Business & Economy

"The Last Barn Dance" tells the story of North Carolina dairy farmer Randy Lewis.
Ted Richardson and Jason Arthurs


Randy Lewis' dairy farm has been a gathering place for the people of Eli Whitney, N.C., for more than 50 years.

His family's annual barn dances are living relics of simpler times in North Carolina's agricultural industry.

But the Great Recession forced farmers to find new ways to save those traditions. Many went out of business. Lewis and a handful of others stopped falling further into debt by bottling their own milk. But it remains to be seen whether cultural traditions like the barn dance will stay alive.

Oysters On The Rise

Mar 10, 2015
North Carolina's oyster sales doubled between 2005 and 2012.
Miwok / Flickr Creative Commons


Oyster growers, researchers and enthusiasts gather in Raleigh today and tomorrow for the North Carolina Oyster Summit.

Food writer and oyster expert Rowan Jacobsen will give the event's keynote address on the rise of oysterculture in the southeastern U.S. and North Carolina. He wrote a book, A Geography of Oysters: the Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in North America (Bloomsbury USA/2007).

Optical fiber used for high speed internet.
Michel Tronchetti

It’s not nearly as fast as the Gigabit service promised by Google Fiber and AT&T.  But, Time Warner Cable has announced faster internet service is coming to North Carolina soon .

The new, upgraded service is called TWC Maxx. 

“So, TWC Maxx is our plan to transform the Time Warner Cable customer experience," said Scott Pryzwansky.

Scott Pryzwansky is the Public Relations Director for Time Warner Cable spokesman in the Eastern United States.  He says their new internet service will be up to six times faster than the current service, with no change in price.

A picture of hands holding cash.
401(K) 2013 / Flickr

The Council for Entrepreneurial Development says start-up businesses in the state are receiving record-breaking funding.

The CED annual Investors Report shows technology, life science, advanced manufacturing and clean-tech companies raised $622 million in 2014.  That’s about 35 percent more than in 2013.

Dhruv Patel is CED’s Director of Investor Relations.

“I think we have companies that are holding their own, companies that are making great progress and can compete with the best of the best," said Patel.

A Duke University study found a link between poverty and smoking in adolescents.
Valentin Ottone via Flickr, Creative Commons

A new study out of UNC shows few online vendors have figured out a way to block minors from buying electronic cigarettes.

The study at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center included a group of teenagers who were recruited to go online and attempt to purchase nicotine e-cigarettes from 98 vendors.  The minors succeeded more than 90 percent of the time.

Greenlight, Wilson
Leoneda Inge

The Federal Communications Commission voted today in support of preempting state laws, like in North Carolina, and allowing for the expansion of municipal broadband.

24 Hour Payday Loan Outlet
Vinceesq /


Troubled by consumer complaints and loopholes in state laws, the federal government is crafting new rules to protect borrowers of payday loans.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is considering placing caps on the number of times a borrower can take a payday loan and requiring lenders to do credit checks. They also want to encourage states or lenders to lower interest rates on loans.

A picture of running tap water.
malla_mi / Flickr

Raleigh's Public Utilities Department wants the City Council to consider raising water rates to cover infrastructure upgrades.

But even though the area's population is growing, the city is not getting more revenue through water use. Carman says conservation minded citizens using more efficient appliances have cut household water use almost in half.

Butterball, Turkey

There was a time when Raeford, North Carolina was synonymous with the House of Raeford turkey processing company.  Now there's another big name turkey processor in town.

Butterball announced this week it’s buying the turkey "further" processing facility once owned by the House of Raeford.  The family-owned House of Raeford got out of the turkey business last year.

Buhler Aeroglide
Leoneda Inge

US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was in Cary this week pushing the government’s new $100 million Apprenticeship Grants program.

Secretary Perez stopped by Buhler Aeroglide.  It makes large conveyor dryers for companies like Kellogg’s.  He praised Buhler for being a worldwide leader in training and hiring apprentices.

The North Carolina School for Science and Math was a finalist for Spaces for Innovation Challenge at the Emerging Issues Forum.
Ildar Sagdejev

Innovation is thriving across the state of North Carolina and communities are becoming more intentional about providing spaces that nurture creative thinking.

Image of bookstore
Flickr/ Chris Alcoran


The digital age sparked a public discourse about the fate of the independent bookstore. 

