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BofA closing 10% of its Chicago-area branches

Charlotte-based Bank of America is closing 16 branches in the Chicago area in July, about 10% of the footprint in the nation’s third-biggest metro area. BofA is Chicago’s third-largest bank by deposits and plans to close six offices in the city and 10 in various suburbs. Bank officials say they expect to open 11 new branches over the next few years that will help achieve faster growth.

RDU to add first craft-beer taproom

Raleigh Brewing Co. plans a craft beer tavern at Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s Terminal 1, marking the first of its type at the site. The tavern will also sell coffee from North Carolina’s Port City Java. Raleigh Brewing is among the state’s few women-owned breweries in the state, led by CEO Kristie Nystedt.

VF’s Rendle tops list of highest-paid Triad executives

VF Corp.’s Steven Rendle, who is moving the apparel company’s headquarters to Denver, was the highest-paid CEO based in the Triad with 2018 compensation of $13.7 million, a study by the Winston-Salem Journal shows. Greg Gantt of Old Dominion Freight Lines was second at $9.7 million, while Gerald Evans Jr. of Hanesbrands collected $8.8 million. VF is spinning off its jeans business, Kontoor Brands, with shares of the new company expected to start trading on May 22. Kontoor is based in Greensboro.

Raleigh’s McConnell Golf takes over management at Wilmington club

Raleigh-based McConnell Golf is taking over management at Porters Neck County Club near Wilmington. The club recently filed a federal lawsuit against its insurance company, Allied World Assurance Co., alleging the firm failed to honor its contract after Hurricane Florence caused $7.5 million damage to the course. The suit claims the insurer has only paid $750,000 of $6 million that should have been covered. The club features a Tom Fazio-designed course and is located along the Intracoastal Waterway.

Division of Marine Fisheries eyes Elizabeth City for long-term home

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, part of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, is looking for a long-term lease in Elizabeth City to continue offering services to the Albemarle area. The department employs between 17 to 20 in Elizabeth City, including biological and licensing staff. The Division of Marine Fisheries is seeking about 8,900 square feet of office space and 15,400 square feet of outdoor parking and hopes to sign a lease by October.

Lawmakers debating eastern NC wind farms’ impact on military bases

Large wind-energy projects such the proposed Amazon Wind Farm near Elizabeth City may hinder the military’s low-level flight training in eastern North Carolina, according to Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and others favoring state legislation that would block the alternative energy projects. Lawmakers recently learned that the Department of Defense is not influenced by reviews of projects by the department’s Siting Clearinghouse when considering potential base closings or realignments. Military installations are among the region’s leading economic forces and need to be protected, Brown says.

NC sues e-cigarette giant JUUL, alleging products marketed to minors

North Carolina is suing  JUUL, alleging the e-cigarette giant marketed its products to minors and lied to consumers about the safety of its products, according to The News & Observer. The state seeks to ban most e-cig flavors from being sold within North Carolina. The lawsuit states that one in 20 N.C. middle-school students and one in six N.C. high-school students have vaped in the last month.

Goodnight investment boosts Durham’s KNOW Bio

Durham-based KNOW Bio, a spinoff of Novan, raised $30 million in a private stock offering. The funds come from SAS CEO Jim Goodnight’s investment firm Reedy Creek Investments. The 20-employee pharmaceutical company is developing a nitric oxide platform to treat infections. KNOW Bio plans to hire a vice president of drug development, chief medical officer, clinical operations specialist, a controller and a sales director.

Garner ag-tech firm Growers Holdings raises $4M

Growers Holdings raised $4 million from six investors, including Raleigh-based Tiverton Advisors. The Garner-based ag-tech firm, founded by N.C. State University alum Steven Valencsin, will use the money to add technology and expand its platform. The 42-person company helps farmers use data to reduce costs and make informed decisions. Growers completed a $5 million fundraising round last August.

