Business & Economy

A leading Smart Growth advocate is visiting the Triangle today to speak on lessons in “Livability” for the 21st Century.  Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Portland says he’s impressed with urban revitalization projects like the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham.  But he says planners and politicians are running out of time if they want to develop mass transit to maintain the Triangle’s current quality of life.

NC Conference Addresses Childhood Hunger

Jan 19, 2012

State leaders and advocates against child hunger are gathering in Raleigh today for a conference to collaborate on ways to address the problem.

Leoneda Inge:  People will come from across the state from faith-based organizations, food banks and more to attend the “No Kid Hungry North Carolina Childhood Hunger Conference.”  Tamara Baker is the program manager for No Kid Hungry North Carolina.  She says childhood hunger is on the rise because more families are short on resources.

The city of Raleigh, NC State University, and private companies are holding a one-day Innovation Summit today. Their goal is to enhance the capitol city’s reputation as a place for tech startups.

A group of Raleigh area business owners are in Washington D-C today for a roundtable discussion with White House officials.

It could be six months before the Duke Energy-Progress Energy merger is complete.

Lawmakers from North Carolina and Virginia met earlier today in Richmond to plan out the future of a high-speed rail corridor that would link Raleigh to Washington. The meeting was largely symbolic.

Dave DeWitt: High-speed rail is essentially derailed, thanks to last year’s federal budget deal that zeroed out funding in 2012. Some money is still left over from previous grants, but it’s a small percentage of what is needed to make a high-speed train a reality.

Better incentives for economic development are one way to tackle North Carolina's high unemployment rate. That's according to the non-profit North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. Report author Allan Freyer says the state should change how it attracts companies.

Two minority banking institutions in Durham have just received big financial investments from the Democratic National Convention Committee.

Leoneda Inge:  Yesterday, Steve Kerrigan, head of the DNC Committee, officially invested 4-million-dollars in convention funds in the Latino Community Credit Union and Mechanics and Farmers Bank.

Steve Kerrigan:  We hope that Mechanics and Farmers and LCCU use these resources to do what they do best which is to invest in the community.

The city of Raleigh is now requiring public and private groups pay a registration fee to operate group housing, including emergency housing and housing for those with disabilities.

A state audit has found that the Department of Agriculture assessed only two fines following thousands of safety violations involving liquefied petroleum.

Liquefied Petroleum – or L.P. – gas is used in grills, lighters and even to heat homes. During a 12-month period, Department of Agriculture inspectors wrote nearly 7,500 safety violations, but levied just two fines. State Auditor Beth Wood says violations ranged from storage plants, to dangerous pipes in homes. She says inspectors should have assessed much more in penalties.

Green Restaurant Association
dinegreen.com

Asheville is known as a sort of local food-haven. Now it's leading the way in an effort to reduce the environmental impacts of restaurants. The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is using a $258,000 grant from the North Carolina Green Business Fund to make upgrades in 18 Asheville restaurants.

The unemployment rate in North Carolina now sits at 10-percent.   It’s almost a half point lower than the month before but still a lot higher than the national rate.

A survey by Duke University shows Chief Financial Officers from across the country were more optimistic the last quarter of the year than in earlier months.

Holiday spending cash – or the lack of it – is on the minds of many people this time of year.  There is a group of North Carolina state employees whose job is to make sure budgets are balanced and audits are perfect.  More than 300 of these fiscal agents gathered in Raleigh this week and were asked how they were planning on spending their holiday cash this season.

Fiscal agents throughout North Carolina government and the university and community college system gathered in Raleigh yesterday to address fiscal challenges facing the state. 

Scott Ralls is President of the state community college system.  The recession hit around the time he took the helm.

Scott Ralls:  "It certainly has been a challenge, not just because the loss of revenue that has been challenging to budget and prioritize, but also the very significant increase in demand that we simultaneously faced during that timeframe."

Raleigh-based Martin Marietta wants to merge with its main competitor.  What started out as a private negotiation is now a hostile takeover.

Martin Marietta wants to merge with Birmingham, Alabama-based Vulcan Materials.  The two companies are the U-S leaders in the production of rock, gravel, sand and other building materials.   Ward Nye is the C-E-O of Martin Marietta.

Ward Nye:  "As is well know, these last few years have been challenging for our industry given economic recession and reduction in infrastructure, commercial and residential construction projects."

Occupy groups from the Triad are holding an employment march tomorrow.

