After raising an additional $1.78 billion from investors, Cary’s Epic Game is now valued at $17.3 billion. Investors in the latest round include Sony, Carolina Panthers’ owner David Tepper, KKR and Smash Ventures. The company’s most popular game, Fortnite, continues to be a success, bringing in $1.8 billion in 2019 and reaching 350 million registered users.
The best way to jump start your business day.
Subscribe to the Daily Digest and get all of the latest business news from all around North Carolina straight to your inbox… for free!
The University of North Carolina Wilmington says it had a ransomware attack on its fundraising division this week. The breach exposed information on past and future potential donors, but the university does not believe any personal data has been misused. The attack didn’t appear to access financial information, but did gather names, physical addresses, history of gifts made to UNCW, phone numbers and email addresses.
Greensboro-based apparel maker Kontoor Brands, parent of Wrangler and Lee, saw a 43% drop in revenue in the second quarter compared to last year because of the pandemic. The company’s revenue came in at $349 million, higher than analysts expected, but it was still a major drop from previous years. There was an adjusted loss per share of 22 cents.
The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina recently purchased a 5-acre tract in Wilmington that previously housed a grocery store to expand its services in the area. The site was previously an Everybody’s Supermarket, which was destroyed in a fire. The new facility will allow for distribution of an additional 4.2 million pounds of food. The food bank purchased the property from Cameron Management for $375,000.
A Charlotte developer has plotted for a $150 million retail destination in the town of Fuquay-Varina in Wake County. The deal for Bellchase, a proposed open-air shopping center, is eight years in the making and will be situated on about 100 acres. The 800,000-square-foot shopping center will offer high-end retail as well as office space and is expected to generate 1,300 jobs.
Caswell County Economic Development is opening CoSquare in a 9,000-square-foot renovated drugstore in the center of the town. The development office has been exploring opening a coworking space for more than two years and is working with HQ Raleigh to complete the project. The space will open in late summer or fall.
The Grand Bohemian opened in Charlotte on Wednesday with 254 Argentine-themed rooms, 6,000 square feet of meeting and event space, and a rooftop restaurant. The $100 million project was originally slated to open in April but was delayed because of the coronavirus. The hotel will adjust its procedures and operate at half capacity because of the virus.
The Charlotte area lost 156,400 jobs in the second quarter, with about 40% of the losses coming from the hospitality and leisure industry, according to the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Finance and insurance employment was flat as many banks pledged to retain staff. It’s the biggest loss of jobs of any quarter in at least 20 years, the alliance said. The region has nearly 1.3 million jobs.
Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state will remain in Phase 2 of its reopening plan through Sept. 11 as schools across the state reopen. Though the Covid-19 indicators are mostly stable, Cooper said continued caution is warranted. More than 129,000 positive virus tests have been reported in the state, while 2,050 deaths have been attributed to Covid-19. The goal is for these numbers to decrease before businesses like bars and gyms are allowed to reopen.
Charlotte chemicals company Albermarle Corp. says the pandemic hasn’t slowed down its production processes, reporting $764 million in second-quarter sales. This is more than the $710 million that was predicted for the company, which manufactures chemicals including lithium and bromine. The company isn’t sure its third quarter will see the same success due to lower production rates from large automotive manufacturers that buy lithium batteries.
To stop people from loitering at restaurants late at night, Buncombe County is likely to halt liquor sales at 9 p.m., two hours earlier than the state mandate of 11 p.m. Officials cited the high tourism rate in the area and say restaurants have been effectively operating as bars, but because they serve food have been protected. Though no vote was taken by the county commission, the order is expected to go into effect this week.
Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Bank announced two new staffed branches in Chapel Hill and and Wake Forest, which comes after a recent announcement for a bank branch in Raleigh as well. The bank’s retail executive for North Carolina, Tommy Lloyd, said that more than 20 locations are planned for the region. The two new locations will have video screens, plentiful seating areas and may be open to community events.
