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First LI accelerator program launches; other business briefs


Accelator program launched

Long Island's first start-up accelerator program officially launched Monday. LI Tech COMETS, which aims to nurture and grow local start-ups, kicked off as the three participating companies -- Mobitrons, Clerk 123 and InterConnecta -- moved into their new office space in Hauppauge. "This is a trial part for COMETS and we want to make sure and improve on it," said Peter Goldsmith, the president of the Long Island Software Technology Network. Goldsmith spearheaded the effort to create COMETS. The companies, winners in a contest to select winning startups, receive free office space in the LI Tech Mall in Hauppauge for six months and will have the aid of four mentors that are experts in accounting, law, business operations and technology. -- Lisa Du

Tech renter buys Calif. company

SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals, a tech product rental company headquartered in Hauppauge, says it has acquired California-based CRE Rentals as of the new year. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. The purchase is SmartSource's 20th acquisition. The company, which started as Rent-a-PC, has 22 branches across the United States and provides rental and installation of tech products for events such as conferences and trade shows. CRE and SmartSource will merge the companies' San Francisco offices, and about 40 CRE employees will join SmartSource. -- Lisa Du


Retail clothiers in bankruptcy

The owner of Mandee, Annie Sez and Afaze clothing stores cited effects from superstorm Sandy as it sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday. Big M Inc., of Totowa, N.J., filed the petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey. It said in an emailed statement it intends to continue to operate its stores and expects to "emerge as a stronger company." Court papers, however, state that the company "intends to consider all strategic options to maximize the value of its business and properties," language often seen as an indicator that a sale of the business is possible. Sandy closed most of its stores in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut for a week or more, along with its offices and distribution center. Three stores were shuttered for a month and continue to operate on a limited basis. The company also said in the filing that it has not yet collected from its insurance carrier, in part because of a disagreement over the amount owed by Westport Insurance Co., a unit of Swiss Re America Holding Co.

Google CEO visits North Korea

Google's chairman seeks a firsthand look at North Korea's economy and social media landscape during his private visit to the communist nation, his delegation said Monday, despite misgivings in Washington over the timing of the trip. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of one of the world's biggest Internet companies, is the highest-profile U.S. executive to visit North Korea -- a country with notoriously restrictive online policies -- since young leader Kim Jong Un took power a year ago. His visit has drawn criticism from the U.S. State Department because it comes only weeks after a controversial North Korean rocket launch. Schmidt arrived on a commercial Air China flight.


Berlin airport delayed yet again

For a country that prides itself on efficiency and punctuality, the saga of Berlin's new airport, whose opening was delayed for a fourth time Monday, has become something of a national joke and source of embarrassment for Germany. Klaus Wowereit, the mayor of the country's capital city, said managers for the new Willy Brandt airport have determined that it's no longer possible to open on Oct. 27 this year. The delay means the capital's airport won't be opened until 2014 at the earliest -- about three years later than originally planned. -- AP


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