Business Briefs


POSTED: Monday, September 14, 2009

College-savings plans help rich

U.S. college-savings plans mostly benefit wealthy families, the Treasury Department said in a report that recommended steps to attract more middle-class participants.

Only 5 percent of middle-income Americans use savings plans such as so-called Section 529 accounts, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a recent speech at Syracuse University in Syracuse, N.Y.

Almost 60 percent of families with college savings accounts fall into the 90th income percentile or higher, according to the report.

Section 529 plans, set up by states, let families deposit after-tax income into accounts without paying taxes on investment gains. They can withdraw funds from the accounts to pay college tuition and related expenses.

Economy has more owners optimistic

NEW YORK » Small-business owners are joining consumers and investors in showing some cautious optimism about the economy.

The National Federation of Independent Business, which surveys its members each month, said its index of business owner optimism rose 2.1 points to 88.6 in August, an increase that NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg called “;a big gain.”; The optimism, though, is about the future, as owners still have a dim view of current economic conditions. Dunkelberg noted that small businesses generally aren't planning big capital expenditures or to start hiring again.

Total recall

About 216,000 OfficeMax Task Chairs, made in China and imported by OfficeMax Inc. of Naperville, Ill., because the chair's back and base post can break while in use, which poses a fall hazard to consumers. The recalled chairs have model numbers OM182 and OM96614, which are located under the chairs' seats on a white label. The chairs were sold through OfficeMax from September 2003 through July 2008. Details by phone at (800) 283-7674 or online at www.officemax.com or www.cpsc.gov.

Heide & Cook unveils automated parking system

Heide & Cook Ltd., a Honolulu-based mechanical contractor and air-conditioning service company, has established a new subsidiary, PowerPark Hawaii, to offer what it calls the first automated parking systems in the state.

The systems are multilevel structures erected on virtually any vacant space where vehicles can park. A motorized system automatically moves each vehicle horizontally and vertically, and a computer program decides the fastest way to move the vehicles, with no human operator needed.

Delegates from European coffee group to visit Big Island

The Speciality Coffee Association of Europe's annual coffee origin tour will visit the Big Island on Oct. 26-31.

The 40-nation SCAE organization made its first trip to coffee-producing countries in 2002 to learn about their industry, cultivation and processing methods, regional coffee flavor characteristics and to identify potential trade partners. This will be the first SCAE-organized visit to Hawaii.

Approximately 20 delegates who represent leading European coffee importers, roasters, retail chains or other coffee industry businesses are expected to participate.

Event sponsorships are available for Hawaii's businesses or other entities that wish to receive promotional consideration by the SCAE during the visit. For more information, contact Cafemakers at 990-8717 or visit www.cafemakers.com.

Junior Achievement Golf Classic is set for Sept. 24

An annual golf tournament that raises funds for Junior Achievement of Hawaii will be held Sept. 24 at Kapolei Golf Course.

All funds raised at the Junior Achievement of Hawaii Inc. Golf Classic, sponsored by Finance Factors Ltd., will help Junior Achievement continue its mission of teaching youth about business, economics and free enterprise. Finance Factors has helped raise more than $300,000 during the eight years it has sponsored the 10-year-old event.

Reservations by threesomes are required. The action begins with lunch at the Kapolei Golf Course restaurant at 11 a.m., with a shotgun start teeing off at 12:30 p.m. The awards dinner follows at 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 545-1777 or visit www.jahawaii.com.

Magic Kingdom in Florida annexes new territory

ORLANDO, Fla. » Disney executives are planning the largest expansion in the history of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in central Florida.

The development will nearly double the size of Fantasyland and include a new, lavish ride based on the Little Mermaid. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo made the announcement Saturday.

Disney also plans to update Star Tours, the “;Star Wars”;-themed ride in Disney's Hollywood Studios. It will debut in 2011. The Fantasyland overhaul will be complete by 2013. Disney declined to say how much it will spend on the projects.


» Today: Treasury auction.

» Tomorrow: Commerce Department releases retail sales for August. Best Buy Co. releases second-quarter financial results.

» Wednesday: Labor Department releases Consumer Price Index for August.

» Thursday: Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims. Commerce Department releases housing starts for August. FedEx Corp. releases first-quarter financial results.