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Cattle herd at lowest since 1951

The lingering effects of drought across the Great Plains in recent years have led to another decrease in the U.S. cattle herd.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that the U.S. inventory of cattle and calves totaled 87.7 million animals as of Jan. 1. That was down by about 1.6 million cattle, or 2 percent, compared with a year ago.

The agency says this is the lowest January inventory since 1951. A bright spot was a 2 percent increase in young, female cattle retained for breeding. One expert says that factor could allow the herd’s seven-year contraction to stabilize.

Totals in Texas, the nation’s leading cattle producer, decreased 4 percent. The January report had been anxiously awaited because the agency didn’t issue a report in July due to sequestration.

Vera Bradley outlet tickets on sale Monday

Vera Bradley 2014 Outlet Sale tickets will go on sale Monday. The sale is scheduled from April 9 to 13 at Memorial Coliseum.

Tickets for the first three days are $5 each and will be sold at the Coliseum box office, Ticketmaster locations and at Entry is for specific sessions: 7:30 to 10 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 2:30 to 5 p.m., and 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are not required to enter the sale on the weekend, but free registration is required to make a purchase, the company said. The sale will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Detroit losing chief for economic growth

The president of an organization that focuses on drawing and keeping businesses in Detroit is stepping down to start his own consulting firm, the agency announced Thursday.

George Jackson will leave his job as president and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. on March 31. Jackson has led the organization since 2002.

The Detroit Economic Growth Corp. is a nonprofit and the lead agency for business retention, attraction and economic development initiatives in Detroit.

Under Jackson’s tenure, the organization has helped lead the transformation of the city’s riverfront, helped restore the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, kept the General Motors world headquarters downtown and negotiated a deal for a new professional hockey arena and entertainment complex.

iAB finishes 2013 on a stronger note

Independent Alliance Banks Inc. on Friday reported 2013 earnings of $7.41 million, or $1.81 per common share, an 18 percent decrease from the $9.01 million, or $2.18 a share, posted for 2012.

The Fort Wayne-based holding company for iAB Financial Bank also reported fourth-quarter earnings of $2.13 million, or 53 cents per common share, a 1 percent increase from the $2.11 million, or 51 cents a share, posted for the same three months of the prior year.

Officials said annual earnings were lower for several reasons, including tight profit margins and less income from mortgage refinances. Also, the bank failed to set aside as much reserves as it should have to cover one major credit loss.

Mike Marhenke, president and CEO, said iAB remains strong. “Our capital is very healthy, and our focus on improved asset quality allowed us to achieve a more favorable fourth quarter,” he said in a statement.