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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Sept. 4, 2011, file photo, smoke rises from the stacks of the main plant facility at the Navajo Generating Station, as seen from Lake Powell in Page, Ariz. The Navajo Nation company has ended its pursuit of a coal-fired power plant on the reservation and the mine that feeds it. The decision Friday, March 22, 2019 means the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine will close this year, ending decades of operation in northeastern Arizona. The bid by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company had been considered a long-shot. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

Chamber wins award for ad campaign

The "Love, Little Rock" campaign has won a communications industry national award.

PRWeek named the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce's tongue-in-cheek breakup with Amazon as the best business-to-business public relations campaign in 2018. It was among 41 national awards the industry trade publication announced at a dinner Thursday in New York.

The chamber's campaign came at a time when many U.S. cities were trying to land Amazon's second headquarters. Knowing the state's capital didn't meet the requirements the online retailer demanded, the campaign detailed why the city didn't wish to be considered.

The Little Rock advertising firm Stone Ward provided the creative and media outreach pro bono, collecting fees only to purchase a full-page ad in The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, PRWeek said. Less than $80,000 was spent on ads.

The campaign "continues to be an impetus for showcasing the benefits of our workforce, business climate and quality of life," Jay Chessir, the chamber's president and chief executive officer, told the publication.

-- Noel Oman

Trump threatens tariffs for auto imports

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump criticized European automakers Friday, suggesting he could impose tariffs on imports from companies such as BMW and Mercedes unless they build more plants in the United States.

In an interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo, Trump said that he has rejected proposals from the European Union that would bring auto tariffs on both sides to zero.

"They have BMW, they have Mercedes, they have a lot of very good cars that come in," Trump said of Germany. "I want them to make them here. ... If you're going to sell them to the Americans, make them here."

Trump's comments come roughly a month after the Commerce Department completed an investigation into whether auto imports threaten national security and forwarded its conclusions to the White House.

The results of the report haven't been released. But Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said he has seen a copy and that it concludes auto imports threaten national security by worsening the trade deficit.

The president has until roughly mid-May to decide what action to take, if any, in response to the report. He could impose tariffs of up to 25 percent on all auto and auto parts imports, or just on specific items from specific countries.

The prospect of such duties has sparked strong opposition on Capitol Hill. The U.S. auto industry also opposes the duties, because they use imported auto parts, which would be more expensive if the tariffs were imposed.

-- The Associated Press

$3.7B in support set for nuclear reactors

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced Friday that President Donald Trump's administration has finalized $3.7 billion in new loan guarantees to support completion of the first new U.S. commercial nuclear reactors in a generation, calling the expansion of nuclear energy "the real" Green New Deal.

The expansion of Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia has fallen years behind schedule while its price tag has nearly doubled since the government approved two new reactors at the plant in 2012.

But Perry said the administration is determined to see the project finished despite the setbacks.

The new financial support brings to $12 billion the government's total loan guarantees for Plant Vogtle, with the initial assistance approved under President Barack Obama. The guarantees make the federal government responsible for covering unpaid debt if the electrical utilities in charge of the project default.

The Green New Deal pushed by some Democrats has served to boost interest in nuclear power, which doesn't emit greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming. But Democrats are divided over whether nuclear energy is a valid replacement for fossil fuels.

-- The Associated Press

Navajo company ends bid for plant, mine

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- One of the largest coal-fired power plants in the West will close this year as planned after a Navajo Nation company ended its long-shot bid Friday to acquire it.

The Navajo Generating Station has operated for decades in northeastern Arizona near the Utah border, providing a hefty chunk of revenue to the Navajo Nation. Both the Navajo and the neighboring Hopi Tribe benefit from the Kayenta Mine, which feeds the 2,250-megawatt power plant, transporting the coal on a rail line.

Navajo leaders asked the Navajo Transitional Energy Company last year to look into acquiring the power plant and the coal mine as a way to save the revenue and hundreds of jobs held by tribal members. Negotiations with the power plant owners came to a halt recently over who ultimately would be responsible for cleanup.

The owners wanted the energy company to take on any known or unknown liabilities for the plant, but the Navajo Nation declined. With that and a decision Thursday from a Navajo Nation Council committee not to support the acquisition, the energy company called it quits.

The news is tough for families who have relied on the jobs for generations, company spokesman Erny Zah said.

"A decade-long process would have definitely helped explore some newer opportunities that would have created economic stability for northeastern Arizona," Zah said. "And, now, we are going to do our best to see what we can do to help."

-- The Associated Press

Mexico to use $7B on oil-company debt

Mexico plans to use about $7 billion from a rainy day fund to pay ballooning debt obligations at its state-owned oil company Pemex over the next 18 months, Deputy Finance Minister Arturo Herrera said in an interview.

The plan is to turn the Oil Revenue Stabilization Fund into a fund that can be used as needed. Half of the money would go to service Pemex debt obligations and the other half to a counter-cyclical fund to be used during recessions, Herrera said at the Acapulco banking convention.

The funds may go to prepay Pemex debt, after originally being considered to prepay sovereign debt, Herrera told El Financiero Bloomberg TV in a separate interview.

Pemex is the world's most indebted oil major, owing about $108 billion. That led Fitch Ratings to lower its credit rating by two notches in January to the brink of junk.

-- The Associated Press

Business on 03/23/2019

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