Business & Economy

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.

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.

Pages