Triangle among top life-science clusters

Spencer Campbell on June 2014 at 12:00:00 pm 
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The Raleigh-Durham metro ranks fourth among U.S. life-science clusters, according to Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s 2014 Global Life Sciences Cluster Report. It ranks behind Boston, San Francisco and San Diego, and is in front of New York City and Los Angeles. It was also fourth last year.

The report ranks clusters based on concentration of employment, employment growth, concentration of life-science establishments, venture-capital funding, National Institutes of Health funding and patents. Its employment (21,072) is 1.2% more than last year, while number of establishments (813) grew 5.2%. It racked up $262.6 million of venture capital (3.1% of the U.S. total) and $893.1 million from the NIH (4.0% of the U.S. total). (To read BNC's report on venture-capital funding in the biotech industry, click here.)

According to the report: “The Triangle’s rich talent pool, stable socioeconomic structure, proximity to universities and high quality of life has attracted some of the big names from the life sciences sector to the region. Agro-biotech firms have displayed strong growth in the past few years. The region is already home to four of the top five ag-tech companies including Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, BASF and Monsanto. Agro-biotech being one of the strongest industries in North Carolina, the state has the natural resources to support the research and development of these firms. Bayer CropScience recently completed a greenhouse laboratory on its campus and plans to double its investment in biotechnology operations over the next 5 to 10 years. Switzerland-based firm Syngenta announced plans to expand its campus in RTP by $94.0 million, which will bring 150 new jobs by 2018. Syngenta is also expanding its crop protection and seed development operations which will bring new laboratory and office facilities to its campus.”

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Welcome to the Hornets Nest

Spencer Campbell on June 2014 at 6:30:00 pm 
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The Charlotte Hornets’ quest to make Queen City residents care about basketball during the summer continued this week with the franchise’s unveiling of its new playing surface at Time Warner Cable Arena. The court goes all-in on the new/old name, with the hard-maple flooring — made by Cincinnati-based Robbins Sports Surfaces — displaying a “cell pattern.” The result ends up looking a little more like a honeycomb than a hornet’s nest, but we get the idea.

More important, from a business perspective, is another new addition: The Novant Health logo in front of both benches (and subliminally inserted on the big screen in the photo circulated by the team). “As the official healthcare provider for the team, Novant Health is proud to have our brand on this new court to further connect our two organizations,” Novant Health Executive Vice President and Chief Consumer Officer Jesse Cureton said in a statement. “We’re as excited as the rest of the community that the Charlotte Hornets are back.”

Also from the announcement: “The floor is made up of more than 200 sectional panels, each of which are 4 feet by 8 feet and weigh approximately 175 pounds. It features a revolutionary locking system designed to speed up arena changeovers and provide a tight, monolithic appearance. The floor is designed to enhance the safety, comfort and performance of the players as it will absorb about 60% of a player’s impact energy. The intent is to provide a surface that allows for exciting play while at the same time reducing wear and tear on the players’ bodies.”  

A few of those bodies will be decided tonight. The 2014 NBA Draft begins at 8 p.m., and it should be a big one for the Hornets. The team has the ninth pick and the 24th, as well as the 45th. This is being hailed as a talent-rich class, so here’s to hoping no Adam Morrison types get the privilege of Time Warner Cable’s cushy new floor.      

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Hanesbrands to acquire European apparel company for $550M

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 3:00:00 pm 
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Hanesbrands will acquire DBApparel, a Rueil-Malmaison, France-based underwear and intimate apparel manufacturer, for about $550 million.

It's another big acquisition for the Winston-Salem-based company, which paid $583 million for Iselin, N.J.-based Maidenform Brands in October.

DBApparel's largest brand is DIM, which accounts for about half of sales. The company also markets Playtex and Wonderbra, which also are sold by Winston-Salem-based Hanesbrands.

The two companies were both owned by Chicago-based Sara Lee Corp. until 2006, when Sun Capital Partners acquired DBA and Hanebrands became an independent, publicly traded company.

"Together, we will be a nearly $6 billion company utilizing our disciplined Innovate-to-Elevate strategy and leveraging our global supply chain," said Richard Noll, Hanesbrands' chairman and CEO, in a statement.

Hanesbrands employs 49,700 globally, including more than 3,200 in North Carolina.

The transaction could close as soon as the third quarter.

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North Carolina ranked No. 5 Top State for Business

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 11:00:00 am 
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North Carolina ranked fifth in CNBC's annual America's Top States for Business study, up from 12th last year.

