Regional Business Reports
Lands at Charlotte-Douglas
International Airport, which as a USAirways regional hub has a
reputation for commanding some of the highest airfares in the country,
is getting its first low-fare airline in more than five years.
American Trans Air Inc. will begin providing service to about 40
cities via its Chicago-Midway hub starting July 18. Introductory
one-way fares to Chicago are $69, to 11 Midwest cities the fare is $89
and to western destinations the one-way cost is $109.
The arrival of Indianapolis-based ATA has been welcomed by some in the
business community who complained of high airfares being charged by
USAirways. Two years ago the city established a committee to actively
recruit a low-cost airline to the city-owned airport. Though it’s a
relatively low-profile company, ATA is the nation’s 10th largest
carrier with a 29-year history in the business. It was the only
airline besides Southwest Airlines to report a profit in the first
quarter of 2002.
Given USAirways ongoing financial losses, Peter Schwarz, professor of
economics at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, predicts
that American Trans Air may be able to establish a stronghold in the
Charlotte market. So far, USAirways has responded to ATA’s arrival
by matching fares. But Schwarz says that practice of offering fares
for which it cannot cover its costs may be difficult for USAirways to
maintain as it struggles to win approval for federal loans.
“American Trans Air may find that USAirways can’t fend them off on
all routes,” Schwarz says, adding that ATA may have factored in
losing money at first in Charlotte, but gaining ground as USAirways
loses its ability to keep pace.
Schwarz says ATA’s arrival presents a dilemma for Charlotte, which
covets its standing as a USAirways hub, but at the same time resents
the high airfares. As low-fare carriers gain a foothold, the city
risks losing the USAirways hub, which accounts for 8,600 local jobs,
making it the region’s fifth-largest employer.
“USAirways will have a harder time surviving as ATA is
successful,” Schwarz says. “Would Charlotte rather be a hub and
have expensive airfares, or have lower fares but see those jobs
go?”— Laura Williams-Tracy
Commercial Grant Encourages Teachers to Excel
latest evidence that big business cares about education can be found
in Wilson, where Standard Commercial Corp. has pledged $195,000 to
Daniels Elementary School to help attract and retain teachers. More
specifically, the grant will extend the bonus period for teachers.
Currently, bonuses paid by the state are based on student performance
on the annual end-of-grade (EOG) testing, which is administered at the
end of the 180-day school year. The grant from Standard Commercial, a
company that has operated in Wilson for more than 20 years, will
extend the time in which teachers can receive bonuses.
Standard Commercial President and CEO Robert E. Harrison notes that
the grant is important not only because it enables the schools to
recruit the best teachers but it also allows them “to keep and
reward the best teachers, so that our community is, in turn, rewarded
with a future of bright young leaders.” -- Rachel Suls
School Opens With All Classes Full
the home to nearly 60 auto racing teams, it’s no surprise that
Mooresville was chosen as the site for the first-ever NASCAR Technical
Institute, the inaugural institute of its kind to combine a complete
automotive technology training program with a NASCAR-specific
motorsports program. The institute, located in Talbert Pointe Business
Park, opened in mid-May and hopes to help address the shortage of auto
service technicians. According to the institute, some 60,000 new
automotive technicians are needed to meet demand nationwide.
The $12 million training facility spans 146,000 square feet and is
equipped to teach 1,900 students. The institute has already filled all
of the available student slots until next February, with the bulk of
the training to consist of entry-level automotive technology mixed
with NASCAR expertise. Tuition ranges from $24,350 to $29,100.
At the end of the 57-week training period, students receive their
certification and may enter the job market. The first 39 weeks of the
program is for basic automotive training and the last 18 weeks focus
more specifically on NASCAR and its related programs. Students also
may enroll in an optional 12-week FORD-FACT program for supplementary
The institute is a joint venture between NASCAR and Universal
Technical Institute Inc. and is expected to employ about 150 people.
Mooresville was a natural fit for the program. In addition to its
nearly five dozen race teams, it is home to the North Carolina Racing
Hall of Fame, race-themed restaurants and many of the sport’s top
drivers. — Rachel Suls
Remains Strong Despite Hollywood's Doldrums
we’re not, and thankful for it. That said, North Carolina continues
to enhance its reputation as a state where films get made. The latest
statistics from the N.C. Department of Commerce reveal that production
of film, television and commercials created an estimated $250.6
million in revenue for the state last year. Only California and New
York did better.
