Welcome to the business page, a blog where I'll take you behind the scenes of greater Rochester's fast-changing economy. My name is Ben Rand, and I intend to introduce you to some of the personalities, concepts and events that make news in business here. I've been a business reporter for eight years in Rochester and a journalist for 18, working in four states. I grew up in Pittsford, but moved away after college for about a decade. My wife and I live in Irondequoit with our two children.
Time for some Monday morning must-reads:
- A big shakeup at the top of this year's Fortune 500 -- though probably not surprising, given the year we've had at the gas pump. The new No. 1 is Exxon Mobil, which last year brought in almost $340 billion. That's the equivalent of $1,078 a second. In terms of local companies, Xerox registers as the 142nd largest company; Kodak checks in at 155th; Corning's at No. 455. It's a breakthrough year for Constellation Brands, which makes the list for the first time at No. 487. Further down, you'll find Paychex at No. 991. Interesting non-local detail: Yahoo makes the list for the first time. Here's a link to the Fortune 500 section.
- It's sort of hard to believe that a country of more than 2 billion people could have labor shortages, but that's apparently what's happening in China, according to this report. The interesting aspect here is that labor shortages tend to drive up wages, and higher wages would make the cost equation of moving jobs from the United States to China a little more challenging. (NY Times.)
- Patricia Russo worked for Eastman Kodak Co. a few years ago just long enough to have a cup of coffee. Then she left for Lucent Technologies. Now, through a merger with Alcatel, she's moving to Paris. Read about it here. (Newark, N.J. Star Ledger.)
- General Motors may be taking the GM out of GMAC, the auto company's financing arm. GM is selling its majority stake as the automaker works to regain its footing. (Detroit Free Press.)
- Designing products is no longer dominated by manufacturing engineers. Today, cultural anthopologists typically get in on the act. Eastman Kodak's been doing this for years, as has Xerox Corp., but now other companies are catching on. (San Diego Union Tribune.)
- I confess that I have wondered why people would want to watch television shows or movies on small cell phone or PDA screens. Perhaps it's not a trend that's meant for the demographic I represent. Here's how some people down south are viewing the new capabilities. (St. Petersburg, Fla. Times.)