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Gas prices drop by the biggest weekly amount in 4 months and other business news

Dec 16, 2023Dec 16, 2023

Chattanooga gas prices drop 14.1 cents a gallon

Gasoline prices dropped last week in Chattanooga by the largest amount since April as the heavy summer driving season nears an end.

The average price of regular unleaded gas declined in Chattanooga by 14.1 cents a gallon during the past week to $3.29 a gallon, according to GasBuddy's survey of 170 stations in Chattanooga. Prices in Chattanooga average 49 cents a gallon less than the U.S. average of $3.78 per gallon.

"For the first time in weeks, the national average price of gasoline has fallen over the last week as the wholesale price of gasoline had been under seasonal pressure as we near the end of the summer driving season," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a report Monday. "However, the drop may be short-lived, as one of the nation's largest refineries partially shut last week after a fire at a storage tank, and as we see more tropical activity that could lead to further disruption."

In a separate report, AAA said Tennessee's statewide average price of gas was $3.40 a gallon, or 4 cents a gallon less than the pre-Labor Day price of fuel a year ago in the state.

"Tennessee gas prices reversed course over last week and are trending less expensive, which is great news for those that are planning a road trip over the holiday weekend," Megan Cooper, spokeswoman for AAA, said in a report Monday. "Even though it's likely that gas prices will continue to trend lower over this week, continued volatility at the pump can't be ruled out given the recent uptick in tropical storm activity."

Signix launches Compliance Lock

Signix, a Chattanooga-based provider of digital signature services, has added a cutting-edge service to assist broker dealers and registered investment agents in preventing fraud and meeting stricter new regulatory requirements for monitoring and ensuring the authenticity of digital signatures.

The new feature, known as Compliance Lock, scans the detailed audit trails and records every step of the Signix signing process. The service identifies transactions with red flags and notifies the firm's compliance team. Once notified, compliance personnel, as part of a larger supervisory system, can immediately investigate those specific document workflows for concerning activity, as opposed to wading through thousands of data points.

"We know that compliance, security, and reputation are paramount for broker-dealers," Jay Jumper, CEO of Signix, said in a statement Monday. "Built on our patented digital signature and TotalAudit technology, Compliance Lock is an essential component of supervisory systems for digital signature transactions, helping firms achieve compliance with industry regulations."

The Compliance Lock service is offered as an add-on to Signix's existing, advanced and intuitive digital signature workflow services.

Biggest Starbucks store votes down unionization

Workers at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Michigan Avenue in Chicago — the largest Starbucks in the world — rejected union membership in a vote held Friday and Saturday by the National Labor Relations Board.

Employees at the 35,000-square-foot roastery rejected the union in a 119-90 vote, according to the labor board. Staff at the flagship roastery filed for a union election last month with Starbucks Workers United, the Service Employees International Union affiliate representing Starbucks workers.

The Michigan Avenue roastery, a five-story tourist draw at 646 N. Michigan Ave., opened in a former Crate & Barrel store in 2019. The caffeine emporium offers elaborate coffee-based drinks and cocktails as well as pastries baked in house. It was the coffee giant's sixth roastery in the world when it opened four years ago.

Two other U.S. roasteries, located in Starbucks' Seattle hometown and in New York, unionized last spring.

In a news release, Starbucks Workers United alleged the company engaged in illegal union-busting at the Chicago roastery, which Starbucks denies.

Google adds data centers at three Ohio locations

Google will invest an additional $1.7 billion to support three data center campuses in central Ohio, the company announced Monday.

The tech giant now operates a center in New Albany and announced in May that it would build additional centers in Columbus and Lancaster to help power its artificial intelligence technology and other tools.

Mark Isakowitz, Google's vice president of government affairs and public policy, said the additional money will be used to complete the Columbus and Lancaster centers and expand the New Albany facility, but did not disclose more specific details.

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who participated in Google's announcement, said no tax credits or other public incentives were offered to Google for the data-center expansion.

Data centers have proliferated across the U.S. and become a welcome revenue source for local governments. They also require a large amount of electricity and high-voltage transmission lines.

Amazon restricts no-cost deliveries

Amazon has been quietly raising the amount some customers must spend on its site to get free shipping.

To qualify for no-cost deliveries, some Amazon customers who don't have Prime memberships now need to spend $35, up from $25 previously.

Amazon spokesperson Kristina Pressentin confirmed the company is testing the new qualification, which was first reported by the blog eCommerce Bytes. The change doesn't impact Prime members who pay $14.99 per month, or $139 a year, for free shipping and other perks.

"We continually evaluate our offerings and make adjustments based on those assessments," Pressentin said.

For now, the new $35 minimum seems to apply to customers based on where they live, the consumer education website Consumer World said Monday. Among other cities, it noted Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, has a $25 minimum, while non-Prime customers in nearby Bellevue have to pay $35 for free shipping.

The move comes as the online retail giant works to cut costs across different areas of its business.

In the past, Amazon has raised the threshold order amount for free shipping as high as $49. It lowered it to $25 in 2017 as Walmart was ramping up its ecommerce operations.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

Chattanooga gas prices drop 14.1 cents a gallonSignix launches Compliance LockBiggest Starbucks store votes down unionizationGoogle adds data centers at three Ohio locationsAmazon restricts no-cost deliveries