Archive for April, 2017

SOMETHING-YOU-MAY-NOT-KNOW DEPARTMENT

Among the people at the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday was Brent Lane, one of the persons behind the creation of JDIG. Lane also is the leading figures in tracing the fate of The Lost Colony, the first attempt of the English to settle in North America. The colony disappeared mysteriously between 1585 and 1587. They left no clue of their fate.

Lane has tracked the colonists up the Chowan River and found evidence of their presence among Indian tribes. He surmises that those not killed by other Indians scattered and were assimilated.

Lane also discovered in London that a “scientific party” of Englishmen came over a year before the colonists. They were sent to determine if North America could support life and produce goods to generate a profit for investors. Who knew?

HAVES AND HAVE-NOTS

Voices from each of the two North Carolinas were heard loud and clear in the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday. The most prominent came from N.C. Senator Harry Brown, author of a bill that would require more state funds for business recruiting and support be directed at rural counties in the state’s poorest regions. Almost 90 percent of state grants to new or expanding businesses have gone to two counties—Wake and Mecklenburg. Sen. Brown argued that more efforts need to be directed toward selling troubled counties which are losing populations. His bill SB660 would require this. Sen. Joel Ford of Mecklenburg insisted the bill could discriminate against the state’s larger counties where voters have approved higher taxes and bond issues for popular attractions and infrastructure improvements. “If some these counties (in stressed areas) got 15 percent of the state’s sales taxes maybe they could afford to issue bonds,” Brown shot back.

The state budget includes $14 million for JDIG grants to new or expanding businesses. Brown said this could be raised if the market demanded it.

Sen. Andy Wells of Hickory concluded that recruiters prefer to focus on Wake and Mecklenburg counties which “are easier sells.” Other senators said that businesses will not locate in areas “where their employees do not want to go.” The lack of shopping attractions, and entertainment were cited as issues for rural areas.

NEW FACE OF HOSIERY INDUSTRY

The Lonati Group of Brescia Italy, which makes 70 percent of the world hosiery and textiles knitting equipment, introduced its newest offerings at the Manufacturing Solutions Center in Conover Wednesday.

Opening principals for the Lonati Equipment Exposition

Opening principals for the Lonati Equipment Exposition: From left: Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, president of Catawba Valley Community College and base for the Manufacturing Solutions Center; Dr. Chris Chung, director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina; Ettore Lenati, president of the Lonati Group; Dr. Taiwan Wang of the Advanced Functionable Fabrics of America; Dan St. Louis, manager of the Manufacturing Solutions Center; and Charles Poston, chairman of the Trustees for CVCC.

Key Lonati executives in the fields of marketing, sales and technology

Key Lonati executives in the fields of marketing, sales and technology are included in the turnout for the company’s exposition at the Conover-based Manufacturing Solutions Center.

Industry representatives from across North Carolina

Industry representatives from across North Carolina were awaiting the opening of the Lonati show.

Advances in technology for knitting and finishing equipment were highlighted.

Lonati Group President Ettore Lenoir rang the bell which opened the show to scores of manufacturers evaluating innovations for 21st century operations. The machines are expensive. But they require fewer –but highly trained—personnel. One former hosiery executive at the opening, who sold his business 10 years ago, estimated his operation which operate today with 25 percent of his previous workforce.

The exhibition included new technologies for boarding, transferring, seaming, and knitting.

Chris Chung, director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, addressed the opening crowd, observing that North Carolina is poised to be the center of textiles for the future. He noted that the Western Piedmont area, with its Manufacturing Solutions Center and Textiles Technology Center in Belmont, is poised to be the new center for the industry. Dr. Taiwan Wang, of the Advanced Functional Fabrics of America research initiative, re-enforced these predictions and said the MSC and Textile Center will be important partners in a nation movement, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense , to bring high-tech manufacturing to America. North Carolina has the capabilities to capitalize on this effort, he allowed.

Dr. Wang noted that the MSC, Textile Technology Center and N.C State University College of Textiles are candidates to become a U.S. Fabric Development Center which has been endorsed by Gov. Roy Cooper and top Legislative leaders.

Exhibition hours are 9 a.m. To 4 pm. Wednesday (today) and Thursday and from 9 a.m. To 2 p.m. Friday.

