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$35M mixed-use project planned for Greensboro’s busiest retail corridor

Local residents Marty Kotis and Will Stevens are planning to develop “High Ground Lofts & Shops,” a $35 million mixed-use development on 10 acres along Battleground Avenue, one of Greensboro’s busiest retail corridors. The goal is for 40,000 square feet of retail space and 150 to 200 “loft” apartments that are expected to be completed by 2024. The location offers high traffic counts and a lucrative neighborhood. Kotis and Stevens hope to break ground on the project by early 2022.

1.2 million gallon gasoline spill in Huntersville largest in N.C. history

Cleanup continues for a gasoline pipeline spill that occurred in Huntersville last August, but Colonial Pipeline now estimates 1.2 million gallons of gasoline spilled when the pipeline ruptured, a large increase from the previous estimate of 492,339 gallons. Only 55% of the gasoline has been recovered, and workers are still recovering 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of gasoline a day, which means the estimated gallons spilled could continue to increase. A crack in the pipe wall caused the spill. There’s been no affect on the local drinking water so far.

UNC Greensboro taps new board of trustees member

UNC Greensboro grad Margaret Benjamin is replacing Rep. Kathy Manning on the school’s board of trustees. Manning resigned after she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives last fall. She had served on the board for nearly four years. Benjamin, who is on several local nonprofit boards, received the United Way of Greater Greensboro Legacy Award in 2018.

How Durham beat Boston for $61M BioAgilytix expansion

Newly released records show a nearly $19 million incentives package was a key factor in contract-research organization BioAgilytix’s decision to expand in Durham rather than Boston. The company is investing $61.5 million in the expansion and adding 878 jobs at the new headquarters. BioAgilytix CEO Jim Datin said though the incentives package from the state was a factor in its decision, facility acquisition and build-out costs were also taken into consideration.

Hendrick NASCAR team to help make U.S. Army vehicles

Starting this spring, GM Defense in Concord will help produce all-terrain troop carriers for the U.S. Army with the help of the Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR racing team. The production of the Infantry Squad Vehicles are part of a $214.3 million Army contract the company won last year. There will be 649 vehicles  manufactured in the first three years, with a goal to secure more funding over an eight year period.

Truist reports profit gain as loan-loss reserve is sliced

Truist reported higher profit after reducing its loan-loss provision and benefiting from higher loan and fee revenue from the combined BB&T and SunTrust. The Charlotte-based bank said net income rose 75% to $1.23 billion, while adjusted net income was $1.6 billion. The sixth-largest U.S. bank said it has cut more than 3,600 jobs since combining the two banks.  It now employs abou5 53,700 and operates in 17 states.

Charlotte Pipe files to rezone downtown property

Charlotte Pipe and Foundry filed a rezoning petition to convert its land holdings near Bank of America Stadium to use for a mixed-use project. No development plans were issue, though it’s been widely speculated the downtown site could be used for a new Carolina Panthers stadium and entertainment district. One of the nation’s largest pipe manufacturers, Charlotte Pipe plans to move production at the site to a new plant in suburban Stanly County in 2023.

Riverside Furniture plans distribution center at Gibsonville site

Riverside Furniture bought a former Burlington Mills warehouse and manufacturing center in Gibsonville for use as a distribution center with 50 jobs and a $5.4 million investment. Riverside, which is based in Fort Smith, Ark., paid $3.2 million for the property, which includes 50 acres and the 300,000-square-foot structure. It is also spending about $10 million to rehab a former YMCA building in downtown High Point for a new showroom.

Commissioners approve $46M New Hanover government center plan

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners approved a revised agreement for its government center, and also approved a $53 million capital project ordinance to finance the project. The change will will allow the county to save on interest rates and trim construction costs by $3 million to $46 million.  The development will house offices and expanded emergency operations center.

Boggs, Swisher receive pardons as Trump exits

In his last day in office, former President Trump issued a pardon to Union County business owner Carl Boggs of Boggs Paving. He pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges in 2013 related to false receipts of federal and state construction contracts between 2003-13. Boggs claimed to be a disadvantaged vendor in order to win the contracts.

Trump also issued a pardon to Charlotte businessmen Patrick Swisher, who was convicted of tax fraud in the early 2000s while running Swisher Hygiene. Swisher now leads Enviro-Master, a commercial cleaning company with more than 1,000 employees.


Ideal Industries closes Durham facilities, lays off workers

Ideal Industries is closing Cree’s lighting business plant in Durham two years after buying it, laying off 44 employees. The facility will begin closing on March 26, and 33 impacted employees will be offered to transfer to a similar facility in Wisconsin. The news comes two months after Ideal Industries, based in Illinois, was approved for a $250,000 Job Retention Grant from the state.

