Friday, December 24, 2010

NC Population surges ahead in 2010

Thinking its getting more crowded around here lately? According to the latest US Census numbers, North Carolina jumped substantially ahead in the number of residents and is among the "mega-states" in population. The State's population swelled by a whopping 18.5 percent since year 2000.

The NC population increased nearly 1.5 million people since 2000 to a total count of 9,535,483, the fifth most of any state. 
Read the entire report...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

NC business goes for $925 million

One of North Carolina's home grown businesses sells for $925,000,000!

Burt's Bees has been on the market for one month and Clorox corporation plans to purchase it for $925 million. The deal will close by the end of 2007 and will remain in Durham, NC, and keep it's current chief executive, John Reploge. Burt's Bees has a strong reputation in health and wellness directions and compliments Clorox company's new Green Works line of natural cleaning products.
News & Observer
October 31, 2007
Vicki Lee Parker

Clorox to buy Burt's Bees for $925 million

Just over a month after being put up for sale, Burt's Bees, the Morrisville-based maker of natural personal-care products has a buyer.

Clorox Co., of Oakland, Calif., said this morning that it plans to purchase Burt's Bees for $925 million.

Clorox executives said the purchase will allow it to expand beyond its core business into the fast-growing consumer care market.

"The Burt's Bees brand is well anchored in sustainability and health and wellness," Donald R. Knauss, Clorox chairman and chief executive said in an statement. "Combined with our new Green Works line of natural cleaning products, and Brita water filtration products, we can leverage Burt's Bees extensive capabilities and credibility to build a robust, higher-growth platform for Clorox."

The company also reported said that Burt's Bees, which was founded in 1984, will remain based in North Carolina and continue to be headed by John Reploge, its current chief executive.

The deal is expected to close by the end of the year and is subject to regulatory approval. Original article...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Sign of the times - re-elect nobody

Running for elected offices these days requires candidates to deal with a lot of public hostility toward government and elected officials. This sign was placed along area roads along with those of candidates running for Cary and Wake County offices in October 2oo7 and encouraged voters to not re-elect anyone already on the Cary council.

This sentiment is becoming a factor anyone running for public office must consider and may bring significant change in local, state and national government, even for some that have worked hard to serve the public faithfully. Now, more than ever, candidates need to listen to constituents and tune campaigns to provide a choice voters will believe and make at the polls.

Much of the public is so unhappy with all levels of government and how things have been handled by the Bush administration that the handwriting is on the wall for anyone in office that has supported the current administration. The possibility for a tidal wave of change in government is looming and the elections in 2007 and 2008 will bring a complete change in who leads and makes decisions for the foreseeable future in local and national government organizations.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

NC couple offers land for research and environmental education

One NC couple finds a way to share and preserve their land so others can learn more about the environment.

John and Nancy Bray spend lots of time walking through their estate learning about plants, trees and learning about the environment around them. Since their land connects to parcels owned by Pitt County, the couple is working with the soil and water conservation department to provide a setting conducive for environmental education. If all goes well, John Bray says, people will be studying there by the end of the year.

Read more about how one couple can make a difference and about this exciting opportunity...
The Daily Reflector
October 9, 2007
Brock Letchworth

Ayden couple to open more than 100 acres of their land to researchers, students

Ayden couple hope to open more than 100 acres of their land to researchers, students

The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

AYDEN — When John and Nancy Bray trek through the land across from their Contentnea Creek Estates home, the couple speak of the wildflowers, ponds and trees as though they are family members.

Nancy's excitement over the vibrant colors of wild berries and John's concern for the low water levels are as real as their passion for nature.

The Brays hope to share that passion by opening the more than 100 acres to researchers and students soon.

"You can go through a lot of different eco-systems in a very short walk," said Nancy, a former teacher. "It is really pretty back there, and you can learn a lot."

With the Brays' land connecting to parcels owned by Pitt County, the couple is working with the soil and water conservation department to provide a setting conducive for environmental education. If all goes well, John Bray says, people will be studying there by the end of the year.

Going green

For 27 years, John and Nancy, now retired, lived in Lake Glenwood near Eastern Pines because they enjoyed the rural setting.

The skies were clear for telescopes, and trails were plentiful for exploring.

But as the land around them gave way to development, the Brays recognized a pattern.

"We lived in two other cities where we've seen development wipe out everything green," Nancy said.

"It was happening around us again."

In 2003, the Brays found another home nestled a couple of miles off of N.C. Highway 11 in southern Pitt County.

There, flooding from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 had wiped out several houses and left a large chunk of the land desolate.

With its unique vegetation and wildlife, the spot was perfect for the Brays.

Planning begins

Not long after moving into their new home, John and Nancy began exploring the land spread beyond their huge front porch.

"We used to walk through some of the trails back there and we would say to each other how it would be nice to own all of the land so it wouldn't get developed," said John, co-founder of Greenville-based Metrics, Inc.

One year after moving in, the Brays began to buy more land. Homeowners and farmers started selling their properties and the Brays began buying them to ensure that everything that was green would stay that way.

"We wanted to keep everything natural," Nancy said. "We both have science backgrounds so nature is natural for us."

County officials already have marked nearly 20 different points of interest in the area.

Among them are rare trees and plants, Nancy said.

Also included in the project is access to Jackson's Point — a connection of Pitt, Lenoir and Greene County where N.C. pioneer John Lawson reportedly was murdered by a Tuscaroran tribe in 1711.

John Bray says when the park opens, it will be by appointment only.

"It will be by permit and be controlled," John said. "We allow some hunters out here along with the hikers so we have to be sure hunters and hikers aren't out here at the same time. Hunters and hikers don't mix."

Staying busy

Along with the preservation work with the county, the Brays are helping with the development of the Eastern North Carolina Regional Science Center in Greenville — a project that aims to enhance the level of science and math literacy in eastern North Carolina.

The couple also travels with a portable planetarium to schools teaching kids about astronomy.

Their schedule doesn't resemble that of most retired couples.

"I think we kind of recognized that science and technology and the literacy of the two is a requirement for the 21st century," John said. "There is a need for more scientists and engineers in this country, and we want to help with that."

John spends many of his days keeping the trails clear. When Nancy is not in her organic garden, she searches for rare vegetation and documents her findings back home.

"We have a really nice porch and we spent some time on it, but I think we get bored easily," Nancy said. "We always have to be up to something."