The study used 56 metrics separated into 10 broad categories to gauge performance. The Tar Heel state earned high marks for the quality of its workforce and strength of its economy, but achieved lower scores in education and quality of life.

Categories are weighted based on criteria states use to market themselves for economic development. North Carolina earned 1,569 out of a possible 2,500 points in the study.

Cost of doing business, which was determined by factors including taxes, utility costs and rental costs for office and commercial space, was given the most weight. Access to capital carried the least weight.

Georgia ranked at the top of the list, followed by Texas, Utah and Nebraska.


Here are the results for North Carolina:

Rank Category
5 Overall
23 Cost of Doing Business
4 Workforce
34 Quality of Life
4 Economy
21 Infrastructure & Transportation
12 Technology & Innovation
33 Education
19 Business Friendliness
17 Access to Capital
14 Cost of Living
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Lighter tax burden in N.C.?

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 6:00:00 pm 
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The local tax burden lightened in North Carolina in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to a new report by the John Locke Foundation, the Raleigh group that promotes limited government.

Local tax and fee collections were 3.9% of per capita personal income in 2012, down from 4.2% the previous year. More recent information is not available.

State and local governments collected about 10 cents of every $1 earned by North Carolinians in 2012. State taxes accounted for 6%, with local governments making up the balance, according to the report, which was based on the  State Treasurer’s annual financial information report.

Durham had the heaviest local tax burden, 5.7% of per capita income, among North Carolina’s 10 most populous counties. Here are how they ranked by tax collections as a percentage of income.

Durham 5.66%

Mecklenburg 5.44

Guilford 5.02

New Hanover 4.84

Gaston 4.56

Forsyth 4.56

Buncombe 4.52

Wake 4.44

Union 4.04

Cumberland  3.11 

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BNC honored for Editorial Excellence

Spencer Campbell on June 2014 at 1:30:00 pm 
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Business North Carolina won four 2014 Editorial Excellence awards from The Alliance of Area Business Publishers on Saturday during the organization’s summer conference in Baltimore. “The annual competition recognizes excellence in journalism, photography and design achieved by regional business publications,” according to the press release announcing the awards. “Twenty-seven judges are comprised of faculty members from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, with qualifications in respective area of expertise.”

BNC won two gold awards in the magazine competition. Senior Contributing Editor Edward Martin took home first place in Best Body of Work for “Out of Sight,” “A Place Apart,” “Wordly Things” and “Critical Care.” "Martin’s stories are fine examples of how to humanize business stories without losing sight of the numbers,” the judges noted. “The writing has many lovely turns of phrase that keeps the reader engaged to the very end.”

Editor-In-Chief David Kinney and Merissa Jones, our then-art director, were awarded gold in Best Cover for February 2013’s “Always Low Wages." "BNC took Wal-Mart’s slogan and happy-face visuals and turned it on its head to create a humorous cover with an edge,” according to the judges. “The title focuses the magazine’s angle on the impact of low wages on the economy."

In the Best Local Coverage of a National Business/Economic Story category, open to magazines and newspapers, the judges awarded a silver prize to contributing editor Ken Otterbourg for his piece on blu eCigs, "Vapor Trails." “Using social media, great graphics and wonderful story-telling, Otterbourg tells the fascinating story of the birth of e-cigarettes. Lots of detail is packed in the story, giving great twists and insight about how an industry is being re-invented amidst health concerns and heavy regulation.”

Finally, Kinney, Art Director Jim Denk and Managing Editor Spencer Campbell won bronze in Best Recurring Feature, also an open category. “The ‘Regional Report’ uses inviting graphics and crisp text to show readers from anywhere in North Carolina how their own locale stacks up. The beautifully illustrated data sets cover an impressive array of topics.”

The competition featured more than 659 entries, up from 573 the year before.






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NC unemployment rate rises in May

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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North Carolina's May unemployment rate increased to 6.4%, up from 6.2% in April. The U.S. rate remained at 6.3%.

The number of people in the labor force grew by 18,982, while the number of people unemployed increased by 8,795, or 3% over the previous month.

The leisure & hospitality industry had the largest net increase in jobs over the previous month, adding 7,400 workers. The professional and business services industry posted the largest decrease, with 3,400 fewer jobs.

Government and manufacturing jobs showed the largest year-over-year decrease.

