Table of Contents April 2012

April 2012

Cover story

Business's man

House Speaker Thom Tillis is North Carolina's most focused free-market legislative leader in a long time — maybe ever.
By Edward Martin

In the almost six years since voters in and around the Charlotte suburb of Cornelius dispatched Thomas Roland Tillis to Raleigh, he has inspired passion at both ends of the political spectrum. His has been a fast track, racing to a prominence few feel has peaked. Now in his third term, he vows he’ll serve only four, which would make him a free agent in 2014. He became speaker, arguably the second or third most potent political position in state government, just four years after he got there. 


Top Tar Heel golf courses

An annual ranking of North Carolina best 100 golf courses

Golf hews closely to tradition, so it’s not surprising that — for the 18th-straight year and despite a major facelift that was completed last spring — the North Carolina Golf Panel has named Pinehurst No. 2 the best course in the state.

Back in the high life

Once under a mountain of debt, a golf development near Sylva has a new owner, new business model and new hope.
By Spencer Campbell and Trent Bouts

The deliberately unoiled springs emit a drawn-out screech before the screen door slaps shut. The subliminal message is intended to romance prospective buyers visiting the sales office at Balsam Mountain Preserve with a sense of simpler times, and the rustic refrain does call to mind the bucolic existence of the families that settled this part of Appalachia. Of course, most of those clans were dirt poor, which is also a subtle similarity to the luxury-golf community near Sylva that was, until recently, about as broke as the Scotch-Irish pioneers that came before it.

Change of course

Tom Fazio might be North Carolina’s most esteemed course designer, but even he had to adjust to life after the recession.

Golf-course designer Tom Fazio talks to Business North Carolina Senior Editor Spencer Campbell about changes since the recession, the state of the Tar Heel golf industry and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton

Bank exchange

As North Carolina-based banks labor, out-of-state invaders take their place.
By Spencer Campbell

In 2001, North Carolina-based banks — led by Bank of America Corp. and First Union of Charlotte and Wachovia Corp. and BB&T Corp. of Winston-Salem — had a stranglehold over their own territory, controlling more than 99% of Tar Heel deposits. Ten years later, they housed less than 80%. 

Photo Feature

An eye for detail

These Burlington ocularists can't make the blind see again, but they do help make patients feel whole by making artificial eyes.
By Edward Martin, Photography by Steve Exum

When someone loses an eye, more than vision is lost. “Some patients may feel incomplete,” ocularist Anna Jefferson says. Artist, craftsman and technician, she’s one of a quartet of family members who make artificial eyes at Burlington-based Carolina Eye Prosthetics Inc. “Sometimes when I finish, my mom wants to know, ‘Did you make that person happy?’ I tell her, ‘I can’t do that. But the eye I made certainly looked good.’”



Up Front
A good walk.

NC Trend
How the economy turns.

Fine Print
What G.D. Gearino learned from a Week of Living Large.

Capital Goods
North Carolina has borrowed $2.7 billion from the federal government for unemployment benefits . Now the money has to be repaid.

Regional Report
Eastern Triangle Triad Charlotte Western

Special Advertising Sections and Publications

Travel and Tourism Round Table

Catawba County: Spreading the Word

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