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Triangle out of the running for Virgin Hyperloop

The Raleigh area has been dropped from the running for Virgin Hyperloop One, a high-speed transit system that is looking for states to build a tube system that would drastically reduce commute times around the country. The Regional Transportation Alliance and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership were lobbying to get Virgin to invest in the area, but were notified last month that the company is focusing on other states. According to the company, Hyperloop will allow passengers to travel through a tube at 671 miles per hours, making the commute from Raleigh to Washington D.C. just one hour.

Court dismisses overdraft lawsuit involving First Bank

A lawsuit alleging that Southern Pines-based First Bank charged excessive overdraft fees was voluntarily dismissed in North Carolina Business Court. In a July filing, plaintiff Brenda Jamison alleged the state’s largest community bank was using unethical tactics to push accounts into overdraft. The bank said the ruling “reaffirms that our account options are flexible and fair; and we know that our local teams go above and beyond to help customers find the right fit for wherever they are in life.”

New Hanover commissioners to vote on hospital sale Oct. 5

New Hanover County Commissioners are slated to vote on the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center on Oct. 5, as well as how the money from the sale will be handled afterward. The proposed sale to Winston-Salem-based Novant Health is expected to route $1.5 billion to the county and pledges $600 million for capital expenditures within 10 years, plus $2.5 billion to fund strategic capital needs. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled today. Novant was selected during a bidding process involving other large N.C. hospital systems.

First Flight Venture Center receives $2.6 million in federal grants

First Flight Venture Center’s Hangar6, a prototyping hub located in Research Triangle Park, received $2.6 million in federal grants to help the center create prototypes for small businesses and entrepreneurs who couldn’t otherwise afford it. The money will be distributed over two years and allow Hangar6 to purchase new equipment and hire more staff. Businesses and entrepreneurs can buy memberships to the facility, giving them access to technology and equipment.

Charlotte man indicted for insider trading in connection to Duke Energy, Piedmont Gas merger

Charlottean Eric Hill, 44, has been indicted for insider trading in connection with Duke Energy’s purchase Piedmont Natural Gas. The indictment states Hill used confidential information in October 2015 to conduct securities transactions before and after Duke Energy’s announcement of its planned purchase of Piedmont Gas, walking away with $380,000. The $4.9 million merger occurred in 2016, after Hill received information from an employee of a consulting firm with Piedmont Natural Gas.

N.C. State discovery saves sweet potato farmers

A discovery by N.C. State University researchers on post-harvest treatments is expected to save sweet potato farmers millions of dollars. The discovery is expected to reduce the loss of Covington sweet potatoes due to internal necrosis, a physiological disorder in which the vegetables develop black spots and patches on the inside of the roots. The solution involves changing the curing process, which greatly reduces the incidence and severity of internal necrosis.

Downtown Fayetteville hotel, offices delayed

A five-story Hyatt Place Hotel and seven-story office complex in downtown Fayetteville are on hold with no clear timeline for completion, officials say. PCH Development’s office and hotel project, which was once slated to be completed in early 2021, is part of a $120 million public-private project that saw the conversion of the former Prince Charles Hotel into apartments and construction of the city’s minor-league baseball stadium. The city has spent $17 million on an adjacent parking lot that is completed.

Atrium starts new rehabilitation hospital in Charlotte

Atrium Health broke ground on the Carolinas Rehabilitation hospital on the Carolinas Medical Center campus near downtown Charlotte. It is planning a 150,000-square-foot hospital with 70 patient rooms and a 9,300-square-foot outpatient clinic. The new hospital is expected o open in mid- to late 2022. The investment wasn’t disclosed. The project is part of a $1 billion upgrade of Atrium’s flagship campus.

N.C. State announces employee furloughs and salary cuts

N.C. State announced new employee furloughs and salary cuts amid continued financial stresses from the pandemic. The university has seen a sharp reduction in revenue from university housing, campus dining facilities, transportation and the McKimmon Center for Extension and Continuing Education due to the shift to online learning. Athletics department staffers will also see salary cuts or furloughs for coaches starting Oct. 24.

NC startups selected for Google-backed training program

Six North Carolina startups have been selected to participated in this year’s Google for Startups Black Founders Exchange. SpokeHub, CourtRoom5, LoanWell, Coworks, Freeman Capital and KWHCoin and Genesis Block were  chosen for the October immersion program that provides mentorship and support from industry experts for Black startup founders. The program is being held in Durham.

