Buy has a Philips Lighting's system that works with devices like Nest and Amazon Alexa to let people choose the colors and brightness of lights and program them to turn off at certain times or respond to the sun.

And a company called Sensorwake is launching a product in the U.S. that releases smells like fresh linen it says can help you sleep better.

If nothing worked and you've had a fitful night, you can at least be woken up more gently. The same company makes a $99 olfactory alarm clock, with scent options that include a strong espresso. But if you let it go for three minutes without shutting it off or hitting snooze, it'll start making noise — good if you have a stuffy nose.

AP Video Journalist Terry Chea in San Francisco contributed to this report.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Who Are the Best & Worst Tippers?]]>Mon, 10 Jul 2017 07:26:05 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/How_People_Tip_At_Restaurants.jpg

A new survey by creditcards.com found the best tippers are men, Republicans, northeasterners and those that pay with card. So what are the tipping policy of Vai Sikahema, Jessica Boyington, Bill Henley and the NBC10 morning team?]]>
<![CDATA[G-20 Day 1 Recap]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 19:23:35 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT+G20+RECAP+THUMB.jpg

There were fireworks Friday on the first day of the G-20 summit. The gathering of the world's 19 wealthiest nations and the European Union included widespread protests in the streets and a much-anticipated meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump. The U.S. and Russia were also able to reach an agreement on a cease-fire for southwest Syria.]]>
<![CDATA[Target Dropping 2 of Its Famous Brands, Adding 12 Others]]>Sat, 08 Jul 2017 14:40:57 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/target+store+getty.jpg

Target lovers soon will have to say goodbye to two of the chain's famous brands.

As part of a partial overhaul of its apparel, accessories and home departments, Target will phase out its well-known Merona line for women and men, as well as the men’s line of Mossimo, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The move is meant to make room for multiple new brands heading to Target in the next 18 months.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Target executives felt Merona and Mossimo have "grown too big and homogenized to garner shoppers’ affection." They will be replaced by brands with "defined personality and purpose," they said.

Mark Tritton, Target’s chief merchandising officer, told the publication he hopes two brands in particular -- A New Day clothing line for women and Goodfellow & Co menswear -- will "make an emotional connection with shoppers, something Merona never was able to do."

Other examples of the more than 12 new brands include the athleisure-inspired JoyLab and home brand Project 62.

The display of these items will be different too, The Wall Street Journal reports, with more lighting and displays of clothes on mannequins.

Target gave The Wall Street Journal a peek into what the new brands look like.

Photo Credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Loews Hotels Warns Customers of Data Breach]]>Fri, 07 Jul 2017 06:51:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Loews+Hotel+Awning+Philadelphia_24249252.jpg

Luxury hotel chain Loews Hotels is warning some customers that a data breach may have resulted in financial information being stolen.

Hackers obtained access to credit card, security code and password information through a third-party company, Sabre, which provides booking services through travel agencies, websites and other mediums, the hotel chain said. In some cases, email, phone number and street addresses were also taken.

Highly-sensitive information like Social Security numbers and passport information was not affected.

The unauthorized access was ongoing for seven months between August 2016 and March 2017. Sabre told Lowes about the breach in June.

In a statement, Sabre said less than 15 percent of the average daily bookings were viewed by the hackers.

Customers who may have had their information taken are advised to monitor their credit card statements and credit report for fraudulent activity and reach out to the credit card company if any suspicious activity is noticed.

Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[How the Gov't Spends $38 to Collect $1 of Student Loan Debt ]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 20:27:10 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/DIT+STUDENT+LOANS+THUMB.jpg

It's estimated that about 44 million Americans are living with student loan debt, adding up to more than $1 trillion owed. Around 8 million borrowers have given up on paying back more than $137 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The government will then pay debt collectors up to $1,700 to get borrowers who have defaulted on their loans back into good standing. Under this program it is estimated that the government pays around $38 for every $1 of student loan debt collected.]]>
<![CDATA[Qualcomm Seeks to Ban iPhone Imports, Sales]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:10:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/180*120/iphone6-6plus.jpg

Chipmaker Qualcomm is asking U.S. trade regulators to ban iPhone imports, according to a new lawsuit.

Apple has allegedly infringed on six of Qualcomm's patents that improve iPhone battery life, according to Qualcomm. Now San Diego-based Qualcomm wants Apple to pay damages, CNBC reported.

"Apple continues to use Qualcomm's technology while refusing to pay for it," Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm, said in a statement.