State Health Plan pushes ahead with controversial reimbursement plan

The State Health Plan posted its reimbursement contracts for medical-care providers that want to stay in-network for more than 720,000 teachers and other state employees. The plan ties reimbursements for plan members to Medicare rates, an approach called “reference-based pricing.” The plan is the state’s largest buyer of medical and pharmaceutical services with $3.2 billion spent in 2017. The N.C. hospital industry opposes the reimbursement proposal and is promoting legislation that would block State Treasurer Dale Folwell’s effort to institute the program. Folwell, who oversees the State Health Plan, says the new approach will provide higher payments to most independent primary care physicians and many rural hospitals, while trimming some spending with specialty physicians.

AmeriHealth Caritas North Carolina chooses Raleigh for local HQ

AmeriHealth Caritas North Carolina plans its state headquarters at a leased space in Raleigh’s Brier Creek Corp. Center. The 82,000-square-foot location will house more than 300 employees and will start working with North Carolina Medicaid enrollees in November. The health care management company operates in 11 states and Washington, D.C., with more than 5 million members.

David Weekley Homes plans project in inner-city Charlotte neighborhood

David Weekley Homes, a Houston-based homebuilder, is planning a complex of 56 townhomes, 68 paired homes and three single-family residences on a 12.4-acre property in Charlotte’s Villa Heights neighborhood, just north of downtown. Home prices will start in the mid-$300s. Scott Fuller and Greg Godley with Legacy Real Estate Advisors and 5 Point Realty’s Michael Doney represented the sellers. David Weekley Homes’ high-density Central Living unit is also building projects in nearby neighborhoods.

 

Traffic soars 45% at Asheville airport in early 2019

The Asheville Regional Airport reported 297,000 passengers in the first quarter ending March 31, a 45% increase from the same period a year ago. Carriers including American Airlines, United Airlines and Allegiant Air have added flights. The airport is planning an expansion of its aircraft ramp and terminal, estimated to cost $150 million to $200 million. Construction will begin in mid-to-late 2021.

Duke Energy’s cybersecurity penalty sparks industry concerns

Charlotte-based Duke Energy’s $10 million fine in February for violating the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s critical infrastructure protection rules raised concerns over regulation of the U.S. utility industry. It was the largest cybersecurity-related penalty in NERC’s history, though other big utilities including PG&E and DTE Energy have also been fined. Duke did not confirm, deny or comment on any enforcement filing issued by NERC, according to Utility Dive.

Durham county manager presses increased property tax rate

Durham County Manager Wendell Davis proposed a 3.3% increase in the tax rate from 68.92 to 71.22 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation in his recommended $657.5 million budget. Durham property owners would also pay an additional city property tax. The proposed budget calls for a $7 million increase in education spending, adding 22 employee positions and replacing 40 public safety vehicles.

Charlotte Hornets revamping business team

The Charlotte Hornets are shuffling franchise leadership following the departure of Chief Operating Officer Pete Guelli earlier this month. Senior vice president of ticket sales and services Jacob Gallagher will now serve as chief revenue officer. Josh Kramer, vice president of partnerships and creative services, will lead the new brand-management division. Senior vice president of marketing Seth Bennett will lead the new fan experience and traditional marketing division. The Hornets, valued at $1.3 billion by Forbes, employ 160 on its business side.

Charlotte-based publishing distributor to cut three dozen local employees

Charlotte-based publishing distributor Baker & Taylor is getting rid of its retail wholesale business and laying off 37 workers at its corporate headquarters. Layoffs will be completed by Sept. 30. The distributor is also closing its Bridgewater, N.J., distribution facility, cutting 250 workers, in addition to closing its Reno, Nev., warehouse, cutting 200 workers there. Illinois-based Follet Corp. acquired Baker & Taylor in April 2016.

New Cary mall owners plan office space, residential units, hotel

The new owners of Cary Towne Center mall are planning a major revamp of the facility, including adding office space, residential units and a hotel. The first phase of the plan calls for a 300-room hotel and an eight-story parking deck, 1.2 million square feet of office space, 360,000 square feet of commercial space, and 1,800 residential units. Turnbridge Equities and Denali Properties purchased the mall in January $31.5 million.

