The Carolina Panthers plans to invest more than $2 billion over 15 years at their Rock Hill, S.C., headquarters, a record project for York County, according to Charlotte Business Journal. The investment will split the project into three phases to develop the team’s training facility and commercial, office, and residential spaces on the more than 240-acre site. The project is expected to create 5,386 jobs with an average annual salary of $143,901. An April 7 study developed by Parker Poe Consulting projected the development would involve 8,629 construction jobs with an average hourly wage of $16.60. Billionaire owner David Tepper is receiving a $225 million local incentive package plus $160 million from South Carolina.
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Top GOP leaders laid out their health protocols for the Republican National Convention in Charlotte this summer in a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper. The convention will rely on pre-travel health surveys, daily health care questions via an app and thermal scans of attendees. The letter didn’t mention social distancing in the Spectrum Center, whether attendees would wear masks or if the RNC would be okay with allowing a capacity limit. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and Convention CEO Marcia Lee Kelly requested that Cooper tell them if the state is seeking additional measures by June 3. President Donald Trump claimed he will move the convention if Cooper fails to give him assurances that the Spectrum Center can be full. Vice President Mike Pence says Florida, Georgia and Texas could be potential replacement hosts.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not inspect the Chemours Fayetteville Works plant in Bladen County for GenX issues from 2009 to the end of June 2017, according to a report issued by the federal agency. The EPA first reached an agreement to allow DuPont to manufacture GenX in 2009 as long as it captured, destroyed or recycled 99% of the chemical, but it failed to monitor the plant, which is now operated by Chemours. The EPA’s regional office in Atlanta says it was never told about the 2009 consent order that it was supposed to enforce. Chemours says it ended the discharge of GenX into Cape Fear River in 2019 and constructed a $100 million piece of equipment to extract GenX.
Greensboro-based Qorvo is offering $250 million of its 4.375% senior unsecured notes due in 2029, subject to market conditions and other factors. The radio-frequency solutions provider will use the proceeds to cover general corporate purposes. Qorvo previously completed two offers totaling $550 million in September and December.
Belgium-based Ontex Group plans to purchase the assets of Reidsville’s Albaad Massuot Yitzhak, a wet wipes and personal-care products manufacturer. Financial details were not disclosed, but the acquisition includes the production lines in Rockingham County, licenses for all inventory and intellectual property, and 60 Albaad employees who will be rehired by Ontex. The news comes shortly after Ontex announcing it will build a 250,000-square-foot plant 12 miles away in South Rockingham Corporate Park with plans to create 403 new jobs by 2025.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Centennial Authority, the governing body for the PNC Arena, signed a lease extension that keeps the NHL team in Raleigh through at least July 1, 2029. The team has played in PNC since its opening in 1999 and had a lease through June 2024. Owner Tom Dundon has complained about losing money on the franchise. The Centennial Authority spends about $5 million annually maintaining the arena and projects a loss of $1 million this year due to the coronavirus. The extension includes a guarantee from the Carolina Hurricanes Foundation to contribute $1 million annually to youth hockey or charities. The PNC Arena has been approved for significant funding from the Wake County Interlocal Agreement to renovate the building starting this summer.
Red Hat is looking to capitalize on a growing tend in Europe known as “open banking” where banks allow third-party access and control of customers’ personal and financial data. The Raleigh-based open-source company owned by IBM has teamed with Asiakastieto Group, a Finland-based fintech firm, to build its account-information service on an open-banking platform. Financial details of the partnership were not disclosed. According to a study from Juniper Research, 40 million people will use open-banking services by 2021, more than double the usage in 2019.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is mulling whether to accept an $80 million federal grant to replace engines and passenger cars on its Piedmont regional train service. The grant follows an earlier $77 million in federal funding for 13 new passenger cars for the Piedmont, which would bring the total fleet to 26. But NCDOT applied for the grant before the coronavirus outbreak caused ridership to plummet, and its financial situation has deteriorated. Now the state isn’t sure about potential service changes because of possible long-term effects of the virus, a spokesperson says.
