North Carolina voters should back $2 billion bond package

Robert Orr on November 2015 at 9:00:00 am 
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By Robert F. Orr, co-chair of the Connect NC Bond Committee

On March 15, 2016, voters across North Carolina will be going to the polls, casting primary ballots in their respective parties, but also deciding the fate of our state’s future and well-being with a $2 billion bond package for our university system, our community colleges, our state parks, our National Guard and numerous local water and sewer system improvements.
As an avid supporter of our state park system and former associate justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, I was honored to be asked by the Governor to co-chair the Connect NC bond committee.  The Connect NC bond plan is designed to bring together our state’s greatest assets and strengthen them so we can continue to be the best place to live, work and play.
The $2 billion bond package will provide targeted, long-term improvements focused on critical areas that will improve our quality of life.  For example, the $980 million dedicated for our university system will help prepare our students for the future through construction of new science and technology buildings on campuses across the state.  Our community college system will receive $350 million for new construction and repairs that will enable the local education centers to improve their mission to train our state’s workforce.
The bonds will benefit agriculture across the state by providing $179 million for agricultural research facilities including a new “Plant Sciences Building” at NC State University and a new science lab for the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which will be dedicated for veterinary research and a food and drug testing laboratory.
Our state parks will also benefit from the bond with $75 million dedicated to facility improvements for park facilities from Mount Mitchell to Fort Fisher.  The North Carolina Zoo will receive $75 million for a new exhibit center.
At the local level there $309 million dedicated to help county and municipal governments fund critical improvements to their water and sewer systems – helping retain and recruit new industries and commerce to our state. Finally, there will be $70 million dedicated to pay for new National Guard training facilities across the state.  The NC National Guard is our first defense and our saving grace in times of natural disasters and state emergencies. Their need is critical to support their mission to protect the homeland.
Let’s face it, the bonds will provide a critical face-lift for our state, providing long-term infrastructure and facilities that will benefit North Carolinians for generations.   Historically, North Carolina has always supported infrastructure investments because we know the return on investment brings a better quality of life. Our schools, our businesses, our communities and our citizens all benefit.
The Connect NC bond plan will not raise taxes. This will be the first state bond referendum since 2000.  In fact, we are paying off our state debt ahead of schedule and have the capacity to repay the bonds without any additional tax revenue needed from our citizens.
We could not ask for a better time to borrow money.  Interest rates on government backed bonds are at historic lows and that will be a great benefit to our Treasury and our citizens allowing us to maximize the value of the bonds putting money into vital projects not into high interest rates.
Throughout our history, the state’s finances have been managed prudently, we have protected our AAA credit rating and these bonds will not threaten those ratings.  State Treasurer Janet Cowell and State Budget Director Lee Roberts have provided critical guidance and input on the bonds and are supporting the bond referendum.
So the bond campaign is off and running.  It is a bi-partisan team of government officials, university and business leaders, farmers and foresters and regular every day citizens.  We are working together to build a better North Carolina, to connect our people and our assets for tomorrow and future generations. This important investment in education, agriculture, our state parks, our National Guard will help ensure North Carolina will maintain its place as a leader in innovation, job creation, economic development and our quality of life.
If you want to get more information on the Connect NC Bond Campaign, please visit our website at www. I ask you to join me in supporting the bonds, let’s pull together as a state. Let’s do the right thing because we all are North Carolinians first.
Orr served on the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1994 to 2004; prior to that he served eight years on the N.C. Court of Appeals.

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NC BBQ is smokin'

Allison Williams on November 2015 at 6:00:00 am 
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North Carolina barbecue is having a moment. Stories in the Washington Post. New Yorker. And Business North Carolina.  

There's a Historic Barbecue Trail (which neatly skirts Charlotte, the state's largest city, but that's another story), not to mention the Great NC BBQ Map and even barbecue ambassadors. One such ambassador for Yeti coolers - not a North Carolinian - is introduced as a "classically trained French chef." And, of course, there are reality shows such as "BBQ Pit Wars," "BBQ Crawl" and "BBQ University," as ubiquitous as sweet tea and banana pudding on the buffet.

Who knew barbecue needed so much explanation?  



"The Simpsons" even got in on the action this fall when Homer bought a smoker in "Cue Detective." 

Texas Monthly, which has its own Barbecue Editor (Best. Job. Ever), rounded up some of the episode's best lines here. One favorite: “Barbecue is like family, the cheap cuts of meat that nobody wants. But if you treat them right, they turn into the best thing in the world.” - Homer

With so much love comes imitation, which is why Southern scholars, including John Shelton Reed, and others, are fighting for authenticity.  He and Dan Levine have teamed up to start Levine put his Barbecue Jew blog ("what happens when the 'Chosen People' choose pork") on the back burner to focus on the website and the effort to encourage more restaurants to use the traditional techniques for cooking barbecue. And there are some encouraging signs: newer restaurants like The Pit and Picnic (opening later this year in Durham) where Fayetteville native and lawyer-turned-pitmaster Wyatt Dickson is so neo-traditional, he refuses to chop his barbecue, a preferred method of N.C. pitmasters.

True 'cue is trending - who needs turkey tomorrow? 

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Timeline of the Duke-Piedmont Natural Gas merger

David Mildenberg on November 2015 at 2:47:00 pm 
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Nothing spurs merger activity more than previous merger activity, given conventional thinking that big is beautiful and can be more effective than smaller, independent companies. CEOs Lynn Good of Duke Energy and Tom Skains of Piedmont Natural Gas agreed on the $6.7 billion merger of their two big utilities after about two months of dickering, spurred by the merger of two big utilities in Atlanta, a new regulatory filing by Piedmont shows.

The resulting company merges two companies that split up in 1951. Stockholder and regulatory approval are still required for the deal to be completed.

Here is the timeline:

On Aug. 24, a day after Southern Co. agreed to buy AGL Resources for $12 billion, Good called Skains to set up a meeting. Both Southern and AGL are based in Atlanta.

On Aug. 28, a CEO of another company, called “Party A” called Skains seeing a meeting.

On Sept. 2, Skains told his board about the calls at its Sept. 2 meeting. The board authorized management to hire Goldman Sachs and Kirkland Ellis to help evaluate any potential offers.

On Sept. 9, Good made nonbinding offer of $53 to $56 in cash.

On Sept. 10, Company A’s CEO discussed a price of $47.25 to $49 for Piedmont, either in cash or stock and stock.

In the next week Company A raised its bid to $53 to $54.

On Oct. 6,   Piedmont make presentations to Duke, followed two days later by a presentation to Company A.

On. Oct. 17, Goldman warned Piedmont that there was increasing risk that news of the merger talks would be leaked.

On Oct. 22, Duke offered $60 a share. Company A offered $57.

On Oct. 23, Piedmont’s board agreed to accept Duke’s offer, but told Company A it would consider a revised bid. No bid ever emerged.

On Oct. 26, Duke and Piedmont announced the deal.

Piedmont's filing didn't disclose the identity of Company A, though various industry sources have speculated it was Dominion Resources, the Virginia-based utility that operates in northeast North Carolina.

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UNC ranks 8th in R&D spending among U.S. universities

Press release on November 2015 at 3:50:00 pm 
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is continuing its decade-long rise as one of the world’s top universities for sponsored research, climbing to eighth nationally among private and public research institutions in overall research and development (R&D) expenditures and sixth nationally in federal R&D spending.
This is the second year in a row that UNC-Chapel Hill has placed in the top 10 for both categories, underscoring its rising prominence as a leader in 21st-century research in both federal and overall research spending.
“Carolina’s rise to number six in federal research and number eight in total research in such a short time is truly remarkable and has resulted directly from competitive strength, creativity and impact of our outstanding faculty, staff and students,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “The nation is investing nearly a billion dollars this year alone in their ideas, and our faculty are putting that support to work right here in North Carolina, by pushing the boundaries in basic research, creating completely new fields and industries, and saving and improving lives here and across the world. Carolina’s reputation and success as one of the world’s premier research universities also attracts business, industry and talent to North Carolina, and we are immensely grateful to the citizens of our state for their support.”
Over the past decade, overall research expenditures for UNC-Chapel Hill have more than doubled, demonstrating the University’s value to both public and private sponsors of research. Since entering the top 10 in federal research expenditures in fiscal 2010, the University has retained its position as the largest beneficiary in North Carolina of federal investments in research.
The national rankings are computed annually by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Higher Education Research and Development survey. The survey ranks hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities using a uniform methodology developed by NSF to establish the amount of university spending on research and development. The vast majority of research spending is funded by federal research agencies, private industry and foundations. The latest NSF rankings cover fiscal 2014.
The current survey shows UNC-Chapel Hill expended $990 million on R&D activity of all types in 2014. Of that total, $610.7 million was sponsored by the federal government through agencies like the National Institutes for Health. The results strengthen the University’s reputation as a global leader in fields such as medicine, health and the physical and life sciences, as well as psychology and the social sciences. UNC-Chapel Hill research funding directly supports all or part of the salaries of more than 10,000 North Carolinians in counties across the state.
In 2014 the University spun out 10 new start-up businesses licensing technology developed from research dollars. A recent analysis conducted by Economic Modeling Specialists International on the economic impact of UNC-Chapel Hill revealed that, in 2013, spending by the University’s research enterprise contributed $1 billion in added income to North Carolina’s economy – an amount equivalent to 12,941 jobs in the state. The economic contribution of North Carolina businesses spun out of UNC-Chapel Hill was reported at $1.6 billion in added income, representing the equivalent of more than 15,000 jobs in the state.
Research at UNC-Chapel Hill also provides undergraduates with significant opportunities to learn by doing through hands-on research projects. Currently, more than 60 percent of UNC-Chapel Hill’s graduating seniors have conducted independent research and contributed to discoveries by Carolina’s top research faculty.
One reason for UNC-Chapel Hill’s ascent into the top 10 in overall and federal research rankings has been its ability to leverage state dollars with private support and other sources to attract competitive federal funding to North Carolina. Investments and policy decisions made by the North Carolina General Assembly in recent years have helped finance major initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill, including the Marsico Hall Research Laboratories, the Genome Sciences Building, the Carolina Physical Science Complex and the University Cancer Research Fund. State support of these projects, including funds made possible through statewide bond referenda, have been essential to attracting new research dollars to North Carolina, providing a healthy return on the state’s investment.
“Investment by the state in our research universities pays tremendous dividends for our state’s economy,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Barbara Entwisle. “It makes it possible to bring new federal, foundation and corporate research dollars to North Carolina. Every dollar invested not only pays economic dividends, it attracts students and helps improve people’s lives.”

