Wednesday, November 29, 2023
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Pendo CEO Olson withdraws plans for Topsail Island


Todd Olson, the chief executive officer of Raleigh software company Pendo, says he has withdrawn plans to develop the southern end of Topsail Island.

“We are extremely disappointed to get to this point after two years, but we do not believe that a successful outcome is possible based on the current process,” said Olson in a statement to Business North Carolina.

Olson said there are three options for the property, known as The Point: a permanent conservancy by the community or town, a larger scale development by a professional development group, or a low-impact private development like the one his family proposed.

The proposal was for single-family homes on 24 acres of a 150-acre area. The plan included six single-family dwellings, access roads, a swimming pool and cabana, a maintenance building and garage, a beach shelter, a gazebo and uncovered deck, and an elevated pier with six boat lifts.

Olson said he signed a letter of intent with the NC Coastal Land Trust to establish a conservation easement on at least 80% of the land. He also took feedback from both residents and town officials and updated his plans and drawings to reduce the impact on the land to less than 4% impervious surfaces.

“We have listened, iterated, and stayed patient through a very tedious and lengthy process that unfortunately still remains far from complete two years later,” said Olson in his statement.

Topsail Beach, located south of Surf City, has a population of about 460 full-time residents. The proposed development was opposed by some in the community who believed it would harm the environment. Olson expressed frustration in dealing with local politicians.

“Despite our repeated requests for time to discuss the details of our rezoning request and come up with solutions together, the Commissioners refused to meet with us one-on-one and routinely passed us off to the Town’s staff and external planning consultant,” he said in the statement. “Meanwhile, we understand the Commissioners directly conversed with members of the community who opposed our plans. This one-sided behavior has led to confusion and an unending set of proposed conditions.”

The land that Olson wanted to develop is currently zoned as a conservation district, and it’s located within an inlet hazard and Coastal Barrier Resources Act area.

A nonprofit called Conserve The Point has said it’s interested in acquiring the property, which went on the market in 2019 for $7.9 million.

The Topsail Beach planning board voted unanimously against conditional rezoning back in May.

“We invested the time, money, and energy to find a solution to protecting an area of the world we love,” said Olson. “But solving problems requires collaboration, which the Town appears to have been unwilling to do. We have no choice but to withdraw our application.”

Pendo is among the state’s most promising technology companies. Its market value has been estimated to be more than $2.5 billion. Olson cofounded the company in 2013.

Japanese battery pouch company to add 352 jobs in Davidson County


Dai Nippon Printing Co., a lithium-ion battery pouch manufacturer, plans to create 352 new jobs and invest $233 million to build its first U.S. advanced manufacturing plant in Davidson County, according to an announcement Tuesday.

The facility will be located in Linwood. The company says it plans to start operations in 2026.

The average annual salary for the new positions is $50,281, which exceeds the Davidson County average wage of $49,956. The project could create a potential annual payroll impact of more than $17.6 million per year for the region.

“My meeting with DNP in Tokyo last month was productive, and I’m grateful they are building their EV battery pouch manufacturing facility in North Carolina, which is yet another sign of our growing clean energy economy,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a statement.

The announcement is the latest EV battery development for North Carolina. Colorado-based material science company Forge Nano announced plans earlier this month to launch a lithium-ion battery business in Morrisville with an investment of more than $165 million.

Toyota plans to invest $13.9 billion and hire 5,000 employees at its electric battery manufacturing site in Randolph County. And India-based Epsilon Advanced Materials plans to build an electronic vehicle battery materials plant just south of Wilmington and add 500 jobs.

DNP, founded in 1876, manufactures lithium-ion battery pouches for electric vehicles. The  flexible plastic packaging material will encase and protect EV battery cells.

DNP’s project will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier Tuesday.

Over the course of the 12-year term of the grant, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $691 million. Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs, the JDIG agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $2,741,400 spread over 12 years.

State payments only occur following performance verification by the departments of Commerce and Revenue that the company has met its incremental job creation and investment targets.

Because DNP chose a site in Davidson County, classified by the state’s economic tier system as Tier 2, the company’s JDIG agreement also calls for moving $304,600 into the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account. The Utility Account helps rural communities across the state finance necessary infrastructure upgrades to attract future business.

“This is outstanding news for Davidson County and the entire state of North Carolina,” said N.C. Sen. Steve Jarvis in a statement. “This multimillion-dollar investment and new jobs will positively impact our region and we stand ready to support this next phase of growth for the company.”

Charlotte Douglas sets Sunday record for Thanksgiving weekend travel


Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the seventh-busiest airport in the world for arrivals and departures, set an all-time record for the Sunday after Thanksgiving with an estimated 89,500 passengers, the airport said Monday. Last year’s total for the Sunday after Thanksgiving was 75,634, This past Sunday was an 18% increase in travelers.

Panthers fire head coach Frank Reich, two assistants after 11 games


After a 1-10 start, the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich less than a full season into his tenure, the team announced Monday. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor is slated as the interim head coach. The team also fired associate head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley as well as quarterbacks coach Josh McCown.

Triangle capital exec: 2024 may be ‘sweet spot’ for tech investors, VC firms


Mark Yusko, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Chapel Hill’s Morgan Creek Capital, believes we’re poised at a pivotal time in technology development and investment. He’s convinced there’s a sweet spot coming. “The ’24 vintage for venture capital is likely to be one of the best vintages in the past three or four decades,” Yusko said.

Winston-Salem has first new city manager in 17 years


For the first time since 2006, Winston-Salem officially has a new city manager. William “Pat” Pate officially took the helm from longtime manager Lee Garrity at the beginning of November. He previously served as the city manager of Manassas, Virginia. Pate began his local government career as an intern for the city of Winston-Salem.

Global online furniture see tepid Black Friday sales


While global consumers spent an estimated $71 billion online on Black Friday, up 8% from 2022, the furniture category wasn’t the recipient of consumers’ largess. Online sales growth for furniture on Black Friday was down 11% year-over-year, with sales on the two days leading up to Nov. 24 down 13% and 6%, respectively.

Advocate Health slows growth in Q3


Advocate Health, formed last year in a merger between Illinois-based Advocate Aurora Health and Charlotte-based Atrium Health, saw its financial performance dip in the third quarter. One of the biggest nonprofits in the U.S. reported a nine-month operating income of $79.4 million, down from the $85.7 million Advocate recorded through the first half of the year.

Wilmington’s nCino Sports Complex requiring nearly $1.4M in additional funding


The nCino Sports Complex project will require additional funding of nearly $1.4 million, according to information compiled by City of Wilmington staff. At its meeting on Nov. 28, the City Council will consider an ordinance and a related resolution authorizing an additional $1,398,511 appropriation for the project. Construction of the park is about 50 percent complete.

ACS commissions enrollment and capacity study to address challenges


As its enrollment declines, leaving some schools half full, Asheville City Schools Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said the district can’t wait to take action to address its financial challenges. The Asheville City Board of Education voted 6-1 at its Nov. 20 meeting to commission an enrollment and capacity study from California-based Cooperative Strategies without seeking competing bids.