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Regional Report Western August 2008

Virginia has one. Texas has a bigger one. North Carolina wants another one. Why are inland ports popular? Supporters say they’re worth millions in trade and can create hun- dreds of jobs to prepare containers for shipping. Proponents who persuaded legislators to appropriate $50,000 to study one for western North Carolina say it doesn’t matter that Wilmington, the state’s largest seaport, is 360 miles away.

Rolling in the “D’oh!”

One of the many unhealthy similarities between journalists and politicians is that both run the risk of becoming wedded to a particular policy or point of view. Intellectual flexibility is a desirable quality in both professions, yet intoo many cases when the circumstances change … Oh, hell. Enough of the throat clearing and pussyfooting. I need to just man up here and say it: The state’s Global TransPark might prove to be a success after all.

Coming down the line

Outside, Charlotte is coming to life. Back home from a nearby YMCA and showered, a muscular man with a shaved head buttons his starched shirt and loops a striped tie under its collar. Four floors down the elevator and out on the street, he walks half a block, then waits in an open-sided shelter. A recorded voice breaks the stillness: “Train approaching.”

Economic outlook

“The North Carolina automobile-insurance system is — no holds barred — the very worst in the country,” says Eli Lehrer, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that touts free markets and limited government.

Regional Report Triad June 2008

Despite his experience with Skybus Airlines, Henry Isaacson is not down on discount carriers. The chairman of Piedmont Triad International Airport says Skybus, which shut down less than three months after opening a hub at the Greensboro airport, showed PTI could thrive with one. “We had more than 81,000 passengers fly on Skybus through March. It was the airport’s No. 1 carrier.”

Stoplight up ahead

Each day, tractor-trailers unload goods at warehouses or stores in and around Charlotte. For many, the stop marks a brief foray into North Carolina. They’ve come from Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or distributioncenters set up along interstate highways to serve those ports.

Regional Report Western May 2008

They’re finally getting somewhere with the Road to Nowhere. Sixty-five years after hundreds of Swain County families were moved to make way for Fontana dam and lake, officials are negotiating a settlement to compensate the county for the federal government’s broken promise to build a road to ancestral lands and 32 isolated family cemeteries.

Regional Report Triad April 2008

Antilles Seaplanes, the Gibsonville company that wants to resurrect the famed Grumman Goose seaplane (cover story, July 2006), plans to have a production line running early next year. The company has purchased two buildings in Graham to house production of the $2.9 million aircraft.

Regional Report Triangle April 2008

Nearly two years ago, when it dropped its bid for federal funding of a 28-mile, $810 million commuter-train line, the Triangle Transit Authority made it clear that the project had been sidetracked, not derailed. Increased global demand for concrete and steel had jacked up the cost, and changes in federal requirements made money harder to get.

Economic outlook

Tony Copeland left the N.C. Department of Commerce in December after four years as assistant secretary for business development and trade. He’s now president of the international division of Raleigh-based Longistics Transportation Inc. At Commerce, he oversaw international trade and the state’s efforts to recruit and retain companies. From 2003 to 2006, the first three years of his tenure, the number of private-sector jobs in North Carolina grew 7%.

Is this any way to run a railroad?

You can't live through an election season without hearing a candidate or two prattling on about how they intend to take on the "special interests" and return the government to the people. What about when the politicians and the government are the special interest?