American Airlines won’t consider bankruptcy to manage its nearly $30 billion in debt while taking major hits from the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Doug Parker says. But American will reduce its 17,000-person management and support staff by 30% by September. The airline is flying 20% of its schedule compared with a year ago but travel demand is rising, he says. American’s load factor increased to 56% during Memorial Day weekend from 15% in April, although it has drastically reduced capacity. Parker predicts other large U.S. carriers will also have enough liquidity to avoid filing for bankruptcy because of the crisis.
It could take years for things to return to normal for Asheville’s tourism industry, which sees 11 million visitors annually and pumps about $2 billion in sales into the economy. The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority projects no hotel tax revenue through June, about 20% of last year’s total in July before rising to 50% in October. For December-June 2021, the TDA projects about 75% of the typical hotel tax revenue, suggesting a lingering visitation slump.
The state Utilities Commission denied a request to order Duke Energy and Dominion Energy to temporarily waive fixed monthly charges for commercial and industrial customers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Carolina Utility Customers Association, a manufacturers’ trade group, says businesses need relief from the “demand charges” because of the economic downturn. The Utilities Commission said the move would shift fees from factories to other customers.
The Charlotte City Council allocated $154.5 million in federal funding from the CARES Act, which was provided to help and counties governments cope with the coronavirus pandemic. Charlotte will spend $70 million on city operations; $50 million on small business support; $20 million for housing and $14.5 million on contingencies.
Steve Boehm is leaving his role as chief operating officer of Charlotte-based payment processor AvidXchange, which he’s held for the past three years, to take the same position at Barings LLC. He succeeds Paul Thompson, who left last year, and will report to Mike Freno, who took over as president in February.
The Fayetteville Public Works Commission agreed to provide $8.3 million to help balance Fayetteville’s budget, while officials estimate a shortfall between $8 million and $10 million caused by lost revenue related to the pandemic. About $4 million will be transferred to the city immediately and $4.3 million will be paid back at no interest from future payments.
Through6, a California-based manufacturer of direct-to-garment apparel, is planning to invest $2 million in a Sanford plant that will add 160 jobs. Through6 is hiring technologists, printing and sewing operators and warehouse personnel for a late-summer opening.
Xilis, an oncology startup founded by two Duke University professors, raised $1.85 million in equity. The round brings the Chapel Hill-based startup’s total to $4.85 million since December. Xilis produces 3D replicas of cancer patients’ tumors which can be used to speed drug testing.
Belgian diaper manufacturer Ontex Group announced plans to invest $96 million in South Rockingham Corporate Park in Rockingham County and hire 403 workers. The company did not disclose what it plans to manufacture at the 250-square-foot plant, which expects to open by mid-2021. It will be Ontex’s first U.S. plant. Greensboro developer Roy Carroll owns the business park, which is about 10 miles from Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Chapel Hill-based UNC Health is projecting an operating loss as revenue declines by an estimated $230 million to $500 million in the 2020-21 fiscal year. Health care systems across the state were forced to put nonemergency procedures on hold during the spread of coronavirus, causing a major loss in revenue. UNC Health officials anticipate patient volume to return to 80% of normal levels this summer after it declined to 60% in April. The health care system has received a reported $70 million in assistance from federal and state entities.
Chemours and its predecessor, Dupont de Nemours, are facing a federal lawsuit from more than 200 people who live near the Chemours chemical factory in Cumberland County. The plaintiffs say the companies leaked chemicals GenX and PFAS into their property and water supply. The Fayetteville-area residents are seeking damages for reduced property values, cost of filtering water or purchasing uncontaminated water, cost of cleaning/replacing contaminated plumbing, and the loss of use of contaminated property. Chemours and DuPont have not commented on the suit.
The owners of Fit4Life Health Club in Onslow County’s Jacksonville, which has eight other locations throughout the state, plan to file a restraining order against Gov. Roy Cooper’s Phase 2 reopening plan order that says indoor fitness and training facilities must remain closed. A restraining order would prevent Cooper from taking enforcement actions against N.C. gym owners. A GoFundMe page created by the Reopen NC group to support health clubs has raised more than $25,000 in five days to help cover legal costs.
