Sunday, May 26, 2024

Opening up

A clever tradition of some civic groups is to charge members a few bucks every time their names appear in the press, promoting selflessness. Journalists think it’s a nutty idea because businesspeople, politicians and bureaucrats who speak to the media invariably have more credibility than those who avoid us. For sure, there’s a chance of being misquoted or misinterpreted because of a lack of knowledge or context. Or reporters and editors might mess up. Fortunately, most businesspeople understand the greater good that comes from a candid flow of information. A favorite example was the late Ken Iverson, a gravelly voiced CEO who would pick up his own phone calls and answer any question as he built Charlotte’s Nucor Corp. into a giant steel company.

The unsung heroes of this magazine are those willing to share their stories in considerable detail, often with little to gain. It’s easier to publish a cover of a gorgeous beach scene or a list of best barbecue restaurants. Business North Carolina, now in its 35th year, has a tradition of reaching for more, hoping to both inform and entertain. In August, Premier Inc. CEO Susan DeVore demystified her Charlotte-based health care company. Last month, Lowes Foods President Tim Lowe described how his Winston-Salem-based supermarket chain plans to outsmart larger rivals.

This edition includes the 31st annual list of the state’s largest private companies, compiled by Grant Thornton LLP. While some big companies based in North Carolina prefer to keep a low profile, the list has provided a good snapshot of key players in the state’s economy. We value Grant Thornton’s diligence in producing the ranking and each entrant’s participation. Thanks for sharing.

When the Martians land on earth, one of the first questions they will ask is why do Americans spend so much time and money on the exciting, violent sport called football. Consider that about 44,000 people voted in Charlotte’s mayoral primary election on Sept. 15, while about 73,000 people typically attend Carolina Panthers games. Fantasy leagues and online betting are now accelerating the game’s popularity, while probably denting worker productivity. Before the first play this season, the Panthers and the other 31 NFL teams each received $226 million from the league for television-rights fees, based on a report from the publicly owned Green Bay Packers. Professional football’s annual take from TV rights has jumped 140% since 2010 to $7.2 billion. Broadcasters also have pledged more than $10 billion on college football fees.

So we were a bit wary about joining the herd and devoting a cover story to a football subject. But then we met Ruffin McNeill, whose perspective on life and impact on his community’s development transcends his job coaching football at East Carolina University. He talked with us and never flinched at any question. I’m not partisan on North Carolina sports, but it will be hard to pull against the Pirates as long as Coach Ruff is around.


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David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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