Qualcomm ultimately wants regulators to investigate which phones use cellular processors from Qualcomm's competitors, and halt sales of iPhones that violate the patents.

CNBC was seeking a response from Apple. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Renewable Energy Surges Past Nuclear for 1st Time in Decades]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 17:04:44 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/windturbinefarm_1200x675.jpg

For the first time in decades, the United States got more electricity from renewable sources than nuclear power in March and April.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Thursday that electricity production from utility-scale renewable sources exceeded nuclear generation in both March and April, the most recent months for which data is available. That's the first time renewable sources have outpaced nuclear since 1984.

The growth in renewables was fueled by scores of new wind turbines and solar farms, as well as recent increases in hydroelectric power as a result of heavy snow and rain in Western states last winter. More than 60 percent of all utility-scale electricity generating capacity that came online last year was from wind and solar.

In contrast, the pace of construction of new nuclear reactors has slowed in recent decades amid soaring costs and growing public opposition. Nearly all nuclear plants now in use began operation between 1970 and 1990, with utilities starting to retire some of their older reactors.

Still, experts predict output from the nation's nuclear plants will still outpace renewables for the full year, due to such seasonal variation as less water flowing through dams in the drier summer months. Also, nuclear plants tend to undergo maintenance during spring and fall months, when overall electricity demand is lower than in summer or winter.

Despite the growth in renewables, the U.S. still gets nearly two-thirds of its electricity from burning fossil fuels, primarily natural gas and coal. Nuclear and renewables account for roughly equal shares of the rest, each accounting for less than 20 percent of total output. 

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Loses Spot as Most Valuable Carmaker in US, for Now]]>Thu, 06 Jul 2017 15:20:40 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/elonmusk3.jpg

After three months as the nation's most valuable automaker, a bad week in an otherwise stellar year has knocked Tesla from the top perch as the nation's most valuable automaker.

Tesla's growth remains stellar, with shares soaring close to 50 percent this year, twice that at General Motors Co., which retook the spot Thursday. Ford Motor Co. has actually fallen in value this year.

But a trifecta of bad news in recent days, starting with a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, has delivered the worst week for the electric automaker's stock since early 2016.

Shares fell 4 percent in midday trading Thursday, pushing shares down more than 13 percent for the week.

On Monday, Musk sent out tweet saying that the Palo Alto, California, company anticipates production of 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December, which was below previous estimates. Tesla also said Monday that it delivered about 22,000 vehicles in the second quarter, bringing first-half deliveries to about 47,100. That's at the low end of the company's projections earlier this year of between 47,000 and 50,000 deliveries.

Then on Wednesday, the dynamics of the electric car market shifted a bit when Volvo announced that by 2019, it would be producing only electric and hybrid vehicles, the first traditional automaker to make that leap. Volvo, which is based in Sweden but owned by Chinese firm Geely, will launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Three of them will be Volvo models and two will be electrified cars from Polestar, Volvo Cars' performance car arm. It also plans to offer a range of hybrids as options, expecting to sell 1 million electrified cars by 2025.

General Motors is already selling the Chevrolet Bolt, Audi plans to introduce an electric SUV next year. Ford will have one by 2020.

On Thursday, one day after the Volvo announcement, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that while Tesla's Model S received an acceptable rating in its small overlap front test, it did not get the Top Safety Pick+ rating that the Lincoln Continental, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Toyota Avalon received. Overlap front tests gauge the safety of those inside the car when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle hits a tree or utility pole, or collides with another vehicle.

The IIHS said that the main issue with the Model S performance was that the safety belt allowed the torso of crash dummies to move too far forward, allowing the head to strike the steering wheel hard through the air bag. IIHS said Tesla modified the vehicle and they retested it, but the same thing happened again.

Tesla said Thursday that the carmaker's rating for the small overlap front crash test was the second-highest rating available and that the company received the highest rating in the rest of IIHS's crash testing categories. A Tesla spokesperson maintained that "the most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. government, which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested."

Nonetheless on Wall Street, where Tesla's shares have been unstoppable, investors are taking a breather.

Shares of Tesla Inc. slid 4 percent to $315.07 Thursday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Hobby Lobby Fined $3M for Smuggled Iraqi Artifacts]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 20:47:20 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/160*120/hobby-lobby-cuneiform-smuggling.jpg

Arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby has agreed to pay $3 million to settle a federal case over smuggled Iraqi antiquities it bought to demonstrate its "passion for the Bible."