The information was reported by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

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Triangle ranked 2nd for growth prospects

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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Raleigh-Cary will rank among the nation’s five fastest-growing metro areas over the next seven years, according to a report issued by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Economic output in Raleigh-Cary will expand 4.3% annually between 2013 and 2020, trailing only Austin, Texas, among the 100 largest metros, the report predicts. Durham-Chapel Hill is fifth, trailing Fayetteville, Ark., and Riverside, Calif., in the report by IHS Global Insight, a New York-based research firm.

Charlotte ranked 19th with annual growth of about 3.5% expected. Greensboro-High Point is predicted to expand by 2.7%, and Winston-Salem 2.6%.

The report notes that the Charlotte metro — which includes Gastonia, Concord and Rock Hill, S.C., and is the 22nd largest economy in the U.S. — makes up about 26% of the state's total output. The Triangle (Raleigh-Cary and Durham-Chapel Hill) accounts for 22% and the Triad (Greensboro-High Point and Winston-Salem) 13%.

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Charlotte Partnership CEO says S.C. has unfair recruiting edge

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 4:23:00 pm 
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Charlotte-area companies considering relocating within the region shouldn’t get incentives tied to their existing jobs, Charlotte Regional Partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant says.

Bryant wants lawmakers in Raleigh and Columbia, S.C., to change the rules to create a more even playing field, which he says is now tipped in South Carolina’s favor.

Earlier this week, South Carolina lured Boston-based LPL Investment Holdings Inc. and Chesterbrook, Pa.-based Amerisource Bergen Corp.’s Lash Group, which announced plans to move a combined 2,200 jobs from Charlotte to Fort Mill, S.C. Both companies now have offices in Charlotte within 15 miles of their new locations.

South Carolina was able to count existing employees at LPL and Lash as “new” jobs as part of their incentives offering, with additional benefits provided if the companies add more positions as expected. North Carolina doesn’t permit such incentives to retain current employment levels, Bryant says. LPL plans to eventually employ 3,000 people at the Fort Mill site, CEO Mark Casady told reporters June 16.

Bryant’s organization includes representatives from 12 counties in North Carolina and four in South Carolina, and its purpose is to promote the region without favoritism. The state of North Carolina has paid dues since the group was launched in 1991, though funding is ending on June 30, Bryant says. South Carolina has never contributed to the partnership.

“When you consider incentives, South Carolina is in a much better position because they have more flexibility in their incentives program,” Bryant says. “The state of North Carolina isn’t structured to provide incentives for existing jobs.”

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U.S. senators condemn e-cigarette companies over marketing tactics

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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At a U.S. Senate committee meeting Wednesday, lawmakers harshly criticized e-cigarette companies, saying they intentionally market their products to youth and children.

The debate, reported by Reuters, came a day after Reynolds-American announced it will roll out distribution of its VUSE electronic cigarettes across the U.S. The Winston-Salem-based company said in May it was creating 200 jobs at its plant in Tobaccoville to manufacture VUSE cigarettes.

Leaders of e-cigarette companies say their ads are targeted only to adults.

The use of e-cigarettes among teens in America doubled between 2011 and 2012, Reuters reports, and the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reported this month that youth exposure to e-cigarette ads on TV increased 256% from 2011 to 2013.

It's still unclear if any health risks are posed by use of e-cigarettes. But the FDA has proposed a rule that would extend its regulatory authority to cover e-cigarettes and would prohibit sales to youth.



How e-cigarettes work:

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Asheville's FLS Energy plans eight new solar farms in NC

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 10:00:00 am 
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FLS Energy, ranked as North Carolina's fastest growing company in 2011 and 2012 by Inc. magazine, will build eight new solar farms across North Carolina. The projects will add 38 megawatts to the 50 megawatts of solar projects FLS owns and operates in the Southeast. Charlotte-based Duke Energy will purchase the electricity generated by the solar farms.

The Asheville-based company, started in 2006 by co-founders Dale Freudenberger and J. Hardy LeGwin, announced in May it had received an undisclosed amount of money for expansion.

Investors include Hanover, N.H.-based New Energy Capital Partners; the CleanTech Alliance Fund, managed by Minneapolis-based North Sky Capital; and Alexandria, Va.-based Novus Energy Partners.

FLS plans to add a total of 80 megawatts in 2014 and 150 megawatts in 2015.

The company's 2012 revenue was $38.6 million, according to Inc. magazine.

Earlier this week, Green America named FLS Energy one of three winners of its quarterly "People and Planet" award. The Washington, D.C.-based environmental advocacy group recognized U.S. companies with 50 or fewer employees for their commitment to the environment in business strategies and operations.