Revenue was created from the hosting of 12 theatrical features and 32
TV series episodes in 2001. Despite a slight decrease in the number of
productions from 2000, revenue rose half a million dollars and
produced more than a 500-to-1 return on the investment of the less
than $500,000 budget of the Commerce Film Office.
North Carolina’s numbers remain impressive in spite of a difficult
year overall for the film industry. The decrease in production was
partly due to the screen actors’ and writers’ guild nationwide
strikes. In addition, Canada has become an attractive option for many
filmmakers because of the favorable monetary exchange rate — a
factor that North Carolina has countered by using its offices in
Germany, Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Canada to
attract potential filmmakers.
“Considering that the state’s film recruiters are working with
reduced resources because of the budget crisis and are facing
escalated competition from Canada, other foreign countries and other
states,” says Commerce Secretary Jim Fain, “we’re very pleased
with these revenue numbers and the jobs and investment that the
industry continues to bring to our state.” — Rachel Suls
Sara Lee to
House 6,000 Workers at Single Site
Lee Branded Apparel has announced plans to consolidate its
Winston-Salem operations with a $35 million expansion of its Oak
Summit campus. The company plans to build two five-story wings on each
side of the existing building at 1000 East Hanes Mill Road in northern
Winston Salem. The enlarged campus will allow most of the company’s
6,000 Triad workers to be in one place.
The new wings will add about 383,000 square feet to the current
255,000-square-foot facility. The groundbreaking is scheduled later
this summer with the projected completion of the project in fall 2003.
The new-look campus will included a world-class learning center, which
also will be used as an auditorium for company meetings, and “think
tank” space in the form of work carrels that will provide retreat
space for brainstorming and uninterrupted concentration on specific
projects. Cary McMillian, CEO of Sara Lee Branded Apparel and
executive vice president of Sara Lee Corp., says the expansion
benefits all involved. “Employees win,” he says. “The county and
the city win with new tax base. And finally, down the road, a central,
highly efficient location should result in improved operational
profit, so Sara Lee’s shareholders win.”
Sara Lee’s current building at Oak Summit was built in 1994. It was
designed by Little & Associates with expansion in mind. McMillian
says that he initiated a space study after becoming CEO in November
2001. A study group quickly concurred. Little & Associates will
again be the architects, and a general contractor has yet to be named.
Sara Lee Activewear and Sara Lee Branded Apparel management group
occupy the current Oak Summit facility. Relocating to the new campus
upon completion of the project will be Sara Lee Intimate Apparel, Sara
Lee Underwear and Sara Lee Hosiery, all moving from other
Winston-Salem locations, and Sara Lee Sock Co., which will leave High
Point. Sales teams and Hanes megabrand marketing are in the process of
relocating to Oak Summit. Sara Lee Business Services and Sara Lee
Direct response staff, currently located in Rural Hall, will relocate
to 450 West Hanes Mill Road. — Jim Buice
No Local Layoffs
Expected From Sale of Miller Brewing
sale of Miller Brewing Co. by Philip Morris to London-based South
African Breweries PLC is not expected to result in layoffs at the Eden
brewery. In addition to receiving $3.6 billion in stock, SAB agreed to
assume $2 billion in Miller debt, raising the acquisition’s total
value to $5.6 billion. Philip Morris would get a 36 percent stake in
the company, to be renamed SABMiller, and intends to remain a
“We think it’s going to be positive for Eden,” says Cathy
Wright, a spokesperson for the N.C. plant, which opened in 1976 and
with 750 workers is Rockingham County’s sixth-largest employer.
Miller had 19.7 percent of the $60 billion U.S. retail beer market
last year, down from 20.7 percent in 2000, according to Beer Marketing
Insight, a trade publication. Anheuser-Busch companies control almost
half of the U.S. market.
The sale is expected to be completed this month. The company will be
headquartered in London, with Miller’s Milwaukee office overseeing
the company’s business in North and South America. SAB is the
fourth-largest brewer in the world, with brewing operations in 23
countries. — Kevin Brafford
Data Finds an Internet Home
longtime Hickory businessman has started a company aimed at boosting
economic development in the state by compiling information, via the
Internet, about property and building data for businesses and
consultants. Through the company, e-Site Analysis, Engineer Don Moss
gathers in one central location all the engineering and demographic
information potential developers need to make site selection
The program is the first of its kind in the state to provide such a
comprehensive amount of information on the Internet, according to Moss
and Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development
Moss, who has been in the construction business in Hickory for more
than 30 years and is retiring next year as president of Moss Marlow
Building Co., is marketing his program to North Carolina counties and
the state’s seven economic regions as a way to foster economic
development by making the site selection process easier for businesses
“With this program, the site consultants and engineers can go to the
web and get the information they need before visiting the site,”
says Moss. “Normally, the economic developer for the county would
have to gather the information about the site and FedEx it to the
consultant and the consultant then must be able to interpret the
“Economic development officials are finding out that businesses
today are going for the sites that have all the information readily
available to them right now,” Moss adds.
