Regional Business Reports
New academy will
train super sleuths
office has been burglarized. Do the officers in your local police
department know how to preserve all of the evidence? Only in about
half of all criminal cases does forensic analysis play a role in
successful prosecution. Far too often evidence is lost when it’s
contaminated by investigators on the scene.
With a $500,000 grant from Congress, Central Piedmont Community
College in Charlotte is starting the National Academy for Forensic
& Computer Investigation. The academy will offer instruction in
general forensics investigations, which is the practice of applying
science to law, says Dr. Lili Johnson, a former State Bureau of
Investigation agent who is now associate dean of CPCC’s north campus
and head of the college’s public safety programs.
Forensic science applies not only to the work of coroners who use
scientific means to determine how an individual died, but the term
also applies to many fields, such as forensic accountants who uncover
white-collar crime, and computer science forensics who investigate
Johnson says while there are plenty of professionals working as
computer scientists, engineers, nurses, accountants and the like,
there’s no institution to train individuals to bridge law
enforcement with those areas. “There’s a gap between these two
types of expertise,” she says.
Southwestern Community College in Sylva offers a computer science
forensics degree program for those entering law enforcement, but CPCC
will target seasoned law enforcement officers who need new skills to
meet the challenges they face on the job every day.
Starting this month, the academy will offer its first certification
program for crime scene technicians. The program consists of 200 hours
of training on how to preserve evidence in a crime scene.
As part of this effort, $500,000 has been allocated by North Carolina
Sens. John Edwards and Jesse Helms as well as Reps. Sue Myrick and Mel
Watt to support teaching methods of investigating cyber-crimes. The
appropriation is part of legislation known as “Kristen’s Law,”
named for Kristen Modafferi, an N.C. State University student who was
last seen during the summer of 1997 in San Francisco.
Beverly Dickson, dean of CPCC’s north campus, which will house the
Forensics Academy, says in 2000 some $118 million was spent on
computer forensics in the United States, and that number is expected
to double by 2004.
“We’re forecasting that the cyber-crimes part of the academy will
grow very rapidly,” Dickson says. Within a year, Dickson says she
hopes to have a mobile crime scene lab equipped to travel the state
and region offering workshops to rural police departments on crime
scene investigations and evidence collection.
CPCC is the largest community college in North Carolina, offering more
than 70 degree and certification programs.
-- Laura Williams-Tracy
Sara Lee moving
Playtex headquarters to the Triad
Lee Intimate Apparel has announced plans to consolidate offices for
its three intimate apparel units into one location: Winston-Salem.
Playtex Apparel Inc. is moving its headquarters from Stamford, Conn.,
to Winston-Salem, where Bali Intimates and Hanes Her Way already are
“Sara Lee’s portfolio includes some of the strongest brands in the
intimate apparel market,” says Charles L. Nesbit Jr., president and
CEO of Sara Lee Intimate Apparel. “Bringing them together under one
roof will allow us to leverage the best practices across all of our
The move will create nearly 300 new positions in North Carolina. Forty
positions will come to Winston-Salem to support the Playtex business.
About 50 jobs will be eliminated in Stamford.
Also, Sara Lee will close Playtex packaging and distribution centers
in Dover, Del., with 385 employees being displaced, and consolidate
those operations with its Bali operations in Kings Mountain. About 250
employees will be added in Kings Mountain to handle the additional
“This move is consistent with Sara Lee’s reshaping program, which
we launched in May 2000 to strengthen the category positions of our
leadership brands,” Nesbit says. “This restructuring was a tough
business decision, but we are convinced these actions will make all of
our brands even stronger participants in a highly competitive and
Design studios and sales showrooms for Playtex, Bali and Liberty
Fabrics will remain in New York but will be combined at a single site.
