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Popular Raleigh restaurateur files for bankruptcy protection

Gauravkumar “G” Patel, founder and president of restaurant management company Eschelon Experiences, has filed for bankruptcy protection. His company operates several Raleigh restaurants and bars including Mura in North Hills and Cameron Bar and Grill, Edwards Mill Bar and Grill and The Haymaker bar. He also co-owns Social Beverage Company and owns a small percentage of Raleigh Raw. Filings indicate Patel has assets totaling $1.1 million, but he owes $2.57 million.

AT&T taps Albert Rabon as N.C. president

Telecommunications giant AT&T Corp. has named Albert “Trey” Rabon as North Carolina president. He succeeds Venessa Harrison, who now serves as president of AT&T Georgia. Rabon has worked at AT&T since 1999. The Dallas-based Fortune 10 company has had 34 consecutive years of quarterly dividend growth and had revenue of $45.7 billion in the third quarter of 2018.

Company eyes Brunswick County for 240-job expansion

An unnamed New Jersey manufacturer is eyeing Navassa’s old U.S. Marine building in a project that may add nearly 240 jobs.  The company is seeking a $700,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Rural Development Building Reuse Grant to retrofit the building, which requires Brunswick County to provide a 5% local match, according to the Wilmington Star News. The project has been dubbed “Project Pavement.”

CresCom Bank taps South State’s Robin Lyle to lead Charlotte expansion

Charleston, S.C.-based CresCom Bank is expanding into the Charlotte market, naming Robin Lyle as Charlotte market leader and senior vice president. Lyle previously was president of the North Carolina market for South State Bank. CresCom Bank, which is the operating unit of publicly traded Carolina Financial Corp., has $3.7 billion in total assets. Plans call for initial offices in Charlotte.

PNC Arena’s annual economic impact tops $200M, report says

PNC Arena in Raleigh, which opened in October 1999, has had a $4 billion economic impact on Wake County over two decades, the Centennial Authority says in a new report. The authority, an appointed body, is the arena’s landlord. It wants to make improvements that could cost as much as $300 million. The venue hosts the Carolina Hurricanes and N.C. State University basketball.

VF Corp. stock jumps more than 12% on strong earnings

VF Corp., a Greensboro-based apparel company, saw its shares jump more than 12% after reporting an 11% increase in overall revenue for the third-quarter, totaling $3.91 billion. The results beat analysts’ predictions. VF’s brand The North Face saw a 19% increase in wholesale revenue. VF Corp.’s jeanswear spinoff Kontoor Brands Inc. will split from VF in the first half of this year, while VF plans to move its headquarters to Colorado.

Federal employees working without wages ineligible for N.C. unemployment insurance

Federal employees who have been working without pay during the government shutdown are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits from the state, according to The News & Observer. The U.S. Department of Labor has stated furloughed federal employees are not eligible for state unemployment insurance because they would eventually be paid for the time they worked. Parts of the federal government have been shut down for 31 days, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

ECU officials discuss impact of enrollment decline

Competition from three UNC System schools that are offering $500-per-semester tuition is affecting East Carolina University, where enrollment declined by 413 students last fall, university officials told ECU trustees. Declining population in parts of eastern North Carolina and greater competition for rural students also are factors, Chancellor Cecil Staton and other campus leaders said.

Cary’s NCI Building Systems to acquire Charlotte masonry contractor for $186M

Housing-products company NCI Building Systems Inc., which merged with Cary-based Ply Gem last year, is acquiring Environmental StoneWorks, a Charlotte masonry contractor, for $186 million. Environmental StoneWorks CEO Chuck Stein will serve as president of the combined stone businesses. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter. NCI  has more than 20,000 employees at 80 locations in North America.

Real-estate startup Knock raises $400M

New York-based real-estate startup Knock raised $400 million in a financing round led by Foundry Group. Knock entered the Triangle and Charlotte markets in 2018 and has 15 full-time employees in North Carolina. Knock offers a home trade-in program where it buys a homeowner’s house and moves them into a new house before putting the old house on the market.

