published Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Business Briefcase: Manny Rico back in business

Rico back in business

Despite no longer being required to attend, former City Councilman Manny Rico showed up to Thursday's unveiling of Little Liberty, the 11-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty located in the lobby of newly-renovated Liberty Tower.

But it wasn't a bid for re-election to his former seat on the Chattanooga City Council.

Jim Berry, who purchased one of only four replicas of the Statue of Liberty in existence for his building, had asked Rico to help engrave the base of the monument with the wise words of the country's founding fathers.

Rico, the son of Mexican immigrants, founded Rico Monuments 27 years ago, and specializes in engraving granite memorials -- though typically for the recently deceased.

He said he took extra care with this particular job.

"I wanted to be sure I got it right," said Rico, who was also joined by former City Councilman Peter Murphy and former Mayor Ron Littlefield. "You only get to do this once."

Propex visits South America

Officials with Propex Operating Co. LLC on Saturday completed a weeklong trade mission led by U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank. The Propex officials joined representatives from 19 other infrastructure-focused companies for a business development trade mission to Sao Paulo, Brazil; Bogota, Colombia; and Panama City, Panama. The governments of the Central and South American countries visited on the trip have each outlined ambitious development plans.

"Propex has developed many relevant products and systems in erosion control, state of the art road construction and effective concrete reinforcement that simplify complexity in the markets we serve around the world," Propex President Mike Gorey said. "South America represents another great opportunity to provide practical solutions for the infrastructure challenges in these developing nations."

The trade mission also supports President Obama's National Export Initiative, a government-wide strategy to promote American exports and create 2 million export-supported jobs by the end of 2014.

Last year, exports hit another all-time record, reaching $2.2 trillion. And, between 2009 and 2012 exports have supported 1.3 million additional jobs.

"In addition to supporting the National Export Initiative, this trade mission also furthers the Obama Administration's efforts to deepen the economic and commercial relationship between the United States and Latin America," Blank said.

The United States recently implemented free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama and the business delegation was in Colombia on the one-year anniversary of the implementation of that free trade agreement on May 15.

"In order for our economy to thrive, American businesses must compete and succeed in the global economy, and sell their goods and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside our borders," Blank said.

Unemployment falls, except in Tennessee

Solid hiring helped lower unemployment rates in 40 U.S. states last month, the most since November. The declines show the job market is improving throughout most of the country.

But the Labor Department said the unemployment rate did increase during April in Tennessee, Louisiana and North Dakota. The jobless rate fell in 40 states and was unchanged in the other seven.

According to household survey data reported last week by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, nonfarm employment fell by 2,200 jobs in Tennessee last month, boosting the state's jobless rate from 7.8 percent in March to 8 percent in April.

Unemployment fell in Georgia by 0.2 percent to 8.2 percent and declined by 0.3 percent in Alabama to 6.9 percent.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

about Ellis Smith...

Ellis Smith joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in January 2010 as a business reporter. His beat includes the flooring industry, Chattem, Unum, Krystal, the automobile market, real estate and technology. Ellis is from Marietta, Ga., and has a bachelor’s degree in mass communication at the University of West Georgia. He previously worked at UTV-13 News, Carrollton, Ga., as a producer; at the The West Georgian, Carrollton, Ga., as editor; and at the Times-Georgian, Carrollton, ...

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