State Unemployment Rate Continues Climb

North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month and the third time in the last four months, according to the August figures release by the state’s Department of Commerce.

LAST MONTH: Unemployment Up For Second Time In Three Months

Nearly 10,500 more people claimed unemployment compared to July while more than 28,500 fewer people had jobs, according to the release. That increased the state’s unemployment rate 0.3 percent to 6.8 percent.

That still shows a 1.2-percent improvement from August 2013 with nearly 29,000 more people claiming employment from 2013 to 2014.

These numbers are seasonally adjusted, already accounting for the shift in work patterns, such as schools not being in session over the summer.

The national unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percent from July to August this year and now sits at 6.1 percent.

August 2014 N.C. Unemployment Figures Release


Downtown Chapel Hill Experiencing Better Summer Business

Things are looking up for the downtown Chapel Hill area, as local businesses are claiming to experience a record-breaking summer.

Chapel Hill Mayor, Mark Kleinschmidt, spoke with WCHL’s Aaron Keck about the success stories from such local businesses he has heard and how the town’s economy is growing.

“There’s so much more activity,” says Mayor Kleinschmidt. “There’s so much more life happening in these really slow days. This town economy is really starting to steer towards a 12-month year, and it’s really exciting.”

With the amount of recent developments in downtown, including the amenities of 140 West, Mayor Kleinschmidt says that simply talking about the growth has even played a role in how members of the community participate in making the area bigger, better, and more exciting.

“As people moved in, it raises expectations,” Mayor Kleinschmidt says, “and the fact that the people are thinking about that gets them downtown, and because they’re downtown, it does become what they say.”

Mayor Kleinschmidt says that though he has not heard much about as many closing businesses, he says that the few places that do go out of business have for more understandable reasons.


OC Jobless Claims Down In June

Unemployment claims dropped in 81 North Carolina counties in June, according to the Department of Commerce’s not-seasonally-adjusted release Wednesday.

Orange County remained in the top five for best unemployment rates in the state, improving by 0.1 percent to 4.8. Polk County joined Chatham and Currituck already ahead of Orange, with Currituck topping the list at 4.2 percent.

The Triangle continued to show strong improvement with a May-to-June change of 0.2 percent fewer people claiming unemployment. From June 2013 to June 2014, 1.8-percent fewer people claimed to be without work.

To see the complete county-by-county breakdown for unemployment in North Carolina, click here.

Statewide unemployment rates for July are scheduled to release August 18. In June, North Carolina’s rate flattened out at 6.4 percent since peaking at 11.3 percent in February 2010.


DSI Comedy Takes Root On Franklin Street

In May, the DSI Comedy Theater – a fixture of the Carrboro arts scene for nearly a decade – became a fixture of the Chapel Hill arts scene when it moved from Carr Mill Mall to a new, larger location on West Franklin Street.

The move was initially prompted by a crisis (Carr Mill Mall elected not to renew DSI’s lease), but theater owner Zach Ward chose to see it as an opportunity – and now, just a few months later, he says the company is thriving in its new spot.

In those few months, DSI completely renovated the old Mansion 462 club at 462 W. Franklin, rebuilding it on the inside from the ground up. Now, the theater occupies about four times the space it had in Carrboro, including an expanded bar and (for the first time) its own separate rehearsal facility. In the process, the theater has added to the burgeoning cultural/commercial scene on West Franklin Street – which now includes newcomers like Al’s Burger Shack and the soon-to-arrive Carolina Ale House alongside older establishments like Local 506, the Cave, Carolina Brewery, and West End Wine Bar.

Zach Ward and DSI company members Ashley Melzer and Vinny Valdivia joined Aaron Keck (who’s also a DSI company member) on the WCHL Afternoon News.

