Business & Economy

Steve Troxler
Michelle VonCannon

North Carolina’s Agriculture and Biotechnology communities have launched a new global economic development platform.  

Doug Edgeton is President and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.  He said Wednesday's announcement brings Agriculture, Biotechnology, company growth and jobs together. 

“We have the companies, we have the research, we have the workforce, what we have lacked is something to call it," said Edgeton.  "So without further adieu, I’d like to officially unveil “AgBiosphere.”

A Marcellus Shale drill rig in Pennsylvania used in the fracking process.
Ken Skipper, USGS

New research from Duke University's Energy Initiative shows that revenue from oil and gas drilling tends to cover its costs to local governments.

Policy Researcher Daniel Raimi says the drilling boom caused an enormous population boom and demanded expensive infrastructure upgrades in the remote Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota.  But, he says, leases and taxes from the industry also increased the budgets of local governments.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and Secretary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation Alec Ross working together at TechCamp in Tel Aviv.
Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

Forming partnerships and working in a collaborative setting can be difficult. 

Patrick Woodie
NC Rural Center

The North Carolina Rural Center is holding its 2014 Rural Assembly today in Raleigh.  It’s been two years since the last gathering.

2013 was not a good year for The Rural Center.  The non-profit was issued a scathing audit and its longtime leader Billy Ray Hall was forced to retire.

Patrick Woodie is the newly named president. 

The abandoned railroad corridor that has become the American Tobacco Trail.
Durham Trails and Greenways 2011 Master Plan

Lawmakers are considering an incremental plan to build faster rail lines between Raleigh and Richmond. While officials in North Carolina and Virginia had hoped a high-speed rail might be feasible between the two capitals, funding obstacles remain in the way.

One major  challenge is creating grade separation, keeping tracks from crossing existing roads. The basic tracks that cross over regular roads are limiting.

"You never reach a higher speed than 79 mph," said North Carolina Rep. Bill Brawlyer, who co-chairs the commission working on the rail project.

Stanley Hughes
Leoneda Inge

The federal tobacco buyout program has officially ended.  The last of the tobacco buyout checks are being distributed this month.

The program, officially known as the Tobacco Transition Payment Program (TTPP),  was started to help farmers transition from the Depression-era quota system to the free market. 

North Carolina has fared pretty well during the transition:

Charles Iacovou
www.wfu.edu

Wake Forest University’s business school is ending its traditional full-time MBA program.

Controversial?  Practical?  Charles Iacovou is Dean of the Wake Forest Business School.

“It was about time and it was the right time," said Iacovou.

Unemployment Rate
NC Commerce

North Carolina’s unemployment rate edged downward in September.  But some still call the latest jobless report “mixed.”

The state’s jobless rate sits at 6.7 percent, down one-tenth of a percentage point from the month before.

Durham
James Willamor / Flickr Creative Commons

  

Like residents of other regions, individuals in the South face economic disparities like a widening gender gap, income inequality, and higher rates of unemployment among young adults.

But in the South, it is also more difficult for those young people to move up the economic ladder than in any other region.

And a report released today by Durham research firm MDC ties many of those disparities to limited access to employment programs and higher education.

A picture of a house with solar panels on the roof.
Gray Watson / Wikipedia

Residential insurance companies want to raise their premium rates by an average of 25 percent. The N.C. Department of Insurance will hold a public hearing on the issue today.

It will be up to Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin to decide whether a rate increase is excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau represents all 150 residential insurance companies in the state. Last year the Department of Insurance and the Rate Bureau agreed to the rates rather than going to a hearing.

NC State Fair
Wendy via Flickr/Creative Commons

It's time for the North Carolina State Fair  again.  The 11-day festivities kicked off in Raleigh Thursday, but the fair has been in the headlines a lot these past months. 

A picture of a window with a for rent sign.
capl_@_washjeff.edu / Creative Commons

North Carolina has better houses and apartments for sale or rent than in recent years. But Bob Kucab says with that rise in quality, affordability has become a problem. He directs the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

“And the biggest culprit is quite simply that housing costs have risen faster than incomes for most families over the past 10 years,” Kucab says.

Now, developers, real estate agents, lenders and agencies are gathering to share potential solutions.

Hispanic Business
Fusion Multicultural Marketing

Hispanic entrepreneurs and other business and community leaders are in Durham today for the Annual Hispanic Market Advantage Conference.

Iris Ramirez Reese is the CEO of Fusion Multicultural Marketing and Communications and she helped organize the conference.

Reese says there were a lot of haters when she first got started.

Triangle Startup Weekend
Triangle Startup Weekend

Triangle Start-up Weekend is underway in Raleigh, and the focus is on women.

Eleanor Ismail will be there.  She's President and Co-Founder of Aura Life, a company that’s developing natural remedies for yeast infections.  She has this start-up advice.

“Just go with boldness, have courage, be open-minded, be a team player and just have fun," said Ismail.

NC Welcome Sign
NC Commerce

The state’s new Economic Development office is officially open and several employees have walked over from the Commerce Department.

About 34 people moved from Commerce to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, located on Weston Parkway in Cary.  The new non-profit partnership essentially privatizes some of the Commerce Department’s duties.  John Lassiter chairs the board.

Chef Scott Crawford in his home kitchen.
Carol Jackson

Recently I spent much of the day with Scott Crawford. Crawford used to be executive chef at the Umstead Hotel & Spa and their five star restaurant Herons, a place Newsweek called one of the "101 best places to eat in the world."

