A CEO resigns, women’s impact in biz grows and a big incentive

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/4/19

Chatham Business Roundup

Something a bit different today — which I guess is what I’ll say every week until I’ve been doing this for a few months.

But before we get started: I went to the …

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A CEO resigns, women’s impact in biz grows and a big incentive

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Chatham Business Roundup

Something a bit different today — which I guess is what I’ll say every week until I’ve been doing this for a few months.

But before we get started: I went to the Chatham Chamber’s annual meeting last week and it was good to see people rewarded for their work in developing Chatham’s economy and business culture. I’ve got more on that in a story in this week’s edition.

This week, I want to go around North Carolina and pick up on three stories from state business news that interested me that you may or may not have heard about, but tell us something about the business world or have some sort of impact on Chatham, maybe indirectly.

Here we go!

BSBCNC CEO resigns after viral video

Dr. Patrick Conway is out of a job after a video of him reportedly driving while impaired and causing a vehicle collision went wide last week.

Conway was the CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest provider of health insurance. According to news reports, Conway drank a couple beers and was “absolutely belligerent” with officers who had pulled him over after his car side-swiped a Harris Teeter tractor trailer. The collision, which took place in June, is under further investigation after Blue Cross’ alleged cover-up of the situation.

The whole situation is made even worse because two of Conway’s children were in the car with him.

CEOs make a lot of money — Conway was paid more than $3 million last year — and are responsible for a lot of people. Blue Cross insures more than 3.7 million people in North Carolina. And while it’s easy to mock Conway or denigrate him for bad decisions — this was certainly a bad decision — I hope he gets the help he needs. We could all use a little help every day.

Women-owned businesses are 42 percent of all companies

According to a new report commissioned by American Express and published by Business Wire, women-owned businesses represent 42 percent of all American businesses, employing 9.4 million workers and generating a revenue of $1.9 trillion.

The report also indicated women-owned businesses are faring better than businesses as a whole over the last five years. For example:

• The number of women-owned businesses grew by 21 percent, compared to 9 percent for all businesses

• Employment in women-owned businesses increased 8 perce nt, compared to 1.8 percent for all businesses

• Revenue by women-owned businesses went up 21 percent compared to 20 percent in regular businesses

Chatham County and its residents certainly benefit from women-owned businesses, and it’s good to see the country benefit as well.

CREE chooses New York state for expansion

Durham-based Cree, which constructs silicon carbide devices, has picked Marcy, New York, to create 600 jobs and invest $1 billion in a new facility.

In its daily newsletter last Thursday, Business NC wrote that New York beat out North Carolina in part because of a flashy $500 million inventive package.

“North Carolina is increasingly willing to whip out the checkbook for so-called transformational deals, such as auto plants creating thousands of jobs,” the newsletter stated. “But it’s very unlikely state lawmakers would approve the largesse shown Cree by the New Yorkers.”

Economic development incentives have become part and parcel of the business recruitment landscape. For those who don’t know, incentives are more or less a case of a state, county or municipality returning a portion of property tax payments over a period of time based on a number of factors, which usually include the projected number of new jobs and financial investment. Chatham County and the Town of Siler City have official incentive policies which you can find online by going to chathamedc.org/doing-business-here/incentives.

I wrote about incentives often in my old job in Lee County because they were an issue come election time for a few regular candidates. It’s a common part of business retention, expansion and relocation these days, and those counties, cities or states who don’t buy into it usually miss out on big projects. I don’t know all the details on the Cree project here, but the bigger the incentive number, the better in some cases.

When talking to state Rep. Robert Reives II (D-Chatham) for last week’s column, we talked about incentives briefly, and maybe his thoughts give you an insight as to why they matter for Chatham.

“It’s government investment,” he said. “The question becomes, if I give this company $100,000, and it makes the quality of life for people in my community really good, that was a good investment. We’ve just got to recognize that. I think government ought to be figuring out how to make people’s lives better every single day. People are happy when they have better opportunities to have better jobs.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR, where he will be furiously following anything related to Marvel movies.


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