At a socially distanced ceremony on Wednesday, Fort Bragg’s garrison colors were passed to Col. Scott Pence. Pence will oversee day-to-day operations for military families on the installation. Fort Bragg is the largest U.S. Army Base by population, with over 52,000 active duty soldiers and over 98,000 Army retirees and family members. Col. Phillip Sounia was relieved from the position June 19 for undisclosed reasons.
The Charlotte Ballet is cancelling this year’s performance of Nutcracker, which was set for Dec. 4-27. A holiday tradition for many, this is the first time in 28 years the show in downtown Charlotte has been cancelled. Over 150 individuals are involved in the production, and concerns of the spread of Covid prompted the ballet company to cancel.
UNC-Chapel Hill will lead a $40 million project that will attempt to convert solar energy into liquid fuel. The North Carolina-based Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels, also known as CHASE, is led by the college and will use the funding to build on a foundation of research they’ve already been doing for the project.
The Community Builders, headquartered in Boston, will begin revamping the Johnston Mill as an apartment complex. The goal will be around 230 units between the historic mill and a building the company will construct beside it. At the same time The Community Builders purchased the Johnston Mill in 2011, it also purchased the Mecklenburg Mill, which was refurbished into 48 affordable housing units and opened in 2015.
Carowinds, one of the Carolinas’ largest tourist attractions and employer of more than 1,000 full-time and part-time employees, will remain closed through the remainder of this year due to the pandemic. The York County Commission chairman said the loss of tax revenue will have a devastating impact on the South Carolina municipality. The park, which straddles the state line and is owned by Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment, never received clearance from local and state officials to open.
The RCLCO Real Estate Advisors 2020 STEM Job Growth Index has placed Charlotte and Raleigh in top 10 positions for growth in science and technology jobs this year. They ranked No. 1 and No. 5, respectively, out of the 38 biggest metro areas. The listing is meant to show current information and provide a prediction of the future of STEM jobs in different cities based on changing local economies, migration of young households and other factors.
Maryland-based Noravax reported its early clinical trials of a Covid-19 vaccine reported positive immune response, meaning its partner, Fujifilm Diosynth, could be much closer to manufacturing the drug for the public at its Morrisville plant. Phase one of the clinical trial took place in Australia with 131 adults, all of whom showed antibodies after a single dose.
Buncombe County joined Asheville in a historic vote approving reparations for its Black residents. The measure passed 4-3 and does not mean residents will gain direct payments, but that the county will prioritize racial equity in the implementation of the Buncombe County Strategic Plan. Asheville passed a similar resolution on July 14.
Two are dead after Tropical Storm Isaias hit the Carolinas last night, and a mother and two children were still missing Tuesday afternoon in Bertie County. Several tornadoes came with the storm, including one that touched down in Bertie, decimating a trailer park. Heavy damage was reported at Oak Island and Ocean Isle Beach.
Dallas-based ClubCorp closed on the sale and long-term leaseback of the Devils Ridge Golf Club in Holly Springs for $4 million. The buyer is an LLC that shares an address with New York hedge fund Sculptor Capital, but the name was not released. ClubCorp is one of the nation’s largest owners of private clubs and will continue operating the Wake County club under a 20-year lease. They’ve owned the club for 20 years.
Raleigh’s G1 Therapeutics announced a $170 million deal with China-based Simcere Pharmaceutical Group for trilaciclib which will help patients recover from chemotherapy. This is the oncology firm’s third deal in three months; the others were for a breast cancer drug and another for breast and lung cancer treatment. The latest deal involves a $14 million upfront payment with the balance hinging on reaching commercial and development milestones.
TransEnterix, based in Morrisville, hopes to receive FDA approval to expand the use of its robotic surgery system beyond the current surgeries it’s approved for. The Senhance Surgical System is limited to gynecological and colorectal surgeries; cholecystectomy, and inguinal hernia repair.
Service Trade, a Durham-based company that develops software to help HVAC and electrical companies with scheduling and tracking, raised about $30 million from prominent N.C. investment firms, Bull City Venture Partners and Frontier Growth. The company was formed in 2012 and has about 600 customers. It previously raised $4.1 million. Bill Marshall is CEO.
