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National Interstate to expand in Richfield with $25 million building

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 31, 2016

Insurer National Interstate Corp. said it soon will start building a $25 million office building on its Richfield campus.
Wednesday’s announcement follows the authorization Monday of Ohio Job Creation Tax Credits for the project.
National Interstate said it will put up a 117,000-square-foot office building for subsidiary National Interstate Insurance Co. that will allow the company to add 200 jobs to the more than 500 it now has in Richfield. This will be National Interstate’s third building.
Construction is expected to start in the last three months of the year and be finished in 2017, the company said.
“We are very excited to announce the construction of this new building,” Tony J. Mercurio, National Interstate’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “With our significant growth over the past several years, we need to continue to hire talented employees and that creates a need for additional office space. The construction of this third building at our headquarters location demonstrates our commitment to Richfield and Northeast Ohio as well as our dedication to being an employer of choice in the region. When completed, our picturesque and convenient campus will accommodate approximately 1,000 employees. We take pride in providing our employees with a high quality work environment which will be further enhanced by this project.”
National Interstate said it is partnering with and has the support of both the village of Richfield and the Revere School District.
“What a great opportunity to have National Interstate continue to invest in the village. National Interstate has been a Richfield resident for over fifteen years and we’re excited to continue this relationship for years to come,” Richfield Mayor Bobbie Beshara said in a statement.
“We look forward to partnering with National Interstate in the future, including offering educational programs such as internships to our students,” Matthew Montgomery, Revere School District, superintendent, said in a statement.
National Interstate also said is collaborating with JobsOhio, a non-profit organization designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio.
National Interstate sells insurance for passenger, truck, and moving and storage transportation companies.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday said National Interstate will receive tax credits totaling an estimated $1.77 million over seven years if it creates 217 jobs. The tax credits are measured as a percentage of the state income tax withholdings for all new employees hired under the tax credit program.
National Interstate said it expects to generate nearly $14 million in new annual payroll with the new jobs by Dec. 31, 2020. Current annual payroll in Richfield is $33 million.
National Interstate also needs to maintain operations in Richfield for at least 10 years.
National Interstate Corp. is being bought by its majority shareholder, Cincinnati-based American Financial Group, also known as AFG. American Financial will pay $32 cash per share for National Interstate.

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Two Summit companies in line for tax credits in exchange for creating about 240 jobs

By Katie Byard Published: August 29, 2016

An established insurance business in Richfield and a new architecture/engineering venture in Akron are in line to get state tax credits in exchange for creating about 240 jobs.
National Interstate Corp. of Richfield plans to create the bulk of the jobs: 217 full-time positions. The company sells insurance for passenger, truck, and moving and storage transportation companies.
Prime AE Group Inc., which is opening an office on White Pond Drive in Akron, expects to create 25 full-time jobs.
Monday, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority, a five-member state board, approved the Ohio Job Creation Tax Credits. National Insurance would receive tax credits totaling an estimated $1.77 million if it creates the 217 jobs, and Prime would get an estimated $148,000 in  credits if it creates the 25 jobs.

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Pentagon awards Goodyear for military support

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 29, 2016

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. received the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award on Aug. 26 in a ceremony at the Pentagon.
The Freedom Award, which is the nation’s highest honor given to employers for exceptional support of Guard and Reserve employees, was given to 15 companies out of more than 2,400 nominations.
Akron-based Goodyear is the first tire and rubber industry manufacturer to receive the award. The company was recognized based on its strong military support that included:
• Hiring 1,000 veterans, reservists and guardsmen and women  from 2011-2014 and renewed that commitment in 2015.
• Raising more than $6 million the last six years through the annual “Support Our Troops” campaign.
• Fostering a culture of support for veterans, reservists and guardsmen and women in the workplace.

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Akron's Signet Jewelers lowers earnings outlook, stock plunges

By Katie Byard Published: August 25, 2016

Signet Jewelers Ltd. on Thursday reported a sales decline for the second quarter and downgraded its sales and earnings outlook for the full year.

Shares sold off in early trading on the announcement. The stock price was down $12.51, or 13.1 percent, to $82.99 as of 11:17 a.m. At 1:46 p.m., the stock price was down $11.27, or 11.8 percent, to $84.23.

Signet, the Akron-headquartered operator of chain jewelry stores including Kay Jewelers, said sales at stores open at least a year -- same-store sales -- declined 2.3 percent. Wall Street analysts had expected a slight increase.

