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Burt’s Bees owner Clorox adding 158 jobs in Durham

Clorox is moving its Better Health Vitamins, Minerals and Supplement group headquarters to Durham with 158 jobs promised and a $7.5 million investment. The jobs are expected to pay an average of $123,000 and will include product researchers and developers. Oakland, Calif.-based Clorox has about 500 employees in Durham, where it bought locally based Burt’s Bees in 2007. The company may receive more than $2 million in incentives if it meets hiring goals.

Novant CEO Armato received $4.1M in 2019 compensation

Novant Health says CEO Carl Armato received a 3.9% increase in total compensation to $4.14 million in fiscal 2019, including a  7.9% increase in salary and 9% increase in incentive pay. Armato succeeded Paul Wiles as CEO in 2012. Novant had excess revenue of $523 million in 2019, bolstered by a big increase in its investment portfolio. Operating revenue gained 9% to $5.4 billion. The Winston-Salem-based system is buying Wilmington’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center in a $5.3 billion deal.


$100M VA health care clinic coming to Garner

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has selected Garner for a $100 million, 244,860-square-foot outpatient multispecialty clinic. It’s expected in employ about 400 VA employees. Services could include cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, pulmonology, pathology, audiology and speech, rehabilitation medicine, and imaging services including CT and MRI. Hickory’s Atriax/PPGG JV is the developer and lessor on the project.

Lowe’s looks to sublease some of its Charlotte office space

Lowe’s Cos. wants to sublease 125,000 square feet of its office space at the Charlotte Plaza building in downtown Charlotte. The Mooresville-based retailer is moving many of its IT workers to a new office tower in the South End area that is expected to be finished in late 2021. Lowe’s has about 200,000 square feet of space leased at the Charlotte Plaza.  More than 1 million square feet of Charlotte office space is available for sublease, real estate industry officials say.

Sealed Air names new CFO

Charlotte, N.C.-based Sealed Air said Christopher Stephens will  succeed James Sullivan as chief financial officer on Jan 1. Stephens comes from industrial products company Barnes Group, where he was CFO since 2009. Sullivan replaced Bill Stiehl, who was fired as Sealed Air’s CFO in June 2019 following an internal review by the company’s board. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018 and 2019 sought information on the company’s accounting for income taxes and how it selected its audit firm.



Leaders debate whether to put $30M into broadband growth

Officials remain divided on whether to spend $30 million of federal money on expanding broadband internet in rural North Carolina. Some General Assembly leaders want the money to support a technology grant program, but  Gov. Roy Cooper says it may not qualify under federal rules covering the stimulus funds. The governor says he’s looking for a solution by the Dec. 31 deadline for directing the money.

Novant eyes 32-bed hospital in southwest Charlotte

Novant Health is planning a 186,000-square-foot, 32-bed hospital with two operating rooms in southwest Charlotte near Interstate 485 and Steele Creek Road. The proposed $178.6 million project is called Steele Creek Medical Center and is scheduled to open in 2025, pending regulatory approval. The Winston-Salem-based system has been approved for a $154 million, 161,000-square-foot hospital in Charlotte’s Ballantyne area, with construction expected to start in December.

Federal judges order rehearing of Smithfield damages award

A federal appeals court overturned a multimillion-dollar verdict against Smithfield Foods’ Murphy Brown subsidiary after noting that the jury shouldn’t have been told that four executives were receiving $245 million in compensation over four years. A lawyer for Bladen County residents made the statement about pay during the hog farm pollution case, which led to a $2.5 million damages award, the most allowed under state law. Now the decision on damages must go back to court, minus any comments on exec compensation.

Delay for new downtown Charlotte hotel atop Carolina Theater

The Foundation for the Carolinas is delaying construction for a $100 million, 257-room InterContinental Hotel atop the renovated Carolina Theatre in downtown Charlotte because of the pandemic. Work is continuing on restoring the 93-year-old theater, which is part of a $50 million North Tryon Street project. Hotel developer Salter Brothers, an Australian firm, says lodging financing has dried up.

RewardStock timed sale to Experian smart, investor notes

Cary entrepreneur Jonathan Hayes showed smart timing in selling his business, RewardStock, to credit-reporting company Experian, according to Triangle venture capital investor David Gardner. His Cofounders Capital made “a multiple” on its $590,000 investment in RewardStock, which helps consumers make the best use of their travel-related reward points. Hayes hasn’t shared details of the transaction, which occurred in early 2020 before the pandemic caused major damage on the travel industry.

Slow return to office appears likely for big Charlotte employers

Downtown Charlotte appears likely to remain quiet through January, at least. Major employers Bank of America and Wells Fargo say they are hoping that workers will be back to the office towers early next year, but the timing depends on vaccines and Covid-19 status. Meanwhile, other big employers such as Red Ventures, Brighthouse Financial and others are suggesting workers are likely to return in mass to their offices in mid- to late 2021.

