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Charlotte Metropolitan shopping center sold for $92 million

The Metropolitan shopping complex outside of uptown Charlotte was sold to Northwood Investors, the owner of Ballantyne Corporate Park, for $92 million earlier this week. Trader Joe’s, Marshalls, Best Buy, restaurants and other local businesses reside on the property, which was previously owned by an ownership group made up of institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. No plans have been reported for the site.

Port of Wilmington makes history with large vessel’s stop

The Port of Wilmington made history this week after welcoming the largest cargo vessel for U.S. ports on the East Coast. The vessel, called Yang Ming Warranty, was the N.C. State Ports Authority’s first 14,220 TEUs (twenty-foot-equivalent units) capacity cargo vessel. The milestone comes after the N.C. Ports has made infrastructure changes and updates over the last several years to make it possible for ultra-large vessels to enter the port.

8,000 Wake County public school kids return to class

About 8,000 Wake County public school students returned for in-person instruction Monday as part of a plant to gradually attract more children back to school. The state’s largest district has about 160,000 students. Children in kindergarten through third grade returned yesterday, but more elementary and middle-school students are returning over the next three weeks.  High school students won’t return until next year. More than 85,000 Wake students are attending classes in the Virtual Academy.

Texwipe expands in Mount Airy

Kernersville-based Texwipe plans to expand in Mount Airy with a $4.5 million investment in a manufacturing facility. The move is expected to create 33 new jobs in production, maintenance and managerial staff. Texwipe received a performance-based grant of $75,000 from state government’s One North Carolina Fund as part of the expansion.

Charlotte’s Eastland Mall area to house soccer academy

The city of Charlotte updated its latest plan for the 80-acre former Eastland Mall site in east Charlotte with a development expected to include a player development academy for David Tepper’s Charlotte FC soccer team, affordable housing and other projects. Previous plans called for the site to become Charlotte FC’s headquarters, but that has changed. City officials are now looking for a local government investment of about $54 million, while expected private investment is likely to total $200 million. A city council vote on the plan is scheduled for Nov. 9.


Political donor Cheves helped Catawbas win Kings Mountain casino deal

Wallace Cheves, a veteran gaming-industry investor, played a key role in helping the Catawba Indian Nation win a seven-year battle to open a casino in Cleveland County. Cheves has been an active supporter of the Republican National Committee and GOP politicians, some of whom showed critical support for the casino project proposed by the South Carolina tribe. It has drawn sharp opposition from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, who operate casinos in Cherokee and Murphy. The Kings Mountain casino is expected to open next year with a planned investment expected to top $270 million.

16 startups receive NC IDEA grants

The NC IDEA Foundation, which promotes entrepreneurship, said 16 startups throughout the state will receive $10,000 grants. The companies were chosen after a three-month competition that involved 161 applicants. Businesses in Durham, Fayetteville, Cornelius, Charlotte and Chapel Hill were among those selected.


Gene therapy company AskBio selling to Bayer for $4B

German pharmaceutical giant Bayer agreed to pay much as $4 billion, including $2 billion upfront and $2 billion in milestone payments, for Durham-based gene therapy company Asklepios BioPharmaceuticals, or AskBio.  The company was founded in 2001 and researches genetic disorders. AskBio raised $235 million in equity funding in May 2019, a record single round for an N.C. bioscience company. Its founders include Jude Samulski, a UNC Chapel Hill pharmacology professor who has been involved in previous successful N.C.-based startups.

Atrium to invest $3.4B in Wake Forest Baptist capital projects, academics

Atrium Health says it will spend $2.8 billion on improved facilities involving Wake Forest Baptist Health over the next decade, plus $600 million to accelerate academic efforts including a $150 million academic endowment and a $70 million Academic Enrichment Fund to accelerate academic initiatives. Charlotte-based Atrium said on Oct. 9 that the two not-for-profit authorities had completed a partnership. They had previously disclosed plans for a new care tower at Wake Forest’s main Winston-Salem campus and a downtown eye institute, without citing price tags. The latest announcement didn’t say when construction will start.


