Business & Economy

Entrepreneurs in the Triangle have the chance to tell the federal government how it can help grow their businesses. The U-S Small Business Administration will host a roundtable in Durham today to gather ideas for reducing small business regulations. S-B-A press secretary Hayley Meadvin says Durham is the first stop in the series of meetings called Startup America.

Bus ridership is increasing throughout the Triangle, thanks in large part to rising gas prices. January ridership on Triangle Transit was up 17.7 percent from last year. Brad Schulz at Triangle Transit says gas prices are just one reason people are choosing the bus.

Durham-area business owners got the chance to have some face-time with the head of the U-S Minority Business Development Agency.

Robin Costello is a Vice President at Piedmont Investment Advisors. The company is 10 years old managing three-and-a-half billion dollars in investments.

Robin Costello:  "The corporate."

David Hinson:  "We’re working on it."

Robin Costello:  "It’s hard."

Sanderson Farms is delaying plans to build a poultry processing plant in Nash County.

Joe Sanderson, CEO of Sanderson Farms, says overproduction in the chicken industry has left the price of chicken low while feed costs are high. And so the company decided to delay building the plant until market conditions can be reevaluated in the Fall. The plant has also drawn controversy from some who allege wastewater from the plant will contaminate local water supplies.

North Carolina conservation groups say preserving land for public use has long-term economic benefits. A new report from the non-profit Trust for Public Land claims that every dollar North Carolina invests in parks, farms and wilderness has a return of 4 dollars to the local economy. The report measures the “natural goods and services” of different ecosystems in the state. An area is valued by the quality of its air and water and its ability to remove pollutants naturally—making wetlands and forests the most valuable and developed or barren land the least valuable.

GSK Cutting Jobs in RTP

Feb 17, 2011

Some GlaxoSmithKline employees in Research Triangle Park will be laid off as the drug maker scales back its Neuroscience Medicines Development Center.

The cutbacks follow an announcement last year by Chief Executive Andrew Witty to "modernise" the company's focus on research and development.  Kathy Pitman is a GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman:

The Triangle will be hit especially hard when Borders Books closes several of its stores.


By April – the Borders Group will close about 30-percent of what the company calls its under-performing stores.  Borders’ reorganization plan was reveled yesterday when owners announced they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

North Carolina Amtrak will suspend Piedmont mid-day service between Raleigh and Charlotte starting today.  Service is being halted due to improvement projects along the route. Amtrak Spokeswoman Amanda Perry says the closures are to give workers a chance to recondition the tracks and improve on-time service.

"It would minimize delays and service interruptions and that sort of thing.But the actual speed of the train is not expected to increase."

Red Hat To Stay, Grow In Triangle

Feb 12, 2011
Perdue's Red Hat
Laura Leslie

Linux software giant Red Hat will be staying in Wake County, and adding hundreds of jobs.  Laura Leslie reports.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst says his company has settled on Wake County for its new corporate headquarters.  The company will add 540 jobs over the next 5 years, in return for state and local incentives totaling around 18 million dollars.

Durham Central Market
Durham Central Market

Durham Central Market, a community grocery store cooperative, lets local investors build social and financial capital in the construction of a downtown supermarket. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Project Manager Don Moffitt and Robin Arcus, a board member and Durham Central Market co-founder, about the co-op, which is scheduled to open in 2012.

U.S. Chemical Safety Board

The deadly explosion at the Con-Agra Foods plant near Garner has resulted in a safety video to help prevent future tragedies. 

The video was produced by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. It’s called “Deadly Practices” and begins like this.

It's Pothole Season

Feb 11, 2011

North Carolina roads may be clear of ice and snow, but drivers still might hit trouble spots. It's the beginning of pothole season. Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott says drivers should watch out for potholes. But he says the cold weather actually has minimized damage.

"Because we haven't had the thaw and freeze and thaw and freeze of last year potholes are not as bad as they were last year."

Researchers and business experts in developing countries are meeting at UNC Chapel Hill to discuss one of the newest models to help move people out of poverty.

