Yep, N.C. is getting more crowded
Plus: Gibbie Harris' parting message; Reader letters 📫; Welcome 2022 Charlotte hype video; Warm weather closes ski resorts; Davidson economist eyed for Fed board; NCDOT fails spelling test
Good morning! Today is Monday, January 3, 2022. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger, an e-newsletter with local business-y news and insights for Charlotte, N.C. You might enjoy listening to our audio version on Spotify 🎧.
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North Carolina ranks #4 in attracting new residents since start of Covid, new census data says; Pace accelerates to +261 newcomers a day
North Carolina has many nice apartment complexes that are drawing residents from other parts of the country. Job opportunities and temperate weather are also attractive.
by Tony Mecia
More people from out-of-state are learning what many of us already know — that North Carolina is a pleasant place to live.
Since the start of the pandemic, North Carolina has attracted more new residents from elsewhere than all but three other states, according to new census estimates released late last month. And the numbers show that the pace of people moving here is picking up.
It’s no secret that the state is growing, especially in urban areas like Charlotte and Raleigh. The signs are all around us, from worse traffic to new housing.
New census numbers give some specifics: Between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021, the state attracted a net of 95,429 people from elsewhere, or about 261 a day. About 7% were from outside the United States.
That’s a quicker pace than in the previous decade, when a net average of about 71,000 people a year, or 195 a day, moved to North Carolina.
County estimates aren’t yet available. In the last decade, Mecklenburg has had about 1/5 of the state’s population growth.
“We would expect most of this growth to be concentrated in metropolitan areas, though we may see growth occurring more in suburban and exurban areas than the urban cores,” says Rebecca Tippett, director of Carolina Demography at UNC Chapel Hill.
The state’s net migration figure accounted for about all of North Carolina’s change in population, as the number of births was about the same as the number of deaths. North Carolina’s total population in 2021 was nearly 10.6 million, making us the 9th-largest state.
The only other states that attracted more people since 2020 were Florida (259,480), Texas (197,492) and Arizona (97,504). South Carolina was #5. The South was the only region of the country to add people from migration; the Northeast, Midwest and West all had a net exodus.
Today’s supporting sponsors is T.R. Lawing Realty:
Covid update: Cases up, schools to reopen, Gibbie’s parting words
Mecklenburg County’s public schools are set to reopen to students tomorrow, as the number of local Covid cases continues to surge.
Although school districts in other parts of the country, as well as some local universities, are going all-remote to start the new year, county health officials said last week they had no plans to shut schools.
“Our schools will reopen again” this week, outgoing health director Gibbie Harris said at a news conference. “There are no plans at this point to delay the start of school.”
A state law passed last year bans school boards from shutting schools because of the threat of Covid, as the county Board of Education did last school year, with disastrous results for test scores. But the county could, in theory, move to close schools in the name of public health, using the same procedure it did in August to require mask-wearing. And public school districts can have individual schools or classes go remote temporarily because of staffing shortages related to Covid quarantines.
Transmission lower in schools: On the issue of Covid spread in schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “Multiple studies have shown that transmission within school settings is typically lower than — or at least similar to — levels of community transmission, when prevention strategies are in place in schools.”
More local updates:
Covid numbers. Cases continue to surge, although increases in hospitalizations are moving up more slowly and have not hit last year’s levels.
Schools. Health officials said they are working with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to follow new federal guidance that recommends reducing the number of days of quarantine or isolation from 10 to 5 in certain circumstances.
Universities. UNC Charlotte said Friday that its classes will be virtual until Jan. 24 and that sporting events will be held without spectators. Speaking before UNC Charlotte’s decision, county health officials did not indicate that they recommended shutting classes. “We certainly are encouraging them to use the tools that we have,” such as requiring vaccinations and boosters, incoming health director Raynard Washington said. Johnson & Wales also plans to start with online classes. Other local colleges plan to start the new year in-person, at least as of Sunday.
