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Friday, May 24, 2024
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Skanska to build $137M STEM center at N.C. State

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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.

Sullenberger Aviation Museum approaching Charlotte takeoff

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Sullenberger Aviation Museum will open in Charlotte on June 1, 2024. The former Carolinas Aviation Museum closed in 2019l One of the centerpieces will be the plane Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger landed in the 2009 "Miracle on the Hudson."

The former Carolina Aviation Museum reopens Saturday, June 1, with a new name, in a new location and a renewed commitment to be more than just a place that puts an emphasis on the Tar Heel state’s status as “First in Flight,” says Stephen Saucier, museum president.

The Sullenberger Aviation Museum – which takes its new name after now-retired pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, known for the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” landing – hopes it can spark an interest in young minds about a career in aviation.

“If we want to do something about getting kids interested in STEM programs (science, technology, engineering and math) and address economic mobility, we need to develop a museum that’s about workforce development,” Saucier says.

Sullenberger Aviation Museum President Stephen Saucier talks about opening of museum as a plane lands at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

As Saucier spoke, a plane would land every few minutes a few hundred yards outside his office window on a runway at Charlotte Douglas International, the world’s seventh busiest airport and where about 20,000 people work. He says the museum – and its proximity to the airport – can create a wow factor in young minds.

The museum needs to heighten its relationships with young people in the west Charlotte neighborhoods surrounding the airport, he says, pointing out that 20 low-income public schools are located within a 10-mile distance. Those children, he says, may not realize the close-by opportunities that exist in aviation careers.

“A museum is really, really good at intrinsic motivation, trying to get a child inspired to dream about what they can do in this career,” says Saucier, who has been with the museum since 2017.

The former museum closed after losing its hangar space at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in 2019. A subsequent $34 million community fundraising effort followed, led by Charlotte-based Falfurrias Management Partners Chair Marc Oken, a Navy aviator in Vietnam and former chief finance officer of Bank of America.

Dozens of individuals, companies and organizations gave hundreds of thousands of dollars. Digital media company Red Ventures gave $1 million. Its CEO Ric Elias was a passenger on that fateful USAirways flight that landed in the Hudson River after a flock of Canada geese destroyed its engines. Actor Tom Hanks portrayed Sullenberger in the 2016 film “Sully,” which scored an 85% and 84% on rottentomatoes.com’s Tomatometer and audience rating, respectively.

Charlotte-based Honeywell donated $1.5 million for an enhanced display of the A320 “Miracle on the Hudson” plane (the museum has had the plane since 2011) and its auxiliary power unit that played a role in its safe landing; a maker space; career center to connect students and adults with STEM-based careers.

A total of 45 aircraft will be on display at the 105,000-square-foot multi-buildng campus, including replicas of the Wright Flyer and glider planes, a McDonnell F-4S Phantom II, a Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak used to test breaking the sound barrier, a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, an ERCO Ercoupe, an American Champion Citabria and a Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Some aircraft will be displayed outside, others in buildings and a replica hangar.

Rodgers-Leeper, an association between Charlotte-based Rodgers and R.J. Leeper was the general contractor on the project, with Charlotte-based Barringer Construction volunteering to manage the project. Charlotte-based Progressive AE was the architect. Australia-based Freeman Ryan Design was in charge of visitor experience and interactive designs. All of the companies provided services at discount rates, Saucier says.

The museum will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., noon to 4:30 p.m. Sundays, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Admission prices are $24 for adults; $20 for seniors, veterans, military and educators; $18 for students 17 and under; free for members and children under 5. Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.sullenbergeraviation.org/buy-tickets/. Annual membership costs range from $75 for an individual and $200 for a family (two adults, a caregiver and up to six children).

Those prices may be steep for those living in the communities surrounding the airport, and elsewhere, says Saucier. After opening day, tickets will be available for $3 per person if someone in their group has a valid SNAP/EBT (food stamps) card. Those with a valid SNAP/EBT can can buy a year membership through the website for $30.

New effort to connect NC small businesses to global economy

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The Port of Wilmington plays a large role in exporting North Carolina products to the world.

North Carolina is already a major player in exporting goods around the world, and a new initiative launches next week to help small businesses access global markets.

The North Carolina Minority Business Development Association and small business CyberAlliance will launch the North Carolina Export Initiative on Wednesday.

RTI International (Research Triangle Institute) will kick things off with a launch event at its Research Triangle Park headquarters, including offering programs on trade strategy and cybersecurity that improve export readiness.

The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 29, at 3040 E. Cornwallis Road, Durham. To register click on this link.

Here’s some quick facts about North Carolina and exports from the U.S. Treasury: 

  • In 2023, North Carolina exported a record $42.2 billion of goods to the world.
  • In 2021, exports from North Carolina supported an estimated 128,000 jobs.
  • North Carolina was the 14th-largest state exporter of goods in 2023.
  • In 2023, North Carolina goods exports were $42.2 billion, an increase of 44% ($13 billion) from its export level in 2013.
  • In 2023, North Carolina exported $40 billion of manufactured products.
  • North Carolina exports of manufactured products supported an estimated 116,000 jobs in 2021. 
  • Goods exports accounted for 5.5% of North Carolina GDP in 2023.