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BNC Bancorp to buy High Point Bank for $141 million

Press release on November 2015 at 8:50:00 am 
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BNC Bancorp Signs Definitive Agreement To Acquire High Point Bank Corporation
Company Release - 11/16/2015 07:30

HIGH POINT, N.C., Nov. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- BNC Bancorp ("BNC," NASDAQ: BNCN), the holding company for Bank of North Carolina, and High Point Bank Corporation ("HPTB"), the holding company for High Point Bank and Trust Company, have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which BNC will acquire all of the common stock of HPTB in a cash and stock transaction valued at approximately $141.3 million, based on the closing price of BNC common stock on November 13, 2015.

HPTB, headquartered in High Point, North Carolina, operates 12 branches in High Point, Jamestown, Kernersville, Greensboro and Winston Salem, North Carolina. As of September 30, 2015, HPTB reported approximately $795 million in assets, $513 million in loans, and $648 million in deposits. Upon completion of the transaction, BNC is expected to have approximately $6.8 billion in assets, $5.1 billion in loans, and $5.6 billion in deposits. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to BNC's fully diluted earnings per share in 2016 and 2017.

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, subject to certain minimum and maximum limits, HPTB shareholders will have the right to receive $300.00 for each share of HPTB common stock, payable, at their election, in cash or in shares of BNC common stock based upon the 20-day volume weighted average price of BNC common stock prior to the closing of the merger.

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, the approval of the shareholders of HPTB, and other customary conditions, is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.

Commenting on the announcement, Rick Callicutt, President and Chief Executive Officer of BNC, said, "We are pleased to announce the combination of BNC and High Point Bank. The High Point Bank management, Board of Directors, and entire team share our principles and customer-focused approach, and we are pleased to welcome them, their customers and their shareholders to BNC. High Point Bank has a long, rich tradition in High Point and the Triad, and as neighbors and competitors over the years, we have admired their brand of banking and their dedication to their communities. My first bank account was with High Point Bank and as a lifelong member of the High Point community I am excited about the opportunities we have going forward to honor their long heritage and continue to drive progress here in our communities. We also look forward to engaging both their insurance and trust businesses as two new lines of business that we can advance across our three-state footprint. This transaction epitomizes our current strategy of growing within our existing markets both organically and through acquisition, thus further leveraging our infrastructure to produce greater performance for our shareholders, and provide greater resources to our customers."

Mark L. Williamson, President and Chief Executive Officer of HPTB, added, "We are pleased to join forces with BNC to provide enhanced and long-term value to our customers and communities. Our combination with BNC, with combined total assets of approximately $6.8 billion, will provide greater capital resources and operational scale that will allow us to grow together with a diverse product mix and allow our team to continue to support the High Point and Triad communities. With BNC's executive team having deep roots in the High Point community, we know the heritage of High Point Bank is in good hands. In addition, BNC's track record for creating and growing shareholder value will be a major plus for our shareholder base."

Troutman Sanders LLP provided legal counsel to BNC, while Banks Street Partners, LLC served as its financial advisor. Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. provided legal counsel to HPTB, while Sandler O'Neill + Partners LP served as its financial advisor.


Headquartered in High Point, North Carolina, BNC Bancorp is the parent company of Bank of North Carolina, a commercial bank providing a complete line of banking and financial services to individuals and businesses through its 64 banking offices in Virginia, North and South Carolina. The Bank's 19 locations in South Carolina and nine locations in Virginia operate as BNC Bank. Bank of North Carolina is insured by the FDIC and is an equal housing lender. BNC Bancorp's stock is traded and quoted in the NASDAQ Capital Market under the symbol "BNCN." BNC Bancorp's website is

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Ridgemont Equity raises $995 million in new fund

Press release on November 2015 at 12:20:00 pm 
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Ridgemont Equity Partners, a middle market buyout and growth equity investor, today announced the closing of Ridgemont Equity Partners II, L.P. (“REP II” or the “Fund”) with $995 million in commitments, at the Fund’s hard cap. Fundraising for REP II was completed in late October with excess demand due to the ongoing support from existing investors combined with significant interest from new investors. The General Partner also made a substantial commitment to the Fund.
The principals of Ridgemont have deployed approximately $3.5 billion across 124 investments since 1993. The firm's investment strategies for REP II remain consistent with REP I. Ridgemont focuses on buyout and growth capital investments of $25 million to $100 million in industries in which it has deep expertise, including basic industries and services, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications/media/technology.

"We are pleased that our sector focus and strength and continuity of our team resonated in the investor community and are excited to partner with a group of world class institutions,” said Travis Hain, Partner at Ridgemont. "We have been disciplined in our execution and expect to continue leveraging our successful origination model and proven industry playbooks to drive attractive returns for our investors."

“Ridgemont principals have been investing in the middle market for more than two decades," said John Shimp, Partner at Ridgemont. "We collaborate with our management teams to build market leaders by bolstering infrastructure, enhancing operations and fueling strategic growth initiatives. We are excited about this next chapter for Ridgemont."Brooklands Capital Strategies ( served as the strategic fundraising advisor for REP II.


About Ridgemont Equity Partners

Ridgemont Equity Partners is a Charlotte-based middle market buyout and growth equity investor. Since, the principals of Ridgemont have invested over $3 billion in more than 110 companies. The firm focuses on investments of $25 million to $100 million in industries in which it has deep expertise, basic industries and services, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications/media/technology.

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BNC Bancorp plans three-story Raleigh office

Press release on November 2015 at 1:40:00 pm 
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High Point, NC, Nov. 5, 2015 -- Bank of North Carolina announced today that it has purchased 4.2 acres of property at 3515 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh where it will build a multi-tenant facility, complete with a full-service branch bank.

 “We are thrilled to have found this opportunity along Glenwood Avenue which will enable Bank of North Carolina to better serve the residents and businesses located in Wake County, particularly inside Raleigh’s beltline,” says Mark A. Carlton, Bank of North Carolina Executive Vice President and N.C. Eastern Region President.

 “We are fortunate to have a solid presence in a community which offers such a robust economy and attractive business climate,” Carlton explains.

 Plans for the property include a three-story, 73,000 square foot building which will house a full-service Bank of North Carolina branch. The building has been designed also to house office space for multiple tenants.

 “We have been very pleased with the level of genuine interest from companies desiring to lease space in the new Glenwood Avenue building,” Carlton says.

 The 3515 Glenwood Avenue branch will be Bank of North Carolina’s eighth full service banking office in the Triangle.

 Bank of North Carolina officials also announced that this new building will be the company’s first LEED-certified construction project.

 “LEED buildings are designed and built with a focus on improving performance of energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, indoor air quality, and stewardship of resources and environmental impact,” explains John Freeman, Bank of North Carolina Senior Vice President Corporate Real Estate.

 Construction of the building will begin in January 2016 with completion scheduled for January 2017.

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BB&T elevates Bradley, Weaver to exec group

Press release on November 2015 at 9:20:00 am 
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- BB&T Corporation (NYSE: BBT) today named two new members to its executive management team. The announcement, which is effective Jan. 1, 2016, is part of a long-term plan to expand its top leadership group.

W. Bennett Bradley, president of Payment Solutions, and David H. Weaver, Community Banking group executive, will join the 11 current members of the executive management team, which sets policy and direction for the corporation.

"In a rapidly changing technological and client service environment, these moves position our management team for the future. Bennett and David are both proven leaders who, along with the rest of our management team, will continue to build on our 143-year legacy as a client-centered, financially sound institution," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kelly S. King.

As president of BB&T Payment Solutions Division, Bradley, 53, is currently responsible for Treasury Services and Commercial Deposits, Merchant Services, International Services and Association Services as well as card issuing for credit, debit and prepaid businesses.

Upon joining executive management, Bradley will assume the new role of Chief Digital Officer. Bradley will be responsible for establishing BB&T's future digital strategy and working with lines of business to develop a digital roadmap to ensure the corporation is always current, competitive and providing a complete digital experience for clients.

"Joining BB&T's executive management team is a great honor for me, and I look forward to helping our company move forward on our digital journey as we fulfill our mission to help our clients achieve economic success and financial security," Bradley said.

Bradley served as manager of Electronic Delivery Systems and held various credit roles including senior credit officer of the Eastern Region before assuming his current role.

A native of Tarboro, N.C., Bradley is a 30-year banking veteran and joined BB&T through the Leadership Development Program.

Bradley is a recognized leader in the payments industry and serves on the boards of The Clearing House Payment Company and Secure Digital, LLC. He has also served on the NACHA Board of Directors, STAR Advisory Board and VISA Risk Committee.

Bradley is a graduate of North Carolina State University and the Banking School of the South at Louisiana State University.

As executive vice president and Community Banking group executive, Weaver, 48, oversees nine BB&T Community Bank regions in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, and the newly formed Central Pennsylvania Region. Weaver will continue in this role and provide the executive team a unique vision and perspective on our Community Bank clients and their needs.

"I am excited to be joining the executive management team as we move into the next phase of change in the banking industry and look forward to our continued focus on client service and growing shareholder value," Weaver said.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., Weaver was named regional president of the Triangle Region and Raleigh city executive before assuming his current responsibilities. A 26-year banking veteran, Weaver joined BB&T as a business services officer focusing on middle market C&I and CRE clients.

Weaver serves on the Bankers Advisory Board for the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. He has also served as a board member for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Communities in Schools of North Carolina, as trustee for Wake Education Partnership, and Wake County chair of the United Way of the Greater Triangle Campaign.

Weaver earned both his bachelor's degree in business administration and MBA from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

BB&T's other executive management team members include King, Chief Operating Officer Chris Henson, President of Branch Banking & Trust Ricky Brown, Chief Financial Officer Daryl Bible, Chief Risk Officer Clarke Starnes, Enterprise Risk Manager Barbara Duck, Deposits and Operations Manager Donna Goodrich, Chief Marketing Officer and Lending Group Manager Steve Wiggs, Chief Corporate Communications Officer Cynthia Williams, President and CEO of BB&T Securities and Manager of BB&T Capital Markets Rufus Yates, and General Counsel and Corporate Secretary Robert Johnson, Jr.

