Business News

Workforce Spotlight: North Carolina Manufacturing Institute

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

By: Cabarrus Economic Development on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

When regional manufacturers expressed a need for an expanded pool of strong candidates, leaders from Cabarrus and Rowan counties banded together and sprang into action with a solution: creation of the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute.



Guest Columnist Chris Skibinski Discusses the Concord Airport Business Park

Friday, September 18, 2015

By: Cabarrus Economic Development on Friday, September 18, 2015 

Guest columnist Chris Skibinski, a Principal with Avison Young, shares the latest news at the Concord Airport Business Park, as well as his insights on Cabarrus County’s appeal to prospective industries.



Cabarrus Conversations: Concord City Manager Brian Hiatt

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

By:  Cabarrus Economic Development

Q: Concord is one of the fastest growing cities in NC and currently ranks as the 12th largest city in population and 7th in land area. What are some key motivators for industries and businesses locating to the city?

A: Quality of life ranks at the top of the list. Over the years, we’ve diversified our economic base and deliberately grew beyond just neighborhood retailers. We built a strong infrastructure that we continue to invest in, and we offer an excellent school system, a strong arts council and expanded parks and greenways. Concord is also unique because the core of our city is preserved and we have a historic and vibrant downtown with few vacancies. It’s exciting for us to be able to offer a variety of restaurants, amenities and housing.


Q: What are some of Concord’s competitive advantages in terms of recruiting industry and business?

A: We’ve put lot of resources into making sure we have adequate water, sewer and electric utilities to accommodate future growth and offer a healthy competitive environment. A partnership between Albemarle and Kannapolis is allowing us to bring in an additional 10 million gallons of water per day. Concord also offers a diverse manufacturing workforce, as well as economic development grants to help us attract businesses to the area. Being close to Charlotte, a major metropolitan area with an international airport, also is a great advantage. We’re also proud to offer competitive tax, electric and water rates.


Q: The Concord Regional Airport is a true asset for the area. What sort of growth and expansion has the airport seen over the past few years and what’s in store for the future?

A: Airport use has transitioned over the last couple of years to offer three types of aviation service: corporations, such as NASCAR race teams and S&D Coffee & Tea, operating their own planes, charter services and commercial services through Allegiant Air. We’ve applied for a federal grant to help expand the airport’s commercial offerings and the new commercial service terminal building should be under construction by the end of the year. Being able to offer more commercial flights will be a tremendous resource for the county.


Q: Can you share any updates on the ongoing road improvements?

A: We’ve spent more money in Cabarrus County on road and transportation improvements in the last couple of years than we ever have in the county’s history – from the expansion of the George Liles Parkway to the widening of I-85, with more projects underway. Concord has aggressively leveraged dollars from the state by adding our own local money, which has helped our transportation projects, such as Exit 49 improvements, rank higher on the state’s priority list. We also use this fund for local transportation projects.


Q: The City of Concord has enjoyed a great working relationship with the International Business Park, partnering with the developer to attract many international companies to the city. Now that the park is filling up, what other options do businesses have when considering relocating to Concord?

A: There are numerous available sites and buildings with different price points that are attractive to future employers. Along the George Liles Parkway, we have land zoned for business, including office development, while the Concord Airport Business ParkOakmont Business Park and others have opportunities for industrial development. In addition to industrial and office space that’s well-suited for commercial development and retail, we also offer opportunities for residential growth.


Q: How does the city’s Land Use Plan fit with future growth?

A: We’ll be updating the plan starting early next year. It’s been a great tool to help guide land development and make sure our growth is strategic. Because of the strong urge for residential growth, we’re trying to focus growth in areas where our utility system won’t get over burdened. We have a lot of room accommodate growth within the existing city limits.


Q: What role do partnerships play in successful economic development?

A: Working with city, county and regional partners to help attract and retain business is crucial. We’re fortunate to have strong relationships with a number of organizations, including Cabarrus Economic DevelopmentConcord Downtown Development Corporation and Cabarrus County Chamber of Commerce. We all collaborate together to help identify the best ways to grow, preserve and develop our city.


Getting hungry: New restaurants flocking to Concord

Sunday, August 30, 2015

by Mark Plemmons
Independent Tribune

Concord is ranked 11th in the country for the best place to open a restaurant, and operators have taken notice with more eating establishments on the way.

A Famous Toastery is under construction on Concord Mills Boulevard in shopping center in front of Lowe’s and several other national franchises will be headed that way soon.

“You look at the U-Haul report that shows where the one-way trucks and trailers are going and Charlotte, North Carolina and vicinity including Concord are at the top of the list. The rest are in Texas,” according to Robert Maynard, CEO of Famous Toastery, which started in Huntersville in 2005.

That reports shows were people are going to get jobs and where the action is, Maynard said. Restaurant and other business want to be there.

