Business Briefly

Credit-counseling service AmeriDebt, accused of defrauding consumers and falsely portraying itself as a nonprofit, announced it will lay off most of its workers and stop seeking new customers because of recent “negative publicity.” Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission announced they would investigate nonprofit credit counseling services to make sure they serve consumers and qualify for their tax-exempt status. No specific firms were named. AmeriDebt announced that as of Nov. 1 it will cease outreach to new consumer clients to focus on existing clients.

Stronger lumber and plywood sales helped Weyerhaeuser Co. boost its third-quarter profits fivefold over the same period in 2002, the wood products company reported Friday. For the July-September quarter, Weyerhaeuser had net earnings of $82 million, or 37 cents a share, up from $13 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier. Sales rose 6 percent, to $5.2 billion from $4.9 billion. Earnings for the most recent quarter reflected $92 million in after-tax charges, or 42 cents a share, for a variety of expenses.

Microsoft Corp. shares fell 8 percent Friday after the company reported a sharp drop in new corporate contracts as the Blaster computer virus attacked computers around the world two months ago and left distracted salespeople unable to close new deals. “It’s one thing to have the security issue give you bad public relations. But it’s another thing to have it impact your sales cycle,” said Charles DiBona, a senior research analyst with Bernstein, an investment research firm. Microsoft’s stock fell $2.30 to close at $26.61 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Many Washington businesses will pay higher unemployment taxes next year. The state Employment Security Department announced the increase Friday, saying a 24 percent drop in the state’s unemployment insurance trust fund was large enough to trigger the increase. On average, businesses will see their taxes increase 12 percent, the department said, although the exact amount will vary widely from company to company based on criteria that include how often a firm lays off workers. Last year, the state paid out $1.62 billion in regular jobless benefits, plus another $840 million in state and federal extended benefits. That pulled the balance in the trust fund below the $1.3 billion level, thus triggering the increase. The new tax rate notices will be mailed out in December. The first payments under the new rates will be due in April.

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Members of Gravitics' team and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen stand in front of a mockup of a space module interior on Thursday, August 17, 2023 at Gravitics' Marysville facility. Left to right: Mark Tiner, government affairs representative; Jiral Shah, business development; U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen; Mike DeRosa, marketing; Scott Macklin, lead engineer. (Gravitics.)
Marysville startup prepares for space — the financial frontier

Gravitics is building space station module prototypes to one day house space travelers and researchers.

Orca Mobility designer Mike Lowell, left, and CEO Bill Messing at their office on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023 in Granite Falls, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Could a Granite Falls startup’s three-wheeler revolutionize delivery?

Orca Mobility’s battery-powered, three-wheel truck is built on a motorcycle frame. Now, they aim to make it self-driving.

Catherine Robinweiler leads the class during a lab session at Edmonds College on April 29, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Grant aids apprenticeship program in Mukilteo and elsewhere

A $5.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant will boost apprenticeships for special education teachers and nurses.

Peoples Bank is placing piggy banks with $30 around Washington starting Aug. 1.
(Peoples Bank)
Peoples Bank grant program seeks proposals from nonprofits

Peoples Bank offers up to $35,000 in Impact Grants aimed at helping communities. Applications due Sept. 15.

Workers build the first all-electric commuter plane, the Eviation Alice, at Eviation's plant on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021 in Arlington, Washington.  (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Arlington’s Eviation selects Seattle firm to configure production plane

TLG Aerospace chosen to configure Eviation Aircraft’s all-electric commuter plane for mass production.

Jim Simpson leans on Blue Ray III, one of his designs, in his shop on Friday, August 25, 2023, in Clinton, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Whidbey Island master mechanic building dream car from “Speed Racer”

Jim Simpson, 68, of Clinton, is using his knowledge of sports cars to assemble his own Mach Five.

Inside the new Boeing 737 simulator at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
New Boeing 737 simulator takes ‘flight’ in Mukilteo

Pilots can test their flying skills or up their game at Simulation Flight in Mukilteo.

An Amazon worker transfers and organizes items at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amazon cuts ribbon on colossal $355M fulfillment center in Arlington

At 2.8 million square feet, the facility is the largest of its kind in Washington. It can hold 40 million “units” of inventory.

A computer rendering of the North Creek Commerce Center industrial park in development at 18712 Bothell-Everett Highway. (Kidder Mathews)
Developer breaks ground on new Bothell industrial park

The North Creek Commerce Center on Bothell Everett Highway will provide warehouse and office space in three buildings.

Dan Bates / The Herald
Funko president, Brian Mariotti is excited about the growth that has led his company to need a 62,000 square foot facility in Lynnwood.
Photo Taken: 102312
Former Funko CEO resigns from the Everett company

Brian Mariotti resigned Sept. 1, six weeks after announcing he was taking a six-month sabbatical from the company.

Cash is used for a purchase at Molly Moon's Ice Cream in Edmonds, Washington on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Paper or plastic? Snohomish County may require businesses to take cash

County Council member Nate Nehring proposed an ordinance to ban cashless sales under $200. He hopes cities will follow suit.

A crowd begins to form before a large reception for the opening of Fisherman Jack’s at the Port of Everett on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Seafood with a view: Fisherman Jack’s opens at Port of Everett

“The port is booming!” The new restaurant is the first to open on “restaurant row” at the port’s Waterfront Place.