Haier in home fix-up show deal; and Taco Bell franchise owner gives Fla. ‘coma’ guy $2.5K

Tebow Home Free
Tebow (left) and Holmes host show where Haier is now a sponsor.

A news summary, focused on big employers; updated 10:32 a.m.

GE: Haier has signed on as a sponsor for the second season of the reality TV-game show Home Free, where contestants compete to win a home outfitted with Haier appliances. Co-hosts are Tim Tebow, the Heisman Trophy winner, and Mike Holmes, the series’s creator and professional contractor. On the Fox Network show, nine couples compete to renovate a dilapidated home each week, facing elimination until the winners are awarded their dream home. The series starts June 16 (press release). China-based Haier’s pending $5.4 billion purchase of the 6,000-employee Appliance Park in Louisville is expected to close this summer.

Michael Booth Taco Bell coma man
Booth in hospital with tacos.

TACO BELL: The Florida man who became an Internet sensation after waking from a 42-day coma in April and immediately asking for Taco Bell as his first meal is now closer to paying his medical bills, too: The franchise owner whose restaurant supplied the 8½ crunchy tacos last month presented Jake Booth with an oversized check for $2,500 at his Bonita Springs home, plus $250 in gift certificates for more tacos; Booth’s request led to untold millions of dollars in free publicity for Taco Bell. “We wanted to meet one of our greatest fans,” said Carlos Silva, chief operating officer of Prometheus Franchise Restaurant Holding; the Clearwater, Fla.-based company owns Taco Bell franchises throughout Southwest Florida. The money will go toward a Wake the Jake Go Fund Me campaign to raise $50,000 to help Booth pay medical bills (Naples Daily News). Watch the video. Booth’s story caught fire when someone posted a photo of him on Reddit. “Taco Bell’s marketing team have a slam dunk with this one,” said one poster.

AMAZON‘s latest round of distribution center openings is set for Edwardsville, Ill., where it plans two centers with more than 1,000 full-time jobs total. The company said today that one center will specialize in handling big-screen TVs, sports equipment or kayaks and the other will handle smaller items, including books, toys and electronics; no opening date was given for the centers (press release). Rumors had circulated last month that Amazon was headed for the area (Belleville News-Democrat). Edwardsville has 25,000 residents and is 27 miles northeast of St. Louis (Census facts). Today’s news follows Amazon’s announcement just a week ago that it would open a second distribution center in Joliet, Ill., with 2,000 jobs on top of the 1,500 already at the existing center; Joliet is an hour south of Chicago (press release).

In other news, University of Louisville has given baseball coach Dan McDonnell a $325,000 raise, to a base salary of $1 million a year, to discourage other schools from trying to poach him (Courier-Journal). U.S. stocks were modestly lower an hour into trading as Wall Street digested fresh ADP payroll data, watched an OPEC meeting, and waited for tomorrow’s May employment report from the Labor Department (Google Finance). The Boulevard Stock Portfolio of 11 big employers was mixed.

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