The restaurant ranking comes from NerdWallet, which looked at 530 U.S. cities of at least 50,000 people. It considered things like income, growth, the number of existing restaurants, restaurant sales per population and other considerations.

Suburban areas around Dallas and Austin, Texas and Nashville, Tennessee dominated the top of NerdWallet’s list.

Concord is attractive because it has a great mall, plenty of open space and affordable home prices and people are moving here because of it, Maynard said. Concord Regional Airport, Charlotte Motor Speedway and the NASCAR presence are also factors.

The growing traffic counts and solid incomes make the area very attractive for new businesses.

“It’s amazing how many people you see on the strip at Concord Mills,” Maynard said.

There is another vacant bay in the building where Famous Toastery is going. The rest of the small center is occupied by a Jersey Mikes and Tijuana Flats. Another building is just under way closer to the corner of Derita Road.

Christenbury Corners, diagonally across Derita, is also expected to have restaurant sites. The first buildings are beginning construction after extensive grading.


Who is looking?

Some of the restaurant names may not be familiar to people already living in Cabarrus County. A few of the lookers right now are: MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes; Philly Pretzel Factory and Which Wich. A plan posted online for a real estate developer showed Jason’s Deli as an example for one possible tenant.

“We love Concord and want to be here,” according to Chad Todd, area director with Which Wich. “We go where our customers are and they are in Concord.”

Which Wich, a Dallas, Texas-based chain, has a location at Birkdale, and in Matthews and Charlotte.

Which Wich has been looking for locations in Concord for the past couple of years and a franchise owner is ready to open when the right opportunity comes along, Todd said. That operator already has seven locations.

The Concord Mills area is the most attractive because of synergy that is building there, Todd said. “Consumers are going to have choices and we don’t mind that.”

Finding the right location with the right size space is the only thing keeping Which Wich out of Concord and it’s only a matter of time until the right location is found, Todd said.

Which Wich has been successful in other markets because of the experience.

“You have to have awesome food or you won’t in business long. It’s the experience that sets us apart. You fill out your bag and design your own sandwich. We make, put it in the bag and give it back to you with a guarantee that if you don’t like it we will make you another,” Todd said.

MOOYAH Burgers is looking for a franchisee as well as locations in Concord, according to John Ficara, the North Carolina development agent for the Plano, Texas-based company.

“We’re focused on where the growth is and people, especially in the Concord Mills, Great Wolf Lodge areas,” Ficara said.

MOOYAH Burgers is “a better burger” restaurant that is family-focused. Five Guys would be most like MOOYAH.

But there are distinct differences, including buns baked on site, low carb options with lettuce wraps and milkshakes, Ficara said. It also features hand cut fries with a six-step process including special seasoning.

Ficara owns the only other MOOYAH in North Carolina. It’s at Sycamore Commons in Matthews. That location is a little different than the typical unit.

MOOYAH looks for end-cap locations of 1800 to 2200 square feet.

“We’re ready to be in Concord when we find the right owner and the right location,” Ficara said.

Best Cities to Start a Restaurant

1. Cedar Park, Texas

2. Mission, Texas

3. Franklin, Tennessee

4. Smyrna, Georgia

5. Round Rock, Texas

6. Frisco, Texas

7. Alpharetta, Georgia

8. Fishers, Indiana

9. Milpitas, California

10. Southhaven, Mississippi

11. Concord, North Carolina

Source: NerdWallet

Contact Mark Plemmons at 704-789-9140.


Steeped in success: Hinson leads S&D product expansion

Friday, May 29, 2015

by Mark Plemmons

Independent Tribune

CONCORD, N.C. – Ron Hinson tried his hand at professional baseball and golf before turning his attention to coffee and tea – a move that would propel him to the top of an industry-leading company.

The S&D Coffee and Tea President and CEO was honored last week with an honorary doctorate from Johnson & Wales University, where the company has a beverage lab and an annual recipe contest, the S&D Culinary Challenge.

“The honorary doctorate is really for everyone at S&D,” Hinson said after he had initially declined, but later decided to accept the honor. “Our people make the difference and I could not have achieved anything in my career without the dedicated people at S&D.”

A career at S&D was not Hinson’s first choice. In fact, he had failed a couple of times before getting an entry level job with S&D.

The Asheville native played baseball at Enka High and went on the Kansas City Royals Baseball Academy, where he played shortstop. He found he just not good enough to match up with the big arms and big bats in professional baseball.

Not deterred, Hinson turned to golf. He was inspired and encouraged by his cousin, Larry Hinson, who was on the PGA Tour. He had overcome polio to make the tour and had won the New Orleans Open and the 1971 Ben Hogan Award. But the PGA tour was not to be for Ron Hinson.

At 21, Hinson was still trying to find his niche. He wanted a job with Wilson Sporting Goods in Greenville, South Carolina, but was told he needed sales experience.

