Leoneda Inge

Race and Southern Culture Reporter

Leoneda Inge is WUNC's "Race and Southern Culture Reporter." She is the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position, which explores modern and historical constructs to tell stories of poverty and wealth, health and food culture, education and racial identity.

Leoneda's most recent work includes the series, "Perils and Promise," an in-depth series focused on the challenges of rural education in Vance County. Leoneda has also featured reports on "Organic Tobacco," "Rebuilding Slave Cabins" and traveled to Tokyo, Japan tracking the importance of North Carolina’s pork industry to that country.

Leoneda is the recipient of three Gracie Awards from the Alliance for Women in Media and several awards from the Associated Press, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2006, she and a team of WUNC journalists won an Alfred I. DuPont Award from Columbia University for the series "North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty."

Leoneda is a graduate of Florida A&M University and Columbia University, where she earned her Master's Degree in Journalism as a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economics. In 2014, Leoneda traveled to Berlin, Brussels and Prague as a German/American Journalist Exchange Fellow with the RIAS Berlin Commission/RTDNF.

Ways to Connect

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 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.

Kehinde Wiley, 21c Museum
Leoneda Inge

Downtown Durham has been the home of one hotel for a long time - the Marriott.  But now there are two.  A second hotel held a ribbon-cutting this week in a very historic spot.

The new boutique hotel is called 21c Museum Hotel Durham.  It stands in what folks call the old CCB or Sun Trust Building.  The 18-story hotel was designed by the same architects who designed the Empire State Building.   

Shoebox Lunch
Leoneda Inge

Those re-enacting the historic Voting Rights march from Selma to Montgomery will gather on the steps of the Alabama state capitol today.  The event wraps up more than a week of commemorations marking the 50th anniversary march.  

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.

Motown, Reed Shannon
www.motown.com

The cast and crew of the Broadway show “Motown the Musical” stormed into North Carolina this week.

One of the stars of the show is Reed Shannon of Raleigh.  The teenager has gotten great reviews playing a young “Michael Jackson” for crowds from San Francisco to the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Reed starts off his audition tape like this - " Hi, my name is Reed Shannon, and I love Motown!”

But just loving Motown isn’t enough.  You have to be able to blow!

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.

John Stender, program participant
Leoneda Inge

Tinkering with the family car used to be good training for getting a job at a body shop or a garage. But the vehicles rolling off assembly lines these days are so high-tech, a whole new generations of workers is needed to repair them.

There's a new degree program at Fayetteville Tech designed to fill the growing demand for highly-trained mechanics.

Jon Stender is one of the first students to enroll in the new collision repair and refinishing technology two-year degree program.

Janet Cowell
nctreasurer.com

North Carolina’s 2015 Debt Affordability Study shows the state is ready to begin issuing debt again and making big investments.

State Treasurer Janet Cowell says the Debt Affordability Study shows the General Fund has the capacity to take on $700 million a year and Transportation debt capacity is $1 billion.

Google Fiber
Leoneda Inge

The next cities to benefit from ultra-high-speed internet service will be in the southern United States.  Google Fiber announced yesterday it is bringing its super-fast access to Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and to the Raleigh-Durham area in the Triangle.

There have been rumors for weeks Google was about to make a big announcement. Michael Slinger, Director of Business Operations for Google Fiber made it official.

Millennials
Kenan Flagler Blog

A new survey by Duke University and CFO Magazine shows the millennial generation may not be having an easy time in the workplace.

Millennials – those age 35 and younger – are known for their technological and creative advantages in the workplace.

But Duke Finance Professor John Graham says 53-percent of CFOs say millennials tend to be less loyal to the company and 46-percent say they exhibit an attitude of entitlement.

The 'Old Well' UNC-Chapel HIll
Caroline Culler / Wikipedia

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees has moved forward with plans to create its own venture fund for start-ups.

The Carolina Research Venture Fund will begin with $5 million, from investment earnings on non-state funds.

UNC-Chapel Hill Trustee Sallie Shuping-Russell says they had to step up because the industry is not flowing with dollars right now.

a handshake
danyrolux via Flickr/Creative Commons

State leaders in economic development circles are gathering Thursday for the grand opening of the new Economic Development Partnership offices in Cary.

The new Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is basically a new privatized business recruitment agency.

About 34 people in sales and marketing, along with travel and tourism moved from the state Commerce Department to the new partnership.  They worked in sales and marketing, international trade, film and tourism.

NACo Tracker
www.naco.org

A new report shows counties across the US and the state have shown economic progress, but recovery is sluggish.

The National Association of Counties’ interactive map shows economic recovery state by state and county by county.

Only about 20 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have somewhat recovered since the recession.

NC State Economist Mike Walden says it’s no surprise counties like Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg are on the list.

Unemployment Rate
NC Commerce

The North Carolina legislature is back in session this week.  The Republican-led body is touting a strong economy and an unemployment rate that hasn’t been this low since the start of the Great Recession.

So, bust out the Moscato! The unemployment rate in North Carolina is 5.8 percent.  Governor Pat McCrory says it hasn’t been that low since 2008.

DPS Custodians
Leoneda Inge

Dozens of Durham Public Schools custodial workers rallied outside school district offices Friday, hoping they’ll get their back wages soon. Workers carried signs reading, "DPS, Clean This Up!"

More than 140 custodians at big schools like Jordan and Hillside High Schools are still due two paychecks that were supposed to come before the holidays.

Durham Public Schools contracts out custodial services.  But when sub-contractor, Integrity Facilities Management filed for bankruptcy, workers were not paid.  

resume and glasses
Flazingo Photos / Flickr/Creative Commons

The state Commerce Department is behind a major jump in the number of weekly job searches claimants must have to collect benefits.

Dale Folwell is Assistant Commerce Secretary for Employment Security and he supports increasing weekly documented job searches from two to five.

“So we think this will increase the velocity of people getting off the unemployment rolls and looking for work," said Folwell.

Folwell says the current system was confusing for some people.  He says his office decided to cut the confusion and add searches at the same time.

The head of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is speaking out in support of expanding Medicaid in the state.

Brad Wilson is President and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

“As business leaders of North Carolina, you need to help us craft a solution to expand Medicaid," said Wilson.

Wilson tossed out that charge during this week’s Economic Forecast Forum in Research Triangle Park, sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. 

Economic Forecast
www.cedbr.org

Business, banking and community leaders packed the Sheraton Imperial Hotel Monday in Research Triangle Park for this year’s annual Economic Forecast Forum. It's sponsored by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

Economic experts seem to be on the same page when it comes to forecasting the state’s economy in 2015.   Expectations are high.

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.

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.

City of Fayetteville Police Department
bethebadge.com

There’s an organization in Holly Springs that trains law enforcement officers across the country to better serve their communities.

The International Academy of Public Safety or IAPS, began training police and sheriff’s departments five years ago.  Today, more than 12,000 law enforcement officers in ten states have participated in their program. More than 3,000 of them are in North Carolina.

Chris Hoina is an expert trainer at IAPS.  He says one of their biggest success stories is in Jefferson Parrish, Louisiana.

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.

Carol Folt
Leoneda Inge

A UNC Chapel Hill alum has committed the largest individual gift ever to the university.  The $100 million dollars is for the pharmacy school.

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt made the announcement Wednesday outside the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.

"I am almost speechless," said Folt.

Stephanie Tyson
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

If you have lived in North Carolina for any amount of time, you have likely heard this is the sweet potato state.  More sweet potatoes are grown here than anywhere else in the country.

So this Thanksgiving, there are bound to be sweet potato side dishes on many tables.

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