Brock Letchworth can be contacted at 329-9574 or Original article...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Women treated differently from men for heart problems

According to two new studies by Duke University, men are far more likely to receive needed heart treatment than men when having similar risk factors. The study highlights the finding that women and minorities are treated differently from the way men patients are treated and the difference requires more diligence in seeking our second opinions and equal treatment.

The new findings show that the use of implantable cardioverter defibrillators, small devices that shock an irregularly beating heart back to a normal rhythm, "are used two to three times more in men than in women with similar symptoms, even though heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. The device is also used more in white men than black men".

Researchers found that the devices were "vastly underused among patients who appeared to be eligible for them, and when they were used, men were most often the beneficiaries". For every 10 men who got the device, only three or four women did. Seven black men got the device for every 10 white men. It was also found that only 35 percent of those eligible for the defibrillators devices got one - women were 50 percent less likely than men to receive them, and black men were 25 percent less likely than white men.

Read the entire article...
News & Observer
Kristin Collins, Staff Writer
October 2, 2007

Study: Women less likely to get heart device

Men are far more likely than women to receive a simple life-saving heart treatment, even when they have similar risk factors, according to two Duke University studies released today.

The studies, to be published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are the latest in a growing body of research showing that doctors still treat women and minorities differently from the way they treat white men.

"Unfortunately, there's one recurring theme from all these kinds of studies," said Kevin Schulman, a Duke internist who worked on the new studies. "It's that you really have to take care of yourself, be aggressive, get a second opinion. The system's not consistent." Read more...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Gloomy NC job outlook through fourth quarter 2007

The job outlook for NC has worsened, reflecting declining economic conditions and more companies being uneasy about being overstaffed during uncertain times. A September report in the Winston-Salem Journal indicates only 10 percent of employers in the Piedmont area expect to add employees in the fourth quarter.

Winston-Salem journal
September 10, 2007
Richard Craver, journal Reporter

More local companies expect to cut jobs; just 10 percent will add positions

The local employment forecast is gloomy for the fourth quarter, with more than twice as many companies expecting to cut jobs than add, according to a Manpower Inc. survey prepared for release today.

Just 10 percent of employers in the Winston-Salem area plan to add staff in the quarter, according to the Manpower Employment Outlook. The area consists of Davie, Forsyth, Stokes and Yadkin counties.

By comparison, 23 percent of employers expect to reduce their work force. Manpower does not disclose how many employers it surveys in individual markets.

It is the second time in the past five quarters that 10 percent of area employers expressed interest in hiring over the next three months. Before the third quarter of 2006, the last time the local-hiring projection was so low was the fourth quarter of 1996.

"Employer confidence about hiring is significantly weaker as compared to a year ago," said Matt Stadler, the manager of Manpower's office in Winston-Salem. In the fourth quarter of 2006, 20 percent of employers expected to add staff and 7 percent expected to cut jobs.

The survey found that the best job prospects are in the finance, insurance, real estate and service sectors. Employers in nondurable goods manufacturing and the wholesale and retail trade sectors are the most likely to eliminate jobs.

The survey's results run counter to the messages being conveyed by several area employers pursuing cost savings through outsourcing and offshoring information. A short list includes Aon Corp., BB&T Corp., Dell Inc., GMAC Insurance, Hanesbrands Inc., Reynolds American Inc. and Wachovia Corp.

Employment officials said that thousands of jobs could be at stake, either locally or within companies' domestic operations. Some of those job cuts are expected to take place during the next three to six months.

Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University, said that companies "don't want to be caught in an overstaffed position."

"North Carolina's economic improvement has been stronger than in the nation and Southeast since the current economic expansion began in earnest in 2004," Walden said. "The first implication is that the business cycle is more volatile in North Carolina than in the rest of the country.

"The second is the broad structural transformation under way in the country, resulting from globalization, technological advances, the increased benefits from education, and more intense business competition. As evidenced by the faster changes in the occupational distribution, this transformation is happening more intensively in the state."

One local employer capitalizing on the outsourcing trend is Liberty Hardware Manufacturing Corp., which has 350 workers at Union Cross Business Park. The company said in August that it considering local and out-of-region options for a distribution expansion scheduled to open in mid-2008.

"We've had great success in hiring locally for key positions, especially with people who have been let go, or feel they are going to be let go, by local employers who are going in a different staffing direction than we are, either by outsourcing or offshoring," said Jennifer Shoffner, the vice president of human resources of Liberty's local operations. "We're attractive to people who like the fact we've had low turnover and we're committed to operating locally." Original article...

Monday, September 10, 2007

NC continues to lose jobs

North Carolina businesses continue to decline and the state continues to lose more jobs as part of a gradual trend. Textiles, furniture manufacturing, electronics and other long time sources of employment have been hard hit and it seems the trend will continue even as the state tries to lure new industries.

According to the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina, since 1990, the number of manufacturing jobs in North Carolina has dropped from more than 820,000 to fewer than 553,000 in 2006. The ESC reports "of the roughly 249,000 jobs lost over that time, more than a third have come since the turn of the century. The number of manufacturing plants and mills dropped from more than 12,500 to fewer than 10,700 from 2000 to 2006".

"The trends have been particularly devastating for the textile and furniture industries, once pillars of the state's economy. The number of textile and apparel mills dropped by 40 percent between 1996 and 2006, putting more than 153,000 people out of work. Furniture manufacturing losses have been smaller, but significant. The number of plants has dropped by 163 for a loss of about 26,000 jobs, about a third of the state's work force in that industry".

The trend is fueled in many ways by forces of our own making. Expanding "free trade" growth has brought significant competition from overseas and the lure of cheap labor and low overhead costs has encouraged businesses to move production out of the country at the expense of American jobs.

The following account from the Rocky Mount newspaper tells of yet another NC business lost to the pressures of free trade drawing manufacturing away from the United States...

Rocky Mount Telegram
September 9, 2007
Zach Ahmad

Imports take toll on plywood sales

For a man who just lost his livelihood, Ken Burnette is spending a lot of time in the office.

At 10 a.m. on a Wednesday, the founder and now former owner of East Coast Plywood Co. is tied up on a call with a potential buyer for some of the nearly $400,000 worth of wood stocks sitting in the warehouse next door.

As soon as he puts the phone down, it rings again. It's the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce asking if he wants to be included on a map it is preparing for local businesses. The plant is closed, he tells them, so no thanks.

Later that morning, Burnette will meet with a pair of businessmen from Lexington who are interested in buying a pair of industrial table saws he still owns. Then he'll look into leasing out the building he owns.

"I'm as busy as I've ever been," he said. "Unfortunately, it's a different kind of busy."