NBC News reports that prosecutors said the 5,500 Iraqi artifacts were shipped without proper documentation, labeled only as "ceramic tiles" or "samples" from Turkey or Israel. The company didn't pay the dealer who supposedly owned the items, instead wiring $1.6 million in payment to the accounts of seven other individuals.

According to a civil complaint, an expert hired by Hobby Lobby had warned its in-house lawyer that there was a risk the items it wanted to buy had been looted and counseled them to make sure the country of origin was properly labeled on customs forms.

Hobby Lobby is perhaps best known for its Supreme Court victory in a 2014 religious freedom case over contraception. The family that owns the company is also bankrolling a $500 million Museum of the Bible slated to open in Washington in the fall. 

In a statement, Hobby Lobby President Steve Green acknowledged "regrettable mistakes" that he chalked up to inexperience.

Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York]]>
<![CDATA['I'm a Creep': Silicon Valley Investor Resigns After Misconduct]]>Tue, 04 Jul 2017 00:28:31 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/0703-2017-DaveMcClure.jpg

The co-founder of Silicon Valley's 500 Startups is stepping down from the company after admitting he made inappropriate advances toward women in the workplace.

Dave McClure announced his resignation and an apology for his actions in a blog post titled "I'm a Creep. I'm Sorry." He is the latest in a number of Silicon Valley venture capitalists and CEOs, like Uber's Travis Kalanick, to lose their job because of their treatment of women.

"Personally, I think we're on the verge of a big shakeup in Silicon Valley," said Kym McNicholas, director of Extreme Tech Challenge. "Those investors who have been misbehaving -- and there are a lot of them according to female entrepreneurs that I know -- they're going to be called out as women get more and more support from the industry and they know they don't have to be afraid anymore."

Fran Maier, co-founder of Match.com, said she was told once to hire someone because she had good legs.

"There's such an emphasis on pattern-matching and bro culture," Maier said. "And if you don't fit that perceived entrepreneurial look of a 20-something guy in a hoodie, your chances when you walk in the door are down."

Maier and McClure said an apologetic memo is good, but it is just a first step to solving the problem.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Tesla Says Its Model 3 Car Will Go Into Production Friday]]>Wed, 05 Jul 2017 11:35:03 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/tesla-model-3.jpg

The first Tesla Model 3 electric car for the masses should come off the assembly line on Friday with the first deliveries in late July, the company's CEO says.

CEO Elon Musk, in several Twitter messages early Monday, says the new car passed all government regulatory requirements for production to begin two weeks ahead of schedule. The company plans to hold a party to hand over the first 30 Model 3s to customers on July 28, Musk wrote in a tweet.

The Model 3 is to start around $35,000 and with a $7,500 federal electric car tax credit, could cost $27,500. Tesla says the five-seat car will be able to go 215 miles (346 kilometers) on a single charge and will be sporty, accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour in under six seconds.

Musk tweeted that the company expects to produce 100 cars in August and more than 1,500 in September. "Looks like we can reach 20,000 Model 3 cars per month in December," he wrote.

That figure is less than previous estimates. Musk earlier had said Tesla would make 10,000 Model 3s per week by December.

Musk's tweets appear to erase doubts that Tesla would be able to meet deadlines for mass producing the cars, which is key to the company making money. Previously it has faced delays in getting vehicles to market. The Palo Alto, California-based company aims to make 10,000 Model 3s per week in 2018.

Tesla hasn't said how many people have put down $1,000 refundable deposits for the Model 3, but Musk has said people who put down a deposit now won't get a car until the end of 2018, suggesting it could be close to 500,000.

Tesla's last new vehicle, the Model X SUV, was delayed nearly 18 months. Musk says the Model 3 is much simpler to make, but 14-year-old Tesla has no experience producing and selling vehicles in high volumes. Tesla made just 84,000 cars last year. Bigger rivals like General Motors, Volkswagen and Toyota routinely sell around 10 million vehicles per year.

Even if the Model 3 is on time, servicing all those vehicles will still be a challenge. Model S and Model X owners are already worried about having to share Tesla's company-owned charging stations with an influx of new cars. And while Tesla is promising to increase its network of stores and service centers by 30 percent this year, it began 2017 with just 250 service centers worldwide. That leaves many potential owners miles from a service center.

