The week that was for 01/22/12
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Unemployment claims declined and 30-year mortgage rates hit a record low last week. General Motors took back the pole position as the world's top-selling automaker, and millionaires are giving away loads of money.
So why don't we feel better about the economy?
Pittsburgh officials are looking to nonprofits to contribute $3.2 million to city coffers, a goodwill gesture in lieu of taxes, but there's been no commitment to make that contribution as yet -- a previous agreement with a coalition of local nonprofits expired Dec. 31. That has the state oversight board reluctant to sign off on the city's budget, and without the board's OK the city won't be able to borrow $80 million for infrastructure improvements.
Saks Fifth Avenue, a classy fixture on Smithfield Street since 1976, will close for good March 17, displacing about 95 employees. That will leave vacant the 86,000-square-foot building across the street from the seven-years-vacant building where Lord & Taylor did business. Saks becomes the third Downtown department store to close since 2004, leaving only Macy's -- which recently consolidated its retail sales from nine floors to six plus a mezzanine.
Or maybe we should say "blighter" note. The visual blight of unfinished construction in front of the former-Hilton-Pittsburgh-now-Wyndham-Grand hotel that greets drivers coming off the Fort Pitt Bridge is finally being addressed. The exterior on the 20,000-square-foot addition is set for completion this summer. Making the job easier: Under new ownership, revenues in 2011 were up 20 percent over 2010.
A survey of 555 millionaires found nearly one-fourth donated at least $25,000 to charity in 2010, double the share who donated at least that amount in 2008.
Revenue in Pennsylvania casinos hit $3 billion in revenue for 2011 and are a sure bet to keep growing. The number was more than 20 percent higher than revenue in 2010, when table games were first introduced here.
Wikipedia and other Internet sources went dark on Wednesday in protest of anti-online piracy legislation meant to block copyright infringement. Although the entertainment industry and others would like more protection from people stealing their work, the online world believes it would inhibit the free flow of information on the Internet. At week's end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., decided to postpone a vote on the bill."
First Published January 22, 2012 12:00 am