Heinz closing Florence plant, two others

November 14, 2013 

200 will lose jobs as H.J. Heinz closes Florence plant

H.J. Heinz Co. is closing three plants in North America – including one in Florence – and cutting 1,350 jobs in an effort to operate more efficiently. The food maker said Thursday that it will close facilities in two states and Canada over the next six to eight months. The cuts total 200 jobs in Florence, 410 jobs in Pocatello, Idaho and 740 employees in Leamington, Ontario, in Canada. Heinz will shift production from these locations to other existing facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The company also said it will invest in remaining facilities and add 470 positions at five factories in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada. After the changes are complete, Heinz will employ approximately 6,800 hourly and salaried workers at sites across North America. This follows its decision in August to cut 600 jobs in North America. Heinz was acquired and taken private by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital earlier this year.

McDonald’s testing third drive-through window

McDonald’s has an idea for speeding up service at the drive-through: add another window. Under the current setup, customers place their orders, then drive up to a window where they pick up their food. The fast-food chain says it’s testing a “Fast Forward Drive-Thru” that lets customers drive to a third stop if their orders aren’t ready. McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb says the Fast Forward Drive-Thru will be featured in new and renovated restaurants starting next year. The drive-through is an important revenue generator for fast-food chains. McDonald’s gets about 70 percent of its sales from the drive-thru, experts say.

Mortgage rates rise for second week in a row

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages rose for the second-straight week amid some signs of economic strength. Still rates remain near historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.35 percent from 4.16 percent last week. That’s the highest level since Sept. 19, when it was 4.50 percent. The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.35 percent from 3.27 percent. The rates, though, are at their lowest levels in four months.

Google rejecting higher percent of government requests

Google has become less likely to comply with government demands for its users’ online communications and other activities as authorities in the U.S. and other countries become more aggressive about mining the Internet for personal data. The latest snapshot of the intensifying focus on Google as a government surveillance tool emerged Thursday in a report that the company has released every six months for the past three years. The breakdown shows Google Inc. received 25,879 legal requests for people’s data from governments during the first half of this year. That represented a 21 percent increase from the last half of last year. U.S. authorities accounted for 10,918 of the requests, more than anywhere else. The report says Google is rejecting a higher percentage of the requests.

The Associated Press contributed.

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