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STATEWIDE Charlotte Region

NTE hopes to get ahead by steam

NTE Energy will invest $450 million to build a 480-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Kings Mountain. The project will create 250 to 350 temporary construction jobs and, once operational, employ 25 to 30 with annual salaries ranging from $36,000 to $94,000. The St. Augustine, Fla.-based company will generate electricity using technology that turns steam emitted as a byproduct from a gas turbine into additional energy via a steam turbine. It’s the third such plant the company has in development; others are in Texas and Ohio. Construction will begin in early 2015, and the plant could begin operating by mid-2018.


CHARLOTTEIrongate Home Finance will establish its headquarters here and create 125 jobs over 18 months. Founded by former Zurich-based UBS AG and New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co. executives, the mortgage company plans to open five regional offices and create 75 to 100 jobs annually over the next five years.

CHARLOTTEKellogg Co. will close its local snack plant by year-end, idling about 200. The closing is part of Project K, a multiyear cost-cutting initiative that the Battle Creek, Mich.-based food company announced in November.

CHARLOTTEUNC Charlotte opened a $35 million, 96,000-square-foot business hub on its technology-research campus here. Dubbed PORTAL — Partnership, Outreach and Research to Accelerate Learning — it will house its Ventureprise business incubator, formerly the Ben Craig Center. It will provide workspace and mentors for 20 to
24 startups and companies with annual revenue of less than $2 million. Vice Chancellor Robert Wilhelm estimates PORTAL will help companies create as many as 2,000 jobs within 10 years.

CHARLOTTEFJS Thermal Transfer Ribbon USA will expand its operations here, creating up to 30 jobs over the next three years. The Chinese company, which makes ribbons for fax machines and barcode printers, will add distribution, sales and customer service operations to its 200,000-square-foot fulfillment center, where it employs 200.

HICKORYAlex Lee, parent of Lowes Foods and Merchants Distributors, promoted Brian George, its president since 2011, to CEO. He succeeds his father, Boyd George, who will remain chairman. Lowes Foods has 98 grocery stores in the Carolinas and Virginia. Merchants Distributors supplies retail items to more than 600 grocery stores in 11 states.

CHARLOTTE Charlotte Douglas International Airport canceled plans for a 53-megawatt solar project (Regional Report, January) that would have been one of the largest in the state. Airport officials said panels might interfere with future construction plans. Panels proposed for parking-deck rooftops and canopies were nixed because the airport’s plan to sell power to Duke Energy could have jeopardized tax-exempt bonds for parking projects.