Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Local breaking business news prepared by Business Examiner staff.

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Storm causes closures, but Tacoma, Olympia city offices remain open
AWB manufacturing report highlights industry concerns
Construction materials prices fall during December
Producer Price Index falls during December, up for 2011
Weyerhaeuser announces tax treatment of 2011 dividends
WGU a top military-friendly school ñ again
AWOB seeks top women business leaders
Blog watch: Attainment, opening, dragon and fix
Storm causes closures, but Tacoma, Olympia city offices remain open
City of Tacoma offices will remain open today, but will have reduced staffing. All non-essential staff who feel that they cannot make it to work safely are allowed to use leave time and stay home today.

For more information about any additional closures throughout the day, follow the City of Tacoma on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cityoftacoma or search for CityofTacoma on Facebook.

City Hall in Olympia also will be open with limited staffing depending on who is able to make it to work.

However, because of the significant and widespread snow, Pierce County Library System is closed today.

Patrons may access the library’s online library at www.piercecountylibrary.org and download audiobooks and e-books, as well as songs, for free with Pierce County Library cards.

And according to Judge Scott Ahlf, Olympia Municipal Court will be closed today because of inclement weather.

Port of Tacoma is operating with reduced staff, but port-operated Terminal 7 is closed today because of snowfall.

Rail service is operating as normal at the North Intermodal Yard and Union Pacific’s domestic service in the South Intermodal Yard. Port maintenance crews are plowing rail yards and terminals, and spreading sand and de-icer as necessary.

AWB manufacturing report highlights industry concerns

A report issued by the Association of Washington Business and its nonprofit AWB Institute underscores the value of the manufacturing industry to the state’s economy while highlighting several key competitiveness concerns.

“Challenges & Opportunities for Manufacturers in Washington State,” features the findings from a three-month, six-city tour conducted by the business group, talking with manufacturers about key issues affecting employment and the general business climate.

The report’s key findings include:

ï Power rates must remain competitive to attract new manufacturers and retain existing companies.

ï Changes are needed to Initiative 937 in order for manufacturers to remain competitive with other states.

ï There is a lack of a skilled work force to meet demand.

ï Tax incentives play a vital role in the growth of the manufacturing industry and must be protected.

ï There are serious regulatory issues with several state and federal regulatory agencies that must be addressed.

“Washington state manufacturers play an integral role in our economic recovery and our state’s overall economic well-being,” said AWB President Don Brunell. “The goal of these sessions was to discuss the positive aspects of running a manufacturing business in the state of Washington and what could be done to ensure the industry’s continued growth and presence in the state.”

Construction materials prices fall during December
In a reflection of slumping, worldwide demand for construction, materials prices fell 0.2 percent during December, according the U.S. Department of Labor. Construction materials prices were down 0.9 percent during the fourth quarter but were 5.3 percent higher than a year earlier.

Steel mill prices fell 0.6 percent during December and were down 1.3 percent for the quarter. However, steel mill prices were still up 11.3 percent year over year. Softwood lumber prices decreased 0.4 percent for the month and were 2 percent higher for the quarter, but were down 0.4 percent for the year. Prices for nonferrous wire and cable slipped 0.1 percent for the month, were down 2.4 percent in the fourth quarter and were down 1.5 percent for the year.

In contrast, iron and steel prices jumped 1.3 percent during December representing the first monthly increase since July. Iron and steel prices were down 1.2 percent for the quarter, but were still up 10.4 percent from the same time a year ago. Prices for prepared asphalt, tar roofing, and siding increased 1 percent for the month, were down 2.1 percent for the quarter and were up 2.6 percent year over year. Fabricated structural metal product prices increased 0.4 percent for the month, were up 1.2 percent for the quarter and were up 5.5 percent from December 2010.

Prices for plumbing fixtures and fittings inched up 0.3 percent during December, were up 0.6 percent for the quarter and increased 2.6 percent year over year. Concrete product prices were up 0.3 percent for the month, up 1.3 percent for the quarter and up 0.9 percent from one year ago.

Crude energy prices slipped 0.1 percent during December. However, prices were up 8 percent in the fourth quarter and finished the year 3.2 percent higher than year-end 2010.

Overall, the nation’s wholesale goods prices decreased 0.1 percent for the month and were down 0.2 percent for the quarter, but are 4.8 percent higher than one year ago.

Producer Price Index falls during December, up for 2011
The Producer Price Index for finished goods declined at a seasonally adjusted 0.1 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Prices for finished goods moved up 0.3 percent during November and fell 0.3 percent in October.

At the earlier stages of processing, the index for intermediate goods decreased 0.5 percent during December and crude goods prices moved down 1.1 percent.

On an unadjusted basis, the index for finished goods increased 4.8 percent during 2011 ñ after rising 3.8 percent in 2010.

Weyerhaeuser announces tax treatment of 2011 dividends
For shareholders of Weyerhaeuser Co., the total dividend distributions made in 2011 per share of Common Stock Cusip 96216610 traded under the symbol WY are to be classified for income tax purposes as capital gain distribution.

The dividends, totaling 60 cents per share, were paid quarterly.

The company said shareholders should consult their tax advisers to determine the specific effect the distributions may have.

Federal Way-based Weyerhaeuser is one of the world’s largest forest products companies, managing 22 million acres of timberland worldwide.

WGU a top military-friendly school ñ again
For the fifth consecutive year, nonprofit, online Western Governors University has been named to Military Advanced Education’s 2012 Guide to Top Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities.

WGU Washington is a state-endorsed university established by the legislature last year. WGU Washington is one of three state partnerships with Western Governors University and shares the same educational model.

WGU offers online accredited degree programs, including business, information technology, teacher education and health professions.

AWOB seeks top women business leaders
Women owned businesses are playing an ever larger role in our community. The Alliance of Women Owned Businesses wants to recognize the tremendous difference these leaders can make.

The organization is accepting nomination applications for its 2012 Crystal Star awards. The alliance intends to recognize Kitsap, Pierce and Mason county women business owners who inspire, open doors, and make a difference today and tomorrow.

AWOB will award a Rising Star Award to a woman entrepreneur, who has owned her business for less than five years, but is already showing the passion and leadership to make a difference in her community.

The Crystal Star Award will acknowledge the outstanding role a woman has played over the years in enhancing the status of all women business owners through her creative vision, determination, perseverance, leadership and zeal in her business and community.

Completed applications must be postmarked no later than March 23.† Awards will be presented at a gala dinner in May. Application packets are available online.

For more information, contact Julie Tappero at (253) 853-3633, Shirley Hansen at (253) 265-3150 or Janet Vitcovich at (253) 307-5928.

Blog watch: Attainment, opening, dragon and fix
The Live Wire looks at “attainment plan.”

BIA Blog looks at the Children’s Museum grand opening.

Stop by Exit 133 for “Monkeyshines 2012 ñThe Year of the Dragon.”

And Olympia Business Watch has the latest on lawmakers’ energy fix proposal.

Editor’s note: This BE Daily feature is meant to bring you the latest news and conversation summaries from the Blogosphere. We’ll scan South Sound blogs each Wednesday and provide roundups of the business topics people are blogging about.

If you have a news item or story idea that you would like to see in the BE Daily, please send an e-mail along with your contact information to daily@BusinessExaminer.com.

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