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DC BLOX plans $305M data center in High Point

DC BLOX, an Atlanta-based provider of multi-tenant data centers, will invest up to $305 million in a 14-acre tract in High Point. The company paid $1.7 million for the property in the Piedmont Centre business park. This will be the location for the Triad region’s first Tier III data center. It will offer services such as uninterruptible power supply systems, climate control systems, security controls, and internet privacy.

Wake overtakes Mecklenburg as most populous N.C. county

Wake County is now slightly larger than Mecklenburg County, U.S. Census Bureau estimates show. Wake has 1.13 million residents, versus 1.12 million in the county that includes Charlotte. The two counties make up more than 20% of the statewide total of about 10.4 million. Wake grew by 1.75% and Mecklenburg by 1.4% over the last decade, while Brunswick and Currituck led the state with 4.2% and 4.1% growth, respectively.

Former Lowe’s CEO Niblock starts scholars program at UNC Charlotte

Robert Niblock, a 1984 UNC Charlotte graduate who was CEO of Lowe’s Cos. from 2005-18, made a $2.5 million donation to the university’s Belk College of Business. This donation creates the Niblock Scholars Program scholarships for as many as five Belk College freshmen or transfer students. Niblock previously gave $2.5 million for a student center at the business school in 2015. He is a director of Conoco Phillips.

Wells Fargo to donate $3.2 million to various Charlotte organizations

Wells Fargo & Co. is donating more than $3.2 million to Charlotte organizations that are addressing social equality concerns. Johnson C. Smith University and United Way of Central Carolinas will each receive a $1 million grant, and the other funds will be distributed to Charlotte is Creative, the Latin American Chamber of Commerce and Central Piedmont Community College’s Small Business Resource Center.

Investor group to open Slim Chickens restaurants in state

A Charlotte investor group including former N.C. State Senator Rob Bryan signed a deal for 30 locations of the Arkansas-based Slim Chickens restaurant chain  in the Carolinas and Virginia. The plan is for as many as 15 locations in the Charlotte area with a first site opening in November.  The Break Bread Ventures investor group includes Jonathan Crumpler, Josh Frankel and Bryan. Slim Chickens has more than 125 locations in the U.S. United Kingdom and Kuwait.

 

NC Commerce releases Annual Tourism Report

According to new research from the US Travel Association and Tourism Economics, a global travel research firm, visitor expenditure in North Carolina fell 32% in 2020. North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders says that the recovery of the state’s tourism industry is essential to its economic well-being. The pandemic has harmed over 45,000 small businesses that rely on tourism to survive.

Key takeaways from Sweeney’s testimony in Epic-Apple trial

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney testified at length this week in his company’s antitrust trial with Apple, providing the most public glimpse of the company ever provided by the 50-year-old Cary entrepreneur. Epic had $5.2 billion in revenue last year and doesn’t rely significantly on the Apple operating system for much of its sales. But Sweeney contends that Apple is stifling competition and Epic’s growth potential.

Buffet subsidiary buys part of Charlotte costume company

Morris Costumes, a Charlotte-based costume distributor that ships about 20,000 packages a day, has sold much of its company to Oriental Trading Co., a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. Morris, a three-generation family business, says the move is part of a succession plan. Oriental Trading is a wholesale supplier of novelties and party and holiday supplies.

HanesBrands appoints new CFO

Underwear producer HanesBrands named Michael Dastugue as its new finance chief. The Winston-Salem based company made the hire as part of an effort to expand its online sales and shift the focus to virtual shopping. Dastugue has previously served as CFO of Walmart’s U.S. division and at department store chain.

Health care services company helps N.C. teachers as in-person schooling picks up

The North Carolina Association of Educators is partnering with Inspire Health Alliance to provide at-home COVID-19 tests for public school employees. Each kit comes with nasal swabs to be self administered and mailed to Inspire Health’s lab. The U.S. based health care services provider has formed similar partnerships with school systems, nonprofits and private businesses.

Aluminum shortage stunts N.C. license plate production

At the beginning of 2021, the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles began reprinting license plates that were more than 6 years old in compliance with a state mandate. Now, they are abandoning the project due to a scarcity of aluminum. Corrections Enterprises, which produces the plates at a women’s correctional facility in Raleigh, has enough metal to make 160,000 plates by the end of the year. The DMV needs 1.4 million plates.

