Franchise bars find too little action here
Hard Rock CafÈ has 42 outlets in the United States and is coming to Louisville. Howl at the Moon has 11 U.S. locations and is eyeing Indianapolis. House of Blues has eight U.S. clubs and expects to open its ninth next year in Cleveland.

Little Microsoft is all grown up now
Software giant Microsoft Corp. once set the standard for explosive growth in stock price that transformed thousands of employees into stock-option millionaires. But in the past few years, the company has grappled with the maturing of its business.
Stocks still valuable for employees

Tobacco merger floated
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., the nation's second-largest tobacco company, and smaller rival Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. of Louisville have held talks about merging their U.S. operations, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

What's the Buzz?
A packaging company based in Bond Hill plans to hire 150 to 200 people within the next year at a new plant outside Reidsville, N.C., the company said Tuesday.

Tipsheet improved
The Cincinnati Enquirer's free daily e-mail business briefing is even easier to receive. How do you get it? Click here to register.

J.T.M builds giant freezer in Harrison
What's believed to be one of the largest frozen-food lockers in the Midwest is under construction by J.T.M. Food Group in Harrison.
New camera phones calling up mischief
TOKYO - It might have been inevitable. Now that cell phones with little digital cameras have spread throughout Asia, so have new brands of misbehavior.
Business digest

Tristate summary

SUNDAY SPOTLIGHT     (Index of Sunday stories)
Beirut amusement park would transform image
The magnitude of the mission came to Dennis L. Speigel one sunny morning in early March as he strolled through a rebuilt Martyrs Square in Beirut, Lebanon.

Look out, world - here come skippies
So you're an executive at the Wrigley Co. and you've got this gum called Juicy Fruit that - with its familiar yellow wrapper and name - has been a top seller for more than 100 years.

Fees on the road can vary greatly
Planning a trip abroad? By doing a bit of research before you depart, you might save yourself some money on foreign currency transactions once you're there.

Top private firms saw recession
Even before the recession hit in March 2001, Greater Cincinnati's largest private businesses saw the tough times coming.

Drees Co. grabs top ranking in the 100
The Drees Co. earned the top spot in this year's Greater Cincinnati 100, but company officials say that the home builder is even bigger now.

Vehicle dealers showed the way
The tech bubble burst, the U.S. economy slumped, and consumers ducked for cover from terrorists.
These 100 show best of can-do spirit
Health care costs bite deep
Accountable to themselves
Habegger posts 50th profit in 50th year
Builder moves up - for now
Floturn flourishes as others fall
Sumerel service adds to revenue
Companies: Outlook for economy is grim
Everclear emerges as true up-and-comer

Erpenbeck archive
A. William Erpenbeck spent years building a company that appears to be crumbling. One of the Tristate's biggest home builders, the Erpenbeck Co., is under federal investigation for a suspected bank fraud that is affecting lenders, subcontractors and home owners. Click here for links to all Enquirer reports.