COMPREHENSIVE MACHINERY TAX BILL

N.C. Representative Susan Martin of Wilson has filed a bill calling for a study of taxation on manufacturing equipment. Rep. Martin wants manufacturing equipment exempt from state sales tax and assessments. The bill also addresses an extensive list of proposed exemptions, including cranes, parts for equipment repairs, and machines used at state ports and and process centers.

Wilson, located east of Raleigh and traditionally a center for tobacco sales, recently was named among the top 12 communities in which to start a new business by personal finance website WalletHub.

BUY AMERICAN, HIRE AMERICAN

President Trump on Tuesday, April 18, signed an executive order instructing government agencies to buy more products made in America and give preference to hiring American citizens. The technology companies in the Silicon Valley and other research and development centers for technology and scientific products employ highly-skilled persons from across the globe.

Note: The federal government reportedly employs 24 million people. This fact is included in a new data bank created by former Microsoft chief Steve Balmer. Balmer has spent millions to create a data bank on U.S. Government expenditures, including personnel, supplies, and trends in costs.

LONATI EUIPMENT EXPO

The Manufacturing Solutions Center again will be the site for demonstrations of 21st century hosiery knitting and finishing equipment from the factories of the Lonati Group of Brescia, Italy.

The three-day event opens at 9 am. Wednesday, April 26 at the Conover facilities of the MSC. Participating in the open will be Chris Chung, director of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and textiles and hosiery executives. PAM Trading, Lonati’s distributor for the United States socks manufacturing, is sponsoring the show with the MSC. Hours for the show are 9 a.m. To 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 9 a.m to 2 p.m. Friday.

Lonati and Santoni equipment will be operating with new technologies for production. PAM Trading is urging those planning to attend to pre-register at aparker@pamtrading.com. On-site registration also is offered.

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Four North Carolina representatives have filed a bill to outlaw gay marriages in the state, despite the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court. State voters five year ago approved an amendment to the state constitution to prohibit gay marriages. Rep. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County argues that since voters expressed a preference the state lawmakers should override federal mandates. U.S. Senator Thom Tillis led the referendum battle in 2013 while he was N.C. House Speaker.

ACME MCCRARY ACQUIRED BY MAS

At a recent news conference Chairman Bill Redding, grandson of an Acme-McCrary Hosiery Co. founder, announced the 108-year old company has been sold to MAS Holding, a global apparel technology and manufacturing conglomerate based in Sri Lanka. There was good news for the leaders in Asheboro and Randolph County: MAS will locate its first U.S. Headquarters in Asheboro , adding over 100 jobs and retaining 374 jobs at Acme-MCrary.

Gov. Roy Cooper said the N.C. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Partnership were involved in the recruiting of MAS Holding along with state lawmakers, the Randolph County Economic Developing Corp. and other government agencies.

ONE SMALL STEP…OR A LEAP

As legislators prepared to department for an Easter recess, a bill was filed in the North Carolina House of Representatives to give more low-income people health insurance. Representative Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County, a former hospital administrator is the chief sponsor, with bipartisan support from Republican and Democrat co-sponsors. The bill calls for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to design a government-sponsored benefit package similar to the coverage of the N.C. 2017 Essential Health and Benefits Benchmark Plan and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Blue Options Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plan. Emphasis would be on preventive care and wellness.

Rep. Lambeth insists this is not an expansion of Medicaid which now provides health care insurance for 1.9 million poor, elderly and disabled citizens. Rather this new program referred to as “Carolina Cares,” would be offered to the working poor between the ages of 19 and 64 and who earn less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. No state funds would be appropriated for the program. Participants would pay 2 percent of household income. Additionally available federal funds and special assessments levied by the state, including hospital fees, would support Carolina Cares.

As Congress tries to tackle the shambles of an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, North Carolina may be developing a national model. But Lambeth acknowledges he is facing a tough challenge with other legislators who are opposed to Medicaid expansion. And there are strings attached: participants must be employed, not entitled to or enrolled in a Medicaid program, and must participate in wellness and treatment programs such as drug abuse.

A step toward a national healthcare concept? Or something else?

BILLS FILED FOR THE SAUSAGE MACHINE

Over 1,100 bills have been filed by legislators this session—583 in the Senate and 590 in the House. That’s a lot of material for the process of making laws in the sausage machine. Many will die, of course. But others will determine how much tax you will pay, what public school teachers and state employees will get in their paychecks, how the judges and the courts will operate, and the authority of local governments. And more. Governing a state with 10 million people and growing is a complex challenge.