Business & Economy

Light Emitting Diodes
Mike Deal / Flickr

Durham-based Cree, known for its LED lighting, is spinning off another company.

Cree is calling the new business group the Cree Power and Radio Frequency Division.

Sharon Belenzon is an Associate Professor of Strategy at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.  Belenzon says he was not surprised by the news.

“So this legal separation in many, many cases creates huge value when you have divisions which have high growth opportunities and divisions which have low growth opportunities," said Belenzon.

South Estes, Public Housing, Chapel Hill
Leoneda Inge

A big step is underway to help bridge the “digital divide” in Chapel Hill.

Town officials announced today, along with AT&T, that residents living in eight of its public housing communities will soon have free internet service.

The move is a long time coming, especially in a town that is already one of the most wired in the state.

The South Estes Public Housing Community in Chapel Hill sits right off 15/501, near University Mall.  The 44 units were built in 1970, are gray in color and probably need a little fixing up. 

An artist's rendering of a light rail stop.
GoTriangle / Triangle Transit

Durham County and City officials will get updates about opportunities to improve affordable housing along the planned light rail line that will run into Orange County.

"What we've seen around the country is that, as these light rail systems are built, they are a major public infrastructure, and you see property values and rents go up in these areas, usually," said Aaron Cain, a Planning Supervisor for the city.

AOL founder Steve Case
Robert Scoble / Wikimedia Commons

Nearly two-thirds of the nation's venture capital goes to three states: New York, Massachusetts and California. 

But innovative ideas are not limited to these areas. Start-ups across the country are developing new solutions and a competition called Rise of the Rest seeks to reward these entrepreneurs. Local businesses compete for $100,000 today at the Carolina Theater in Durham at 3 p.m. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with venture capitalist, AOL co-founder and Rise of the Rest leader Steve Case.

A picture of electricity meters.
Mark Turnauckas / Flickr

A study from Duke University shows that customers use up to eight percent more electricity when they use automatic payments to cover their monthly bills.

Steven Sexton teaches public policy and economics. He says auto-pay keeps costs down for companies, and is convenient for customers. But it means they can lose track of their costs.

"The customer no longer has to confront those prices or look at that price information, because their payments will be transmitted, regardless of whether they look at their bills."

Bronto, American Tobacco
Leoneda Inge

Durham-based Bronto Software has been sold for $200 million dollars to NetSuite of San Mateo, California.

Bronto Software, founded in 2002, has been growing like gangbusters for years.  

“We had a great 2014, over 40% growth.  And we have even more amazing things for 2015," said CEO Joe Colopy in a video of the company's fourth quarter update in 2014.

CBC Americas, Japan
Leoneda Inge

CBC Americas of Japan is moving its US headquarters from New York to North Carolina.

Japan-based CBC makes flooring and plastics as well as video surveillance products.  Its new offices will be in Cary, with a distribution center in Mebane, creating more than 100 jobs.

Governor Pat McCrory applauded the move. He said the state is helping to make these jobs happen.

Leoneda Inge

Bankers, credit officers and policy makers are in Raleigh this week for the American Mortgage Conference, presented by the North Carolina Bankers Association.   They say financing home ownership remains at a crossroads.


If you haven’t filed your North Carolina taxes yet, you may be in for a few surprises.  The state's tax code underwent major changes in 2013, but many 2014 tax filers are just noticing.

For example, some taxpayers forgot North Carolina did away with its Earned Income Tax Credit.

Construction of the greenhouses in Cleveland that are part of the Evergreen Cooperative.

State lawmakers around the nation offer tax incentives to manufacturers in hopes of bringing new jobs to their state. But what happens when they strike out? Some believe that it’s possible to generate more jobs and community wealth by partnering with local institutions to build worker-owned businesses.

The Federal government mandates that all states must pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour.  Many states exceed the mandated rate and increase their minimum wages, but North Carolina has set its minimum wage right at the federally mandated minimum of $7.25 per hour.

However, an even lower minimum wage applies to what are called "tipped workers."  If you receive tips while you are working, your employer can legally pay you as little as $2.13 per hour, on the logic that the difference will be made up in tips.

PNC Bank

A bi-annual survey of small and medium-sized businesses across the state shows signs of optimism and caution.

The PNC Bank Spring 2015 Economic Outlook Survey shows 50 percent of business owners expect to see profits improve in 2015.  That’s up from just 37 percent last Spring.

Mekael Teshome is an Economist with PNC.

Diverse Workforce

A new report shows the Research Triangle region needs to work harder to ensure a more equitable future for women and people of color.   

The “Equitable Growth Profile” of the Research Triangle Region was presented this week at the Research Triangle Park Headquarters, sponsored by the Triangle J Council of Governments and the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments.

