Ups and downs

Ups to the J.M. Smucker Co. The Orville-based company recognizes that kids’ food is big business and is expanding its successful PB&J line, Smucker’s Uncrustables, by investing $51 million in a new Kentucky manufacturing facility. The plant, expected to open in Spring 2004, complements an existing Smucker’s Kentucky peanut butter plant. It creates 150 new jobs and will be used to produce the company’s thaw-and-serve peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Downs to The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. On Christmas Eve, Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services lowered its rating of Goodyear’s debt from BB+ to BB-. The two-notch drop will affect the rubber company’s ability to borrow money under its current financing arrangements, many of which require a minimum S&P credit rating. But, while officials say the move creates further challenges for the company’s plan to revitalize its sagging business, it won’t keep it from accessing its current financing arrangements.

Ups to the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s idea to develop a local shopping card, the Hudson City Card, is an innovative way to tie together a region’s business community and encourage people to spend their dollars locally. At year’s end, the card was good for shopping or dining at approximately 35 Hudson-based locations. Business groups in larger cities, such as Akron, Canton or Cleveland, should consider Hudson’s idea as a way to spark a greater sense of community and increase local spending.