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REGIONALREPORT Triad

Bible school gets down to business with MBA

The state’s newest MBA program will teach students how to balance two sets of books — one financial, the other scriptural. Not that the practice would be condoned at Laurel University, a Bible school in High Point that until January went by the name John Wesley College, but its administrators say the $15,000 total cost will be a steal for students, particularly when compared with $100,000 and up for similar degrees at some universities. On the other hand, a degree from a startup program at a little-known school that recently rebranded itself can’t match the cachet of an MBA from Duke, whose graduates started at a median annual salary of about $100,000 in 2009.

Laurel’s online program was patterned after those at larger MBA schools, President Larry McCullough says, and content will be similar, with three concentrations — management, human resources and nonprofit leadership. “We expect some to use the degree in a ministry setting, but the vast majority will probably move into corporate settings in managerial positions.” Sixteen students enrolled in the charter class, and 40 to 50 more will be added by May. The 25-acre campus has more than 150 resident students, which McCullough expects to grow to 200 or more this year.

The MBA program last spring became the first at a Bible college to be licensed by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, which credentials private colleges — the school website says it’s the first traditional Bible college in the U.S. to offer an approved MBA program — and the first session began in August. It’s one of 27 MBA programs in the state and one of six in the Triad. The college, already accredited by the Orlando, Fla.-based Association for Biblical Higher Education, also obtained state status for its undergraduate business-administration degree to give it broader credibility. The MBA program should benefit from the weak economy: Demand for graduate schools increases in periods when jobs are scarce and hiring down.

Laurel’s addition of the MBA degree comes as the college, which began as Greensboro Bible and Training School in 1903 and has now changed its name six times, is simultaneously absorbing its acquisition of Universidad Facultad Latinoamericana de Estudios Teologicos, a Miami-based online university with about 1,600 students. The bilingual McCullough was president of Universidad FLET before becoming vice president of an accelerated-degree consulting firm in Tennessee. He left there in March to take the Laurel job, promising the school’s trustees to pump up the Bible college’s offerings and appeal to a broader range of students, who are expected to take values learned at the Bible college into “not only foreign villages but also the corporate board room, inner city and everywhere in between.”

 
LIBERTYAmerichem, which makes dyes and other additives for the polymer industry, plans to open a factory in the third quarter, creating 71 jobs within three years. They will pay an average of $35,437 a year. The Randolph County average is $29,172.

BURLINGTON — Danville, Va.-based American National Bankshares agreed to buy MidCarolina Financial in an all-stock deal valued at $38.8 million. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter.

MOUNT AIRYSurrey Bancorp repurchased all $2.1 million in outstanding preferred shares the government bought as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. It is the first Triad community bank to repay its TARP money.

GREENSBOROVF agreed to buy the trademarks and intellectual property of Los Angeles-based Rock and Republic, an upscale denim brand. Terms were not disclosed

BURLINGTON — The Federal Trade Commission says Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings’ $57.5 million purchase of California-based Westcliff Medical Laboratories violates antitrust law. The FTC says it could raise costs and lower quality in the Southern California market for medical testing. A hearing is set for May 2.

GREENSBORO — Don Kirkman took a job as head of Florida’s Great Northwest, a 16-county economic-development organization based in Destin. He resigned from the Piedmont Triad Partnership (Regional Report, November) after it demoted him from CEO to chief operating officer.

WINSTON-SALEMR.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. raised the price on most of its brands by 8 cents a pack — the second increase in 2010. Its brands include Camel, Pall Mall, Winston, Salem and Kool. The company’s parent, Reynolds American, also raised its dividend target to 80% of annual net income, up from 75%.

 Forsyth County employers paid $64 million less to workers in 2009 because of the poor economy and resulting job losses. But because fewer people were working, average compensation increased from $51,492 in 2008 to $52,246.