Vanderbilt heir George Cecil dies at 95

George Cecil, the grandson of Biltmore Estate builder George Vanderbilt II and a key force in N.C. business affairs for decades, died on Oct. 19 at 95. Cecil was a part of many of Asheville’s major economic decisions and oversaw the transition from Biltmore Dairy Farms into a community development company. He was a director of many companies and organizations including Carolina Power & Light, First Union National Bank, UNC Hospitals and Memorial Mission Hospital.

ECU selects finalists for chancellor

East Carolina University is expected to announce a new chancellor by January, with trustees having met Friday to determine a list of finalists. The university has not had an permanent chancellor for more than a year, following the departures of Cecil Staton and  interim chancellor Dan Gerlach. UNC System President Peter Hans will review the finalists and recommend one to the UNC System Board of Governors, which will vote on the decision.

Charlotte remains American Airlines’ top performing hub

American Airlines reported a net loss of $2.4 billion in its third quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, but cited Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport as its top hubs. American is averaging about 481 daily departures this month compared with 672 in October 2019. Recently, 20,000 American employees opted for early retirement or long-term leave and 19,000 employees were furloughed.

Apex approves 520-home development

The town of Apex approved a development led by Ohio-based M/I Homes that’s expected to create 520 homes on 141 acres. Construction is set to begin in 2022 and will include townhomes and single-family homes. A partnership with Habitat for Humanity promises to include 15 affordable homes in the development.

LifeWay Christian Resources sells Black Mountain’s Ridgecrest Conference Center

LifeWay Christian Resources announced an agreement to sell the 1,200-acre Ridgecrest Conference Center and Summer Camps to Ridgecrest Foundation this week. Located near Asheville, Ridgecrest is a Christian camp and conference center that’s been operating since the early 1900s and draws 70,000 people annually. The transfer will be complete by the end of 2020.

Wake Forest, Elon announce new campus restrictions

The rise in COVID-19 cases has caused Wake Forest University and Elon University to raise their alert levels and curtail more campus activities. Between Monday and Wednesday this week, Wake Forest saw 53 new COVID-19 cases in students and two in employees. The university is allowing takeout options only from campus dining and will not allow students to attend Saturday’s football game. After a sharp increase at Elon, dining halls will also convert to takeout only, visitors won’t be allowed in campus residence halls, and intramural and club sport activities are suspended.

UNC System sets budget priorities amid pandemic losses

Though administrators admitted planning a 2021-23 budget is difficult in the current environment, the UNC System met Wednesday to discuss constraints and priorities in the coming months. The plan involves ensuring full funding for building reserves and enrollment growth given the system’s record-breaking enrollment this past fall. However, the UNC System will not be asking for new projects or initiatives and won’t be considering any campus-specific operating budget requests moving forward.

HSM Machine Works to expand aviation manufacturing site

Thanks to a $100,000 grant received from the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, HSM Machine Works will expand its aviation and aerospace manufacturing site in Brunswick County. HSM Machine Works employs 18 people and would add 17 jobs with the project. The firm manufactures landing gear for the aviation and aerospace industry and before shipping the parts to New York to be assembled.

Deal-makers in Mission Health sale to HCA remain quiet

More than two years after announcing that HCA Healthcare would acquire Asheville’s Mission Health System for $1.5 billion, the key dealmakers behind the transaction won’t discuss the motivations. Public records researched by the AVL Watchdog news group show the sale was largely driven by former Mission CEO Ron Paulus, board Chairman John Ball and Philip Green, a strategic adviser retained by the system.

Trump supports federal recognition of Lumbee Tribe

President Donald Trump announced he would back a U.S. Senate bill that would give North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe full federal recognition and millions of dollars in community benefits. The tribe is headquartered in Pembroke and does not receive benefits for education, health care and economic development due to its partial recognition by the federal government. The passage of the legislation would also allow the tribe to open a casino.

Developers want Raleigh to help pay for stadium, affordable housing

Developers for Raleigh’s Downtown South development want the property rezoned and a financial commitment from the city for affordable housing and other community benefits. The city’s planning commission is reviewing a rezoning application for the 145-acre plot. This week the developers asked for a tax increment grant to cover some of the costs of affordable housing, stormwater infrastructure, workforce development programming and the sports and entertainment venue.

