Business & Economy

The state Commerce Department says North Carolina's unemployment rate has risen slightly.  The state's unemployment rate went up to 9-point-7 percent in August. Analysts say that translates to nearly six thousand more people reported as being out of work. That brings the total number of unemployed in North Carolina to more than 450,000.

The City of Greensboro is getting a one million dollar federal grant designed to generate economic growth. The grant is part of a program aimed at encouraging innovative ideas, strategies and perspectives for long-term job growth. Greensboro will hold a competition and request ideas for ways to bolster the local economy.

The head of federal railroads will be in Raleigh today to announce more money for a new train terminal. Passengers who board trains in Raleigh arrive to a cramped terminal with few parking spaces. City and state planners hope a new depot -- called Union Station -- will better serve travelers. Federal rail administrator Joseph Szabo is expected to announce more federal dollars for the project.

Roanoke Rapids officials are hoping they’ve found the right mix of games and entertainment to create an economic engine for the city near I-95 on the Virginia border.  Roanoke Rapids spent millions of dollars on a theatre named after Dolly Parton’s brother – it failed.  And that was tough for a community that has already been hit hard.  Mayor Emery Doughtie.

The latest Duke University CFO Magazine survey shows rising pessimism among companies in the US and abroad.

A homebuilding company that had retained the mineral rights of about 850 newly built houses has agreed to return them to consumers.

Numbers released today by the employment firm Manpower show a favorable job market for North Carolina.  Leoneda Inge reports.

The annual American Mortgage Conference gets underway today in Raleigh. Bankers, regulators, and government officials will meet for 3 days to discuss ways to get the mortgage market moving again. Thad Woodard is president and CEO of the North Carolina Bankers Association. He says the system now is much more strictly regulated under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.

UNC-Greensboro is breaking ground on a pedestrian underpass this morning.

The project will provide a pathway under Lee Street and a railway. It will connect the main UNC-G campus with a mixed-use village, currently under construction. When complete, Spartan Village will include 1,400 resident beds, retail space and a new student recreation center. Jorge Quintal is Associate Vice Chancellor of Facilities. He says this project will increase the campus by 20-percent.

US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his agency has reached a goal to expand smart grid technology usage. Vilsack says one of the biggest challenges in rural development is the efficient delivery of power. He hopes more money the USDA has secured will help electric co-ops better serve farms and ranches.

Tom Vilsack: "We want to do a better job of working with them to make sure that their customers are as efficient with the use of their electricity and power as possible which is why smart metering makes sense."

The economic downturn hit North Carolina harder than much of the country, and it will take the state longer to recover. That's the conclusion of a new report from UNC's Global Research Institute.

Across the state elected officials, business leaders and job seekers continue to monitor unemployment rates, local economic growth and job opportunities. In Greensboro the Chamber of Commerce touted some good news this week, hoping to spark a little optimism. Jeff Tiberii reports there are signs of improvement, but also lingering problems in the workforce.

Some Nash County residents are fighting to stop a chicken processing plant from coming to their area.

Gurnal Scott: Sanderson Farms already has a presence in Kinston.  Now it wants to bring a large poultry plant to Nash County. The Carolinas Gateway Partnership -- an economic development group -- is helping Sanderson. Partnership C-E-O John Gessaman says the company wants to go beyond its employment promise

One year ago Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout. The Category 1 storm was slow moving and lingered along the North Carolina coast, killing seven people and causing $1.2 billion in damage. Julia Jerema works for North Carolina Emergency Management. She says recovery efforts are not quite complete.

Mitchell Silver
City of Raleigh

Whenever a magazine comes out with another list of the best cities, Raleigh is invariably on it. The State Capitol has been deemed one of the best cities for recent college graduates, for having a happy marriage, and for offering women a healthy lifestyle.

As the second-fastest growing city in the country, the decisions city leaders have to make to plan for the future come fast and furious. In the middle of it all is Raleigh’s charismatic planning director, Mitchell Silver.

A new report shows the education and economic status of women in North Carolina has improved dramatically in recent decades.

Leoneda Inge: Preliminary findings in the 2012 “Status of Women in North Carolina” report show women have more Associate Degrees, Bachelor’s Degrees and graduate degrees than men. Beth Briggs is executive director of the North Carolina Council for Women.

