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Good morning, 

Our December issue is hot off the press and features our annual Small Business of the Year Award winners. Business North Carolina received plenty of nominations for some very impressive businesses.

Eligible companies had to be based in the state; have fewer than 100 employees; operated for at least five years; and independently owned with at least one owner active in the business. The award finalists and winner were then selected by three judges.

This year's finalists include: 
Queen City Metal Recycling & Salvage - A scrap-metal yard business that employs ex-offenders.
Ekos - A workflow-software company that's taking a major chunk of the craft brew market
Holmes Security - A 111-year-old security company that's been able to adapt and evolve to fit the modern market. 

Overall Winner:
Lightheart Gear/Excelsior Sewing LLC - An outdoor gear manufacturer whose nimble operations provide flexibility and put customer service first. 

It's promising to see so many great small businesses succeed across the state.

Have a great day! 

Harrison Miller 

Click here to subscribe to Business North Carolina magazine

Bruce Kelleher parts from BB&T after 15 years

Bruce Kelleher, head of investment banking at BB&T, has left his position after more than a decade, three sources told PE Newswire, a private equity news source. Kelleher is said to be joining Harris Williams & Co., a PNC Financial Services-owned middle market investment bank based in Richmond, Va., but it’s unclear what his position will be. 

Kelleher joined BB&T Capital Markets in 2004 and worked for its mergers and acquisitions group before assuming responsibility for managing the bank’s private equity relationships in 2008. He was named head of equity investment banking in 2016, based in Richmond.

The news comes after regulators approved the $66 billion merger between Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks and Winston-Salem’s BB&T. The new bank, Truist, is expected to be the sixth largest in the nation.

Housing market expected to slow in 2020's 2020 housing forecast predicts the market will continue to slow next year, citing low inventory levels and economic uncertainty causing consumers to pull back on spending. 

National existing home sales are likely to slow by 1.8% to 5.23 million next year. Home prices will only grow 0.8% nationwide, with declines expected in more than a quarter of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. Single family housing starts are expected to increase 6% and home ownership rate is forecasted to be 64.6% nationally.

North Carolina's largest markets are expected to see, for the most part, slight bumps in housing sales and average home prices.

N.C. farm aid update

North Carolina farms have received nearly $161 million in government subsidies this year to offset the cost of ongoing tariff wars, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy database. That dwarfs last year's reimbursements of about $28.5 million. 

North Carolina's total farm subsidies of $189 million is 19th in the nation. Illinois and Iowa farms received the most relief payments.

The state's non-specified commodity crops received the most federal assistance at $83.9 million, followed by $78.5 million contributed to soybean producers and $19.4 million to cotton farmers. 

So far, the second round of subsidies has totaled $14.4 billion, but that number is expected to reach $16 billion. Last year, farmers received $12 billion in funds. The $28 billion subsidy total is more than double the $12 billion auto bailouts from 2009 during the Great Recession. 

Today's number: $128 billion

The cash balance of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway firm as of Sept. 30. The investing oracle is having troubles finding the right "elephant-sized" acquisition, adamant not to overpay when stocks are near all-time highs. To put that $128 billion in perspective, Bank of America Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. are the only two companies based in North Carolina with larger stock market valuations. Talk about a good problem to have.   


Charlotte expected to land Tepper-owned MLS team

Charlotte seems to have landed the next Major League Soccer expansion franchise, according to officials familiar with negotiations. The MLS Board of Governors will be discussing “potential expansion markets, including Charlotte” at its meeting Thursday. Sources say they’ll make the expansion announcement as early as Friday.  James Mitchell, a Charlotte City Council member who chairs the economic development committee, says a large majority of council members support providing billionaire David Tepper as much as $110 million in public money to help land the team. Tepper also owns the Carolina Panthers football team.

vTv Therapeutics executive chairman steps down
(Triad Business Journal)

Jeffrey Kindler, CEO of Baltimore-based Centrexion Therapeutics Corp., is stepping down as executive chairman of High Point’s vTv Therapeutics Inc. after four years. He will remain board chairman of the clinical-stage pharmaceutical company. Kindler was chairman and CEO of Pfizer between 2006 and 2010.

Raleigh unicorn Prometheus Group acquires Dutch software provider
(WRAL TechWire)

Raleigh-based Prometheus Group, an asset management software firm that was valued at more than $1 billion by its lead investor Genstar Capital earlier this year, acquired Netherlands-based software provider Roser ConSys. The Dutch company specializes in plant shutdown and outages software. It marks Prometheus’ second acquisition in recent weeks, after purchasing Engica, a U.K.-based software firm, in October.

N.C. Commerce releases 2020 development tier designations
(N.C. Department of Commerce)

The N.C. Department of Commerce disclosed its development tier designations for 2020, which determine state funding opportunities to assist in economic development. Each year, counties are ranked based on level of economic distress determined by factors such as unemployment rate, income and population growth. Gates, Hoke and Surry counties will shift from Tier One to Tier Two, reflecting improving conditions. Caldwell, Pitt, Onslow and Wilkes counties will move from Tier Two to Tier One, becoming eligible for the most significant state assistance.

Italian company machinery company expands in Reidsville
(Triad Business Journal)

Bovone, an Italian manufacturer of machinery and technologies for processing flat glass and stones, is renovating a former Harley-Davidson dealership in Reidsville for offices, warehouse and a workshop. The company plans to invest about $1 million and employer fewer than 10, said Leigh Cockram, director of the Rockingham County Center for Economic Development, Small Business & Tourism.

Health care costs average 14% of N.C. median income, report says
(N.C. Health News)

North Carolinians spend a greater share of their money on health care costs than the national average, according to The Commonwealth Fund research group. A new report shows that in 2018, North Carolinians paid almost 14%t of the state’s median income on employer-sponsored health plan premiums and deductibles, up from 11% the previous year. The national average in 2018 was 11.5%.


Cook & Boardman makes fourth purchase in 14 months.
(Winston-Salem Journal)

The Cook & Boardman Group LLC, a Winston-Salem-based  distributor of commercial door entry solutions,  bought Builders’ Hardware & Specialty Co. of Erie. Pa. It is the company’s fourth purchase in 14 months. Littlejohn & Co. LLC, a private equity company based in Greenwich, Conn., bought Cook & Boardman in October 2018 from Charlotte-based Ridgemont Equity Partners.

Wingo resigns as chairman of ChannelAdvisor board
(Triangle Business Journal)

Scot Wingo stepped down as executive chairman of ChannelAdvisor’s board of directors to focus more time on car-care startup Spiffy, where he is CEO. The move comes four years after Wingo resigned as CEO of ChannelAdvisor, an e-commerce company he started in 2001. He owns 2% of the company’s shares. Timothy Buckley, a director since 2004, was named chairman.

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