As part of the move, DSI is inviting special guests to perform from around the country. This Friday and Saturday, the theater is welcoming Junior Varsity, an improv team from New York’s renowned Magnet Theater – and next month, the theater is hosting the hip-hop-based improv team North Coast as well as a one-night-only performance by nationally-acclaimed standups Myq Kaplan (a veteran of the TV show “Last Comic Standing”) and Zach Sherwin (a writer and performer on the popular YouTube series “Epic Rap Battles of History”).

Visit DSI’s calendar page for show dates and times.


Chapel Hill Comics Changing Hands

A Franklin Street institution is changing hands.

Andrew Neal, the longtime owner of Chapel Hill Comics, has announced he’s selling the business to Ryan Kulikowki, effective Monday, July 14.

Neal has worked at the store for two decades and owned the store for 11 years.

To mark the change of hands, Neal says the store will throw a party on Saturday, July 12, with visits (and signings) from comic artists Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor, Tom Scioli, and Chris Pitzer. (And the store is also holding a “thank you” sale on Friday of this week, to celebrate Chapel Hill Comics’ recognition by Indyweek as “Best Comic Book Store in the Triangle.”)

Andrew Neal joined Aaron Keck on the Monday afternoon news.


Chilton, OCRCC Among Honorees At Chamber Mtg

CHAPEL HILL – About 400 political and business leaders gathered at the Friday Center on Thursday for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, to honor outstanding local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals.

Meg McGurk of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership set the tone in her keynote address. “Downtown has reached a tipping point,” she told the attendees. “The private sector is investing in downtown on unprecedented levels, the public sector has taken a new pride in engaging in our downtown…(and) you are the ones that are making that change happen.”

The highlight of the annual meeting was the awarding of the Chamber’s annual Business of the Year honors:

• The Micro-Enterprise Business of the Year award went to Sweeps, a company that matches UNC students with locals in need of moving, cleaning, tutoring, and other odd jobs.

Vimala’s Curryblossom Café beat out 140 West Franklin and the newly expanded PTA Thrift Shop for the Mid-Size Business of the Year award.

• The Large Business of the Year honor went to ARCA, an international manufacturer and distributer with global headquarters in Mebane.

• The Orange County Rape Crisis Center won the Chamber’s Nonprofit of the Year award.

And the Chamber also recognized three individuals as well. Longtime volunteer Irene Briggaman won the Ambassador of the Year award; UNC Executive Director of Real Estate Gordon Merklein won the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service award for his work not only with UNC, but also with various local service organizations. And outgoing Chamber board chair Paige Zinn recognized former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton with the Chamber’s award for Leadership in Public-Private Partnership.

“Mark has demonstrated that you can support economic and community development without forswearing your interest in the environment and social justice,” Zinn said of Chilton.

Attendees at the meeting included state government officials, the three mayors of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, and all but one member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners.


Kenan-Flagler Dean Search Committee Recommends Hire From Within

CHAPEL HILL – The associate dean of the MBA@UNC program and Meade H. Willis Distinguished Professor of Taxation, Douglas A. Shackelford has been recommended as the Kenan-Flagler Business School’s next dean.

By presenting the recommendation to the Board of Trustees this week, Chancellor Carol Folt and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Jim Dean approve the selection made by the search committee led by J-School dean, Susan King.

Listen to Shackelford’s conversation with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.

Information provided by the Kenan-Flagler Business School

Information provided by the Kenan-Flagler Business School

With the confirmation by the BoT, Shackelford will replace Jack Evans who has been serving as interim dean since Jim Dean was chosen as UNC’s Provost last year. Although the search was international, the internal hire marks the second in a row for Kenan-Flagler as Jim Dean was promoted from senior associate dean.

Shackelford graduated from UNC in 1980 with a business degree. In the mid to late 80s he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He’s served on the faculty since 1990. His research and teaching focuses on taxes and business strategy. He’s held the position of associate dean on the MBA@UNC since 2010.

