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Econ Focus

Third Quarter 2014

Upfront

Regional News at a Glance

MARYLAND

Maryland oysters are making a comeback. In 2009, the state lifted barriers to oyster farming. Since then, Maryland has issued leases covering thousands of acres of water. But some watermen complain that the farms disrupt fishing and have called on the state to limit licenses. Others have decided to go into farming themselves, taking advantage of state grants and loans that support such transitions.


NORTH CAROLINA

On Oct. 14, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The dental board issued cease-and-desist orders to teeth whitening services operated by non-dentists. The FTC argues that the board's actions violate antitrust laws, while the board contends that it is immune from those laws. Because six of the eight board members must be practicing dentists, critics argue that the board has an incentive to restrict competition.


SOUTH CAROLINA

Boeing Co. secured a lease for a new research and development center in North Charleston, S.C., in September. The center will employ between 300 and 400 workers. Separately, the company announced a new agreement with Japan’s Toray Industries, which will supply carbon fiber for two of Boeing's passenger jet models. Toray will spend $865 million on a new carbon fiber plant in South Carolina.


VIRGINIA

Worldwide construction firm Bechtel Corp. plans to relocate as many as 1,100 employees from Frederick, Md., to its office in Reston, Va., in 2015. The move is part of the $39.4 billion company's global restructuring effort. Bechtel previously moved 625 jobs from Frederick to Reston in 2011.


WASHINGTON, D.C.

On Nov. 4, 70 percent of District voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. The measure would allow residents and visitors to possess and grow small quantities of marijuana. But Congress’ omnibus spending bill approved in December includes a rider blocking the use of federal funds to enact marijuana legalization, placing the future of the ballot initiative in question.


WEST VIRGINIA

In September, a federal bankruptcy judge approved a $2.9 million settlement against chemical producer Freedom Industries. The settlement benefits residents whose water was contaminated by a chemical spill in January. Freedom declared bankruptcy shortly after the spill. Other creditors have argued that the settlement will prevent them from recovering anything on their bankruptcy claims.

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David A. Price (804) 697-8018