Months of political infighting came to a head with the dismissal of the executive director at Greensboro’s International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Accounts vary on the reasons behind Lacy Ward’s firing in November after seven months on the job, though his restructuring plans upset some of the nonprofit’s directors. No one disputes that the museum has struggled financially since opening in 2010. The center commemorates civil-rights efforts, particularly the sit-in movement launched by four N.C. A&T University students at the F.W. Woolworth lunch counter in 1960. Recent reports aren’t available, but the museum lost $700,000 between 2010 and 2012 and has no reserve. The city provided a $1.5 million loan in 2013 that can be forgiven if the museum raises an equal amount by July. After Ward’s firing, Mayor Nancy Vaughan proposed the city take over management. The board rejected that plan amid accusations that white politicians wanted to control an institution co-founded by black leaders Earl Jones and Skip Alston. “I think the city should financially support the museum, but I do not think the museum’s legacy and future should be under the control of a political entity,” board Chairwoman Deena Hayes-Greene says. She categorizes the situation as “typical nonprofit problems” and says the board plans to hire a new development director, raise more private money and possibly increase the $10 admission price. The museum has received more than $4 million from state and local governments. While its problems have caused racial divisions, the money at stake is minimal compared with Charlotte’s NASCAR Hall of Fame. It has debt of $170 million, even after the Queen City got more than $20 million in relief from Bank of America, Wells Fargo and NASCAR in January. “We pale in comparison to that,” Hayes-Greene says.
WINSTON-SALEM — Reynolds American subsidiary R.J. Reynolds Tobacco will donate its 124-acre Whitaker Park manufacturing campus to a local nonprofit. Opened in 1961 as the world’s largest cigarette plant, the campus has been largely vacant since Reynolds started moving manufacturing to its Tobaccoville plant in 2010. Whitaker Park Development Authority, a group created by Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem Alliance and Winston-Salem Business, will study potential uses for the site, which includes about 1.7 million square feet of commercial and industrial buildings.
WINSTON-SALEM — Gvest Capital and Trinvest acquired the 20-story, 240,000-square-foot BB&T Financial Center from Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland Private Capital for $60 million. Gvest Capital is a Pineville-based investment partnership led by Ray Gee, former president of London-based Royal & Sun Alliance subsidiary FSL Advisors. Trinvest is owned by Atlanta investor Tyson Rhame.
GREENSBORO — Stan Kelly became interim president and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, replacing David Powell, who is returning to the private sector. Kelly, 56, retired last summer as Carolinas regional president for San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.
GREENSBORO — The Fresh Market named Sean Crane interim chief executive officer after President and CEO Craig Carlock resigned. Crane has been chief operating officer of the grocery chain since 2012. Carlock became CEO in 2009. Based here, The Fresh Market operates 168 stores in 27 states, including 19 in North Carolina.