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

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

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.

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.

A picture of fresh produce.
Jina Lee / Wikipedia

North Carolina farmers and distributors are expected to get an earful from the Food and Drug Administration today.

The gathering in Greensboro is an official FDA listening session about implementation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act.  It was signed into law in 2011.

Joe Reardon is North Carolina's Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture for Consumer Protection.

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.

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.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jessica Keith and other members of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, render a salute as the American flag passes by during the Veterans Day parade in San Angelo, Texas, Nov. 6, 2010. Airman Keith p
Staff Sgt. Heather L. Rodgers / U.S. Air Force via Flickr/Creative Commons

Computer giant Lenovo is teaming up with the non-profit Dress for Success to help get female veterans into the civilian workforce.

Numbers from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show the unemployment rate among female veterans is nearly double what it is for male vets.

Beth Briggs is Executive Director of Dress for Success Triangle.  The organization trains women to get them back in the workforce and provides them with a wardrobe. 

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.”

NC State Voter
Leoneda Inge

Students at NC State traveled by party bus to the polls on this Election Day.

In 2012, more than 13,000 people voted at NC State’s Talley Student Union.  But it’s no longer a voting site.  So students got creative.  The student government association won a Cosmopolitan Magazine contest that provided a party bus to the new off-campus polling place, which included Cosmo male models. 

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. 

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.

NCCU Law
Leoneda Inge

A community center near downtown Raleigh was buzzing with activity over the weekend.  It wasn’t kids playing, but instead people getting help making out their wills.

Malinda Holloway, 64, came early for her appointment at Project Will Power at Top Green Community Center on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

Holloway heard about the event at church and decided she wanted a will now, despite resistance from her daughter.

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.

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