Business & Economy

A data storage and development company in Research Triangle Park plans a major workforce expansion. 

Gurnal Scott: Governor Bev Pergue couldn't be happier about what NetApp is setting out to do.

Bev Perdue: Creating 460 new jobs and investing 75 million dollars for the next four years right here.

NetApp has a reputation nationally as one of the best places to work. Senior Vice President Denise Cox says that's mostly because they attract people motivated to succeed

There were signs early in the Duke-Progress Energy merger process that Bill Johnson would not have a long tenure at the combined company.  Ann Gray is the lead director on the Duke Energy board of directors.   She told the North Carolina Utilities Commission today the board did not have a good impression of Johnson at one of their first meetings in 2010.

Ann Gray:  He did describe himself as being an individual who likes to learn but not be taught. That was an expression that stayed with our board and we watched for that to develop.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission spent hours yesterday questioning ousted Duke Energy CEO Bill Johnson.  The former Progress Energy leader says he was stunned by the controversial turn of events that transpired once the two companies merged.

Edward Finley:  There were no issues with respect to who would be the president and who would be the CEO.

Bill Johnson:  No, there were a lot of interesting questions and issues in the hearings, but that was not one of them.

A new study from the Washington DC-based Brookings Institution finds highly skilled immigrant workers are in high demand in Durham.

Asma Khalid: The Brookings study compares requests for H1-B visas in metro areas across the nation.  Jill Wilson co-authored the report.  She says Durham's population may be small but its demand for IT workers from abroad certainly is not.

 Jill Wilson: So it's really high, in terms of its request for 1,000 workers it ranks third in that measure.

The City of Durham has struggled for decades to revitalize a section downtown near the Durham Freeway.  Today there is a groundbreaking to celebrate new plans for the area. 

North Carolina is the fourth best state in the country for business, according to a new survey from CNBC.

Asma Khalid: According to the CNBC study, North Carolina performed particularly well in the transportation and workforce categories.  Lew Ebert is the president of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

State regulators had some tough questions for Duke Energy’s CEO at a hearing in Raleigh yesterday. They wanted to know why the company switched CEOs as soon as its merger with Progress Energy was completed.

Ed Finley: Mr. Rogers, if you'll come around and be sworn please.

The down economy has brought with it a lot of foreclosed properties. The North Carolina Bankers Association has developed a website to help get this real estate sold. 

Leoneda Inge:  The new website is called REO Deed Wagon dot com. REOs are real estate owned properties owned by the lender, in this case, a bank.  Brandon Wright is a spokesman for the North Carolina Bankers Association.  He says their goal is to have as many as two thousand properties listed by the end of the year.

Duke Energy is now the largest utility in the country. But the company is moving forward without its expected leader.

Gurnal Scott: Duke Energy held a conference call with reporters to mark the merger's completion. And board member Anne Maynard Gray had another announcement.

Anne Maynard Gray: Bill Johnson has resigned as president and chief executive officer of the combined company by mutual agreement with the board.

Walmart Express
Leoneda Inge

There are five new Walmart stores in North Carolina that might make you do a double-take.  They’re mini Walmarts popping up in rural communities, miles away from the nearest Walmart Supercenter.  They’re called Walmart Express and some say they are designed to compete with your corner “dollar” stores that are shining in this down economy.

Leoneda Inge:  We all pretty much know what a Walmart “Supercenter” looks like, aisles for days.  Well, Walmart Express stores run 10 to 15-thousand square feet.   That’s one- tenth the size of a supercenter.

North Carolina utilities regulators have approved the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, the last major hurdle to creating the largest American electric company. North Carolina Utilities Commission Chairman Edward Finley Jr. said Friday the deal was the best possible in an environment of energy industry consolidation. Finley says it was preferable for the two North Carolina-based companies to combine rather than be bought up by a company elsewhere. Conditions to the merger include the companies passing along at least $650 million in savings to customers.

A new study shows growth at High Point University has led to an increased economic impact on the local and state economy.

Jeff Tiberii: The report says that the annual economic impact has nearly tripled in just the last seven years. The private university with about 4-thousand undergrads has undergone a significant make-over during that time under President Nido Qubein.

Strip Clubs Pony Up For The DNC

Jun 28, 2012

It's not just city officials and business leaders rolling out the red carpet for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. So is the adult entertainment industry. The same thing is happening in Tampa, the site of the Republican National Convention. As WFAE's Tanner Latham reports, strip club owners, managers, and dancers are all hoping to cash in on the excitement.

In Winston-Salem a new president has been named to the Piedmont Triad Research Park. Jeff Tiberii has more.

Jeff Tiberii: Eric Tomlinson has been chosen by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to lead the PTRP. Tomlimson has experience as both a scienctist and leader of several start-ups. That was a major draw for the leaders at Wake Forest, including Dr. John McConnell, the CEO of Baptist Medical Center.

PNC is investing a million dollars in North Carolina to spur the economy and boost preschool education.