Federal funding for new RDU runway may fall short

Raleigh-Durham International Airport plans to replace one of its main runways, and officials expected the federal government to cover half or more of the project’s estimated $350 million cost. However, FAA officials said at a meeting last fall that RDU could only receive about 10% of the project cost. RDU officials say the airport and its customers would have to make up the difference. The new runway would be 1,500 feet longer than the existing one, which could help RDU’s efforts to gain nonstop service to China.

NC business leaders call for increased Pre-K enrollment

Business leaders are asking state officials to increase pre-kindergarten enrollment by more than 15,000 children. SAS CEO Jim Goodnight and other N.C. business leaders say there are an additional 32,728 children who meet the state’s requirements NC Pre-K, a program for at-risk 4-year-olds, but aren’t being served. Goodnight is calling on lawmakers to increase funding for NC Pre-K and study recommendations from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Tennessee’s SmartFinancial acquiring Franklin’s Entegra Bank

Knoxville, Tenn.-based SmartFinancial Inc. is buying Franklin’s Entegra Financial Corp. in a stock transaction valued at more than $150 million. SmartFinancial has about $2.3 billion in assets, while Entegra has $1.7 billion. The merged company will have 47 branches in the Southeast. Headquarters will be in Knoxville. Entegra CEO Roger Plemens is expected to lead the company’s Carolinas operations. The transaction is expected to close mid-year.

Mooresville’s IntraPac merges with Mebane plastics manufacturer

IntraPac International LLC, a Mooresville-based packaging designer and manufacturer, is merging with plastics manufacturer Technical Precision Plastics Inc. Technical Precisions Plastics has manufacturing locations in Mebane and Haina, Dominican Republic. IntraPac, which has more than 800 employees, has 12 manufacturing plants in Canada, the U.S., Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.

UNC board to remove Chancellor Carol Folt at end of month

The UNC Board of Governors voted to accept UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt’s resignation — but with a slight catch. They decided to remove her at the end of the month, not the end of the semester as stated in her resignation announcement. Folt resigned amid infighting and discourse about UNC’s Silent Sam Confederate monument that once stood on campus. The base of the statue was removed earlier this week by Folt’s orders.

Cary’s TowerCo raises $300M, taps new CEO

Cary-based wireless-infrastructure company TowerCo raised $300 million in new capital as part of a newly formed partnership with private-equity firm Peppertree Capital. Ohio-based Peppertree invests in communications-infrastructure companies and has more than $1 billion under management. TowerCo named Todd Boyer CEO. Boyer has worked at TowerCo since it was started 14 years ago.

Three financial-services firms team up to invest $70M in Charlotte affordable housing

Ally Financial, Bank of America and Barings, three financial-services companies with a large presence in Charlotte, announced a combined investment of $70.75 million for affordable housing in the area. The investment marks the largest private-public initiative of its kind in the Queen City. More than 40% of renter households in Mecklenburg County spent more than 30% of their gross income on housing in 2016.

Durham’s Vast Therapeutics raises $15M from Japanese firm

Durham-based Vast Therapeutics, formerly called Novoclem Therapeutics, has raised more than $15 million from Japanese firm Shionogi & Co. The pharmaceutical company plans to use the money for clinical trials of its treatment for lung infections later this year. Vast is led by CEO Neal Hunter, co-founder of Cree Inc. and managing director of KNOW Bio, Vast’s parent company.

LabCorp partners with Texas nonprofit

Burlington-based life-sciences firm LabCorp has entered into an agreement with Texas Association of Community Health Centers Inc. to conduct lab testing for the company. The Austin, Texas-based nonprofit has 75 health centers with more than 500 locations across Texas. LabCorp with serve more than 1 million TACHC patients in the partnership.

UNC Chancellor Carol Folt to resign, Silent Sam pedestal to be removed

UNC Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt will resign after graduation in the spring. The announcement was a surprise; UNC Board of Governors Chairman Harry Smith said the group was unaware of Folt’s decision before it was made public, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Folt, who has led the campus since July 2013, also ordered the removal of the Silent Sam confederate statue’s pedestal from the campus.

Queen University taps new president

Charlotte’s Queens University has named Daniel G. Lugo as president. Lugo currently serves as vice president of advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. He will take the reins at Queens starting July 1. Lugo succeeds Pamela Davies, who will serve as a professor at the McColl School of Business. Queens enrolls about 2,500, including graduate students.

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