A North Carolina Yellow Pages publisher is continuing its transition into digital marketing through a merger with a Texas rival. Cary-based Dex One and Dallas-based SuperMedia have both emerged from bankruptcy in recent years, as the market has moved from print phone books to the Internet.

SuperMedia chief Peter McDonald says the marketing needs of small businesses today go far beyond an ad in the Yellow Pages.

North Carolina’s list of top international trading partners is showing growth from Central and South America.

Leoneda Inge:  The country with the largest percentage of growth is Brazil.  Since last year, North Carolina exports there increased by 37-percent from the year before.  Brazil ranks number 10 on the state’s list of top business partners.  Jean Davis heads international trade for the state Commerce Department.   She just returned from a meeting in San Juan and says Central and South America is a real target.

North Carolina's unemployment rate increased slightly to 9-point-6 percent in July. It's the first increase after holding steady for three months at 9-point-4 percent. But Larry Parker with the Division of Employment Security says overall, the numbers indicate things are moving in the right direction.

Winston-Salem-based BB&T is moving forward with plans to expand its banking operations in southeast Florida.

Leoneda Inge:  BB&T is one of the oldest and largest banks under the state’s banking supervision.   Ray Grace is North Carolina’s Acting Commissioner of Banks.  He says acquiring Bank Atlantic restores the luster to BB&T’s image as a growing institution after PNC’s acquisition of RBC.

State agriculture officials are predicting a record corn crop this year. That's good news for corn growers who will command higher prices thanks to a drought in the midwest. Ron Heiniger is a corn specialist at North Carolina State University. He says the crop in Washington county has benefited from plenty of rain.

Ron Heiniger: Well its big, I'm six foot one and it would take two of me and a little bit more, probably about 14 foot tall is a lot of this corn.

The Latino Community Credit Union is offering a special “Dreamer Loan” for undocumented youth applying for the government initiative called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

A brand new business-friendly route to the west has taken flight from North Carolina.

Announcement: Welcome to United Airlines' inaugural flight 194 with service to San Francisco.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was in Florida's capital of Tallahassee yesterday to testify before power regulators there. the members of the Florida Public Service Commission questioned Rogers on the leadership change at the utility and about a failing nuclear facility in that state. Rogers said despite the issues the company faces, the Sunshine State is important to the company's future.

Starting this fall, Amtrak will expand its throughway motor coach service to Eastern North Carolina. Passengers will be able to connect via bus to the Amtrak Palmetto station in Wilson. One route will serve Greenville, New Bern, Havelock and Morehead City; the other will connect Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville, and Wilmington. Amtrak's Christina Leeds says the Palmetto train service operates twice daily serving 20 stations between New York and Savannah, Georgia.

Several state organizations are banding together give churches the tools to save lives.

Gurnal Scott: State Representative Becky Carney of Charlotte will never forget April 2nd, 2009, the day a portable defibrillator revived her after a near-fatal heart attack at the General Assembly

Rep. Becky Carney: One story can propel a great movement within a community.

Duke Energy announced its first in a series of rate cuts.

Leoneda Inge:  Duke Energy and Progress Energy promised if the companies were allowed to merge they would implement millions of dollars in utility rate cuts one month after the merger was approved.  The first round of cuts comes to about 89-million dollars.

Inge:  Yeah, I was just about to say, it’s about a dollar a month, hugh?

Tom Williams: It’s about a dollar month, but you know we have just begun this process

Duke Energy is looking for new board members since the resignation of two former Progress Energy directors. 

The latest unemployment numbers released by the North Carolina Department of Commerce show an increase in most of the state's 100 counties. And when you cross county lines and combine cities into metro areas, the jobless rate still seems to be on the rise again. But there is one area of the state that continues to out-perform all others, the Raleigh - Cary metropolitan area.

The watch-dog group NC Warn continues to fight against the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy.  Yesterday the group filed motions with state regulators to try to re-open the merger hearings.

Leoneda Inge:  One claim NC Warn is making involves more than two-billion dollars Duke Energy plans to spend repairing and upgrading Progress Energy’s nuclear plants.   Jim Warren is executive director of NC Warn. He says Duke Power never disclosed that figure during the merger hearings. Warren fears customers will end up paying in the end.

Pages