LOCAL BUSINESS

Airport breaks travel record

Spring-break travelers helped Akron-Canton Airport reach its busiest passenger levels in history for March.

A total of 158,984 passengers traveled to and from the airport, an increase of 8.4 percent compared to March 2012. It also marks the 23rd record-breaking month for the airport out of 24 months.

Passenger traffic, compared to last year, was up on nearly all airlines serving the airport. Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways (now a wholly owned subsidiary of Southwest) were up 27 percent. Delta with 32,746 passengers was up 13 percent. US Airways carrying 23,880 had a 15 percent increase.

‘Success Stories’ in Hudson

Three small-business owners will share tales of their startup journeys at this year’s “Success Stories” program at the Hudson Library & Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. May 8.

The speakers include Debbie Kuhn of Twinsburg, founder and president of the girltrunks brand of fast-trying swim “trunks” for women that are sold online.

Also speaking will be goat cheese producer Jean MacKenzie, owner of Mackenzie Creamery brands of cheese at Stonewall Farm in Hiram Township; and Northeast Ohio author, speaker and consultant John France, author of The Idea Hump. The book focuses on the initial stages of moving from idea to start up company.

The Success Stories program is offered each May. This event concludes the Winter-Spring Entrepreneurship Series of events at the library for 2013.

The program, sponsored by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, is free, but registration is required. Register online at hudson­library.org. Call 330-653-6658 for more information.

Tax credit off state agenda

A proposed $2.1 million state tax credit for Akron’s FirstMerit Corp. is not on the agenda for Monday’s meeting of the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. The meeting agenda was released Friday.

This apparently means that FirstMerit, the Akron bank, will seek the required approval for the Job Creation Tax Credit at a later meeting of the Tax Credit Authority. The state body meets monthly to review proposals for tax credits. FirstMerit officials could not be reached for comment.

Akron city officials said last week that the state’s Development Services Agency (formerly the Department of Development) has proposed providing FirstMerit with a $2.1 million Job Creation Tax Credit. The incentive is based on FirstMerit adding 150 new jobs and $11.2 million to its annual payroll and the company’s commitment to remain in Akron for at least 12 years. The jobs are scheduled to come to Akron as a result of the bank’s acquisition of Citizens Republic Bancorp of Michigan. The deal was completed earlier this month.

Akron city officials also said last week that FirstMerit will invest an estimated $3.2 million to spruce up the aging Cascade Plaza and the parking lot below it. About 2,000 of the bank’s employees work in the downtown Akron headquarters operations. That includes workers in the FirstMerit Tower on Main Street; Cascade III, an adjacent building, and an operations center near the Akron Innerbelt.

CONSTRUCTION

Material sales fall 4.8 percent

Saint-Gobain SA, Europe’s biggest supplier of building materials with a variety of units in Northeast Ohio, said first-quarter sales dropped 4.8 percent amid a construction slump and cold weather in Europe.

Sales declined to $12.6 billion, said Saint-Gobain, based in Courbevoie near Paris, in a statement. The company reiterated its 2013 targets.

Chief Executive Officer Pierre-Andre de Chalendar is cutting investments, selling businesses and raising prices to adjust to the European car and construction slump that has hurt demand for flat glass and building materials and put the company’s credit rating under pressure. Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s, which rate Saint-Gobain at Baa2 and BBB respectively, have said they might downgrade the company.

“We continue to raise our prices in order to broadly counter the rising cost of raw materials and energy over the year as a whole, while vigorously pursuing our cost cutting program,” the CEO said.

In January, the company agreed to sell its U.S. glass bottle business for $1.7 billion. In March, it agreed to sell a pipe and foundation business to Westlake Chemical Corp. for $175 million.

ELECTRONICS

AT&T enters home security

AT&T Mobility entered the home security arena Friday with new services in 15 markets, none in Ohio. Digital Life is a wireless-based service that provides around-the-clock monitoring by AT&T-owned monitoring centers.

Compiled from staff and wire reports