In May, Signet had said same-store sales would increase 2 percent to 3.5 percent.

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Summit Racing expands into Texas with retail store, distribution center

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 24, 2016

Summit Racing Equipment, headquartered in Tallmadge, will build a new distribution center and retail super store in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The new distribution center means customers in most of Texas and adjacent states will be able to get one-day delivery on orders for in-stock parts. Summit Racing Equipment calls itself the world’s largest direct marketer of performance automotive parts and accessories.
“Summit Racing is committed to providing our customers with the best possible service, and that includes fast shipping and delivery,” Nan Gelhard, advertising manager, said in a statement. “With the addition of our Texas facility, we will have four distribution centers.”
The company’s other distribution and retail centers are in Tallmadge; McDonough, Ga., south of Atlanta; and in Sparks, Nevada, near Reno.
The 32,000-square-foot retail super store in Texas will be designed as a “destination” for customers in the region.
“The retail super store gives customers the opportunity to see parts in person and talk directly with a tech adviser about their projects,” Gelhard said. “You can place an order on the website and pick it up in the store.”
Customers can also go to the store and arrange for home delivery.
Construction is scheduled for early fall. Summit Racing expects to start shipping orders from the new distribution center in mid-2017; the retail store will open shortly afterward.

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Summit County jobless rate falls in July

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 23, 2016

Summit County’s unemployment rate dipped in July and fell below levels from a year ago, state figures released Tuesday show.
The county jobless rate fell to 4.7 percent in July, down from 4.9 percent in June and down from 4.9 percent from a year ago.
The unemployment rate in Akron was 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent in June and down from 5.7 percent in July 2015.
The jobless rate in Cuyahoga Falls dropped to 4.3 percent from 4.6 percent in June and 4.4 percent a year ago.
Rates fell in 67 of Ohio’s 88 counties, according to the Department of Job and Family Services. The unemployment rate increased in eight counties and was unchanged in 13.
The lowest jobless rate was 3.1 percent in Mercer County, while Monroe County had the highest rate at 9.9 percent.
The rates were not adjusted to take into account seasonal factors.
The comparable statewide unemployment rate was 4.8 percent; the seasonally adjusted rate was also 4.8 percent. The comparable national unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, with the seasonally adjusted rate at 4.9 percent.
Rates elsewhere in Northeast Ohio for July, June and July 2015:
• Cuyahoga County: 5.5, 5.6, 5.4
• Cleveland: 7, 7.2, 6.7
• Medina County: 4.3, 4.5, 4.2
• Portage County: 4.7, 4.8, 4.8
• Stark County: 5, 5.2, 5.3
• Canton: 6, 6.3, 6.2
• Wayne County: 3.8, 4, 4.1

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Smucker reports profit increase, sales decline, blames price decreases and milk business divestiture

By Katie Byard Published: August 23, 2016

Food and coffee maker J.M. Smucker Co. of Orrville on Tuesday reported a decline in sales, but per-share results that beat analysts’ forecasts.
Revenue for the first quarter declined to $1.82 billion. That’s down 7 percent from the same period last year.

The company's shares were down $12.38 to $143.85 at 10:22 a.m. Tuesday.

The company said the sales decline reflects the divestiture of its U.S. canned milk business and price declines.
Profits for the first quarter of this year were $170 million, or $1.46 a share, up from $136.4 million, or $1.14 a share, in the first quarter of last year.
Adjusted earnings-per-share came in at $1.86, up 16 percent from the year-ago adjusted per-share figure. Wall Street analysts had forecast adjusted earnings-per-share of $1.74.
“Despite the impact of deflation on the top line, we remain on track to achieve our original expectations for full-year earnings per share,” said Mark Smucker, chief executive officer.
The company maintained its full-year adjusted per-share earnings outlook of $7.60 to $7.75.

Associated Press photo by Gene J. Puskar

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Four former FirstMerit board members to join Huntington board

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: August 22, 2016

Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares has named four former FirstMerit Corp. members of the board of directors to its board after its acquisition of the Akron-based bank.

Joining the Huntington board will be two members from the Akron area and two from Michigan.

They are:

- Gina D. France, of Medina and founder, president and CEO of strategy and transaction advisory firm France Strategic Partners. 