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Corporate welfare wars, Carolina style

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 11:00:00 am 
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South Carolina whipped North Carolina and its biggest city in the corporate welfare wars this week, leaving Nikki Haley beaming and Pat McCrory dismissive.

Giti Tire Corp., based in Singapore, picked a site 40 miles south of Charlotte for its first U.S. plant. The $560 million factory next to Interstate 77 may lead to 1,700 jobs in a region that lost its textile industry over the past 20 years because its homegrown companies couldn't compete with imports from China and other Asian nations. Giti now makes its tires in China.

Lash Group, a health-care consulting company owned by Chesterbrook, Pa.-based Amerisource Bergen Corp., is consolidating offices into a $57 million headquarters in Fort Mill, about five miles from the state line and 15 miles from its executive offices near the Charlotte airport. It plans to move 1,200 jobs there. Lash's growth from a tiny consulting firm is one of Charlotte's most impressive success stories over the past 20 years.

LPL Investment Holdings Inc., a Boston-based brokerage and investment-advisory company, is moving 1,000 Charlotte workers to Fort Mill. In 2006, LPL entered Charlotte through its purchase of Uvest, which helped smaller banks sell mutual funds, annuities and other investment products. Uvest, founded by veteran Charlotte banker John Robison, started in downtown Charlotte.

South Carolina is promising various “incentives” to the three companies, including about $38 million to Giti for land and road development.

Free money is a can’t-miss opportunity for the companies, each publicly traded. Amerisource Bergen Inc. has a market cap is $16 billion, while LPL’s is $5 billion. Giti is valued at about 4.7 billion Chinese yuan, or about $750 million at recent conversion rates. But every penny counts when companies play states and cities off each other during relocations and expansions. 

South Carolina Gov. Haley took credit for using other peoples’ money. “We are the nation’s tire capital, and Giti’s decision to come to our state is another great sign that our economic development efforts are paying off for the hardworking people of South Carolina,” she said in a statement.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory made lemonade. “I’m not going to get in a bidding war for jobs that are 5 miles away from where most of the employees are going to be working,” he told Time Warner Cable News June 17. “Many of those employees are going to be living and spending their money in North Carolina.” The moves will result in less income tax and property tax collections for Charlotte and North Carolina, more for York County and South Carolina, but not enough to sweat over, Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan insists. He says the relocations show how North Carolina needs to lower its taxes to compete with South Carolina.

“Charlotte doesn’t need anybody’s sympathy,” Morgan says in a telephone interview. “Our regional economy is growing, and this is hugely positive for the economy. We’ll get our share.”

While it’s no fun to lose promising, growing companies that provide paychecks for more than 2,000 people, it was only a few weeks back that the Charlotte Knights, a minor-league baseball team, moved to downtown Charlotte from Fort Mill, Morgan notes. For North Carolinians, that’s “our share.”

One suspects Haley would take that trade any day of the week.

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Citi's look at N.C. real estate

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 3:30:00 pm 
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              Research analysts at Citigroup Inc. issued a June 16 report after recently meeting with executives at real-estate investment trusts with big holdings of North Carolina commercial real estate, including Highwoods Properties Inc., Duke Realty Corp. and Parkway Properties Inc. Their report provided some interesting nuggets:

Highwoods Properties wishes it had built a bigger PNC Plaza building in downtown Raleigh because of greater demand for space than expected. The 33-floor building, formerly known has RBC Plaza, is the tallest building in Raleigh and has about 730,000 square feet.

MetLife is paying rent in the upper-$20 per square foot range at its new campus in Cary, which fronts Lake Crabtree and is near Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Charlotte’s 525 North Tryon Building, though only four blocks from Hearst Tower, has been a challenge to lease by Parkway Properties, which bought the office building for $47.4 million in 2012.

Technology tenants are seeking space in downtown Charlotte, particularly in “edgier” buildings. It isn’t just bankers and lawyers anymore.

Liberty Property Trust bought five office buildings in Durham, totaling 705,000 square feet, for $44 million on June 12. The buildings are fully leased.

Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh industrial real estate markets are “in the earlier innings of the cycle” with less vacancy and higher rents. Opening of an inland port in Greer, S.C., and Norfolk Southern Corp.’s new intermodal site next to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport are driving demand for warehouse space in the Carolinas.