Mission Hospital officials said a “small number” of the Asheville hospital’s staff have tested positive for coronavirus, declining to provide a specific total. The infested individuals are isolated, and the hospital is “conducting a deep clean in that space.”
Atlanta-based PultGroup and Arlington, Texas-based D.R. Horton are planning 135 townhouses in the Charlotte area. PulteGroup is building as many as 63 townhouses on 3.4 acres in the Commonwealth Park neighborhood, and D.R. Horton is building 72 townhouses in north Charlotte on a 9.1-acre site. Both companies’ rezoning petitions will be voted on in the next several months.
Winston-Salem-based medical-device startup URO-1 raised an additional $1.5 million from 28 investors, bringing its total raised to more than $2.6 million since 2017. The company did not disclose how it plans to use the funds. URO-1, founded in 2016, develops disposable products for urogynecology and urology procedures.
Greensboro-based semiconductor company Qorvo landed a three-year contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. Qorvo will produce copper pillar flip chips that reduce the weight and cost of the department’s semiconductors. The company recently reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $50.4 million, topping analysts’ expectations.
HCA Healthcare’s Mission Health unit in Asheville provided $108 million more in charity care in its first year of ownership, compared with the year earlier in which the system was owned by a not-for-profit authority, HCA’s top N.C. official said. The data came in response to a request of N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. HCA said it had gross revenue of $5.85 billion in the year following the Mission purchase, versus $5.3 billion in the previous year. Medical service charges were increased 10% in October, compared with average increases of 6.8% in the previous four years, the Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
Boone City Council wants to required anyone who has spent a night outside of Watauga County from entering the town’s establishments until they have stayed in the county for 14 days. But Superior Court Judge Gregory Horne on May 22 approved a temporary restraining order sought by some owners of Boone hotels, blocking the action until further review. The council plans to meet Tuesday to discuss the issue. Watauga County commissioners voted last week to lift the 14-day restriction as of May 22, but the Boone council voted to continue the practice.
IBM is making major cuts to its workforce to help weather the coronavirus pandemic after spending $900 million in company restructuring charges in April. The company didn’t disclose the full scale but the cuts are expected to affect “several thousand people,” including those at its Research Triangle Park campus, where it employs more than 1,000. It will be IBM’s first layoffs initiated by CEO Arvind Krishna, who succeeded Virginia Rometty earlier this year.
Farmers across the state have started euthanizing 1.5 million chickens due to coronavirus slowdowns and shutdowns at meat processing plant, according to the N.C. Department of Agriculture. The work is being paid with $15 million set aside by the state legislature from a $1.57 billion federal aid package for potential depopulation of hogs and chickens. North Carolina has applied for federal aid if the state funds are spent. The state produced 873 million broiler chickens in 2018, ranking fourth among the states, according to the U.S. Egg and Poultry Association.
Bank of America said a data breach occurred on April 22 when the Charlotte bank uploaded Paycheck Protection Program applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s test platform, which may have revealed client information to other SBA-authorized lenders and vendors. Tax identification numbers and addresses, as well as owner information including names, Social Security information and citizen status may have been visible. Bank of America says there is no indication that the information was viewed or misused, and it wasn’t visible to other businesses. The bank didn’t disclose how many customers were affected.
Cattle farmers in Gaston and Cleveland counties that sell directly to consumers are seeing huge spikes in demand as grocery stores restrict meat purchases due to reduced production at U.S. packing plants. Proffitt Family Cattle Co. in Kings Mountain has an email list of more than 2,000 names notified when cows are processed for first-come-first-serve orders.
LabCorp is the largest Triad-based company in the Fortune 500, marking the first time in 65 years that the area’s largest public company isn’t based a bank or a manufacturer, or based in Greensboro or Winston-Salem. The Burlington-based life-science company specializes in medical laboratory testing. Previous Triad leaders on the famous list of public companies were Burlington Industries Inc., Wachovia Corp., variations of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Reynolds American Inc., BB&T and VF Corp. BB&T is based in Charlotte, while VF is based in Denver.