BB&T last expanded its executive management team in December 2014.

About BB&T
BB&T is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with approximately $208.8 billion in assets and market capitalization of approximately $27.8 billion, as of Sept. 30, 2015. Based in Winston-Salem, N.C., the company operates 2,150 financial centers in 15 states and Washington, D.C., and offers a full range of consumer and commercial banking, securities brokerage, asset management, mortgage and insurance products and services. A Fortune 500 company, BB&T is consistently recognized for outstanding client satisfaction by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Greenwich Associates and others. BB&T has also been named one of the World's Strongest Banks by Bloomberg Markets Magazine, one of the top three in the U.S. and in the top 15 globally. More information about BB&T and its full line of products and services is available at

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Piedmont investors get an early holiday gift

David Mildenberg on October 2015 at 10:45:00 am 
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It’s an early Christmas for Piedmont Natural Gas Co. shareholders — and senior executives — after Duke Energy Corp. made a $4.9 billion bid for the Charlotte-based gas company.

Details on the transaction will dribble out over the next few months as the deal heads for completion in late 2016. Regulators in the Carolinas and Tennessee must approve the deal, along with shareholders. CEOs Lynn Good of Duke and Tom Skains of Piedmont wouldn’t describe the process leading to the merger, urging analysts to wait for proxy statements in a few weeks.

The CEOs did emphasize that “synergies were not part of the consideration in putting the deal together,” Piedmont spokesman David Trusty said in an interview. So it is unclear how many of Piedmont’s 1,600 jobs in North Carolina, including 750 in the Charlotte area, are imperiled by the merger. That is a big difference from many mergers, when executives boast about cutting expenses and staff as much as possible.

But Duke and Piedmont are regulated monopolies that are allowed to earn a return on equity of at least 10% annually in the three states in which they operate. It will be interesting to see if the North Carolina Utilities Commission, which oversees the industry, will make any objections to the proposed merger on anti-competitive grounds.

The two companies are pillars of North Carolina’s economy. Duke’s influence is legendary, befitting its historic role in the state’s development. (Gov. Pat McCrory spent 28 years with Duke.) The Piedmont board of directors is also stacked with prominent state executives, including retired banker Mac Everett and First Citizens BancShares CEO Frank Holding. Among the most recent additions to the board is Raleigh lawyer Jo Anne Sanford, a former utilities commission chair.

It’s hard to see how Piedmont’s board could have turned down Duke’s bid, which values the gas company at four times book value and is a 42% increase over the company’s stock price of $42.22 on Oct. 23. On the conference call explaining the transaction, an analyst called it a “head scratcher” because the value of many energy companies and assets have tumbled sharply in the last six months due to declining oil and gas prices. Good didn’t respond to the pricing critique, repeating that the deal helps Duke’s long-term objectives. Duke pledged to continue the companies' charitable giving at present levels.

Piedmont declined to discuss if the transaction counts as a change-of-control deal, enabling senior utility executives to receive payouts in the event of a sale. Skains is pledged $11.3 million in a provision detailed in the 2015 proxy, while four other senior Piedmont executives are promised a combined $12 million. Skains became CEO in 2003, and his total compensation has averaged $3.8 million annually over the last three years. As of Oct. 1, he owned shares valued at about $16 million, based on the Duke offer.

Duke will eventually name an undisclosed Piedmont executive to run the combined natural-gas operations of the companies, Trusty said.

Selling to Duke marks the end of almost 65 years of independence for Piedmont, which started in 1951 after buying manufactured-gas facilities of Duke Energy predecessor, Duke Power. Over the years, the companies at times offered some spirited competition, particularly when Piedmont urged consumers to switch from electric to gas to cut their heating bills.

Happy holidays, Piedmont shareholders.

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Peter Hans was favored by Moore and Berger for UNC post, sources say

David Mildenberg on October 2015 at 4:30:00 pm 
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North Carolina’s senior lawmakers are used to getting their way, but it did not happen in Chapel Hill when the UNC Board of Governors selected Margaret Spellings as president of the UNC System. The favored choice of House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger was Raleigh lobbyist Peter Hans, according to five people familiar with the matter.

Hans was on the board of governors from 2003 to 2015, including a four-year stint as chairman. He is a senior policy adviser at the Raleigh office of South Carolina-based law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP. He previously worked for Republican senators Lauch Faircloth, Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr.

“Hans was the hope of [Berger and Moore] and I think there will be hell to pay upcoming, depending on Spellings’ abilities,” according to one person familiar with the search process who asked to remain anonymous. “Yes, the Hans presidency effort is well known in Raleigh,” another person familiar with the search said.

In an email, Hans neither confirmed nor denied he was the favored candidate of the Republican legislative leaders but said he withdrew his name from consideration for the post in September. "The board made a strong choice and President-elect Spellings will do an excellent job," he said.

Moore’s spokeswoman Mollie Young said she and Moore's chief of staff Clayton Somers were unaware of any support for Hans. Phone and email requests to Berger spokeswoman Shelly Carver were not immediately returned.

Moore and Berger worked to influence the search process, passing a bill that required the UNC governors to consider at least three candidates before choosing a president. Gov. Pat McCrory, who at times takes different stances than the Republican leaders in the General Assembly, has not signed the bill, which would take effect Nov. 1.

Failing to consider several candidates “would not be viewed favorably,” Berger and Moore said in a letter to board chairman John Fennebresque last week. The letter, which called for a more transparent process, came after word emerged that the search committee was focusing on Spellings as the lead candidate.

Fennebresque’s aggressive handling of the search has drawn bipartisan criticism. He led the effort to oust current President Tom Ross, who has had the job for five years and wanted to continue in the post. Fennebresque is a partner at the Charlotte office of Virginia-based McGuireWoods LLP law firm. He was appointed to the board of governors by the N.C. Senate in 2011.

Spellings, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and longtime adviser to former President George W. Bush, received a five-year contract with a $775,000 annual salary, plus other benefits. Two of the 32 governors — Thom Goolsby and Marty Kotis — voted against the terms of her contract.

Search committee member Ann Goodnight told reporters in Raleigh today that 30 people were screened for the job,14 candidates were interviewed and four names were brought to the board last week. Goodnight, wife of SAS Institute founder Jim Goodnight, said there was unanimous support for Spellings on the search committee.

Hans is a 1991 year graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, one year before Speaker Moore earned his degree at the university.


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Quintiles promotes CFO Kevin Gordon to chief operating officer

Press release on October 2015 at 7:00:00 pm 
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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Quintiles announced that Kevin Gordon, currently serving as Executive Vice President, Operations and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) and that Michael McDonnell is expected to join Quintiles in December 2015 as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Mr. Gordon will continue to serve as Quintiles CFO until Mr. McDonnell joins the company.

“Kevin’s new role is recognition of the major contribution he has made to the company”
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“Kevin’s new role is recognition of the major contribution he has made to the company,” said Chief Executive Officer Tom Pike. “With Kevin as Chief Operating Officer, we are formalizing many of his activities with customers, our executives and employees. Over the past years, Kevin has increased his operational influence and is already managing a substantive amount of our business in addition to his financial leadership of the company. This new role will enable Kevin to spend more time with customers and across the operations of our business.

“I am also very excited about Mike joining our leadership team. With a solid public company finance foundation, Mike has demonstrated financial and accounting expertise and business acumen in leading companies in complex, dynamic industries. His experience strengthens and deepens our management team. Between these two talented executives, we expect to have a smooth transition.”

Mr. Gordon continues a track record of success and value creation since joining Quintiles in 2010. Under his financial leadership since 2010, Quintiles has delivered an eight percent compound annual growth rate in net revenue and 14 percent growth in Adjusted EBITDA. At the same time, he has led the capital strategy for the Company, including its 2013 initial public offering as well as the recapitalization of its debt which provided an overall lower cost structure.

Mr. Gordon said: “Quintiles is a great company which undertakes important work for a diverse portfolio of customers across biopharma and healthcare. I greatly appreciate this recognition and opportunity, and I look forward to partnering with Tom, Mike and the executive team to drive value for our key stakeholders: customers, investors, employees and ultimately patients around the world.”

Mr. McDonnell joins Quintiles from Intelsat, where he has served as CFO since 2008. Previously, McDonnell held CFO positions at MCG Capital Corporation, a publicly held commercial finance company, and EchoStar Communications, formerly known as DISH Network Corporation. Earlier in his career, he was a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP. McDonnell also served as a member of the board of directors of Catalyst Health Solutions, Inc., a publicly held pharmacy benefits management company. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Georgetown University and is a certified public accountant.

McDonnell said: “I’m looking forward to joining Quintiles and working with its talented leadership team and finance professionals. I’m excited to get started on enabling the company’s continued growth and opportunity.”

About Quintiles

Quintiles (NYSE: Q) helps biopharma and other healthcare companies improve their probability of success by connecting insights from our deep scientific, therapeutic and analytics expertise with superior delivery for better outcomes. From advisory through operations, Quintiles is the world’s largest provider of product development and integrated healthcare services, including commercial and observational solutions. Conducting operations in approximately 100 countries, Quintiles is a member of the FORTUNE 500 and has been named to FORTUNE’s list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.” To learn more, visit

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McGladrey names new Southeast leader

Press release on October 2015 at 12:00:00 pm 
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CHARLOTTE, NC – (Oct. 19, 2015) – McGladrey LLP - the nation’s leading provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market - announced that Craig Radke has been appointed to serve as managing partner for its Southeast Region, effective Nov. 1.
In his new role, Radke will have responsibility for leading teams focused on serving clients in Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama. The area includes 24 offices and approximately 2,500 employees. He will also be a member of McGladrey’s Combined Leadership Team.

“The Southeast Region has a strong history of growth and exceptional client service,” said Chief Operating Officer Bill Gorman. “I am confident that tradition will continue with Craig at the helm.”

Radke is currently serving as chairman of the McGladrey Board of Directors, market managing partner for the Carolinas market, and assurance leader for the Southeast Region and the Carolinas practices.

“I have had the tremendous opportunity to get to know many of the people and clients in the Southeast Region and across the firm over my past 30 years with McGladrey,” said Radke. “As leader of the region, I look forward to continuing to build solid relationships and empowering our strong teams of professionals to deliver an outstanding McGladrey client experience.”

