Business & Economy

A picture of a man charging an electric car.
David Dodge / Green Energy Futures via Creative Commons

Eight different auto manufacturers and 15 different utility companies are teaming up with the Electric Power Research Institute to test technology that will allow them to determine when electric cars can recharge.

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

Several major property management companies in Carrboro and Chapel Hill are no longer accepting federal housing assistance vouchers.  Housing assistance advocates say options for low-income families in the area are dwindling.

James Davis of the Orange County Housing Authority said at a press conference in Carrboro yesterday that there's a misconception that Section 8 recipients don't work, or that participating in the Section 8 program is difficult.

A picture of a sold sign in front of a house.
AKZOphoto / Creative Commons

A new national survey shows mortgage closing costs are rising across all 50 states. 

Holden Lewis is a mortgage analyst for Bankrate.com.  He says North Carolina ranks as the 12th most expensive state. 

“Mortgage closing costs went up this year about five or six percent compared to last year.  And lenders say that the reason is regulation,” Lewis said. 

Sales Tax Holiday
waaytv.com

This weekend would normally be North Carolina’s Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday.  But that ended last year.  The state Retail Merchants Association is asking business owners to track sales anyway.

The state legislature’s argument for doing away with the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday was it cost North Carolina $13 million dollars in lost sales tax revenue.

But supporters of the popular sales tax holiday say consumers saved $13 million dollars.

Unemployment lines
Wikimedia

    

North Carolina lawmakers voted last year to end long-term unemployment benefits.

The move meant the state stopped accepting money from the federal government for workers who had been out of a job for 20 weeks or more. Legislators said they made the change in order to start paying down more than $2 billion in jobless benefits the state already owed to the federal government.

In 2011, a new videogame premiered that not many expected would be a hit. The game is called Spent and it is about surviving homelessness.

Spent is a collaboration  between Urban Ministries of Durham and the interactive firm, McKinney.

Carol Jackson

Willie Latimore has a really hard time getting fresh food. He lost much of his right leg to diabetes a few years ago, and he uses a wheelchair to get around. He lives at Carriage House Apartments in Raleigh, where the rent is based on income.

Dollar Tree
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina-based Family Dollar was opening hundreds of stores a year, until this year.  Now it’s being bought by Dollar Tree, one of its biggest rivals.

There are several Family Dollar discount stores in Durham, but they aren’t new.  In fact, Family Dollar announced earlier this year it would close 370 stores nationwide.

Nathan Winter / Flickr Creative Commons

    

When children are living in poverty, it can have long-term consequences for their health, education and their own economic status. 

But in many cases, their families don’t have access to social services, or know where to get help. 

Showhomes, Home Staging
Eric Mennel / WUNC

About a year ago, Cora Blinsman’s mom passed away. Needless to say, it was a really hard on her. She started taking stock of her own life. Cora had been a full-time, stay-at-home mom for 20 years, and she was feeling burnt out. She needed space. So … she got a lot of it.

Chapel Hill bus
bendertj / Flickr/Creative Commons (Image cropped)

There are two informal gatherings this week in which the public is invited to share ideas about the future of downtown Chapel Hill, including the development of Rosemary and Franklin streets. The project is called Chapel Hill Downtown Imagined:

Kid Finance

Jul 17, 2014
makethedifference.org

Children learn a great deal about money from their parents. But which aspects are parents wont to teach and which do they often conceal? Researcher Lynsey Romo sought to answer that in her new study, "Money Matters: Children's Perceptions of Parent-Child Financial Disclosure".

Meanwhile, an exhibit at Marbles Kids Museum aims to facilitate money talk in kids as young as five and the North Carolina Bankers Association works with middle and high school students.

    

Reynolds American and Lorillard, two of the country’s biggest tobacco producers, announced a merger yesterday that is expected to reshape the tobacco industry. 

A picture of a pack of Newport cigarettes.
Officer / Wikipedia

Reynolds American plans to acquire Lorillard as part of a $27 billion merger. The deal would bring together the second- and third-largest tobacco companies in America.

Reynolds owns the popular Camel and Pall Mall cigarettes, but now they stand to acquire Lorillard's iconic Newport brand.

Reynolds President Susan Cameron said she's had her eye on it for some time.

A picture of segments of pipeline.
Harald Hoyer / Creative Commons

PSNC Energy is taking feedback from property owners about plans to lay a natural gas pipeline. The company wants to extend an existing transmission line from Northern Wake County into Eastern Franklin County and south to Zebulon.

PSNC Spokeswoman Angela Townsend said the company is working to keep up with anticipated population growth in the area. She did not comment on the projected increase of customers or pipeline capacity. Townsend said the extension would be up to 29 miles long.

Lorillard's major brands
Lorillard

America's second and third-largest tobacco companies have announced the terms of a potential merger. Reynolds American Inc. will buy Lorillard for $27.4 billion. The Newport cigarette brand will follow Lorillard to Reynolds, where it will join Camel and Pall Mall, and VUSE (Reynold's e-cigarette brand).