His job search continued. Then came a classified ad in Asheville Citizen-Times. He interviewed for the job, but S&D officials thought he would be better suited for another job.

It was for a coffee route. It was the smallest route S&D had. He took the challenge.

“It wasn’t quite what I was looking for because it was getting on a route truck like a beer or Frito-Lay truck getting up early in the morning, but it enabled me. I was coaching a little league team so I could get out in the afternoon for sports and coaching my team. I wanted a pure sales job, but I said, ‘I’ll take it and get me some experience and go back to Wilson Sporting Good’,” Hinson said.

He never did go back to Wilson’s. Within about a year, Hinson had taken the smallest route and turned it into S&D’s largest route.

It didn’t go unnoticed and the call came from Concord for another job. They wanted him to bring S&D to Ohio in 1980-81.

In the dead of winter, he loaded up a truck and headed for Columbus, Ohio. He didn’t know a soul there but he was told to start there and work his way back toward North Carolina.

“I still remember it to this today -- it was cold and dreary and blowing snow and here was this kid who had never been out of the South headed to the big city,” Hinson recalled.

It took a while for the first sale – at a Union 76 truck stop. But they put him in touch with others and the business grew. That truck stop and chain later became Travel Centers of America.

“Today S&D is still in every Travel Center in the U.S.A., and it all started at that one Union 76,” Hinson said.

Hinson found success, especially with larger chain businesses. He worked the area for a few years, adding workers so he could concentrate on sales.

Again it didn’t go unnoticed back at S&D headquarters in Concord and the call for another project came. They wanted him to help develop a national accounts strategy.

“Over time, we became the largest supplier of coffee and tea to restaurants in America,” Hinson said.

Today from Hinson’s office at the corner of Rock Hill Church Road and Concord Parkway, he can look southward and see the Charlotte skyline and Charlotte Motor Speedway, but that’s not what catches his eyes.

He takes pleasure in seeing a new Dunkin’ Doughnuts and Bojangles being built across the street and knowing that S&D products will be served.

“It has been a wonderful journey for me here at S&D,” Hinson said.

In 2000, Hinson because president and CEO and was elected chairman of the board in 2011.


Expanding business

S&D products are served or sold at restaurants, hotels, grocery stores and retail stores, including Target, across the country. The company continues to grow and add products.

Iced coffee is a growing segment of business for S&D with launches at national chains like Chick-Fil-A.

Energy bars and sports drinks also may contain S&D products. If the ingredient label lists coffee or tea extracts, it’s likely it came from S&D, Hinson said.

“Milksplash” is one of the newest products and a national advertising campaign is being developed for the milk flavorings. “We have shaken up the category with fun flavors like Jammin’ Banana, Cookies & Cream and Orange Cream Dream,” Hinson said. “Milk flavoring had stagnated with chocolate and strawberry and with the tremendous need to get kids to drink milk, we saw an opportunity. We are turning everyday milk into milk every day.”

S&D is now taking the Milksplash to food services and has even developed a packet that can be included in fast food kid’s meals.

The company expanded its facilities in 2012 and that has meant more jobs. At the time, S&D employed about 900 people. That number now stands at 1,150, with 100 of those jobs added in 2014.

Hinson is quick to credit S&D employees and other leaders with the continued success, but Vice President of Marketing John Buckner said leadership is key and that the Johnson & Wales honor was fitting.

“We are thrilled that Ron has been honored in such a fitting way, as his inspirational leadership counts him among the elite group of figures in American dining,” Buckner said. “He has put S&D Coffee and Tea at the forefront of the industry and as the leading coffee and tea supplier to restaurants across our country. The John & Wales honorary doctorate is a wonderful exclamation point recognizing his contributions in our business.”



The Silverman Group plans another Speculative Development in Cabarrus

Tuesday, May 19, 2015
by:  Cabarrus EDC Staff

Media Contact:

Patrick Coughlin
President and CEO
Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce & 
Cabarrus Economic Development


May 19, 2015— The Silverman Group plans to construct a 108,000 square foot speculative building in Concord with a projected investment of approximately $7 million.  The flex building will be located on a twelve acre parcel on Aviation Boulevard near the Concord Regional Airport.  The flex space will feature a 32’ clear height and can be subdivided.  The Silverman Group has constructed over 552,000 square feet of speculative distribution space in Concord.  They recently purchased another 136 acres on Derita Road for future development.

“We are pleased to continue our successful partnership with the City of Concord, Cabarrus County, and Cabarrus Economic Development. The support from the community is important to our collective success in bringing industry and jobs to the area.” Blake Silverman stated. Continuing “We believe there is demand for higher end building product, with enhanced exterior finishes”.

“With the proximity to Concord Regional Airport”, commented City of Concord Mayor Scott Padgett, “the upcoming widening of Derita Road, and improved I-85 interchanges at Poplar Tent Road and Highway 73, I believe this investment will result in additional jobs for our citizens.”