Apartment developers are willing to pay more for land than office developers in the major North Carolina cities, mirroring a national trend

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Canadian manufacturer to invest $16M in Burke County sock plant

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 1:00:00 pm 
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Richelieu Legwear will invest $16 million in a new Burke County sock-manufacturing plant and add 205 jobs by the end of 2018.

The Canadian company acquired assets of International Legwear Group in Hildebran, near Hickory, in 2011 and currently employs 60 people at an existing plant.

The expansion is supported by a long-term commitment from Walmart, its main customer, according to a press release from the governor's office.

Richelieu could receive up to $2.9 million over 12 years from the state Job Development Investment Grant program if it meets job creation goals.

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Michael Jordan just became a billionaire

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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After increasing his ownership stake in the Charlotte Hornets from 80% to 89.5% in recent months, Michael Jordan is now a billionaire, Forbes magazine reports.

Jordan's net worth outside of the Hornets is estimated at $600 million, and his ownership stake in the NBA team makes his equity worth an estimated $416 million, according to the report.

Jordan, 51, topped Forbes' list of Highest-Paid Retired Athletes of 2013 with overall earnings of $90 million, mostly due to sales of his Nike Jordan Brand apparel and shoes. 

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Lenovo expanding U.S. operations

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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Lenovo has leased 10,000 square feet of office space in Danbury, Conn., but the world's largest PC maker isn't ruling out further expansion in North Carolina.

A company spokesman said the company's new offices, which will allow it to work closer to customers in the Northeast, would not impact North Carolina operations, reports. Lenovo has not announced how many or what type of jobs it will add in Connecticut.

Lenovo's pending $2.3 billion acquisition of IBM's x86 server unit will give it about 7,500 additional employees globally and is expected to double its employment in Research Triangle Park. The company now employs about 2,200 at its North American headquarters in Morrisville and 300 at a production and fulfillment center in Whitsett. (Take a look inside Lenovo's plant in our September 2013 photo feature, "The China trade")

Related: Top Tech companies in North Carolina

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U.S. Opens a recruiting opportunity for state officials

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 2:30:00 pm 
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Gov. McCrory plans to use the men's and women's U.S. Opens as a platform to recruit new businesses to the state and encourage existing ones to expand here.

The men's Open Championship is being held this week in Pinehurst, followed by the Women's U.S. Open next week. The USGA expects 400,000 people to attend the golf tournaments.

"The state of North Carolina will be on a world stage for the next two weeks, and we want to take full advantage of that to show people what a great state this is," McCrory said in a statement.


Read more in Business with Pleasure, featured in our April issue, which includes the top 100 Tar Heel golf courses as ranked by the North Carolina Golf Panel.

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Partnership of regional councils releases report on growing jobs in NC

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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The North Carolina Association of Regional Councils of Government released a report that identifies challenges to regional and state economic development efforts and provides strategies for overcoming them.

Here is a summary of goals presented in the report:

1. Build on the Region’s Competitive Advantages and Leverage the Marketplace: Grow and maintain the state's business and industry clusters, including those in rural areas.

2. Establish and Maintain a Robust Regional Infrastructure: Includes airports, interstate highways, broadband access and natural environment amenities such as national parks and forests.

3. Create Revitalized, Healthy and Vibrant Communities: Both urban and rural areas should actively work to revitalize or maintain city and town centers and create vibrant communities where people of all ages want to spend time.

4. Develop Talented and Innovative People: Prepare youth, unemployed and underemployed workers for high-skill, in-demand jobs and develop statewide initiatives to align training and educational programs with in-demand occupations.

To read more about the NC Tomorrow initiative and view the full report, click on the link below:

NC Tomorrow: Building Communities for Tomorrow's Jobs

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NC tax revenue up 4.7%

Spencer Campbell on June 2014 at 12:00:00 pm 
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The U.S. Census Bureau has created a interesting infographic on tax revenue of states, which is up everywhere except Wyoming and Alaska. North Carolina's rose 4.7% in fiscal 2013, but, as we'll show in the July issue, has yet to return to pre-recession levels.

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Cisco expands in RTP with state help

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 11:45:00 am 
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Cisco Systems Inc. is adding 550 jobs at its Research Triangle Park offices by the end of 2017, the company said today. State incentives related to the expansion could total as much as $12.9 million over 12 years, according to a statement from Governor Pat McCrory’s office. The San Jose-based company now employs 4,600 people in North Carolina and more than 74,000 overall.

Average annual salary will be at least $72,000 with jobs in finance, operations and network services  Cisco said. Wake County’s average wage is $49,410.