More than a month ago, Burnette made the decision to close the furniture parts manufacturing plant he's owned for 21 years, having squeezed what he could out of an increasingly unprofitable business.

The company's work force has been cut to just two employees charged with cleaning up the largely empty 50,000-square-foot warehouse, where workers once converted plywood into drawer bottoms to be used in office furniture – a niche market if there ever were one.

Burnette's focus is now on selling off the rest of his inventory and equipment, which he expects to get peanuts on the dollar for. When that's done, the business owner of more than two decades will be hunting for a job.

"We're bleeding too much, and what's leaving is the equity it took me 21 years to build," Burnette said. "We had to make the decision. We're out of here."

In permanently closing its doors, East Coast Plywood is penning its own version of a familiar story for North Carolina manufacturers large and small over the last several years.

Since 1990, the number of manufacturing jobs in North Carolina has dropped from more than 820,000 to fewer than 553,000 in 2006, according to data from the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.

Of the roughly 249,000 jobs lost over that time, more than a third have come since the turn of the century. The number of manufacturing plants and mills dropped from more than 12,500 to fewer than 10,700 from 2000 to 2006.

The trends have been particularly devastating for the textile and furniture industries, once pillars of the state's economy. The number of textile and apparel mills dropped by 40 percent between 1996 and 2006, putting more than 153,000 people out of work.

Furniture manufacturing losses have been smaller, but significant. The number of plants has dropped by 163 for a loss of about 26,000 jobs, about a third of the state's work force in that industry.

The causes are as clear as they are frustrating. The rise in global free trade has sent large manufacturers overseas and across borders in search of cheap labor and less restrictive employment and environmental regulations.

In addition to mass layoffs that come as a result of large-scale plant closings, the impact trickles down to smaller manufacturers that feed into the industry. It's a trend many believe is irreversible.

"It's reasonable to assume we've kind of bottomed out," said Steve Walker, assistant director of the Furniture Manufacturing and Management Center at N.C. State University. "There will certainly be opportunities that come along that somebody will see and fill; but to think that those jobs will come back, I don't think it will ever happen."

For East Coast Plywood, the fall came hard and fast.

Burnette started the company in 1986 using a loan and all the savings he had after spending more than a decade in furniture sales. The operation was small but grew quickly, making a profit in its third year with about $1.2 million in sales.

After a decade, that blossomed into more than $6 million in sales a year. The output multiplied from 7,000 drawer bottoms a day to 54,000, and the plant's work force was up to 22 full-time employees. In 1996, the company moved to a new warehouse five times larger than its original location to accommodate the expanding business.

"I found a niche in the marketplace," Burnette said. "We were doing well."

The boom lasted until about 2002, when Burnette started to notice a gradual downward shift in sales and profit margins.

He didn't have to wonder why – it was on the nightly news.

In December 2001, China became a member of the World Trade Organization, eliminating many of the trade barriers that had prevented manufacturers from doing business there.

Soon after, many of the large furniture manufacturers Burnette counted on as customers began to move their operations to China, and took their business with them. By 2004, East Coast Plywood saw its production drop to 32,000 drawer bottoms a day, a 40 percent cut in business from its peak. Then things got bad.

By 2006, output dropped to 24,000 drawer bottoms a day, and annual sales were down a third from a decade earlier, not accounting for inflation. Burnette had laid off more than half his staff, leaving just eight plant workers on the job with more layoffs imminent.

"You'd pick up a newspaper, and you'd see that another furniture plant was shutting down," Burnette said. "Once the water started coming through the dike, it didn't take long at all."

On Fourth of July weekend, Burnette took a trip with his wife to Emerald Isle, the same spot he was at 21 years earlier when he made the decision to go into business for himself.

The plant was now making just 10,000 drawer bottoms a day with five plant workers – barely more than what it was putting out in its earliest years. It was then that he made the call: When he got back to town, he would start shutting things down for good.

"You feel like you lost. You feel defeated," Burnette said. "You can lose money 10 times faster than you can make it."

The first thing Burnette will tell you when discussing his failed business is that he doesn't consider himself a victim. But wait a minute or so, and he'll begin to talk about the free trade realities responsible for his company's demise – the fairness of which he understandably questions.

He's hardly alone. Since the major expansion of international trade agreements in the mid-1990s, concerns about the equity of a relatively unregulated global marketplace have created one of the most consistent and complex threads of ideological debate in the post-Cold War era.

As it relates to the offshoring and outsourcing of U.S. jobs, domestic opponents of free trade point to the often loose labor and environmental practices permitted in many of the benefiting countries – issues they claim the trade agreements inadequately address.

China in particular, which has been a drag on the U.S. furniture industry, has drawn considerable attention for its growing contribution to global greenhouse gasses, with several studies projecting it to become the world leader in emissions in just a few years.

Moreover, critics say the lower labor costs for which offshoring companies leave are typically the result of unbalanced sociopolitical systems in which workers are exploited for little pay.

Regardless of one's theoretical take on global competition, they say, the reality is a situation in which U.S. industries are punished for having to adhere to stricter regulations.

"It's really a fallacy that these smaller firms should be able to adjust their practices to compete on a level with these developing countries," said Ben Plimpton of the Citizens Trade Campaign, a coalition of organizations that promote free trade reform. "Obviously the cost of labor is a fraction of what it is here, and that's made possible by a repressive political climate."

Free trade supporters point out that the United States' emphasis on labor rights and environmental protection is a relatively recent phenomenon, made possible by a stable middle class. Countries such as China are following a similar model, and improvements – the theory goes – will come gradually as they expand to higher levels of development.

"I think Americans often have a less than complete knowledge of the relative comparisons," said Dr. Mitch Renkow, a professor of resource economics at N.C. State University. "A clean environment is in some sense a luxury good. It's only after you get to a certain level that you're concerned about it."

In addition, many economists say the trend is a natural one that carries numerous benefits – cheaper consumer prices, accelerated global progress and a better quality of life in historically underprivileged parts of the world – even if there are bound to be some losers in the equation.

"Economists have studied this for a long time, and if you add up all the benefits and subtract all the losses from these free trade situations, it's always true that the gains outnumber the losses," said Dr. Donald Jud, an economist at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. "Free trade is making possible a better life in so many parts of the world. The problem is that not everyone is benefiting at the same pace."

In more than 35 years in the work force, Keith Bennett has never been without a job.

As the plant manager at East Coast Plywood for a decade and a half, he's seen the company's staff grow and dwindle, hanging onto his own position as many of his co-workers were let go.