Because of the level of investment and the fact that the building will be flex space, allowing for a variety of industrial uses, the City of Concord approved a performance grant for the Silverman Group.

“The Silverman Group’s repeated investment in local spec space affirms Cabarrus County’s economic potential,” said Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners Chair Steve Morris. “Adding flex space offers so many benefits to our community—perhaps none greater than opportunities for growth amongst new or expanding businesses in our area.”

Cabarrus County also approved a performance grant for the development.

“The Silverman Group is a great partner for our community,” said Patrick Coughlin, President and CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber and Economic Development Corporation. “They were one of the first developers to commit to speculative building here after the Great Recession. This flex space helps dramatically as we work to help existing companies expand and attract new companies to our County."



Metro Mayors Focus on Jobs, Economic Growth

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Contact:  Julie White
North Carolina Metropolitan Mayors Coalition

RALEIGH – The N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, representing 30 of the state’s largest cities, met in Raleigh yesterday to advocate for strategic policies that fuel economic growth and benefit the entire state. As part of their annual meeting, the Metro Mayors Coalition met with Governor McCrory, legislators and state policy leaders to discuss building partnerships to help North Carolina succeed.

“Our goal for today, and for this legislative session, is to talk with members of the General Assembly about job creation and how we can partner to benefit the entire state,” said Huntersville Mayor and Metro Mayors Chair Jill Swain. “As mayors, we support a strategic vision for job creation that ensures all parts of our state succeed. Our member mayors have been in the halls of the General Assembly all session, and we will continue to strengthen those relationships for the benefit of our cities – and North Carolina.”

This legislative session the Metro Mayors Weekly Mayor program brings member mayors to the General Assembly each week to meet with legislators. The program has helped keep the issues facing big cities, as well as economic development strategies, at the forefront.

As part of their annual meeting, Mayors met with legislators from across the state, including members of the House and Senate leadership, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, Senate Finance Co-Chair Bob Rucho, and House Finance Co-Chair Jason Saine.

The Metro Mayors honored Governor McCrory with their Founders Award in recognition of service to both the Coalition and the State. It was McCrory’s idea to create the N.C. Metropolitan Mayors Coalition more than 15 years ago around the common issues, challenges and opportunities that large growing cities face.

The Coalition kicked the day off with a Job Creation Breakfast featuring Commerce Secretary John Skvarla and Chris Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Mayors heard about North Carolina’s job creation strategy and discussed how cities can further their partnership with the State to create statewide economic success.

Mayors In Attendance:

Mayor Bill Sutton - Town of Apex
Mayor Andy Ball - Town of Boone
Mayor Lydia Lavelle - Town of Carrboro
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt - Town of Chapel Hill
Mayor J. Scott Padgett - City of Concord
Mayor Chuck Travis - Town of Cornelius
Mayor William Bell - City of Durham
Mayor Alfonzo King - City of Goldsboro
Mayor Nancy Vaughan - City of Greensboro
Mayor Allen Thomas - City of Greenville
Mayor Rudy Wright - City of Hickory
Mayor Jill Swain - Town of Huntersville
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Lazzara - City of Jacksonville
Mayor Darrell Hinnant - City of Kannapolis
Mayor Bobby Kilgore - City of Monroe
Mayor Pro Tem Thurman Houston - Town of Mooresville
Mayor Dana Outlaw - City of New Bern
Mayor Nancy McFarlane - City of Raleigh
Mayor David Combs - City of Rocky Mount
Mayor Paul Woodson - City of Salisbury
Mayor Costi Kutteh - City of Statesville
Mayor Bill Saffo - City of Wilmington


Alevo steps up hiring at Concord facility

Thursday, April 9, 2015
by Independent Tribune - Staff Reports

CONCORD, N.C. -- Concord energy startup Alevo is about to step up hiring at its battery production facility at the former Philip-Morris plant.

Alevo plans to fill its first 50 manufacturing positions by mid-May, and the company has already filled several positions with the help of NC Works and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

NC Works launched a special site,, where candidates interested in the manufacturing and production jobs at Alevo can apply directly.

Candidates go through a vetting process, and some are selected for interviews. Company officials say 30 interviews were conducted on Tuesday alone.

Much of the training for the production hires will begin in May as the bulk of the equipment will be getting in place and the team gears up for production of its GridBanks battery technology.

Alevo expects to hire 50-60 more production workers monthly through September, with as many as 500 hires by the end of the year. Currently 70 people are working at the facility.

Alevo’s longer term goal is to fill 6,000 positions in the next five years.

Employees will help manufacture GridBanks, battery systems that use a non-flammable, non-combustible electrolyte in storage cells that can discharge and recharge rapidly. The battery systems look like rail cars and are highly mobile.

