Nassau recovery website, hotline; other business briefs

LONG ISLAND

Nassau recovery site, hotline

The two-week-old Nassau County Business Recovery Center has launched a website and a 24-hour hotline to support its activities, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said Tuesday. The website, nassaubackinbusiness.org, includes contacts and online links to help businesses navigate federal and state disaster relief offerings. More than 250 businesses have made inquiries through email or the hotline. The center is housed in the offices of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. Financial assistance is available through the county's Local Enterprise Assistance and Development Services, or LEADS, which offers eligible businesses with 100 or fewer employees up to $99,000 in aid through a sales tax exemption on furniture, fixtures, equipment and materials purchased for reconstruction. The Nassau IDA administers the program, which requires applicants to pledge to rebuild within the county. Businesses can call 516-571-1745, or email LEADS@NassauIDA.org for help. -- Sid Cassese


NATION

CEO: Cliff fears sap confidence

Fiscal brinkmanship in Washington is already affecting the U.S. economy as worried businesses invest less in equipment, Bank of America Corp. CEO Brian Moynihan said. U.S. lawmakers returned to the capital Tuesday with a seven-week deadline to agree on averting the so-called fiscal cliff -- scheduled tax hikes and budget cuts, set to take effect in January, which threaten to tip the nation into another recession. "That uncertainty continues to hold back the recovery," Moynihan said Tuesday at an investor conference in New York. The bank's clients need more clarity before they make investments, he said. Moynihan and CEOs of other major financial services companies sent a letter last month to President Barack Obama and members of Congress urging them to find a bipartisan solution. -- Reuters


Best Buy tackles 'showrooming'

Best Buy's CEO says it's time to embrace "showrooming." Ten weeks into the job, Hubert Joly says the consumer electronics chain's results have been unsatisfactory and the company must work to stabilize sales trends and increase profitability. In a meeting with analysts Tuesday, he outlined a plan to cut costs, rethink store sizes and improve customer satisfaction in stores and online. He also says Best Buy must convert people who come into stores to "showroom" -- or check out products to buy them cheaper online -- into buyers. The struggling electronics chain, which is based in Minneapolis, tapped Joly in August to reverse a decline in its business. Competition is increasing from online stores and discounters, while the weak economy has sapped demand.


Fewer delinquent on mortgages

U.S. homeowners are doing a better job of keeping up with their mortgage payments, aided by an improving housing market and low interest rates that are making it easier to refinance. The percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the third quarter to 5.41 percent, the lowest point in more than three years, credit reporting agency TransUnion said Tuesday. The rate was down from 5.49 percent in the second quarter and was nearly 8 percent below the 5.88 percent rate in the third quarter last year, the company said. The mortgage delinquency rate hasn't been this low since the first quarter of 2009. Still, it remains well above the 1 percent to 2 percent average historical range, an indication that many homeowners still are struggling to make their payments. Many homeowners changed the way they prioritize their financial obligations after the value of their homes plummeted with the housing crash. That has yet to change. "People used to pay their mortgage first, and now they pay their auto and their credit cards before their mortgage," said Tim Martin, group vice president of U.S. housing for TransUnion. -- AP

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