Radke is a Certified Public Accountant and has more than 30 years of experience serving clients, with a focus on the industrial and consumer products sectors, as well as leading the Carolinas private equity team. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Iowa State University and is a graduate of the University of Chicago, Business Advisory Program, Graduate School of Business. He has held leadership positions with Junior Achievement and the North Carolina Chamber, and is a member in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Radke will continue to be based in McGladrey’s Charlotte office at 4725 Piedmont Row Drive Suite 300, Charlotte, NC 28210.

About McGladrey
Effective Oct. 26, 2015, McGladrey will unite with fellow members of our global network under the common brand name RSM. McGladrey LLP is the leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, with 8,000 professionals and associates in 80 cities nationwide. A licensed CPA firm, McGladrey serves clients around the world through RSM International, a global network of independent accounting, tax and consulting firms. For more information, join our Facebook fan page at McGladrey News, follow us on Twitter @McGladrey, and connect with us on LinkedIn, and/or on YouTube.

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The vanishing power of the UNC Board of Governors

David Mildenberg on October 2015 at 5:30:00 pm 
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Being a member of the University of North Carolina System’s Board of Governors has long been among the most sought-after appointed positions in the state. You learn what’s happening across the state, you get access to good sports tickets and most important, you get to pick the system president, probably the most influential job in the state. The board historically has done an outstanding job on the latter point, recruiting UNC champions including Erskine Bowles and C.D. “Dick” Spangler for the post.

But one doubts a board of governors’ seat has much appeal anymore to independent-minded North Carolinians given the overreach by state lawmakers, who have over-politicized the board and now are unnecessarily intervening in the current presidential search process. They don’t want to let the board do its job.

Most of the media heat is on Chairman John Fennebresque, the lawyer known in Charlotte’s business community as a straight-talking, suffer-no-fools guy whose passions include cigars, golf, the Queen City, UNC, North Carolina and Bank of America, where he had close ties to former CEOs Hugh McColl Jr. and Ken Lewis and many other senior bankers. John creates waves, feels strongly about his viewpoints and isn’t always interested in opposing views.

But isn’t that the kind of connected, engaged, results-oriented person needed on the state’s most important board? Or do we prefer governors such as Thom Goolsby, a former state senator from Wilmington whose financial-advisory license was revoked by the state in May 2014. He resigned the senate earlier this year and then started a lobbying practice that represents the sweepstakes' industry, the News & Observer reported. In March he was appointed to the board of governors, a nominee of the N.C. Senate. Goolsby is among the board members now asking for Fennebresque's resignation.

The irony is that many in North Carolina blame Fennebresque and the board for not adequately explaining why they asked President Tom Ross to exit his post next year. The reasons are easy to understand for anyone who has paid attention:

1) UNC presidents have had a tradition of five-year tenures, abided by Spangler and Bowles. Ross is in his fifth year.

2) Republicans who run North Carolina government want a UNC leader more in step with their philosophies. Why wouldn’t they want their own choice instead of someone like Ross, who was hired and favored by former Democratic leaders such as Marc Basnight, Mike Easley and Beverly Perdue?

3) Ross was executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a Winston-Salem-based group that funds many fine causes, along with some controversial ones, including progressive-oriented organizations that are anathema to conservatives. Would Democratic leaders approve of a UNC president who had worked for an Art Pope-funded group?

4) In a debate raging in many states, conservatives want educators who may more quickly embrace changes sweeping higher education than traditionalists such as Ross. Those changes threaten higher education’s status quo, for better or worse.

With Ross gone, the task of finding his successor fell to Fennebresque and the board. It is a difficult task to find someone to fill such an important position, so perhaps it was inevitable that a rift formed between Fennebresque as he showed some independence from the state’s dominant lawmakers. Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger and other senators such as Bob Rucho and Tom Apodaca have proven they can run over Gov. McCrory when needed. By comparison, Fennebresque may be small potatoes.

The nastiness intensified when Fennebresque and his supporters decided former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was a solid choice for the president’s post. She is a classic boardroom, moderate Republican, having served under George W. Bush when he was governor in Texas and president in Washington D.C. Those credentials enrage conservative Republicans who felt burned by Bush’s education policies.

What's hilarious is that the lawmakers are criticizing Fennebresque for a lack of transparency in the hiring. These folks run a legislature that passes bills on key issues after midnight, with little or no public debate.

There’s very little chance Fennebresque will come out ahead in this scrap. Spellings may get the job, but I wouldn't bet on it. Berger and his cronies have decades of experience spinning the media and influencing public debate. It’s common in North Carolina for Charlotte businesspeople to get squashed when they become involved in a state political culture dominated by small-town lawyers and small-business owners.

So it's a sad spectacle — almost certain to damage our state's reputation as a leader in higher education — when political leaders run roughshod over a board of appointed leaders, many of whom bring so much to the table. Those governors' seats no longer mean much, do they?


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UNC chemist receives $875,000 fellowship

Press release on October 2015 at 3:20:00 pm 
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(Chapel Hill, N.C. – Oct. 15, 2015) – Jillian Dempsey, a chemist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has received a 2015 Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, awarded to highly creative researchers early in in their careers. The award from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is for $875,000 over five years.

UNC-Chapel Hill has had six Packard Fellows in the past. The 2015 announcement marks the fourth year in a row that a UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member has won the prestigious award, affirming Carolina’s commitment to attract the brightest and most innovative young scientists and engineers.
“Since arriving in Chapel Hill in 2012, Jillian Dempsey has tackled the looming energy problem with intelligence and intensity,” said Joe Templeton, Venable Professor and interim chair of the department of chemistry. “Her investigations of synchronous and asynchronous proton and electron movements are leading the way to new sunlight-to-energy conversion opportunities.” 

Dempsey and her lab are searching for ways to efficiently capture sunlight in artificial systems and carry out fuel-producing reactions to store the sun’s energy in the high-energy chemical bonds of molecules like hydrogen. Her work is contributing to a growing need to develop renewable, environmentally friendly energy sources.

Dempsey, an assistant professor of chemistry in UNC-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, serves as a science advisory board member for the National Science Foundation’s Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels and is on the executive committee of UNC’s Energy Frontier Research Center in Solar Fuels. She is a recipient of NSF’s CAREER Award, one of the foundation’s most prestigious awards given in support of junior faculty.

The Packard Fellowships program invests in future leaders who have the freedom to take risks, explore new frontiers in their fields of study and follow uncharted paths that can lead to groundbreaking discoveries. It is among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships.

Recipients have gone on to receive awards such as the Nobel Prize in Physics, MacArthur Fellowships and elections to the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering.

The foundation calls Packard Fellows “inquisitive, passionate scientists and engineers who take a creative approach to their research, dare to think big and follow new ideas wherever they lead.”

About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries. More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

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Ashley Furniture adding 454 jobs in Davie County

Press release on October 2015 at 3:05:00 pm 
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Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) announced today that Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc., (Ashley) plans to create 454 new jobs in Davie County during the next five years and invest at least 8.7 million at the current site through the end of 2019.
This announcement comes on the heels of Ashley’s initial phase of development where it committed to create 550 jobs and invest $80 million between 2012 and 2015. Ashley exceeded these commitments by creating more than 1,100 jobs and investing more than $250 million into its new state-of-the-art furniture manufacturing and distribution facility; and related training and development activities in Advance.
“America’s leading furniture manufacturer is again investing in the South’s leading manufacturing state,” said Governor McCrory. “Ashley continues to be an enormously successful company, and we’re proud that it has chosen North Carolina as the place to pursue its ambitious growth plans.”
 Ashley, based in Arcadia, WI, has corporate roots that date to its 1970 founding as the Arcadia Furniture Corporation. It is now the world’s largest residential furniture company, employing 25,000 people worldwide. The privately-held company had nearly $4 billion in sales in 2014. Its success rests on continuous improvement of its operations and global supply chain. Ashley arrived in Davie County in April 2012 after an extensive search for a site that would serve its growing customer-based in the southeastern U.S.
“Furniture manufacturing is part of North Carolina’s DNA,” said Secretary Skvarla. “Our diligent workforce, excellent training programs and modern infrastructure are among the key assets that help sharpen the competitive edge of companies like Ashley.”
New positions will include upholstery, casegoods and mattress manufacturing specialists, warehouse, driver, and information technology professionals, among other positions.
Todd Wanek, Ashley’s President and CEO remarked, “We are extremely pleased with the pro-business attitude of the State of North Carolina and the efforts of our entire team. It has been a challenging and fulfilling journey, and we look forward to a very bright future in North Carolina.”
An award from the state’s Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program to Ashley will help facilitate its expansion. Approved earlier today by the Economic Investment Committee, the reimbursements may total as much as $4.6 million from 2016 through 2027. Receipt of the award is based on verification by NC Commerce and NC Revenue that the company has met job creation and capital investment requirements. JDIGs reimburse new and expanding companies a portion of the newly created tax-base stemming from the operations with the goal of increasing the overall tax benefit to the State of North Carolina.
The program by law must result in a net revenue inflow to the state treasury over the life of the award. In the case of JDIG-supported projects in Tier 2 counties such as Davie County, 15 percent of the award is directed to the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account to help finance economic infrastructure in less populated Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties. Ashley’s expansion could provide as much as $511,900 in new funds for the Utility Account. [More information on county tier designations is available at]
The project was also made possible by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina fund of up to $829,500. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. One NC grants also require and are contingent on financial matches from local governments.
Several partners joined the N.C. Commerce and the EDPNC in supporting Ashley’s expansion. They include the North Carolina Community College System, Davidson County Community College. the Davie County Board of Commissioners, the Davie County Economic Development Commission, Duke Energy, and Golden LEAF.

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Yadkin buying NewBridge for $456 million

Press release on October 2015 at 11:45:00 am 
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Yadkin Financial Corporation (YDKN) (or "Yadkin") and NewBridge Bancorp (NBBC) (or "NewBridge") jointly announced today that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement, pursuant to which Yadkin will acquire NewBridge. The combination will strengthen Yadkin as the largest community bank headquartered in North Carolina.

