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Triad

Dell has an incentive to stay 

Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines admits he’s frustrated with one of Forsyth County’s largest employers. He knows companies need to cut jobs in a downturn, but he says Dell Inc. should provide more details about the future of its local factory and how many it will employ. To get answers, he directed plant managers to appear before City Council this month.

They might disappoint him. The Round Rock, Texas-based computer maker doesn’t like discussing employment or wages even in good times. It asked the state to withhold that information five years ago, when it announced it would build the $115 million plant in exchange for as much as $280 million in state and local incentives. Now that times are tougher — net income fell 16% to $2.5 billion last year — it’s hard to imagine the company opening up more.

Dell acknowledged two rounds of layoffs in March and April but wouldn’t say how many workers were let go or how many remained. Joines says Dell cut about 150 employees in the first round and about 50 contract workers in the second. That leaves about 1,000 employees and 150 contract workers.

The plant must have 1,700 workers by October 2010, or Dell will have to return part of the $22.2 million in incentives it has received from the city and county. It won’t have to repay about $14.5 million for site preparation unless the plant closes before then. Half the remainder is safe because Dell met a requirement to invest at least $100 million. About $3.9 million is in doubt. How much Dell must repay depends on how far it falls short of its goal. At what Joines says is current employment, it would have to return about $1.2 million.

That’s not much of what it has received so far, but at least the local governments stand to get something back if things don’t work out. Of the $242 million in state incentives, only $8.8 million is tied to employment levels, with the rest coming from tax credits, training programs and other refunds — none of which will have to be returned.

Joines takes comfort that local governments insisted on clawbacks, though it wasn’t an easy process. “It took us six months to nail down. But in retrospect, it was a solid, well-written agreement that provides remedies if certain hurdles aren’t reached.”

Back to class

When she became UNC Greensboro chancellor in August, Linda Brady might have figured her teaching days were behind her. Not so fast. UNC system budget woes are forcing Brady and other UNCG administrators to return to the classroom. She’ll teach a course in international negotiations during the 2010 spring semester, filling a need in the school’s political-science department. UNCG will cut 109 jobs, 59 of them faculty, as part of its efforts to save about $10 million — more than 6% of its budget. Brady also has taught at the University of Oregon, where she was senior vice president and provost, Vanderbilt University and N.C. State.

 

WINSTON-SALEMKrispy Kreme Doughnuts got only a warning from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, but three former executives agreed to pay more than $780,000 to settle an SEC lawsuit alleging they fraudulently inflated earnings in 2003 and 2004. Former CEO Scott Livengood will pay $542,406; former chief operating officer John Tate, $146,549; former chief financial officer Randy Casstevens, $93,964.

GREENSBOROThe Center for Creative Leadership eliminated about 140 positions, roughly a quarter of its work force, in response to tightening corporate-training budgets. Roughly half the layoffs came here, where it now employs about 300.

LEXINGTONSmurfit-Stone Container will close its local plant in the second quarter, idling 99. The Chicago-based maker of packaging also will close a plant that employs 37 in Raleigh.

STOKESDALELowe’s will close a warehouse here by the end of the year, putting 82 out of work. The Mooresville-based hardware retailer no longer needs it because of changes in its distribution system.

GREENSBORO — Chip maker RF Micro Devices eliminated 100 jobs, about 2% of its total, as part of a restructuring that will save as much as $15 million a year. It laid off 45 in the Triad, leaving 1,420.

GREENSBORONewBridge Bancorp revised its 2008 and fourth-quarter earnings, taking a $50.4 million charge to reflect its fallen stock price. Its loss for last year swelled from $6.6 million to $57.1 million.

MEBANE — Auto-parts maker GKN Driveline laid off 64 employees in Mebane, Roxboro and Auburn Hills, Mich. About 850 now work at the two North Carolina plants; 515 here.

ASHEBOROFNB United, holding company for CommunityONE Bank, revised 2008 and fourth-quarter earnings, writing off $56 million in light of the recession and its depressed stock price. That boosted last year’s net loss from $3.2 million to $59.8 million.