 

UNC Chapel Hill students launch first venture capital firm

UNC Chapel Hill has its first student-run venture capital firm: Lux Libertas Ventures.  LLV invests in consumer internet startups that address the problems faced by Generation Z, such as mental health, digital wellness, consumer banking and other areas. The organization is run entirely by UNC students with advisers from Fortune 500 companies and tier-one venture capital funds.

Crescent completes Ally tower in downtown Charlotte

After nearly four years, construction on Crescent Communities’ Ally Charlotte Center is complete. The building is a 26-floor skyscraper and includes 750,000 square feet of office space, about 30,000 square feet of ground-level retail, a 12,000-square foot public plaza and a 1,400-space parking garage. Crescent Communities and Ally Financial will operate out of the building, which will include restaurants Salata Salad Bar, Jinya Ramen Bar, and Golden Cow Creamery.

Epic Games v. Apple underway

Cary-based Epic Games’ antitrust suit against Apple opened in federal court in northern California. During opening arguments, Epic argued that Apple  has a monopoly on iOS app distribution. Apple’s attorney contended that Epic was litigious while  the company  should have been more innovative. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney was the first witness.

Prescient raises $190M for building technology plans

A Charlotte-based architectural software startup has raised $190 million from investors including JE Dunn Construction. Prescient is one of the state’s most valuable startups due to technology that allows developers to build parts of apartment buildings off site. The company relocated to North Carolina in 2017 after receiving $2 million in state incentive pledges. It operates a plant in Mebane.

Statewide demand for PPP loans far lesser than last year

North Carolina applications for the Payment Protection Program are slowing with a deadline for making applications about a month away. About 103,200 N.C. businesses were approved in the latest cycle, amounting to almost $5 billion in loans. At this time last year, the Small Business Administration had approved about $12.4 billion loans. Some N.C. banks have stopped accepting applications.

Restaurants report chicken wing shortage

North Carolina is experiencing a chicken wing shortage. One restaurant owner reported that the price for a case of wings had more than doubled. Among those restaurants struggling to get their hands on wings is Bojangles, which is running low on their famous Chicken Supremes.  The shortage is a national phenomenon, due in part to COVID-19 supply shifts and a recent surge in demand for chicken sandwiches.

UAW ends 13-day strike against Volvo Trucks North America

Volvo Trucks North America and the United Auto Workers union reached a tentative agreement on a five-year contract that covers approximately 2,900 employees at the truck assembly operations in Dublin, Va. The deal ends a 13-day walkout against the Greensboro-based truck maker. Production is expected to resume today. Volvo Group is the only heavy-duty truck manufacturing company that assembles all of its trucks and engines for the North American market in the U.S.

Raleigh-based McKim & Creed taps CEO

Raleigh engineering and surveying company McKim & Creed named Steven W. Smith CEO. He succeeds John T. Lucey Jr., who will remain chairman of the board. Smith previously worked at WSP, where he served in several executive positions. McKim & Creed has 600 employees in the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia, Florida and Texas.

Asheville area experiencing a different form of anti-development backlash

Much of the growth around Asheville over the past decade has come from people moving from other parts of North Carolina — about 13,950 from 2013-17. But more than twice that many people (about 29,374) came from out of state. As Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Haywood counties’ populations inches closer to 500,000, many residents have seen an increase in hostility toward transplants and new development, according to a report from Asheville Citizen Times.

New York real estate company launching Raleigh office

New York-based real estate brokerage firm Compass is entering the Triangle market by opening a Raleigh office with 55 agents in the new Crabtree Terrace office building across from Crabtree Valley Mall. The company had $3.7 billion in revenue in 2020, a more than 50% jump year over year. Compass, which went public about a month ago, has about 20,000 agents in offices across the U.S. including Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

Conduit Global could lay off as many as 173 workers in McLeansville

Conduit Global, a telecommunications service provider, filed paperwork indicating it could lay off as many as 173 employees in McLeansville within the next 60 days. The telecommunications service provider is “attempting to ensure the continuation of certain business activities,” but says it fails to do so, the layoffs will be required, and its McLeansville location will be shut down.