Organizers expect about 200 people to participate in downtown Greensboro. Members of the occupy groups from Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point are joining together for the event. A rally will follow the march. Speakers from organized labor groups and worker owned cooperatives will address the crowd. John Kernodle is organizing the march:

North Carolina's first modern-era toll road opens later this morning in the Research Triangle Park. The first leg of the Triangle Expressway connects highway 147 to North Carolina 540. Officials say they'll cut the ribbon at about 10:30 a.m. with the road open for traffic around noon. David Joyner is the executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority. He says drivers will not have to pay until January 3rd.

With the winter approaching more beds are being made available to people who are homeless.

In recent weeks shelters in Greensboro have turned away a significant number of people seeking assistance. This week eight winter emergency, or 'WE' shelters are opening throughout the city. One new site is at the YWCA. It will serve up to 25 single women each night. Sharon Sumner is Director of the WE Shelters for the Greensboro Urban Ministries. She says this new shelter increases capacity where there is a growing demand.

The head of Wells Fargo Bank addressed a crowd at N-C State University yesterday.   But there was a break in the script once protesters from the “occupy” movement interrupted the speech and were eventually escorted out.

It was no secret – the scheduled speech by Wells Fargo C-E-O John Stumpf would definitely be interrupted.  The only question was WHEN.  Stumpf opened his speech at N-C State’s Poole College of Management joking about the emails he received from students inviting him out after the talk.

The recession that began four years ago is still holding many communities across the country hostage.  Homes continue to fall into foreclosure and long-term employees are again looking for work.  But there are some areas in the United States that are recovering quite well during this down-turn.   And one of those metropolitan areas includes Raleigh.

The new Occupy Raleigh encampment
Occupy Raleigh

Occupy Raleigh protesters have set up camp four blocks from the Capital. About 15 to 20 protesters have been camping since Thanksgiving. They're paying $400-a-month for the site owned by Rob Baumgart. Baumgart says it's purely business, but he did sympathize with the protesters.

Meet Occupy Raleigh protester Joseph Huberman, a 61-year-old artist and former small-business owner who's now retired.  He's been with the movement since it started.  Hear an interview with Occupy Raleigh protester Joseph Huberman, a 61-year-old artist and former small-business owner who's now retired.

Kurt Zehnder is a 20-year-old Occupy Raleigh protester, and a self-described moderate Republican. He attended Western Carolina for a year before running out of money and dropping out. Now he's waiting tables, saving up for college, and camping out as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Hear an interview with Kurt Zehnder, a 20-year-old Occupy Raleigh protester, and a self-described moderate Republican.

Let the holiday shopping frenzy begin! But it looks like traditional and online retailers are ignoring Black Friday and moving in ahead of time.

It might be a little shocking – but a lot of big box stores and department stores are opening their doors tonight.  Justin Bieber will be there.

Justin Bieber:  "Yo! I’m going to Macy’s Black Friday sale. SCREAM. Yeah, I know it’s pretty cool, it starts at midnight."


Scot Wingo is the C-E-O of Morrisville-based Channel Advisor.  The company helps retailers sell more of their goods online. 

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper wants shoppers to be smart and safe this holiday season.

Cooper and the Better Business Bureau are asking consumers to do their homework this holiday season. They recommend looking into a charity before making a donation and shopping at familiar retailers.

Roy Cooper: "I would avoid a company that I don't know who I'm dealing with. There are so many options out there. Why deal with someone you don't know? You might be wanting to get a great deal, but if seems to good to be true it probably is."

Raleigh leaders are setting their sights on creating a new brand for the city. They hope a plan to assist small businesses will lead to Raleigh becoming a “city of innovation.”

Most of the City Council stood with outgoing mayor Charles Meeker to make the announcement earlier today. They gathered in the small back loading bay of Xanofi, a nanofiber company spun off from NC State. It’s exactly the kind of company they hope to cultivate – small, innovative, and full of promise

Twenty-five years ago – pivotal reports were released focusing on major issues confronting the South.  They found that despite improvements in the high school and college graduation rates and technological advances, the South still lingered behind other regions.  A report released yesterday by U-N-C’s Global Research Institute sets out to follow-up on the Southern agenda and makes recommendations to improve national AND global competitiveness. 

A major take-over is in the works in the North Carolina technology sector.

TIMCO Aerosystems is showing off its newest manufacturing facility today in Davidson County.   The company needed a second plant to keep up with demand.

The new TIMCO Aerosystems plant is in the town of Wallburg.  There are about 140 employees at the facility where airline seating is manufactured for companies like Boeing and Airbus.  Rick Salanitri is President of TIMCO Aerosystems.  He says they conducted a national search to determine the best place to expand.

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