Charlotte Hornets look to upgrade arena

The Charlotte Hornets 15-year anniversary in the arena located in uptown Charlotte is approaching, and the franchise has hired a sports venue consultant to determine upgrades to the Spectrum Center. The first NBA game was played in the arena on Nov. 5, 2005, just a few months after Rolling Stone opened the 19,000-person arena to a sellout crowd. The goal is to keep the arena’s competitive edge for concerts and other entertainment.

Novant Health plans development near UNC Charlotte

Novant Health won approval from Charlotte City Council to build a medical campus on 23 acres near UNC Charlotte.  The plans allow for medical offices and surgery centers on land owned by the Lincoln Harris development company. The hospital system didn’t disclose specific plans for the site. Atrium Health operates a large hospital in the area.

Bandwidth joins with WRAL owner on new HQ

Bandwidth Inc., a company that produces voice conferencing software, disclosed details for its headquarters in west Raleigh, which it is developing with East West Partners and Capitol Broadcasting, which owns the WRAL television station. The campus will have a first phase with 450,000 square feet in two five-story buildings that is expected to be complete in 2023. Bandwidth recently announced the purchase of Belgian firm Voxbone, expanding its reach to more than 60 countries.

Truist names chief marketer

Truist Financial named Vinoo Vijay as its new chief marketing officer to help guide rebranding efforts over the next two years. The BB&T-SunTrust merger closed in December the bank is rebranding its individual business segments. Vijay previously held the same post at H&R Block and TD Bank.

Greeensboro may change zoning to bolster airport-area development

A proposal is in the works in Greensboro to lift zoning restrictions on land near the Piedmont Triad International Airport. The matter involves the “noise contour” — a zone mapped out around the airport where officials have traditionally blocked development because of loud aircraft noise. The new proposal would allow about 667 acres southwest of the airport to be excluded from this restriction, allowing some development.

Charlotte library sheds name of former governor Morrison

The Morrison Regional Library in south Charlotte was renamed SouthPark Regional Library after library board of trustees decided to shed the name honoring Cameron A. Morrison, who was N.C. governor from 1921-25. Morrison was part of white supremacist efforts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His family’s vast land holdings became the SouthPark neighborhood of Charlotte after development by his heirs including Charlotte real estate mogul Johnny Harris. The Harris family, which donated land for the library in 1989, worked with the library in making the name change.

New Hanover Regional plans $210M hospital near Wilmington

New Hanover Regional Medical Center is seeking approval from state officials for a $210 million hospital northeast of Wilmington in Scotts Hills. Plans call for an opening in October 2024. The move aims to serve the expanding population near the U.S. 17 corridor in Pender and New Hanover counties. The new hospital will have 66 beds. Novant Health of Winston-Salem is in the process of acquiring New Hanover Regional.

Raleigh housing prices outpace income growth

The Raleigh-area housing market’s prices have increased almost twice as much as local incomes over the last five years, according to a study by Construction Coverage. This increase includes Wake, Johnston and Franklin Counties, where housing prices increased roughly 30% between 2014 and 2019. Nationally, housing prices increased 2.6 times more than median wages.

Bank of America says 45% of staff is people of color

Bank of America released its second annual Human Capital Management Report, showcasing its improvements toward diversity and employee benefits over the last year. The report said the bank had its most diverse class of new campus hires and 45% of the U.S.-based workforce of 200,000 consists of people of color. The bank also increased the minimum wage for hourly workers to $20 an hour earlier this year.

Lofty goals seen for USGA in Moore County

More than 200 pages of public records were released surrounding the U.S. Golf Association’s announcement earlier this year to invest as much as $36 million for an expanded Pinehurst operation and a commitment to schedule major golf tournaments at Pinehurst Resort. Officials envision a golf cluster that may include golf equipment manufacturers and suppliers migrating to the region and a turfgrass research facility. State and local agencies are providing about $20 million in incentives for the USGA tied to job creation and investments, while also offering tax abatement.

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