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Downtown businesses support transit terminal relocation

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‘We are not taking away any stops in the downtown’ – Tom Vair, the city’s deputy CAO of community development and enterprise services

Six out of 10 downtown businesses support a proposed relocation of the Dennis Street bus terminal, even though the new location is outside the Downtown Association’s coverage area.

Ashlyn McMillan, acting Downtown Association manager, told her board this week that a membership poll was taken after one property owner and his tenants expressed concern about the move.

“60 per cent of our membership was in support of moving it away from our boundaries,” McMillan said.

When asked whether they’d like the transit terminal to stay where it is, 60 per cent responded no.

When asked if the proposed move (five blocks west to Sault Transit’s bus barn/administration complex at Queen and Huron) would deter customers from visiting their downtown establishments, 60 per cent of property owners and tenants said no.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents said the relocation would benefit the city’s downtown revitalization efforts, McMillan said.

“It seems a new facility is what people are looking for,” McMillan told this week’s meeting of the business improvement area’s board of directors on Wednesday night.

“People are pretty strong about the fact that the facility is older and it needs some work.”

Tom Vair, the city’s deputy chief administrative officer for community development and enterprise services, said:  “There are some issues with that current building that need to be addressed. There are some efficiencies and some improvements that we’ll get by relocating the terminal.”

“We are not taking away any stops in the downtown. The downtown will still be heavily serviced with all the stops that are there today. We think there are some benefits to this approach to the terminal,” Vair said.

In July, City Council approved public consultations on the plan to move the main downtown bus terminal to Huron Street.

Councillors agreed on May 21, 2019, to seek a new location as part of a three-year Sault Transit investment plan.

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Apple’s Booming Services Business Could Be Hit in Google Antitrust Battle

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The Justice Department’s attempt to punish Google for its competitive practices in internet search could end up taking a major toll on a different tech giant:

Apple Inc.


AAPL -0.61%

A multibillion-dollar deal in which Google pays to be the default search engine on Apple’s iPhones and other devices is at the heart of the case the U.S. government filed last week against Google. That deal is also at the heart of Apple’s services unit, which has been the biggest contributor to its growth over the past several years.

The government has pointed to the deal, whose history dates back 15 years, as an example of how Google, a unit of

Alphabet Inc.,


GOOG 1.59%

uses its giant profits to block out competition—a contention Google denies. For Apple, it has been a lucrative illustration of the value of access to the more than 1 billion global users of its devices. And while the outcome of the Justice Department’s suit—which could take years to play out—is far from clear, analysts and investors say losing that deal could be a sizable blow to Apple, given estimates that Google’s payments account for up to a fifth of the iPhone maker’s overall profit.

“There’s a risk, if you play it out, that there actually could be more financial impact to Apple than there is for Google,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst for Bernstein. He estimates that Apple’s stock could fall as much as 20% if the deal with Google were to be eliminated entirely. At the same time, he and others say, any damage could be far less if Apple is able to offset it through other deals involving Google and its competitors, as many investors and analysts say could happen.

Investors seemed to shrug off the threat last week when the Justice Department’s lawsuit against Google was revealed. Apple’s shares rose that day.

Google’s Search Dominance

Mark Stoeckle, chief executive of Adams Funds, which counts Apple among its largest holdings, says that it could be a long time before the legal case is decided, and questions whether what Google is doing with Apple is any different than a consumer-goods company paying a grocery store for better placement on its shelves.

“There is no question that if this arrangement were to end it would be a negative for” Apple, he said in an email, but at this point he thinks the risk for Apple is manageable.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on the Justice Department’s lawsuit, which doesn’t accuse it of wrongdoing. Google has disputed the lawsuit’s claims, saying users turn to its search engine because it is the best and not because they can’t find alternatives.

Last week, Kent Walker, Google’s chief legal officer, said in a blog post that the Apple relationship is “no different from the agreements that many other companies have traditionally used to distribute software.”

The two companies first struck a deal in 2005, when Steve Jobs was still Apple’s CEO, to make Google the default in Apple’s Safari web browser on Mac computers. The deal expanded with the arrival of the iPhone two years later, according to the government’s lawsuit.

The companies have never made public the exact terms of the deal. Information about large payments from Google to Apple emerged in 2016 during an unrelated court fight involving the search giant, during which it was mentioned in court proceedings that Apple received $1 billion in 2014 as part of the arrangement.

The number grew sharply after that, analysts say, though they vary on its exact size. The government’s lawsuit points to public estimates that Google pays between $8 billion and $12 billion annually for the arrangement, and said it represents 15% to 20% of Apple’s profit.

Apple reported $55.26 billion in profit for the fiscal year through September 2019, a number analysts estimate grew slightly in the past year. The company is scheduled to report its fiscal 2020 results on Thursday.