The export initiative aims to ensure small businesses are aware of federal and state programs to help them develop trade strategies.

“The multiplier effect of exports benefits the entire supply chain and related industries, driving investment and infrastructure development,” said Angela Sellars, director of the N.C. Minority Business Development Association.

Speakers for Wednesday’s event include North Carolina Congresswomen Valerie Foushee and Deborah Ross and Durham Mayor Leonardo Williams.

Carolina Hurricanes looking for new general manager

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Don Waddell, president and general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, announced Friday, May 24, 2024, he would be leaving the team.

The Carolina Hurricanes are looking for a new president and general manager after Don Waddell announced his resignation Friday.

Waddell joined the Hurricanes as president in 2014 and assumed the additional duties of general manager in 2018.

Waddell says he told team owner Tom Dundon on Friday that “now is the time for me to move to the next chapter of my career.

“I have loved my experiences in the Triangle over the past 10 years, and together with a strong team, on and off the ice, we have accomplished many great victories,” Waddell says in a statement released by the team. “I am grateful for the support I have received from so many loyal Caniacs. This organization is in strong, capable hands and well-positioned for the future,” 

The Athletic reported that Waddell interviewed with the Columbus (Ohio) Blue Jackets on Thursday about its open general manager position and that the Hurricanes had already had conversations about a new general manager in anticipation of his departure.

Eric Tulsky has been named interim general manager, and a full search has begun for a permanent general manager. Darren Yorke will support Tulsky with managerial duties while continuing in his role as assistant general manager.

As president, Waddell oversaw team business operations. As the ninth general manager in franchise history, the Hurricanes won at least one round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs during each of his six seasons in charge of hockey operations. In comparison, the state’s other two major professional teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Hornets, have not made the playoffs since 2017 and 2016, respectively.

The Hurricanes 2024 season ended with a 4-2 second-round playoff loss to the New York Rangers. The team beat the New York Islanders in the first round.

The Hurricanes also have sold out each of their last 67 games at PNC Arena, including regular season and postseason, marking the longest sellout streak in franchise history.

Waddell is a native of Detroit and previously served as general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers from 1998-2010 and won the Stanley Cup as an assistant general manager with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.

Tulsky has spent 10 seasons with the Hurricanes, originally joining the organization as a consultant in 2014, and then becoming a hockey analyst in 2015. He was named manager of hockey analytics in 2017, before being promoted to vice president of hockey management and strategy in 2018.

Since being named assistant general manager in 2020, Tulsky has been involved in all player personnel decisions, overseen pro scouting and the team’s hockey information department, and assisted with player contract negotiations, salary cap compliance, and other hockey-related matters.

The Philadelphia native holds a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

UNC System eliminates DEI policy across college campuses

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The UNC System Board of Governors, which oversees public colleges and universities in the state, voted Thursday to repeal and replace its policy on diversity and inclusion, a move that could lead to the elimination of diversity-related positions at schools across the state. Dozens of students planned protests before the final vote.

Charlotte airport workers walk off job before Memorial Day weekend

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Charlotte airport workers went on a 24-hour strike Thursday over pay and benefits leading into Memorial Day weekend, which is expected to be the airport’s busiest ever. Service Employees International Union said dozens of workers from ABM, a provider of airline and aviation services, made the decision to walk off the job after threatening to Wednesday.

AG Stein brings $12M suit against owner of closed Canton paper plant

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North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is suing Illinois-based Pactiv Evergreen. He alleges that the company closing Canton’s century-old paper mill and throwing more than 1,000 people out of work violated the terms of a $12 million state economic incentives grant Pactiv has refused to return. The Citizen Times reached out to Pactiv for comment.

Kitty Hawk Planning Board recommends proposal for more worker housing

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The Kitty Hawk Planning Board has helped make it easier to create more worker housing. According to Kitty Hawk Director of Planning and Inspections Rob Testerman, the proposed text amendment would “allow owners of non-residential properties the ability to construct residential units on their non-residential property, aimed at providing housing for workers in the area.”

Asheville hospital losing urologists, physicians

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Mission Hospital is facing an exodus of urologists, and five physicians from a local urology group refuse to practice at the HCA Healthcare-owned hospital, potentially reducing the number of specialists in the system to two by summer. The urologists’ departures follow a larger pattern of employee exits from the hospital during the past five years.

Neighbors of proposed ‘driving resort’ organizing to block it

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Some residents of northwest Moore County are organizing to try to block development of a proposed luxury driving resort just south of Randolph County that was announced last week. Two main concerns are the noise and the conversion of historically agricultural land into what opponents view as a frivolous, polluting playground for the wealthy.

Cape Fear PUA approves 4.6% average bill increase

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The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board has approved its fiscal year 2025 operating budget, a total of $120 million, a 6.3 percent increase from the FY24 budget total of $113 million. Under the new budget, the average residential customer’s monthly bill for combined water and sewer will increase by $3.38 (4.6 percent) beginning July 1.