Alevo already has international contracts in China and Turkey, and in February the company announced what it calls the largest-ever energy storage deployment in the United States when company officials signed a joint operational agreement with Customized Energy Solutions (CES) to provide 200MW of frequency regulation services to the wholesale energy market.


Alevo has May target for hiring first round of production workers, initial line installations

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Published Tuesday, April 7, 2015
by John Downey, The Business Journals


Alevo has gotten more than 8,000 applications for jobs at its utility battery plant in Concord and will hire the first 50 workers for the production floor by mid-May.

The company will then hire 50 to 60 additional production workers and maintenance technicians monthly through September. By then, Alevo expects to reach its goal of 300 employees working the first production line for its 1-megawatt GridBank utility-scale batteries. There could be as many as 500 employees by the end of the year.

Tim Daiss, Alevo’s vice president of human resources, and Scott Schotter, its chief marketing officer, detailed the company’s hiring and line construction plan in a recent interview.


Alevo now has 65 people working at its 3.5 million-square-foot plant in the former Philip Morris cigarette factory in Concord.

That includes about 53 executives, supervisors and others working on the production side of the business. There are also seven people already working on what will soon be a 30-person sales and field-services force and five more working at the new Alevo Analytics division.

Analytics is a key division for Alevo’s plans, Schotter says. Alevo will manufacture its GridBank batteries here, and the production division will be its largest. But Alevo does not see itself as a manufacturing company.

It intends to be an energy-services company that will assist utilities in making the most productive and efficient use of the storage services Alevo will offer.

Broader service:

The batteries have obvious applications to coupling storage with renewable-energy sources such as solar and wind that produce power intermittently. But Alevo sees storage in much broader terms, improving the grid’s performance and the efficient transmission of electricity.

It’s the analytics group that will help determine where GridBanks can be most effectively deployed on the grid. In most cases, the company will not sell the batteries, but the storage and efficiency services that they enable.

So Daiss says it is difficult right now to know how large that division will grow in the first year. That will depend on how many energy-services contracts Alevo signs once it starts producing its batteries here in July.

Agreements pending:

Currently, Alevo has a single agreement to provide energy services. That is a joint operational agreement with Customized Energy Solutions of Philadelphia.

Alevo has agreed to produce 200 GridBank battery systems and handle grid-regulation services for CES to market among its 350 energy company customers in the U.S.

Schotter says Alevo has several other contracts and agreements pending. Some, he says, are near closing and may be announced soon.

Hiring in all divisions will start to pick up in late spring, Daiss and Schotter say. That is when the equipment will start arriving for the first manufacturing line for the GridBank battery.

‘Shakedown cruise’:

The batteries, in 40-foot containers similar to truck and rail containers, will be built from the ground up at the site, although some parts will initially be manufactured elsewhere.

The electrolyte that is at the heart of the battery will be shipped from Alevo’s headquarters and principal research facility in Switzerland.

The Concord plant has space for 20 lines eventually, Schotter says. One will be built this year.

“We want to make sure everything is operating correctly before we start installing additional lines,” he says. “Everything around this first line is essentially a shakedown cruise.”

Schedules and spreadsheets:

That, he says, is why nothing is etched in stone beyond the first line going into operation. The second line will not be built until sometime in 2016, depending on how operations go on the first line.

By September, Schotter says, the plant should be producing about one GridBank per day. The CES deal will take up pretty well all of the 2015 production capacity. But Schotter and Daiss say they are confident of having additional orders lined up for 2016.

For now, Chief Operating Officer Tom Walsh has the people on site doing a lot of prep work for the first line installation.

“There’s a lot of scheduling and a lot of people with a lot of spreadsheets,” Schotter says.

Quality applicants:

When the new production workers arrive in mid-May they will be involved in training as the first phases of the production line are built.

Daiss says Alevo has been very pleased with the quality of the applicants it is getting in Concord. Schotter says Alevo is getting key assistance in vetting and training the applicants from the Centralina Workforce Development Program, Cabarrus Community College and other local organizations.

“Early this summer, you’ll see the next round of hiring and installations,” Schotter says. “The boat is moving.”


Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Ranked Among Top 10 Colleges and Universities in North Carolina

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
by Business Today - Newsroom

Mar 4. Carolinas HealthCare System’s Cabarrus College of Health Sciences has been ranked one of the top 10 colleges and universities in North Carolina by a national ranking system of more than 2,000 four-year institutions. College Factual ranked Cabarrus College No. 8 out of 51 total colleges and universities in the state.

Located on the campus of Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast, Cabarrus College has 450 full- and part-time students earning associate, bachelor and master’s degrees in programs such as nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy technology, medical assisting, medical imaging and surgical technology. The college offers courses on-campus and through distance education, as well as diplomas, certificates and continuing education.

“We are honored to receive this recognition, an affirmation of our commitment to the success of our students,” said Dianne Snyder, DHA, RN, chancellor of Cabarrus College of Health Sciences. “Our faculty and staff work closely together to ensure our students are well prepared to enter their chosen healthcare professions and provide excellent patient care.”