He spent some time off campus in the private sector before returning to teach. From 1981 to 1985 he worked as a senior tax consultant for Arthur Anderson & Co. in Boston and Greensboro.


Winter Weather Closings, Cancellations, and Delays – Updated 7:30 a.m.

Wednesday, January 22

A Place to Grow: Opening two hours late.

Asbury Preschool (Durham): Opening two hours late.

Bethesda Baptist Child Care: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Bethesda Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Bright Horizons: Opening two hours late.

Bryson Christian Montessori: Opening two hours late.

Butterfly Kisses Academy: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Calvary Child Care of Durham: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Carolina Dialysis of Carrboro: Opening late – 7:30 a.m. – Staff; 8:00 a.m. – Patients on first shift

Carolina Friends School: Opening two hours late.

Carrboro Methodist Childcare: Opening two hours late.

Carter Community School: Opening two hours late.

Chapel Hill Day Care: Opening two hours late.

Chapel Hill Transit: Operating normal schedules. “If you must travel, be safe, dress warmly and expect delays.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools: Opening two hours late.

Chatham County Schools: Opening two hours late; optional teacher work day.

Chatham Child Development Center: Opening two hours late.

Chatham Trades/Siler City: Opening two hours late.

Cresset Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Duke School: Opening two hours late.

Durham Academy: Opening two hours late.

Durham Nativity School: Opening two hours late.

Durham Public Schools: Opening two hours late.

Durham Technical Community College: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Emerson Waldorf School: Opening two hours late.

Epworth Preschool: Opening one hour late.

Fellowship Baptist Academy of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Global Scholars Academy: Opening two hours late.
The Goddard School of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Gorman Christian Academy and Gorman Early Learning Center: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Grey Stone Preschool/Kindergarten: CLOSED

Haw River Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

Hill Center: Delayed until noon.

Immaculata Catholic School: Opening two hours late.

International Montessori School: Opening two hours late.

Kestrel Heights Charter School: Opening two hours late.

Kids Learning Center: Opening two hours late.

KinderCare of Chapel Hill: Opening two hours late.

KinderCare of Durham: Opening two hours late.

The Learning Experience in Durham: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.

The Learning Garden: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Learning Tots Academy (RTP): Opening two hours late.

Lerner Jewish Community Day School: Opening two hours late.

Little School of Hillsborough: Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Maureen Joy Charter School: Opening two hours late.

Montessori Day School of Chapel Hill: Opening at 10:00 a.m.

Montessori Farm School: Opening two hours late.

Mt Sylvan Preschool: Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Mt Zion Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

NC Central University: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Orange County Schools: Closed to students and staff.

Orange UMC Preschool: Opening one hour late.

Pace Academy: Opening two hours late.

Park West Barber School: Opening two hours late.

Pasitos Felices: Opening two hours late.

Pittsboro Baptist Preschool: CLOSED

Research Triangle High School: Opening one hour late.

Robyn’s Nest Creative Learning Center: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.

St. Thomas More Catholic School of Chapel Hill: Opening two hours late.

Sunshine Smiles Academy: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Tiny Tots and Tiny Tots Too: Delayed until 8:00 a.m.

Trinity School (Durham and Chapel Hill): Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

UFC Christian Academy: Opening two hours late.

UNC Wellness Centers (Meadowmont and NW Cary): Opening at 9:00 a.m.

Victorious Daycare of Durham: Opening two hours late.

Voyager Academy: Opening two hours late.

Westminster Kindergarten: Delayed until 10:00 a.m.

Woods Charter School: Opening two hours late.

YMCA Chapel Hill/Carrboro branch: Delayed until 9:00 a.m.


For future reference: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ policy is if there is no school, there are no after school activities.


President Obama Introduces Innovation Institute At N.C. State

RALEIGH – Your local economy is already one of the best in the state, but President Barack Obama traveled to N.C. State University Wednesday afternoon to announce the future of American jobs.

