Business & Economy

SAS

One of the state’s largest and most successful tech companies is the Cary-based SAS. CEO and co-founder Jim Goodnight says the success of the global business analytics company is rooted in policies that keep employees happy. Benefits like on-site childcare, health clinics and flexible work hours keep SAS at the top of many lists of the best places to work. Host Frank Stasio talks with Goodnight about his work and his workplace philosophy

internet sweepstakes, gambling,
Pete Labrozzi / Flickr Creative Commons

Gambling is illegal in North Carolina. But there is a gray area: It's called an "Internet sweepstakes." And contrary to it's name, such sweepstakes are often not on the Internet. They are operated in small shops, often in strip malls, across the state.

Strickland Farms
Leoneda Inge

The North Carolina Farm Bureau is applauding the passage of the new Farm Bill.  Leaders say it provides stability and certainty to the state’s largest industry.

Larry Wooten is President of the North Carolina Farm Bureau.  His family farms tobacco, corn and soybeans in Pender County.

“Very thankfully this extravaganza of a piece of legislation that took over two years to bring to fruition is finally passed the Senate and it’s headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.”

Salvation Army Logo
The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army in Fayetteville administers two funds for those in financial need. The first, know as CIP (Crisis Intervention Program) is there to help people whose electricity could be cut off at any minute.

The second, known as LEAP (pronounced "lee-app") is a seasonal fund to help cover higher-than-usual heating bills. After a polar vortex and an uncharacteristically heavy snowfall, LEAP is being put to the test this week.

ferry toll rates
NCDOT

The NC Department of Transportation is holding hearings this week on whether or not to raise the cost of riding the state's ferries (even in places where it's currently free). Here are five things you should know about the plan.

1) Nearly everyone would pay a little more; Some would pay a lot more.

There are four ferry routes at play here. Two of them don't currently charge passengers at all. Under the new structure, rates would go up anywhere from $0.50 to $28, basically everywhere, depending on your route and the size of your vehicle.

Josh Dunbar and Zachary Lyon of Falcon Engineering look at new plans for RTP.
Leoneda Inge

The Research Triangle Foundation has announced plans for a major expansion - its first mixed-use development project since the park opened. In a matter of weeks, 100 acres of prime real estate in RTP became available. The Research Triangle Foundation scooped it up at a price tag of $17 million dollars.

Bob Geolas is President and CEO of the foundation: "Look it's a big idea, it's a big vision. As RTP was itself 50 years ago." Geolas says that big idea will become Park Center - a mix of residential, cafes, business and retail.

Martin Marietta Materials

Raleigh-based Martin Marietta Materials is moving ahead with its largest acquisition yet.  It is acquiring leading cement producer Texas Industries.

Martin Marietta is one of the largest U.S. producers of construction aggregates like crushed stone, sand and gravel.  Once the company formally merges with Texas Industries, it’s sure to be number one.

The $2.7 billion transaction couldn’t come at a better time, as housing and other construction is starting to bounce back.

Hillside Student Bank
Leoneda Inge

Financial literacy is a growing part of the K-through-12 curriculum across the state.  But Hillside High School in Durham has taken the charge to the next level and opened a functioning bank branch at the school.

Organizers say that students, staff, and families will be able to open accounts, as well as deposit funds to checking and savings accounts right at the Hillside branch.  The program also provides internships and serves as a hands-on learning center for students to gain banking skills.

A solar panel, renewable energy
NCSU/CSE

Renewable energy generators have channeled hundreds of millions of kilowatt hours into the North Carolina power grid. That's since the NC GreenPower program was founded 10 years ago.

The initiative collects donations from companies, citizens and utility customers to buy renewable energy and diversify the state's power grid.

NC Solar Center Director Steve Kalland is on the board for NC GreenPower. He said the program has also helped utilities warm up to renewable power providers. 

