Canadian Fast Food Giant Expands Southward

Noreen O’Leary writes in Brandweek that Tim Hortons the donut and sandwich chain, huge in Canada, but largely unknown here, has been expanding its U.S. footprint of late and appears to be using the market as a testing ground. So far, Tim Hortons spend has been modest. Its outlay on measured media last year was $12 million in the U.S., which is a good $100 million shy of what Dunkin’ Donuts spent. But the chain, named after a star hockey player, has been throwing body checks at its rival lately.

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Caribou Coffee Tests Oatmeal, In-store Pastry Ovens

John Vomhof Jr. reports in the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal that Caribou Coffee Co. Inc. is testing ways to perk up its breakfast offerings and soon will launch an enhanced line of chocolate beverages. Brooklyn Center-based Caribou recently added oatmeal to the menu at 25 stores in the Twin Cities and Washington, D.C., and it’s offering fresh-baked pastries at about 25 locations in the Twin Cities. If the tests are successful, those items might be rolled out companywide.

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Small Business Faces Sharp Rise in Costs of Health Care

Reed Abelson reports in the New York Times that as Congress nears votes on legislation that would overhaul the health care system, many small businesses say they are facing the steepest rise in insurance premiums they have seen in recent years. Insurance brokers and benefits consultants say their small business clients are seeing premiums go up an average of about 15 percent for the coming year — double the rate of last year’s increases. That would mean an annual premium that was $4,500 per employee in 2008 and $4,800 this year would rise to $5,500 in 2010.

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Obama Asks for SBA Loan Expansion, Franchisees Agree

Don Sniegowski reports at BlueMauMau that President Barack Obama announced plans Wednesday afternoon to shift some of Wall Street’s bailout funds over to community banks in order to spur lending to small businesses, which has slowed to a trickle. With SBA administrator Karen Mills and Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner flanking him, President Obama made several announcements to boost small business.

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Obama: Still “A Long Way To Go” to Help Small Businesses

Henry Pulizzi of the New York Times rports that President Barack Obama unveiled initiatives to help small businesses, saying the U.S. has “a long way to go” to ensure that credit flows to an area of the economy hit hard by the recession.

“There is still too little credit flowing to our small businesses. There are still too many entrepreneurs who can’t get the loan they need to open their doors and start hiring,” Obama said in a speech at Landover, Md.-based Metropolitan Archives, a family-owned firm that stores and delivers paper files for large companies.

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Starbucks Settles With Ex-Exec Who Went To Dunkin

Dow Jones Commodities News Select reports that the Starbucks Coffee Co. announced Friday night it had reached a settlement with Paul Twohig, a former executive who ran the company’s retail operations in the U.S. southeast who left to take over as brand operations officer for rival Dunkin’ Donuts parent Dunkin Brands. Starbucks sued Twohig, claiming he had signed a noncompete agreement, according to a report published Oct. 7 in the Boston Business Journal.

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Health Care Bill Passes the Senate Finance Committee!

On October 13, the Senate Finance Committee voted to approve its bill on health care reform by a vote of 14-9. While lacking wide bipartisan agreement the measure did attract one Republican vote, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME). Senator Snowe joined all the Democrats on the committee to vote in favor of the measure. The Senate Finance Committee proposal requires employers to offer coverage which is “affordable” to employees and which covers at least 65% of their premiums. The definition of affordability will be based on a sliding scale but cannot be more than 10% of an employee’s income.

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Citizens Runs on Dunkin’

Citizens Bank said Tuesday it was opening its first branch inside a Dunkin’ Brands store. The new operation will be at 815 South Main St. in Bellingham. The branch will offer window teller service as well as private offices for loan applications and other specialized services. The branch will be open seven days a week, while an ATM is also available in the eatery.

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Chamber of Commerce Says Private Sector, Not Government, Will Create Jobs

Penny Starr reports at CNSNews.com that Tom Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said at the organization’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday that Americans and not the government are the answer to the country’s economic woes. At an event Wednesday to launch its ‘Dream Big’ campaign to promote the American free enterprise system, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said that people, not government, will create the jobs needed for economic recovery.

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