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Bridgeport, Ala. Becomes Ground Zero for Major Yamaha Announcement
by Richard Simms
The small town of Bridgeport, Ala. became Ground Zero for some of the biggest writers in the outboard and boating business Tuesday.
Bridgeport has long been home of a semi-secret Yamaha Marine Division testing facility. Every year Yamaha big wigs come to Chattanooga and Bridgeport to show off the next season's latest and greatest Yamaha innovations to writers and editors.
This year the biggest news out of Bridgeport is what Yamaha calls Helm Master™.
You won't be using Helm Master on your run-of-the-mill fishing boat. It's designed for larger vessels at least 30 feet in length with either twin or triple-engines. But if you own a boat like that, you'll definitely want to learn about Helm Master, an amazing new boat control system.
Let me sum it up this way... you arrive at Chattanooga's Riverfront and there is only one "parking spot" left at the Marine Max dock, and it is just barely longer than your boat. Even for the most experienced Captain, parallel parking in the Tennessee River current just doesn't work very well.
However with Helm Master, you can literally move your boat sideways in the water, easing point-blank into your assigned spot.
At the touch of a button, the joystick-driven system integrates all boat control devices while eliminating the need for bow thrusters in most boats. It is based on steering from the boat's center axis, rather than on a stern axis... what Yamaha engineers call the "Ring of Motion." In tight quarters it allows movement of the boat in any direction with the simply touch of a joystick, not only fore and aft and port and starboard, but the joystick can be rotated for turning and positioning the boat.
That's just one of many innovations Yamaha says Helm Master brings to the plate.
Don't ask how much it costs. Yamaha hasn't decided yet. The company is still working with 15 or 20 boat manufacturers to determine who they'll give it to and who they won't.
The announcements Yamaha made this week won't be available on showroom floors until at least March 2013. Company officials say they'll be ready to release more detailed information at one of the country's largest boat shows in Miami, Fla. beginning Feb. 14, 2013.
But whatever folks hear about out of Miami, remember you heard it first out of Bridgeport, Ala.
More Business News
Last Update on November 24, 2014 08:29 GMT
CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) -- A national survey reveals the average price of regular gasoline has plunged another 10 cents a gallon over the past two weeks, to $2.84.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg says the decline continues a trend that has seen prices in the U.S. fall by 88 cents since May.
Lundberg says lower crude oil prices are continuing to drive prices down, along with an abundant oil supply and the rising value of the U.S. dollar.
The highest priced gas in the Lower 48 states was found in San Francisco at $3.14 a gallon. The lowest was in Albuquerque at $2.47 a gallon.
The average price for midgrade gas in the U.S. is $3.08. For premium it's $3.24.
REGULATING CAR SERVICES
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina has become a prime market for the smartphone-based car services Uber and Lyft -- and is likely to join a push around the country to regulate the fast-growing businesses.
A big draw for the companies is the state's mix of mid-sized cities, which are full of college students but lack extensive mass transit networks to serve their spread-out geography.
The companies' expansion has legislators in North Carolina and elsewhere scrambling to study their business models ahead of sessions in 2015 when they could address insurance, car inspections or criminal background checks.
Transportation analyst Douglas Shinkle of the National Conference of State Legislatures thinks at least 20 legislatures are likely to take up legislation on Uber, Lyft and similar services in 2015 after several passed laws this year.
MERGER SURGE-HEALTH INDUSTRY
Health care M&A leads global deal surge
UNDATED (AP) -- It's been a big year for deal making and the health care industry is especially visible in that arena.
Large drugmakers are buying and selling businesses to control costs and deploy surplus cash. A rising stock market, tax strategies and low interest rates are also fueling the mergers and acquisitions.
It's all combining to make 2014 the most active year for health care deals in at least two decades. Data provider Dealogic says the industry has announced about $438 billion worth of mergers and acquisitions worldwide so far, about 14 percent of the $3.2 trillion total for all industries. Overall, M&A is on track for its best year since 2007, the year before the financial crisis intensified.
One analyst says deals are being driven by "cost pressure on the entire health care system," as insurers and government health plans increasingly hold down or even reduce reimbursements to drug, device and service providers.
Companies also are looking to expand market share, and boost their portfolios in hot areas such as drugs for cancer and hepatitis C.
JACOBS ENGINEERING-CEO RETIREMENT
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- The construction services firm Jacobs Engineering says CEO Craig Martin will retire in late December because of health reasons.
The company announced Sunday that former CEO and current board chairman Noel Watson will serve as executive chairman until a replacement for Martin is found.
The 65-year-old Martin joined Jacobs in 1994 and became CEO in 2006.
The Pasadena, California-based company helps design and build large, complex facilities for oil and gas companies, chemicals companies, governments and a variety of industrial customers.
Martin will step down Dec. 26, the last day of the company's first fiscal quarter.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Icy conditions have forced an early end to shipping on the Upper Mississippi River.
The season officially closed Thursday with the towboat Mary K. Cavarra and its load of four barges heading south through Lock & Dam No. 2 at Hastings, Minnesota.
The Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1yIQ8un ) reports it's the earliest closing in 45 years. The season began last spring with the second-latest opening and came to a 26-day halt in midsummer so crews could clear flood-borne silt from the navigation channel.
Executive director Bob Zelenka of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association says it's been a challenging year. Zelenka says the river is the cheapest way of moving crops. But the river's early closure means finding alternative ways to get those crops to New Orleans and foreign export markets.
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