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Skanska to build $137M STEM center at N.C. State

Artist rendering of $136.7 million science building being built on the N.C. State University campus.

N.C. State University picked multinational contractor Skanska to build the $136.7 million Integrative Sciences Building, marking one of the biggest UNC system projects of the year.

The 164,947-square foot building will be used to promote STEM teaching and research as part of the university’s efforts to expand science education. It will include classrooms, teaching and research labs, faculty spaces and a cafe.

Departments using the building will include chemistry, biochemistry and biotechnology research.

The building will “revitalize the marquee Brickyard, one of the nine hallowed places on the north campus,” said Mark Balling, Skanska’s executive vice president for North Carolina and Virginia building operations, in a release. Richmond, Virginia-based Moseley Architects is the building designer.

The project is expected to be completed in September 2026.

Skanska, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden, has previously built several N.C. State structures, including Fitts-Woolard Hall; the Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center; the James B. Hunt Jr. Library; and Engineering Building III at N.C. State.

Sweetpotato or sweet potato? Here’s why N.C. group says one word is right

Twice Baked, Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Melting Butter and Cracked Pepper

The North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission wants some help in teaching the rest of the world how to spell its sweet-tasting root vegetable. Specifically it says “sweetpotato” is one word and not two, no matter how many dictionaries and writing guide books, including The Associated Press Stylebook, insist differently. 

“Grammatically, when it is two words, ‘sweet’ becomes an adjective describing a noun ‘potato’ – not a specific species of plant/vegetable. Other examples that support this logic and are single words would be eggplant and sweetgrass to name a few,” says Michelle Grainger, executive director of the Benson-based N.C. Sweetpotato Commission, in an email exchange.

This debate especially matters in the Tar Heel state, says Grainger. Since 1971, North Carolina has been the top sweetpotato producer in the nation, now responsible for about two-thirds of all sweetpotato grown nationwide, she says. The value of North Carolina’s sweetpotato crop was $391.9 million in 2021, up 17% from $332 million in 2020, but down 1% from 2019, according to The Packer, a trade publication that has yet to adapt to the one-word form of sweetpotato.

Sweet potatoes
About 88,000 acres of land in North Carolina grew sweetpotato in 2022, according to N.C. State University.

In 2019, the N.C. Sweetpotato Commission lobbied the state legislature to make sweetpotato one word. The bill passed and Gov. Roy Cooper signed it – even though my computer spell check puts a squiggly red line underneath sweetpotato, indicating its utter lack of knowledge.

The Sweetpotato Commission even started an online petition in 2022 at to help correct the spelling to one word. The group is now within 102 signatures of its 1,500 goal. Feel strongly about this? You can help out the cause by clicking here and signing the petition.

Other arguments from the N.C. Sweetpotato Commission:

  • The one-word spelling has been in place since 1989 within research/scientific circles.
  • A sweetpotato is not a potato nor is it a yam, the latter being seemingly more offensive.
  • Sweepotatoes are part of the morning glory plant family and a white (Irish) potato is part of the nightshade plant family – so genetically they are only distantly related
  • Nutritionally, they are entirely different. Most give the nod to the sweetpotato as being more healthy and the potato has a lot of unhealthy preparations – think french fry.
  • Sweetpotato is a root vegetable, potato is considered a tuber.

The sweetpotato is primarily grown on the coastal plain of eastern North Carolina. Here are the top 10 sweetpotato-producing counties in North Carolina: Johnston, Nash, Edgecombe, Sampson, Wilson, Columbus, Cumberland, Greene, Wayne, and Wake. Sampson, Johnston, Wilson and Nash account for about half of the state’s supply.

Getting journalists – and maybe English teachers – to turn their back on writing guides will be no easy task.

Electronics company closing Iredell County plant, 97 workers losing jobs

General Microcircuits East West will close its Mooresville plant, resulting in the loss of 97 jobs.