Why N.C. Democrats didn’t gain state legislative power

Tremendous turnout for Republicans devoted to President Donald Trump, news of U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham’s extramarital affair and aggressive campaigns by GOP candidates are key factors why N.C. Democrats failed in their bid to take control of the N.C. House and Senate, according to an Associated Press analysis. Joe Biden’s decision not to visit the state in the last 16 days of the campaign may have also helped the Republicans, analysts say.

Buncombe tourism officials count on strong holidays to close year

Hotel room demand in Buncombe County declined 18% from a year earlier, showing continued improvement since the pandemic caused an 82% decline in April, tourism industry officials said. The industry is hoping that a strong holiday period can help the region’s hotels, restaurants and attractions finish the year strong. About 30% of the Biltmore Estate’s annual revenue is typically related to the holidays, while 40% of the Omni Grove Park Inn’s revenue comes from the fourth quarter in most years, officials said.

Top aides to Berger, Moore jumping to UNC System posts

The University of North Carolina system named Andrew Tripp as general counsel, while Bart Goodson will head government affairs under President Peter Hans. Tripp has been chief of staff to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, while Goodson was chief of staff under House Speaker Tim Moore. Berger and Moore are considered the state’s two most powerful lawmakers. Current UNC General Counsel Tom Shanahan is joining UNC Health, which is affiliated with UNC Chapel Hill, a health care system spokesman said.



Governor’s new school program may cut broadband funding

N.C. Senate Republicans are criticizing Gov. Roy Cooper for eliminating federal pandemic relief funding to rural broadband projects, apparently to instead pay for a new education program. Fifteen Senate Republicans wrote the governor asking him to explain his decision. Cooper’s move may be related to the new N.C. Education Corps partnership, which will hire tutors to assist public schools students across the state. Local schools will pay the tutors with money from federal stimulus funds, which the Republicans say had been intended for broadband.


UNC Health plans med school campus at Novant’s Charlotte site

Novant Health and UNC Chapel Hill’s health care unit plan a future UNC School of Medicine branch campus at Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte. The institutions didn’t say when the Charlotte medical school would open. The news follows Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s plan, announced in October, to add a medical-school campus in Charlotte in a partnership with Atrium Health. Novant and Atrium are the dominate hospital operators in the Charlotte area.


Morrisville’s Liquida closes on acquisition of RareGen

Morrisville drugmaker Liquida Technologies has closed on its acquisition of Durham-based RareGen. As part of the deal, RareGen’s owners will receive 5.5 million Liquida shares and an additional 2.7 million shares dependent on net sales goals in 2021. RareGen focuses on drugs for rare diseases including Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, a type of high blood pressure that affects arteries in the lungs and heart.

Ex-Barings CEO Finke forms SPAC to buy businesses

Former Barings CEO Tom Finke is leading a new special purpose acquisition company in Charlotte that is seeking a $100 million initial public offering. Adara Acquisition expects to offer 10 million units at $10 each. SPACs gather money to acquire existing businesses, similar to private-equity groups. Other Adara executives are Martin Sumichrast, co-CEO of Charlotte-based cbdMD, and Paul Porter, formerly with Stone Street Partners. Finke is leaving Barings on Nov. 30.

N.C. housing market still hot, despite pandemic

The Raleigh and Charlotte areas are still experiencing a red-hot housing market, despite the challenges of the pandemic. The median list price of houses is up 11.4% from this time last year in Raleigh, and homes are spending a shorter time on the market. In Charlotte, median housing prices have increased 9.8% from last year, according to data from home-buying website Zillow.

Buncombe County approves $27M Pratt & Whitney subsidy

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $27 million economic development incentive for aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, its largest corporate subsidy ever. The incentive would be paid over 14 years as business targets are met. Some members of the public criticized the funding, citing Pratt & Whitney’s military work. The East Hartford, Conn.-based company plans a $650 million plant near Asheville that is expected to employ as many as  800 people.

State panel recommends legalization of marijuana

The N.C. Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice has recommended North Carolina legalize small amounts of marijuana, making it a civil offense and expunging past convictions. In their recommendations, the panel also suggests a separate study looking at the full legalization of possessing, growing and selling marijuana. The panel will make formal recommendations to Gov. Roy Cooper on Dec. 15.

Downtown South in Raleigh faces financing issues

Raleigh’s Downtown South development will be discussed at a city advisory board today for rezoning approval, but it faces financing difficulties. The major mixed-use development requires a financing method the city has not used before, which would allow developers to pay for certain community benefits from the project’s tax revenue. City officials have opposed tax increment financing previously and remain split on this project.

