Business & Economy

Housing
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

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.

Taxes
www.irs.com

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.
wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a2/Green_City_Growers.jpg

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. 

monutsdonuts.com

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
www.pnc.com

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
www.americanprogress.org

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 / carolinapage.org

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.

RDU
www.rdu.com

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
www.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.
twitter.com/myncsenate

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.

"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 / http://www.24hourpaydayloan1.com/

  

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
Butterball.com

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. 

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