Based on financials reported on June 30, 2015, the combined company would have total assets of $7.1 billion, deposits of $5.2 billion and loans of $5.0 billion. Yadkin will operate in all major North Carolina markets, enhancing its statewide presence in its existing footprint and expanding into the Piedmont Triad.

Yadkin will acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of NewBridge in exchange for shares of Yadkin's common stock. The exchange ratio has been fixed at 0.50 shares of Yadkin's common stock for each share of NewBridge which equates to a deal value of $11.40 per share, or approximately $456 million in the aggregate, based on YDKN's closing price of $22.79 as of October 12, 2015.

Scott M. Custer, YDKN's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are excited about our merger with NewBridge, which strengthens Yadkin's leading position as the largest community bank in North Carolina. Our combined statewide presence coupled with our shared commitment to providing best in class service uniquely positions our franchise to grow as the premier community bank in the state. The merger will also increase our presence in South Carolina with the addition of offices in the Greenville-Spartanburg and Charleston markets."

Pressley A. Ridgill, President and Chief Executive Officer of NBBC, said, "We believe that Yadkin is the ideal partner for our bank. Both of our companies are deeply committed to our communities, and this merger will allow us to better provide quality banking services to our customers, a rewarding workplace for our employees and superior value to our shareholders."

Yadkin will be governed by a 15 member Board of Directors consisting of 10 Yadkin directors and 5 NewBridge directors. Joseph Towell will remain Chairman of the Board, Scott Custer will remain Chief Executive Officer, and Terry Earley will remain Executive VP & Chief Financial Officer of the combined company. Pressley Ridgill will be a consultant to Yadkin.

Upon closing of the merger, Yadkin Financial Corporation shareholders will own approximately 61.3% of the combined company and NewBridge Bancorp existing shareholders will own approximately 38.7% of the combined company. The name of the holding company will remain Yadkin Financial Corporation and continue to be headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of each company and is expected to close in early Q2 2016, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.

Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, Inc. served as financial advisor to Yadkin, and Sandler O'Neill + Partners, L.P. served as financial advisor to NewBridge Bancorp. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP provided legal counsel to Yadkin Financial Corporation, and Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey and Leonard LLP and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz provided legal counsel to NewBridge Bancorp.

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Wake Forest Baptist, Pappas team up on $15 million venture capital plan

Press release on October 2015 at 12:45:00 pm 
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Oct. 7, 2015 – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center today announced the creation of a Technology Development Program, a $15 million program to develop the ideas, discoveries and inventions of the faculty and staff of the Medical Center into life science technologies having the potential to benefit patients in the community and worldwide.

The new program is in partnership with leading life science investment firm Pappas Capital, in Durham. Funds will be managed by Pappas in collaboration with Wake Forest Innovations to advance clinically important life science technologies for licensing to established companies or startups.

“Wake Forest Baptist has a long legacy of research, discovery and development of technologies that benefit our patients,” said John D. McConnell, M.D., Wake Forest Baptist’s chief executive officer. “The Technology Development Program adds an important element to our commitment to promote new ideas and innovation. We look forward to the collaboration and partnerships this program will bring.”

Wake Forest Innovations expects to work with Pappas Capital to invest in approximately 25 early-stage technologies over the next three to five years to develop technologies for licensing to industry. In partnership with Pappas Capital, the Technology Development Program has the potential to seek matching funds from foundations, non-profits, industry and other life science organizations.

“With our investment experience and the innovation culture at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the Technology Development Program is a perfect fit,” said Art Pappas, CEO of Pappas Capital, which for nearly two decades has managed venture capital funds through its business unit Pappas Ventures. “We look forward to working with Wake Forest Innovations to advance technologies that make a difference in the lives of patients.”

The Center for Technology Innovation & Commercialization, part of Wake Forest Innovations, works with faculty and staff at Wake Forest Baptist to help move product ideas through the stages of technology evaluation and commercialization. Services provided include pursuing patent protection, conducting market analytics and preclinical and clinical development, all culminating in potentially licensing of the technology to industry, including startups. The Center handles all proprietary technologies of the Medical Center, including therapeutics, vaccines, diagnostics, medical devices and digital health technologies.

“The formation of the Technology Development Program signals a strong commitment and recognition by the institution of the long-term value of our technology pipeline,” said Jeff Brennan, vice president, technology innovation & commercialization at Wake Forest Innovations. “The ideas, discoveries and inventions of Wake Forest School of Medicine faculty and staff are crucial to the development of world-class technologies. This investment serves as an accelerant to help increase the value of their discoveries.”

“The partnership with Pappas Capital will serve as an important catalyst for collaboration with industry,” said Eric Tomlinson, D.Sc., Ph.D., chief innovation officer, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Our relationship with Pappas Capital will help bring our faculty and researchers together with Pappas’ extensive network of pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies and disease-focused philanthropic foundations.”

The partnership serves to benefit investigators at Wake Forest School of Medicine. “One of the important attributes of this program is an increased ability to support faculty who have an interest and focus on discovery and technology innovation,” said Edward Abraham, M.D., dean, Wake Forest School of Medicine. “Our faculty and staff have the ideas, the passion and the commitment to develop technologies having the potential to benefit patients in the community and worldwide.”

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Digital marketer Netsertive raises $15 million

Press release on October 2015 at 8:59:00 am 
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MORRISVILLE, NC – October 7, 2015 – Netsertive, a digital marketing intelligence company that enables brands and their local channel partners with turnkey, co-op compliant digital marketing capabilities, bringing them together to win local customers, today announced it raised $15 million in Series C growth financing. The new round will fuel Netsertive’s acceleration in the digital marketing technology arena, as it continues to add major brands for its MarketWise™ solution and local businesses for its StreetWise™ solution.
“With over 90 percent of consumers using online media to research the products they purchase locally, it is more critical than ever for brands and their partners to get it right. Having tracked Netsertive for the last five years, we know the company is helping these businesses drive stronger cooperative digital marketing across their networks of local partners and retailers. We are impressed by its stellar growth, strategic vision and position in the market and culture,” said Rik Vandevenne, Director, River Cities Capital Funds, who joins the company’s Board of Directors. “Netsertive has assembled a high-performance team with the experience and drive to become the dominant player in the rapidly growing brand-to-local digital marketing space. We are excited to partner with Netsertive to help write the next chapter of its story.”
The financing will help the company address the massive opportunity in local co-op marketing, most recently highlighted in a new industry report that Netsertive and research firm Borrell Associates released, titled “The Changing Face of Co-Op Marketing Programs.” The report highlights that a shockingly large amount of brand-funded co-op marketing funds — $14 billion — goes unredeemed by local businesses due to complicated rules, dated reimbursement processes and lack of digital focus. Netsertive will accelerate investments in its solutions to help brands and their networks unlock the funding and leverage it in local markets, driving compliance, speed and performance into cooperative digital campaigns.
“We are thrilled to have a strategic new capital partner investing in our core value proposition of helping brands and local businesses win new customers,” said Brendan Morrissey, CEO and co-founder, Netsertive. “Billions of dollars are left on the table as a result of inefficient and outdated co-op marketing programs. There is a huge opportunity in this market for brands and local businesses to work together as they rapidly transition to more efficient digital marketing channels. This new investment enables us to build our capabilities even faster in order to serve the evolving needs of our clients in this fast-growing market.”
River Cities was joined by Netsertive’s existing investors in the round, which comes as the company is extending its leadership in the digital marketing technology arena, having added several major brand networks in recent months. Its proprietary platform enables clients to harness the collective learnings of its thousands of campaigns, powering the “last mile” of local digital marketing for brand networks. Further supported by its unique position as a Google Premier SMB Partner, Netsertive delivers unprecedented marketing speed, performance and value — at scale — for its brand clients and their network of local businesses.
About Netsertive
Netsertive’s digital marketing intelligence platform empowers brands and local businesses to work together to win local customers. The company’s two complementary solutions, MarketWise™ for Brands and StreetWise™ for Local Businesses, enable cooperative marketing and resource sharing between brands and their local business partners. Both are powered by Netsertive's proprietary learning engine, which combines the company's deep industry experience with the collective intelligence of its extensive network of automotive, IT technology, major appliance, furniture, consumer electronics and healthcare clients to deliver unprecedented campaign speed, performance and value.  An award-winning marketing technology company and Google Premier SMB Partner, Netsertive drives local marketing success from campaign enablement through scaled, local execution. Additionally, Netsertive helps brands with their co-op marketing to ensure localized brand compliance, seamless campaign execution and reimbursement tracking for local partners.
Founded in 2009 and based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, the company has a history of rapid growth, a world-class team and the strength of venture capital funding from top firms RRE Ventures, Harbert Venture Partners, River Cities Capital Funds and Greycroft Partners. Netsertive was named 2014 Software Company of the Year by North Carolina Technology Association and was named among Inc. Magazine’s 500 fastest-growing private companies three years in a row. Additional information about Netsertive is available at

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Greg Brown named to lead Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise

PRESS RELEASE on October 2015 at 11:45:00 am 
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(Chapel Hill, N.C.— Oct. 5, 2015) – Gregory W. Brown has been named director of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

 Brown is a professor of finance and a Sarah Graham Kenan Distinguished Scholar at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

 “Greg Brown is an academic entrepreneur and leader, as well as an accomplished researcher and educator who is deeply interested in applying scholarship to address real-world problems and has long had ties with the business community,” said Douglas Shackelford, dean and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation at UNC Kenan-Flagler. “His track record of successful initiatives at the intersection of research and practice will be an asset to the Kenan Institute.”

 Brown is the founder and research director of the Institute for Private Capital and previously served as director of the Center for Excellence in Investment Management and the Capital Markets Lab at UNC Kenan-Flagler. His research, which centers on financial risk, the use of financial derivative contracts as risk management tools and private investment strategies, has been published in leading academic and practitioner finance journals.

 He also is managing director and director of research for Amundi Smith Breeden Associates, a global asset management firm specializing in fixed income investments.

 “I am honored to build on the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise’s legacy of economic development, global competitiveness and entrepreneurship,” said Brown. “I’m enormously excited about continuing to realize Frank Kenan‘s vision to promote collaboration among business, government and academic leaders – and to explore new opportunities.”

 Brown joined the UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty in 1998 after he received his PhD in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. He received his bachelor’s degree with honors in physics and economics from Duke University. Prior to joining UNC Kenan-Flagler, Brown worked at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in the division of research and statistics. He also worked in artist relations for a subsidiary of Capitol Records in Hollywood.

