PBT Transcript (6/25/2008)

MARIA PANARITIS:  Coming up.  A crackdown on area car washes.  Here why the Feds dried up their business.  And we’ve gotta preview of the top 100 companies in Philadelphia, including Hill International, now making a name for itself in the Middle East.  Plus, kids and needles, not a great combo, but a new combo vaccine may mean less pain for your child.  Philadelphia Business Today starts now.


MARIA PANARITIS:  Federal authorities clean house at a Horsham car wash company that employed illegal immigrants for six years in our region.  They say three managers at Car Care Incorporated gave illegal workers false names.  That way employees could cash their paychecks without drivers’ licenses.  The immigrants were wiping windshields at car washes in Bryn Mawr, Norristown, Flowertown and Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  Prosecutors say the car care managers gave banks lists of employees and told them it had authorized the workers to cash company checks so long as they wore their company shirt with logo on it.  Now the gig is up.  The three managers have pleaded guilty to various charges and face a maximum of five years in prison.  As for Car Care, the company could face up to $100,000 fine, may also have to fork over half a million dollars to the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency. 

The economy may be slowing down profits at many companies these days, but one local powerhouse is bucking the trend.  And news today shows it’s only picking up even more steam.  Hill International has just landed a partnership with a major investment company in the .  The deal announced today with Al Maabar International Investments gives the Marlton, New Jersey construction management firm a major presence in the Middle East.  Hill’s been on a role it seems and gets high marks in The Inquirer’s latest survey of the region’s local publicly traded companies.  The report on top 100 businesses published in tomorrow’s editions ranks Hill third in investor return.  If you bought $100 worth of Hill stock in March last year, your investment was worth about $176 a year later.  That’s a 76 percent return.  Not too shabby.


Ask any child what’s worse than being sick.  Getting a shot, even one that could prevent getting sick.  In fact, four to six year olds can get up to five vaccinations in just one doctor’s visit.  That’s a lot of “Owee’s.”  Well, the FDA today approved a new combo vaccine for kids by GlaxoSmithKline.  It’s called Kinrix, and it’s the first vaccine to combine protection against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough, and polio, all in a single shot.  So, your child will still need to get shots, but just maybe not as many.  It’s all good news for Glaxo whose headquarters are here in Philadelphia.  Glaxo is seeking new sources of revenue, as sales of its top selling products slow or face competition from generic drugs.  At The Inquirer, I’m Maria Panaritis for Philadelphia Business Today.


MARIA PANARITIS: Coming up: Wooing back customers the wrong way. But what does a recent FCC ruling on Verizon mean for you? Find out.  And, breathing new life into an architectural gem in Philly. Hear who’s moving into Strawbridge’s. Plus, paying off primary debt; we’ll tell you how much the Clinton camp owes the Keystone State. Philadelphia Business Today starts now.



MARIA PANARITIS:    Comcast has scored a victory against Verizon. The phone company can no longer try to woo back customers trying to leave for cable phone service. Says who? The FCC. Federal regulators have agreed with a bunch of cable companies, including Comcast, that Verizon was in the wrong for trying to keep customers from defecting to its cable rivals. Verizon’s program worked like this: A Verizon customer would sign up for cable phone service; the cable company would notify Verizon to transfer the phone number; and Verizon would -bombard the soon-to-be-departed  customer with aggressive incentives to stay. According to the FCC, that’s a no-no. It violates standards, the commission said. But that troubles FCC chief Kevin Martin, who cast the sole dissenting vote in favor of Verizon, stating that the ban could thwart competition.


Gimbels. Lit Bros. Snellenberg's. Strawbridge’s. Wanamaker’s. Names that once made Market East a department store wonderland. Blue chip retailers who vanished in the age of big box shopping. But developers say they’re ready to breathe life into one of the grand old Center City buildings from that era. Three floors of the old Strawbridge and Clothier at 8th and Market are being converted into office space, including the stunning old Corinthian Room Restaurant, a Strawbridge’s landmark. The deal announced today means contractors will have to move delicately to rehab the space. Strawbridge’s is a certified historic building, loaded with ornate touches from the turn of the century and the Roaring Twenties. The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust is leasing out three floors of the building to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia retail developer says it’s hired a historic preservation consultant and a top-notch contractor. The state is moving most of its workers into Strawbridge’s and out of their digs at Broad and Spring Garden by next summer.


Hillary Clinton owes Pennsylvanians big-time for her blowout win during the April primary. No, she really owes them. Almost a quarter of a million dollars, in fact. Campaign finance records show Clinton has one heck of a tab in the Keystone State. She owes $231,000 to everyone from regular folks to colleges. There’s the $38,000 she owes an audio/visual firm, $24,000 that belongs to the University of Pennsylvania, $15,000 to pay off a Temple University bill. She also five-and-ten-thousand dollar chunks to mom and pop shops who picked up the tab during her campaign stops. No one is saying Senator Clinton won’t make good on the loans. The York Police Department has already received payment for overtime police coverage. But her campaign debt is in the millions nationally. By the way, the man who lost the Pennsylvania primary, Barack Obama? He owes the state, too, it seems. The total? Six hundred and twelve big ones.


At the Inquirer, I’m Maria Panaritis for Philadelphia Business Today.

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