Hospitals. Officials with Atrium Health and Novant Health said one of the biggest problems they are having is asymptomatic people showing up to emergency rooms seeking tests, inhibiting their ability to help sick patients. Hospitals are usually busy in the winter, they said, but staffing shortages are making this winter especially tricky. They urged people to get vaccinated and boosted, to wear masks and to stay home if they feel sick.
Thursday’s news conference was the final one for Harris, who retired at the end of the year. As it concluded, she offered a valedictory message of sorts, thanking coworkers and community health partners. She said:
We are in a better place than we were last year. It may not seem that way right now because of the number of cases we are seeing, but we are in a better place. We have tools, we have treatments, vaccines, we know to wear masks — all those sorts of things.
Thank you to the community for the opportunity to have served you for the last 4½ years, and to all of our partners that have supported the public health effort — which is more than just the health department — as we tried to address this pandemic effectively in our community.
Reader response 📭
Let’s kick off 2022 with a dip into the ol’ Ledger e-mailbag and see what readers had to say:
In reply to “UNCC or not UNCC? That is the question” (Sept. 13):
“Excellent coverage of the down-your-throat $rebranding$ PR of UNCC. I attended a funeral yesterday. A few people, new to me, kindly asked where I worked before retiring. Please don’t tell the rebranding team, but saying ‘I was at Charlotte’ lacked the specificity I felt was both deserved and required of out-of-town conversation. After all, there are other institutions of higher learning in the city.”
In response to “What David Tepper wants, David Tepper gets” (Oct. 29):
“Tepper is still laughing out loud at Tariq Bokhari’s quote. (‘We have very few leverage points, and we’re outmanned and outgunned on all fronts.’) Negotiations over. Hahaha.”
“No NFL team owner would ever move the Panthers away from here, period. … Panthers fans always renew those PSLs no matter how bad the team is — damnedest thing I ever saw! … Also, the relocation fees charged by the NFL (shared among the other owners) are gargantuan. Rams and Chargers paid $675M each, and Raiders paid $345M. That’s almost $1.7B between them. Tepper’s already way too committed to this pot to fold and walk away regardless of what the city council does or does not do. That said, I fully expect the council to cave.”
“While an accurate profile of Tepper the businessman, the article, I think, missed one point. As the owner of a successful NFL football franchise, he is a proven loser to date with no vision or sight to prove otherwise. So ‘what he wants he gets’ does not always apply.”
In response to “New objections emerge to city’s proposed development rules” (Nov. 15):
“I would love to provide you with a non-government, non-industry, nonprofit point of view to ensure all viewpoints are shared with your readers. Some of the developers’ comments are extremely exaggerated and misleading.”
“Thanks for the beginning of what will hopefully be regular updates on the proposed UDO changes. My reading, and discussions with tree staff at one of their public meetings, indicates that removing a ‘heritage tree’ from your yard (except for disease and death) will cost you $200 per inch, if removal is approved. That equates to $6,000 for a 30-inch tree. That is in addition to the permit cost and the actual removal cost.”
“Today’s zoning article is most invigorating, if confusing (because of the city, not you). Where, pray tell, is the ‘new zoning designation map’ you reference? I’d like to look up my own neighborhood but I don’t see a link, if there is one available to the public. I tried to peruse the docs at the UDO but quickly gave up. It’s freaking enormous!”
In response to “How to cope with those rising prices” (Nov. 17):
“You forgot to add the most important coping strategy: Call your congressional representative, both senators and the White House. Tell them all to make the Federal Reserve stop goosing the stock market with free money for banks (known oddly as ‘quantitative easing’) and raise the interest rate by at least a measly ¼ percent. The average American needs safe investment options on savings account returns and other cash holdings, and relief from the artificially supported housing prices. We are paying the price of the Federal Reserve’s unchecked subsidies to the top 1%, an inflationary prod that has long had a devastating impact on the lives of everyday people. Gas, bacon and eggs are just the last in line.”