Musk has said a new fleet of mobile service trucks will be deployed to help customers who are far from service centers. Tesla also plans to double its global high-speed charging points to 10,000 by the end of this year and increase them by another 50 percent-100 percent in 2018.

Until recently, Tesla owned the market for fully-electric vehicles that can go 200 miles (324 kilometers) or more on a charge. But that's changing. GM beat Tesla to the mass market with the Chevrolet Bolt, a $36,000 car that goes 238 miles (about 200 kilometers) per charge. Audi plans to introduce an electric SUV with 300 miles (486 kilometers) of range next year; Ford will have one by 2020. Volkswagen plans more than 30 electric vehicle models by 2025.

Automotive competitors like Mercedes and Volvo — not to mention tech companies like Google and Uber — can also match Tesla's efforts to develop self-driving vehicles. And they have deeper pockets. Tesla has had only two profitable quarters in its seven years as a public company.

(CORRECTION, July 3, 2017, 12:23 pm. EST): This story has been corrected to show that production of the Model 3 is to start Friday and that sales will begin July 28. The Model 3's range on a single electric charge was corrected to 215 miles.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Oreo Makes, Mails Wild Cookie Flavors for Fans]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 13:50:52 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/oreo+getty.jpg

What's your dream Oreo flavor? Ask, and you may receive.

Oreo is surprising some fans who submit their ideas for cookie flavors with actual boxes of their creations.

The crowdsourced #MyOreoCreation hashtag started gaining enough traction in recent months that Oreo decided to market it as a real contest, according to Grub Street. 

Fans have been surprised in the mail with the cookies of their dreams -- including flavors like Coffee, Glazed Donut, Bacon and Avocado. 

There's also been "Unicorn," "Mermaid" and "Millenial Pink" flavors, as well as "Nuts n' Honey" and "Raspberry Danish." 

Oreo says it'll continue to surprise fans until July 14. Anyone can submit one Oreo idea per day and, it says, "we just might make it."

Three lucky winners will even get their cookie creation mass-produced for the market for a limited time. 

No telling if some of these wild Oreo fantasies may just come to life for a lucky few in the next two weeks: 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Warren Buffett Buys 700 Million Shares in Bank of America]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 14:41:58 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/warrenbuffetbankofamerica_1200x675.jpg

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said Friday it will amass a 700-million-share stake in Bank of America, making Buffett the largest shareholder in two of the nation's largest banks.

Berkshire said that it will convert warrants it purchased in Bank of America back in 2011, when the bank was struggling following the financial crisis, into common shares in the bank. The stake in the bank will make Berkshire the largest shareholder in Bank of America, exceeding mutual fund giant Vanguard.

Buffett said in his annual shareholder letter that he would convert his warrants in Bank of America to common stock if the bank were ever to raise its annual dividend above 44 cents a share, which the bank did this week. This week, the bank announced it would raise its annual dividend to 48 cents a share starting in the third quarter.

After the bank raises the dividend, Buffett will convert his warrants at a price of $7.14 a share, which is significantly below the stock's current price of about $24 a share. If Buffett were to sell his acquired stake in the bank, Berkshire would walk away with a profit of $12 billion.

Buffett is also the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo, a stake that has drawn some controversy following Wells Fargo's sales practices scandal.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nike to Start Selling Sneakers Through Online Giant Amazon ]]>Fri, 30 Jun 2017 11:15:08 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/nikeshopper_1200x675.jpg

Nike said it will sell some of its sneakers through e-commerce giant Amazon, part of a plan to make its swoosh-branded products available in more places online.

Shoppers can already find Nike goods on Amazon, but they are sold by third-party sellers. Nike said the new partnership with Amazon will help it better control its brand's presentation on the site. Only a small selection of shoes, clothing and accessories will be available at first. But Nike may sell more products on the platform if the test is successful.

"We're in the early stages, but we really look forward to evaluating the results," said Nike CEO Mark Parker, in a conference call late Thursday.

Earlier this month, Nike said it would slash 1,400 jobs in a restructuring aimed at selling more shoes directly online. It already has deals with Amazon's rivals in China and Europe, and Nike is making its sneaker-selling apps available in more parts of the world. In addition to the Amazon deal, Nike also partnered with Instagram to make it easier for users to buy sneakers through the photo-sharing app.

Selling directly through Amazon could give Nike greater access to millennials, analysts from Nomura said on Friday. Those analysts also said Nike may be able to better control prices on Amazon and help reduce the number of counterfeits being sold.

Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Nike also reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue for the previous quarter on Thursday, and the Beaverton, Oregon-based company said it expects revenue to rise in the current year.

Shares of Nike Inc. jumped $4.43, or 8 percent, to $57.60 in morning trading Friday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Investor: 'Pharma Bro' Reported Too-Good-To-Be-True Returns]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 16:21:32 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/shkreli2.jpg

An investor who put $300,000 into one of "Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli's health care industry hedge fund testified Thursday that he reported eye-popping returns before abruptly shutting down the fund and ducking her demands to get her money back.

Prosecutors say the account shows Sarah Hassan was a victim of a scam orchestrated by the impish former pharmaceutical CEO and social media provocateur, even though Hassan ultimately recouped the money in a settlement that included a stock windfall.

"To hear over a year later that the cash was gone, it was upsetting," Sarah Hassan testified as the first witness at Shkreli's securities fraud trial in federal court in Brooklyn. "I saw that as being my cash. It was just not right."

Shkreli, 34, became a pariah in 2015 after a drug company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, spent $55 million for the U.S. rights to sell a life-saving medicine called Daraprim and promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

The spotlight intensified later that year with his arrest on charges — unrelated to Daraprim — focusing on a pair of failed hedge funds he started by luring in wealthy investors with lies about the worth of his portfolio. After he lost investors' money through bad trades, he secretly looted Retrophin, another biotech company where he was CEO, for $10 million to pay back his disgruntled clients, prosecutors said.

Hassan, daughter of former Bausch & Lomb chairman Fred Hassan, told jurors she agreed to have dinner with Skhreli after a friend of her father's told her he was "a rising star in the hedge fund world," she said, adding that Shkreli claimed to manage $40 million. She said she was "thrilled" when he reported in September 2012 email she made nearly a $135,000 profit.

Despite never receiving formal account statements, "I trusted him and I trusted the numbers," she said.

In another email to all investors, Shkreli announced he was using all the assets in the fund to launch Retrophin. When she tried to get her investment back, he stalled for months before she finally agreed to a settlement for $400,000 cash and stock shares she sold for $900,000 once the company went public, she said.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Benjamin Brafman pressed on how his client had harmed her, aside from being a pain to deal with.

"I know it was frustrating — trust me, I've dealt with him — but at the end of the day, you had a successful agreement in which you more than tripled your money, correct?" he said.

She agreed. But she also said that until the settlement, she had to live with the fear that she lost her money.

Along with the price-gouging scandal, Shkreli has become notorious for bragging about himself and trolling critics on social media. A posting on his Facebook page on Thursday assailed news accounts of jury selection that highlighted how prospective jurors got dismissed for making nasty comments about him. He wrote: "Lying media corporate drones love to lie for their shareholders."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Seth Wenig/AP]]>
<![CDATA[What Amazon Wants From Whole Foods: Data on Shopping Habits]]>Thu, 29 Jun 2017 15:38:22 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/amazon-whole-foods.jpg

Why is Amazon spending nearly $14 billion for Whole Foods ? One reason: People who buy yoga mats and fitness trackers on Amazon might also like grapes, nuts and other healthy items at the organic grocery chain.

In short, the deal stands to net Amazon a wealth of data-driven insights into how shoppers behave offline — insights that are potentially very lucrative.

To be sure, there are plenty of other benefits to the combination. Amazon will derive steady revenue from more than 460 Whole Foods stores; it can also introduce robots and other automation technologies to cut costs and improve the bottom line. But ultimately, Amazon wants to sell even more goods and services to both online and offline shoppers — including stuff they might not even realize they need.

Amazon has been quiet on its specific plans so far, but analysts are enthusiastic about the possibilities. "This will be a fun time for Amazon," said Ryne Misso of the Market Track retail research firm in Chicago. "They are introducing a whole new set of shopper profiles that span grocery stores and durables."

Amazon is a pro at using data on past shopping and browsing to prod you to buy more. The home page, for instance, offers quick access to recently viewed items and suggests products "inspired by your shopping trends." Amazon sends emails about price cuts on items you've searched for but haven't bought — yet.

Brian Handly, CEO of the mobile analytics firm Reveal Mobile in Raleigh, North Carolina, said that while Amazon doesn't necessarily have better artificial-intelligence capabilities than its rivals, it has scale in the number of shoppers and variety of businesses it has.