More than 400 homes planned for Fuquay-Varina

Cary’s Baker Residential filed plans to build 430 single-family and townhomes in Fuquay-Varina in a development called Atwater Station. The residential development will include a pool, pavilion, dog parks, community garden, fishing docks, walking trails, playscape and community gathering areas with benches. Construction for the homes, priced between $200,000 and $300,000, is expected to begin in 2023.

Cisco spells out commitment to the Black community

Tech giant Cisco, which has a large presence in Research Triangle Park, announced Wednesday 12 steps the company plans to take as a part of its commitment to the Black community through social justice initiatives. The 12 actions include percentage increases in the number of employees who identify as African American or Black in all levels at the company, paid time off to vote in major country elections and a $50 million venture fund to invest in startups with diverse teams.

UNC Chapel Hill eyes $300 million fiscal-year deficit

With decreasing housing, dining and parking revenues because of the pandemic, UNC Chapel Hill had a $100 million deficit in the fiscal year ending June 30 and faces as much as $300 million in losses in the year ahead, or 8% of revenues,  officials estimate. The university is considering budget cuts, including furloughs, base adjustments and early retirements. The only furloughs so far have involved athletics and planetarium workers.

TPG Capital buys Burt’s Bees warehouse

TPG Capital purchased the massive Burt’s Bees warehouse located near Raleigh-Durham International Airport this week for $42.8 million, a 60% increase from when the site was sold six years ago. The 580,000-square-foot building is located on 32 acres in Morrisville. Burt’s Bees, a personal-care products company owned by Clorox, leases about half of the warehouse.

Truist, N.C. Rural Center create $40 million minority lending program

Truist Financial and N.C. Rural Center teamed to create a $40 million minority lending program called CornerSquare Community Capital. Funding will be directed to racially and ethnically diverse small business owners, women and individuals in low- and moderate-income communities throughout BB&T’s markets, with a focus on Black-owned small businesses. Truist is investing the money, while the nonprofit center will oversee the program, which involves buying 25% participations in loans made by community development financial institutions.

Wells Fargo CEO apologizes for diversity comments

Wells Fargo & Co. CEO Charlie Scharf came under fire for a June memo that cited the “unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from.” In a public apology on Wednesday, Scharf said not enough has been done to increase diversity at the bank, including at the top leadership level. He reiterated plans to continue to hire more minority staffers.

Hendersonville native on short list for Supreme Court nomination

Hendersonville native Allison Jones Rushing is considered one of President Trump’s most likely nominees to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court. At 40, she’s had a relatively short law career working previously with a conservative Christian legal group before being confirmed to a federal appeals court 18 months ago. If chosen, she’d be the first millennial on the Supreme Court.

$50M Cary park project progressing after decades

The Downtown Cary Park project is moving forward with the recent submission of the site plans, keeping the design phase expected to be finished by the end of the year. The $50 million project has been in the works since 2001. Construction of the park, which will include water features, a plaza, dog parks, an arena, botanical gardens and a pavilion, is expected to begin in fall 2023.

New $40 million fund set for hard-hit businesses

Gov. Roy Cooper announced that businesses that have been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, including bars, amusement parks and movie theaters, will be eligible to receive some of the $40 million funding the state received from the CARES Act. Businesses may gain up to $20,000 in funding per location to be used for four months of mortgage interest or rent expenses, and utility expenses. Cooper also said large venues can open to 7% seating capacity starting Oct. 2 if state trends with Covid-19 hold steady.

Tyson says health clinic to open near Wilkesboro chicken plant

Tyson Foods agreed to open a third-party health clinic near its chicken-processing plant in Wilkesboro. It will be the seventh such clinic affiliated with a Tyson plant that has suffered a major COVID-19 outbreak. Winoski, Vt.-based Marathon Health will provide primary and preventive care at the clinic. Meat-processing plant workers often stand shoulder-to-shoulder on assembly lines, creating a potential for spreading the virus.

After nurses back union, HCA promises bonuses for nonunion staff

Nurses voted in favor of a union at HCA Healthcare-owned Mission Hospital in Asheville, representing the first in North Carolina to do so and the largest hospital union to win in the South since 1975. Nearly 1,400 people voted last week, and 965 were in favor of the move. The National Nurses United is now poised to represent the 1,800 nurses in the Asheville hospital system. Hours after the vote, HCA Healthcare announced raises for all nonunion staff, a potential swipe at the newly formed union.

Asheville council cuts 3% from police budget

A $29.3 million police budget was approved by a 3-2 vote at the Asheville City Council meeting, representing a 3% decrease amid cries to cut the spending in half. The department will lose $770,000 in funding. City Manager Debra Campbell said more adjustments may be made to the police budget throughout the year if alternative programs are identified.