A 40-plus-year-old Mooresville company that manufactures specialized electronics, including circuit board assemblies, plans to shut its doors, resulting in the loss of 97 jobs, according to paperwork filed with the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The first layoffs at General Microcircuits East West will take place April 22 and involve 11 workers. Parent company East West plans to close the North Main Street plant, which will mean another 86 employees lose their jobs there. East West did not give dates for the closure or return phone and email messages seeking comments.

General Microcircuits sold its products to automatic meter reader manufacturers, medical, safety, defense and other industries, according to its website. The company was founded in 1980 in Mooresville by Ruffus Dalton, Staton Williams, and Joe Weddington and operated out of a 95,000-square-foot facility. Dalton’s son, Dave Dalton, took over in 1990.

In 2011, the company added a manufacturing facility in San Jose, the capital city of Costa Rica.

Atlanta-based East West Manufacturing acquired General Microcircuits in January 2019. Dave Dalton was CEO of General Microcircuits at the time. East West also has U.S. operations in Wisconsin, Texas and Massachusetts, and international operations in Canada, Costa Rica, Vietnam, China, India and Mexico.

Iredell County had an unemployment rate of 3% in December 2023, and the same rate a year earlier.

Loparex closing Eden plant, 91 employees losing jobs


Cary-based Loparex announced Thursday it would close its manufacturing plant in Eden over the next six months resulting in the loss of 91 jobs. The layoffs will occur over two phases, with the first beginning May 1 and the second occurring Sept. 1. Private equity firm Pamplona Capital Management acquired Loparex in 2019.

HanesBrands receives bids for Champion brand that may exceed $1 billion


The potential HanesBrands Inc. sell-off of its global Champion brand may be reaching the final stage with a potential $1.4 billion bid on the table, according to a Thursday report on The apparel trade publication based its latest report on sources familiar with the bidding process that had a Wednesday deadline for offers.

N.C. high court weighs who should benefit from a $677.8M education improvement plan


The future of education in North Carolina made its way back to the North Carolina Supreme Court Thursday. Lawyers in the long-running Leandro public education funding lawsuit argued over whether all of the state’s schoolchildren should benefit from a proposed plan to improve North Carolina public education — or whether the plan should be thrown out.

Bids for I-26 Connector project come in hundreds of millions of dollars above projected cost


Bids for the main sections of the I-26 Connector in Buncombe County are at least $184 million higher than the projected cost of $915.8 million, according to North Carolina Department of Transportation documents, likely delaying the project and pushing its price higher. The bids were opened in Raleigh and live streamed by the North Carolina DOT.

Chinese cranes scrutinized at North Carolina ports


The Biden administration is ordering Wilmington and other key U.S. seaports that own and operate Chinese-made container cranes to make certain their cybersecurity program is in order. Officials coupled the move to the issuance of a maritime advisory that underscored the need to “verify the integrity and security of on-board crane devices and networks.”

Sanford, Lee County OK incentive packages for Project Biobloom


After Lee County commissioners gave the green light for the Sanford Area Growth Alliance to negotiate with a pharmaceutical manufacturing company looking at locating in Sanford, the City of Sanford followed suit in its meeting Tuesday. If Project Biobloom, as it is known, does come to Lee County it would represent a $190 million investment.

Haywood Regional moving forward with growth, upgrades


Haywood Regional Medical Center is growing to serve the county’s increasing population — and with that comes the need to recruit high quality nurses and doctors. HRMC has implemented new initiatives to help with that goal, according to HRMC CEO Chris Brown. To recruit nurses, HRMC is offering a $30,000 signing bonus paid out over three years.

WNC college adding climate studies program after discontinuing 5 majors last year


Just months after announcing it was discontinuing majors in five fields of study, Warren Wilson College announced it will be introducing a new academic program. The new program, announced in a Feb. 13 news release, is a Master of Science in applied climate studies. This comes after the Swannanoa college discontinued five majors in October 2023.