Author Archives: Tom Shine

Tom is The Eagle’s business editor and assistant managing editor. He has been at The Eagle since 1980, long enough to have written for The Beacon and covered Wichita State football. He joined the Business staff in June 2005 and helped launch Business Today in September 2006.

Toulouse, we have a problem

Another glitch with Airbus’A380 superjumbo, this time with the  plane’s Rolls-Royce engine.

The Associated Press reports this morning that Singapore Airlines had to shut down an engine on an A380 en route to Europe on Tuesday and return the plane to Singapore, the carrier said.

The A380 has had several mechanical glitches since entering service. Several carriers discovered small cracks on A380 wings last year. In 2010, a Qantas A380 Rolls-Royce engine exploded in mid-flight over Indonesia, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

Cessna in China

Today’s announcement that Cessna Aircraft will team with state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) to build business jets in the western China city Chengdu should not be a surprise. Cessna, and all the city’s general aviation companies, have long eyed the potential of the burgeoning China market.

Aviation reporter Molly McMillin reported last July that Cessna was in talks with AVIC about collaborating on a business jet. And Cessna, of course, already manufactures its light sport aircraft, the two-seat Skycatcher, in Shenyang.

I just started reading a book about General Motors’ entry into China in the 1990s, “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China.” The book, by Michael J. Dunne, offers some insights into what American manufacturers can expect when they set up operations in China.

For the sake of transparency, I will mention that Dunne grew up in the Detroit area and went to the University of Michigan, as I did. I also was his youth baseball coach way back in the day.

Good winter for home sales

Another  day, another somewhat positive housing report.

Homes sales fell in February, but the sales pace for the winter was the best in five years, the  Associated Press is reporting this morning. The National Association of Realtors said today that home sales fell 0.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million. That’s down from a revised 4.63 million sold in January – the highest level since May 2010.

The last three months have been the best for winter sales in five years. A mild winter and a stronger job market have helped boost sales ahead of the all-important spring buying season.

 

Bad news, good news

The U.S. Commerce Department reports this morning that builders started work on slightly fewer homes in February. Builders broke ground on a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 698,000 homes last month., down 1.1 percent from January.

But builders say they are preparing for what could be the healthiest spring buying season since the housing bubble burst. Many builders are seeing more people express interest in buying a home, leading them to believe 2012 could be a turn-around year for the market. Mortgage rates are hovering near record lows below 4 percent. And home sales started to rise at the end of last year.

Building permits, a gauge of future construction, jumped 5.1 percent in January to the highest level in more than a year.

Now hiring

Yet another indication that the local economy seems to be on the right path: Koch Industries is hosting a job fair March 31 in hopes of filling more than 50 information technology positions within several Koch companies in Wichita.

The job fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Wichita, 400 W. Waterman, in the Riverview Ballroom. Representatives from Koch Business Solutions, Koch Fertilizer and Flint Hills Resources will be there.

Openings include business systems analyst; applications systems analyst; software development analyst; IT customer support; database administrator; infrastructure services, and technical project manager. Most positions will require at least two years of  information technology experience and a bachelor’s degree in a related field. More information about the job fair, including position descriptions and more detailed job requirements can be found at www.kochcareers.com/ITfair.

To apply for a job, candidates must complete an online application on the website. Applications will not be available at the fair.

One step forward …

The slow, politically tortured journey to build the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan continues today in Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press reports that a committee of the National Research Council will hold a public hearing with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss an updated risk assessment for the proposed lab. The meeting will focus on the findings of a report made public last month that said the risk of accidental release of foot and mouth disease was remote.

That, of course, differs from an earlier study that found there was a nearly 70 percent chance of an accidental release of hoof and mouth disease over the lab’s 50-year lifetime.

The $650 million lab, planned near Kansas State University, would replace an aging research facility at Plum Island, N.Y.  Scientists would conduct research on deadly animal diseases, including foot and mouth disease.

Stay tuned.

Overland Park lands auto tech firm

The Kansas Department of Commerce announced this morning that Automotive Technology Services will locate its headquarters in Overland Park.

Overland Park beat out several other Midwest cities, including Chicago and Minneapolis.  The start-up company has developed a mobile app,  AutoFlipr, that connects wholesale and used car buyers and sellers to create a bigger pool for used car deals.

The move will bring 26 executive jobs to Overland Park’s Corporate Woods on West 110th Street.

In addition to the Department of Commerce, the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council, and City of Overland Park were involved in the deal. No word yet what incentives, if any, were offered to close the deal.

Making a splash

Great Wolf Lodge, the indoor water park in Kansas City, is getting  new ownership.

Apollo Global Management said today that it agreed to acquire Great Wolf Resorts for about $167.1 million. That’s about a 19 percent premium over the Madison, Wis.-based company’s closing stock price on Monday.

The first Great Wolf Lodge resort opened in 1997 in Wisconsin Dells, Wis., and the company now operates 11 properties across the country, including the one in Kansas City, Kan., near The Legends retail area.

 

 

Another good month for jobs

The latest jobs report this morning is yet another indication that the U.S. economy continues to get a bit stronger.

The economy added 227,000 net jobs in February, the third consecutive month of gains over 200,000. The unemployment rate was unchanged from 8.3 percent in January, the Labor Department reported Friday, as nearly a half million people rejoined the search for work.

Wall Street responded well to the news, rising in early trading and wiping out losses from earlier in the week.

Not so friendly skies

That vacation getaway is not going to get cheaper anytime soon.

The FAA said today airfares are likely to remain high for the rest of the decade as airline capacity shrinks. Officials said travelers won’t get much relief until airlines start getting more competition, which is years away.

Want some more good news? The FAA predicts that more airline mergers and consolidation will shrink the number of cities served and the number of flights available in the nation’s air travel network.

A little pressure

Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is putting some pressure on Kansas Realtors, urging them to contact legislators to support the governor’s income tax proposal.

The proposal includes eliminating the home mortgage deduction, which the Kansas Association of Realtors has opposed since it was announced in January. The group thinks that would hurt an industry still struggling to recover from the recession.

The Associated Press reports that Chad Bettes, chief of staff for Revenue Secretary Nick Jordan, sent the email from his personal account to six real estate friends who are also members of the Kansas Association of Realtors. Bettes asked them to contact their legislator and told them what specific points should be mentioned.

The bill is still working its way through the Legislature.

Fighting over Walmart

The Kansas City Star reports this morning about a feud between two Johnson County cities over where to locate a Walmart.

Roeland Park is accusing neighboring Mission of poaching its Walmart to jumpstart its long-delayed $200 million Gateway project. Roeland Park officials are complaining to state economic officials because the Gateway development has applied for STAR bonds from the state.

“The city of Roeland Park definitely supports redevelopment in any of our sister cities,” Mayor Adrienne Foster told the Star’s Kevin Collison. “What we do not support is when our Number 1 sales tax generator, Walmart, is removed from our city in order for another city’s development to move forward.”