LOCAL BUSINESS

Realtor teams up with UA

Stouffer Realty is offering four pre-real estate licensing classes at its Fairlawn office, 130 N. Miller Road, starting Feb. 4.

The 12-week course is in partnership with the Ohio Institute of Real Estate Studies and the University of Akron for Continuing Education Credit. Classes will be from 5:30 to 10:15 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays.

Cost to register for all four classes in the course package is $1,090, a $300 savings. Stouffer is offering all four classes required to qualify for the Real Estate Salesperson Licensing Exam from the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate.

For more information, contact Stouffer University Education and Training Coordinator Lisa Kazempour at 330-687-9009. Register online at www.uakron.edu/ce or call 330-972-7577. Stouffer’s website is www.stoufferrealty.com.

Group to celebrate 10 years

Torchbearers, a young professional leadership development organization, will host its 10th annual anniversary reception from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at Tangier restaurant at 532 W. Market St. in Akron.

The event is expected to be attended by more than 250 community leaders and will feature several announcements to commemorate the organization’s 10th anniversary milestone.

The event is free to the public. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. Registration is encouraged by Feb. 25 at torchbearersakron.com.

Energy Focus names chairman

Solon-based LED lighting technology company Energy Focus Inc.’s new nonexecutive chairman of the board is James Tu.

Tu, founder and chief executive officer and chief investment officer of investment firm 5 Elements Global Advisors, fills the open position created by the retirement of Paul von Paumgartten from the company’s board of directors.

Energy Focus also announced it received $1.5 million in convertible debt financing from three current, private investors. The money will finance the company’s operations and fund internal growth.

RPM to release data Jan. 8

Medina-based RPM International Inc. will release fiscal 2013 second-quarter results before the stock market opens on Jan. 8.

Executives will host a one-hour conference call to discuss the results beginning at 10 a.m. Jan. 8 as well.

The public can listen in by dialing 800-901-5241 about 10 minutes before the conference call begins.

The call also will be available live and for replay, and as a written transcript, via the RPM website at www.RPMinc.com.

Summit Mall store to close

The Williams-Sonoma cookware store at Summit Mall in Fairlawn will close Jan. 20.

A manager at the store on Friday confirmed the closing date, but referred additional questions to the company’s corporate office.

Williams-Sonoma corporate officials did not return messages seeking comment on whether the company has plans to move the store to a new location, or offer the store’s employees jobs elsewhere.

Summit Mall spokeswoman Kate Miller also confirmed that the store will close next month, but referred questions to Williams-Sonoma.

Miller said the mall expects to make an announcement soon on the opening of several new stores, but none of them is a cookware store.

Other Williams-Sonoma store locations in Northeast Ohio are LaPlace in Beachwood and SouthPark Mall in Strongsville.

BANKING

Biggest profits since 2006

Banks are ending the year with their best profits since 2006 and fewer failures than at any time since the financial crisis struck in 2008. They’re helping support an economy slowed by high unemployment, flat pay, sluggish manufacturing and anxious consumers.

As the economy heals from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, more people and businesses are taking out — and repaying — loans.

And for the first time since 2009, banks’ earnings growth is being driven by higher revenue — a healthy trend. Banks had previously managed to boost earnings by putting aside less money for possible losses.

Signs of the industry’s gains include that banks are earning more.

In the July-September quarter, the industry’s earnings reached $37.6 billion, up from $35.3 billion a year earlier. It was the best showing since the July-September quarter of 2006, long before the financial meltdown. By contrast, at the depth of the Great Recession in the last quarter of 2008, the industry lost $32 billion.

Also, banks are lending a bit more freely. The value of loans to consumers rose 3.2 percent in the 12 months that ended Sept. 30 compared with the previous 12 months, according to data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Compiled from staff and wire reports