Two Chapel Hill Companies Among Healthiest in Triangle

Two Chapel Hill-based employers have been named among the 35 healthiest employers across the Triangle.

Both Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and the Town of Chapel Hill have been named to the Triangle Business Journal’s annual list of healthiest employers in the area.

Jason deBruyn, with TBJ, says Blue Cross Blue Shield has been on the leading edge of providing a health workplace in recent years.

“They offer various incentives to encourage employees to lose as much weight as possible,” he says. “They’ll even group them into teams.”

deBruyn adds that BCBS was one of the first companies in the Triangle to begin offering this program. He says that breaking the participants up into teams can also build strong bonds among the employees.

Meanwhile, deBruyn says he is very excited about a new program that has been launched by the Town of Chapel Hill.

“They also do some pretty progressive stuff,” he says. “They have a free employee health clinic. That’s staffed with a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, and a health coach that are all employed by UNC Health Care.”

deBruyn says that the clinic is open to all town employees – eliminating many of the excuses we use for not going to the doctor.

“By having this clinic on site, and by the Town of Chapel Hill saying that the employees can come during work and get checked out, people are a lot more likely to use it,” he says.

deBruyn says he expects the use of on-site clinics to increase in the area, especially in locations where multiple companies share an office park and can split the healthcare costs.

Overall, the region has actually regressed below the national average in terms of the health workplaces, but deBruyn says a portion of that can be caused by the fact that companies have been working to stay ahead of the curve for so long.

He adds that having healthy employees can be very beneficial to the companies as well.

“There have been some really good studies,” he says, “that show that for every dollar invested in a wellness program – or in some kind of a health benefit outside of traditional health insurance – it returns as many as three, four, sometimes as much as five dollars in work productivity and in less lost time.”

Both the Town of Chapel Hill and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina have both been on the annual list in recent years. For 2014, BCBS checks in at number 7 in the region and the Town of Chapel Hill ranks 14th.

Organizations Team Up To Help Unemployed

Getting the unemployed back to work is the goal of a new program being rolled out by a partnership of local organizations.

The Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and Chapel Hill-based Community Empowerment Fund are joining forces to launch a new program called Job Partners.

“We’re starting Job Partners, which is a program that’s designed to combat unemployment in the Chapel Hill area through facilitating connections between local employers and community members,” says CEF’s Kaity Taylor.

Taylor says that Community Empowerment Fund started in 2009 by micro-financing loans to help people get back in the job market.

“We started offering savings opportunities [and] financial education, as a support for people who are looking to seek employment, housing, and financial freedom,” she says.

Jamie Rohe, with the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, adds that there is one thing that stands out about the Job Partners program.

“[I’m impressed with] how relational they are. They will have one-on-one advocates working with their clients, sometimes two-on-one.”

Rohe says, “It’s so important and it’s so effective to make their clients feel like someone really cares about them. Somebody takes the time to learn about them.”

According to Taylor, maintaining those connections is paramount to the success of Community Empowerment Fund.

“CEF really focuses on developing those relationships, exploring those relationships, understanding the factors that are at work, and the things that are impacting people’s lives.”

Rohe adds that the relationship extends far beyond the job search.

“They work very hard to make people become job ready,” she says. “And then (they) really cream off the people who are ready and connect them to employers. And then maintain that connection after the people are employed, to make sure it’s working out.”

The organizations are looking for community members that live in Chapel Hill, have strong connections in the area, and are willing to use those connections to better the entire community.

If you would like more information on how to get involved, you can visit the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness website or call CEF at (919) 200-0233.

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.