Inside trading investigation of Sen. Burr closes without charges

The U.S. Justice Department ended its investigation of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr for insider trading without bringing forth any charges. The investigation stemmed from a meeting he attended last year that included discussion of the potential economic impact of Covid-19. Shortly after that gathering, the senator sold shares of stock, thereby avoiding a sharp decline in values that occurred about a week later when fears of the virus became more public. Burr remains under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Trump pardons Robin Hayes

President Donald Trump pardoned former U.S. Rep Robin Hayes, who was serving a  1-year term of probation for making a false statement in the course of a federal investigation. In 2019, Hayes was indicted on corruption and bribery charges involving a scheme to allegedly influence N.C. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey. An heir to the Cannon textile family, Hayes is a former chairman of the N.C. Republican Party


SAS wins legal battle with $79M at stake

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed a 2017 injunction against United Kingdam-based World Programming Limited to stand, giving Cary-based SAS a victory in a long-standing legal fight. SAS had accused WPL of breach of contract and fraud by reverse engineering a SAS software product to develop its own. The court refused to hear the case challenging a previous ruling, which required a $79 million payment.

Raleigh expands free downtown parking to aid businesses

After losing $2.3 million in downtown parking revenue because of limited traffic, the city council voted to expand its free parking program for downtown employees to 400 city-owned spots through the end of April. The program originally offered 100 free spots to those who work downtown in an attempt to help local businesses survive during the pandemic. Raleigh is expected to lose $5 million parking revenue as more people work from home and businesses cancel accounts.

Texas biotech signs Durham lease, expected to bring 200 jobs

Taysha Gene Therapies, headquartered in Dallas, signed a lease in Durham’s Patriot Park industrial development and expects to bring 200 jobs to its manufacturing operation. A second, unnamed life sciences company has also leased space at Patriot Park, filling its second phase as construction is set to begin on the third phase of the park. Taysha and the other company are leasing a combined 375,000 square feet.

VisionQuest employees fined for role in Ponzi scheme

Former VisionQuest employees Stacey Beane and Travis Laska were ordered to pay $7,500 each for their role in a Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Raleigh investment adviser Stephen Peters, who was sent to federal prison 18 months ago. Beane and Laska were sued last year by the SEC and submitted declarations admitting to their role in falsifying documents. They were not charged criminally.

BofA earnings beat projections, but revenue misses

Bank of America reported quarterly earnings per share of 59 cents, 4 cents better than the consensus estimate of analysts. But revenue of $20.2 billion was less than the $20.7 billion estimate.The firm posted $1.74 billion in fixed-income revenue, compared with a $2.11 billion projection. Shares of Bank of America dropped 15% in 2020, compared with the 4.3% decline of the KBW Bank Index.

NC to add 10 mass vaccination sites

Ten mass Covid-19 vaccination sites are planned across the state with the goal of adding up to 45,500 vaccinations a week to the state’s totals, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Some potential locations include the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds and the Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center. Other sites are planned for Albemarle, eastern N.C., Guilford County, Charlotte, Orange County, Durham, Forsyth County, Wake County and western North Carolina.

Demand for high-tech jobs in Raleigh is strong

Open jobs in technology in the Raleigh-Cary area surged 16% year-over-year, with increases seen in software and computer systems engineers and architects in particular, according to a N.C. Tech Association study. Statewide jobs declined slightly in December to 27,722,  with about 1.6% fewer openings than a year earlier. Oracle, IBM and Cisco are among the companies with the largest demand for employees.

Two projects adding apartment units in Lenoir

Construction is underway on two apartment projects in Lenoir that will add more than 100 new apartments. Yorke Lawson and Tom Niemann, owners of Blue Bell Lenoir, are building 46 market-rate units in a former downtown textile plant once owned by apparel maker Blue Bell.  Mark Morgan, owner of MC Morgan & Associates, plans a 68-unit, affordable-housing project located between Wilkesboro Boulevard and Lower Creek Drive. Both developments should be complete by the end of the year.

NC bar owners see cancelled liquor licenses, forced closures

The Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission cancelled 124 liquor licenses this month, taking many bar owners across the state by surprise who thought the General Assembly’s extension last year gave them more time for renewing the permits. The confusion stems from when last year’s 90-day extension period  began, which many bar owners say wasn’t communicated clearly. ABC spokesman Jeff Strickland says the cancellations are common procedure for nonpayment and that there’s no penalty to renew a lapsed license. Permits can cost thousands of dollars per year.

Companies at American Underground raise record $109M

Despite the global pandemic, American Underground, an entrepreneurial hub and startup, saw a record-breaking fundraising year in 2020, with emerging companies at the site raising a combined $108.7 million. Nearly half of the companies that raised money last year were led by a woman founder or a person of color. The Durham-based company is one of 11 Google for Startups hubs in North America and has 275 members.

Lowe’s provided $1.1B in assistance in 2020, CEO says

In an interview with the National Retail Federation at the group’s virtual Big Show, Lowe’s CEO Mark Ellison took time to share corporate accomplishments from the Mooresville-based company in 2020 and the past several years. Among the highlights were $1.1 billion in assistance to communities, first responders, small businesses and other groups in need. Ellison also touched on technological advances the store has made in the past couple of years, making shopping easier for customers.

