SC business notebook, March 16

March 15, 2013 

Raeford turkey plan won’t affect Columbia Farms

An announcement Thursday that House of Raeford will phase out it turkey growing and slaughter operations in eastern North Carolina will not affect operations at the company’s Columbia Farms in West Columbia, company officials said Friday. The poultry producer will shift its focus to its growing chicken production business, which eventually could boost business in West Columbia, where it currently employs about 800 workers.

Closing 240 air traffic towers ends extra safety layer

The planned shutdown of nearly 240 air traffic control towers across the country under federal budget cuts will strip away an extra layer of safety during takeoffs and landings, leaving pilots to manage the most critical stages of flight on their own. The towers slated to close are at smaller airports with lighter traffic, and all pilots are trained to land without help by communicating among themselves on a common radio frequency. But airport directors and pilots say there is little doubt the removal of that second pair of eyes on the ground increases risk and will slow the progress that has made the U.S. air system the safest in the world. Many of the airports in question are serviced by major airlines, and the cuts could also leave towers unmanned during overnight hours at some bigger city airports such as Chicago’s Midway and General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, as well as a midnight to 6 a.m. shift at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, a spokeswoman said Friday. The plans have prompted airlines to review whether the changes might pose problems for commercial service that could mean canceling or rescheduling flights. Without the help of controllers, risk goes up exponentially, experts said.

Obama urges Congress to OK $2 billion to wean autos off gasoline

Envisioning cars that can go “coast to coast without using a drop of oil,” President Barack Obama on Friday urged Congress to authorize spending $2 billion over the next decade to expand research into electric cars and biofuels to wean automobiles off gasoline. Obama, expanding on an initiative he addressed in his State of the Union speech last month, said the United States must shift its cars and trucks entirely off oil to avoid perpetual fluctuations in gas prices. Citing policies that already require automakers to increase gas mileage, he said he expects that by the middle of the next decade, Americans will only have to fill up their cars half as often.

Longest Dow streak in 17 years ends Friday with small drop

U.S. stocks fell Friday, ending the longest winning streak for the Dow Jones industrial average in nearly 17 years. The Dow dropped 25 points to close at 14,514. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell two points to 1,560. The Nasdaq composite index dropped nine points to 3,249. The Dow notched a 10-day winning streak through Thursday, its longest since November 1996. Trading was tentative because investors fear that rising inflation will cause the Federal Reserve to retreat from policies aimed at boosting markets. The government said that consumer prices increased in February at the fastest pace in more than three years.

Kristy Eppley Rupon and The Associated Press contributed.

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