Millar agrees: “There is no doubt speed and quality of information
is critical in the site selection process.”
Moss recently took e-Site Analysis online using Catawba County as its
first test site. The initial feedback was positive, leading both Moss
and Millar to believe that success is imminent.
“We are the first to go to this level of information on the
Internet,” says Millar. “I’ve shown it to Japanese clients, and
the president of company has looked at the site and had an engineer in
Japan look at the information the same day.” -- Charlene H.
Strategy for Dealing With Growth
County leaders recently joined with state officials to measure the
impact of growth on the region and to review how the area has
weathered the recession. The meeting — something of a “state of
the region business summit” — was held in May at Cabarrus Country
Club. Organized by the Cabarrus County Chamber of Commerce, the mayors
of Concord, Harrisburg, Mount Pleasant, Kannapolis, China Grove,
Landis and members of the Cabarrus County Commissioners came together
to talk about common issues.
Cabarrus County has experienced unprecedented growth in housing over
the last decade, and the additional rooftops have put a strain on the
county’s water supply, says Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.
Cabarrus County does not have a river running through it, and it
currently buys water from Charlotte. Every summer the region faces a
severe water shortage and imposes water use restrictions. Padgett says
the meeting served as a time for leaders to coalesce their views on
securing more water sources, including the long-term plan to get water
from the Yadkin River.
Padgett says most leaders agreed that while many manufacturers were
hit by the recession, the region has worked hard to diversify its
economic base over the past decade. “Our economy is so much more
diverse than it was a few years, when we were solely textiles,” says
Today in Concord no textile company ranks among the top-10 property
tax payers. Instead, the top industries are Philip Morris, Lowe’s
Motor Speedway, CT Communications and Concord Mills shopping center.
The county recently unveiled a new logo that includes a racing theme,
which plays up the area as the headquarters of many NASCAR teams and
home to the Coca-Cola 600, the Memorial Day weekend race that is the
second largest sporting event in the U.S. each year, behind the
“This is our Super Bowl and we’re proud of it,” Padgett says.
-- Laura Williams-Tracy
DOT Urged to
Rename Parkway for Andy Griffith
friends and fans of comedian and TV legend Andy Griffith are
petitioning the state to name a section of U.S. 52 near his hometown
of Mount Airy in his honor.
The idea belongs to Mitch Williams, an engineer with the city of Mount
Airy. He told the Winston-Salem Journal that during his travels around
the state he noticed road dedications for some of North Carolina’s
favorite sons: basketball superstar Michael Jordan, stock car racing
legend Richard Petty and the Rev. Billy Graham.
But there was nothing for Griffith, now a resident of Manteo. Friends
of Williams mentioned the idea to a member of Gov. Mike Easley’s
staff, who was in the Surry County town for a dinner in March. A few
weeks later, Williams received a letter encouraging residents to make
a formal request to the state.
So Williams and friends started at the local level to rename about 10
miles of U.S. 52 from Interstate 74 to the Virginia line, currently
designated the Pilot Mountain Parkway, the Andy Griffith Parkway.
Part of the process involved local government officials making a
formal request to the state. Board of Transportation, according to
Mike Pettyjohn, a DOT division maintenance engineer.
The Surry County Board of Commissioners recently passed a resolution
in support of the Andy Griffith Parkway, and the actor has agreed to
the project. The state Board of Transportation will have the final say
some time later this year. — Kevin Brafford
Utiliti8es Go Green Offering Renewable Energy
Power & Light, Duke Energy and North Carolina Electric Membership
Corp. (NCEMC), among other energy companies, have filed a proposal
with the state utilities commission to allow their customers in the
state to purchase electricity from renewable energy sources. This new
effort, dubbed the N.C. GreenPower Program, is being touted as the
first statewide program of its kind in the United States. If approved,
customers will be able to sign up for the program beginning six months
from the approval date.