Now, at 60 years old, Bennett is counting down his final days at the company that's provided him with a livelihood for much of his adult life. He is one of two employees still working at the plant, helping to clear out the warehouse so someone else can make use of it.

Bennett will volunteer that he's no expert on the nuances of free trade. Yet, he said he's seen enough to believe there's something fundamentally wrong about the situation he's now in.

"I'm conservative and old-fashioned in nature, and I just think we need to take care of our jobs before we take care of the rest of the world," Bennett said as he took a smoke break, using an empty Coke can for an ash tray.

"I don't know that I'm knowledgeable of world trade and world organizations and what their thing is, but I know enough to make that decision."

Bennett doesn't know what kind of unemployment compensation he'll receive, though he's certain he will eventually need another job.

Having spent his life in manufacturing, Bennett said he'd prefer something different. But he knows his age could work against him, and he's willing to take what he can get.

"My experience has been in wood manufacturing of one sort or another," he said. "I'm just going to see what's out there."

While activists and economists debate the merits of free trade, the situation on the ground remains as is.

Every plant closing leaves a variable amount of people without jobs, many with only the most basic skill sets. Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector is shrinking, and jobs that remain require more advanced training.

In the wake of several high-profile furniture plant closings in the early part of the decade, the state has stepped up efforts to retrain employees who have suddenly found their talents no longer in demand.

The JobLink Career Center System, run through the N.C. Department of Commerce, has teamed up with the state's community college system to locate displaced workers and assist them in finding a new role in the local economy.

When officials get notice of a plant closing, they will often do onsite visits to register employees in the JobLinks database and assess their interests and abilities. From there, they will try to match them up to training programs in community colleges to make them more versatile.

"There's an ebb and flow in the labor market, and what we have here is a cohort of people who have demonstrated some great skills and great work productivity," said Tom White, director of business and industry services for N.C. Division of Workforce Development. "We're able to take that basic set of skills and try to enhance it and develop it to meet the changing needs of the labor market."

Experts say that approach is critical. While the manufacturing industry in North Carolina is not necessarily dying, observers say it is shifting to more advanced stages, and workers will need to learn how to work at higher levels to gain meaningful employment.

"We've been through this sort of longterm structural change before, and we're going through it again," Jud said. "The junior colleges in many of the rural areas of North Carolina, they're the growth industries. Everybody needs to go back and get retrained."

Burnette will soon test those waters himself as he looks for something to replace his once successful, now defunct furniture parts outfit.

The man who prints his business cards on a piece of ultra-thin plywood said he'd like to find something within the furniture industry, but he's open to all options.

Meanwhile, Burnette's 18-year-old son recently started his freshman year at N.C. State. The former plant owner told him a few years ago there wouldn't be any openings at the family business when he graduates. Beyond that, he offers him only general advice.

"I tell him, 'Son, it's highly competitive out there,'" Burnette said. "If you want to get a job, you've got to be better than the guy beside you."

Not to mention the guy halfway around the world. Original article...

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Recycling carried to a new level

Recycling lowers the urgency to find more new resources, helps reduce trash dumped along roadsides and in backyards, and has become a profitable big business for some. Recent news articles tell of copper tubing being stolen from construction sites and catalytic converters being removed from parked cars for precious metal content so thieves can "recycle" and sell materials. Home recycling helps reduce the volume of material going into landfills and often adds a little income for cities and towns.

Recycling has been a business for many years and junk yards are seen in industrial areas of many towns. "For the determined, scrap-hunting is a grueling, house-to-house quest. The worldwide hunger for scrap draws retirees and their trucks to the streets. The washtubs and faucets they haul across the scales might not make it into an Asian office tower, but the mad pace of building makes the metal more valuable everywhere" according to an article by Josh Shaffer and David Bracken.

Almost everything in our society produces volumes of waste, much of which can be salvaged and recycled -- packaging containing purchased products, newspapers and magazines, materials from buildings being demolished to make room for new ones, old cars and trucks. Even the food we eat offers the opportunity to "recycle" scraps to produce compost that can be re-used in gardens and around the yard.

Read more about this trend that is becoming a necessary part of our society and how it can produce a fortune for some willing to do the hard work to gather and sell byproducts of everything we consume...
News and Observer
August 4, 2007
Josh Shaffer and David Bracken, Staff Writers

Scrap metal: from trash to treasure
Hobbyists -- and thieves --cash in as demand spikes here and abroad

RALEIGH - An 80-year-old man with heart trouble spends his days bouncing over the Johnston County back roads, hunting for rusty farm equipment.

A thief sneaked into a scrap yard in Garner, made off with a bucket of old copper and immediately tried to sell it back for $100.

Just last week, 19 catalytic converters disappeared from a North Raleigh auto body shop. Over the past three months, more than 200 storm grates vanished in Durham.

Blame the invisible hand of scrap metal economics, which drives a global hunger for recycled junk that stretches to bridge-building in India and apartment construction in China. The tiniest, rustiest bit of metal discarded or stolen in the Triangle is wrapped up in a powerful global market that connects junkmen, recyclers and thieves with a construction boom in east Asia. Read more...

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Goodyear to get millions for not leaving

North Carolina gives away big money to entice companies to set up shop in the state and create jobs. Much has been reported in recent news about the relatively new trend and debates continue to rage about whether the huge incentives are worth the cost. The state offered Dell $242 million in cash and tax breaks to bring 2,000 jobs to the Triad and the jobs pay an average of $28,000 per year.

A big ruckus is still being made over the giveaway to entice Google to the western part of the state. In exchange for incentives, the company would build a $600 million data center near Lenoir and create as many as 210 jobs with average salaries of $48,000. Breaks given by the state would save Google up to $90 million over three decades. Local business recruiters also earmarked up to $4.8 million to the company if it meets job-creation goals. Including incentives offered by local leaders, Google could receive more than $260 million over 30 years.

Just before adjourning the 2007 session, the NC General Assembly approved a new incentive to give Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company up to $40 million over 10 years just to stay in Cumberland County. In return the company has to invest at least $200 million in its factory but it would not have to create any jobs and or have to keep all of the 2,750 existing workers.

Wouldn't it be nice if the Legislators would grant tidy sums to all the state residents that have lost their jobs in recent years due to a declining economic climate and businesses leaving the state and region?

What do you think? Leave your comments below after reading the report on the latest incentive...
News and Observer
August 4, 2007
Jonathan B. Cox, Staff Writer

Goodyear could get $40 million
State offers incentives package if the tiremaker stays in Cumberland County

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. could get as much as $40 million from the state over 10 years if it keeps producing in Fayetteville -- even if it lays off workers.