The Carroll Cos. of Greensboro hired Evan Stone to serve as vice president of industrial business development. Stone has a master’s degree in economic development from Auburn University and has held economic development positions across the Southeast. The company has nearly 1,000 acres of industrial land in the Triad and has a goal of developing more than 7 million square feet of industrial buildings.
The N.C. Craft Brewers Guild is seeking clarification from Gov. Roy Cooper about the ability for breweries, wineries and distilleries to reopen as part of Phase Two reopening plan starting Friday afternoon. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity with social-distancing requirements, but “bars” are among the businesses that will have to remain closed until Phase Three. Local small businesses and their trade groups are unsure which category they fall in. The state’s 328 breweries contribute more than $2 billion to the economy and provide more than 12,000 jobs. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a 75% to 90% drop in revenue industrywide, according to the brewers guild, and reopening during Phase Two is critical to the industry’s survival.
State Treasurer Dale Folwell has asked Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration to make up for lost water and sewer payments to Tyrrell County and the town of Columbia to prevent them from defaulting on loans. When the Tyrrell County prison was built in 1988, bonds were issued to build sewer lines in support of the new facility. But when the Department of Public Safety was forced to close the prison in Tyrrell County, it caused a 30% hit to the water and sewer system’s revenue, creating a more than $304,000 shortfall for the first five months of the year and putting the county and town in jeopardy of default. Folwell is requesting the Cooper administration pay the entire sum.
After its bid for a strategic partnership with New Hanover Regional Medical Center was passed over, UNC Health signed a letter of intent with Winston-Salem-based Novant Health to partner for medical education and clinical services at the center if Novant is selected to acquire the Wilmington hospital system. Further details about the partnership and UNC Health’s financial stake in the bid will be announced once the agreement is finalized. Novant’s $2 billion proposal to buy NHRMC is being considered with proposals from Duke Health and Atrium Health.
A recent Army audit report calls Fort Bragg’s airfields “the poorest infrastructure in the Army.” Since 2011, the Army has invested more than $115 million in runway repairs, aprons and airfield lighting at Pope Army Airfield. In fiscal year 2020, $25 million for lighting repair was approved and $65 million in repair is budgeted for fiscal 2021. Sen. Thom Tillis, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, is seeking clarification about the audit from military leaders. The information hasn’t been publicly released.
Pharmaceutical Product Development, a Wilmington-based contract research organization, is looking to raise $700 million to help pay off its debt. The company is offering senior notes through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Jaguar Holding Co. II and PPD Development. The company returned to the public market in February and intended to use the $1.77 billion raised from its IPO to pay off two loans totaling $1.45 billion. PPD’s debt prior to the IPO was $5.7 billion. It ended 2019 with $345 million in cash on $4.03 billion in revenue and projects to earn $4.3 billion to $4.4 billion in 2020.
East Carolina University is eliminating its men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs and men’s and women’s tennis programs due to a budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to the outbreak, the school had a $7.5 million deficit that increased to $10.2 million. ECU hopes to save $4.9 million through the cuts that affected nine coaches and 68 student athletes, who will have their scholarships honored. The university is considering other cost-saving measures but won’t eliminate any of its 16 remaining athletic programs, which is the minimum number required for NCAA Division I FBS schools.
The High Point Market is planning on breaking up its fall trade show from Oct. 13 to Oct. 21 into three, three-day schedules to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The first period will be Oct. 13-15, and the third will be Oct. 19-21. The market typically draws as many as 80,000 guests. The High Point Market Authority was forced to cancel the spring market after delaying it to late April then early June.
UNC Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University plan to start classes about two weeks earlier than normal to finish the semester before a potential second coronavirus wave in the late fall or early winter. Classes will resume Aug. 10 and complete finals by Nov. 24. Fall break is cancelled, and in-person instruction will change. Class sizes will be smaller, less classes will be held during the week and some will be held on weekends. Instructors will attempt to utilize larger spaces, more time will be allotted between classes and more classes may be offered remotely.