Whole Foods can help by giving Amazon a better understanding of what people do at physical retail stores, where 90 percent of worldwide retail spending still happens, according to eMarketer.

Amazon could learn whether a particular customer tends to come once a month to stock up, or make smaller and shorter visits more frequently. Wi-Fi hotspots in stores might collect unique signals emanating from smartphones to figure out which aisles customers spend the most time in. Same with sensors on product shelves, something Amazon is currently testing at a convenience store in Seattle.

"They will break that data down to build stories about their consumers," Misso said.

All this might feel creepy, but it's something Amazon already does and does well online. Larry Ponemon, who runs the Ponemon Institute privacy think tank, said he personally would find tracking of his self-described unhealthy eating habits "very creepy." But he doesn't expect any consumer backlash because Amazon and Whole Foods have both earned a high level of trust and loyalty.

To make stores more profitable, Amazon could push customers to order lower-profit bulk items such as detergent and toilet paper over the internet. That would free up store space for higher-profit items, such as perishables and ready-to-heat prepared meals.

Amazon's challenge will be to "separate the profitable businesses that can be better done online and the profitable businesses that can be better done at retail," said Larry Light, CEO of the brand consulting firm Arcature in Delray Beach, Florida.

Amazon might find that some items sell better at some locations than others. It can stock just the most popular items at each location; other items are just a click away for home delivery. It's an approach Amazon is already taking at its eight physical bookstores.

Handly said that even if Amazon can't get rid of every lower-profit item on shelves, it can use data to figure out ways to drive more customers to those aisles.

Amazon will be able to use grocery data to drive other purchases as well. Say you buy a lot of ingredients typically found in Asian recipes. Amazon might then suggest a Thai or Japanese cookbook. It might also recommend a new rice cooker.

It works the other way, too. If you just watched a Mexican food show on Amazon video, Amazon might point you to deals on avocados and perhaps offer subscriptions for regular deliveries of tortillas and canned beans. Or it might automate a grocery shopping list based on a chosen recipe on your Kindle e-reader.

Just bought some camping equipment? Amazon might offer granola bars and other ready-to-eat meals for your hikes. Likewise, someone who just bought a fitness tracker might be in the market for more produce.

Walmart remains the leading retailer overall and has its own huge stake in groceries; its retail revenue is more than three times that of Amazon, even with Whole Foods included. Yet it's on the defensive. To beef up its online operations, Walmart has gone on a spending spree for e-commerce companies such as Jet, Bonobos, ModCloth and Moosejaw. Analysts say these companies should help Walmart get into the data game as well.

"The real challenge of Walmart is they recognize that technology can be bought and technical expertise can be bought," Light said.

But playing catch-up is "harder than just building it into your company as a core part of the company's DNA," said Brent Franson, CEO of Euclid Analytics, a San Francisco company looking to bring data analysis to physical stores. "Amazon has the benefit from Day One of architecting a business that is data-driven, out of the gate."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Group Sues Uber Over Lack of Wheelchair Access]]>Wed, 28 Jun 2017 22:26:54 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/ubergeneric_2016_1200x675.jpg

A Washington, D.C.-based civil rights group has filed a lawsuit against Uber under the American with Disabilities Act —which prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities— alleging that the ride-hailing company has chosen to not to include wheelchair-accessible vehicles in its services.

The Equal Rights Center's executive director Melvina Ford says that Uber "has a legal obligation to ensure that individuals with disabilities can access its transportation services without excessive costs and wait times."

While Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment, its website says that it is piloting models in some cities "to determine which wheelchair accessible vehicle options best meet the needs of our riders" and drivers. Some of those pilot programs direct riders to commercial providers.

A group in Chicago in 2016 also filed a federal lawsuit against Uber for what it said was a failure to provide access to those in wheelchairs in violation of federal law.

Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Pharmaceutical CEO Accused at Trial of Cheating Investors]]>Wed, 28 Jun 2017 20:33:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/AP_17177457806485.jpg

"Pharma Bro" Martin Shkreli is either a con man who scammed hedge fund investors of millions or a nerdy genius who made them even richer.

The conflicting portraits were offered Wednesday at opening statements of Shkreli's securities fraud trial, a case colored by the ex-pharmaceutical CEO's antics on social media that, despite the urging of his lawyers to lay low, have never subsided.

"Is he strange? Yes," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told the jurors in federal court in Brooklyn. "Will you find him weird? Yes. But Martin Shkreli, despite all his flaws and dysfunctional personality, is brilliant beyond words."