$5 million in state grants announced for food insecurity

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a partnership that will give families who lack money for food access to $5 million in grants. The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities and Livingstone College will work to provide resources to communities hit hardest by the pandemic. Nearly half of N.C. households have reported little to no confidence they can afford food in the next four weeks.

Big Goldsboro warehouse sold for $5.7 million

A 166,000-square-foot warehouse near downtown Goldsboro was sold earlier this month by Tampa real estate investor Welfont Investments LLC to private investors based in Pennsylvania. The property sits on nearly 10 acres and is being leased by Beacon Roofing Supply, which has been at the site for 20 years. Beacon Roofing’s lease and the building’s location near the interchange of two highways made the property an attractive.

Epic takes its legal battle with Apple to Australia

Cary’s Epic Games has expanded its legal battle with Apple to Australia, claiming the tech giant is violating Australian consumer law by banning its popular game Fortnite from the Apple app store and iOS system. The Competition and Consumer Commission is already reviewing the app store policies. This comes as the two companies are in the midst of a legal battle in the U.S. as well; a trial is expected early 2021.

Steak 48 comes to Charlotte

Award-winning steakhouse Steak 48 will debut in Charlotte’s Southpark area on Dec. 18, complete with an in-house butcher shop. The steakhouse has other locations in major cities across the U.S., including Philadelphia, Houston and Chicago. An exposed kitchen will allow guests to watch the preparation of their dinner. The restaurant will have a 6,000-bottle wine vault.

Hospitality rebound helps Charlotte area add 43,100 jobs in Q3

Employment in the Charlotte area increased by 43,100 jobs, or 3.5% in the third quarter, benefiting from a partial recovery in the leisure and hospitality industry, according to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Highlighting the quarter was health insurer Centene’s announcement of more than 3,200 jobs at a University City campus, the largest jobs announcement in decades. Thirteen other companies made expansion plans during the quarter, pledging $200 million.



N.C. chief justice race gets a recount

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has asked for a recount after final votes were tallied and her challenger, Justice Paul Newby, led by only 406 votes. The recount will begin Thursday and be finished by Nov. 25. If Newby wins, the Supreme Court would be made up of four Democrats and 3 Republicans. He would also oversee the state judicial system and determine how the courts move forward in response to Covid-19.

Durham’s Cypress Creek opens its biggest solar project near Houston

A solar project developed by Durham-based Cypress Creek Renewables is delivering power in Brazoria County, Texas near Houston. It’s Cypress Creek’s biggest project ever, involving 162 megawatts. Cypress Creek, which will operate the site, collaborated with project owner Cubico Sustainable Investments on tax equity and the debt financing. Starbucks pledged to buy the project’s power.

New Hanover approves 500-acre rezoning request

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve two rezoning requests that affect over 500 acres of land in Wilmington near the I-40 and I-140 interchange. The rezonings will allow a developer to put a mix of housing in two communities over the next 10 years. The homes, owned by the Trask family, will be developed by Trask Land Co. and will include single-family houses, apartments and townhomes.

Wake Forest Baptist’s role in Moderna vaccine

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center had a pivotal role in the development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 300 volunteers involved in a clinical trial. The Winston-Salem hospital was among the first 10 participants in the U.S. Moderna trial, starting July 27. It partnered with Javara Research on the project. Moderna, a biotech based in Cambridge, Mass., said preliminary results show its vaccine had an effective rate of 94.5% in its Phase Three clinical trial.

Owners, architects and builders settle Triad discrimination cases

The owners, architects and builders of five apartment complexes in the Triad agreed to pay $1.3 million in updates to comply with the federal Fair Housing Act after receiving complaints of housing discrimination. The complaints alleged 325 units and common areas at the complexes were not accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to making the updates, employees of the 10 organizations will receive Fair Housing Act training.

Charlotte approves industrial site with big job outlook

Charlotte City Council approved an industrial job site in southwest Charlotte despite concerns from residents about the environmental impact. The Keith Corp. project is expected to bring 1,000 logistics-oriented jobs and would include 1.5 million square feet of industrial and outdoor storage uses for e-commerce companies and large manufacturers. The chief environmental concern is that the job site, located in the Lake Wylie Protected Area, could affect water quality.

Attorney threatens Title IX lawsuit over ECU sports cuts

An attorney representing female athletes on swimming and tennis teams cut by East Carolina University early this year due to budget constraints sent a letter threatening a class action lawsuit against the school if the teams are not reinstated. The letter cited federal Title IX rules related to bias. The cuts, which were announced in May, also eliminated the men’s tennis and swimming and diving teams. The letter asks for a response from the ECU  chancellor by Thursday.

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