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A. Schulman Inc. names new COO, makes other changes following top executive shakeup

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 22, 2016

A. Schulman Inc., which last week rehired board chairman Joseph Gingo as its chief executive officer, named a new chief operating officer and made other key appointments.
The executive changes follow the company’s announcement that it will undertake a comprehensive review of its business plan following an unexpected reduction in its earnings outlook for this year.
The Fairlawn polymer company on Monday promoted Gary A. Miller, 69, to chief operating officer effective immediately. The COO position is often considered the stepping stone to chief executive at many corporations.
Miller previously was executive vice president, global, and chief procurement officer – titles he has held since 2008. Prior to joining Schulman, he was an executive at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. for 42 years.
Miller will be responsible for the efficiency and effectiveness of the company’s global operations, according to a press release. Miller has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University; the Executive Program at Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia; and Kellogg School for Graduate Studies, Northwestern University.
“He will play a critical role in restoring A. Schulman’s operational and financial performance worldwide,” Gingo, chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.
Schulman, which makes resins, compounds and more, also on Monday named Frank Roederer, 47, its senior vice president and general manager of the company’s United States and Canada business. He also will retain current responsibilities for the company’s engineered composites business.
Roederer joined A. Schulman in 2013 as the specialty powders business unit director. Earlier this year, he was named senior vice president of the engineering composites business. He has an operations management and marketing degree from Fachhochschule Offenburg, and an MBA from Schiller International University.
Miller will report to Gingo and Roederer will report directly to Miller.

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National Interstate declares dividend

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 22, 2016

Richfield insurer National Interstate Corp. will pay a quarterly dividend of 14 cents per share on Sept. 13 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 2.

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Goodyear names new senior vice president, global operations

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 22, 2016

Joseph Zekoski is Goodyear’s new senior vice president, global operations and chief technical officer, the Akron tire maker announced in a regulatory filing.

Zekoski as of Aug. 17 succeeded Gregory L. Smith, senior vice president, global operations, who is leaving Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., according to the filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing did not give a reason for Smith’s departure.

Zekoski previously was senior vice president and chief technical officer.

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Shakeup at A. Schulman Inc.: Chairman Gingo back as CEO

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 19, 2016

Struggling Fairlawn polymer company A. Schulman Inc. has replaced its chief executive officer with Chairman and former CEO Joe Gingo.
“The board and Bernard Rzepka, president and chief executive officer, have mutually agreed that he will relinquish his officer role and his directorship role,” the company said in a statement.
A. Schulman Inc., which makes resins, compounds and similar products, last week lowered its earnings guidance for the year, leading to a dramatic plunge in its stock price. Shares are down 23.6 percent since Jan. 1 even as the overall stock market has reached record highs.
Gingo, 71, a former top Goodyear executive, was A. Schulman’s CEO and president from 2008 through 2014. Rzepka, 56, succeeded Gingo.
Gingo said the company will go through a comprehensive review of its business plan.
“Joe led this company through a remarkable seven-year renaissance as its chief executive officer and the board is confident that he will restore A. Schulman’s operational and financial performance to the high level our shareholders expect,” David Birney, lead independent director, said in a statement. “We thank Bernard for his dedicated service to A. Schulman during the last 24 years. His many contributions throughout his career with the company should not be overlooked or minimized in light of this transition.”
Besides a business plan review, the company will look at near- and longer-term global end market trends, A. Schulman said. The company intends to hire an advisory firm to assist in the review.
“Like our fellow shareholders, the board is not satisfied with the company’s less-than-optimal performance throughout fiscal 2016,” Gingo said. “In light of last week’s earnings guidance revision, the time has come to conduct a comprehensive review of our business plan and strategic execution.”
Gingo said A. Schulman will provide an update on its assessment when appropriate.
“We will not, however, speculate on any potential outcomes from this assessment or the timetable for it,” he said. “The goal is to verify our market intelligence, refine our vision and improve our execution.”

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Myers Industries to pay dividend

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 15, 2016

Akron-based Myers Industries Inc., a rubber and plastics product maker and tool distributor, will pay a dividend of 13.5 cents per share on Oct. 3 to shareholders of record as of Sept. 2.