In his opening, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karthik Srinivasan accused Shkreli of building a bogus hedge fund empire by telling "lies on top of lies on top of lies." Though he portrayed himself as a Wall Street wizard, "In reality, he was just a con man," the prosecutor said.

The defendant, who often slumped in his chair and looked bored during jury selection, listened intently and took notes during the government's opening. As his lawyer spoke, he beamed at times.

Shkreli, 34, became a pariah in 2015 after a drug company he founded, Turing Pharmaceuticals, spent $55 million for the U.S. rights to sell a life-saving medicine called Daraprim and promptly raised the price from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

The spotlight intensified later that year with his arrest on charges — unrelated to Daraprim — focusing on a pair of failed hedge funds he founded. After he lost investors' money through bad trades, he secretly looted Retrophin, another pharmaceutical company where he was CEO, for $10 million to pay back his disgruntled clients, Srinivasan said.

"Rather than owning up to his lies and admitting his investments were a failure, the defendant doubled down by engaging in an even bigger fraud," he said.

The alleged victims in the case were high-rolling investors who were drawn to Shkreli's quirky personality and ended up getting their money back — and more — because Retrophin eventually became a successful startup worth $1 billion, Brafman said.

Board members of his companies who made fun of Shkreli behind his back, — questioning his sexuality, wondering if he was autistic and calling him "Rain Man" after the movie character — misunderstood his talents, said the lawyer, who himself referred to his client as a "nerd," ''odd duck" and a "mad scientist."

He added: "As Lady GaGa said, 'He was 'Born This Way.'"

Jury selection, which started Monday, dragged out until late Wednesday afternoon as the judge sought to find jurors who could ignore the negative press over the price-gouging scandal. Also hard to ignore was Skhreli's footprint on social media where, sometimes dubbed "Pharma Bro," he boasted about buying a one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang Clan album for $2 million and got kicked off of Twitter for trolling a female freelance journalist in creepy ways.

Questioned by the judge during sidebars, prospective jurors described Shkreli as "the face of corporate greed" and "a snake."

"In this particular case," another dismissed juror said Wednesday, "the only thing I'd be impartial about is what prison he goes to."

Shkreli is free on $5 million bond. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig]]>
<![CDATA[Office Supplies Chain Staples Sold for $6.9 Billion]]>Wed, 28 Jun 2017 18:43:25 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/55827006.jpg

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners is buying office supplies chain Staples for $6.9 billion.

The companies said Wednesday that shareholders of Framingham, Massachusetts-based Staples will get $10.25 per share.

Staples' stock closed Wednesday up 77 cents, or 8.4 percent, to $9.93, fueled by a late-afternoon report of a deal. The stock rose another 1.5 percent in extended trading after the deal was announced.

Changing shopping patterns, like the shift to online buying, have hurt office-supplies megastores like Staples. Amazon has become a prime competitor to Staples for corporate customers.

The deal with New York-based Sycamore Partners will allow Staples to adjust to the challenges as a private company.

Staples' sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years to $18.2 billion.

Staples Inc. is the largest "big box" office-supply chain, but it cut the number of stores it runs to roughly 1,600 from nearly 2,300 in 2012, according to FactSet.

Last year, Staples shredded a proposed $6.3 billion merger with rival Office Depot after encountering stern resistance from antitrust regulators that culminated in a federal judge blocking the deal.

Staples confirmed in April that it was exploring a possible sale. Sycamore Partners' Managing Director Stefan Kaluzny said the deal will help Staples pursue its long-term strategy.

"With an iconic brand, a winning strategy, and dedicated and passionate associates who are deeply focused on the customer, Staples is truly an outstanding enterprise," Kaluzny said.

The companies said they expect this deal to close by the end of the year.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 10 Philadelphia

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[High Demand for New Jersey Wines]]>Tue, 05 Sep 2017 14:30:39 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/winechoctaw.jpg

Grape growers can't keep up with the demand for wine from the Garden State, lobbyists say.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Amazon Hiring Thousands in 1 Day]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 13:19:56 -0400http://media.nbcphiladelphia.com/images/213*120/Hiring_Day_at_Amazon.jpg

Amazon is looking to fill 50,000 jobs across the country and 1,800 in their Robbinsville fulfillment center in New Jersey. They were looking to hire candidates on the spot. Those who could not get to the job fair can send in their resume online. NBC10's Cydney Long has the story.]]>