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Triangle

Bull City gores rival in ranking 

For years, Durham has played Raleigh’s little brother, tagging along and getting less attention. It’s Raleigh-Durham International Airport, not the other way around. Until a few years ago, they were part of the same metropolitan statistical area, in which Raleigh, of course, got top billing. When national magazines compile best-of lists, they usually think of Raleigh first.

Forbes, for example, says Durham is 12th among the nation’s “best places for business and careers.” But Raleigh is No. 1. Sure, Durham occasionally beats out Raleigh. Site Selection magazine says it ranks fourth for employment in science and engineering as a percentage of its work force, while Raleigh ranks 19th. But Raleigh has more science and engineering jobs. In that same issue, Raleigh ranked sixth in its size classification for corporate building projects, while Durham didn’t crack the top 10.

So it’s pretty sweet for Durham — though city officials are loath to admit it publicly — when it beats Raleigh outright, as it did in a recent issue of Fortune Small Business. The magazine says Durham is the 12th-best place to live and launch a business, while Raleigh just barely made the top 20. Durham’s biotech and drug industries were lauded, along with its arts festivals and college sports. Raleigh got props for its tech sector and its location amid major research and business centers but demerits for infrastructure that’s struggling to keep up with its population. (Does that mean Raleigh has gotten too big for its bridges?) On the downside for the Bull City, the magazine says it’s “perceived as the underdog of the Triangle region.”

“That’s probably been true,” says Alan DeLisle, Durham’s assistant city manager for economic and work-force development. But several high-profile projects are helping to change that, he says, including the renovation of an old tobacco-factory complex and construction of a 2,800-seat performing-arts center, which is set to open later this year. “There’s a transformation going on in people’s minds, where they’re recognizing that there are a lot of new things happening in Durham.”

But perceptions die hard. In May, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a nonprofit that touts the 13-county region, listed Durham’s 12th-place finish after Raleigh’s 20th-place ranking on its Accolades Web page. That slight was corrected within a few days. But it suggests that Durham still has work to do before it’s more than an afterthought. “I don’t think we’ve reached the mountaintop yet,” DeLisle says. “But it is changing.”

Power Play

Normally, when demand for a product or service goes down, prices do, too. Not so at the RBC Center in Raleigh. Though attendance dropped 4% last season and the Carolina Hurricanes played more like tropical depressions — missing the playoffs for the second straight year — most of the pro hockey team’s remaining fans will shell out more per seat next year. The team will raise season-ticket prices 10% in 12 of 15 seating categories. Single-game tickets will go up as much as 67%. The team needs to boost revenue because the National Hockey League’s revenue-sharing program penalizes teams that increase revenue slower than the league average.

 

RALEIGHWaste Industries USA went private after a $544 million management-led buyout. The trash hauler says it wants to escape the reporting requirements of a public company. Shareholders received $38 a share, 33% over the closing price on the day management made its first bid.

CHAPEL HILL — Fayetteville native Holden Thorp becomes chancellor of UNC Chapel Hill this month. Thorp, 43, was a chemistry professor and dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. He replaces James Moeser, 68, who will return to teaching. He held the position for eight years.

MORRISVILLEParagonDx won permission from the federal Food and Drug Administration to sell its first product — a genetic test that can identify heart-attack and stroke patients likely to bleed excessively if they take Coumadin, a common blood thinner. The company employs about 15 and is working on other genetic tests tied to prescription-drug side effects.

CARY — Software developer Epic Games bought Chair Entertainment Group, a Provo, Utah-based competitor, for an undisclosed amount. Epic will add 11 employees for a total of 111.

CARYCornerstone BioPharma Holdings, which develops and sells treatments for respiratory diseases, agreed to buy Boston-based Critical Therapeutics for about $63 million. The acquisition, expected to close by the end of the year, will add an asthma drug to Cornerstone’s portfolio and make it a public company. Both companies employ about 80. No job cuts have been announced.

MORRISVILLESalix Pharmaceuticals failed to win federal approval for its balsalazide tablet, a stronger version of its ulcerative colitis treatment Colazal. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requested more information. Salix didn’t say why.

DURHAMAldagen filed plans for an initial public offering of stock that it hopes will raise $80.5 million. The company employs 18 developing medical treatments based on adult stem cells.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Joan Siefert Rose, 51, will take over in August as president of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development. She’s general manager of the public-radio station WUNC-FM. Her predecessor, Monica Doss, 56, left at the end of May.

CARYSAS Institute cut more than a dozen positions from its education division as the software maker tries to reorganize the unit around Web-based sales. The shift will help SAS lower prices and boost market share. It still employs more than 4,300 here.

CARYConnexion Technologies laid off about 100 of its 550 employees. About 40 were in North Carolina, where it employed more than 200. The company, which builds fiber-optic networks for subdivisions and other real-estate developments, blamed the slow construction market.

MORRISVILLE — Airlines at Raleigh-Durham International Airport eliminated three daily outbound flights and plan to end two more in September. That will leave the airport with 216 daily departures to 42 airports.

DURHAMProventys raised $5.7 million in venture capital. It’s working on diagnostic software to prevent complications from chemotherapy. San Francisco-based Burrill & Co. led the round of funding.

MORRISVILLESunTech Medical opened a factory that employs 26 in Shenzhen, China. The company, which makes blood-pressure monitors, employs 105 at its headquarters.

MORRISVILLEeTix, which makes software for online ticket sales, raised $1 million in venture capital. The company says it will use the money to add several sales and marketing jobs. It employs about 70, more than half at its offices here and in Raleigh.

MORRISVILLE — New York-based AEA Investors bought Implus Footcare, which makes socks, shoelaces and other products, from New York-based FdG Associates. No layoffs are expected among the more than 100 employees at Implus’ factory here.