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Diebold Inc. completes $1.8 billion acquisition and will become Diebold Nixdorf

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 15, 2016

Starting Tuesday, Green will be home to a new, larger ATM maker: Diebold Nixdorf.
Diebold Inc. today said it has successfully completed its $1.8 billion stock and cash purchase of Germany-based Wincor Nixdorf.
The combined organization, now the world’s largest ATM maker, starts operating as Diebold Nixdorf on Tuesday. Corporate headquarters will remain in Green.
Diebold announced last week that it expected to complete the Wincor Nixdorf purchase today after it passed its final international regulatory hurdle. While the company will continue to manufacture ATMs, it is refocusing to become a services and financial software led company.
Stock will continue to trade on the New York Stock Exchange and in Germany under the symbol DBD.
In the United Kingdom, the Diebold and Wincor Nixdorf brands and operations will remain distinct pending completion a review of the transaction.

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Two companies move into downtown Akron's AES Building

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 12, 2016

The AES Building at 388 S. Main St. in downtown Akron is getting two new tenants, including a company that is relocating its division headquarters and research and development operations from elsewhere in Northeast Ohio.

Houston-based building materials manufacturer Quanex Building Products is moving its Insulating Glass division headquarters and R&D operations from Solon. Quanex will occupy 39,420 square feet on the seventh floor.

And Ashtabula-based specialty chemical manufacturing company Gabriel Performance Products signed a lease for 6,055 square feet on the third floor.

Quanex IG Systems said it selected the downtown Akron location in part because it is closer to the company’s main manufacturing facility in Cambridge.

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A. Schulman Inc. shares plunge after earnings revised downward

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 11, 2016

The stock price of A. Schulman Inc. plunged after the company cut its earning forecast for the year, citing “softness” in its global markets.
Shares were down $8.23, or 27.5 percent, to $21.75 as of 1:33 p.m. Thursday.
The Fairlawn maker of resins, compounds and related products on Thursday said it expects to have adjusted earnings of $1.90 to $1.95 a share, down from previous guidance of $2.40 to $2.45 a share.
“As we move closer to the end of our fourth quarter, it has become apparent that we will not be able to deliver on our adjusted earning per share commitment of $2.40 to $2.45 per diluted share,” Bernard Rzepka, president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “At the beginning of the quarter, our key end-markets in the U.S. and Europe did not present notable headwinds; however, as the quarter progressed we saw double-digit volume contraction. This softness has continued into August.”
A. Schulman Inc.’s cash flow remains strong and the company continues to pay down debt, Rzepka said.
“ In July we paid down an additional $18.2 million of debt. Gross debt is now $967 million at the end of July down 14 percent from the peak of $1.1 billion in June 2015,” Rzepka said. “This progress, combined with over $300 million of available credit under our current credit facility, positions us well to withstand this challenging economic climate as we enter our next fiscal year.”
The company said it expects to release fourth quarter and fiscal 2016 results after the market closes on Oct. 26.

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Northeast Ohio new vehicle sales plunge

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 10, 2016

New vehicle sales in July fell nearly 12 percent from a year ago in Northeast Ohio, according to figures released Wednesday.
New car and light truck sales totaled 20,999 last month, down 11.6 percent from 23,761 a year ago, the Greater Cleveland Automobile Dealers Association said. Sales are for a 21-county area of Northeast Ohio.
Sales since Jan. 1 total 141,378, down 2.9 percent from 145,559 for the same period in 2015.
“As expected, truck sales are still running strong as cars lag behind,” Louis A. Vitantonio, president of the GCADA, said in a statement. “Overall, the market is slowly correcting as we enter the second half of the year. We do anticipate a single digit decline in overall sales for 2016 versus 2015.”
Chevrolet was the area’s best-selling brand in July with 3,272 sales, followed by Ford at 3,209. Honda was third at 1,924 sales, followed by Toyota.
Summit County sales figures for July were not available Wednesday.

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Dominion's monthly gas price, SCO, to go down for August

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: August 9, 2016

The monthly natural gas price for residential customers who are on the Standard Choice Offer will down for the month of August.

    Effective Aug. 14, Dominion East Ohio's SCO rate will be $2.62 per thousand cubic feet (mcf). That's 25 cents/mcf or 9.5 percent lower than the July rate of $2.87/mcf.

    The price is also 28 cents/mcf or 9.6 percent lower than the price of $2.90/mcf a year ago.

    The SCO is a monthly rate determined by a state-approved formula.

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Young professional leadership program recruiting for fall class

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: August 8, 2016

A training program to help young professionals become engaged leaders in the community is recruiting for its fall program. The deadline is Aug. 15.