Asma Khalid: The Pittsburgh-based bank is collaborating with Wake County Public Schools, Carolina Ballet and the North Carolina Museum of Art to introduce low-income students to the arts.

Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata welcomes the PNC initiative.

The decision to permit a Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger in now in the hands of state regulators.

Gurnal Scott: North Carolina Utilities Commission chairman Ed Finley was non-committal after yesterday's hearing.

Duke Energy officials hope a state Utilities Commission hearing today is the final hurdle before a merger with Progress Energy is complete.

Gurnal Scott: The commissioners will hear from company leaders about how consumers will be protected as Duke Energy seeks to become the nation's largest utility. Spokesman Tom Williams says the last year and a half since announcing the 26 billion dollar merger has prepared them.

Swine Waste
Asma Khalid

Back in 2007, North Carolina passed the first renewable energy mandate in the Southeast. The new rules say that by the end of this year at least three percent of all electricity needs to come from green sources. The power companies say they'll easily meet that, but they're going to come up short on two fronts. The law includes a provision for electricity from poultry waste and hog manure. The utilities say they can't meet either one of those terms.

Durham-based Quintiles has had a strong presence in China for 15 years. Now it is building a headquarters there to serve nearby Asian countries.

Leoneda Inge:  Quintiles is building a 14-million dollar regional headquarters in Shanghai. The bio-pharmaceutical services company that manages clinical trials already has a presence in Beijing and Hong Kong.  Phil Bridges is a spokesman for Quintiles.  He says it was time to significantly expand lab testing capabilities in China.
 

Clothing manufacturer Ralph Lauren has announced it will expand in North Carolina.

Jeff Tiberii: The company plans to add 500 jobs by the end of 2017 while also investing about $100 million. Ralph Lauren is the city’s fourth largest employer and will have nearly 2,000 local workers after these additions. Governor Bev Perdue says the growth is a positive sign for the economy.

RTI International has been awarded 4-point8-million dollars to develop technology to help reduce the energy needed to power manufacturing facilities.

Leoneda Inge:  RTI International will partner with Duke University and Veolia Water Solutions in Cary to develop a system that will allow heat from industrial processes to treat waste-water.  David Danielson is Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for the US Department of Energy.  He says his office is funding 13 projects in this first round.

The new quarterly survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine shows most CFOs are ready to hire.

Leoneda Inge:  The new global business outlook survey shows most chief financial officers plan to expand their firm’s workforce by an average of two-point-five percent.  Campbell Harvey is a Finance Professor at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. He says that’s huge.

Job Fair For Veterans

Jun 1, 2012

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a job fair for veterans and military spouses in Chapel Hill today. It's part of a national initiative to curb the high unemployment rate among veterans.

Charles Hayes
Gerry Collins Photography

Business Leaders, economic developers and other stakeholders came out in the hundreds to hear yesterday’s State of the Research Triangle Region address.

Leoneda Inge: Charles Hayes is President and CEO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership. He says in 2011 the region’s population grew by nearly two percent and wages grew by almost five-percent. But job growth is still slow. Hayes says since their economic plan was implemented in 2009 the 13 county region has added only 22,400 jobs.

The summertime travel season gets underway today. Officials at the State Department of Transportation are suspending most road works for the Memorial Day weekend. Tom Crosby works for AAA Carolinas. He says nearly a million drivers will be on North Carolina roads and highways this weekend, partly because gas prices have dropped from this time last year.

Public transportation has long been a contentious topic in the Triangle. As cities like Charlotte have expanded bus service and built a light-rail system, cities like Raleigh and Durham have failed to keep up.

But now, a plan to increase busses and begin the long process of connecting the cities in the Triangle by rail is just a few steps from being implemented. Those last few steps are proving to be the hardest.

A new survey released by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School shows significant managerial and gender gaps on the perception of how women business leaders are developed.

North Carolina's unemployment rate is continuing to show improvement.

Gurnal Scott: The state's jobless rate in April fell to 9.4 percent down three-tenths from 9.7 percent in March. This marks four straight months that the rate has gone down. Larry Parker is spokesman for the state Commerce Department's Division of Employment Security. He says while the decrease is good news, it doesn't mean the state's economic recovery is speeding up.

North Carolina is manufacturing, selling and shipping a record number of goods according to latest numbers.  

Leoneda Inge:  Governor Bev Perdue’s office says North Carolina shipped 27-billion dollars in merchandise last year, a record.   It’s eight-percent higher than the year before.  And it’s 60 percent higher than a decade ago.  Derek Chen is the Director of Foreign Operations for the state Commerce Department.  He says the growth is phenomenal.

Bank Of America To Face Shareholders, Protestors

May 8, 2012

Hundreds of protesters have pledged to descend on Bank of America's annual meeting in Charlotte tomorrow. 2011 was a rocky year for Bank of America. The bank fell from its perch as the nation's largest and weathered a series of public relations storms.

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