New ad agency for Suffolk; other business briefs

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LONG ISLAND


New ad agency for Suffolk

A Great Neck-based advertising agency Thursday won a one-year contract to help Suffolk County sell itself to businesses. Zimmerman/Edelson Inc., one of two companies to express interest in the work, will be paid up to $4,000 per month to create advertising for all mediums, said Suffolk Industrial Development Agency executive director Anthony Manetta. The IDA has earmarked $400,000 for marketing and promotion, up from $25,000 last year. With the county treasury depleted, Manetta said, the IDA is assuming the ad responsibilities of the Department of Economic Development and Planning. The ad agency will work with Amy Illardo, a former fine-arts teacher and daughter of County Clerk Judith Pascale, who was hired by the IDA in August for the newly-created job of marketing associate.-- James T. Madore


NEW YORK


Guv appeals to credit bureaus

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Thursday called on credit bureaus to not penalize New Yorkers who were late in paying credit cards, mortgages and other bills because of superstorm Sandy. If Sandy victims were unfairly penalized by lower credit scores, "it would literally add insult to injury," Cuomo said at a news conference in Manhattan. He has asked the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, Trans Union and Experian -- along with the Consumer Data Industry Association and the credit score company FICO to meet with state officials to discuss how the companies will ensure that New Yorkers will not be penalized. Cuomo and state Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin M. Lawsky urged storm victims to check their credit scores and contact the state Department of Finance if they feel their scores have been lowered unfairly. -- Joe Ryan


Free legal aid for homeowners

Struggling homeowners who face foreclosure should reach out for free legal assistance and counseling, State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman urged Thursday. The message is part of an advertising campaign he announced to highlight the services available under the statewide $60 million "Homeowners Protection Plan," created last year using funds from a $25 billion national settlement with mortgage banks. "Providing a struggling family with legal counseling to navigate the foreclosure process can mean the difference between that family keeping their home or being displaced," Schneiderman said. About 7,400 homeowners have used the services in the past five months and more than a third of those were able to get approval for loan modifications that avoid foreclosure. For information, call 855-HOME-456 or go to AGHomeHelp.com -- Ted Phillips


NATION


Soros news lifts Penney shares

Shares of retailer J.C. Penney rose more than 6 percent in aftermarket trading Thursday after billionaire financier George Soros disclosed a 7.9 percent stake in the company. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Soros disclosed he owns about 17.4 million shares of the department store operator. J.C. Penney earlier this month fired its CEO, Ron Johnson, after 17 months on the job and rehired his predecessor Mike Ullman. An ambitious turnaround plan by Johnson had backfired and caused sales to plummet.


Weekly jobless claims drop

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to a seasonally adjusted 339,000, the second-fewest in more than five years. The drop suggests that layoffs have declined and that job growth may pick up. Applications for benefits dropped 16,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The four-week average declined 4,500 to 357,500. Applications are a proxy for layoffs. When they decline, it signals that companies are cutting fewer jobs. -- AP

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