Business & Economy

Economic Forecast
www.ncbankers.org

All economic indicators show continued growth across North Carolina in 2015.

Mike Walden is the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist at NC State.  He predicts payroll job growth across the state could top 125,000 jobs in 2015 – that's a lot more growth than in 2014. 

Walden says the economy has finally began to “hit a stride” with modest housing recovery and labor market improvements.

taxi
Daniel Horacio Agostini via Flickr

A Raleigh taxi driver is claiming that some cab drivers could go on strike this New Year’s Eve to protest what they consider to be unfair competition from ride-sharing companies.  

They argue that web-based services like Uber and Lyft undercut taxi cab drivers because they are not subject to the same registration, licensing and insurance regulations as traditional taxis.

Fresh Market
Leoneda Inge

There is a fresh food movement underway and the competition is getting tasty!

One of the most dominant and well-known fresh food grocery store brands in the country is Whole Foods.  It’s in the middle of building 1,000 new stores.

But it’s not the only trendy grocery store snapping up real estate in the Triangle.

Steve Schemm enjoys showing off The Fresh Market that opened just this month on University Drive in Durham, from the poinsettias near the front door to the meat market.

Scuppernong Books is Greensboro's independent bookstore. They are part of a revitalization in downtown and hope to be place where conversations happen.
http://www.scuppernongbooks.com/

The obituary for the independent bookstore has been written many times, but the digital revolution has created a niche and a desire to hold something real in your hands when you read. 

The bank robber is described as a light-skinned black male, approximately 20-35 years of age with a medium build.
FBI

The Charlotte Division of the FBI has been on the lookout for a bank robber who has operated in Wake, Nash, and Franklin Counties. The suspect is known as the "Eyes Only Bandit" because in each case, the robber wore a hooded jacket and gloves and covered his face with a mask, leaving only his eyes visible.

The "Eyes Only Bandit" struck these banks:

Michael J. Rosenburg, CEO of Health Decisions in Durham.
Health Decisions

Multiple outlets are reporting Triangle doctor Michael J. Rosenberg is among the six victims of a plane crash in Maryland on Monday.

The plane was registered to Sage Aviation, of Chapel Hill, which is owned by Rosenberg. Rosenberg is the CEO of Health Decisions, a pharmaceutical company in Durham. Triangle Business Journal named him a 2013 Health Care Hero:

One of RTP's smaller businesses, AgBiome, does work with stinkbugs.
Patrick Coin / Flickr/Creative Commons

The largest research park in North America sits in the middle of North Carolina.  And this week, one of Research Triangle Parks' largest tenants – GlaxoSmithKline – announced it’s laying off 900 employees.

The trend over the past decade shows a major shift away from relying on big multi-national companies with sprawling campuses in favor of smaller operations.

Fury
carowinds.com

Parts of the Fury-325 rollercoaster stand 20-feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. It took 400 trucks to haul the pieces to Carowinds in Charlotte, NC, and the critical "hill" was completed this week.

When the coaster opens this spring it will be the tallest and fastest of its kind in the world, reaching speeds of an astonishing 95 mph. What will the ride be like? Take a look:

GlaxoSmithKline
GlaxoSmithKline

    

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline eliminated 900 jobs yesterday.

Image of GlaxoSmithKline headquarters in west London.
Flickr/Ian Wilson

    

Pharmaceutical player GlaxoSmithKline is laying off hundreds of workers in its American facilities, and the bulk of these job cuts are in Research Triangle Park.

Pittsboro, NC mayor Bill Terry at Chatham Park groundbreaking.
Chatham EDC via Twitter

Construction of the 7,000+ acre development that plans to greatly expand the size and population of Pittsboro began this week with a UNC Health Care facility.

Developers announced the groundbreaking Tuesday. The 25,000 square-foot medical plaza is the first building to go up in Chatham Park. While UNC hasn't said what services the building will provide specifically, it's expected to house specialists.

Pat Nathan

  

As a chemist in the 1970s, Pat Nathan was quite often the only woman in the room.

She remained one of the only women in the room as she rose through the rankings at the Dell computer company during the dot-com bubble. She entered the industry at a time when it was grappling with how to dispose of computer waste responsibly.

Frost design
RachelEllen via Flickr/Creative Commons

Forecasters are predicting another cold winter. 

The North Carolina Division of Social Services is accepting applications for the state's Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

Director Wayne Black says it's meant to help seniors, veterans and people with disabilities pay their heating bills.

“Demand is there every year for these programs, and we expect that to be the same this coming years as well,” Black said. “Obviously, how cold the winter is would have some impact as well in terms of persons coming in.”

North Carolina will be missing out on $51 billion from Mediciad because they chose not to expand coverage.
http://eofdreams.com/money.html

A new report from the Secretary of State’s office shows charitable giving in North Carolina is drastically down. 

Latest numbers show giving at nearly $21.5 million dollars.  That’s down by more than $10 million dollars from the year before.

Secretary of State Elaine Marshall says she’s not surprised the economy continues to have an effect on donations to charities and non-profits.  But she is disappointed solicitors are hauling in a bigger chunk of the money.

Chatham Park
Sasaki Associates

The developers of the 7,000 acre Chatham Park project have submitted a rezoning request to the town of Pittsboro, NC. Months after the initial zoning approval, the developers have acquired a few tracts of land that add up to about 45 news acres.

According to Tim Smith of Preston Development, every time they add new land to the project, the whole lot will need to go through a rezoning process. He says this does not put the project on hold, because it can continue to operate under the old zoning until the zoning is confirmed.

Sharing economy illustration
North Carolina General Assembly

North Carolina lawmakers are taking their first look at how to regulate networks of individuals who buy and sell services between each other, a billion-dollar global industry that already operates in dozens of cities across the state.

One of the peer-to-peer economy’s biggest exponents, Airbnb, accounts for about 2,700 residential rental listings across North Carolina, and drivers who pick up passengers with their personal cars using the application Uber operate in ten cities here.

Joanne Abel
Leoneda Inge

Durham-based Self Help Credit Union is celebrating 30 years of community and financial service.

Self Help Credit Union officially opened for business in 1984 and has earned a reputation for serving the underserved.

Joanne Abel and her partner were the first to secure a home loan.  Abel remembers her home on Driver Street in East Durham, like it was yesterday.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

The U.S. Department of Labor has waived an anticipated federal unemployment tax increase on North Carolina businesses, as the state continues to pay millions it borrowed from the federal government to pay for state insurance benefits. 

The waiver reduces employers’ tax hike for the 2014 tax year up to $65 per employee, or about $180 million collectively for employers across the state, officials said.

BB&T Logo
Wikipedia Commons

Winston-Salem based BB&T has announced a today to buy Susquehanna Bank. The $2.5 billion deal adds 245 new branches to BB&T, and extends the bank's reach into Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Much of Susquehanna's growth comes in more rural markets - something BB&T hopes to capitalize on:

Kari Underly
Leoneda Inge

Most of America’s food industry is male-dominated, from the farmers to the chefs.

But a group of women gathered in Chapel Hill, N.C. this week to learn and hopefully take their rightful place in the competitive meat business.  And that includes bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan.

Let’s start with the hog. 

Kari Underly has pulled out a saw to cut around the elbow of a slab of hog on the table.   She's wiping her brow, cutting up a hog is hard work.

Briana Brough

As the demand for local food and farm-to-table restaurants rises, the American agriculture and food production industries are expanding. 

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.

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