“I’m pleased to announce America’s newest high-tech manufacturing hub, which is going to be focused on the next generation of power electronics, is going to be based right here in Raleigh, North Carolina,” President Obama said.

That announcement received a standing ovation in N.C. State’s J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.

***Listen to President Obama’s Remarks at N.C. State***

The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is the second of its kind. The first was started more than a year ago in Youngstown, Ohio and focuses on developing 3D printing technology.

President Obama said Raleigh-Durham’s innovation institute will focus on energy efficiency through this partnership of universities and businesses.

“Bringing together leading companies, universities, and federal research all together under one roof,” President Obama said. “Folks at this hub are going to develop what are called wide band gap semiconductors.”

The President likely addressed many engineers as he pointed out that he was on the campus of a university with one of the largest undergraduate engineering programs in the country.

He said the wide band gap semiconductors will revolutionize energy conservation.

“They’re special because they lose up to 90 percent less power,” President Obama said. “They can operate at higher temperatures than normal semiconductors. So that means they can make everything from cell phones to industrial motors to electric cars smaller, faster, and cheaper. There are going to (still be) applications for the traditional semiconductors, but these can be focused on certain areas that will vastly improve energy efficiency (and) vastly improve the quality of our lives.”

President Obama said this is just the start of where he wants to see the United States go with these partnerships. A year ago in his State of the Union address, he told congress he wanted to see bills passed to allow for 15 institutes in the U.S. Now he says he wants congress to approve the funding for 45.

“Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate introduced bills that would get this going,” President Obama said. “That’s good. But they haven’t passed the bills yet. So, I want to encourage them to continue to pass the bills that would create 45 of these manufacturing hubs. In the meantime, I’m directing my administration to move forward where we can on our own.”

While the Triangle has the best unemployment rate in North Carolina, the state itself if still struggling. It currently ranks 35th in the U.S. at 7.4 percent as of November.

However, President Obama says this will institute will create job opportunities and provide a major boost to the state’s economy, and he says he hopes that it will spread nationwide.

“This can be a breakthrough year for America,” President Obama said. “The pieces are all there to start bringing back more of the jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade.”

And he says he’s seeing signs of other countries sending jobs back to American and that he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity.

“A lot of companies around the world are starting to talk about bringing jobs back to the United States, brining jobs back to places like North Carolina—partly because we’ve got cheap energy costs; we’ve got the best workers in the world; we’ve got the best university systems in the world; and we’ve got the largest market in the world,” President Obama said. “So, the pieces are there to restore some of the ground that the middle class has lost in recent decades.”

President Obama kept his focus on the economy, job creation, and the new innovation institute. He did not mention Democratic Senator Kay Hagan during his time at N.C. State. She’s running for re-election this year and has distanced herself from the President in recent months.

***Correction: President Obama mentioned Senator Hagan at the beginning of his speech by thanking her for the hard work she’s doing in Washington and that he was sorry she couldn’t make the trip.

She told the media that she felt it was important to stay in Washington while the Senate was in session. However, the Replublican party has criticized her for her support of President Obama, especially during the struggling times of Obamacare and its website troubles.

However, Sen. Hagan has tried to show that she wants to keep the president honest when she asked the Obama Administration for a full investigation of HealthCare.gov. She also asked the administration to extend the filing period for Americans since there were many problems.


Celebrating The Inaugural CH-Carrboro Business HoF Class

CHAPEL HILL – They are the establishments which have shaped our local business economy, each in a unique way—A Southern Season, Mama Dip’s and Fitch Lumber, to name a few. The leaders and entrepreneurs behind these staples of the community were honored Wednesday as the inaugural class of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Business Hall of Fame.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce recognized 12 individuals during the gala at the Carolina Inn.  The class included Ted and Edward Danziger of the Restaurateurs; Orville Camplbell of The Chapel Hill Weekly; and Frank Kenan of Kenan Oil and Kenan Transport.