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BNC Bancorp expands in Charleston

David Mildenberg on June 2014 at 4:45:00 pm 
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BNC Bancorp., a High Point-based bank that was the best performing bank stock in the Southeast last year, plans to buy Harbor Bank Group in Charleston, S.C. for $50.6 billion in stock.

The purchase would push the total assets of BNC past $4 billion, the company said in a statement. It operates as Bank of North Carolina in the Tar Heel State and BNC Bank south of the border.

Harbor National opened in February, 2006 after raising $29.3 million, the second highest amount raised in South Carolina at that time, according to the bank. Its assets now total $306 million with about $250 million in deposits.

Harbor National CEO Charlie Rivers will remain with BNC, Callicutt said. Rivers and several other Harbor managers worked together at SouthTrust Bank in Charleston before the Alabama-based bank’s sale to Wachovia Corp.

BNC’s stock increased 58% over the past year through June 5, compared with a 17% gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Its biggest holder, with more than 20% ownership, is New York-based Aquiline Capital Partners LLC.The Harbor Bank deal is expected to close late this year. 

BNC Bancorp CEO Rick Callicutt describes his bank’s growth strategy in the June issue of Business North Carolina.    

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Getting Piketty

Spencer Campbell on June 2014 at 11:00:00 am 
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Had enough of a certain French economist, yet? Too bad. Here's some gasoline to throw on the income-inequality fire started by Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Bloomberg Rankings recently released a list of the income disparity in each congressional district. They measured inequality using the Gini Index, where one means all the wealth is held by one person and zero means wealth is distributed evenly among all residents. Here’s how North Carolina’s districts measure up.

U.S. rank         N.C. district   Representative (party)        Gini Index

70                    1                     G.K. Butterfield (Dem)           .4825

 76                    5                     Virginia Foxx (Rep)               .4809

 101                  9                     Robert Pittenger (Rep)          .4733

 114                  4                     David Price (Dem)                 .4696

 147                  10                   Patrick T. McHenry (Rep)     .4646

 166                  12                   vacant, formerly Mel Watt (Dem)    .4606

 210                   6                    Howard Coble (Rep)             .4534

 241                   7                    Mike McIntyre (Dem)             .4488

 272                   2                    Renee Ellmers (Rep)             .4441

 276                   8                    Richard Hudson (Rep)          .4436

 280                   13                  George Holding (Rep)           .4431

 289                   11                  Mark Meadows (Rep)            .4414

 357                   3                    Walter B. Jones (Rep)           .4298


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Gov. McCrory signs fracking bill

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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Gov. Pat McCrory today signed the Energy Modernization Act of 2014, otherwise known as the "fracking" bill. It will pave the way for shale-gas exploration in North Carolina.

In a press release, the McCrory administration says the law could create much-needed jobs in rural areas and spur economic development not just in the energy sector but in other industries as well, including retail and hospitality businesses that would support gas workers.

While natural gas doesn't burn as clean as renewable sources such as solar, natural gas-fired power plants emit about half the greenhouse gas of coal plants. Newer gas plants use a combined-cycle technology that allows them to achieve lower carbon-dioxide emission rates, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the Obama administration's plan to reduce greenhouse emissions, released earlier this week, North Carolina's power plants have to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. (The New York Times compares the current attack on coal to the war on tobacco in the 1990s, noting that North Carolina has a large stake in both industries.)

While opponents of fracking worry about the unknown implications of drilling, including potential harm to drinking water, supporters view it as a way to move away from the era of coal as the primary source of energy.

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Former Charlotte mayor to plead guilty to corruption charge

Cathy Martin on June 2014 at 4:00:00 pm 
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Patrick Cannon is expected to plead guilty to one count of honest services wire fraud on Tuesday, the Charlotte Observer reports. The plea is an admission of the former mayor's use of public office for personal gains.

Cannon resigned following his FBI arrest on March 26. Documents released today show he is charged with accepting up to $70,000 in bribes; he was originally accused of accepting $48,500. (NCtrend, May 2014)

The document accuses Cannon, 48, of soliciting and accepting bribes from the owner of an adult entertainment club which was located along the path of the Blue LIne light-rail extension in north Charlotte.

That man is believed to be David "Slim" Baucom, owner of MAL Entertainment, one of the largest strip club operations in the Southeast, which included the now-demolished Twin Peeks night club on N. Tryon St. Cannon is accused of accepting a $2,000 payment from the businessman to influence city officials to allow the club to continue to operate on the property.

Cannon faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.


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