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Econ Focus

Second Quarter 2017

Regional News at a Glance


In May, the Governor's Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing held the country's first-ever deaf business summit. The event was aimed at supporting entrepreneurship among deaf and hard of hearing business owners. The summit had a focus on small businesses, with workshops on licensing, leasing, and bank financing. It was attended by more than 60 hearing-impaired business owners.


Nearly 500 workers will lose their jobs when cereal and snack firm Kellogg closes two North Carolina distribution centers by mid-August. The centers in Charlotte and Greensboro will close as part of Kellogg's move to ship products to its customers' warehouses instead of directly to stores. Kellogg is making the change in order to reduce costs and complexity after reporting a net loss of $53 million in fourth quarter 2016.


In early June, Comcast opened its new Center of Excellence in North Charleston. The facility will create 550 customer care and technical support jobs in the next year, doubling Comcast's local workforce. The $21.4 million, 80,000-square-foot center houses six training rooms for virtual classroom education and a product demo lab. Comcast also operates a customer center in North Charleston that opened in 2015.


Essex County, Va., will soon be home to one of the largest solar facilities in the state. Coronal Energy and Dominion Energy are teaming up on the 174-acre, 20-megawatt Essex Solar Center, which will generate enough electricity to power 5,000 single-family homes annually. Dominion will purchase the generated power through a 20-year power purchase agreement. The project is expected to be completed in November and will create between 80 to 100 jobs during construction.


The Fannie Mae redevelopment site in Friendship Heights has found its anchor. Wegmans announced in May that it will open its first D.C. store as part of the mixed-use village that will replace what is currently Fannie Mae's headquarters. Last fall, Roadside Development and North America Sekisui House jointly purchased the 10-acre property for $89 million, with a plan to convert it into condos, townhomes, and retail and office space. Construction won't begin until Fannie Mae vacates the property in late 2018, with Wegmans slated for a 2021 opening and the entire redevelopment expected to be completed in 2024.


The Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal, state, and local economic development partnership, in June awarded $5.9 million in grants to economic development projects in Summersville, Logan, Charleston, Bluefield, and Fairmont. The five grants will help fund a regionally connected bike trail system, workforce retraining programs for displaced coal workers, a feasibility study for a specialized health college, and equipment for the Center of Excellence in Manufacturing Engineering at Bluefield State College. The funded programs are expected to increase tourism revenue, create businesses, and provide re-employment opportunities for displaced workers.

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