Cary VC investor David Gardner pockets 30X return on ArchiveSocial

Cary investor David Gardner, who was the first backer of Durham-based ArchiveSocial, earned a 30-fold return on his undisclosed investment after the company raised $53 million from New York private equity group Level Equity. Gardner, who founded Cofounders Capital, sold all of his shares, as did former AOL co-founder Steve Case, another early investor. ArchiveSocial helps government agencies, police and schools archive their social media.

German floor-finishings company moving from Charlotte to Anson County

German-owned Loba-Wakol is moving its operations and 24 jobs to Wadesboro from Charlotte. The new jobs will have an annual average wage of $43,750, higher than Anson County’s average of $33,358. The new facility will house administrative, technical, sales and warehousing workers. The company, which makes finishing products for parquet and hardwood floors, received $343,000 in state and local incentives.

Moravian cookie makers savor plan to gain official state designation

Making the Moravian cookie the state’s official cookie cleared the N.C. House by a 115-0 vote last week with action pending in the Senate.  The designation may spark benefits for producers in the Winston-Salem area including Dewey’s Bakery, now owned by former Krispy Kreme Corp. CEO Scott Livengood, and Old Salem’s Winkler Bakery, which sells 350,000 Moravian cookies annually.

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty gets N.C. State honorary degree as Red Hat merger nears

N.C. State University awarded IBM CEO Ginni Rometty with an honorary degree. Rometty delivered the university’s commencement address on Saturday, ahead of IBM’s $34 billion purchase of Raleigh’s Red Hat, expected to close later this year. Separately, Tim Humphrey, IBM’s vice president of chief data office, said Big Blue will make sure “the Red Hat brand stays intact.” He told WRAL Techwire that retaining the Raleigh-based software company’s innovation and culture “is easier to do than people would think. We are looking at how we can grow well together.”

Last 2 N.C. independent dailies form partnership

The Daily Record in Dunn and The Wilson Times, North Carolina’s last two family-owned daily newspapers, formed a strategic partnership and media management company that involves sharing resources while remaining independent. Bart and Brent Adams and Maere Kay Lashmit, who own The Daily Record, and Morgan Dickerman, who owns The Wilson Times, created Restoration Newsmedia on April 30. Dickerman and Bart Adams are co-chairmen. The Daily Record also publishes the twice-weekly Courier-Times in Roxboro and the weekly Mount Olive Tribune, while The Wilson Times publishes weekly papers in Spring Hope, Kenly, Wake Forest and Creedmoor.

Duke CEO Good scolds South Carolina over recent financial rulings

Duke Energy Corp. is disappointed in recent regulatory rulings in South Carolina and may be less likely to invest in the Palmetto State, CEO Lynn Good said on a conference call with analysts. S.C. officials ruled that Duke’s return on equity is limited to 9.5% versus Duke’s request of 10.75%. They also cut about $150 million in coal-ash cost recovery sought by Duke subsidiaries. The utility is still considering a possible bid for the state-owned Santee Cooper utility, Good said.

Northwood starting its first Ballantyne office building, plus apartments

Charlotte’s Ballantyne Corporate Park is gaining an 11-story tower and adjacent apartment building. It’s the first development by New York-based Northwood Investors since it bought the 4 million-square-foot office park from Bissell Cos. for $1.2 billion in 2017. It will be the tallest tower in the corporate park, with plans for completion by 2021. Northwoods Ravin, a partnership that includes Charlotte developer David Ravin, is developing the apartments.

Feds considering big timber sale in Nantahala National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service is considering one of the biggest timber sales in the Nantahala National Forest’s nearly 100-year history. Conservation groups are criticizing the proposal because of the impact of logging and road-building in a wilderness area. Others say it will improve forest health and wildlife habitat. The land is in southeastern Clay County in the Tusquitee Ranger District.

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