This new business model is called micro-franchising.   It’s different from micro-enterprises which involve small amounts of seed money to help a poor person become an entrepreneur. Jason Fairborne is the author of Micro-Franchising – Creating Wealth at the Bottom of the Pyramid.  He says micro-franchising can help more people:

www.biofuels.coop

Pittsboro-based Piedmont Biofuels is cutting the ribbon on a new tank location in Saxapahaw. The new tank at the Saxapahaw General Store will provide biodiesel to Piedmont’s members. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from cooking oils that’s cleaner than pure petroleum. It typically sells for around 3-fifty per gallon making it slightly more expensive than regular diesel.

Numbers released by the state’s Employment Security Commission shows 2010 as a year of static job growth – but better than 2009.

Numbers released yesterday show the unemployment rate edging up a bit – from 9.6-percent in October – to 9.7-percent in November and 9.8-percent in December.

Larry Parker is a spokesman for the Employment Security Commission.   He says the unemployment rate has increased because a lot more people are looking for work again.  One of the biggest job growth areas for 2010 was in Professional and Business Services:

Triangle Home Sales

Jan 24, 2011

Home sales were down in 2010 in the greater Triangle area.  But the average price of homes went up. 

The federal tax credit for first time home buyers kept housing sales on track for the first two quarters of 2010.  But when the program ended – housing sales took a hit.

Stacey Anfindsen is director of the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.  He says the total number of home sales in the greater Triangle area was 20,643 homes – six-percent behind sales in 2009.  But the average price of homes jumped three-percent.

A new report from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business shows a shortage of skilled workers in the U-S may be one of the main reasons for the off-shoring of American business service jobs.  Arie Lewin is a Duke professor of strategy and international business.  He says American companies in I-T services and software development are not saving money by off-shoring

SAS Celebrates Success

Jan 21, 2011

SAS has a lot to celebrate this week. The software company continues to hire during the tough economy. 

SAS founders and employees enjoyed champagne and sparkling cider at their Cary headquarters yesterday. For the second year in a row – they’ve been ranked number one on Fortune Magazine’s “Best Companies to Work For” list. SAS is also celebrating record revenue for 2010 – 2.43 billion dollars, up 5.2-percent from the year before. John Sall is co-founder and Executive Vice President of SAS.

American Express plans to close a call center in Greensboro that employs 1900 employees.

Company officials say the decision to close the service center was not based on employees' performance. It's because these days many customers prefer to check their balances and pay bills online rather than calling an operator for help.

More bad news for Glaxo Smith Kline as the company attempts to account for the costs of Avandia litigation. .

GSK made the announcement in a statement posted on the company's website. Glaxo will take a $3.4 billion write-off out of fourth quarter profits to cover liability costs for blockbuster diabetes drug Avandia.

Foreclosure filings in North Carolina broke a state record last year.

An analysis of 2010 foreclosure filings shows approximately one in 63 housing units in the state faced foreclosure

The North Carolina Justice Center has released a county-by-county look at housing and commercial foreclosure filings.

Jeff Shaw with the Justice Center says numbers show Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Union counties suffered the most. He says the foreclosure problem is a jobs problem.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources has released a new study showing growth in recycling-related jobs in the state. Private sector jobs in the recycling industry have increased by about 5 percent since 2008 according to the study. Sherry Yarkosky with the state Recycling Business Assistance Center says the study reinforces that recycling helps not just the environment.

An Electric Marriage

Jan 10, 2011

A surprising but not shocking marriage was announced in North Carolina today.  Two – well branded utility companies – decided to get hitched. And if regulators approve the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy – the union will form the largest utility company in America.

Duke Energy and Progress Energy officials announced today they are merging their companies. Duke Energy will be the name of the combined company. Its headquarters will be in Charlotte and it will become the largest utility in the country. Progress Energy C-E-O William Johnson will be the new Duke Energy leader. He says the merger is good for North Carolina:

Officials at Appalachian State University are planning to sell beer brewed in the chemistry department. Faculty and students began a class on fermentation last spring. But current rules prohibit selling the fruits of their labor.

Brett Taubman is an assistant professor of chemistry at ASU and a home brewer:

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