Before adjourning, the General Assembly approved a new incentive program written to sway one of Cumberland County's largest private employers as it considers factory closings and expansions.

Goodyear would have to invest at least $200 million in its factory to get the assistance. But it would not have to create any jobs or keep all 2,750 existing positions.

"Goodyear has been a wonderful corporate citizen in our part of the state," said Sen. Tony Rand, a Fayetteville Democrat and one of the legislature's most powerful members. "It makes a great deal of sense to keep one of our most important industrial citizens."

The incentive comes as Goodyear trims domestic production of low-end tires in favor of more profitable models.

Last year, the company said that it would stop making about 10 brands of tires -- some made in Fayetteville -- sold under the names of wholesale customers. Since that time, the company has also announced plans to end tire production at a factory in Canada and close a Texas plant.

Goodyear's decisions angered unionized workers, who went on strike last year. Its actions have also sparked fears in several U.S. communities, where leaders worry that they could lose a major employer.

Officials in Alabama and Tennessee have cobbled together incentives packages to entice Goodyear to upgrade plants instead of shutting them down.

"Everybody spends a lot of money to bring these kinds of plants in," said Jim Cooper, executive director of the Obion County Joint Economic Development Council in Tennessee. Goodyear employs about 2,500 at a plant there in Union City.

"Not a whole lot of emphasis is put on keeping them," he said. Read more...

Thursday, August 2, 2007

North Carolina bridges worst in the southeast

According to an August 2, 2007, AAA of the Carolinas statement "North Carolina's highway bridges are in the worst shape of any state in the Southeast, and two Charlotte-area counties -- Burke and Cabarrus -- are at the bottom of the list."

This follows on the heels of the terrible bridge collapse in Minnesota involving a 40 year old "unique design" bridge between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The report does not say any bridges are in emminent danger of collapse but many are in need of significant repair now. As many as 30 percent of the state's bridges have problems that should be resolved in the near time frame.
The Charlotte Observer
August 2, 2007
Steve Lyttle, The Charlotte Observer

AAA: N.C. bridges need work

AAA of the Carolinas says North Carolina's highway bridges are in the worst shape of any state in the Southeast, and two Charlotte-area counties -- Burke and Cabarrus -- are at the bottom of the list.

Bridge safety figures to become a higher priority item across the country, in the wake of the collapse of a freeway bridge Wednesday evening in Minneapolis. At last report, at least four people were killed in the disaster, and another 20 are missing.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the bridge that collapsed was declared "structurally deficient" in 2005.

None of the Carolinas bridges listed by the AAA are in danger of collapsing, the agency said in its February 2007 report. But the AAA said a large percentage of the states' bridges are in need of repair.

In the Carolinas, more than a quarter of bridges were rated as "substandard" by the AAA in its survey this year. That figure was 30.6 percent in North Carolina and lower in South Carolina. Read more...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wake County boom - 35 births a day

You can almost feel the population growing in Wake County and North Carolina. The rapid growth is fueled by people moving to the area and a surge in new births - up to 35 each day.

According to the report, "nearly 13,000 babies were born last year to Wake residents -- an average of about 35 a day". This adds greatly to the pressure for new schools, health care, day care and other services. The report also notes that "Wake's birth rate ranked third in the nation among fast-growing counties over 500,000, according to the latest census data from July 2006".
News and Observer
July 29, 2007
Todd Silberman, Staff Writer

Baby boom: 35 births in Wake each day
A boom in births,13,000 a year, is a big part of the surge in Wake County population. Hospitals, day-care centers, schools and pediatrics practices strain to keep up.

For every two people who move to Wake County, another arrives as the ultimate newcomer -- a newborn.

In all, nearly 13,000 babies were born last year to Wake residents -- an average of about 35 a day. No other Triangle county averages more than a dozen births daily.

"It's been tough to keep up with," said Deb Friberg, chief operating officer of WakeMed, which includes two of the three hospitals in the county where babies are delivered.

"The demand for services has grown much faster than we expected," Friberg said. "We expected increases in births of 2 to 3 percent a year. What we've seen instead is 5 to 6 percent growth."

It's not uncommon for either WakeMed Raleigh Campus or Rex Hospital to see the arrival of more than 20 babies in a day -- enough from one maternity ward to fill a future kindergarten class.

Long before those children reach school age, their numbers are being felt. Parents are often left scrambling for day care unless they reserve a spot at least a year in advance. Pediatricians' offices are jammed. Read more...

NC Health Care for Women Gets Mixed Grades

NC Women's health care gets mixed grades in new report from the Center for Women's Health Research at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The good news...
  • Fewer women are smoking and dying from heart disease and stroke, and more are getting screenings for cancer
The bad news...
  • Social barriers are worsening. More than 16 percent of all North Carolina women have no health insurance
  • Diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol are rapidly increasing in women
  • mental health trends show a growing population of women depressed after giving birth, and depressed in general, especially among African-Americans
This continues an alarming number of declining or mixed trends reflecting poor progress in many areas during the administration of Governor Mike Easley and Lt. Governor Beverly Perdue.

News and Observer
July 26, 2007
Carolina Astigarraga, Staff Writer

Report: NC Lags in care for women
UNC center gives "F" grades on diabetes, health insurance

RALEIGH - When Pam Dickens found a lump in her breast two years ago, she was confronted with some bad news.

It was not that the lump was necessarily malignant -- it was that because she was in a wheelchair, she could not even take a mammogram to find out.

Dickens, women's health coordinator for the N.C. Office on Disability and Health, hopes the 2007 North Carolina Women's Health Report Card will help more handicapped women get the care they need. Nearly one in three women in North Carolina have some disability, according to the report. Read more...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Preserving disappearing farmland

Time is short to preserve farmland in North Carolina. Open land is disappearing quickly and by the 2025 time frame driving through the scenic countryside will be a thing of the past unless something is done soon to save farms from the onslaught of developers greedy to turn fields into homes and shops.

The Perry family has taken a small step to preserve 50 acres of their farm and he is trying to get other area farmers to do the same. This is a small step that could help save at least a small portion of open land that farmers and land owners could easily take.
News and Observer
July 24, 2007
Peggy Lin, Staff Writer

Time short for farmland preservation
Development puts a premium on land in Wake, other urban counties

Larry Perry and his brother never want to see subdivisions on farmland that has been in their family since before the Civil War.