 The Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise was founded in 1985 and brought to global prominence under the leadership of Dr. John D. Kasarda. Joseph M. DeSimone succeeded Kasarda before leaving to launch a business venture. Judith Cone, special assistant to the chancellor for innovation and entrepreneurship and interim vice chancellor of commercialization and economic development at UNC, served as interim director. Mark Little, director of NCGrowth, served as interim director when Cone completed her term.

 About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in every region and all 100 counties. Carolina’s more than 308,000 alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries.  More than 167,000 live in North Carolina.

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Wake Forest Medical Center seeking $350 million in capital drive

PRESS RELEASE on October 2015 at 11:00:00 am 
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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Oct. 2, 2015 – Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center on Thursday night announced the public phase of a comprehensive campaign to raise $350 million to further its mission in patient care, education and research.

Medical Center officials also shared that Wake Forest School of Medicine’s new building in Wake Forest Innovation Quarter will be named the Bowman Gray Medical Education Building. In 1939, a gift from Gray’s estate helped bring the medical school to Winston-Salem. The School of Medicine later affiliated with North Carolina Baptist Hospital to create the Medical Center.

John D. McConnell, M.D., chief executive officer of Wake Forest Baptist, said the campaign will focus primarily on people and programs involved in carrying out the Medical Center’s mission and on key construction projects, including the Bowman Gray Medical Education Building.

“We have extraordinary potential to improve health in transformative ways, and that’s what our campaign is about,” McConnell said. “Philanthropy invested in Wake Forest Baptist’s people and programs will help transform our work in biomedical research, patient care and education. Connecting with individuals who understand and care about our mission can have a profound impact.”

Areas of focus for the campaign include cancer, aging and Alzheimer’s disease, children’s health, diabetes and obesity, heart and vascular, regenerative medicine and medical education.

Campaign Chair Jim Johnston said that approximately $212 million has been raised toward the campaign goal during its initial leadership phase, and the remainder will be raised by the end of 2018.

“My time as an executive with R.J. Reynolds convinced me that the mission and work of Wake Forest Baptist is critical to each and every one of us,” Johnston said. “It’s vital to our community and to countless people around the country and around the world who will have their lives affected through the care provided by a Wake Forest Baptist-trained physician or from a cure that’s developed right here at our Medical Center.”

This effort is part of Wake Will, the campaign for Wake Forest University, which has a goal to raise a combined $1 billion for the University and the Medical Center.

“This is a moment when there is a role for everyone to play,” said Norman D. Potter, Wake Forest Baptist’s vice president of development and alumni affairs. “We want to connect with individuals who have a passion that intersects with our mission to improve health. It includes alumni, members of the community, our faculty and staff, and anyone who has a desire to improve health.”

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center ( is a nationally recognized academic medical center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with an integrated enterprise including educational and research facilities, hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers and other primary and specialty care facilities serving 24 counties in northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia. Its divisions are Wake Forest Baptist Health, a regional clinical system that includes Brenner Children’s Hospital and has close to 175 locations, 900 physicians and 1,000 acute care beds; Wake Forest School of Medicine, an established leader in medical education and research; and Wake Forest Innovations, which accelerates the commercialization of research discoveries and specialized research capabilities of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and operates Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, an urban district for research, business and education. Wake Forest Baptist clinical, research and educational programs are annually ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

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Facebook investing $200 million in Rutherford County site

PRESS RELEASE on October 2015 at 3:30:00 pm 
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Facebook Announces Plans to Expand Data Center, Impact in Forest City
October 1, 2015 at 12:35pm

From a Facebook post:

By Keven McCammon, Site Manager, Forest City Data Center

In November 2010, Facebook broke ground on its data center in Forest City. Our decision to locate here was based in large part on the commitment and the vision of the community and leadership here in Rutherford County. Over the last five years, our relationship with our community partners has only grown stronger, and we’ve worked together to create opportunity and invest in education. We’ve also built one of the most energy efficient data centers in the world, including two data center buildings and one cold storage facility.

Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be constructing our third data center building in Forest City, which will represent an additional capital investment in excess of $200 million.

The construction will add to a project that has supported thousands of jobs in the regional economy and generated millions of dollars in economic impact, as highlighted in the economic impact study:

Today, we have more than 125 full-time jobs supporting operations at the site, helping to connect the world through Facebook.

The third building will feature the latest Open Compute Project hardware designs (which we share with the rest of the industry and, like our other buildings, will be cooled using outside air instead of energy-intensive air conditioners.

One of Facebook’s highest priorities in Forest City is being a good neighbor. That’s why we’ve invested more than $575,000 in local schools and nonprofits to support technology, education, and innovation in the region through our Community Action Grants program. We have an ongoing commitment to hire local talent, contractors, and service providers to support data center operations. And we’ve partnered with PANGAEA Internet; the Towns of Forest City, Rutherfordton, and Spindale; and Rutherford County Schools to construct a free Wi-Fi network to enable thousands of local students and families to connect to the Internet.

Our appreciation goes to the Town of Forest City, Rutherford County, and the State of North Carolina for their continued support. We are proud to call Forest City home, and grateful for the ongoing support of our neighbors, local leaders, and region.


P.S. We have jobs open. Check out

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Cary Chamber favors mass transit as key development tool

PRESS RELEASE on September 2015 at 4:00:00 pm 
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Sept. 29, 2015, Cary, N.C. – At a meeting on Sept. 16, the Cary Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors adopted a resolution endorsing mass transit in Cary and Wake County, and encouraging voters to vote for mass transit centered on a rail option.
In part, the resolution reads:
“WHEREAS, the Cary Chamber of Commerce’s vision is that Cary, along with the Triangle Region, is the best place run a business and to live; and,
WHEREAS, the Wake County population is projected to grow by 1 million by the year 2054,
WHEREAS, the Cary Chamber of Commerce supports a comprehensive Mass Transportation Plan for Wake County, to include, rail based highly on infrastructure and ridership; with a supplemental bus system,
WHEREAS, mass transit is good for the county and the growing needs of our region and is important to addressing the transportation challenges in our area,
WHEREAS, a fixed rail infrastructure has been shown to have great impacts on economic development and tax base growth,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Cary Chamber of Commerce endorses and supports a campaign to urge voters to vote for mass transit, centered on a high frequency rail option.”
To see the full resolution, go to
“We recognize that not everyone who lives in Cary works here, and vice versa,” said Chamber President Howard Johnson. “For the sake of sustained regional economic growth and better commuting experience, we support a comprehensive mass transportation plan for Wake County that includes both rail and bus components.”
For more information about the Cary Chamber, visit or call 919-467-1016.
About the Cary Chamber of Commerce
The Cary Chamber of Commerce has supported growth within the Cary business community for over 50 years. It consists of four programs that members can become involved with, including economic development, education, governmental relations and member business services. The Cary Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,250 members and continues to promote Cary as one of the best places to live, work and raise a family, and helps to provide businesses with as many educational, networking and growth opportunities as possible. For more information about the Cary Chamber, call 919-467-1016 or visit

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Raleigh agency Clean Design snags Lenovo marketing contract

PRESS RELEASE on September 2015 at 12:00:00 pm 
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Lenovo Worldwide Industry Solutions Appoints Clean Design as Lead Agency
RALEIGH, N.C. (September 28, 2015) - Clean Design today announced it has been named lead agency across multiple marketing disciplines by Lenovo Worldwide Industry Solutions. Clean Design will partner with Lenovo's Worldwide Industry Solutions team to roll out a global communications and marketing effort across a number of business verticals, beginning with healthcare and education.
Clean Design is developing strategic communications demonstrating thought-leadership within key business verticals by Lenovo's Worldwide Industry Solutions team.  This pivotal global initiative comes as part of Lenovo's evolution from primarily being seen as a hardware company to creating future-focused business technology, leveraging Lenovo's full portfolio from wearables to the cloud. Along with key business partners, Lenovo's Industry Solutions team is committed to advancing customer engagement within key verticals.
Clean Design is providing services such as advertising, content development and curation, media and public relations, social media, strategy and site development/programming for targeted Lenovo industry verticals. Clean Design's global network of partner agencies through affiliate network Worldwide Partners Inc. is being leveraged to support the effort.
"We were looking for a strong and innovative agency partner to help us amplify Lenovo Worldwide Industry Solutions' mission," says Devon Speas, Director, Industry Vertical Solutions. "Clean Design's creative reputation and breadth of resources, coupled with its proven strategy acumen, make this partnership around our global marketing initiative a logical choice for us."
"Lenovo is one of the most powerful brands in business today and expanding our relationship to lead this crucial global initiative is an amazing privilege and testament to our strong partnership over the past several years," says Natalie Perkins, CEO, Clean Design. "Our team is passionately committed to helping drive their business forward."  
About Clean Design
Clean Design is an award-winning brand + design agency with a diverse client portfolio featuring Red Hat, Lenovo, Yadkin Bank, Duke Raleigh Hospital, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and Lonerider. Ranked the #1 design firm in the Triangle for the past six years, the agency offers integrated marketing solutions including branding, advertising, digital marketing, graphic design, public relations, media planning, and content. A woman-owned business, Clean Design has been awarded HUB certification by the State of North Carolina.