Reynolds is based in Winston Salem, NC. Lorillard is located in Greensboro.

Soccer Ball Image
Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

    

As the 2014 World Cup draws to a close, all eyes are on Brazil. Historical data shows the effects of this tournament may go far beyond the walls of the stadium.

Michael Christian headshot
kenan-flagler.unc.edu

Former stockbroker Bernie Madoff and former New York Times journalist Jayson Blair share infamy for their unethical business decisions.

A new report considers the psychology behind these transgressions and shows that misdeeds tend to escalate into larger scandals over time.

Life's difficult choices rarely present themselves in one dramatic question or one big decision. Instead, our most important choices in life, including ethical ones, present themselves in small baby steps.

-Jayson Blair  

Corn Damage
Brian Long

The path that Hurricane Arthur took last week hit an area of the state where a lot of corn is grown.  And several farmers will be affected.

State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and staff traveled by Forest Service plane to see the crop damage first hand.  Ag spokesman Brian Long says a lot of the damage was in Hyde County, known for growing corn.

“There are parts of Hyde County where you can just look and you would almost think you were somewhere in the Midwest, because it’s just is corn, and corn, and corn," said Long.

Unemployment Rate
NC Commerce

The latest North Carolina jobless numbers show a spike in county unemployment rates from Alamance to Yancey.  But there has been some positive movement over the past year.

May jobless numbers released by the NC Commerce Department show 92 counties with a higher unemployment rate than the month before.  But from this time last year, all 100 counties saw their unemployment rates drop.

A picture of the sun setting behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Ian Britton / Freefoto.com

AAA is forecasting the busiest July 4th travel weekend since 2001, in part because of a recovering economy. But with a tropical storm headed toward the Outer Banks, travelers might end up making other plans.

It's not yet clear whether Tropical Storm Arthur will make landfall in North Carolina, but Dare County is readying its hurricane action plan, just in case.

On the other side of the state, tourism is up already in Asheville this summer.

A picture of a bottle and a pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
Wikipedia

In less than five years the number of craft beer breweries in North Carolina has more than doubled. From Manteo to the mountains - tasting rooms, tap houses and local seasonal drafts are pouring in. Asheville now has more breweries per capita than anywhere in the country. 

A picture of a car wrapped in Fox News and American Idol ads.
Nicolelajones / Wikipedia

The Raleigh Planning Commission wants to close a loophole in the city's sign ordinance. This morning, they'll present a proposal to the City Council that would force businesses to move vehicles emblazoned with company information away from the street.

The measure would require the vehicle to be parked behind the building or near the entrance to the business.

A picture of the South Wake Landfill.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

The South Wake Landfill in Apex is putting its garbage to work. Wake County recently hosted an open house for its landfill gas power plant.

Solid Waste Director John Roberson said the plant is making money and producing electricity from the garbage that's decomposing inside the dump and cutting down on bad smells there.

Mike Oniffrey

Randy Lewis almost lost the family dairy farm in 2009. The price of milk had bottomed out, and costs for feed, fertilizer and fuel had gone sky-high.

"It was either find some other way to make money or sell the cows and quit," he says.

But Randy had an idea that might just save the farm. He's bottling milk right on-site. Of the 150 dairy farmers in the state, only five bottle their own milk. And Randy's figured out how to do it without shelling out a lot of money.

Watch the story here:

Vuse electronic cigarettes, part of a growing industry, are now being distributed nationally.
R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company

Reynolds American is now distributing its electronic cigarettes nationally. The Vuse vapor product had been widely available in only four states until now. It became the top-selling E-cigarette in Utah and Colorado last year. E-cigarettes heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge that is then inhaled. Vuse is a battery-powered, smokeless vapor product.

Car engine
Via Tsuji / Flickr Creative Commons

Drivers in North Carolina pay more when the check engine light comes on than motorists in other states. 

That's according to a survey from the organization Car M.D.  The annual state-by-state ranking found the average car repair cost came out to about $426 in the Tar Heel State.

Goathouse Refuge Cats
Eric Mennel / WUNC

Siglinda Scarpa walks me through the main house at The Goathouse Refuge, when a golden yellow cat that looks a lot like all the other 200+ cats starts rubbing against both of our legs, purring the way cats purr.

"Hey, Mimi," says Scarpa (presumably this is the cat's name), "What do you say? Stop that shooting range!" Scarpa chuckles.

A picture of curbside recycling carts in Durham.
Ildar Sagdejev / Wikipedia

Durham's Solid Waste Department is cutting four jobs to make up for a $1.1 million budget shortfall.

Director Donald Long said his department is very expensive to run. Its $16 million budget is about the same size as last year, and Long said one of the only places to cut costs is personnel.

Downtown Raleigh Skyline
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsolson / flickr

Tech start-ups in the Triangle received welcome news this week. Durham-based Bull City Venture Partners plans to invest some $26 million in projects throughout the mid-Atlantic.

The group began raising funds more than a year ago and has already invested in one Raleigh-based digital media initiative. Co-founder David Jones says the mid-Atlantic is an area ripe with innovation, but investors often need convincing.

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