Last year, they gave up the right to put houses on 50 acres of their farm in exchange for $475,000 from Wake County and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Perry tries to persuade other farmers to do something similar. He gives talks in Wake and Johnston counties and welcomes visitors to his farm near Zebulon.

"People say I wish we would have done this or that," Perry said. "But it's too late after it's got asphalt on it."

As farming has ebbed following the 2004 tobacco buyout, conservationists hope to catch the wave of aging or retiring farmers looking for other uses for their land. It's a race against developers who are swooping into previously rural areas, such as eastern Wake County. Read more...

Monday, July 16, 2007

North Carolina losing road battle

North Carolina simply can't keep up with highway maintenance and cannot provide needed roads according to David Hartgen, a transportation expert in Charlotte.

A report in the July 9, 2007, Greensboro News-Record quotes Mr. Hartgen's study as ranking North Carolina "ninth worst in the nation for poor pavement conditions on all rural roads and 11th worst for deficient bridges (nearly a third subpar) and for poor pavement conditions on urban interstates.

According to Mr. Hartgen "We're actually losing ground. We have lost the initiative. We have lost the leadership."

In recent comments about the NC DOT and the state of our roads I have said several times that this is a top-down problem in the state and the problem is not going to improve as long as the current administration is in office. Neither the Governor or DOT leaders seem to have any solutions that will produce or find enough funding to solve N.C.'s road problems. We will continue to drive through potholes, see frequent news articles about insufficient funds for road projects and live with serious traffic congestion in all areas of the state for the next few years.

Greensboro News-Record
Jul 9, 2007
Taft Wireback, Staff Writer

N.C. losing speed as roadwork stalls

North Carolina is evolving from the "Good Roads State" to the "Good God State" as it lags behind other parts of the nation in improving urban freeways, rural roads and bridges, said David Hartgen, a transportation expert in Charlotte.

The state simply is not keeping up with others — particularly Texas — that have made stronger commitments to combat congestion and upgrade maintenance, said Hartgen, whose recent national study showed that 72 percent of the Tar Heel state's urban interstates are congested.

"We're actually losing ground," Hartgen said. "We have lost the initiative. We have lost the leadership."

Hartgen, an emeritus professor of transportation studies at UNC-Charlotte, prepared a recently released study for the Reason Foundation, a nonprofit, conservative think tank based in California.

The study found that North Carolina has the most state-maintained miles of highway among all states, a total of almost 80,000 miles, which puts it slightly ahead of former frontrunner Texas.

But Texas is improving its road network with a massive effort to virtually eliminate congestion, while North Carolina is lagging with urban freeways that have the nation's fourth-worst problems with congestion, Hartgen found.

In addition, Hartgen's study ranked North Carolina ninth worst in the nation for poor pavement conditions on all rural roads and 11th worst for deficient bridges (nearly a third subpar) and for poor pavement conditions on urban interstates.

Money is key to the differing approaches in North Carolina and Texas, the numbers in Hartgen's detailed study suggest, with North Carolina raising about $3.5 billion per year to maintain and improve its gigantic system.

By contrast, Texas nets more than $8.6 billion yearly, a significant amount from toll roads, Hartgen said.

The good news for residents of the Greensboro area, Hartgen says, is that it stands out for generally being in better shape than the rest of the state.

New sections of the Urban Loop will be opened this year, routing Interstate 40 around the city and linking the airport area more effectively with Interstate 85.

And unlike most others in North Carolina, the Greensboro-area Metropolitan Planning Organization has a solid, well-thought-out plan for combatting gridlock, Hartgen said.

"Greensboro gets good marks, although they have a too-high percentage of money set aside for public transit," said Hartgen, who said he thinks cities need serviceable systems — but not elaborate ones — for those who have no other way of getting around.

Hartgen is particularly dismissive of regional transit proposals aimed at forging a commuter rail link between Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

"It's just silly talk," he said. "The feds simply aren't going to fund it."

Hartgen said the reality is that people drive cars most places, and alternative modes of travel rank a distant second for the majority of residents.

That means lots of people in lots of cars — which, Hartgen said, is a pretty good definition of congestion in places where roads are not wide enough for traffic volumes or are not effectively maintained.

"We are creating a culture of congestion," he said. "If you ask 100 people what's the biggest transportation problem, 90 say congestion. Yet there is no serious plan to reduce congestion in any of our cities."

Copyright © 2007, The News & Record and Landmark Communications, Inc. Original article...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Smoke Free At Last

At last - a North Carolina public facility takes charge and goes smoke free!

After years of public debate and tolerance of smoke clouding the entrances of most public places, NC hospitals have taken a step to be a leader in community health and has banned "use of tobacco products anywhere on hospital property for employees, patients and visitors".

Granted this may be difficult to enforce but it is a major step to help all of us have clean air to breath and avoid constant exposure to second hand smoke when we go in public places.

Now if only state Legislators would be responsible and have the courage to take the same step for all state facilities instead of giving in to pressure from tobacco lobbyists and big business, the trend could move forward to help everyone have clean air to breath.
July 4, 2007
NBC-17 - Health and Fitness

Area hospitals go smoke free

RALEIGH, N.C. -- This July Fourth, Duke University Health System, UNC Healthcare and WakeMed Health and Hospitals are celebrating their independence from tobacco.

In Raleigh, WakeMed is clearing the air by declaring a 100 percent tobacco-free campus.

While hospitals have banned the use of tobacco products inside their buildings for years, this new policy prohibits the use of tobacco products anywhere on hospital property for employees, patients and visitors.

"Hundreds of people die per year as a result of tobacco use and the effects that it's had on their health, and so for us, with leaders in health, we just felt it very important that we take a step forward and make our campuses all tobacco-free," WakeMed RN Barbara Bisset said.

WakeMed officials said they'll approach violators courteously and will offer them sugar-free chewing gum instead.

The hospitals have also asked for help from employees to help enforce the new policy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

NC traffic among worst in nation

More bad news about trends in NC during Governor Easley's administration. A new study places traffic in North Carolina among the worst in the nation.

On top of frequent news about problems and delays in major road projects and insufficient funds to build new roads and repair existing ones, NC can't seem to keep up with growth in traffic anywhere in the state. This may be just a sign of the times but it is likely the DOT organization simply doesn't have the knowledge and leadership to properly plan for growth or find ways to produce funding for what is needed. It is most likely a top down issue and is consistent throughout the state. News articles frequently place blame for problems and construction delays on lower level staffers and never suggest that leadership is at fault.

