Business & Economy

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.

It could take years to make-up for all the jobs lost since the Recession.  Since December 2007, North Carolina has lost more than 300-thousand jobs. President Barack Obama says “Innovation” is the key to NEW economy jobs.

Pres. Barack Obama:  "We know what we have to do to create jobs right now.  And create jobs in the future.  We know that if we want businesses to start here and stay here and hire here, we’ve got to be able to out build and out educate and out innovate every country on earth!"

A major push is underway in North Carolina to help grow businesses in the Life Sciences. 

Winston-Salem based BB&T is acquiring part of Florida’s BankAtlantic.

The bank will pay $300 million in exchange for nearly $5.5 billion in loans and deposits. The North Carolina company will not take on any loans at risk of default or bad assets in the merger. BB&T CFO Darryl Bible says the acquisition is ultimately safe.

Darryl Bible: "They separated the good bank form the bad bank. BB&T is acquiring all the good assets from BankAtlantic, about 2.1 billion dollars. BankAtlantic is basically retaining all the non performing assets."

Dare County continues to struggle with re-building and with high job loss since Hurricane Irene hit two months ago. 

The latest unemployment numbers from across the state show a majority of counties experienced a drop in their jobless rates.  But not Dare County.  In August – the unemployment rate in Dare County was 7-point-5-percent – much lower than the national and the state rate.  But in September - the jobless rate was nearly two points higher.  Kenny Kee manages the Employment Security Commission office in Nags Head.  He says people couldn’t get to work after the storm.

The latest numbers show an increase in unemployment across the state.  But private sector jobs are growing and SAS is an example of that growth. 

In High Point the twice-annual furniture market is bringing business as well as back-ups to the Triad.

Earlier this year IMC (International Market Centers) purchased about 1 billion dollars of showroom space in High Point. The company now has 11.5 million square feet of exhibition space in High Point and Las Vegas, offering a bridge between two markets that have competed against each other in recent years. Tom Conley is the new President and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. He says the influence of IMC makes the market stronger.

The North Carolina State Fair attracted more than million people for the second straight year. The fair closed out its 10-day run yesterday with more than 100,000 people. But overall attendance fell about 7 percent short of last year's record numbers. State agriculture spokesman Paul Jones says vendors reported mixed reviews about this year's revenue.

Commuters in Winston-Salem board a P.A.R.T. express bus bound for Greensboro
Jeff Tiberii

The Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation is having its busiest year ever. The bus service connecting Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point and many smaller communities in the Triad is 9 years old. Yet despite strong ridership P.A.R.T. is in financial trouble.

A motion presented by the Chapel Hill Town Council this week would make it easier for food trucks to set up shop in town. The latest proposal would require vendors to operate at least 100 feet from the entrance of a restaurant. That's similar to new food truck rules that went into effect this month in Raleigh. Food trucks are allowed in Durham under the city's zoning ordinances. The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce says food trucks are unfair competition for restaurants. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt says the ordinance has other provisions designed to protect other businesses.

President Obama at Guilford Technical Community College
Jeff Tiberii

On Tuesday morning President Obama was in the Triad to promote his American Jobs Act.

Day two of a three-day bus tour brought President Obama to the campus of Guilford Technical Community College. His speech lasted 25 minutes in front of a gymnasium full of spectators. The message deviated slightly from remarks he made in Western North Carolina on Monday.

State agricultural officials travel to eastern North Carolina this week to get an update on recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irene. Leaders from the state Department of Agriculture will meet with farmers today in Rocky Mount and Thursday in Winton. Former Congressman Bob Etheridge is an advisor to the governor for hurricane recovery. He says some crop damage might not be covered by state or federal disaster funds.

Bank of America has set up shop in the Raleigh Convention Center to help homeowners teetering on foreclosure. 

Craig Willis says he’s had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about his house in Burlington.

Craig Willis: " I would just hate to give all that up and have to start over doing it again."

Willis got behind on his house payments in 2008, after losing his job and then a divorce.  Jessica Garcia is a Bank of America events manager.  She says they contacted 19-thousand customers within 150 miles of Raleigh inviting them to talk with specialists.

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