Norwalk Furniture to reopen
Toledo Blade, 9/23/2008

NORWALK, Ohio – A group of five local investors has purchased Norwalk Furniture and expects to reopen the 106-year-old manufacturer this week, the firm said.

The sale could restore up to 350 of the over 500 jobs lost when the custom furniture maker ceased work in July, said Jim McTevia, a restructuring officer hired by the firm. The parties have agreed to the sale and it could be finalized today, he said.

Neither the sale price nor the prospective buyer group was disclosed.

Comerica, the bank that withdrew the company’s credit line in the summer will finance the sale, Mr. McTevia said.

City officials could not be reached for comment after the announcement.

The company, which shut down sales in July and briefly reopened, is in a struggling national industry. The firm has 400 workers at a Fulton, Miss., factory and 50 more at a Cookeville, Tenn., operation, Mr. McTevia said. A deal will be worked on next to get the Mississippi plant open, he added.

Demolition plans threaten Toledo’s historic dwellings
Toledo Blade, 11/29/2009

When Fanny Effler’s daily walk takes her through the neighborhood near her Old West End home, she finds fewer friendly waves and more boarded windows.

“This used to be a beautiful street,” she said during a recent stroll down Boston Place, less than a block away from her Collingwood Boulevard residence.

As widespread foreclosures flush homeowners from neighborhoods such as these, central Toledo hosts more addresses flagged for demolition than any other part of the city. Ms. Effler, an attorney and local landlord, is leading a grass-roots effort to help neighbors find ways to preserve the city’s homesteads rather than bring them down.

Unemployment numbers top 14 percent
Toledo Free Press, 3/6/2009

The staggering figures were released: 14.3 percent of workers in the city of Toledo and 13.3 percent in Lucas County were jobless in January, according to Ohio’s Department of Job & Family Services.

That figure puts January among the worst months for Northwest Ohio job seekers in four decades, topped only by the first three months in 1983. Area unemployment reached 14.5 percent in March 1983.

“I’ve been dreading those numbers, just dreading them,” Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur said.

But with the recent elimination of manufacturing and auto-related jobs, the trouble was clear long before those numbers appeared, local officials say.

Area banks offer discount deals on mortgages
Toledo Blade, 9/25/2008

In moves to rev up business stalled by the national housing and credit crises, some Toledo area banks are offering discounts on mortgages.

Charter One Bank has a temporary plan to reduce finance charges on home equity loans and Fifth Third Bank is cutting closing costs on mortgages.

One industry expert praised the discounts, comparing Charter One’s program to employee discount incentives offered by ailing Detroit Three automakers.

“I would look at this on the positive side, that banks are trying to attract eligible borrowers,” Jeff Wherry, executive director of the Ohio Mortgage Bankers Association, said. “We’ve got to get the economy rolling in Ohio again. It’s been dismal for so long and we can’t continue to have this migration of people out of the state.”

The unsteady housing market has created a sort of renaissance culture for banks, which are boosting consumer incentives in order to compete, said Karen Dorway, president of BauerFinancial Inc., of Coral Gables, Fla., a financial institutions research firm.

“The whole industry is kind of rewriting itself right now,” she said.

Some consumers in Toledo area plan to celebrate Halloween more modestly
Toledo Blade, 10/10/2008

Jennifer Harold wasn’t worried about the prices as she propped a couple of bags of chocolate bars beside her toddler and carted down the Halloween candy aisles at the Target store on Monroe Street yesterday.

With 200 trick-or-treaters still three weeks away from her Lambertville doorstep and a spouse known to sneak a few KitKats the Mrs. Harold, 36, knows it’s never too early to stock up.

“My husband is a pushover and hands it out by the handful,” Mrs. Harold said, adding that her candy inventory probably will reach 15 bags.

In comparison, Toledoan Debbie Galambos, 57, who said about 300 trick-or-treaters usually roam her West Toledo neighborhood, plans to cut her usual $50 candy outlay to $30 this year.

“If I’m buying just for a few kids it’s one thing,” she said. “We’ll probably buy cheaper candies.”

With a struggling local economy and a national financial crisis in full bloom, this could be a year when consumers would be expected to pull back on Halloween spending.

However, the National Retail Federation said its surveys indicate that many people are going ahead with Halloween spending.

The average consumer will spend about $66.54 on Halloween costumes, candy, and decorations this year, up from about $64.82 last year, an increase of just under 3 percent, the federation said.