Business Briefs

March 22, 2014 

CareerEdge Funders Collaborative will host a two-day Partners Council meeting Wednesday and Thursday.

Fred Dedrick, executive director, National Fund for Workforce Solutions will discuss the National Fund, which helps close skills gaps, strengthen local economies and develops employer-driven workforce strategies to help low-wage workers and jobseekers obtain career opportunities by partnering with businesses, communities, and philanthropies. In the last six years, the National Fund has employed this model in 30 communities nationwide -- including the Sarasota/Bradenton region -- helping more than 45,000 workers gain better jobs and earn more than 28,000 credentials.

The National Fund is supported by The Weinberg Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ford Foundation and Boeing Company. It has leveraged $192 million in matching funds locally from 476 funders. JPMorgan Chase selected the National Fund as one of its funding recipients for its "New Skills at Work," a $250-million, five-year, global initiative to support workforce readiness and training.

Dedrick will be at Sarasota County Technical Institute, at 1 p.m., at 4748 S. Beneva Rd., on Wednesday.

Darden reports lower third-quarter profit, sales

ORLANDO -- Darden Restaurants reported an 18 percent drop in third-quarter profit.

Earlier this month, Orlando-based Darden warned investors of the poor results. Profit was $109.7 million down from $134.4 million the previous year. Earnings per share fell to 82 cents vs. $1.02 a year earlier.

Sales declined 1.1 percent to $2.2 billion.

Bad weather caused some of the sales decline, and expenses from a plan to sell or spin off Red Lobster hit profits, the company said. Darden executives placed part of the blame on false Internet rumors in December that the chain would close, which happened after Darden announced plans to sell or spin off Red Lobster.

Increasing shrimp costs are hitting the chain's profit hard, executives said.

The company reaffirmed its forecast that profit for the full year would decline between 15 and 20 percent compared with fiscal 2013. Analysts on average had expected a 21 percent decline.

Wall Street reacted well to the report. The stock was up 3 percent Friday morning. Darden's board of directors declared a dividend of 55 cents per share.

Fifth Third Bank installs ATMs at RaceTrac stores

ORLANDO -- Fifth Third Bank and RaceTrac Petroleum recently completed the installation of ATMs at 154 Florida RaceTrac convenience stores.

Last year, Fifth Third Bank was selected as the exclusive provider of ATM services for RaceTrac in Georgia and Florida.

Building on the relationship announced in October 2013, RaceTrac remains Fifth Third Bank's largest ATM association with a convenience store.

-- Herald staff and wire reports

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