Months of preparations culminate in First Night 2010

Various bands perform at First Night 2010, counting on art directors and sound technicians to make sure they look and sound their best in each of the event's venues.

New applications and software simplify completing financial transactions

A number of companies seek to streamline the process of paying and getting paid, such as allowing street vendors to swipe customers' credit cards with mobile devices.

New security guidelines have little impact at Columbia Regional Airport

Travelers should plan to arrive at least three hours before an international flight because of added restrictions and screenings.

Business hours change on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Many businesses are closing early in Christmas Eve, and others are closed on Christmas Day.

Hotel owners, like homeowners, behind on payments

The good news for consumers is that room rates are likely to remain cheap as hotel chains struggle with too much vacancy and not enough occupancy.

MU business incubator establishes European partnership

The MU Life Science Business Incubator at Monsanto Place recently formed a partnership with BioCity Nottingham, a business incubator in the United Kingdom in order to provide and receive additional support for startup companies.

Innovation key to Columbia's grocery wars

With Walmart providing a low-cost option and Hy-Vee aggressively expanding, Columbia grocers have to find ways to gain an edge, whether it's adding new stores or improving old ones by adding new services.

McCaskill: Small businesses feeling credit crunch

Senator Claire McCaskill suggested Tuesday that unused bailout funds could be used to create a subsidized federal direct loan program to help small businesses grow.

MidwayUSA set to receive national award

MidwayUSA is one of five U.S. organizations to receive the 2009 Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for small businesses. The news was announced Monday.

Analysis: Friday finds big turnouts but small sales gains

The actual amount spent per person on Black Friday decreased though nearly 195 million people visited stores and Web sites.

Robotic hamsters are holidays' unlikely new craze

Parents are struggling to find Zhu Zhu Pets robotic hamsters, which retail for about $10. This season's must-have toy is made by a tiny St. Louis company.

Holiday Web shopping looks brighter than last year

Internet analysts expect online retail revenue to rise as shoppers hope to avoid long lines while finding big deals.

Salvation Army kettles now accept credit, debit

The addition of a card reader on the iconic red kettles does take some getting used to, but volunteers and shoppers seem to like the idea.

Toyota replacing about 4 million gas pedals that could jam

The recall applies to three Lexus models, the Avalon and Camry, the top selling car in the U.S. The pedal is linked to a fiery crash that killed four in San Diego.

Stores look to basics to attract holiday shoppers on Black Friday

Retailers are responding to tough economic times by luring people to their stores with practical items.

What you need to know about Black Friday shopping

The holiday shopping season kicks off with sales and discounts on Black Friday, the day that's best known for sending stores into profitablility, or "the black."

MoDOT ordered to pay family of car accident victim

The Transportation Department was ordered to pay $1.3 million to the woman's family because it didn't do enough to warn of traffic conditions.

Consumer Product Safety Commission moved too slowly on crib safety

Consumer advocates have complained for years about drop-side cribs, which are now being recalled.

Grocers don't share worries about canned pumpkin shortage

A spokeswoman for Nestle said that Libby's had a poor harvest this year despite planting 20 percent more acres of pumpkins.

Proposed downtown reorganizing could double budget through sales tax

A petition has been approved by members of the existing Special Business District and Central Columbia Association that would create a community improvement district, if enough downtown property owners sign it. The petition drive will start in January.