Governor Cooper announced North Carolina will move into Phase Two of its reopening plan Friday afternoon, meaning restaurants will be permitted to open at 50% capacity while adhering to social distancing and increased sanitation requirements. To prepare, local restaurants are coming up with solutions to prevent virus spread. Sharky’s Place in North Raleigh plans on checking patron temperatures before they enter, mothballed half its pool tables and installed Plexiglas at the bar. The Angus Barn removed half its dining room tables and built partitions draped with quilts to separate tables. The North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association also launched the Count on Me initiative to train restaurants with proper safety protocols,
Mooresville-based Lowe’s Cos. reported a $1.3 billion profit for its first fiscal quarter, a 28% increase from a year earlier, as digital sales soared 80%. Overall sales gained 12.3% with same-store revenue gaining 11%, compared with a 6% growth at rival Home Depot, which has more stores in large U.S. cities most affected by the coronavirus. The home improvement retailer reported $19.7 billion in revenue.
Tyson Foods says 570 workers at its poultry facility in Wilkesboro tested positive for coronavirus, more than a fourth of the plant’s 2,244 employees. Most employees were asymptomatic and wouldn’t have been identified had it not been for the plant-wide tests on May 6 and 9, the company says. Tyson closed the plant for cleaning earlier this month in response to the outbreak, but has since ramped up production and plans to continue after implementing new safety measures including temperature screenings, face masks and barriers between work stations.
Truist Financial is doubling its coronavirus-related donations to $50 million after CEO Kelly King said he sees the economic and health crisis intensifying. The Charlotte-based bank, the nation’s sixth-largest, will donate $9 million to help get technology to communities in need, $10 million to small business and community development organizations and $6 million to nonprofits.
The latest N.C. Senate budget language doesn’t include plans to relocate the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services headquarters from Raleigh’s downtown Dorothea Dix campus to rural Granville County. That plan, though opposed by many department employees, was in the budget passed by the legislature but never executed due to Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. Senator Brent Jackson of Sampson County says the move is “still a work in progress.”
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians filed a federal lawsuit protesting approval by the U.S. Department of Interior of plans by the Catawba Indian Nation to build a casino in Cleveland County. The Cherokee say the decision was made without adhering to various federal laws. The Catawbas responded with a motion to oppose the Cherokee action, while the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma filed a motion to intervene in support of the Eastern Band. The Cherokees’ casinos in western North Carolina would face competition if the Catawba site is built 40 miles west of Charlotte.
Wake Forest Baptist Health and Renfro Corp., a Mount Airy-based manufacturer of socks and legwear, have partnered to produce masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Nightingale Mask is washable, reusable and manufactured domestically using research for efficient particle filtration. In April, Renfro and Wake Forest distributed 390,000 of the masks throughout Winston-Salem as part of its Mask the City initiative. Theasks cost $7.50 at www.nightingalesafe.com.
Former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer is stepping down from the UNC Board of Governors to focus on homeschooling his children, he announced Wednesday. One of Raleigh’s top lobbyists, Fetzer has been a board activist, initiating an investigation into former ECU interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach and helping derail a favored candidate during the search for a new chancellor at Western Carolina University.
N.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association believes Gov. Roy Cooper will announce today that the state will begin Phase 2 of his reopening plan on Friday. The group is working with state officials on Count On Me NC, a public-private partnership promoting voluntary, free training programs aimed at food-service employees. The project emphasizes screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms, creating space so that individuals can physically distance and utilizing hand washing and hand sanitizing for employees and customers. About 1,700 people have completed the program. Participating businesses will be listed on Count On Me’s website and receive certificates to display in their storefronts.
Royster Tucker III, CEO of High Point-based telecommunications company NorthState, is stepping down. Segra, a Charlotte-based fiber-bandwidth company, closed on its $240 million acquisition of NorthState on Tuesday. The company has not announced a successor. Segra is led by CEO Timothy Biltz, a former senior executive at Lumos Networks, SpectraSite and Vanguard Cellular Systems.