Truckers See Momentum Slowing Heading Into 2019

Trucking companies face an uphill climb in 2019 as a freight boom that delivered record profit for carriers over the past year begins to soften. Fleets extracted double-digit rate increases from shippers last year, as demand surged on strong economic growth forcing retailers, manufacturers and other companies to scramble to book transportation in tight shipping networks. Such gains may be hard to match in coming months amid slowing industrial growth, wavering consumer confidence and ongoing trade tensions. Trucking companies that expanded capacity in 2018 with an unprecedented run-up of new equipment orders will have less leverage to raise shipping prices if freight demand falls, as some analysts predict. The Wall Street Journal

Texas’ Long-Awaited Bullet Train Plans to Start Construction

When it comes to fighting traffic for hours on the long trips between Dallas and Houston, there may be a new silver bullet— none other than the Texas Bullet Train. This Japanese-inspired downtown Dallas to northwest Houston high-speed rail would be the first of its kind in the United States. “Would be” because it’s long felt like a rumor — but now it’s looking a lot more like a “will be.” Masaru Yosano, chief general manager of Central Japan Railway Company, tells WFAA that plans are going forward, complete with a specific time frame. “We will start the construction next year,” Yosano says. Paper City

Tellurian’s $15B terminal in Lake Charles, La. scores key permitting milestone

As the race to build liquefied natural gas terminals continues the Gulf Coast, Houston-based Tellurian Inc. reached a key milestone Friday as a federal agency released a 523-page study of the proposed $15 billion terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The study, called final environmental impact statement, is not a permit itself but it is an important milestone in the permitting process for any new terminal because federal agencies use the findings to decide whether to give proponents the green light to build the project. Tellurian will still need a final order from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before it can build the terminal. Houston Chronicle

N.C. unemployment rate unchanged as national rate increases

North Carolina’s December 2018 unemployment rate remained unchanged from November while the national unemployment rate increased. North Carolina’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent while the national unemployment rate grew by 0.2 of a percentage point to 3.9 percent. North Carolina’s December 2018 rate decreased 0.9 of a percentage point from a year ago. The employment report released Friday by the N.C. Department of Commerce also showed that since December 2017, total nonfarm jobs grew 87,200 with the total private sector growing by 82,700. Triad Business Journal

Mayor Fischer: Louisville is strong, well-positioned for the future; and we need to brag!

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Delivering his ninth annual State of the City address from the Muhammad Ali Center on The Champ’s birthday, Mayor Greg Fischer today challenged the community to have the same courage, vision and determination that made Ali one of the most beloved, respected and well-known people the world has ever seen. The Mayor noted that Ali came of age at a time of great change and “refused to let the world dictate what his life could be,” making him a great role model today, “because this is another moment of great change: in society, in technology, and in our economy.” It’s time, he said, “to embrace Ali’s spirit and boldly make our own future.” Lane Report

Kentucky Expecting Ongoing Growth in 2019

Kentucky business leaders see a year of continued economic expansion. The urban centers are where the most activity is, with big construction and development projects driving dollars into the financial arteries. Logistics and related operations are surging at and near the Northern Kentucky and Louisville international airports. Kentucky’s significant vehicle manufacturing sector expects stable business despite slight overall sales decreases as the sector eases back after several successive record years. Bourbon making and bourbon tourism continue their upswing and continue to attract hotel projects. Lane Report

Florida jobless rate steady amid hurricane recovery

Florida’s unemployment rate held steady at 3.3 percent as 2018 ended, while Hurricane Michael’s impact continued to be felt in parts of the Panhandle. The state Department of Economic Opportunity reported Friday an estimated 335,000 Floridians were out of work in December from a labor force of 10.28 million, keeping the state mark below the national unemployment rate of 3.9 percent. The state rate held steady as two counties that sustained major damage in Hurricane Michael continued to struggle with the effects of the October storm. Gulf County posted the state’s highest unemployment rate, 7.9 percent, followed by Bay County at 5.9 percent. Tampa Bay Business Journal

St. Joe Company plans a “very important role” in Hurricane Michael recovery

WATERSOUND — In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the St. Joe Company is looking to help rebuild Bay County. The company has announced or reaffirmed its involvement in several projects since the storm, including developing a 592-acre residential community in east Bay County to help alleviate the shortage of workforce housing caused by the storm, continuing with plans to build a hotel at the Panama City Marina and plans to develop a 200-acre retail and residential village in Mexico Beach. As the largest private landowner and a major developer in Bay County, St. Joe actually has a much more ambitious agenda for helping the region recover. Here are excerpts from an extended conversation on Wednesday with company President and CEO Jorge Gonzalez. Panama City News Herald

Manpower Survey: Hiring pace in Lee County, Fla. expected to be among the strongest in the nation for the first quarter

Lee County’s employers are expected to hire at a brisk pace in the first quarter. That’s according to the latest survey by the ManpowerGroup. Among employers surveyed in the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area, or Lee County, 34 percent said they plan to hire more workers from January through March. This number is offset by the 2 percent that plan to reduce their payrolls, giving the area a net employment outlook of 32 percent. Manpower no longer surveys employers in the Naples area or Collier County. The Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach area ranked first, with an outlook of 37 percent. Fort Myers News Press

For Mobile, Ala., a groundbreaking. For Airbus, a world stage

Set aside, for a moment, the Airbus pitch to Alabama. The interesting thing about the last few days is the way Airbus has used Alabama in its sales pitch to the world. Wednesday’s groundbreaking for the company’s new assembly line in Mobile, where it will build the new A220 jet alongside the A320 airliners it has been cranking out for nearly three years now, wasn’t an isolated point of interest. It was a fulcrum that Airbus used to leverage attention for some messages it wanted to put out. The shiny ceremonial shovels had barely finished turning the dirt on Wednesday when some of those messages started hitting the Internet under headlines about Brexit, international economic strategy and the titanic, never-ending battle between Airbus and Boeing.