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Deutsche Bank adding 250 jobs at Cary software site

Press release on September 2015 at 11:45:00 am 
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Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) announced today that DB Global Technology, Inc. will undertake a 250-job expansion over the coming two years at its software application development center in Wake County. The company plans to invest $9 million there through the end of 2016.
“North Carolina and DB Global Technology both enjoy rich legacies when it comes to innovation in banking and technology,” said Governor McCrory. “Our IT talent, competitive costs, great quality of life and convenient proximity by air to New York City will continue to help foster the growth and success of pioneering businesses like DB Global.”
DB Global Technology is a unit of Deutsche Bank AG, the Germany-based global financial services provider. Deutsche Bank [NYSE: DB], founded in Berlin in 1870, currently maintains a global workforce that exceeds 98,000. It reported sales of $47.3 billion in 2014. It established DB Global Technology in 2009 to design software to support the bank’s products and services. The company’s expansion will accommodate a sharpened focus on developing strategic applications and enterprise-wide technology solutions. The company currently employs more than 600 people in Wake County.
“Today’s announcement by DB Global Technology illustrates the return North Carolina gets from its proactive support for existing businesses,” said Secretary Skvarla. “In working to help move companies like DB Global closer to their strategic goals, we position our state for the additional jobs and capital investment that come with their continued success.”
Compensation for the new positions will vary by job function, but the average annual payroll is estimated to be $21.4 million plus benefits. The average annual wage in Wake County is $50,702. New positions will include technology engineers, software developers and analysts.
We are pleased to expand our footprint in Cary,” said Leslie Slover, Head of Deutsche Bank Jacksonville and Cary, N.C. “Deutsche Bank is proud of the work we are accomplishing in Cary and we will continue to strategically invest in the region and build upon our investment in the community.”
Under the terms of the company’s JDIG, DB Global Technology is eligible to receive up to twelve annual reimbursements equal to 35 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created. Receipt of each annual reimbursement is based on state-certified proof that the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. Over twelve years, the JDIG could yield aggregate benefits to DB Global Technology, Inc. of $3.38 million upon the creation of 250 jobs.
“We are excited to continue our growth in Cary, as we are a proud member of the Triangle Business community” said Dan Minto, Head of DB Global Technology, Inc.  “Our growth reinforces Deutsche Bank’s core value of innovation, as we look to continuously improve our processes and platforms by embracing new and enhanced technology.”
The program by law must result in a net revenue inflow to the state treasury over the life of the award. In the case of JDIG-supported projects in Tier 3 counties such as Wake County, 25 percent of the award amount is directed to the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account to help finance economic infrastructure in less populated Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties. DB Global Technology’s expansion could provide as much as $1.12 million in new funds for the Utility Account. More information on county tier designations is available here.
Since Governor McCrory took office in January of 2013, more than 237,100 private sectors jobs have been created.
Several partners joined N.C. Commerce and the EDPNC in supporting DB Global Technology’s expansion. They include the North Carolina Community College System, the Cary Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Cary and Wake County Economic Development.

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John Fagg named top pro-bono lawyer in state

Press release on September 2015 at 4:00:00 pm 
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 21, 2015) – Moore & Van Allen PLLC is pleased to announce that Litigation Member John Fagg will receive the 2015 Individual Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award from Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte. Fagg will be recognized for his service to and leadership of the Moore & Van Allen Housing Rights Project at the fourth annual Pro Bono Awards ceremony on October 20, 2015.

“Moore & Van Allen’s emphasis on pro bono service is a long-standing value of the firm, and we continue to invest in our community by providing quality legal services for those in need,” said Fagg. “It is an honor to be recognized with this award by our longtime partner, Legal Aid of North Carolina. It is a privilege to work with such an outstanding community organization and worthy clients.”

Since 2010, Fagg has been a leader of the Housing Rights Project in partnership with Legal Aid of North Carolina. The program enables attorney volunteers to help tenants in Charlotte avoid homelessness and secure safe, habitable homes. Housing Rights attorneys help minimize the disruption to family life caused by an emergency relocation and stop predatory practices of unscrupulous landlords.

Fagg manages a group of more than 20 attorneys at Moore & Van Allen who provide pro bono service to the Housing Rights Project. Under his direction, the project has increased its caseload, accepting three landlord-tenant matters each month referred by Legal Aid of North Carolina.

“John deserves this recognition, and we are proud to join Legal Aid of North Carolina in celebrating his tremendous pro bono contributions to the Charlotte community,” said Moore & Van Allen Public Service Committee Chairman and Litigation Member Brian Heslin. “In his work on the Housing Rights Project and in his litigation practice, John has demonstrated great leadership, passion and enthusiasm for service to those in need within our community.”

“John Fagg was the key leader at Moore & Van Allen in the Housing Rights Project with Legal Aid of North Carolina for the past several years,” said Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte Senior Managing Attorney Theodore Fillette. “He handled numerous individual cases in which he was able to prevent homelessness of families and prevent others from suffering unhealthy and unsafe housing. John’s exemplary work made a major difference in the lives of many of Charlotte’s needy and vulnerable residents.”

In addition to his work on the Housing Rights Project, Fagg represents pro bono indigent defendants in federal criminal cases. He also devotes time and energy to other public service organizations.

Held at the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Pro Bono Awards are hosted by Legal Aid of North Carolina, Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, and the Council for Children’s Rights. The event honors local attorneys and advocates who give their time and experience to underserved children, families and individuals in legal crisis.

About Moore & Van Allen
Moore & Van Allen PLLC is one of the largest law firms in the Southeast, with nearly 300 attorneys and offices in Charlotte and Research Triangle, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina. The attorneys at Moore & Van Allen provide sophisticated legal services within their nationally recognized Litigation, Corporate, Finance and Intellectual Property law practices for international banks and manufacturers, energy leaders, and growing healthcare and technology companies. The Firm is comprised of 21 primary industry and practice groups. Moore & Van Allen is the only Charlotte-based law firm identified in the prestigious “Am Law 200” list. U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers recognized Moore & Van Allen in their 2015 “Best Law Firms” rankings, both regionally and nationally.

Moore & Van Allen’s Public Service Committee, established in 2001, leads the Firm’s public service and pro bono efforts by identifying, coordinating, and facilitating opportunities for MVA attorneys and staff. In 2014, MVA attorneys and staff collectively donated more than 11,000 pro bono and public service hours. For more information, including a description of the Firm’s pro bono and service programs, please see the Moore & Van Allen 2015 Pro Bono Service Annual Report.

About Legal Aid of North Carolina
Legal Aid of North Carolina is a statewide, nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people in order to ensure equal access to justice and remove legal barriers to economic opportunity. To learn more, visit or find on Facebook and Twitter.

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North State Aviation plans 109 new jobs in eastern North Carolina

Press release on September 2015 at 3:30:00 pm 
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Kinston, N.C. - Governor Pat McCrory, N.C. Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. announced today that North State Aviation will open an aircraft maintenance center at the North Carolina Global TransPark in Lenoir County, creating 109 new jobs over the next two years. The company will invest $900,000 over the same period.
“North Carolina is pleased to support North State Aviation as it launches its new presence at the Global TransPark,” said Governor McCrory. “Like aviation itself, this company started right here in North Carolina. Its owners and employees have deep roots in the state, and we’re proud of their continued success.”
North State Aviation, incorporated in 2010, has grown from a Winston-Salem start-up to a company that currently employs more than 400 people. It specializes in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of large transport aircraft. The company counts one of the world’s largest commercial airlines among its customers. North State Aviation is now the largest tenant at Smith Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem. Its new facility at the North Carolina Global TransPark will employ 109 workers. Salaries will vary by position, but will average $39,688 per year. Currently, the average annual wage in Lenoir County is $32,164.
“North State Aviation’s choice of Lenoir County for this new maintenance center is more evidence that North Carolina’s competitive costs, ready workforce and accessibility put us on the short list of aerospace and aviation industry destinations,” said Secretary Skvarla. “Congratulations to this promising company as it embarks on an exciting new phase of growth.”
North Carolina Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson joined the Governor in Kinston today. "I was honored to join North State Aviation last year as they celebrated their fourth year of business success, and I am thrilled to be able to celebrate their continued growth by helping welcome this company to their new expansion home at the GTP," said NCDOT Secretary Tennyson. "We are pleased to support the continued growth of aviation in our state and to help bring more job opportunities to the people of Eastern North Carolina."
North State Aviation’s new facility at the Global TransPark will serve a client list that includes major commercial airlines. The newly-created positions will include mechanics, inspectors and back-shop utility workers, among other jobs.
“North State Aviation is proud to be a part of the growing aviation business here in North Carolina,” said Charlie Creech, president of North State Aviation. “We anticipate continued success and we plan for this expansion at GTP to be another seed operation that will grow in size and scope as our operation in Winston-Salem has done.”
The recruitment of North State Aviation was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $250,000. Administered by North Carolina Commerce, the One NC Fund provides financial assistance in support of local governments in creating jobs and attracting economic investment. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for grant funds. All One NC grants require a local government match.
“Congratulations to North State Aviation on its choice of Lenoir County for this important aircraft maintenance facility,” said N.C. Senator Louis Pate.
“This is great news for Kinston and Lenoir County,” said N.C. Senator Don Davis.  “These new jobs will have a positive impact on this area’s economy and quality of life.”
“I welcome this fast-growing company to eastern North Carolina, and commend our economic development leaders for working diligently to bring North State Aviation to our community,” said N.C. Representative John Bell.
“I look forward to welcoming these new jobs to Kinston and Lenoir County,” said N.C. Representative George Graham.  “This will be an important addition to our business community.”
237,100 private sector jobs have been created since Governor McCrory took office in January of 2013.
In addition to North Carolina Commerce and the EDPNC, other key partners in the project include the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the North Carolina Global TransPark Authority, NC Works, the North Carolina Community College System, Lenoir Community College, Lenoir County, the Lenoir County Economic Development Department and the Lenoir County Committee of 100.

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Whiteville tire dealer receives top honor from trade journal

PRESS RELEASE on September 2015 at 5:30:00 pm 
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AKRON, Ohio (September 14, 2015) — Ricky Benton, owner and president of Black’s Tire Service Inc., is the recipient of Modern Tire Dealer magazine’s 2015 Tire Dealer of the Year Award.

Benton was chosen to receive the industry’s oldest and most prestigious award from more than 30,000 eligible independent tire dealers across North America.

Black’s Tire has grown significantly since Benton began working at the company’s lone store in Whiteville, N.C., in 1981. The company’s namesake, W. Crowell Black, hired Benton to help him expand the business. When Benton and his wife Dianne bought Black’s Tire in 1996 there were eight stores. Today there are 36 retail and commercial outlets in North and South Carolina, plus a wholesale tire operation with four warehouses, a tire retread shop in Clarkton, N.C., an equipment distribution division and a successful racing business, Ricky Benton Racing (RBR) Enterprises. Benton employs 525 people.

Black’s Tire is tied for 30th on the Modern Tire Dealer 100 list of top independent tire dealers in the U.S.

“Ricky is a hard-working man who cares about the future of the independent tire dealer,” says Greg Smith, publisher of Modern Tire Dealer. “He is incredibly successful and yet relentless in giving the credit for his success to the people in his organization. He takes care of his Black’s Tire family, and they in turn take care of Black’s Tire customers.”

