Business & Economy

An internet hacker dressed as a robber cracks a code on a desktop
flickr.com

    

You may not know what OpenSSL does, but odds are you rely on it when you enter your credit card number to make a purchase online. The software provides internet security for companies large and small across the web. A recently discovered bug in the software called Heartbleed could mean massive security breaches by hackers and exposure of private information. 

Generations Credit Union
Generations Community Credit Union

The credit union landscape has changed a little across North Carolina.  Durham-based Generations Community Credit Union has merged with Self-Help Credit Union.

Stanley Furniture
Stanley Furniture

Fashion designers and innovators in the home furnishings world are in High Point this week for the bi-annual market.

More than 2,000 exhibitors fill the furniture and home furnishing showrooms of High Point. 

Kelly Edwards has produced High Point Market videos for the web.  Buyers tell her, “There’s always brass and vintage brass is really hot right now.  Anything antique to brass." 

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

Two major energy companies want to build a second natural gas pipeline into North Carolina.

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas are soliciting proposals for a pipeline that could carry 900 million cubic feet of gas per day.

Duke is shifting a significant portion of its energy portfolio from coal into natural gas. Piedmont transports gas for both companies via the Transco line from the Texas gulf.

Piedmont spokesman David Trusty said production was interrupted after Hurricane Katrina. He says the companies want to be able to diversify their natural gas sources.

Interstate 40 traffic
Dave DeWitt

North Carolina's Department of Transportation is considering taxing drivers by the mile to help pay for road construction and upgrades. As cars become more efficient, the gas tax is becoming a less effective revenue source.

The department's Funding and Appropriations Strategies committee – or FAST – has been meeting with leaders and researchers across the state to hear concerns about population growth and potential solutions for insufficient infrastructure.

NC State researchers suggested a revenue model using annual odometer checks or GPS technology to tax motorists.

A picture of Nash Health Care
Nash Health Care System

Nash Health Care in Rocky Mount is the newest hospital to join the UNC Health System. Their affiliation agreement allows UNC to manage operations at Nash.

Nash Health CEO Larry Chewning will now be on UNC Health's payroll, but Nash will continue to be governed by its independent board of directors.

A picture of a scientist examining lionfish eggs in a beaker.
NOAA

If Congress passes the president's proposed 2015 budget, North Carolina's coast could lose a century-old marine lab.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's lab in Beaufort is on the chopping block.

Ciaran Clayton is a spokeswoman for NOAA.

“The current cost per year to operate and maintain the facility (is) about $1.6 million per year,” Clayton said. “It's an aging facility and would require additional funding to make those improvements, something that is just not currently in our current budget or in our future budgets.”

A picture of flattened soda cans
gfpeck / Flickr

A growing contingent of manufacturers is working to make products with packaging that won't end up in a landfill.

They'll have a workshop devoted to education and idea-swapping at this week's Zeroing in on Waste Reduction event in Asheville. Carolina Recycling Association hosts the annual conference and trade show, which will gather 700 exhibitors, businesses, speakers and participants.

Diane Davis is the executive director of the CRA. She said making products that limit waste can be cost-effective while being environmentally friendly.

Matt Victoriano
Matt Victoriano

This is the story of two men. Both Marines. Both served in the Middle East. Both struggled when they returned. One Durham coffee shop brought them together and helped them re-connect to civilian life.

Ryan Wetter did two tours in Afghanistan. He conducted reconnaissance, often under cover of darkness. He is the 19th Marine  in his family to serve since the Korean war. He always knew he'd be a Marine. "Its like telling kids not to be a superhero. You see a superhero running around, that's what you want to be."

A picture of young people in downtown Raleigh.
Leo Suarez / Flickr

North Carolina's dozen metropolitan areas are growing faster than the country as a whole. That's according to US Census Bureau's county and metro area population estimates from 2012 to 2013.

During that time, the US population grew by .7 percent. Wake County had the second-highest growth – after Mecklenberg – with 2.3 percent.

Rural counties, including Pasquotank and Halifax were among those losing the most residents.

Bob Coats works in the state budget office and the State Data Center. He says people are migrating to urban centers with more robust economies.

Willie Deese
www.merck.com

Hundreds of people in business, government, and the non-profit sector are meeting in Durham this week to discuss ways to grow minority and women-owned businesses.

This year’s Executive Networking Conference at the Washington-Duke Inn and Golf Club will include congressmen and leaders in supplier diversity.

A picture of a woman using a tablet next to the SAS Analytics U logo.
SAS

A Cary-based software company is offering a free service to university students and professors.

SAS Analytics U will allow them to use statistical tools to manage data, identify trends, and make decisions in their research and class work. Analytics U also allows them to share their work in online communities.

Greensboro skyline
creative commons

  

 The Greensboro City Council approved a plan directing $65 million toward the development of a performing arts center in Greensboro. Similar venues in Durham and Charlotte have brought revenue and recognition to the cities. Greensboro leaders hope their investment will yield similar rewards. 

