Business & Economy

a banner for try transit month
gotriangle.org

Triangle Transit agencies in Chapel Hill, Durham, Cary and Raleigh are participating in a campaign this month to encourage commuters to ride the bus. The organization says leaving your car at home can save you time and money - not to mention the stress of driving in traffic. Some area buses have also upgraded their Wi-Fi to 4G.

"Changing your commute can add an hour to your schedule or you can get work done by using the Internet Wi-Fi that's on some of the buses," said Triangle Transit's Lauren Parker.

A package of Zonnic gum
cigarettesreporter.com

It might seem counterintuitive: a tobacco giant jumping into the pharmaceutical market. But with the national launch of Zonnic, Reynolds American thinks it can redefine an area typically controlled by drug companies.

Zonnic is Reynolds's nicotine gum. It sells for cheaper than other nicotine gums, and comes with the marketing muscle of the company responsible for Camel and Pall Mall. Reynolds has been testing Zonnic for two years in Iowa and Nebraska, and has determined its time to go national.

Fast Food Workers
Leoneda Inge

Fast food workers in North Carolina rallied Thursday in support of a $15-an-hour minimum wage.  As in New York City, Detroit and Chicago, some workers chose civil disobedience.

Fast food workers came from Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities to lock arms with workers in Durham.  And at lunch time, right in the middle of Morgan Street, across from a McDonald’s, dozens of demonstrators sat down, and chanted.

“We can’t survive on $7.25! We can’t survive on $7.25!”

Photo of corner of Trust and Belief from News and Observer's Contracted to Cheat series.
TRAVIS LONG — tlong@newsobserver.com

A yearlong investigative report by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer documents that North Carolina has lost nearly a half-billion dollars each year uncollected state and federal tax revenue from the misclassification of workers. 

Angelina's Kitchen
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina is in the middle of the pack nationwide when it comes to women’s employment and earnings.  That’s the latest from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

Items from the old American Tobacco Campus.
WUNC - Hady Mawajdeh

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the American Tobacco Historic Campus revitalization in downtown Durham. The businesses and retail stores occupy a space that was once the epicenter of the tobacco industry. 

Host Frank Stasio talks with former American Tobacco employee Richard Clements about the rise, fall and rebirth of the area.

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

Two North Carolina power companies have announced plans to build a pipeline, connecting to natural gas supplies in the Northeast. 

Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas say the pipeline will stretch 550 miles from eastern North Carolina to West Virginia.  That state has a distribution center that gathers natural gas from its own drilling operations, as well as those in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Jim Goodmon with his son, Michael.
StoryCorps

American Brands closed the Lucky Strike tobacco factory in downtown Durham in 1987. It was still abandoned in 1995, when Jim Goodmon, President of Capitol Broadcasting Company, built the new Durham Bulls stadium across the street. Goodmon says he’d go to the baseball games and stare at the gigantic, abandoned warehouse. He eventually decided to try to bring it back to life, and he tells that story to his son, Michael.

For decades, ten of thousands of workers walked in to the American Tobacco Company in Durham each day.  This is the story of one of those who stayed the longest.  Annie Lou Andrews is 92 years old. She is the second woman to work in a supervisory role at American Tobacco. She says her first day in leadership, you could feel the tension; the office was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. "I thought, 'uh-oh,'" she says. She spoke with Phoebe Judge.

Intrepid Life Coffee and Spirits owner and Marine veteran Matt Victoriano
Carol Jackson

Update 9/6/14:

Today is the last day of business for Durham's Intrepid Life Coffee and Spirits. Owner Matt Victoriano, who opened the shop earlier this year, was behind in rent after a lackluster summer. But area business owners and customers rallied behind Victoriano, a former Marine sniper. His Indiegogo campaign, and an auction, raised enough money to cover his immediate needs. Even so, the business will close, and open at a later date in a new location.

From Intrepid Life's Facebook page:

NC Legislative Building
Dave DeWitt

Leaders in economic development circles across the state are speaking out against the General Assembly's decision to end the short legislative session without passing an economic incentives package.

For the past decade, the state has used the Job Development Investment Grants program, or JDIG, to help lure large businesses to the state, but money in the fund could run out by late October.

Solar Panels
Strata Solar

Strata Solar has constructed more than 60 clean energy projects across North Carolina, and they hosted a ribbon-cutting Thursday.

It’s just another example of how fast the solar sector is growing in the state.

Betsy McCorkle is Director of Government Relations for the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association.  She says solar represents $1.5 billion in investments across North Carolina, and growing.

Just Economics is trying to get a living wage for working class in Western North Carolina.
http://justeconomicswnc.org/

  The Asheville nonprofit Just Economics has been pushing for local businesses to pay a living wage. 

    

A new report from the Brookings Institution ranks four North Carolina cities among the top 15 in the country where poverty is soaring fastest: Raleigh, Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro-High Point. 

Jobs
Thinglass / Shutterstock.com

North Carolina’s unemployment rate hasn’t moved much in the past several months as the state continues its slow trek towards job growth.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce reports a July jobless rate of 6.5 percent.  That’s one-tenth higher than the month before, but 1.6 percentage points lower than a year ago.

Michelle Mills
Leoneda Inge

North Carolina’s manufacturing story is old and complicated.  In just the past decade, the state has seen many traditional manufacturing operations shut down, devastating tens of thousands of workers and their families.

But this decade has also witnessed the growth of a new kind of manufacturing. Next Generation manufacturing is cleaner and more nimble and requires highly-skilled workers.  And you have to start early building a talented workforce.

Teen Suicide
www.teensuicideprevention.org

A new study out of Duke University shows there is a direct correlation between mass job layoffs and a spike in suicide-related behavior among girls and African American teenagers.

Anna Gassman-Pines found when 1 percent of a state’s working population lost their jobs, suicide-related behaviors increased by 2 to 3 percentage points among girls and black adolescents in the following year. 

Pieces from Stanley Furniture's Young America collection.
High Point Market

  

North Carolina has a rich history of producing furniture. High Point has been at the center of the market for more than a century. 

But the industry looks much different than it did just a few decades ago. Globalization caused many companies to send manufacturing overseas. Most recently, Stanley Furniture Company closed its plant in Robbinsville.

Some large companies are trying to reverse that trend, while small custom furniture shops pop up across the state.

Craft beer sales have been growing by double digits, even as overall beer sales have flattened. And several independent craft beer makers — all based in the Western U.S. — are expanding production to the East. But to keep the flavor true, they have to tinker with beer's main ingredient: water.

Every day, a half-dozen employees of Oskar Blues Brewery file into a small room in Brevard, N.C. It's cluttered with boxes, petri dishes and test tubes.

Pigs on a Farm
Eric Mennel / WUNC

Last year, according the State Department of Agriculture, North Carolina exported about $3.7 million in meat products to Russia. So far this year, that number has increased ten-fold, to $40 million. Now that Russia has banned the import of American beef, pork, and poultry products, that surge will come to a halt.

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.

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