Charlotte’s BB&T Center changes hands for $115M

A group named BB&T Properties LLC, registered to a New York business address, purchased Charlotte’s 568,646-square-foot BB&T Center from Philadelphia-based Arden Group for $115 million, or about $200 per square foot. Arden bought the building and the adjacent parking deck for $148.5 million in 2017. It sold the parking garage for $85 million to Cousins Properties last year.

Wells Fargo shares sink after Q4 earnings report

Wells Fargo shares declined 7.8% Friday after it reported its fourth-quarter profit gained 5% to $3 billion compared with a year ago, when it set aside $1.5 billion for litigation expenses. Revenue slid by 10% from a year earlier to $17.9 billion.  The bank said it is cutting $10 billion in annual spending, including $3.7 billion this year. It reduced its payroll by 6,400 in the final quarter of 2020.

Charlotte companies rethink political donations following Capitol riot

In 2020, eight of the political-action committees at Charlotte’s largest companies sent $200,000 to Republican candidates who opposed Joe Biden’s election, but now many are ceasing all political donations following the riot at the Capitol two weeks ago. Duke Energy says it is pausing all federal political donations for 30 days. Charlotte-based Bank of America is also halting all political-action committee donations for the immediate future.

Former Wells Fargo lawyer settles fake account charges for $3.5 million

James Strother, Wells Fargo’s top lawyer from 2004 to 2017, will pay $3.5 million for his role in the bank’s fake-accounts scandal. He is accused of not taking action to correct the misconduct despite his department’s knowledge of the problem. As a part of the settlement, Strother is required to cooperate in future investigations into the bank’s misconduct. At least 11 former bank executives have been charged in the fake-accounts scandal, which took place for more than a decade when hundreds of thousands of Wells Fargo employees opened fake accounts in customers names.

Grubb Ventures’ next step for Glenwood Place

Grubb Ventures in Raleigh has plans to submit a rezoning request to continue developing Glenwood Place, a 40-acre mixed-use destination. The request would allow six parcels of land to be used for commercial mixed-use purposes with as many as 12 stories or five stories. Currently, the land is zoned for office mixed-use with as many as five stories. The latest portion of development for Glenwood Place has been in the works for 17 years.

Fayetteville Arts Council employee resigns, citing systemic racism

UniQue Webster resigned from her position on the Fayetteville Arts Council after six years, alleging systemic racism as a reason for her departure. Webster detailed her reasons for leaving in a five-page letter and specifically referred to her efforts to help build a nonprofit while she was faced with “an egregious battle between systematic racism and my worth.” The Fayetteville Arts Council declined to respond to specifics from Webster’s letter, but said it was hiring a third-party expert in diversity and inclusion to investigate.

Mills River gains high-tech greenhouse

Mills River’s Lakeside Produce held tours Friday for its brand new, 15-acre greenhouse equipped with the latest agribusiness technology. The goal of the greenhouse is to produce a variety of tomatoes and mini cucumbers year-round for distribution from Maryland to South Florida. Lakeside Produce was created 10 months ago but already has plans to continue expanding greenhouse to cover 50 acres of its 116 acre parcel.

Panthers hire Scott Fitterer as new GM

The Carolina Panthers NFL team has signed a five-year deal naming Seattle Seahawks Vice President of Football Operations Scott Fitterer as general manager. About 15 candidates were considered for the job after the Panthers fired GM Marty Hurney two weeks before the end of the season. Fitterer will work closely with Panthers Coach Matt Rhule on decisions.

Cone Health CEO, CFO leave ahead of Sentara merger

Cone Health CEO Terry Akin and CFO Jeff Jones announced they will step down once the company’s merger with Sentara Healthcare is complete for “purely personal reasons.” Cone’s Chief Operating Officer Mary Jo Cagle will replace Akin, while Senior Vice President of Financial Services Andy Barrow will succeed Jones. The transition is set for mid-2021. Cone and Sentara announced their merger in August, creating an organization with 17 hospitals and $11 billion in assets.

N.C. A&T picked for NBCUniversal Academy program

Greensboro’s North Carolina A&T State University was one of 17 historically Black universities chosen by NBCUniversal for its new NBCU Academy, a program focused on journalism. NBCUniversal News Group has committed $6.5 million to the school, including $3.5 million in scholarships for journalism programs. NBCU Academy also has a curated curriculum and allows students to work with NBCU News Group journalists.

Durham’s Northgate Mall to undergo major renovation into multiuse space

Northgate Mall in Durham will undergo a dramatic transformation into a mixed-use development with retail, office and residential space this year. Northwood Investors purchased the mall, built in the 1960s, in 2018 for $34.5 million and kept the struggling establishment afloat until last May, when it closed due to the pandemic. The project will include patios, public plazas and green space.

Companies create goal to vaccinate 1 million in N.C. by July 4

Honeywell, Atrium Health, Tepper Sports & Entertainment and the Charlotte Motor Speedway announced a public-private partnership to support 1 million vaccinations by July 4. The partners will work together to administer the vaccine, provide logistics and operations support, and offer venues for the initiative. Novant Health also announced it would open six vaccine sites in the state to help reach a 1 million vaccination goal by April.

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