College Factual rankings are based on four categories: student body caliber, availability of educational resources, degree completion rates and post-graduation earnings. Most of the data come from the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

In 2014, Cabarrus College reported 100 percent pass rates among students taking national board certification exams in occupational therapy, medical imaging and medical assisting. In 2014, graduates taking the NC Board of Nursing NCLEX-RN exam achieved a 99 percent first-time pass rate. The college has remained on the President’s Higher Education Community Honor Roll since 2006, the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, service-learning, and civic engagement.

“The academic and professional successes of our students is a top priority at Carolinas HealthCare System,” said Mary N. Hall, MD, FAAFP, chief academic officer for the System. “Our diverse care locations, dedicated resources and evidence-based initiatives allow students to work as part of a team, gaining well-rounded experiences they can use as the foundation for their medical careers.”

Carolinas HealthCare System is also home to the Mercy School of Nursing and Carolinas College of Health Sciences, which in 2012 and 2013 was ranked the No. 1 two-year college in the nation by The System also has partnered with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine to create a regional campus, UNC School of Medicine Charlotte Campus, at Carolinas Medical Center.

About Carolinas HealthCare System

Carolinas HealthCare System (, one of the nation’s leading and most innovative healthcare organizations, provides a full spectrum of healthcare and wellness programs throughout North and South Carolina. Its diverse network of care locations includes academic medical centers, hospitals, freestanding emergency departments, physician practices, surgical and rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, nursing homes and behavioral health centers, as well as hospice and palliative care services. Carolinas HealthCare System works to enhance the overall health and wellbeing of its communities through high quality patient care, education and research programs, and numerous collaborative partnerships and initiatives.


Allegiant adds third Concord-Florida route

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
by Independent Tribune - Staff Reports

Concord, N.C. — Allegiant Air has added new nonstop jet service between Concord and Fort Lauderdale beginning May 8.

Fort Lauderdale becomes Allegiant’s third Florida vacation destination from Concord, adding to existing service to Orlando and the Tampa Bay area.

“The city is very pleased with the success of the Allegiant service and excited to see Allegiant add additional destinations,” said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett.

 “We’re pleased to expand our service in Concord and provide travelers with yet another sunny Florida vacation destination,” said Jude Bricker, Allegiant Travel Company senior vice president of planning. “Fort Lauderdale is one of our top vacation destinations, and we believe travelers will appreciate the opportunity to plan their entire vacation through Allegiant.”

The new year-round flights will operate twice weekly and will fly nonstop between Concord Regional Airport (USA) Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL). Flight days, times and the lowest fares can be found only at

Today only, Allegiant is offering its biggest sale ever, with up to $500 off vacations and promotional one-way fares as low as $34.

The company also announced a one-day-only promotion on vacation packages. Through Thursday, Concord travelers can also visit to take advantage of the biggest sale in the company’s history. For vacation packages totaling:

  • $1,500 or more, use promo code SAVE500 to save $500
  • $900 or more, use promo code SAVE300 to save $300
  • $600 or more, use promo code SAVE200 to save $200

Alevo signs deployment deal; plant build-out, hiring on schedule

Thursday, February 19, 2015

by Independent Tribune Staff

CONCORD, N.C. -- Concord-based Alevo Group has announced what it calls the largest-ever energy storage deployment in the United States.

Alevo officials say they have signed a joint operational agreement with Customized Energy Solutions (CES) to provide 200MW of frequency regulation services to the wholesale energy market.

CES will use Alevo’s GridBanks energy storage systems to reach more than 350 energy customers under eight Independent Systems Operators (ISOs) in the U.S. and Canada.

A number of regions – including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, much of the Midwest, Texas, California and portions of Canada – organize their markets under ISOs. Most states in these regions also allow for retail competition.

GridBanks not only stores unused energy, Alevo officials say. They also regulate the frequency of electrical signals, increase the efficiency of power plants, and make renewable like wind and solar more viable since they can release stored energy when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.

“This is a critical juncture in the integration of battery storage into the market, transitioning from pilot projects to grid-scale commercially viable installations,” CES representative Judith Judson said in a statement. “Storage can provide huge value across the electric grid in terms of increased efficiency and reduced costs, but the challenge has been monetizing the benefits. Alevo is a forward-thinking company with an exciting new battery chemistry and aggressive growth goals.”

“The major expansion of projects deployed in ISO markets continues to prove the benefits and commercial applications for readiness of energy storage,” Alevo CEO Jostein Eikeland said in a statement. “Our operational agreement with Customized Energy Solutions is a milestone for Alevo and testament to the proven performance attributes of our battery technology, which offers a superior value proposition for grid applications. The longevity and performance characteristics of the technology allow us to deploy projects in multiple ISO markets that earlier technologies have not been able to profitably address.”

