Knock on wood
The N.C. State Ports Authority plans to build a $60 million terminal for wood pellets at Port of Morehead City but isn’t sure how to pay for it. It would prefer to get the money from Raleigh-based North Carolina Railroad Co., a private company whose sole shareholder is the state, but the railway’s board nixed that in October. Nevertheless, in November the Ports Authority’s board approved spending up to $5 million for design, hoping to open the terminal within a year. The authority could go to the public-debt market to raise money to pay the tab but would rather the railroad pick it up. The General Assembly, which goes into session this month, could force the railroad to pay the state a dividend then give the money to the ports. The authority also wants to build a similar terminal at Port of Wilmington. Wood pellets, made of sawdust and other timber byproducts, have become increasingly popular as a source of renewable fuel in Europe. Bethesda, Md.-based Enviva LP will soon have two wood-pellet plants in the region but plans to ship most of their products to Europe from its deep-water terminal in Chesapeake, Va.
NASH COUNTY — Laurel, Miss.-based Sanderson Farms abandoned its longstanding effort to build a poultry-processing plant here because it believes legal battles would delay the project too long (Regional Report, November 2012). The decision was a victory for the nearby city of Wilson, which claimed the plant could pollute its water supply.
ROCKY MOUNT — Draka Elevator Products will expand here, investing more than $3.1 million and adding 67 jobs to its 130 statewide within three years. The company, which makes and sells elevator cables and wires, will eventually manufacture specialized cables for cellular-communication towers. The average annual wage will be $44,164, compared with Nash County’s average of $34,112.
WILMINGTON — Live Oak Bank will begin making loans to independent investment advisers across the country, widening the specialty lender’s focus beyond veterinarians, dentists, independent pharmacists and funeral-home owners.
GREENVILLE — East Carolina University will join the Big East Conference as a football-only member in 2014. The team now competes in Conference USA.
FAYETTEVILLE — Fayetteville VA Medical Center and Womack Army Medical Center will build a $6.7 million rehabilitation clinic for soldiers and veterans. Services will include physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech pathology. An opening date has not been determined.
RAEFORD — State officials conditionally approved Pinehurst-based FirstHealth of the Carolinas’ application for a certificate of need to add 28 beds and a second operating room to Hoke Community Hospital, under construction in Raeford. It was originally approved for just eight beds (Regional Report, June 2012). Officials denied Cape Fear Valley Health System’s application to put the 28 beds in one of its Fayetteville hospitals.