Reynolds Center

Business Stories of the Week: Oct. 20, 2017

New York City’s famously crowded streets will be the new testing grounds for self-driving GM cars. (“Only in New York City” by “Prayitno” via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Airlines bring back free food

Airlines appear to have emerged from their darkest economic hours. That’s the takeaway from the move by some carriers to once again offer free meals to their coach passengers. A story in Monday’s New York Times looked at why Delta, which stopped serving free meals in 2001, has taken the leap from pretzels to turkey waffle sandwiches. Along with other in-flight perks like free Wi-Fi and power  outlets, the meals are designed to improve passenger experience, particularly among the coveted customers traveling for business.

Netflix stocks soar

Reuters reported that thanks to an unexpectedly robust increase in Netflix subscribers, shares of the company soared this week. While Wall Street set a target goal of 4.5 million new subscribers for the online streaming service, Netflix added 5.3 million subscribers in all its markets in the third quarter. Meanwhile, CNBC reported on the Dow’s record high closing on Tuesday, when it touched 23,000 for the first time.

New York gears up for robot cars

In news that may strike fear in Gotham pedestrians, GM will begin testing self-driving cars in New York City early in 2018. Tuesday’s announcement by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Cruise Automation, which GM acquired in 2016, as the tech company that had applied to run “the the first tests with vehicles operating fully autonomously in the state.” The story in the Detroit News quotes Cruise CEO Kyle Vogt as saying that the city’s dense population “provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations.” Indeed.

Report reveals Weinstein influence

The Huffington Post drew back the curtain on a period when trade magazine Variety seems to have buried negative stories on newly disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. While not alluding to his alleged sexual misdeeds, the piece details how Weinstein used Miramax book deals, among other persuasions, to cozy up to powerful media types including Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart. Bart is said to have allowed Weinstein to vet stories before publication, and to have encouraged only positive coverage of Miramax.

Landing Amazon

Cities are racing to land Amazon’s new headquarters after the company announced last month it was looking for a second location. While cities make their pitch, the Washington Post asks an important question: What would happen if Amazon brought 50,000 workers to your city? For the answer, they look at Seattle. Amazon has helped turn it into one of the fastest growing cities in the country, bringing loads of new transportation and infrastructure upgrades. It’s also put stress on the city and its residents, however, with high cost of living, soaring rents and homelessness.

Target hits 50 states

The Green Mountain state is finally getting a Target store. The company announced Thursday it will open a store in South Burlington in 2018, according to CNN Money. Once it’s built, Target will have a store in every state in the U.S. The opening is one of the company’s new “small-format” locations, which can be about half the size of a standard Target. The company started building the smaller stores after changes in the retail business, undercut by online shopping and discount retailers. Target expects to have 130 smaller stores across the U.S. by 2019.