A $10,500 donation from Modern Tire Dealer and the following participating suppliers will be made in Benton’s name to the Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina Inc.: Advance Auto Parts Inc.; Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance Inc.; Alliance Tire Group; American Omni Trading Co.; Bartec USA LLC; Continental Tire the Americas LLC; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Dilmar Oil Co.; Double Coin Holdings Ltd.; Falken Tire Corp.; Federal Corp.; Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; Hankook Tire America Corp.; Hunter Engineering Co.; Michelin North America Inc.; Mohawk Rubber Sales Inc.; NAPA Auto Parts; Specialty Tires of America Inc.; Titan International Inc.; Tube & Solid Tire Ltd. and Wells Insurance.

The Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina serves neglected and abused children through a system of community-based and residential programs. The not-for-profit organization’s office, school and residential campus are located near the Black’s Tire headquarters, and the founder of Black’s Tire served on the charity’s inaugural board of directors. Gary Faircloth, CEO and president of the Boys and Girls Homes, says it has no greater partner than Benton and Black’s Tire. “The ambassadorship role that they play is invaluable.”

Benton joins an impressive list of tire industry icons who have been named Modern Tire Dealer’s Tire Dealer of the Year. The list includes the 2014 winner, Bruce Halle, chairman of Discount Tire, based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Benton is featured in a cover story in Modern Tire Dealer’s September issue. (See the story here, or the magazine’s digital edition here.)

Modern Tire Dealer’s Tire Dealer of the Year is the highest honor given to any independent tire dealer. Nominees are evaluated on their business success, marketing and management skills, industry knowledge and community involvement. Winners are chosen by a panel of five independent judges.

Modern Tire Dealer has been the industry’s leading publication since 1919. It is owned by Bobit Business Media, a Torrance, Calif.-based media company that specializes in business-to-business publications, conferences and websites.


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Biscuitville hires a new president

PRESS RELEASE on September 2015 at 5:00:00 pm 
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Biscuitville Fresh Southern, a family-owned restaurant company known for serving locally-sourced, Southern Inspired food made the old-fashioned way, just announced a new executive has joined its leadership team to support the company’s strategic growth initiatives. Jim Metevier (Met TEE vee ay), a seasoned restaurant executive with more than 20 years of experience, was named Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN’s new president. Working with Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN’s CEO Burney Jennings, Metevier will strive to continue to grow sales, reach new audiences and advance the company to become the most preferred, quick casual breakfast restaurant brand in the South.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Jim aboard during this exciting period of growth for Biscuitville,” said Burney Jennings. “His extensive experience building a high-performance company and strong track record of success will add depth to our team and position Biscuitville for an even brighter future. I look forward to working with Jim.”

It is an opportune time for Metevier to join Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN. Under Jennings’ leadership, the company has experienced 16 consecutive quarters of same store sales growth among its family of 54 restaurants, and this fiscal year, sales are estimated to hit a record $67 million. The recent addition of the company’s new lunch menu to many of its restaurants, coupled with Biscuitville’s expanded use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and key operational improvements, set the company on a trajectory of unprecedented growth the last several years.

As president, Metevier will focus on maintaining Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN’s leadership position in the quick casual marketplace and spearheading the company’s strategic business development. These growth initiatives include the addition of new restaurants, facility renovations, a company-wide rollout of its new lunch menu, operations and infrastructure improvements, and the addition of more staff to support new restaurant expansion.

Metevier brings a wealth of experience to Biscuitville’s leadership team and has an extensive knowledge base of operations, finance, development, marketing and strategic planning. Before joining Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN, Metevier worked for Yum! Brands for 22 years. Yum! Brands is one of the world’s largest restaurant companies and includes KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurant brands.

As territory general manager of the Eastern United States at KFC, Metevier led the turnaround of 1,000 stores bringing the region to rank #1 in the system. This accomplishment, coupled with a successful launch of a series of initiatives which significantly improved system performance, earned Metevier a promotion to become KFC’s chief operations officer in 2011. Metevier held this position for two years, before his last role as chief restaurant excellence officer.

“I look forward to joining the Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN family and building on the company’s success of the last 50 years,” said Metevier. “As a team, we will continue to enhance the guest experience in our restaurants and drive-thrus, reach out to new and younger guests, improve operational efficiencies, and ensure our food is the freshest, best-tasting, scratch-made food in the South.”

Before launching his career in the restaurant business, Metevier attended the University of Central Florida, where he received an undergraduate degree in psychology and a Master of Business Administration. Metevier relocated to Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Beth, and their three kids, Tyler, Rachel, and Ryan.

About Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN

Headquartered in Greensboro, North Carolina, Biscuitville FRESH SOUTHERN is a family-owned company that offers guests an authentic Southern Inspired dining experience. Known for making food the old- fashioned way, Biscuitville uses fresh, authentic ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible, and provides unparalleled hospitality. The company was founded in 1966 when owner Maurice Jennings opened two pizza restaurants in Burlington. After several years, the company added signature, made-from-scratch biscuits to its menu that were so well received, business boomed and the Biscuitville brand evolved. In 2014, the company expanded its lunch menu to include fresh-made sandwiches and sides, now available at select Triad locations and rolling out to other locations by the end of 2016. Today, Biscuitville employs over 900 people and operates 54 restaurants in North Carolina and Virginia. Biscuitville serves breakfast all day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers a lunch menu from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at select Triad locations. For more information, visit

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New managing partner at Robinson Bradshaw

PRESS RELEASE on September 2015 at 10:15:00 am 
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Sept. 14, 2015) – As the firm celebrates its 55th anniversary this month, Robinson Bradshaw is pleased to announce that Allen K. Robertson has been elected to serve as managing partner, effective Monday, Sept. 14.
He succeeds Robert Griffin, who will step down after almost 20 years of service as Robinson Bradshaw’s first managing partner. The firm created the position of managing partner in 1996 to fulfill founder Russell Robinson’s desire to transition day-to-day leadership. Griffin will remain with the firm and continue to assist in meeting client needs.
“Robert Griffin has led us as our managing partner during two decades of substantial development,” Robinson said. “We are indebted to him for so much of the success we have achieved and are very pleased to have Allen Robertson succeed him.”
Robertson entered private practice when he joined Robinson Bradshaw in 1989. Beginning as a bankruptcy lawyer and litigator, he ultimately focused his practice on public finance. Robertson also assists clients with a range of other corporate law matters, particularly within the banking, health care and senior living industries. He will continue to serve the firm’s public finance and corporate clients while acting as managing partner.
“I could not be more excited about, and humbled by, being asked to serve as managing partner,” Robertson said. “I also am confident that, even in a rapidly changing legal market, the expertise and experience of our lawyers, and a culture that keeps our lawyers focused solely on delivering excellent service to our clients, means that we are well-positioned for continued future success.”
Robertson was a Morehead Scholar and received his Bachelor of Arts degree with highest honors in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1985. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard University in 1988. Upon graduation from law school, Robertson served for one year as a law clerk to the Honorable James B. McMillan, U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
In 2013-14, Robertson served as president of the National Association of Bond Lawyers. He has been recognized in numerous publications, including Chambers USA and Best Lawyers, as a public finance lawyer of regional and national distinction, and is a Fellow in the American College of Bond Counsel. He has served on the firm’s board of directors since 2012 and as a member of the firm’s recruiting, business development and inclusion committees.
Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A. is a corporate and commercial law firm providing high-quality, comprehensive legal services. Founded in 1960, the firm has more than 130 attorneys with offices in Charlotte and the Research Triangle in North Carolina, and in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Visit for more information.

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Happy talk

Ogi Overman on September 2015 at 1:00:00 pm 
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Before doomsday pundits drop the last shovelful of dirt on the print media industry, they might want to visit N2 Publishing in Wilmington. There, a staff of about 200 graphic artists, sales managers, administrators and press operators produce 800 glossy, monthly publications that target neighborhoods in 500 cities in 48 states. Started in June 2004, N2 expects revenue to top $50 million this year, or about five times the $11 million recorded in 2011.

“Every 15 months our company doubles in size,” CEO Duane Hixon says. “We’re adding five to 10 employees a month.” Inc. magazine has ranked the company among the 1,500 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. for the last four years.   

N2’s concept is simple: Find a high-income neighborhood ranging from 200 homes to as many as 1,500. Then, hire an “area director” to sell yearlong ad contracts to merchants and service providers such as stockbrokers, while collecting editorial copy consisting mostly of articles promoting local businesses and describing kids’ activities, often written by moms. The ads and copy are sent to Wilmington, where cookie-cutter publications are produced and mailed to each home in a neighborhood, free of charge.

College friends Hixon and Earl Seals devised N2 after seeing similar publications in Atlanta, Austin and Indianapolis. “No one was really doing it on a large scale,” says Hixon, a general studies graduate of Indiana University. He began his first publication in his own Wilmington neighborhood, Farrington Farms. The company has since added six more neighborhoods in the Wilmington area.

Seals was living in St. Louis, and had started a handful of similar publications there. By 2008, Hixon, 39, and Seals, 44, were attracting assertive, sales-oriented people to take responsibility for all content, photos and advertising. After three days of orientation in Wilmington, area directors are mostly autonomous and receive much of the sales revenue, minus overhead charged by N2. If successful, they also earn a share of their publication’s equity. North Carolina now has at least several dozen N2 publications.

Don’t look for hard-hitting news about local issues. “Our motto is ‘turning neighborhoods into communities,’” Hixon says. “People like to know what their neighbors are doing, so we feature the folks in the neighborhood, anything from a remodeled kitchen, to a landscaping project in the backyard, to a son or daughter getting a scholarship to college. It’s all upbeat; we don’t get into any heated political or religious stories.”

Keeping it light, centralizing production and focusing on a small area is a savvy strategy in a time when  many publications struggle, says John Robinson, former editor of the Greensboro News & Record who now teaches at UNC Chapel Hill. “People want to connect with other people, and the smart papers and magazines have figured that out. Getting as local as you can, connecting neighbor to neighbor, can be a prosperous niche.”

The success of N2 has spurred copycat magazines around the country, so Hixon is courting new neighborhoods as fast as possible. “Say, we get the top six neighborhoods, they have to go to number seven, and it’s a harder gig. That’s how we keep the competition out.”

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