Lawyer says IBM faces widening class-action age discrimination lawsuit

After a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling last week that found IBM discriminated against older employees, Boston labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan says hundreds of former Big Blue  employees have reached out to her to join a class action or seek individual counsel. She wouldn’t say if workers at IBM’s large Research Triangle Park operation were involved. The class-action involves about 150 employees that are claiming age-based employment discrimination.

Deposits at Raleigh banks expand amid pandemic

Raleigh’s top 10 banks each saw increased deposits during the pandemic through June 30 according to a new report from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. BB&T and SunTrust, which merged into Truist in December last year, became the second biggest bank in the metro area behind Wells Fargo. Last year BB&T and SunTrust totaled $4.2 billion and $1.6 billion, respectively, but this year they totaled $6.8 million.

Ingersoll Rand gives employees stock grant equal to 20% of annual pay

Ingersoll Rand, which has corporate offices in Davidson, is awarding a $150 million equity grant to its employees, equal to 20% of their annual pay. The award involves about 540 of the 600 employees based in Davidson. The company is distinct from Davidson-based Trane Technologies after a spinoff earlier this year in which the Gardner Denver unit took on the Ingersoll Rand name.

$305 million data center pitched in Guilford

A DC Blox data center in Piedmont Centre hangs on the approval of a $305 million incentives package by the Guilford Board of County Commissioners and High Point City Council. This would be the largest corporate investment in High Point since the Ralph Lauren distribution center in 2012, which involved $163 million over two phases. Incentives details have not been released, but the package will be considered at the Guilford commissioners’ meeting on Oct. 1. Atlanta-based DC Blox announced a $200 million center near Greenville, S.C. earlier this month.

NC’s unemployment benefit payments exceed $8 billion

North Carolina has paid more than $8 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and has reached a 10-week high of 11,583 state and federal unemployment claims. Approximately $4.76 billion came from the weekly $600 federal supplement paid from mid-April to July due to the pandemic. From Sept. 5 to Dec. 26, a $50 increase to the weekly $350 payments will be added due to the passage of House Bill 1105, the state’s third round of COVID-19 relief legislation.

NC recruiters look to reel in remote workers from major companies

Stripe, Facebook, Twitter and other companies are offering employees incentives to move out of expensive cities such as San Francisco, New York and Seattle for cheaper destinations, and North Carolina economic developers are hoping to capitalize on the move. The  Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and Wake County have been focusing on talent recruitment to attract remote workers from other states. The state plans to launch a business marketing effort this fall targeting expanding businesses and professionals considering relocations.

Pier 33 to start opening to tenants soon

Wilmington’s $65 million mixed-use development, Pier 33, will begin allowing its first tenants to move in this October, before the estimated completion in spring 2021. The final project will boast 286 residencies, 525 parking spaces and 20,000 feet of commercial space in downtown. Pier 33 will offer studio, and one-, two- and three-bedroom floor plans, and four two-story loft apartments with rent starting at $1,129.

Charlotte’s historic Johnston Mill to be converted into apartments

After closing 45 years ago, the Johnston Mill in Charlotte is set to become hundreds of new rental units, some of which will be affordable housing for the city. The Community Builders, a national developer, plans to create 80 to 85 apartment units as well as constructing another building nearby with 150 additional units. Of the 285 units, 15 will be set aside for residents who make up to 80% of the area median income.

Kings Mountain casino named, receives bipartisan support

The new casino being developed outside of Charlotte in Kings Mountain now has a name: Catawba Two Kings Casino Resort. U.S. House members from the Carolinas introduced the Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act, a piece of legislation that reaffirms the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision to put the casino land in trust and allow the Catawba Nation to develop the casino. The $273 million casino is expected to open next year.

Epic Games caught in data security feud between U.S. and China’s Tencent

Cary-based video game company Epic Games has been asked by the federal government for more information regarding its data protocols with China-based Tencent. Tech giant Tencent owns about 40% of Epic after investing $300 million into the company in 2012. The feds want more information on how users’ personal data for games such as Fortnite, Epic’s most popular product, are protected.

K&W Cafeterias seeks permission to sell two Cornelius properties

K&W Cafeterias is looking to sell a 3,621-square-foot lakefront home and a residential lot in Cornelius after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month. The restaurant chain listed the two properties in bankruptcy court last week and is requesting permission to sell the home for $1.4 million and the lot for $175,000. At the time of the filing, K&W had 1,400 employees.

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