In addition to Playtex, Bali and Hanes Her Way, Sara Lee brands
include such recognizable names as Wonderbra, Just My Size and
Company officials say the Stamford transition should be complete by
May 1, and the Dover plants are expected to shut down by the end of
the year. -- Jim Buice
begins on hospital's $12 million cancer center
just a little more than a year, High Point Regional Health System
expects to move into a state-of-the-art $12 million Cancer Center.
Officials recently held groundbreaking ceremonies for the center,
which will feature a three-story addition to the south end of the Elm
Street building. The second and third floors of that building, east of
the hospital on the main campus, will be renovated. The combined
effort will encompass 37,500 square feet.
The Cancer Center will bring together the hospital’s treatment and
support services. “With coordination of treatments in one location,
the center will be able to provide an optimal environment for the
comfort and convenience of the patients and their families,” says
Rick Blake, a vice president at High Point Regional.
Features of the new center include:
An 18-bed inpatient cancer
unit with enlarged patient rooms;
A patient/family lounge and
a separate family waiting room;
including a three-dimensional imaging system;
A resource area/library;
More offices for
A meditation room and more
rooms for support groups and counseling;
Space for the local
And a boutique to help
patients feel better by looking better.
The Cancer Center is one of six primary service areas at High Point
Regional Hospital, the largest component of the health system. The
hospital has 368 private beds for medical and surgical patients. — Jim
mandates recycling of paper, cardboard
County is looking to stem the volume of trash into local landfills by
requiring businesses that generate the most trash to begin recycling.
Since the start of the new year, businesses that fill up two
medium-sized Dumpsters full of trash each week are required to
separate office paper and corrugated cardboard. Those that don’t
comply face a maximum fine of $2,500.
According to Mecklenburg County officials, 78 percent of the trash
generated in the state’s largest county came from businesses last
year. The new ordinance affects as many as 6,000 of the county’s
“We hope that having an ordinance will help to build the
infrastructure for more recycling in the county,” says Michael
Talbert, commercial recycling specialist with the county. Recycling
officials selected office paper and corrugated cardboard as the first
items to be recycled because there already is a strong market for
The county does not provide pickup for the recyclables, so businesses
must take their paper and cardboard to a county recycling drop-off
center or contract with a hauler.
Talbert says the number of county recycling centers has doubled in the
past year. To make recycling easier for businesses, the county is
looking for business hosts, who will allow the county to place a
recycling container on their property. If the host company allows
other businesses to drop their recyclables there each week, the county
will pick up the containers.
Talbert says that while many communities have ordinances banning
cardboard or other recyclables from their landfills, Mecklenburg
County had to find another route, because the county’s trash goes to
private landfills that the county doesn’t control.
To make sure businesses are complying, Talbert says, the solid waste
department has enlisted the help of other county inspectors, including
building, zoning and restaurant inspectors to keep an eye out for
“We’ve really had very little opposition to the new ordinance,”
Talbert says. “Everyone seems to understand that recycling is the
right thing to do.” -- Laura Williams-Tracy
Officials gain a
new vision for economic development
that the days of continuing to do business the same old way are over,
Davidson County officials have decided to do something about it.
Davidson Vision, an aggressive business recruitment organization, was
created to attract high-tech industry to a county in need of
diversification. The group hopes to raise $2.2 million, and county
commissioners have agreed to provide $400,000 over the next four
years. Lexington, Thomasville and Denton have been asked to contribute
to the campaign as well.
Davidson Vision was started by Davidson Progress, a private, nonprofit
group of business and community leaders. For the past two years,
volunteers from the county and consultants put together a plan that
included higher-paying jobs, improved education and training, and a
better quality of life.
The key goals for the organization, which is made up of area business
executives and government officials, are:
Creating 4,000 jobs over
the next four years that pay more than the state average.
Raising $20 million to
build a county business park.
Expanding the county’s
number of skilled workers by 30 percent.
Working with the schools to
place a higher priority on math and science classes — important to
preparing students for high-tech jobs.
Davidson Vision’s push to prominence comes at a time when the
employment picture is bleak in the county. Davidson had the
third-highest unemployment rate in a 10-county region last December.
