New business group promotes social responsibility
Eric Henry, President of TS Designs
By Spencer Campbell
Many business leaders agree that House Bill 2 was a bad idea, at least economically. But the controversial bill convinced Eric Henry, CEO of Burlington-based screen printer TS Designs, that businesses in the state needed a new, socially responsible perspective helping shape economic policy. After nearly two years of planning and organization, Henry and other business leaders debuted the North Carolina Business Council in September. “We felt that the voice for mission-driven businesses was missing in laws that impact business today,” Executive Director Vicki Lee Parker says.
The council has identified five areas of policy for which it will advocate: buying local and onshoring manufacturing; protecting the environment; racial and gender diversity; election integrity; and agriculture. Its principles are extensions of the “three Ps” — people, the planet and profits — that guide Henry’s TS Designs. Parker bristles at a suggestion that it will lean left: “We’re not anti-anyone,” she says. While the nonprofit can’t lobby lawmakers, it will invite policymakers to members’ facilities to witness how socially responsible practices improve profitability.
The new group has a long way to catch up with the North Carolina Chamber, whose 35,000 members employ more than 1.2 million people. NCBC currently has about 30 members, including Chicago-based real-estate firm Redwood Capital Group, which owns nine properties in North Carolina, and small enterprises like Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery. Its first annual leadership awards luncheon is scheduled for Nov. 3 in Durham. “Our goal is to empower, influence and educate businesses of the policies that affect them,” Parker says.
The newest housing at N.C. State University is the opposite of a grungy dorm room. The 164-room StateView Hotel opened last month on Centennial Campus on land owned by the university’s endowment fund, near its alumni center and Lonnie Poole Golf Course. The hotel, with rack rates of $239 to $750 a night, is a part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, among the Bethesda, Md.-based hospitality group’s ”upper upscale” portfolio that includes Le Meridien, Sheraton and Westin. Amenities include more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space and a restaurant and bar called Flask & Beaker, a nod to N.C. State’s life-sciences school. To burnish the Wolfpack theme, rooms are called dens and corridors are adorned with original art from the College of Textiles. No university funds were used to build StateView, which was developed by Atlanta-based Noble Investment Group. Noble CEO Mit Shah is a Wake Forest University grad who earlier this year gave $5 million to his alma mater’s basketball program.
DURHAM — Gregg Lowe was named chief executive officer of LED-maker Cree. He succeeds Chuck Swoboda, who is stepping down after 16 years leading the company that had 2016 revenue of $1.5 billion. Lowe was president and CEO of Freescale Semiconductor, which was acquired by Austin, Texas-based NXP in 2015, and worked at Texas Instruments for nearly 30 years.
Andrew Witty joined Hatteras Venture Partners as a partner. Witty was chief executive officer of United Kingdom-based drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline from 2008 until April. Hatteras is a venture-capital firm that invests in life-sciences companies. It has about $450 million under management.
RALEIGH — Bandwidth is looking to raise $85 million in an initial public offering, according to an SEC filing. The company, led by co-founder and CEO David Morken, provides a cloud-based communications platform for customers including Google and Microsoft. Bandwidth employs 338 people and had 2016 revenue of $152 million.
CARY — Höganäs opened a global headquarters office for its business area environmental division, which is focused on improving water purification and soil remediation techniques. The Sweden-based company expects to employ 60 people at the office, which relocated from Johnstown, Pa.