IN COURT

Hiatus in Pilot Flying J trial

A federal judge in Chattanooga, Tenn., is setting a monthlong break in the fraud trial of former executives and sales representatives at the truck stop chain controlled by the family of Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier announced that after Thursday’s proceedings, the trial will be put on hold until Jan. 8.

Jimmy Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J, has not been charged with any wrongdoing and has said he had no prior knowledge of the fraud scheme before federal agents raided on the company’s headquarters in 2013.

TRACTORS

Orrville plant set to expand

Venture Products, Inc. is expanding its Orrville location, adding 121 new jobs and a new $5.5 million, 135,000-square-foot facility to accommodate the company’s rapid growth in designing and making tractor equipment, the Plain Dealer reported.

“Due to increased worldwide demand for our product and the release of new products, this expansion will enable Venture to continue providing top-quality equipment to customers in a timely manner,” Randy Kitzmiller, Venture Products president and COO, said in a statement.

Representatives from Team NEO, JobsOhio, Wayne Economic Development Council, and the city of Orrville collaborated with the Venture Products leadership team to help plan the expansion.

RETAIL

Wal-Mart tweaking its name

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is changing its legal name effective Feb. 1 as it shifts away from physical stores in the age of Amazon’s increasing dominance,

The world’s largest retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., said Wednesday it will change its legal name to Walmart Inc. from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It said the move underscores its growing emphasis toward online services and mobile shopping. It operates more than 11,600 stores and clubs under 60 different banners worldwide.

The discounter’s formal legal name when it incorporated on Oct. 31, 1969 was Wal-Mart Inc. It was changed to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Jan. 9, 1970, the same year it went public. It will continue to trade on the NYSE as WMT. It’s been using the current Walmart logo in its operations since June 2008.

LABOR

U.S. productivity increases

U.S. worker productivity rose 3 percent in the third quarter, the best showing in three years, while labor costs fell for a second straight quarter.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that the increase in productivity in the July-September rose sharply from the 1.5 percent increase in the second quarter and a scant 0.1 percent rise in the first three months of the year. Labor costs fell 0.2 percent after an even bigger 1.2 percent decline in the second quarter.

The third-quarter figure for productivity was unchanged from an initial estimate while labor costs were initially estimated to have risen by 0.5 percent.

Economists are hopeful that the upturn in productivity may be a sign this key measure of living standards is improving after a prolonged period of weakness.

EMPLOYMENT

Robust hiring in November

U.S. businesses added a robust 190,000 jobs in November, according to a private survey, a sign that hiring is strong enough to reduce an already-low unemployment rate.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that last month’s hiring followed an even larger gain of 235,000 in October. Some of October’s job increase reflected a bounce-back from hurricane effects, which lowered hiring in September to just 96,000.

Manufacturers helped drive the increase, adding 40,000 jobs, the largest gain this year, ADP said. Health care added 31,000 positions, and a category that includes restaurants and hotels hired 25,000.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.