It’s 6.5 percent unemployment rate trailed only Rockingham (7.9) and
Montgomery (6.9) counties in the region. Bordering counties such as
Forsyth, Randolph and Guilford had unemployment rates in the 4 percent
and 5 percent range.
Davidson’s once-stout manufacturing base continues to erode with the
layoffs and tough times associated with the furniture and textiles
industries. The top two employers in the county are furniture giants
Lexington Home Brands and Thomasville Furniture Industries.
Funding, which will be ongoing, will cover planning, and a staff and
office, which the organization hopes to have sometime later in the
spring. — Jim Buice
colleges help mold students for plastics technology
from six North Carolina community colleges are reaping benefits from
the new Eastern North Carolina Plastics Technology Center in Zebulon,
a multi-million dollar facility that opened in January.
The plastics center is a combined effort among the Edgecombe,
Johnston, Nash, Wake Technical, Wayne and Wilson Technical community
colleges. Through their work at the center, students can complete
associate degrees in plastics technology — one of the fastest
growing industries in state — using laboratory facilities that are
available on site.
“The plastics industry
is a new player in North Carolina’s economy,” says Dr. Stephen
Scott, the executive vice president of the North Carolina Community
College System. “This cooperative effort will provide experienced
workers for this important industry.”
The National Science Foundation has provided an $800,000 grant to
develop and promote a curriculum for the center, the first of its type
in the state. The facility was kickstarted by the N.C. General
Assembly, which provided initial funding of $650,000.
“This project shows how community colleges can work together toward
a common goal to provide specialized training for students and save
money in the process,” says Rep. Joe Tolson. “It is a win-win
development for everyone.” --
efficiencies by outsourcing its bookstore
coffees, desserts and books. It’s a winning combination to the
general public, and UNC Wilmington believes the same formula will be
profitable on its campus. That’s the message the university
delivered when it signed a public-private business agreement with
Barnes & Noble College Bookstores that is expected to take effect
Barnes & Noble College Bookstores, a private company separate from
the retail bookseller, was chosen over two other bids when it
guaranteed the university an additional revenue stream of $500,000
over the next five years. According to Chancellor James Leutze, this
revenue will ensure the university’s ability to maintain or increase
student scholarships and to moderate student fee increases needed to
expand campus facilities.
The decision to outsource the bookstores come at the expense of 14
full-time university employees, but Dick Scott, the school’s
associate vice chancellor for business affairs, says the bigger
picture carries a larger impact. “Certainly, at a personal level, no
one likes the idea of having to outsource university business
operations and lay off current university employees — some of whom
have served the university for a number of years,” says Scott.
“However, we need to keep in mind that the operation of a bookstore
is an ‘unrelated business enterprise’ not directly linked to the
university’s academic mission,” he added. “As such, and as a
publicly funded institution, the university has an obligation to
provide these services to its students, faculty, and staff in the most
cost-effective manner possible.”
— Kevin Brafford
start-ups gain another nest to hatch new products
state’s most recognized region for technology has added another plus
to its impressive list of resources with the opening of the Triangle
Biotechnology Center in Durham.
The 20,000-square-foot center is billed as a multi-tenant research and
development facility ideal for early-stage life sciences companies,
according to Dr. Charles E. Hamner, president and CEO of the N.C.
Biotechnology Center. It is housed in the historic Clark & Sorrell
Building, which originally was an automobile garage dating from the
early 1930s and is now listed on the National Register of Historic
The project is a unique blend of the historic and the modern with a
historically important building housing cutting-edge technology. The
center is designed to fill the need for wet-lab space that is
especially acute among younger biotech firms in the Triangle.
The interior features a new, modular design that will easily adapt to
accommodate the changing needs of individual tenants. Suites are
available from 2,000 square feet and up and contain both labs and
offices. For more information, contact the N.C. Biotechnology Center
at 919-541-9366. — Kevin Brafford
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