That’s The Randle Report for October 23, 2017

Join us again tomorrow morning for all of the American South’s business, economic development and political news in real time and in one place. Use the sort buttons or the search window to find any story you need to find from last week, last month, last year or several years ago. Click on the headline above to access Southern Business & Development’s website, the economic development magazine of the American South; the fourth largest economy in the world.

U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to 44-Year Low After Hurricane Disruptions

WASHINGTON—The number of Americans filing applications for new unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in 44 years, reflecting power outages in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that have disrupted the application process. Initial jobless claims, a proxy for layoffs across the U.S., fell by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 222,000 in the week ended Oct. 14, the Labor Department said Thursday. The sharp drop obscures underlying trends in the labor market. Many applying for unemployment benefits in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were recently devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, must submit paper applications because power outages and infrastructure damage are disrupting the electronic process. The Wall Street Journal

Rebound in Houston home sales fuels uptick nationally

Just six weeks after floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey damaged thousands of homes in Houston, home sales there have rebounded. Sales rose 4 percent in September in Houston from the prior year, after plummeting nearly 24 percent in August, according to the National Association of Realtors. That helped push home sales nationally higher by 0.7 percent; estimates had been for a slight drop. “I don’t think anyone expected to see home sales in positive territory this soon after a natural disaster of Harvey’s magnitude,” Houston Association of Realtors Chair Cindy Hamann said in a statement. “The September report speaks volumes about the incredible resiliency of the Houston real estate market.” CNBC

This Mississippi hospital should be in crisis. How it beat the odds.

Just over a decade ago, North Sunflower Medical Center was on the verge of collapse. It had few patients and even less cash – only enough to operate for eight hours. Hospital administrators met every afternoon to see if they’d be able to open the doors the next day. The staff had to cover the lab equipment when it rained because the roof leaked. Nurses would clock out early and then stay to finish their shifts. “They figured a piece of a paycheck was better than no paycheck,” Sandra Britt, the assistant to the administrator, said of those dark days in the early 2000s. CNN Money

New report proves it: Nashville is one of America’s most dramatically changed cities

Whether you’re toasting to the new Nashville or shaking your fist at all these out-of-towners, you’re probably aware that Nashville’s seen a lot of change over the past decade. And a new report from MagnifyMoney, a LendingTree subsidiary, says you’re right: According to the report, which analyzed nine elements of local change from 2006-2016, Nashville is the country’s fourth-most changed city over that time period. The only cities that have changed more are Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. Nashville Business Journal

Dallas Fed chief to Texas business leaders: Don’t blame job losses on NAFTA and immigraton

Blaming job losses on immigration and trade, particularly trade with Mexico, is not supported by the findings of research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. That was among the key points made by Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan, who spoke Thursday to the Texas Business Leadership Council while its members met in San Antonio at the St. Anthony Hotel downtown. “A lot of the job dislocations are being publicly blamed on trade and immigration,” he said. The Dallas Fed, which does extensive research on trade and immigration, concludes that such blame might have been warranted 15 years ago, but not today. “More than likely, if your job is being disrupted, it’s because of technology and other disruption likely going on within the United States,” Kaplan said. “But we’re attributing it to trade and immigration.” Dallas Business Journal

South Korean manufacturer to invest $100M into DFW expansion bringing 1,600 jobs

A South Korean manufacturer is expanding its U.S. operations in North Texas, with Garland-based Nutribiotech USA Inc. bankrolling $100 million into the former Raytheon campus. The facility is being converted into a new $50 million business park. Over the next five years, Nutribiotech USA, a subsidiary of Nutribiotech Co., will increase its footprint from an existing 60,000-square-foot facility to more than 685,000 square feet of space. The expansion includes the renovation of 375,000 square feet of former Raytheon facilities and the construction of a new 250,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Nutribiotech’s current site. Dallas Business Journal

How Dallas-Fort Worth is already feeling the ‘Amazon Effect,’ with HQ2 search

E-commerce behemoth Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) will receive the last of the bids for its HQ2 campus by the end of today, but ‘The Amazon Effect,’ of the highly-publicized real estate search is already being felt in North Texas — and this has nothing to do with e-commerce. For those not in the retail industry, ‘The Amazon Effect,’ is a reference to Amazon’s disruption of the bricks-and-mortar retail world. Now, the Seattle-based online retailer is shaking up real estate searches, not only in North Texas, but throughout North America. Dallas Business Journal

HQ2 pitches pile up at Amazon, while taxpayers remain out of the loop

By all accounts the bids to land Amazon’s second North American headquarters are piling up at the company’s doorstep in Seattle, although few of those details have been made public to the very people with the most on the line: taxpayers. Cities and states across the country have been falling over themselves to compete for what has been called the largest economic development opportunity in a generation. The mere chance to land a global tech giant’s headquarters, which Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) says will create up to 50,000 jobs and generate billions in economic benefits each year, already has spurred public officials and economic development leaders to pledge massive incentive packages to Amazon. One problem: The taxpaying public is largely in the dark about the size and duration of the commitments being made on its behalf. Atlanta Business Chronicle

Why Charlotte is among the ‘most changed cities’ in past 10 years

Change has come easy for Charlotte and a host of other Southern cities over the past decade. Those are the findings from MagnifyMoney, the consumer-facing website and subsidiary of Charlotte-based LendingTree (NASDAQ: TREE), which the company acquired over the summer. The study focuses on the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S. and ranks each one’s level of change across nine data categories meant to measure areas of growth, decline and inactivity. Charlotte Business Journal