NCAA CHAMPIONSHIPS BEGIN:
The NCAA Division III Track & Field 2009 Outdoor Championships started today in Marietta with opening ceremonies around noon and a number of events at Don Drumm Stadium.
A total of 688 student-athletes will compete in the championship, which runs through Saturday. About 3,000 people are expected to file into the city for the games.
The city has gotten good reviews from the visitors so far, said Tom Perry, director of college relations for event host Marietta College.
"The athletes are walking around, checking things out and commenting that this isn't what they were expecting," Perry said. "They were expecting something a lot older."
Athlete Curt Jones, 22, of Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pa., said he had participated in a few events at Marietta in the past.
"They were indoor events, so we never got to get out and explore," Jones said. "Everything looks really good. There's a lot more to the town than I knew."
PAYDAY LENDER NUMBERS DROPPING:
CINCINNATI (AP) - More than a third of the payday lending offices in Ohio have closed since the industry lost a November ballot fight to overturn restrictions on how much interest lenders can charge.
There were about 1,600 retail locations across Ohio when the new interest rules went into effect last year, state officials said. About 960 remain, and those are under fire from critics who want to enact even tougher rules beyond the 28 percent cap on interest.
Interest rates on payday loans used to range up to almost 400 percent when computed on an annual basis.
Payday loans work this way: A borrower goes to a check-cashing company and writes a check. The company gives the person cash, minus a fee, and agrees not to cash the check until his or her payday.
Payday lenders had said the limits enacted by the Legislature last year would put them out of business.
In November, Ohio voters upheld the state law that caps annual interest rate on payday loans and limits the number of loans per customer to four a year.
"The change has been a tremendous blow to the company," said Ted Saunders, chief executive of Columbus-based CheckSmart. "I've closed 10 or 15 stores, and I've got more on the watch list. We were on a growth spurt until this happened."
Saunders said he's cut about 100 jobs statewide and now employs about 750 in Ohio and about 1,400 total. The chain has 215 stores altogether, including 95 in Ohio.
GM, AUTO WORKERS, GOVERNMENT REACH DEAL:
DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union has agreed on a tentative deal with the government and General Motors Corp. that would cut labor costs, close factories and change the way a union-run trust for retiree health care is funded.
The move is a key step toward GM's efforts to restructure outside of bankruptcy court, but GM still needs bondholders who hold $27 billion in unsecured debt to accept equity in the company in place of the $27 billion they're owed. Analysts have said it is nearly impossible that the required 90 percent of bondholders will agree to the offer.
GM, which has received $15.4 billion in federal loans, faces a June 1 government-imposed deadline to restructure or be forced into bankruptcy protection.
The union announced its deal in a short statement Thursday, but the details were withheld pending meetings with members to explain the terms. Union members still have to vote on their deal, and plant-level union officials have been summoned to Detroit on Tuesday to hear details.
GM plans to close 16 factories, costing 21,000 hourly workers their jobs, as it tries to cut labor costs and shrink its manufacturing footprint to match lower demand for its products. Of the 16, two have been announced previously, an engine plant in Massena, N.Y., and a stamping plant in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich.
GM has about 61,000 hourly workers in the U.S. but plans to take that number down to 40,000 by 2010.