Poor roads, sloppy maintenance and heavy traffic are visible all around the state. The quality of roads in neighboring states generally seems to be better than in NC and it seems that this trend continues to worsen.

The following AP article from the Winston-Salem Journal compares the best and worst state locations and indicates traffic in NC continues to worsen.
June 28, 2007
Associated Press

Study ranks NC traffic among worst in nation

WASHINGTON - Motorists in California, Minnesota, New Jersey and North Carolina have been stuck in some of the worst traffic in the United States, according to a study released today.

North Dakota and South Carolina roads rated highest in the study's overall rankings, while New Jersey roads ranked the lowest. The study ranked Montana highways as the deadliest in the nation.

The study, based on data from 1984 through 2005, found that while road conditions have improved in recent years, traffic congestion and highway fatalities have increased slightly.

The state-by-state evaluation of highways was conducted by UNC Charlotte and financed by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank based in Los Angeles.

With the federal highway fund running short of money for major highway projects, state governments are faced with having to pick up a greater share of the cost of building and maintaining highways.

Dr. David T. Hartgen, the highway study's lead author, says the results show that states need to prioritize, directing their transportation money to projects specifically designed to reduce congestion.

"Gridlock isn't going away," Hartgen said.

The study ranked highway systems in each state according to their cost-effectiveness, which was determined with several factors including traffic fatalities, congestion, pavement condition, bridge condition, highway maintenance and administrative costs. Evaluations were done on highways and all state-owned roads.

The five states with the most cost-effective roads, according to the study, are North Dakota, South Carolina, Kansas, New Mexico and Montana. The bottom five states are New Jersey, Alaska, New York, Rhode Island and Hawaii.

The study found that traffic fatalities rose by less than 1 percent between 2004 and 2005. Montana had the deadliest roads, with 2.3 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. Massachusetts roads were the safest, with 0.8 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles.

Congestion rose by a similar amount. According the study, almost 52 percent of the nation's urban interstate highways were regularly congested in 2005, the last year included in the evaluation.

In a statement, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said that congestion has nearly tripled in metropolitan areas during the past 25 years despite increases in spending over that period. Resolving the issue has been a priority for the department, which last year announced a plan to combat gridlock through long-terms investments in key corridors.

"It's so important to get our transportation policies headed in the right direction - away from the federal government and back to the states and localities where innovation in America has always originated," she said.

Congress will have to find new sources of revenue if it wants to tackle the problems, said Matt Jeanneret, spokesman for American Road and Transportation Builders Association. His group estimates that Americans spend 47 hours a year stuck in traffic.

"This illustrates the capacity crisis that is facing this country, which is only going to get worse if trends stay the same," Jeanneret said. "We are bursting at the seams with motor vehicles and we're not adding capacity to that."

Janet Kavinoky, who works on transportation issues at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, says the nation's traffic woes are at crisis levels. "There's more bad news coming," she said. "You hate holiday traffic? Pretty soon it's going to be business as usual."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ten eastern NC counties continue losing people, business

Ten eastern NC counties lost population from 2005 to 2006, continuing an alarming trend. Of the counties that lost population, a dozen had fewer people than in 2000. Ten of the 12 are in Eastern North Carolina.

Lost industry and jobs in those areas has fueled the migration of people away from these areas and efforts to draw new businesses to the region has not helped as expected even after the state spent millions of dollars to attract new companies and jobs.

The N&O report paints a gloomy picture for that part of the state. "We keep hoping things are going to get better, but it hasn't happened," said Claudia Cahoon, a Hyde County native who works nights at Hyde Correctional Center and runs a struggling seafood business during the day. "You've got to love it to stay here."

The article further states that "eastern North Carolina leaders say the biggest challenges lie ahead for counties that are too far from the coast to attract tourists and retirees and too far from urban centers to attract commuters. Without the textile plants and small tobacco farms that once fueled their economies, some say, there are few prospects for growth."

News and Observer
March 22, 2007
Kristin Collins and Jerry Allegood, Staff Writers

Rural East losing people
Ten Eastern counties are among 15 in the state that lost population from 2005 to 2006, new estimates show

SWAN QUARTER - Jobs at the state prison are all that separate many in this remote Eastern North Carolina community from poverty. The docks, once bustling with commercial fishermen, sit all but empty. Abandoned homes dot the roadsides.

Hyde County, battered by hurricanes and the decline of farming and fishing, has lost nearly 8 percent of its population since 2000.

Census estimates being released today show that people continue to flee rural Eastern North Carolina, even as newcomers pour into the state, settling mainly in urban centers around Charlotte and the Triangle. Read more...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Smoking ban proposed in North Carolina

Will North Carolina change course on smoking in State owned facilities and ban smoking? According to this March 7, 2007, news article "State lawmakers in tobacco-rich North Carolina are headed for a showdown over smoking in public places."

The North Carolina Progress Board also issued a report on the Smoking
trend in the state.

Exerpt from the article...
News and Observer
March 7, 2007
David Ingram, Staff Writer

Statewide smoking ban gains support

State lawmakers in tobacco-rich North Carolina are headed for a showdown over smoking in public places.

Spurred in part by a request from Mecklenburg County commissioners, the General Assembly is considering legislation that would allow counties and other localities to regulate smoking on their own.

Or lawmakers could go further.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Best teachers and most-needy kids rarely meet in NC

According to a news release in January, 2007, the best teachers and "high-needs" kids rarely mix in the state school system. The report states "North Carolina leads the nation with teachers who hold a national credential, considered the gold standard of the profession. The national board announced recently that more than 1,500 teachers in the state earned certification this year, the most in the nation, pushing the total number in the state to more than 11,000. A large part of the reason is a pay incentive matched by few other states."

NC teachers with national certification earn an extra 12 percent on top of their annual salary, regardless of where they teach, giving them upwards of $5,000 additional pay each year."

It's time for the state to make sure all students have teachers of the highest quality and provide the best education possible for all in order to allow NC to build the skilled work force it needs to remain competitive in the future.

For additional information about education in North Carolina see also the 2006 Education Update Report published by the North Carolina Progress Board.

News and Observer
January 23, 2007
Todd Silberman and David Raynor, Staff Writers

Highly qualified teachers, high-needs kids rarely mix in North Carolina

N.C. leads in top teachers, but few are in poor, rural schools

Knightdale Elementary School isn't the kind of school that typically attracts many nationally certified teachers.

Teachers with the credential, which enhances pay and reputation, tend to work in richer schools with fewer minorities.

But this year, 11 Knightdale Elementary teachers hold certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The number has more than tripled since 2002. Six more teachers this year are working toward certification.

