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New FedEx hub project under way

– FedEx Ground Package System officials and local dignitaries gathered in the rain Wednesday to break ground on a $25 million, state-of-the-art regional distribution center at 11039 Lincoln Highway E.

When complete in September 2014, the 178,000-square-foot warehouse/distribution center will feature automated equipment for sorting thousands of packages daily. Most packages passing through the facility will then travel to Toledo.

FedEx Ground, a sister company to FedEx, employs 34 full-time and 69 part-time workers in New Haven. The new complex will create 87 more part-time jobs, most paying $11.31 an hour, according to a tax abatement filing.

Officials said the automation equipment will also require specialized jobs with backgrounds in maintaining electronics and information technology.

Durable goods orders plunge 5.7% in March

Orders for long-lasting U.S. factory goods fell in March by the most in seven months. The drop reflected a steep decline in commercial aircraft demand and little growth in orders that signal future business investment.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that orders for durable goods declined 5.7 percent in March. That followed a 4.3 percent gain in February, which was revised lower.

Weaker economies overseas and the impact of across-the-board government spending cuts have made businesses more cautious. That’s reduced demand for manufactured goods. Spending on defense equipment also fell sharply last month.

Durable goods are items expected to last at least three years.

Ford quarterly profit rises 15% on U.S. sales

Ford Motor Co.’s first-quarter profit rose 15 percent to $1.6 billion thanks to record earnings in North America and strong sales in China. The automaker lost money again in Europe, although it sees hints of improvement.

Ford earned 40 cents a share, up from 35 cents in the same quarter a year ago. Without one-time charges, including restructuring costs in Europe, Ford would have earned 41 cents.

Ford earned $2.4 billion in North America, the highest quarterly total since it began reporting results regionally in 2000.

Jones Group to close 170 stores, trim jobs

Jones Group, a clothing, shoes and accessories maker that owns chains including Nine West and Easy Spirit, on Wednesday said it’s closing 170 U.S. stores and slashing jobs as part of a plan to improve profitability.

A Jones Group spokeswoman says that 8 percent of the company’s 10,000 jobs will be cut, or about 800 U.S. positions. The retailer doesn’t operate any stores in northeast Indiana.

The New York company, which also sells its products through department stores, posted a loss last year.

Toyota top automaker despite fall in China

Toyota held onto its status as the world’s top-selling automaker in the first quarter of this year, although the three-way race with General Motors and Volkswagen is proving tight, as its sales fall in China and Japan.

Toyota Motor Corp. reported Wednesday it sold 2.43 million vehicles during the January-March period, outpacing U.S. automaker General Motors Co. at 2.36 million vehicles and Volkswagen AG of Germany at 2.27 million vehicles.