Extraordinary Ventures
Courtesy of Extraordinary Ventures

In a traditional labor market, Ewan Toscano might be considered "hard to employ." But he's part of group of young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities who have a proven track record -- not only of employment -- but of entrepreneurship in the Triangle. 

Toscano really likes his job, saying, "I work at EV for two hours four days a week.I make twelve candles.  I love my job.  I see my friends."

Matt Victoriano and Robin Young in front of Matt's new business, Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits
Robin Young via Twitter / Here & Now

A Marine Corps vet is receiving national attention for his attempts to open a small business in Durham, North Carolina.

The radio show Here & Now has been following Matt Victoriano's story since last October. The program's host, Robin Young, met Victoriano at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Victoriano had served in Iraq and had been a sniper team leader. Since then he's been coping with post traumatic stress while trying to open a small business.

Cree's LED streetlights on Franklin St. in Chapel Hill
cree.com

Those 8,000 new street lamps will save money, and are a green choice.

The Town of Cary has announced a partnership with Duke Energy Progress to switch out most of its high-pressure sodium streetlamps (the yellow kind) with LED lamps (the white kind).

LEDs are more easily directed in a specific direction and also more energy efficient. So not only can the town do a better job of putting the light on the road (as opposed to spilling off into the neighboring areas), they'll also save an estimated $200,000 a year.

City of Raleigh

Federal budget cuts are influencing changes to subsidized housing in Raleigh.

This week, the City Council approved a Raleigh Housing Authority plan that would change the units in the Capitol Park projects away from the public housing model. Housing Authority Director Steve Beam says he's now waiting for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to weigh in:

NC Department of Commerce
NC Department of Commerce

  

  A new Report by the North Carolina Department of Commerce's Office of Science & Technology  shows the state is a leader in innovation, but it also points out the many ways in which we need to improve. 

American Airlines
American Airlines

The American Airlines, US Airways merger is being felt in eastern North Carolina.

Airports in Fayetteville, Jacksonville and Wilmington are losing their non-stop flights to Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC.

There used to be two daily flights to DC from Wilmington International Airport or I-L-M.  John Rosborough is the airport director:

Trash at a state landfill.
N.C. Division of Waste Management

The amount of garbage headed to the Wake County has dropped significantly in the past few years.

In 2009, the county buried 460,000 tons of garbage. That dropped to 400,000 last year.

Wake County Solid Waste Manager John Roberson says a number of factors impacted the reduction in waste going to the landfill: People bought and threw out less during the recession, recycling options improved, and commercial waste businesses disposed of garbage elsewhere.

Roberson says his division saw a $2 million drop in revenue over the past four years.

Greensboro City Council
City of Greensboro

In a unanimous vote, the Greensboro City Council agreed Tuesday that its definition of a sexually-oriented business was too broad.

The problem stems from some businesses not realizing they were sexually-oriented. Spencer's, (the black light infused, sort-of-ironic t-shirt and chain wallet store often found in malls) was cited by the city as violating it's definition of "sexually-oriented." Of course, Spencer's pushed back, arguing that the items in its store that are explicitly for adults can also be found in a drug store.

Jobs
Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

The Economic Outlook for the Triangle continues to outpace the rest of the state.

The combined jobless rate for the Raleigh-Durham-Cary statistical area is 5.5 percent, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.  (By comparison, one year ago, the unemployment rate was almost two points higher. )

Here's the breakdown from N.C. State Economist Mike Walden. He expects final numbers will show the following:

NC Commerce

The state Commerce Department has hired a new leader to re-vamp and privatize economic development across the state.  Richard Lindenmuth is the new Interim CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Lindenmuth has served as CEO of more than ten companies, and was president of ITT's Business and Consumer Communications Group in Raleigh.

Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker promised a total re-organization of her department.  So, today, she and Governor Pat McCrory announced their choice for head of the new state partnership.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

North Carolina lawmakers, business leaders and economists are touting a positive economic outlook for 2014.