Alevo, founded in 2009 in Switzerland, took over the former Phillip Morris plant in Concord last summer and unveiled its technology at an October 2014 event.

Since then, the company has hired about 50 people and is building out its manufacturing management team, said Meredith Holt of Walker Marketing, which does business with Alevo. The company expects to hire 500 people by year’s end, and major equipment is set to arrive over the next month or so.

The first GridBanks are scheduled to come off the assembly line in July.


Lofty goals for Concord Regional Airport

Tuesday, February 3, 2015
by Tim Reaves of The Independent Tribune


CONCORD, N.C. -- As the Charlotte region continues to grow, air travelers are looking for more options, and the Concord Regional Airport is positioning itself to provide them.

The airport conducted 61,277 operations in 2013. It’s already the largest regional airport in the state.

“Our airport alone has a $171 million economic impact to the region,” said airport director Rick Cloutier. It supports more than 1,900 jobs and provides runway access and hangar for private jets and charter planes, commercial flights for leisure travel, flight schools, support services, supplies and “everything in between.”

And it serves as the “reliever airport” for Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

“If you look at our location, our number of operations … we already surpass all the other regional airports in the area,” Cloutier said. “And our location assists us in growth also due to our proximity to 85, due to the recent population growth and the northern section of Charlotte. It allows us to service the community.”


Concord Regional’s rapid growth follows a nationwide trend. Air traffic -- especially corporate private jet traffic -- continues to expand, and major airports are becoming less convenient destinations for executives who want flexibility and short runway wait times, said Robert P. Mark, CEO of CommAvia, a communications, marketing and publication business serving airports and aviation businesses.

At Charlotte-Douglas, people are always thinking about how long the waits are, he said. “It would be so much worse if you didn’t have a reliever for private air traffic. They’re there to take off some of the load.”

Private jets and charter planes also have different security protocols than general commercial traffic, Cloutier added.

“You need to make sure you’re always separating those to meet the needs of both,” he said.

In anticipation of its coming needs, city officials are planning several projects for the future and have requested funding through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

They used $4.37 million in federal dollars to begin construction of a 250,000-square-yard expansion to the south section of airport’s ramp, where planes park and wait to taxi for flights. More funding would provide perimeter security fencing, land acquisition on Ivey Cline Road, a new, relocated control tower and a $40 million terminal for commercial flights.


That terminal will service customers of low-cost carrier Allegiant Airlines, which started service at Concord in December 2013 and is adding destinations.

Cloutier said Concord Regional is in talks with two other commercial airlines, but the names have not been released.

Allegiant handled around 40,000 passengers in Concord in 2014, Cloutier said, and flights are packed.

Allegiant primarily operates out of regional airports, “because these locations are typically underserved markets that are traditionally overlooked by larger carriers,” Allegiant public relations specialist Laura Billiter said in an email. “These regional airports also generally have lower costs for us to operate out of that location, helping us keep the cost of our fares low.”

Their customer base is leisure travel, “and leisure travelers are very price sensitive,” she said. “Our passengers consistently show they value low fares over any other amenity, so every decision we make is driven to keep our fares low.”

Billiter said Allegiant doesn’t currently have plans to expand at Concord, but “we’re always looking at new opportunities.”


Space and environmental concerns usually hold airports back, but Cloutier said Concord Regional has plenty of room to grow.

About 350 acres on the eastern side of the airport fall under FAA encumbrances and can’t be used for anything apart from airport expansion.

The city has discussed building a new terminal with gates and security on the Ivey Cline Road on that side of the airport. And the state DOT has announced an initiative to widen Derita Road beside the airport’s main entrance to four lanes.

The expanded airport will be “much closer than Charlotte” for Cabarrus and Iredell residents, Cloutier said. “It’s great, especially for leisure destinations.”

In the future, the airport could resemble some of Allegiant’s larger destinations, like St. Petersburg–Clearwater International Airport, which conducted 141,295 operations in 2013.

That airport fills the leisure travel market niche, said director Noah Lagos.

“We provide an opportunity for leisure travelers to come to the beautiful beaches of … and access the hotels and downtown Tampa,” he said.

There’s no need to compete head-to-head with the larger Tampa International Airport, because Allegiant specializes in low-cost leisure travel and vacation packages.

St. Petersburg has managed its costs without going into debt, Lagos said. The airport has a “good sized terminal” that was renovated in 2010.

As a result of its features and location, St. Petersburg connects to 41 cities through Allegiant and also has service with three other commercial airliners.


Though the variables are different, airport officials hope the combination of a strengthening economy, higher demand, and improvements at and around Concord Regional will allow Allegiant and other carriers add more flights.

“I think we’d like an airport that’s been following the growth patterns enough to be servicing the community and the region … to be serving the public,” he said, providing “enough choice, an alternative for transportation” for commercial fliers and maintaining the needs for private and chartered flights.