“CP&L is committed to providing our customers with the
opportunity to support the use and development of renewable energy,”
says Bill Cavanaugh, the chairman, president and CEO of Progress
Energy, the parent company of CP&L.
Cavanaugh further echoes the thoughts of his energy partners in the
state who are behind the proposal. “Progress Energy is committed to
be a good environmental steward,” he says, “and we’re proud to
be part of this new statewide effort to promote the use of renewable
Customers who select the green power option will pay an additional $4
per month for a 100-kilowatt block of electricity generated from
renewable resources. The renewable resources include solar, wind,
small hydroelectric and biomass.
Customers may choose to purchase one or more blocks per month, and
funds collected through the program will be transferred to the N.C.
Advanced Energy Corp., the statewide program administrator, for the
support of generators of energy from renewable resources selected to
participate in N.C. GreenPower.
The proposal is the culmination of a collaborative effort involving
CP&L, Duke Energy, North Carolina Power, NCAEC, the Public Staff,
the Attorney General’s office, the North Carolina Electric
Membership Corp., the state’s municipal power agencies, the State
Energy Office and several environmental and renewable resource
advocacy groups and providers. — Kevin Brafford
Noted Educator From Retirement
Cole keeps doing her best to retire, but new challenges continue to
just get in the way. Cole, who served as president at Spelman College
in Atlanta for 10 years before retiring the first time in 1997, will
assume the top position at Bennett College, the nation’s other
historically black, all women’s college, in mid-July.
Cole, 65, recently was named the14th president of Bennett, which has
been plagued by budget woes and shrinking enrollment numbers. The tiny
Greensboro college, a fixture in the city for 129 years, faces a $2
million budget shortfall. Enrollment fell to 500 students this past
year, about 100 fewer than the previous school year. “Only the
challenge to help Bennett College soar to the heights of its
possibility could have brought me out of retirement,” Cole says.
After retiring from Spelman, Cole returned to work a year later as a
professor at Emory University. She retired from Emory, also located in
Atlanta, in 2001, after three years at the helm.
Then Bennett unexpectedly entered the picture earlier this year when
then-President Althia Collins resigned after a rocky six-month tenure.
Cole was sought as a consultant to help with the search for a new
leader because of her vast experience, knowledge and contacts. She is
a member of the board of directors of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Merck and
the Rockefeller Foundation and counts among her friends Bill Cosby and
Coretta Scott King. She quickly moved from consultant to No. 1
Cole will inherit a situation similar to the one at Spelman, which
also was struggling upon her arrival. She sparked a fund-raising
campaign at Spelman that raised $114 million, soaring past a goal of
$81 million. Under her leadership, Spelman became the first
historically black college to receive the No. 1 ranking among liberal
arts colleges in the South by U.S. News & World Report. -- Jim
Emissions in Half Over Past Decade
in North Carolina are emitting far less toxic chemicals into the
environment than they were a decade ago, according to a recently
released report from the Environmental Protection Administration. The
report found that industries that were operating in North Carolina in
1990 had reduced such emissions by 53 percent when the EPA rechecked
them in 2000.
Nationwide, the EPA report shows that emissions of toxic chemicals
into the environment decreased from 7.8 billion pounds in 1999 to 7.1
billion pounds in 2000, a 10.1 percent reduction. Since 1988, chemical
releases into the air, water and soil all across the U.S. have
decreased about 48 percent, the EPA report said.
To be sure it’s comparing apples to apples, the EPA in each state
annually measures emissions from “original industries” that were
operating at the time it began taking the measurements. Separately, it
tracks emissions from “new industry” that began operating after
the tracking started.
Because of the huge growth and diversification in North Carolina’s
industrial base over the past decade, the toxic chemicals released by
the state’s “original industries” now make up less than half of
the total emitted into the environment today. In 2000, that amounted
to approximately 61.9 million pounds by the original industries and
95.3 million pounds by new industry.
Of the 157.3 million total pounds of toxic chemicals released in the
state in 2000, 125.7 million pounds were air emissions, mainly from
coal-fired power plants. Only 9.2 million pounds were released into
rivers and streams.
Industries in the state actually generated 801.9 million pounds of
toxic waste in 2000, but 80.4 percent of it was recycled or recovered,
including 285.8 million pounds sent off-site for recycling, 80.6
million pounds recycled on-site and 241.2 million pounds treated
on-site. -- Steve Tuttle
to magazine index