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Foundation taking new name, logo

A Spokane-based nonprofit is taking a new name to signify its commitment to all 20 counties it serves in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

The Inland Northwest Community Foundation – formerly Foundation Northwest – also has adopted a new logo and tweaked its Web site, now found at

The foundation manages more than 200 funds with assets of about $47 million. Since its inception in 1974, it has awarded $29 million in grants and scholarships aimed at bringing positive changes to the area’s diverse communities.

Mark Hurtubise, foundation president and chief operating officer, said the new name stems from changes to the organization’s strategic plan, adopted after a study funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

New York

Wal-Mart to drop longtime ad firm

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is severing ties with another longtime ad agency as it struggles to communicate its new image of being both a trend purveyor and a low-price operator.

The world’s largest retailer informed Omnicom Group Inc.’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas, this week that it would no longer need its services as of Jan. 31. The agency had worked with Wal-Mart for almost 20 years and had developed the motto “always low prices,” according to Eric Webber, a spokesman at GSD&M.


Mortgage rates up across board

Rates on 30-year mortgages rose this week to their highest level in five weeks.

The mortgage company Freddie Mac reported Thursday that 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.40 percent last week. That was up from 6.36 percent last week and was the highest since they also hit 6.40 percent the week of Sept. 21.

All categories of mortgages showed slight increases for the week, a fact that some analysts attributed to inflation concerns expressed by officials at the Federal Reserve.

The Fed left interest rates unchanged for a third straight meeting on Wednesday after having raised rates 17 consecutive times over two years. Analysts said any rate cuts are still months away because the Fed is worried inflation is too high.


Feds aid laid-off auto workers

Some auto workers facing layoffs in five states will be able to access $3,000 a year to pay for retraining under a program announced Thursday by the Labor Department.

The demonstration program, targeting job reductions and plant closures announced by General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co., will help between 2,500 to 4,000 auto workers, suppliers and others affected by industry plant closings in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio.

“We owe it to them to help them get relevant skills training so they can get a good-paying job in a high-growth industry,” Labor Secretary Elaine Chao said.

Chao denied political motives for the announcement, which was made less than two weeks before the midterm elections and on a day when President Bush was headlining a Republican fundraiser in Michigan.