Google also has much at stake if the government’s antitrust action were to disrupt its Apple deal. Apple devices originated almost 50% of its search traffic last year, according to the government filing. Analysts including Mr. Sacconaghi have speculated that Apple might develop its own search business to compete for advertising dollars, perhaps through the acquisition of DuckDuckGo Inc., a small search engine that—like Apple—emphasizes privacy. Any such move would add a potentially powerful new competitor for Google, which overwhelmingly dominates search rivals including

Microsoft Corp.’s

Bing and DuckDuckGo.

DuckDuckGo didn’t immediately respond to a question about Apple.

The revenue stream from its Google deal, which is essentially pure profit, has bolstered Apple CEO Tim Cook’s effort to redirect the company as it has faced stagnating sales of iPhones, which make up about half of the company’s revenue. The number of iPhones sold peaked in fiscal 2015, while revenue peaked in fiscal 2018 at $167 billion.

The Google deal accounts for a big chunk of Apple’s so-called services business, which has soared to what analysts estimate to be $53 billion in the past fiscal year from about $20 billion in fiscal 2015.

Daniel Morgan, a senior portfolio manager who focuses on technology at Synovus Trust Co., which counts Apple among its largest holdings, said there may still be a way for Apple to collect some of the money in a scenario that might have multiple search engines paying for placement.

In Europe, for example, Google now gives users of Android phones the option of which search engine to use after losing a fight with regulators there.

Write to Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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More than Half of Small Businesses Say They’re the Same or Better Than Before COVID

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More than half (57%) of small business owners say their financial position is the same as or better than the pre-pandemic period, according to a new survey by Capital One. The survey findings highlight the optimism among small businesses in the wake of an unprecedented economic instability brought about by COVID-19. 



Majority of Small Businesses Same or Better than Before COVID

Some 62% of business owners say they are confident their business will eventually return to pre-pandemic conditions. This is in addition to the 87% of small businesses predicting they will still be in business by spring 2021. 

Further findings in the survey indicate optimism across the board, these include:

  • Four out of five (79%) businesses that have received the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) believe the assistance they’ve received during the pandemic will help them stay in business for the long term.
  • 82% of business owners have been able to keep the same or increase their number of employees throughout the pandemic.
  • 58% of businesses have cited not needing financial support as the primary reason they didn’t seek funds from outside sources in the last six months.
  • Less than 20% of business owners report having had to cut back on their services or offerings as a result of the pandemic.
  • Only 2% of business owners report having permanently closed since the onset of the pandemic. Food services, construction, and technology businesses are the hardest hit.

Challenges Remain

Despite the optimism, challenges, however, remain. Due to the economic disruptions since March, many small businesses have adapted their operations to not only remain in business. A case in point here is 83% of millennials are far more likely to have spent money attempting to adapt their business to keep it running during the pandemic compared to baby boomers (51%). 

Some 61% of businesses too, admit to needing more practical advice and tools to weather the storm. These include support by way of training or consulting. They believe this would help them address different areas of running a business since the pandemic. A further 43% of businesses would be willing to accept donations to help address their business’s financial needs.

Image: Depositphotos.com




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Business group warns prices of every day items may rise under no-deal

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The cost of some everyday items may rise by almost a third (30%) under a no-deal Brexit, a business group has warned, as the UK and EU move closer and closer to the deadline for negotiations.

Items could become “much more expensive,” with the potential hit of tariffs and rising inflation, Logistics UK said.

The group’s head David Wells wrote to the Sunday Times, urging prime minister Boris Johnson to work towards an agreement.

Wells wrote: “This is more than what he calls ‘turbulence’. It will have a serious impact on our economy. Logistics businesses, operating with 2% margins, cannot afford to take on these increased costs.”

He said that without a deal, UK logistics companies would be restricted to the number of lorry access permits for entering the EU. The group would only get a quarter of what they need.

“Our members are preparing as fast as information becomes available, but the risk to the economy is significant,” wells continued.

The UK government has warned businesses to prepare for a no-deal but said that a deal before the end of the year “remains our preference.”

READ MORE: Week ahead: Brexit final stretch, US election countdown, Eurozone Q3 GDP

After a week of sulking, the UK and EU have halted their stand-off. The pair yet again resumed Brexit negotiations after EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier arrived at Downing Street on Friday.

Barnier promised to “intensify talks” saying that both sides share a “huge common responsibility.” He also warned that “every day counts” ahead of a looming 31 December deadline.

French president Emmanuel Macron is said to be laying the brickwork for a delicate compromise on fisheries, to help the UK and EU agree a deal. Macron who has publicly taken a hard stance on the issue, told French fishermen to brace for a smaller catch after Brexit, Reuters reports.

It comes after, UK’s trade secretary Liz Truss announced on Friday that the government signed its trade deal with Japan, calling it a “historic moment.” A deal was agreed in principle in September this year.

Watch: What happens if no Brexit deal is struck?

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