Business, Economy and Consumer Affairs

This could be "the year of the gas-pocalypse" analysts tell the Los Angeles Times, "because gasoline prices are the highest ever for the start of the year, and they're on the rise, supercharged by expensive oil and changes in refinery operations."

Indeed, check out some of this reporting and analysis from

Last year was a very good year for the German automaker Volkswagen, but 2012 could be even better.

Sales for Volkswagen Group's brands — including Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini — increased by 20 percent in the U.S. last year. For the Volkswagen brand itself, sales rose 26.3 percent. And if things continue to go Volkswagen's way, it could become the No. 1 carmaker in the world.

Google is "downgrading the search result ranking of the company's own Web browser, Google Chrome, for 60 days," as PC World reports, because some bloggers ending up being paid to mention Chrome during a recent ad campaign.


By Gretchen Frazee, Indiana Public Media

Columbus-based Cummins Incorporated and Indianapolis-based Angie’s List are two of 219 companies that have promised to create more jobs in Indiana. That’s according to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). But the number of job commitments is actually down from last year. IEDC officials say the companies have committed to create more than 19,000 new jobs over the next five years. That number is actually four thousand lower than last year, but spokesperson Katelyn Hancock says it’s still good news.

For the first time in more than six decades, the United States is exporting more gasoline and diesel than it imports.

To be clear, we're talking about finished petroleum products, not crude oil. The U.S. still imports about half the crude it consumes.

Refineries are touting this new export statistic — after all, gasoline and diesel are manufactured products. They say a boost in exports keeps more manufacturing jobs in the U.S. But one reason exports are increasing is that demand for gas in this country is declining.

Lafayette and surrounding communities will not lose their Sears or Kmart stores for the time being.

Sears Holdings announced the locations of 80 outlets that will be closing.  The company has said as many as 120 locations could be shuttered.

Indiana is losing several stores. Those are the Sears in Anderson, and the Kmart in St. John, Portage, and in Indianapolis at Pendleton Plaza.

A news release from the company states the exact number of employees impacted is not known now, but a typical store that is being closed employs between 40 and 80 associates.

The year 2011 was tumultuous for stocks. The eurozone crisis and a U.S. credit downgrade kept investors nervous, but one industry held steady, even faring better than in previous years: technology.

Developer updates proposal for The Landmark in WL

Dec 29, 2011

Updated preliminary plans for a new retail-apartment complex in West Lafayette could go before the Area Plan Commission as soon as next month.

The project, known as The Landmark, is proposed for Northwestern Avenue, across from Mackey Arena and Lambert Fieldhouse.

Developer Marc Muinzer wants to build a 6 story building with nearly 38,000 square feet of retail space and 250 apartments containing 600 beds. The current proposal has 295 spaces and 14 on-street parking spots on Evergreen. 

Lemonade Day volunteers & sponsors needed

Dec 29, 2011

Greater Lafayette Commerce has begun planning for Lemonade Day, 2012.

The event helps children set-up a lemonade stand to learn about entrepreneurship and what it takes to run a business.

G.L.C. Economic Development Program Manager Nancy Sells says they’re looking for volunteers and locations.

"To host kids and their lemonade stands. Volunteers are needed to make sure everything goes alright and to help the children if they need it. Volunteers do not need to have a background in business or economics."

Last year’s event involved roughly 500 kids.

The fate of several Sears and Kmart stores in and around the Lafayette area is still unknown.

Parent company Sears Holding has not yet released a list of as many as 120 outlets it’s closing.

Ball State Economist Sue Mantel says, as far as Sears in concerned, it needs to re-brand itself as something customers can relate to, because it has an identity problem.  She says this should not be seen as the end of either company.