Unum, CoLab launch Innovation Challenge

Unum and The Company Lab, which teamed up last year to launch a HeathTech Accelerator, are partnering again this fall to host the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Innovation Challenge.

The 2-day competition will recruit 32 juniors and seniors from traditionally black colleges to work together to solve a real-world challenge facing the insurance industry, while exploring career opportunities at Unum and competing for up to a $5,000 prize for the first-place winners. Selected students will participate in a two-day innovation case competition hosted at Unum's headquarters in Chattanooga Oct. 24-25.

"This program gives high-performing, talented students the opportunity to solve real business problems, while gaining exposure to the employee benefits industry," said Wade Hinton, vice president of Inclusion and Diversity at Unum. "It's also a great way for us to identify potential talent."

CO.LAB has organized several fast-paced competitions focused on building talent pipelines. Last March, the organization partnered with local startup FreightWaves to produce a case competition that brought college students from supply chain programs across the country, with intentions to connect with the region's leading freight and logistics startups.

"I believe by the end of the event we will see students not only take away a great learning experience but also new relationships that could impact their career trajectory," said Marcus Shaw, chief executive officer of CO.LAB.


BP sheds Alaska for $5.6 billion

BP, a major player on Alaska's North Slope for decades, is selling all of its assets in the state, the company announced Tuesday.

Hilcorp Alaska is purchasing BP interests in both the Prudhoe Bay oil field and the trans-Alaska pipeline for $5.6 billion, BP announced in a release. The sale, which must be approved by state and federal regulators, comes as BP attempts to divest $10 billion in assets by 2020.

"Energy is a cornerstone of the Alaskan economy and this investment will help drive growth in local energy production, jobs and state and local revenue for many years to come," Jason Rebrook, president of Hilcorp Energy Company.

BP's history in Alaska dates to 1959, and the British company drilled the confirmation well for the Prudhoe Bay field in 1968. Prudhoe Bay, the most prolific oil field in U.S. history, has produced more than 13 billion barrels of oil. Production has been in a steady decline since the late 1980s.

"We are steadily reshaping BP and today we have other opportunities, both in the U.S. and around the world, that are more closely aligned with our long-term strategy and more competitive for our investment," BP Chief Executive Bob Dudley said.


Consumer confidence dips slightly in August

Consumer confidence dipped slightly in August after a big rebound in July.

The Conference Board, a business research group, said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index edged down to 135.1 in August, slightly below a July reading of 135.8, which had been the highest since November. Economists had been looking for a bigger drop in August.

The reading on consumers' assessment of current conditions improved and now stands at its highest level in nearly 19 years.

Conference Board economists say that while other parts of the economy have shown some weakness, consumers have remained confident and willing to spend. The hope is that consumer spending can cushion the adverse effects to the U.S. economy from trade wars and a global slowdown.

But Lynn Franco, senior economic director at the Conference Board, said, "If the recent escalation in trade and tariff tensions persists, it could potentially dampen consumers' optimism regarding the short-term economic outlook."