Dozens of major employers across the state are delaying returning to the office, in some instances until next year. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Duke Energy and Red Ventures say the majority of their employees will continue working remotely until at least Labor Day. These announcements come as many N.C. schools opt for remote learning this fall, leaving working parents unsure of childcare.
Businesses along Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street are struggling to remain open during the pandemic, with some including Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza announcing they’re closing. Other restaurants like Peño Mediterranean Grill, Waffle House, Ms. Mong’s and Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe have yet to reopen. Businesses say diminished activity at adjacent UNC Chapel Hill is causing sharp revenue declines.
Proposed legislature may have some California earners paying 54% in federal and state taxes, which has experts guessing they may be moving to more business-friendly states. Ted Abernathy, managing partner of Economic Leadership N.C., said the trend of north California businesses moving to North Carolina started long before the pandemic, but the state’s low cost of living and the ability of workers to plug in anywhere may increase the phenomenon.
Raleigh’s Bandwidth, which provides provides software to enable 911, voice calls and text messaging services, says increased remote working has created a larger need for its services. The company reported revenue of $76.8 million in its second quarter, including 40% growth in its main service. As much as $5 million of the increase stems from pandemic-related factors.
Synchrono Group, a digital startup that offers “insurance as a service,” filed a securities filing for $2.6 million from 16 funders. The Raleigh firm is hoping to raise an additional $587,000. The startup was founded in 2019 and offers technology powered by artificial intelligence software. Steven Hartman and David Klemish are listed as executive officers.
Anthony Wayne March, the former operator of the nonprofit Asset Trader in Rolesville, is accused of soliciting 22 clients to invest in charitable gifts and other investments but using the funds to pay for a jet, a yacht and a property in the Bahamas. March was charged last year with one count of securities fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of bankruptcy fraud, one count of obstruction of a bankruptcy case, three counts of false oaths and four counts of money laundering. He plead guilty on Monday to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and will be sentenced in November.
Wilmington’s Bitty & Beau’s Coffee announced Monday their intent to begin franchising – a move folks have been requesting for years. The coffee shop opened in 2016 and in 2017 opened their second location in Charleston, S.C. They now have locations in Savannah, Ga.; Annapolis, Md., and the Port City and Mayfaire neighborhoods in Wilmington.
A Spanish professor at UNC Chapel Hill sued the school and Duke University, saying a deal between the colleges not to poach professors from each other prevents faculty members’ ability to progress in their careers and make more money. A similar lawsuit in May 2019 involving medical faculty resulted in Duke paying $54.5 million to professors and both schools agreeing to prevent anti-competitive agreements. The latest lawsuit represents nonmedical faculty and says the schools have colluded as far back as the 1970s.
Durham-based Spreedly, a payments-software technology company, hired Jillian Munro as chief technology officer, and Randy Guard as chief marketing officer. Munro has been the N.C. site lead at Fidelity Investments in Durham, while Guard was the top marketing officer at SAS in Cary. Spectrum Equity invested $75 million last year in Spreedly, which is led by Justin Benson.
Hanesbrands’ new CEO, Stephen Bratspies, is already eligible for more than $2.8 million in equity awards. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, the company said its equity awards were to induce Bratspies to begin employment on Aug. 3. The company is giving three types of equity awards: restricted stock units, performance stock units and options to purchase 250,000 shares of company common stock. He’s a former senior executive at Walmart.
The Federal Aviation Administration is giving $21.1 million to expand a terminal building at Wilmington International Airport. The expansion project is already underway, and the new grant will help pay for the third phase of the project, which includes four new gates in an expanded gate area, expanded concessions and a TSA checkpoint.
Charlotte developer Hopper Communities will be developing 465 single-family and townhomes in Rolesville over the next six years. The project will take place on 91 acres and will be built in two phases. Construction is set to begin next year.
