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Business news briefs — Feb. 6

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LOCAL BUSINESS

Company urges: Buy U.S.

An Akron company, American Made Bags, is part of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s renewed call for the federal government to stop spending taxpayer dollars on textile products made outside the country.

Tommy Armour, president of American Made Bags, told news reporters Thursday that Brown’s proposed Wear America Act is “obviously going to help our government recognize the factories that we have here in the U.S. and recognize our capabilities ... with the new jobs that we can create our economy is going to grow stronger and stronger.”

On Thursday, Armour joined Brown in a news conference call, telling reporters that his 15-year-old company makes bags and T-shirts from U.S. materials, primarily for government suppliers. American Made Bags employs about 35 people in Akron and pays employees roughly $10 to $19 an hour.

Brown’s Wear America Act is similar to legislation he proposed in 2012. Brown is a longtime proponent of “Buy America” efforts and his initial Wear America Act effort came after the controversy over made-in-China clothing worn by the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2012 summer Olympics ceremonies. The U.S. Olympic Committee is not part of the federal government, but Brown and others have said the Chinese-made clothes were an embarrassment. Brown and other lawmakers have praised Ralph Lauren Corp. for using only domestic manufacturers for uniforms that Team USA will wear in today’s opening ceremonies.

Brown cited a December report in the New York Times that said the federal government spends more than $1.5 billion each year on foreign-made textile products. The article noted that federal suppliers in some overseas operations hire child labor and break other labor laws, while U.S. Labor Department officials say federal agencies have “zero tolerance” for using such factories.

Brown stressed that the measure would be flexible, allowing for the purchase of foreign-made items if they are not made in the United States. Brown said he doesn’t yet have any co-sponsors. “ I think there’s real opportunity,” he said, “to convince enough of my colleagues in both parties that this makes sense in people’s lives.”

— Katie Byard

CREDIT UNIONS

Branch to move in Alliance

Buckeye State Credit Union will relocate its Alliance branch office to a new facility nearby over Presidents Day weekend. The branch, a part of the Alliance community for 40 years, is located at 1731 W. State St. and will move to 1010 W. State St.

The branch will be closed for business on Saturday, Feb. 15, and Monday, Feb. 17, to allow for the move. It will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the new location.

ECONOMY

European recovery is slow

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the eurozone economy remains weak and will recover “at a slow pace” but that, for now, additional stimulus isn’t needed.

The bank left its interest rate benchmark unchanged at a record low of 0.25 percent at its meeting Thursday. Some analysts thought it might cut the rate to 0.1 percent.

U.S. productivity slows

Productivity growth slowed in the fourth quarter while labor costs kept falling. Productivity grew at an annual rate of 3.2 percent in the October-December period, down slightly from a 3.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported. Labor costs fell at a 1.6 percent rate in the fourth quarter after an even bigger 2 percent rate of decline in the third quarter.

For the year, productivity rose a slight 0.6 percent, down from a 1.5 percent increase in 2012, and the weakest performance since an 0.5 percent rise in 2011.

Compiled from staff and wire reports


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