To view Chapelboro’s complete gallery from the ceremony, click here.

Kenan’s son, Tom, spoke on behalf of his late father who led what was at one time the largest petroleum transportation company in the Southeast. A proud UNC alumnus, Kenan supported Carolina with generous donations throughout his lifetime.

“My father’s favorite words were, ‘The best speech is the shortest speech.’ So, I am not going to disappoint him tonight. He loved Chapel Hill; he loved this University; and he is still with us. I think he tells us what to do at least once a week,” Tom Kenan said.

A Southern Season started out as a one-man operation for tastemaker Michael Barefoot. Now it is one of the largest specialty-food retailers in the United States.  Barefoot, who opened A Southern Season in 1975, attributes his success to the community’s loyalty.

“We didn’t create anything. We just planted a seed, and the local folks helped us grow it,” Barefoot said.

North Carolina State Senator Valerie Foushee was a presenter during the ceremony.  She proudly welcomed Mildred Council, known as “Mama Dip,” a trailblazer in serving Southern cuisine, to the stage.

Council was greeted with evening’s first standing ovation.

“For her part in putting Chapel Hill on the culinary map and her generous support of local organizations, and her leadership in the minority business community, we proudly induct Mildred “Mama Dip” Council into the Business Hall of Fame,” Foushee said.

Mildred Council, Valerie Foushee

Mildred Council, Valerie Foushee

In 1976, Council opened Dip’s Country Kitchen with three employees and $64 to buy ingredients, according to the gala pamphlet. Decades later, her restaurant is still thriving, and Council said she hopes to expand.

“That is all I’ve ever done—is cook in my restaurant. It has really been successful. And I know so many of these people [fellow inductees]!”

WCHL’s own Jim Heavner was given a special introduction from Top of the Hill Proprietor Scott Maitland.

“Jim Heavner is Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s first media mogul,”  Maitland  said. “Parlaying a small town radio station into the flagship of a national sports broadcasting network, a cable TV company, an advertising circular, a university phone book publisher, and so much more.”

Sandy McClamroch, Jim Heavner, Bob Woodruff

Sandy McClamroch, Jim Heavner, Bob Woodruff

Heavner thanked his mentor, Sandy McClamroch, Chapel Hill’s longest-serving mayor and former owner of WCHL.

“As mayor of this town for eight years during the Civil Rights crisis, he set the standard for community service that we were expected to follow,” Heavner said. “He gave me the room to screw up and to learn how to do it. He changed my life. Sandy, thank you.”

Chamber President Aaron Nelson commented on the all-star class of business innovators.

“We are in a room with legends. It is incredible to hear the stories of the places where I take my children to now,”  Nelson said. “The folks that started [those places] have forever shaped our community.”

Nelson added that the Chamber will induct three to four new members to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Hall of Fame annually.

 Other Attendees

Presenter Rick Steinbacher, UNC’s Senior Athletic Director and former Carolina football player, remarked on the other noteworthy attendees of the event.

“I got to my table and the ultimate surprise was that I was sharing a table with Sally Brown, wife of Coach Mack Brown [a former UNC Football Coach], one of the greatest teachers I ever had in my entire life. Welcome home, Sally,” Steinbacher said.


Full List Of Inductees:

WCHL’s own Jim Heavner

Stein, Bill, and Jesse Basnight Sr. of S.h. Basnight & Sons, INC

Michael Barefoot of Southern Season

Mildred Council of Mama Dip’s

Orville Camplbell of The Chapel Hill Weekly

Ted and Edward Danziger of Restaurateurs

Mickey Ewell of Chapel Hill Restaurant Group

R.B. and Jenny Fitch of Fitch Creations

Mac Fitch of Fitch Lumber and Hardware

George Wattes Hill, Sr. of Central Carolina Bank

Frank Kenan of Kenan Oil and Kenan Transport

Mel Rashkis of Mel Rashkis & Associates