Tech industry job postings across the country are recovering more slowly than other industries, according to a new report by job hiring site Indeed. In the Triangle, tech job postings fell 45%, compared to a 25% dip for overall job postings. Charlotte saw a decrease as well, with tech job postings falling 52%. Experts say this may be due to the ability for most workers in the industry to work from home and decisions by companies to stick with their current employee base.
Both Durham and Raleigh ranked in the top 20 U.S. cities with fast unemployment rate recovery, placing thirteenth and twentieth, respectively, according to a study from personal finance site WalletHub. The report compared 180 cities in two categories: the change in unemployment from June 2020 to June 2019 and January 2020 as well as the overall unemployment rate.
Bald Head Island Ltd. and East West Partners are partnering to build a $565 million development consisting of single-family homes, apartments, townhomes, duplexes and some commercial space in South Brunswick. The development, called Project Indigo, will take between 10 and 15 years, according to officials. The majority of the development will lie outside Southport’s city limits in unincorporated Brunswick County with a goal of the city annexing the land in the future.
Joint owners Bain Capital and Longfellow Real Estate Partners said Longfellow agreed to pay $138 million for full ownership of Durham.ID, a two-tower office complex in the Bull City’s downtown. The site includes two office buildings and an 8-story parking deck, totaling 330,369-square-feet of office and retail space. Boston-based Longfellow and capital partner Bain started the project in 2014.
Traffic data from the N.C. Department of Transportation shows rush hour traffic in large cities throughout the state has decreased the last few months as more people begin working from home. Traffic numbers dropped by half in many places during the height of stay-at-home orders in March and April. Though it has rebounded a bit since then, traffic still remains low in cities like Charlotte, Raleigh and Cary.
A new report from data company MX shows a 60% jump in people heading to fast-food restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. The three most popular fast-food spots in North Carolina have been McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Bojangles. McDonald’s ranked as the most popular fast food option in 43 states.
PPD and Trial Management Associates are assisting Massachusetts-based Moderna in Phase 3 of its COVID-19 vaccine study. PPD is working alongside Moderna in developing the study, while TMA is helping facilitate Phase 3 clinical trials in Wilmington. Both companies were also involved in Phase 2 of the study.
Raleigh’s K4Connect is partnering with Allbridge, a provider of data and video support services for senior citizens, to further expand its wellness platform. K4Connect provides smart technologies for home automation, wellness-data collection and engagement activities for senior-living centers. The company reported 500% growth this year due to demand stemming from the pandemic.
LoanWell, a cloud-based fundraising platform that helps people get low-interest loans from supporters, has nabbed a spot in the Google for Startups Accelerator for Black Founders. The Durham company is one of 12 across the company to gain a spot in the inaugural accelerator. LoanWell allows people to bypass bank financing or credit cards to gain funds.
Award-winning Chef David Burke has announced two new projects for Charlotte: a rooftop bar named Skybar by David Burke and restaurant RedSalt by David Burke. Both will be located in Le Méridien Charlotte and will open this summer. David Burke and David Burke Hospitality Management own 14 restaurants in major cities across the U.S.
Merry Oaks, a small village about 30 minutes from Raleigh, is up for sale for $349,000. The historical area includes a boarding house, general store, train depot and post office which survived the 1918 influenza and the Civil War, though the automobile later made the town obsolete. The buildings date back to 1840. The village occasionally hosts gatherings and retreats.
Deutsche Bank, which has a major tech outpost in Cary, says it is on track with its restructuring to keep the business afloat, even with loan losses amid the pandemic. The bank reported a net profit of $60 million in the second quarter due to staff cuts and revenue growth. Since last year, the bank has cut its worldwide payroll by 18,000, including reducing staff in Cary from 900 to 577.
North Carolinians can’t lose have their utility services turned off for nonpayment until September after the N.C. Utilities Commissions issued an order blocking utilities from cutting off service. The move occurs as Gov. Roy Cooper let his executive orders on utility payments expire this week. In April, Cooper banned utility providers from disconnecting or fining non-paying customers. The commission’s order also extends customers’ repayment period to at least a year.