Ups and downs

(Ups) to the recent influx of telecom companies in Northeast Ohio. Not only do they drive innovation in Internet services and high-speed data connections, they’re also snatching up once-vacant downtown office space. Don’t be surprised when “telecom hotels” start popping up. Consider the irony — the growth of virtual companies may help fill brick-and-mortar locations.

(Ups) to payday loan companies. The businesses are making out like bandits. In principle, the idea sounds good to consumers — get an advance on your regular paycheck and pay a small fee for the service. But the companies charge what amounts to annual rates in excess of 200 to 300 percent and often keep consumers who use the service in perpetual debt. Is that customer loyalty? And wouldn’t you like that ROI in your industry? But we can’t help but wonder, what was it Shakespeare said about Shylock in “Merchant of Venice?”

(Downs) to Home Builders and Developers LLC. The Richmond Heights-based builder faces serious scrutiny from city officials in Richmond Heights and Pepper Pike after leaving a wake of unfinished homes and building code violations behind. One city is even considering pulling the company’s license to build homes. HBD’s response? It’s all about money. Of course it is.

(Ups) to Toy Craze Inc. The Beachwood-based toy maker hit the big time with its Crazy Bones toy line after owners inked a deal with McDonald’s Corp. to put Crazy Bones toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals. Now that it will get national recognition, when’s the IPO?

(Downs) to Beachwood Place. TRW’s sale of land and just the possibility of a mall must have the owners of the newly renovated upscale shopping mecca quivering in their finely tailored outfits. With rumors already flying about retailers such as Cheesecake Factory and FAO Schwarz as possible new tenants in a lot literally a stone’s throw away, could Beachwood Place soon look like the ugly stepsister?

(Ups) to OfficeMax. Its decision to partner with Gateway to operate store-within-a-store computer departments in 1,000 OfficeMax’s nationwide instantly stops the bleeding the Shaker Heights-based office superstore experienced with computer sales. The partnership raises one question: Can we expect to see cows roaming around the grounds near OfficeMax’s Warrensville Center Road location?