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Greensboro loop gets a green light

In September, Gov. Beverly Perdue announced that completion of the Greensboro Urban Loop will be accelerated with Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds, which borrow against future federal support to pay for present projects. Though state transportation officials say the loop should be finished in 2020, locals are leery. The project has been in development since 1991, and a Greensboro News & Record poll showed 70% of respondents think itís a dead end. But Pat Danahy is a believer. The president and CEO of Greensboro Partnership, an economic-development group, says the loopís completion is vital and, now, viable.

Were you surprised by the governorís announcement?
Yes. I didnít know that was a possibility.

Whatís the urgency to get it done?
The urgency has been there since 1990. Itís a matter of the availability of funds. There has been a considerable amount of politics in the past. Thereís less now.

This isnít a political move by the governor?
Youíre getting outside my pay grade there.

Why is this so important?
It provides another level of comfort that this loop is going to be put into place so economic development along it can move forward.

What do you mean?
Consider what happened along the light-rail corridor in Charlotte. As soon as funding was in place, developers were buying property, concepts were being worked through. Itís the same thing where loops are concerned.

Whatís the chance it gets built by 2020?
Above 50%.

Before the governorís announcement, Iíd say it was 5%.

But itís not a sure thing?
The GARVEE funding is there right now. But the federal government wonít guarantee state transportation officials that it will be available in 2018 and 2019. If I had a 90% guarantee that the federal government was still funding highways then the way it is now, I would handicap it at 90%.

GREENSBORO ó City and county officials approved incentive packages totaling nearly $1.3 million for Honda Aircraftís possible $80 million, 420-job expansion at Piedmont Triad International Airport, where it has its world headquarters. The company hasnít decided if it will expand. It employs 650 at the airport.

WINSTON-SALEM ó Atlanta-based UPS has signed a $120 million sponsorship deal with IMG College, making it the official logistics, package-delivery and retail-shipping company of the 68 athletic departments IMG represents, including Duke, Wake Forest, East Carolina and Appalachian State. IMG claims itís the largest sponsorship agreement in college sports not involving a TV network.

GREENSBORO ó National Solar Power ruled out Guilford County as the site of its proposed $1.5 billion solar farm. The Melbourne, Fla.-based company, which also rejected two sites in Georgia, will begin developing the project in Florida before year-end.

GREENSBORO ó The local chamber of commerce launched a program that challenges member businesses to hire an additional employee. It is based on an initiative in Atlanta that has generated more than 13,000 jobs.

WINSTON-SALEM ó R.J. Reynolds Tobacco and three other cigarette companies, including Greensboro-based Lorillard, have filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, alleging that its new cigarette warning labels are unconstitutional. The companies contend that being forced to publicize the governmentís message is a violation of their freedom of speech.

GREENSBORO ó Volvo Trucks has received $19 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop fuel-efficient, heavy-duty trucks. Part of the project will be completed at the technology unit here, which is the Swedish companyís North American headquarters.

ELKIN ó Yadkin Valley Financial promoted Mark DeMarcus from chief banking officer to chief operating officer.