Blackstone arm buys Triad portfolio for $193.47 million

Revantage, which provides real estate services to The Blackstone Group, a private equity alternative investment management firm based in New York, has purchased a Triad industrial portfolio in one of the largest single deals the Triad has ever seen. The $193.47 million deal includes 15 properties totaling 1.93 million square feet of space on about 207 acres. The seller was Liberty Property Trust, which was acquired by San Francisco-based Prologis in February 2020.

Apple salaries for new Triangle jobs nearly double its average wage

Tech giant Apple’s average salaries are slated to rise to an average of more than $187,000 annually after three years at its planned $1 billion Triangle campus. That amount is close to triple the average Wake County wage of about $64,000, and nearly double what current Apple workers make on average. Apple plans to focus its Triangle hiring on machine learning, artificial intelligence and software engineers.

Statesville City Council considers incentives for major expansion project

On Monday, the city council is considering incentives for Project Mountain, an unnamed company with existing operations in Statesville. If the project moves forward, the company would invest $70 million in its existing location for the addition of a 500,000-square-foot facility, creating between 175 and 250 new jobs. There is speculation that the project is linked with Doosan Portable Power, which currently employs nearly 400 workers at its Statesville plant.

Lowe’s to hire 50,000+ workers, including many in the Triangle, on “National Hiring Day”

Mooresville-based home-improvement company Lowe’s is actively filling seasonal positions and permanent full-time and part-time roles. On National Hiring Day on May 4, Lowe’s plans to hire more than 50,000 workers, including  more than 700 new associates across its Raleigh and Durham stores. As the home-improvement market has skyrocketed during the pandemic, Lowe’s has seen a greater demand for more workers.

UNC Greensboro leads UNC System schools in hitting strategic plan targets

UNC Greensboro met all five for its priority strategic goals for the third straight year, the only school in the UNC System to achieve that level of success.  The goals were set four years ago by chancellors at the 17 system campuses in a program developed by former President Margaret Spellings. The measures for UNCG included improvments in enrollment and graduation of low-income students and graduation rates. Five other campuses met four of their five key strategic goals last year:  N.C. A&T State, N.C. State, UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte and UNC School of the Arts.

 

No more outdoor mask mandate as of Friday, governor says

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said masks will no longer be required outdoors, and mass gathering limits will increase to 100 people indoors and to 200 outdoors, effective Friday. The change comes a week after Cooper said he expects to end many COVID-19 restrictions starting June 1. Under the order, retail shops, personal care businesses and museum can operate at full capacity, while restaurants are limited to 75% capacity inside but 100% outside, along with breweries, wineries, amusement parks, gyms and pools.

Cree reports quarterly loss as revenue tops estimates

Cree said it lost $108.9 million in its fiscal third quarter, or 96 cents per share, which was better than forecast. Adjusted for one-time gains and costs, the loss was 22 cents per share. The Durham-based company recently completed the sale of its former LED products segment for about $300 million. Revenue totaled $137 million, topping forecasts of about $130 million. The company will soon change its name to Wolfspeed, the name of its main semiconductor business unit.

Apple jobs could further strain Triangle housing market

An influx of workers at a future Apple campus in Research Triangle Park may cause an even greater surge in home prices in the region’s red-hot real estate market. The area has less than one month’s supply of homes, according to a report by Triangle real estate appraiser Stacey Anfindsen. He predicts “eye popping” prices for the rest of 2021, without even considering the impact of Apple’s announcement. Still, a report by John Burns Real Estate Consulting rates the Raleigh-Durham metro rated as among the nation’s most affordable.

Cox Communication acquires Segra’s business communication unit

Cox Communications is buying the commercial division of Charlotte-based fiber provider Segra, which purchased High Point’s NorthState Communications in 2019. Diego Anderson, senior vice president and general manager of Segra operations, will be the new company’s CEO. Cox, the nation’s third-largest cable provider, will  accelerate fiber installation in many underserved areas of North Carolina, Virginia and other markets.

Cook Out, Biscuitville get high praise in USA Today reader polling

The Triad is the headquarters for two of the 10 best quick-service regional fast-food brands, according to readers surveyed by  USA Today. Cook Out ranked seventh, and Biscuitville was ninth in the polling. Both are family-owned privately held businesses. Thomasville-based Cook Out, owned by the Reaves family, has more than 250 locations and is best known for its milkshakes. Made-from-scratch biscuits are the specialty at Greensboro-based Biscuitville, which is owned by the Jennings family.

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