The key will be to keep it cheap, as that’s one of Concord’s main business pitches.

“We controlled how we constructed things, how we managed things to keep costs low for the airlines,” Cloutier said. “We didn’t building extravagant buildings that cost a lot of money, which those costs are borne by the airlines, which ultimately is passed on to the consumer. If you work to provide a good service and keep the costs low for the airlines, then those savings are passed on to the consumer, which is ultimately the flying public.”

Cloutier added he will present information on new airport improvement projects at the Concord City Council’s annual planning session starting on Tuesday.


Speedway recognized for STEM program

Friday, January 23, 2015
by Business Today

Jan. 22. Charlotte Motor Speedway was recognized by the North Carolina Motorsports Association for contributions to the community through its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-based educational field trip program. Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, accepted the award, presented by NASCAR icon  Ray Evernham.

“Through the STEM program, Charlotte Motor Speedway is helping to inspire tomorrow’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians by being a mentor and role model that serves as a connecting piece that shows them how this relates to careers in our community where we work and live,” Evernham said.

The STEM program at the speedway offers students a hands-on experience that educates, entertains and gives students the experience needed to learn about science, technology, engineering and math in the world of motorsports.

Participants cycle through five stations of activities that relate to real world, problem-based learning, which stimulates students interest and helps them better retain data with exercises that involve a Track Tour, Traction/Friction, Acceleration, Balance and Pit Stop Challenge.

As part of its commitment serving the community, Charlotte Motor Speedway has expanded its STEM program steadily each years from 13 events (reaching 579 students) in 2011-12 to 61 field trips (reaching 4,535 students) last year.

“We are honored and humbled to be recognized by the NCMA for something we strive to do every day – serve the community,” Smith said. “Watching the children who take part in our STEM program learn and grow is always an exciting time, and we can’t wait to see some of these youth go on to excel as scientists and engineers, and perhaps even find their way back to NASCAR for a career in the industry.”


City of Concord Achieves Class 2 ISO Rating

Thursday, March 14, 2013

by: Peter Franzese, City of Concord

CONCORD – Many Concord business owners will have lower fire insurance costs following a recent evaluation by the N.C. Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal and the Insurance Services Office (ISO). Many retail, commercial, and industrial businesses should see fire insurance rates fall by an average of five to eight percent.

Fire insurance rates are based on ISO’s Public Protection Classification Program. ISO's expert staff collects information about municipal fire protection efforts in communities throughout the United States. In each of those communities, ISO analyzes the relevant data and assigns a Public Protection Classification (PPCTM) — a number from 1 to 10, with Class 1 generally representing superior property fire protection. The City of Concord’s ISO rating has improved to Class 2, effective June 1, 2013.

The Class 2 rating places Concord’s Department of Fire and Life Safety in the top one percent in the nation. There are 48,960 rated fire districts in the United States. Concord’s PPC has been lowered three times in the past seventeen years. The classification previously dropped from 5 to 4 in June 1996, and to Class 3 in November 2004.

“I’d like to congratulate Chief Holloway for his department’s performance and for the hard work of all the department members,” said Wayne Goodwin, Commissioner of Insurance. “The citizens in Concord should rest easy knowing they have a fine group of firefighters protecting them and their property in case of emergency.”

The classification program evaluates three major components: the fire department (fifty percent of the score), water supply (forty percent), and alarms and communications (ten percent). Cities are rated on the number of engine and ladder companies, fire personnel, and equipment. Evaluation of the water system includes the amount of fire hydrants and the pressure and flow of water, which would be needed in the case of a fire. The amount of time it would take fire personnel to arrive at a location is also a large factor.

Since the classification received in 2004, the City has improved fire protection by adding Fire Station 9, located at Ivey Cline Drive and Poplar Tent Road, and temporary Fire Station 10, located near the intersection of Poplar Tent Road and Harris Road. Concord Fire and Life Safety has also made significant improvements in fire company distribution, technology, and efficiency over the past eight years. The Department has added two additional ladder companies and a rescue company since 2004. The City has also continued to make improvements in its water and emergency communications systems, and those departments scored very well, helping Concord achieve the Class 2 PPC.

“The City Council made this possible through their support and investment in infrastructure and people,” said Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. “Whether investing in fire stations and apparatus, improve water capacity, or better communications, the Council’s leadership and vision was a key element in providing this peace of mind to our community.”

Each PPC classification improvement results in an average of five to eight percent reduction in commercial and industrial fire insurance rates. Over the past seventeen years, commercial and industrial insurance rates have decreased an average of fifteen to twenty-four percent. Generally, there are no additional savings for residential properties after a community achieves Class 6.

“I am very proud of our department and the City,” said Fire Chief Randy Holloway. “This rating reflects our core value of continuous improvement and our business friendly, customer-focused environment.”

Learn more about Concord Fire and Life Safety at