Business briefs: 'Mob' to spend locally

Bee staff and news servicesMarch 22, 2012 

People in Fresno and Clovis will gather Saturday to spend money at local retailers as part of National Cash Mob Day.

Cash mobs, which are catching on nationwide, are a twist on the flash mob, where a group assembles suddenly in a public place, sometimes to dance.

Instead of dancing, the local groups will spend $20 -- or whatever they can afford, preferably in cash -- at a local business in an effort to support the local economy.

Crazy Squirrel Game Store owner Jennifer Ward organized the Fresno Cash Mob for 11 a.m. at the Book Nook at 6735 N. First St. Afterward, interested participants will go to Thai Royal Orchid for lunch in the same shopping center.

Details: http://www.facebook.com/FresnoCashMob.

In Clovis, the Clovis Chamber of Commerce organized a Cash Mob for 1:30 p.m. at the Grocery Outlet at 1848 Clovis Avenue.

Details: http://www.facebook.com/ClovisChamberCashMob.

Both organizers are considering making the Cash Mob a monthly event.

Bank to give dividend

Premier Valley Bank will pay a cash dividend of 6 cents per share to its stockholders next month.

The Fresno-based bank's board authorized the dividend Thursday for shareholders of record as of April 2, to be paid out on about April 13. It represents an increase over the dividend of 5 cents per share paid out in each of the past three quarters. This is the seventh consecutive quarter in which Premier Valley has paid a cash dividend.

The dividend is estimated to cost the bank about $776,000, based on the company's current stock price.

Visalia bank repays

Three years after accepting a government investment from the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program, Visalia's Valley Commerce Bancorp announced that it has fully repaid its $8.1 million commitment to the U.S. Treasury.

The parent company of Valley Business Bank was one of three Valley banks that accepted funds from the TARP Capital Purchase Program, more commonly known as the "bank bailout" program, in January 2009. The government paid about $7.7 million for preferred stock in the bank.

Valley Commerce officials said they were able to repay the TARP funds from its existing cash and resources without having to raise new capital.

Unemployment falls

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid fell to a four-year low last week, bolstering the view that the job market is strengthening.

The Labor Department said Thursday that weekly applications dropped by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000. That's the lowest level since March 2008, just months into the Great Recession. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, dipped to 355,000, matching a four-year low.

That's pushed the national unemployment rate down to 8.3%, the lowest in three years. Fresno County's January unemployment rate was 16.9%

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