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POSTED: Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Postal Service offers buyouts

WASHINGTON » The Postal Service is offering $15,000 buyouts to employees in an effort to cut costs at a time when the post office is being buffeted by the recession and the popularity of e-mail and electronic bill payment.

Up to 30,000 employees could take the offer at a total cost of about $450 million, the agency said yesterday. The post office said it could save as much as $500 million in the next two years.

The offer is open to those eligible for retirement and early retirement. It also includes employees in select positions, such as retail clerks, distributors and mail handlers who are willing to resign voluntarily. Letter carriers weren't offered the buyouts.

The workers have to decide by Sept. 25.

Go! offers $24.99 1-way fares

Interisland carrier go! is matching Hawaiian Airlines' offer of $24.99 one-way fares for travel during September. The fares are available online and cost $5 more if purchased by telephone. Hawaiian's fares, which were announced Monday, are available only to HawaiianMiles members or those who register online by Monday.

Mokulele Airlines, meanwhile, also announced Monday it is offering a September promotion of a $299 pass that is good for unlimited travel throughout the month.

Shidler College gains in biz rankings

The Shidler College of Business at the University of Hawaii at Manoa ranked 12th overall—up from 19th in 2009—in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 edition of the America's Best Colleges issue of top U.S. undergraduate business programs. It is ranked ninth among public schools.

UH's business school is listed with elite schools such as University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, University of Michigan and UC-Berkeley.

In April, U.S. News also ranked the Shidler College graduate program 21st in the nation in international business.

Studio Becker eyes Hawaii again

Studio Becker, a manufacturer of luxury, handmade household furniture, plans to open a corporate showroom in Honolulu in the fall of 2010 to cater to homes and multiunit projects throughout the state.

In June 1988 the company opened a showroom in Honolulu's Gentry Pacific Design Center and provided kitchens and baths for many Hawaii residences and for projects such as Honolulu's Nauru Tower, One Archer Lane, Imperial Plaza and Waikiki Landmark.

Studio Becker recently completed a 10,000-square-foot corporate showroom in San Francisco and said the new Honolulu showroom will emulate European fashion houses and highlight products in a theaterlike environment.

Hawaii credit card debt drops

Hawaii posted the largest drop in average credit card debt at 2.7 percent in the second quarter over the first quarter, according to an analysis of trends by TransUnion.com.

The steepest increase in average credit card debt over the previous quarter was in Washington, D.C., at 6.3 percent.

Nationally the credit card delinquency rate (the ratio of bank-card borrowers 90 days or more delinquent on one or more of their credit cards) fell to 1.17 percent in the second quarter, down 11.4 percent over the previous quarter.

Kresge offers grant to BIA campaign

The Kresge Foundation is offering a $250,000 Challenge Grant to support the Building Industry Association of Hawaii's “;Changing Lives, Building a Legacy”; capital campaign for its new $7.75 million building, the Construction Training Center of the Pacific.

The grant will be awarded if the remaining $731,300 in funding that is needed is received by April 30.

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations in health, the environment, community development, arts and culture, education and human services.

Consumers seem more confident

WASHINGTON » Consumer sentiment rose more than expected in August, and expectations hit the highest level since the recession began, indications that Americans' pessimism about the economy could be lifting.

The New York-based Conference Board said yesterday its Consumer Confidence index rose to 54.1 from an upwardly revised 47.4 in July. Economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected a slight increase to 47.5.

Still, the index is well below 90, the minimum level associated with a healthy economy. Anything above 100 signals strong growth.

ON THE MOVE

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In+Form Design employee Ann Kutaka became the only holder of a Certified Development, Design and Construction Professional designation in the state of Hawaii. Kutaka and John Harada received the LEED AP designation.

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Ronie Foronda of Finance Insurance Ltd. has been named 2009 National Outstanding Customer Service Representative of the Year. Foronda competed against 44 other state winners for the national award, which is the highest honor for insurance customer service representatives in the nation.