A picture of Bill Bell at a podium.
durham.gov

Durham Mayor Bill Bell has set in motion his campaign to reduce poverty. 

Bell said Durham has a lot of resources: good universities, a creative class, and a growing number of jobs. He believes that by using UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies data about distressed neighborhoods, surveying residents, and planning area specific solutions, this push could make a difference.

“Poverty is an issue that I think we should be able to deal with in this community in a much more collaborative way than we're doing now,” said Bell.

The Soar logo
Soar

A new program in Durham is seeking to help female entrepreneurs close the gender gap in securing startup money.

Google is putting up $15,000 to fund the new organization called Soar, which will help women-led start-ups connect with venture capitalists and similar businesses that have gotten funding.

The non-profit Kauffman Foundation says only 5 percent of all venture capital goes to fund women-led start-ups, even though companies with female leaders are found to be more efficient and bring in bigger returns.

Bitcoin
Leoneda Inge

If you have never heard of a “Bitcoin,” you are not alone.  Even though the digital currency continues to get a lot of attention around the world, it’s been slow to catch on in most pockets of the US, including North Carolina.

But that may be about to change in the Triangle.

There is one brick and mortar business in the Triangle that accepts Bitcoin., and that’s Rise Biscuits and Donuts in Durham.

Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority

 Updated Monday 3/24 12:15 p.m.

The Raleigh Durham Airport Authority is looking for ways to put more than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land to good -- and profitable -- use.  Authority members heard a presentation Friday morning from representatives of the Urban Land Institute.  Here's what was proposed:

Veteran Job Fair
Leoneda Inge

Hundreds of military veterans from across the Triangle region and beyond packed a special job fair Thursday in Raleigh. 

This job fair at Carter-Finley Stadium was for veterans like Jimmy Hicks of Cameron, near Ft. Bragg.

“Usually I get at least one or two calls back when I attend a job fair," said Hicks.  “Hey, if you get one, I think that’s a good thing."

Hicks retired from the Army in 2000.  He's looking for a career in telecommunications.  His job with Verizon was outsourced some years ago.

A picture of the newspaper want ads
Creative Commons / http://mycareerinfo.ca

The state unemployment rate is dropping, but the labor force is also shrinking. 

The North Carolina Department of Commerce reports unemployment fell from 8.8 percent in January 2013 to 6.7 percent in January 2014.  But that number doesn't include people who have stopped looking for work.  The state's labor force is made up of people who work or are trying to find jobs, and that pool shrank by more than 60,000 people during the year. 

North Carolina State University Economist Michael Walden said 2013 was somewhat of a disappointing year for job growth.

Money
bestclipartblog.com

Chief Financial Officers say increasing the national minimum wage to $10 an hour could have negative consequences.

The latest survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine shows companies would cut jobs or reduce hiring if the minimum wage rose to $10 an hour. 

Duke Finance Professor John Graham says nearly half of retail firms and one-third of service and manufacturing companies said they would decrease hiring plans.

The Chatham Park project could boost Pittsboro's population to 60,000 people
Screen shot from online video / Preston Development Company

In a meeting Monday night, the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners presented Preston Development with more than 40 new requests to follow up on with regards to Chatham Park -- the massive new 7,120 acre live,work, play community. The project could bring as many as 60,000 new residents to Pittsboro, a town of 4,000 currently.

DES Office
Leoneda Inge

For ten years, North Carolina attorneys have had access to a daily list of unemployed workers who are scheduled for appeal hearings.   Most of these people had their unemployment claims denied and are appealing the decision. 

But last week, the Division of Employment Security said it would no longer provide a daily list of these hearings.  A Durham attorney is fighting back and has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce and its employment division.

Triangle Transit Authority

The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) has given the green-light to begin the first steps of a 17-mile light rail project connecting Durham and Orange Counties.

The decision authorizes Triangle Transit to begin development on the project, by studying the potential environmental impact of two proposed rail routes.

Triangle Transit has put together this video "fly-through" of the proposed light rail route:

The Chatham Park project could boost Pittsboro's population to 60,000 people
Screen shot from online video / Preston Development Company

Preston Development Company has big plans for Pittsboro, but an urban planning consultant says it isn't very clear what they are.

The Chatham Park project is meant to turn thousands of acres into full neighborhoods of residences and office space just 15 miles from Chapel Hill. It could turn the town into a sizeable city. The project is controversial, and Pittsboro hired the Lawrence Group in Davidson to review its master plan.

Power plant in Goldsboro, NC.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeenergy/11441208065/

NC WARN, a progressive environmental non-profit, is teaming up with an unlikely partner: the John Locke Foundation. The two organizations share a desire to increase competition in the power industry and challenge Duke Energy's monopoly on electricity in the state.  

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