Business & Economy

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.

Protesters who say they're concerned about corporate greed and social inequality plan to gather at Raleigh's old state capitol grounds tomorrow.

Triangle Expressway Map
ncturnpike.org

Drivers can start buying electronic transponders for the Triangle Expressway Tuesday, October 11th. The transponders are a means of paying tolls easily. They come in time for the opening of the first section of the Triangle Expressway in mid-December. That's an extension of the Durham Freeway into Research Triangle Park. There will be two transponders to choose from. One is for North Carolina travel. That one will cost $5. The other includes states up and down the coast and is $20. David Joyner is Executive Director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

Piedmont-based PSNC Energy will begin selling compressed natural gas at two locations in Raleigh with plans for a third in Gastonia. State regulators approved the $1.70-per-gallon price tag. That's about half the cost of gasoline. But you'd have to have a vehicle that uses CNG or to have converted your vehicle to be able to use it. PSNC spokeswoman Angie Townsend says they've had a handful of CNG customers since the early 90's but interest is growing.

Wayne Goodwin
NC DOI

The North Carolina Department of Insurance has set up a series of temporary insurance assistance centers in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Irene. The centers are designed to help customers who believe they are not being treated fairly by insurance companies.

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin decided to open the centers after his office fielded a steady stream of complaints from customers in coastal counties.

Goodwin says many complaints have centered on non-existent or non-communicative insurance adjusters.

This week one North Carolina company gave Davie County a substantial gift.

Winston-Salem based R.J. Reynolds Tobacco gave the rural county 360 acres of undeveloped land southwest of the city. The gift is expected to help bring manufacturing jobs. Terry Bralley is President of the Davie County Economic Development Commission. He says at least one furniture company is considering a plant in the area.

Eric Hodge:  North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller has introduced a bill he says will give consumers the power to switch banks if they’re disgruntled over fees. Leoneda Inge reports.

Recent announcements about rising fees from big banks like Bank of America have some consumers mad.  Democrat Brad Miller of Raleigh says that’s why he introduced the “Freedom and Mobility in Banking Act.”

Brad Miller:  "Banks should send money by electronically from one bank to another when you decide you want to transfer your accounts because you weren’t happy with your first bank."

Several dozen supporters staged a small rally this morning to support the passage of two separate city-wide bonds on the ballot for next week. If passed, the bonds would go to improving transportation and low-income housing. They would total about $56 million and cost the average homeowner about $17 a year. Outgoing mayor Charles Meeker is hoping the historically strong support for bonds in Raleigh continues.

NC-Based PPD Sold

Oct 4, 2011

North Carolina’s clinical trials industry is seeing a major shift.  The latest example is the purchase of Wilmington-based P-P-D.

Interstate 95 map
i95highway.com

State transportation officials are looking at ways of raising revenue to modernize Interstate 95. One thing they're looking at is tolling the highway. That's being considered up and down the coast. Greer Beaty with the Department of Transportation says a large-scale study of I-95 started early last year. She says there are a number of things to consider.

The Small Business Administration visited Raleigh to kick-off a new national program to help businesses grow internationally.

Karen Mills is the Administrator for the S-B-A.  She visited "Raleigh Denim" to announce the new State Trade and Export Promotion program.

Karen Mills:  "American manufacturers can still produce world class products, even in textiles."

Small businesses on Hatteras Island are struggling to turn a profit a month after Hurricane Irene swept across the Outer Banks. That's despite a decision from the Department of Transportation earlier this month to restart ferry service for both visitors and residents. Keith Andre owns a construction business in Frisco. He says building centers that usually provide his equipment are nearly empty.

FEMA's announcement that it won't run out of funds this week is good news for counties in eastern North Carolina. Local governments have been fronting the bill for disaster relief without a guarantee of reimbursement after Hurricane Irene. In Hyde County, health director Wesley Smith says officials ordered an insecticide spray from low-flying planes for 20,000 acres. He says flooding caused a boom in the mosquito population.

The State Department of Transportation has been working on a high speed rail proposal for downtown Raleigh for several years.  Today the public is invited to see an updated plan at the Raleigh convention Center. 

The economic impact of North Carolina's wine industry is now more than billion dollar-a-year.

State regulators continue a hearing today about whether Duke Energy and Progress Energy should merge.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hear testimony Tuesday on the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. The Commission will hear from company officials in favor and from environmental groups opposed to the merger. Tom Williams is a spokesman for Duke Energy.

Some of the nation’s leading housing finance experts will be in Raleigh today and tomorrow for the American Mortgage Conference.  Thad Woodard is president and C-E-O of the North Carolina Bankers Association.  He says they wanted to present a major platform to answer some major questions about the future of home financing.

Governor Bev Perdue will lead a forum today on overcoming the challenges facing of the state's rural communities. Her first stop is in Martin County in eastern North Carolina.

85 of the state's 100 counties are considered rural. These small communities are struggling with higher-than-average unemployment, infrastructure problems, and young people moving away to larger cities.

Perdue will lead conversations on these and other challenges in an effort to improve rural competitiveness. The panels will be made up of state and local leaders, as well as rural development experts.

Several environmental groups have filed a challenge to the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. The merger between the two North Carolina-based companies would create the country's largest utility. Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Gudrun Thompson says that makes Duke and Progress responsible for leading the way in developing clean energy resources.

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