In addition to taking on education initiatives, PAGE encourages girls to produce photography and digital stories.
Madison County Photo Exhibition /

Rural communities in western North Carolina are in the midst of an economic shift.

The rise and fall of the family farm means places like Madison County are looking for new ways to support themselves. The answer could be in the tech industry. But technology businesses rely on a steady stream of well-educated workers. 

A panel discussion tonight at Duke University, "Rethinking Appalachia," examines ways to develop a high-tech workforce in rural Appalachia.


There is a major push to bring a second Trans-Atlantic flight to Raleigh Durham International Airport.  The Airport Authority wants it, the business community wants it, and so do travelers.

But don’t hold your breath.  Luring international flight service to RDU can be just as hard as trying to convince a major corporation to move here.

Predictify Me

The United Nations says suicide bombings in Pakistan are shockingly common, especially near schools.  A Raleigh start-up company is working to change that.

The security software company is called “Predictify Me.”

Rob Burns is the CEO of "Predictify Me."  He and co-founder Zeeshan Usmani of Pakistan have developed an algorithm they say can warn schools when an attack is imminent. 

A U.S. Dept. of Commerce report says high-wage jobs are on the decline in North Carolina.
Andrew Magill / Flickr Creative Commons

New numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce show personal income in North Carolina is lower than the national average.

The state ranks 38th in average annual income. And North Carolina’s unemployment numbers are improving but does that show the full picture? High-wage jobs are vanishing and North Carolinians are taking low-wage positions.

Pac-Man like pie chart with three counties eating the majority of JDIGs award money.

Some of the state's most powerful senators are trying to revamp the distribution of sales tax so rural areas get more of the revenue.

A measure in the Senate proposes tax revenues be distributed according to population to allow some of the money spent in big city shopping centers to return to rural areas to better build infrastructure. Opponents say the plan does not take into account the population shift due to tourism and the funds needed to maintain tourist destinations. 

Katy Clune

Hot, salty/smoky, sour/bitter, sweet, savory, and sharp: a flavor profile can evoke a particular style of food, and in turn, food can give insight to a community’s public health, history and policies. This week, students, faculty, entrepreneurs and community members at UNC-Chapel Hill gather to explore the history, politics and culture of North Carolina food using the six flavor profiles as a guide.

The State of the Plate conference will be held at the FedEx Global Education Center on Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28.

A Rooms To Go billboard.
Jeff Tiberii

They’ve been called a deal breaker, a necessary evil, and largely useless.

Lawmakers are debating the role of economic incentives. Growing the economy is a complicated and arduous process. Senators approved a short-term allocation for incentives yesterday. The long-term funding plan is not as clear.

All vehicles traveling north on I-95 about halfway between Raleigh and Fayetteville pass a massive construction site in Dunn.  The unfinished building is longer than a football field.

A picture of a shadow of scaffolding.
Trapac / Flickr

There was a deadly construction accident Monday in Raleigh.  A number of men were working on an 11-story building in a busy section of downtown when the accident occurred.  

Witnesses say three men fell to their deaths and a fourth man was hospitalized when scaffolding buckled and collapsed.

John Boyette is a spokesman for the City of Raleigh.

“This involved a scaffold, a collapse of a scaffold.  So that seems to be what the investigation is centering on," said Boyette.

CJ Scarlet

CJ Scarlet is an entrepreneur who believes that technology can curb violence. She founded the company 10 for Humanity that aims to use emerging technology to reduce acts of crime and violence by 10 percent in the next decade, starting with the Tiger Eye Sensor, a wearable personal security device that will record video footage and call the police when a wearer yells “help.”  

Publix is one company with an employee stock ownership plan.
Mike Kalasnik / Flickr Creative Commons

In many workplaces, "the boss" is a board or group of investors.

But in a growing number of businesses, employees are taking ownership. Some use an employee stock ownership plan, or ESOP, and others use a cooperative structure.

 For companies like Southwest and Publix Super Markets, employee engagement is critical because employees are the bosses. The structure can also offer tax incentives.

Vegetables at the Moore Square Farmers Market Raleigh.
alli-son / Flickr

A new program is ramping up efforts to help farmers in Moore, Lee and Rockingham Counties keep their land in production and keep their businesses viable.

Rockingham Extension Agent Paige Burns says the Green Fields Initiative is a spin-off from a federal program that helps farmers directly market their produce to customers and restaurants.

A picture of a 3-D printer.
Stephen J. Coppedge / Wake Tech

Wake Technical Community College has opened a new advanced manufacturing center in Raleigh.

Along with a cosmetology program and a career and college preparation program, the Beltline Education Center will offer training in machining, automation and circuit technology.

 ""Especially now, with everybody going to higher technology machines, there's kind of a skills gap that we have been addressing," says Industry Training Director Bill Terrill.