Crawford has a bit of free time because he's left the world of high-pressure fine dining to try something new. He is staking his future on a new restaurant, Standard Foods, and its proximity to an urban farm.

Fish and Wildlife Service worker on boat checking gill net full of fish
Pedro Ramirez, Jr. / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It's the height of commercial flounder season along the North Carolina Coast, but gillnet fishing boats have been banned from heading out. That's because a large number of sea turtles are still swimming in those areas.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries has temporarily closed areas in four Northeastern sounds and southern coastal waters to the fisheries. The agency was uncomfortable with the number of interactions fishing boats were having with endangered sea turtles since September.

Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh
Dave DeWitt

The state has released new documents about negotiations to sell the Dorothea Dix Hospital Campus to Raleigh. While an agreement looks close the two parties still haven't settled all the terms.

The state and the city both agree that $52 million is a fair price for the 308-acre property.

The problem is that Raleigh wants to buy the land outright, and build a destination park there. But the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services campus is on the property, and the state doesn't plan to move it.

Longfellow Real Estate
Leoneda Inge

Downtown Durham has undergone a major transformation over the past decade.  And economic development projects are not slowing down with new hotels, office space and housing under construction.

Yesterday, community stakeholders came together to announce the latest big project.  It’s called the Durham Innovation District or "Durham ID," for short.

The Durham Innovation District or Durham ID will stretch from North Duke Street all the way to the Durham Farmer’s Market when it’s all finished. 

Truck being loaded with salt, Craven County (2/11/14)
NC DOT

Communities across the country are trying to replenish their stores of road salt. But, after the past harsh winter, the price of rock salt is climbing drastically.

Chris McGee is Raleigh's Transportation Field Services Manager. He says the city uses about 1,500 tons in a typical winter. But McGee said they used more than 4,000 tons this time around. Also, their cheaper purchasing contract just ended.

Raleigh recently signed a three-year contract that is 25 percent more expensive than the last one. McGee said they're buying enough salt for a typical winter right now.

Pat McCrory
Dave DeWitt

The governor and his workforce development team are keeping busy until it’s time for the legislature to meet again.  They are visiting 1,000 businesses in 100 days in all 100 counties.

It’s being described as a fact-finding tour.   State Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker is taking part in the tour that is part of NCWorks.

Steve Zelnak
NC State

NC State University now has endowed its first chair for a dean, and it’s in the College of Management.  Chancellor Randy Woodson made the $4 million announcement Tuesday.

“This is the first endowed chair for a Dean at N.C. State, and the first college that was endowed and we couldn’t be more pleased," said Woodson.

HCL Logo
HCL Technologies

A $5 billion global tech company announced today that it's expanding its operations in Wake County.  Now, the company plans to create more than 1,237 new jobs in Cary.

HCL Technologies is an India-based information technology company. They cover a huge range of services, from equipment manufacturing to airline transport logistics, to energy utility billing.

Rajiv Sodhi is the chief workforce competitive officer at HCL. He says they were looking for a place to centralize service for customers on the east coast.

Pat McCrory spoke about his 25-year plan for Transportation at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem on Wednesday.
Jeff Tiberii

Governor Pat McCrory wants the state legislature to approve more than $1 billion in bonds as part of his long-term transportation plan. Money from that bond measure would fund road, rail, port and airport projects across the state. He plans to ask the General Assembly to borrow more than one billion dollars in January, to fund parts of 21 projects.

American Underground
www.americanunderground.com

Start-up companies and entrepreneurs housed at The American Underground in Durham and Raleigh will now also have access to free work space in Silicon Valley.

Jim Whitehurst is President and CEO of Red Hat.  His company is teaming up with The American Underground to offer the space.

Corey Harris
Leoneda Inge

A report released this week by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development shows start-up companies across North Carolina are raising bigger rounds of funding.

One company out of Greensboro, raised $1 million in its first seven months.

Many of these new companies are in Raleigh for the CED Tech Venture Conference.

Some 80 start-up companies were invited to this year’s CED Tech Venture Conference, spreading out their trinkets, candy and ink pens in two large demo rooms.

Emmanuel Johnson worked as a teen reporter during the summer of 2014 at WUNC.
Carol Jackson

Emmanuel Johnson is a senior at Riverside High School in Durham. As a part of WUNC's Youth Radio Project, he reports on a changing neighborhood in his hometown.

I've lived in Durham, NC my whole life and I always walk past this park on the corner of Oakwood Avenue and Holloway Street. It's downtown, near the public library.

Tech looking image
Wonderlane / Flickr/Cretive Commons

Tech leaders and tech start-ups #OnTheRise are in Raleigh this week to show what they’ve got.

Some 80 companies have been selected to display their ideas and jockey for attention from investors at the CED Tech Venture Conference.

Jay Bigelow is CED’s director of entrepreneurship.  He says the goal is to connect with corporate partners and venture capitalists

Pelican's Snoball
Leoneda Inge

Economists and politicians say it’s becoming easier for most adults to get a job these days. But if you are a “young” adult, your story may be different.

Years into the economic recovery, there are still a lot of unemployed and underemployed people, which is slowing the recovery for young adults.

And in North Carolina, the jobless rate for that group is especially high. 

Tom Armstrong
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina is known for its diverse agriculture offerings.  And you can always count on the State Farmer’s Market to feature the best the state has to offer, from collard greens to sweet potatoes.

But on Thursday, for the first time, the State Farmer’s Market hosted Seafood Day.  Enthusiasts said it’s been a long time coming.

It was the perfect day for a fish fry.  It was hot outside and the fish was hot, right out of the skillet.

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