In the Region

Corzine signs stimulus bill

Gov. Corzine

has made good on a pledge to try to help spur New Jersey's economy. Corzine yesterday signed legislation that gives businesses a $3,000 check for every new employee they hire and keep for a year or longer. It is part of a $120 million stimulus bill the governor signed during a daylong forum hosted by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. The legislation provides grants to businesses for job creation and tax credits for capital investments. The initiatives were proposed by Corzine in October as part of a broad economic-stimulus plan.

- AP

PPL drops expansion plan

PPL Corp.

, the Allentown electric utility, said it was abandoning a plan to expand its Holtwood hydroelectric plant on the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. "We reached the conclusion that it is no longer economically justifiable" in light of the nation's recession and energy-price projections, chief operating officer William H. Spence said. The company proposed the expansion, now estimated to cost $440 million, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a year ago. The plan would have added two hydroelectric turbine generators that would have produced enough electricity to power 100,000 typical homes. The application now has been withdrawn.

- Paul Schweizer

Borders to open 2d store at airport

A Borders bookstore will open at Philadelphia International Airport next Wednesday, the company announced yesterday.

Borders Group Inc.

said the 909-square-foot store will be between Concourses D and E and will sell 7,000 book titles, plus DVDs and CDs. It will be the retailer's second store in the airport; the first is between Concourses B and C.

- Paul Schweizer


New aid plan for credit unions

Federal regulators are making more than $40 billion available to support several credit unions that suffered losses from mortgage securities, and will provide $2 billion more to help struggling homeowners.

National Credit Union Administration

chairman Michael Fryzel says the credit unions should "use these programs constructively as they work through these difficult times." The new borrowing from the Treasury Department will be available under a special facility that Congress approved for the agency in September.

- AP

Interest rate hits zero on 4-week bills

Interest rates on four-week Treasury bills fell to zero yesterday, as investors still sought the safety of government securities without any return on their investment. The

Treasury Department

said it sold $30 billion in four-week bills at an interest rate of zero percent. That meant investors were willing to earn no return on their money as long as they could park it in the safety of Treasury securities. The rate was down from an interest rate of 0.04 percent at last week's government auction of four-week bills.

- AP

Republic's workers win victory

Republic Windows & Doors Inc.

workers who staged a protest at the company's Chicago factory won a victory yesterday when

Bank of America Corp.

offered loans to the firm to resolve a pay dispute. Bank of America said in a statement that it was "prepared to provide a limited amount of additional" loans to Republic and "expressed concern" over "Republic's failure to pay their employees the employee claims to which they are legally entitled." Workers were upset that they did not receive vacation pay when the plant shut down. Workers blamed Bank of America for the factory's closure Friday after it canceled a line of credit to the manufacturer, whose sales have been gutted by the housing slump. The bank has received $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury as part of its effort to boost capital, while Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., the securities brokerage it is buying, has gotten $10 billion.

- Bloomberg News

Wachovia CEO won't get bonus for '08

Wachovia Corp.

chief executive officer Robert Steel, who engineered a sale of the North Carolina lender to Wells Fargo & Co. after it almost collapsed, won't receive a 2008 bonus. The decision to forgo an award was disclosed by Christy Phillips Brown, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte-based bank, in an interview. She declined to elaborate.

- Bloomberg News

Bombardier Recreational cuts jobs

Snowmobile and watercraft manufacturer

Bombardier Recreational Products

said it was cutting its workforce nearly 1,000 as it slashes production 20 percent to respond to the global recession. The Quebec company, which makes the Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo, said 550 administrative jobs would be slashed starting this month and another 430 shop floor workers would be laid off temporarily. That is on top of 370 workers laid off in October.

- AP

Kroger says storm hits Q3 earnings

Grocery chain

Kroger Co.

reported that its third-quarter profit fell 6 percent, mainly because of damage and disruption from Hurricane Ike, and that it expects slow holiday spending to hurt fourth-quarter results. Kroger lifted its earnings guidance for the full year, but offered fourth-quarter projections below analysts' expectations. It also forecast slower same-store sales growth for 2009. Kroger has managed to boost sales during the recession, as people cut restaurant spending and buy more store brands and store-prepared meals. Third-quarter revenue rose 9 percent to $17.6 billion. The company said it earned $237.7 million, or 36 cents a share, in the quarter, down from $253.8 million, or 37 cents a share, a year earlier. Kroger shares fell $1.84, or 6.74 percent, to close at $25.47.

- AP

Florida investment pool accessible

Florida schools and local governments may by year-end get all of their money in a state-run investment pool from which the state restricted withdrawals after a run by depositors last year. The

Florida Local Government Investment Pool

will provide participants access to 74 percent of their funds on Dec. 12 and 100 percent on Dec. 23, the State Board of Administration said. School districts and towns were cut off from their money in November 2007 after they withdrew $13 billion when the fund was found holding hard-to-value and defaulted securities.

- Bloomberg News