Newsclips Featured

9:37am EDT July 22, 2002
Travel options

Cleveland-based Flight Options is letting executives -- or their assistants, anyway -- schedule business trips with a new application delivered via the company's "owners only" Web site. The fractional jet ownership service is in the industry that has developed a way to allow customers to schedule their business flights via the Web. Other features of the site include a function that allows traveling executives to experiment with different travel scenarios to better estimate flight routes, time and distance, as well as choose what they would like to eat during their flight and what kind of car they'd like to drive once they land.

Billion dollar difference

Ohio businesses will pay only a quarter of their Workers' Compensation premiums next year, thanks to a $1.2 billion reduction in premiums as the result of better-than-expected returns on investments, efficient management and the organization's efforts in helping injured workers return to their jobs.

"A lot of states are seeing the cost of workers' compensation rise, but not in Ohio," trumpeted Gov. Bob Taft as the Oversight Commission approved the billion dollar premium cut earlier this summer. "Our low costs are great for Ohio businesses and workers and a major tool for attracting new business to our state."

The reductions will appear as 75 percent credits on employers' 2001 bills. Anyone who hasn't received a letter from the BWC explaining the changes can view a copy at www.ohiobwc.com.

Got stock options?

If you're one of the 10 million people in the United States with employee stock options, there is a new Web company devoted to the complex personal finance questions and challenges that may come your way.

"This site is an absolute knockout," gushes Charles Christian, Johnson & Johnson's Director of Planning & Development, Worldwide Compensation Resources. "MyStockOptions.com contains all the information you could ever think you'd want to know about stock options -- and more." MyStockOptions.com, essentially a Web community with the mission of helping you get the most out of your stock compensation, recently completed its private beta test with 40 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Staples and eToys, and is now available to the general public.

Wanted: Ohio grapes

Looking for a side business venture to sink you teeth into? The Ohio State University seems to think investing time and cash into becoming a wine grape grower may not be such a bad idea. Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, claims Ohio could use 800 to 1,000 new acres of wine grapes to keep up with the state's wine industry. The problem is, the 68 wineries in the state don't have enough home-grown grapes to turn out a 100 percent Ohio product.

"The ideal circumstance for Ohio wineries is to provide an Ohio product from start to finish," explains Winchell. "Wines produced from grapes grown in Ohio can be labeled with the state name, which provides name recognition and improves marketing potential."

The only down side to this grape drive is the price tag tied to breaking into the business. A 10-acre vineyard is considered a full-time job for one person and start-up costs run anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 an acre.

A big deal

Solon-based Complient Corp. recently closed one of the largest venture financing agreements ever generated for an Ohio Internet company. In its latest round of financing, Complient received $44 million with the investment lead by Goldman Sachs and Chase Capital Partners. Complient is working to expand its position as a dominant business-to-business provider of Internet software applications and turnkey learning solutions for effective management of organization compliance activities ranging from OSHA regulations to Internet privacy.

Coming attractions

Cleveland's Media Design Imaging is preparing its first feature film, "Twisted," for the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. MDI, which grabbed the attention of the corporate side of Cleveland with its digital business card, has turned much of its attention to building a buzz for the film the company made for the paltry sum of $3,000. Those interested in a preview can check out a film clip at www.mdifilm.com.

Sign of the times

Not long ago, HR executives spent the bulk of their time filling out employee 401(k) forms, handling benefits packages and getting the scoop from their bosses after crucial company decisions were made. That's all changing.

Today, HR execs hold executive committee chairs and seats on boards of directors, and you can find their names among the top paid executives at major companies worldwide. What's driving the changes?

"The number one threat to the ongoing success of American companies remains the ability to attract and retain qualified people," explains Allen Salikof, president and CEO of Management Recruiters International Inc. "As a result, human resource executives are redefining their role within the organization. They are in senior positions making strategic business decisions that affect their company's future."

Food for thought

In case you ever wondered just how much the restaurant industry contributes to the economy as a whole, here are some statistics from the National Restaurant Association:

* Restaurant industry sales are forecast to advance 5 percent this year and equal 4 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

* The industry produces $376 billion in sales annually at 831,000 locations around the U.S., with 11 million employees.

* The total economic impact is expected to reach $785 billion this year, including sales in related industries such as agriculture, transportation, wholesale trade and food manufacturing.

* Total annual wages and benefits equal $39 billion for full-service restaurants and $35 billion for limited-service establishments.

* Six out of every 10 employees in food service operations are women, 12 percent are African-American and 17 percent are Hispanic. Nearly three out of four limited-service establishments (fast food joints) have recently hired a former welfare recipient.

Truly, something to chew on.

Different kind of blue

Who says blue jeans are just for casual wear? Certainly not the folks at Achievement Centers for Children. In April, the gang at ACC threw the Blue Jean Ball at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. More than 400 people packed the new brewhouse to listen to the Twist-offs and help raise money for Camp Cheerful.

The gang auctioned off six pairs of blue jeans signed by members of the Cleveland Indians, including Jim Thome, Steve Karsay, Richie Sexson and Dave Burba. Total take for the evening: $18,000. Not bad for a bunch of people clad in casual wear.