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Gwinnett companies wheeling and dealing

Apparently, Gwinnett companies have been spending a lot of time at the negotiating table this year.

In a week that saw more wheeling and dealing, Duluth-based scientific instrument maker Roper Industries shelled out $150 million in cash for an Iowa company whose technology treats cancer.

Medtec, based in Orange City, Iowa, will help Roper increase its medical-side of the business.

Meanwhile, Norcross wireless communications company EMS Technologies officially said goodbye to its space and technology/Montreal division. MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, of Vancouver, B.C., owns the division now.

EMS CEO Alfred Hansen said his company also wants a buyer for its SatNet division.

All this follows last week's Cisco takeover of Scientific-Atlanta Inc. in Lawrenceville.

Interesting Katrina statistic

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released some interesting data on Hurricane Katrina victims.

About 900,000 people who were at least 16 years old evacuated the Gulf Coast in August to escape the storm. Evacuees who returned home found the road back to work a bit smoother than those who stayed away. Nearly 29 percent of Katrina evacuees who haven't gone home are still unemployed, versus 12 percent for those that did, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Economic activity rebounds

Despite the initial slowdown caused by Katrina and Rita, economic activity in the South picked up steam in October and November, according to the Federal Reserve Bank.

In its report, commonly known as the Beige Book, the Federal Reserve said the economy is rebounding and that retailers improved their forecasts from earlier outlooks made in the aftermath of the storms.

Manufacturing also picked up as post-hurricane demand boosted production in several industries, according to the Fed.

The report suggested one key effect from the hurricanes may linger into winter. With many consumers bracing for higher utility costs, energy production in the Gulf of Mexico had not returned to normal for natural gas or oil by mid-November.

Mortgage fraud

The first indictments under Georgia's new mortgage fraud act were handed down.

The alleged co-conspirators are accused of trying to secure a bogus $205,000 loan for a house on Atwood Street in Atlanta. The house was actually worth much less.

With its consistently strong housing market, metro Atlanta is one of the hardest hit spots of mortgage fraud in the nation, and why not? Some $2.5 trillion in mortgage loans offered to homebuyers this year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

But word is getting out about Georgia's tough anti-fraud statute, and with numerous arrests made in Gwinnett, the county has become the center stage of the crack down on cheats and swindlers.

Doug Sams can be reached via e-mail at doug.sams@gwinnettdailypost.com