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BizBrief: Today’s News To Know

CAR Predicts ‘Weak’ Housing Market In 2019

Due to high home prices and decreasing affordability, a weak California housing market is expected in 2019, according to a forecast report released today by the California Association of Realtors (CAR). Home sales are expected to decrease 3.3% next year to 396,800, down from the 410,460 projected sales of 2018. This year marks the first decline in home sales in four years, according to the report. The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate is expected to increase from 4.7% to 5.2% in 2019. The median home price is forecast to increase 3.1% to $503,450 in 2019.

U.S. Chamber’s Annual Small Business Summit Paints Positive Picture

In a recap of its annual Small Business Summit, United States Chamber of Commerce Senior Editor Sean Hackbarth recounted how small businesses are using tax cuts to reinvest in their companies, employees and communities. According to U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, one Florida trucking company owner was able to purchase an $80,000 truck due to tax savings, enabling him to gain six new customers. U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta pointed out that a new rule giving small businesses access to less costly, large group health plans for employees (called associated health plans) also present an opportunity for growth. Businesses could save as much as 40% on health care costs through such plans, he said. A challenge remaining for businesses across the country is finding workers, according to the Chamber recap. Click here to read the Chamber article.

Port Receives $5 Million Dollar Energy Grant

The Port of Long Beach received a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission for the construction of an electrical microgrid, the port announced yesterday. The grant is funding the installation of a solar carport, power storage systems and advanced controls at port security headquarters. The project’s goal is to demonstrate “the new technology’s effectiveness in providing a clean, reliable supply of electricity for critical operations,” according to the announcement. Following a 12-month demonstration, performance data collected by the port will be made available to other California seaports. The total cost of the microgrid project is $7.1 million.

IRS Lists Tax Tips Online For Small Businesses

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has created “a new 20% deduction for qualified business income,” in addition to a number of new business credits, according to the California Chamber of Commerce. For example, small businesses owners who provided or plan to provide paid family and medical leave to employees in 2018 and 2019 may qualify for a credit. The Internal Revenue Service has listed a number of key changes on a web page to help small business owners keep track of the changes.

Construction Material Cost Continues To Increase

Construction material costs increased 7.4% in September compared to the same month in 2017, according to an Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) analysis of U.S. Labor Department data. In the past year, tariffs have caused producer price index increases of 29.3% for diesel fuel, 22.1% for steel pipe and tubing and 11.7% for fabricated structural metal, among other cost increases. Over the past year, contractors increased their construction fees for nonresidential properties by 3.5%, which indicates firms are absorbing increased costs, according to the report. Additionally, 80% of respondents to an AGC August survey reported difficulty filling hourly worker positions, resulting in 62% of firms paying higher salaries to attract and retain workers.

DLBA Announces New Board Of Directors And Executive Committee

The Downtown Long Beach Alliance has announced its 31-member board of directors and nine-member executive committee for fiscal year 2018-2019. Tony Shooshani, managing member of Shooshani Developers, owner of The Streets (formerly City Place), is serving as committee chair, with Silvano Merlo, general manager of Courtyard by Marriott Long Beach Downtown, serving as chair-elect. Other committee members include outgoing chair and Anderson Pacific Executive Vice President Ryan Altoon, Den Salon owner Allison Kripp as secretary, Shoreline Village property manager Debra Fixen as treasurer, as well as The Pie Bar owner Laurie Gray, William Morris Commercial President Toliver Morris, Studio One Eleven Founder and Senior Principal Alan Pullman and Long Beach Development Services Director Linda Tatum. Two additional seats have yet to be appointed.

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