Knightdale has done this despite state policy that does little to bolster those numbers in schools facing tougher challenges. Even though the state spends more than $42 million on extra pay to reward nationally certified teachers, only about one of 10 works in the one-fifth of public schools that are the state's poorest. Read more...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Low on-time graduation rate in North Carolina

Another low mark for North Carolina has been released. Despite the Governor's stated position that he is the "education" governor the state can't seem to get it right in helping our children be the leaders in quality education. A new article published March 1, 2007, in the News and Observer clearly shows NC has a much lower graduation track record than previously told...
Only 68% graduate on time in N.C.
State needs concerted effort to pull kids through high school, educators say
RALEIGH - After years of claiming that nearly all public high school students graduated, the state released figures Wednesday showing that their actual performance is far worse.

The state Department of Public Instruction said 68.1 percent of freshmen who entered high school in 2002 graduated four years later. In previous years, the state used a different calculation method and said the rate was more than 90 percent.

"If I could, I would expunge those numbers," said state school Superintendent June Atkinson. "They were absolutely meaningless, useless pieces of information." Read more...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

2006 North Carolina Education Update Report

A fall 2006 North Carolina Education Update report has been prepared by the North Carolina Progress Board that presents a current view of the state of education in NC. This report was in a draft state when it was made available and is subject to change.

The update provides a snapshot of key educational trends and indicators. This data, found on the North Carolina Progress Portal, will interest everyone who is committed to North Carolina’s competitive capacity. The future will have winners and losers, but the winners of global competition will be those who chart a clear strategic course and make smart long-term investments, during good times and bad.

North Carolina will witness dramatic change and mounting competition in the years to come. In a volatile, ruthless global economy, the state will be challenged to anticipate change and exploit its competitive assets.

In 1995, the NC General Assembly created the North Carolina Progress Board as a quasi-state agency to help answer this challenge. Its members are appointed by the governor, General Assembly leadership and board itself. The Progress Board’s mission is to be an independent proponent for strategic accountability and help focus citizens on the big picture. This means serving as a strategic compass — setting milestones, scanning trends, reporting progress and envisioning opportunities for change.

A dramatic change has recently come about that could end the research and reporting activities of this group. Governor Easley and a member of his staff (Mac McCorkle - recently appointed by the governor as the NCPB chairman) have decided to eliminate funding provided by the state legislature and in effect shut down the Progress Board and it's activities. The new chairman has refused to meet with other board members and has directed the state finance organization to suspend funding and work done by the board staff to prevent additional reports from being produced.

While the stated reason for cutting off funding of the Progress Board is said to be because of a study being conducted by UNC to create a university based policy research group it is believed that the Governor and his staff member perceive the reports published by the NCPB do not present a favorable view of many trends developing in the state during the governor's term of office.

The reports of the Progress Board are available on the NCPB website under the navigation menu link to the Scorecard section. The eight sections of the Scorecard offer factual and current summaries and data about related trends that present true and accurate views of the state of things in the state.

A recent comment floating around in the NC political world is that Governor Easley would like to be viewed as a candidate for Vice President during the 2008 presidential race. Shutting down the Progress Board and it's non-partisan reports would further this agenda by eliminating reports created by the NCPB for the public and reduce the chance that these could detract from the track record of the Governor while in office.

If you view the reports delivered by the Progress Board as being helpful in understanding how the state is doing in various areas you can help continue this valuable effort by contacting your state representatives and encouraging them to keep funding in place and continue the work of the board.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Trends in NC health

A number of reports published by the North Carolina Progress Board provide an analysis of trends in issues that affect "Healthy Children and Families". The reports include trends, how NC ranks in the southeast and the nation and provides links to relative sources of data on each topic. Follow these links to the reports:

If you feel the content produced by the NC Progress Board is valuable to citizens and legislators please take a few minutes to convey your thoughts and suggestions to your state Representatives and Senators and to those in state government that can provide continued funding for research and publications from the NCPB and expand the analysis and reports it has offered. Without your encouragement there is a strong possibility this effort will be eliminated in the near future.

It's all up to you !!!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Addressing weight problems in NC

A key health issue facing North Carolinians and the nation is the growing problem of obesity and the corresponding cost of treatment. There is an urgent need to develop programs promoting good nutrition, encouraging healthier lifestyles and reduce obesity.

A report on NC's weight problem is featured on the NC Progress Board website.

Please add your ideas and comments on how the a state can work toward solving this problem and what can be done to help citizens have a healthier life.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

NC Scorecards

Take a look at newly published North Carolina scorecard reports for various trends in NC as published by the North Carolina Progress Board. Each was carefully researched and reflects current ranking of the state in each category as well as its placing among other southeastern states and the nation. These are intended to show now NC is doing and lead to discussion of what can be done to improve quality of life in each of the areas and keep NC competitive.

Choose one of the eight Imperatives and click on it to view a page of topics related to that Imperative, then click on the link for the associated scorecard (example - Smoking).

Please contact your state representatives and tell them you want publication of these reports to continue and for the state to continue funding the independent research of the NC Progress Board. You might also indicate your thoughts of having the Board consist of only members that do not bring partisan bias to the reports and that none of the members be from specific state organizations or from the Governors office.

Trends worth watching - NC Progress Board

If you are interested in trends related to the quality of life in North Carolina check out the NC Progress Board website. The web portal provides a great deal of information in its Scorecard section about trends in a variety of topics related to life in NC and compares them to the southeast region and the nation.

The NCPB was established under a statute by the NC legislature to monitor trends in the state and publish periodic reports that provide views of how NC is doing as well as provide ideas on what could be done to improve quality of life in the state. The Board also has published Eight Imperatives that outline key topics affecting the state and its economy and issues reports on what is happening in these areas.

The Board was created and funded by the NC legislature to operate in an independent manner presenting a non-partison analysis of how the state is doing but in the fall of 2006 an advisor to the Governor decided to get into the mix and eliminate the funding for the group thus adding the appearance that the Governor's office is trying to both influence the nature of the reports and end the ability to provide a clear and independent view of what is happening around the state. The current work of the Board has all but ended and if the funding is moved to an organization in the UNC system at Chapel Hill the information presented up until now will essentially dissapear from view.

If you feel the content produced by the Progress Board is valuable to citizens and legislators please take a few minutes to convey your thoughts to your state House of Representatives member or state Senator and to those in state government that can influence continuing the funding and existence of the NCPB and expand the analysis and reports it has offered.
It's all up to you !!!