BVU: The Center for Nonprofit Excellence will be again offering its YP Leader Corps training program. The program culminates with each participant being matched to serve on an Akron nonprofit board. The program is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“In order to engage Akron’s next generation in shaping the future of their city, we must provide them with tools to discover and connect with community issues. This program does just that by helping to cultivate Akron’s young talent, while creating a bridge to those working to make our city better every day,” said Kyle Kutuchief, Knight Foundation program director for Akron. 

    Young professionals interested in participating in the YP Leader Corps must be between the ages of 25 and 40, and submit a completed application on or before Aug. 15. Fall 2016 program dates are October 6, November 3 and December 1.

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Discounts on home energy assessments this month

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: August 8, 2016

If you're in the market for a home energy assessment, you could get a discount this month from Dominion East Ohio.

Here's information that Beacon Journal home writer MaryBeth Breckenridge reported this weekend:

A good deal just got better.

Dominion East Ohio is offering home energy assessments to its customers for $25 through Aug. 31, half the regular price.

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New Holiday Inn Express opening near I-71, Rt. 18 in Medina County

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 8, 2016

A new format Holiday Inn Express & Suites, off state Route 18 near Interstate 71 in Montville Township, Medina County, officially opens on Aug. 12.
The 92-room facility at 5185 Gateway Drive includes 25 suites and one executive suite. American Hospitality Group is the local owner and operator.
The new design features an open layout in common areas. The great room features flexible seating that includes community tables with built-in wired and wireless charging. Guestrooms include noise-reducing elements, television, microwave, refrigerator, free Wi-Fi and multiple sources of electricity designed to reflect the needs of travelers.
The Holiday Inn Express also offers an express breakfast, market, an indoor pool with exterior sundeck, and a fitness center.
The Aug. 12 celebratory event runs from 4 – 7 p.m. and includes refreshments, a ribbon cutting at around 4:30, and tours.

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Diebold has new top executive for North America, Latin America operations

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 4, 2016

Diebold Inc. has a new senior executive leading its North America and Latin America operations.
The Green financial software and services firm and ATM maker on Thursday that it promoted Octavio Marquez to senior vice president and managing director of the company’s business in the Americas.
Marquez succeeds Thomas Signorello, senior vice president and managing director, North America. Signorelli is leaving Diebold to pursue a new career opportunity, the company said.
“Since joining Diebold in 2014, Octavio has done a tremendous job in transforming our Latin America operation, driving service revenue growth in the region and effectively integrating our Brazil business to create a more efficient, cohesive organization,” Andy W. Mattes, Diebold president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Financial institutions across the Americas are driving much of the growth in branch transformation and digital touch points, which are highly dependent on software and services. Octavio’s proven track record in cultivating customer relationships and establishing and growing software and services businesses will be invaluable across the region.”
Marquez previously worked at EMC and HP where he led sales, services, outsourcing, marketing and manufacturing. He is a native of Mexico City and has a bachelor’s degree in business and finance from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

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Natural gas liquids production depends on numerous factors

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 4, 2016

The federal government today looks at what makes natural gas plant liquid production viable.

From the Energy Information Administration:

"Natural gas plant liquids (NGPL) accounted for 22% of total U.S. petroleum and other liquid fuels production in 2015. In EIA's Annual Energy Outlook 2016 (AEO2016) Reference case, increases in NGPL account for a significant share of total increases in petroleum and other liquid fuels production over 2015–40.

"Because NGPL can be recovered from natural gas production streams or in association with crude oil production, future NGPL production depends on assumptions concerning the abundance of crude oil and natural gas resources and on the price differential between oil and natural gas."

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Timken to pay 377th consecutive quarterly dividend on Sept. 2

By Jim Mackinnon Published: August 2, 2016

Jackson township steelmaker Timken Co. will pay a quarterly dividend of 26 cents per share on Sept. 2 to shareholders of record as of Aug. 15. This will be the company’s 377th consecutive quarterly dividend paid, dating back to 1922.

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Federal Reserve OK's Huntington-FirstMerit merger

By Betty Lin-Fisher Published: August 1, 2016

The Federal Reserve Board has approved the merger application of Akron-based FirstMerit Bank and Columbus-based Huntington Bancshares.

Huntington is acquiring FirstMerit for $3.4 billion. The merger is expected to close during the third quarter of this year.

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