Commercial giants like Barnes & Noble and Amazon loom large, but the American Booksellers Association (ABA) says the tides may be turning. They report that more than 400 new independent bookstores have popped up around the country since 2009. 

The ABA hosts its 10th winter institute in Asheville this week, featuring publishers, authors and booksellers from around the country. 

Janet Cowell

North Carolina’s 2015 Debt Affordability Study shows the state is ready to begin issuing debt again and making big investments.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell says the Debt Affordability Study shows the General Fund has the capacity to take on $700 million a year and Transportation debt capacity is $1 billion.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

A report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks North Carolina at the bottom nationally for labor union membership. 1.9 percent of workers in the state were in unions last year. That's down from 3 percent.

That doesn't surprise James Andrews, the president of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.

Andrews says North Carolina is a "right to work" state which doesn't give unions much clout, so they don't invest much organizing energy or money here.

Google Fiber
Leoneda Inge

The next cities to benefit from ultra-high-speed internet service will be in the southern United States.  Google Fiber announced yesterday it is bringing its super-fast access to Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and to the Raleigh-Durham area in the Triangle.

There have been rumors for weeks Google was about to make a big announcement. Michael Slinger, Director of Business Operations for Google Fiber made it official.

The Housecleaner Project

In the last two decades, international migration to North Carolina has increased dramatically and more than half of the state’s foreign-born population is Latino. 

Symposium on social entrepreneurship and civic engagement poster.
Duke University

A Duke University symposium is encouraging students to use entrepreneurial skills to give back to the world.

Leaders from several organizations will talk about social entrepreneurship and civic engagement at the campus today. 

Megan Granda directs Duke's Office of Civic Engagement.  She says two freshman pre-med-students serve as a good example.  They teamed up with the Clinton Global Initiative.

Kenan Flagler Blog

A new survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine shows the millennial generation may not be having an easy time in the workplace.

Millennials – those age 35 and younger – are known for their technological and creative advantages in the workplace.

But Duke Finance Professor John Graham says 53-percent of CFOs say millennials tend to be less loyal to the company and 46-percent say they exhibit an attitude of entitlement.

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has moved forward with plans to create its own venture fund for start-ups.

The Carolina Research Venture Fund will begin with $5 million, from investment earnings on non-state funds.

UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee Sallie Shuping-Russell says they had to step up because the industry is not flowing with dollars right now.

The Great Recession hobbled the U.S. economy and crushed many businesses, but some companies thrived, including the so-called "dollar" stores.

Shoppers flocked to them because you could buy a lot with not much money. And as the economy rebounds, people are still going to some. But one chain, Family Dollar, hasn't kept pace with its competitors.

a handshake
danyrolux via Flickr/Creative Commons

State leaders in economic development circles are gathering Thursday for the grand opening of the new Economic Development Partnership offices in Cary.

The new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is basically a new privatized business recruitment agency.

About 34 people in sales and marketing, along with travel and tourism moved from the state Commerce Department to the new partnership.  They worked in sales and marketing, international trade, film and tourism.

The Oakwood Inn Bed and Breakfast in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

Raleigh council members are continuing to debate how to manage the growing number of homes whose owners are listing on sites such as for short term rentals.

In a report he presented at a council meeting Tuesday, Raleigh Planning Director Travis Crane said the rental listings could represent additional income for property owners and the city, but can generate additional traffic and a parking crunch in residential areas.

Pisgah View Association President Iindia Pearson and Hillcrest resident Olufemi Lewis talk to members of a new group advocating for the interests of public housing residents in Asheville, which has the largest public housing agency in Western NC.
Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press


Public housing residents in Asheville are raising concerns with the city's housing authority because of a recent rise in evictions. 

Marbles Kids Museum
the museum

It's getting crowded at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.

Sally Edwards is president of the private not-for-profit. She says the museum built to accommodate 175,000 visitors a year, but now hosts 450,000.

“There are days that there are more people at the museum playing than the museum was designed to accommodate. So we really look forward to the opportunity to identify ways where we can expand, so the visitors who want to come and play and learn at Marbles have more room to spread out while they're here.”

NACo Tracker

A new report shows counties across the US and the state have shown economic progress, but recovery is sluggish.

The National Association of Counties’ interactive map shows economic recovery state by state and county by county.

Only about 20 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have somewhat recovered since the recession.

NC State Economist Mike Walden says it’s no surprise counties like Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg are on the list.