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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.

Defense industry company adding 25 jobs in Elizabeth City


TCOM, a manufacturer of air surveillance systems, will add 25 new jobs in Pasquotank County, according to a release from the state. The company will expand its Elizabeth City operation with an investment of $763,000.

TCOM is a leader in “lighter-than-air” persistent elevated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems for the defense and aerospace sectors in the United States and foreign governments. Founded in 1971, the company designs, manufactures, and provides full life cycle sustainment for its portfolio of products including tethered aerostats and unmanned aerial systems. TCOM will expand its operational capabilities of the manufacturing, test, and integration campus in Elizabeth City to add training, engineering, and lab space in its 300,000-square-foot plant.

“Expanding our operations in Elizabeth City is part of our growth strategy and continues our investment in Elizabeth City and the surrounding communities we support,” says TCOM CEO Ron Bendlin in a release. “By adding jobs to the region, we’re not only strengthening our company, but we’re also making a tangible difference in people’s lives.”

The new positions include assemblers, engineers, technicians, logistics specialists, mechanics, quality inspectors, and other personnel. While wages will vary by position, the average annual wage is estimated to be $49,894 exceeding the Pasquotank County average of $44,457. These new jobs could potentially create an annual payroll impact of more than $1.2 million for the region.

A performance-based grant of $75,000 from the One North Carolina Fund will help TCOM’s expansion in North Carolina. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and create jobs. Companies receive no money upfront and must meet job creation and capital investment targets to qualify for payment. All One NC grants require matching participation from local governments and any award is contingent upon that condition being met.

Charlotte man pleads guilty to investment fraud


A 26-year-old Charlotte resident pleaded guilty to wire fraud for defrauding over 100 victims of more than $700,000 through a fraudulent investment scheme.

Frank Mercado executed an investment fraud scheme in which he caused more than 100 investors to suffer almost $700,000 in losses from July 2019 to December 2022, according to plea documents and court proceedings.

Mercado’s victims included friends, former co-workers, and other social acquaintances.

Mercado induced the victims to invest their money by holding himself out to be an expert in options trading with years of experience and a successful track record.

As part of the scheme, Mercado falsely represented to victim investors that he would use their money for options trading and similar investments through his hedge fund, Tiger-Wolf Capital. Instead of investing the funds as promised, Mercado used a substantial portion of the investors’ money to fund his personal lifestyle, including to make large credit card payments and pay for personal expenditures such as Airbnb rentals, restaurants, and bars.

As Mercado admitted in court, he also used the investors’ money to make Ponzi payments to previous investors.

Court documents show that with the money that he did invest, Mercado suffered trading losses and then lied to investors about the performance of their investments.

For example, Mercado periodically sent updates to victim investors through emails, text messages, or screenshots of purported account portals that reflected fictitious trading gains. He also made false and fraudulent statements to investors about substantial returns on their investments in order to induce his victims to invest additional money with him or to leave their current investments with him.

Mercado was released on bond following his plea hearing. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. A sentencing date has not been set.


Platoon of workers keeps Pinehurst No. 2 ready to challenge world’s best at U.S. Open


The help for the Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 golf course maintenance staff has more than quadrupled for the week of the U.S. Open. It comes from near and far to help the crew, which has grown to more than 120 for the world’s best golfers, work more efficiently. The first round tees off this morning.

Leggett & Platt plans closure of High Point facility


Diversified supplier Leggett & Platt will close its facility in High Point. The Carthage, Mo.-based maker of furniture and bedding components issued a WARN notice on May 20. The notice, which was received by the state of North Carolina on June 10, indicates that Leggett will close the facility, resulting in the elimination of 158 positions.

Solar factory could employ 815 people in Cumberland County


A manufacturer in the solar industry may open a $159 million plant south of Fayetteville and hire 815 people. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to hold a public hearing on Monday to listen to comments on whether county taxpayers should give the company $3.5 million in grants to open the plant there.

Protocase taps Wilmington for first U.S. growth


Protocase, a Canadian rapid manufacturing and prototyping firm serving the aerospace and defense industries, plans to set up an office in the city of Wilmington-owned Skyline Center on the north end of downtown this summer, according to a release. Within five years, the company plans to establish a manufacturing facility that could employ around 400 people.

North Carolina bans recreational flounder fishing for ‘24 season


Annual flounder removals have consistently exceeded state quotas. During the first two flounder seasons, recreational anglers removed more than double the quota; in 2021, removals were four times the quota. For the first time, there will be no recreational fishing season in North Carolina for the southern flounder this year. Last year’s season was two weeks.

Greensboro billionaire Roy Carroll sells Rhino Times


Scott Yost has seen the Rhino Times in many different iterations during his two decades at the publication. He will now be taking into its next phase as the owner after buying it from prominent Greensboro businessman Roy Carroll, who announced recently in a column that he would be selling to the paper’s long-time reporter.

Brunswick residents argue planning board has too much authority


Residents in one of North Carolina’s fastest growing counties have repeatedly argued the county’s planning board approval process disproportionately represents developer interests, noting board members charged with approving developments have donated to the commissioners who selected them. Brunswick’s planning board has final authority to approve development applications unless they are appealed, then it goes to commissioners.

Nash hemp product manufacturer sets high standards, advocates for regulations


Asterra Labs in Nash County touts itself as North Carolina’s first manufacturer of pharmaceutical-grade hemp products, emphasizing high-quality products. Not only is their 10,000 square-foot facility in Nashville shipping thousands of products since 2019, but the team advocates for doing things right and is becoming a leader in an emerging industry by educating the next generation.