Governor Pat McCrory gives a lot of credit for the state’s economic comeback to his administration’s overhaul of unemployment policy. 

In Washington, lawmakers continue to debate whether to approve a federal unemployment extension for more than one million jobless workers.  It’s an extension many in North Carolina had to do without several months ago.

During a speech in Research Triangle Park, McCrory said he likes what he sees.

Richard Burr
US Senate

More than 1,000 leaders in business, government, education and non-profits are gathering this morning in Research Triangle Park for the 12th annual Economic Forecast Forum.

This year’s speakers will include Kelly King, the head of BB&T; Senator Richard Burr and Governor Pat McCrory.

The North Carolina Chamber is one of the event’s program sponsors. Chamber President and CEO Lew Ebert says the year ahead looks bright.

Children at the Greystone Rec Center in north Raleigh
City of Raleigh

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has asked her staff to look for vacant commercial space that she might recommend for recreational development. 

McFarlane offered the idea of leasing space in strip malls and shopping centers to build recreational facilities. It's an attempt to kill two birds with one stone- build the recreational facilities the city wants/needs while also creating an anchor business in a shopping center that might otherwise be floundering.

Working Parents
hellobeautiful.com

“Tag-Team” parenting with non-traditional work schedules can be best for raising teenagers, according to new research out of North Carolina State University.

Joshua Hendrix is a doctoral student in Sociology at NC State and lead author of the article "Parental Nonstandard Work, Family Processes and Delinquency During Adolescence," published online in the Journal of Family Issues.

Revisions to the state's tax code mean filers in 2014 could see changes to their exemptions, deductions and overall tax payments. Here are five key facts about the changes:

Unemployment Rate
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In the never ending story that is "so-so" economic news, North Carolina's unemployment rate took a sharp drop in November, but that doesn't necessarily mean there are more people employed.

Here are the numbers up front:

Toys
Ana_Fuji / Flickr

Every year, Durham Rescue Mission holds a Christmas Eve dinner for the needy. They serve turkey and ham. And for the kids, there's a toy giveaway.

But now, just five days out, the group is 6,000 toys short of what they need in order to give all the kids some new playthings for the holiday.

"We accept new and used toys throughout the year, but at Christmas time we do like to give a new toy to the kids," said DRM CEO, Ernie Mills. "What kind of new toy? I tell the parents, any kind of toy you would buy for your kids, our kids would love it also."

Traffic jam
epSos via Flickr, Creative Commons

Nearly 2.8 million North Carolinians are expected to travel for Christmas or New Year's vacations.

Gas prices and air fares are holding steady, but 48,500 more people plan to travel for the holidays this year than last, according to AAA Carolinas.

Spokeswoman Angela Daley says that could be due to the improving economy. She says the weeks that include Christmas and New Year's Day are the most popular travel time, and it's also the longest. Daley says that makes it easier for people to plan trips at their convenience.

Iron Man
Just_The_Way / Flickr

Iron Man 3. Homeland. Sleepy Hollow.

Those are just a few of the productions that took (or are taking) place in North Carolina. And when you ask an industry expert why producers choose a specific city or state to film in, the answer has very little to do with climate, or airport access, or number of available caterers.

"The only places they look to do business are places that have a [tax] incentive," said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. "That's the number one qualifying factor."

Janet Cowell
nctreasurer.com

The State Treasurer's office is putting transparency reforms in place for contractors who manage some investments for the state pension fund.

The pension fund is worth about 83-billion dollars.

Treasurer Janet Cowell says independent reviews of NC Retirement Systems showed that until 2009, some managers hired third-party brokers, or “placement agents” to arrange investments, often without disclosing to the state.

Bald Head Islad Ferry
U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard is reporting 13 injuries after a ferry ran aground near Bald Head Island, Tuesday morning.

The 64-foot ferry was carrying 56 people went it ran aground Battery Island, an island at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, between Southport and Bald Head Island.

The Coast guard transported the passengers, by boat, back to Southport.

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