In response to “Today’s Ledger, from the journalists of tomorrow” (Nov. 22):
“The young journalists did a wonderful job: This issue is very readable, and I learned a lot about our community!”
“One of my favorite reads so far.”
“This is GOLD!!”
In response to “The painter of Charlotte’s changing landscape” (Dec. 13)
“Loved the Q&A with David French. I bought a signed print of Mac's Speed Shop years ago in a store in the Overstreet Mall. Now I’m thinking I should get a Thirsty Beaver for my husband. (Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write!)”
In response to “Builders shed few tears about planning director’s departure” (Dec. 27):
“I’m canceling my subscription because of sloppily-substantiated assertions. The latest example was today, when I read the following about departing Charlotte Planning Director Taiwo Jaiyeoba: ‘But others, especially some in the real estate and building industries, found him to be arrogant and difficult to work with.’ That's a pretty damning accusation. So, back it up in a meaningfully convincing way, please.”
A 60-second Charlotte hype video to usher in 2022
Our video/photo partner Kevin Young of The 5 and 2 Project put together this cool, Charlotte-focused Happy New Year message — complete with plenty of drool-worthy Charlotte footage.
Fittingly, the 60-second hype video starts with a sunrise, over our uptown skyline. It’s the dawn of a new year. Let’s make it a good one, Charlotte.
Unusually warm weather foils ski plans in the N.C. mountains
Ski resorts in the North Carolina mountains are hoping to get back on track this week, after unusually high temperatures forced many popular ski spots to close.
Since Christmas, the weather in Boone has felt more like a tropical paradise than a winter wonderland, with highs in the 60s for eight straight days. That’s not so good for snow — which you kinda need for snow skiing:
Appalachian Ski Mountain closed its slopes Sunday and Monday, citing “unprecedented mild temperatures.” It hopes to open Tuesday at noon.
Hawksnest Snow Tubing has been closed since Wednesday and hopes to open again Tuesday.
Sugar Mountain Resort said its slopes and tubing were closed Sunday, and it had just two of its eight lifts open on Saturday. It expects to reopen today.
Beech Mountain Resort closed its slopes on Sunday, after having just three of nine lifts operating on Saturday.
North Carolina’s ski resorts typically make a lot of their snow, but the weather needs to be cold enough for snow-making machines to work. Colder weather is forecast to return today, and they could be back in more normal operation soon. —TM
Davidson prof to join Fed board? President Biden is considering naming a Davidson College professor to the Federal Reserve board, which sets the nation’s monetary policy. The Wall Street Journal, citing anonymous sources, said Davidson’s Philip Jefferson is under consideration for a vacant seat. Jefferson is an economist who has served as Davidson’s chief academic officer and dean of the faculty since 2019. The seven members of the Federal Reserve board serve 14-year terms and oversee the operation of the country’s central bank.
Fine for stinky plant: The New Indy paper mill in Catawba, S.C., has agreed to a $1.1M fine from the Environmental Protection Agency following complaints that it is the source of a stench that has been plaguing areas in south Charlotte and Upstate South Carolina. The company also agreed to reduce its output of hydrogen sulfide, which the EPA said was causing the problem. The plant previously had said it did not believe it was the source of the stench. (Environmental Protection Agency)
N.C. economic outlook: An assessment of North Carolina’s economy finds that the state’s “economic outlook is bright” and has outperformed other states, but that challenges such as labor shortages, supply chain problems and inflation “are unlikely to completely fade away” in 2022. The abundance of job openings “is allowing workers to switch jobs like never before,” the report said. Separately, the Charlotte region’s unemployment rate fell to 3.3% in November, down from 3.6% in October, and is almost lower than pre-pandemic levels. (Wells Fargo)
Student activity fee lawsuit: A state appeals court is expected to rule in the next few months whether students at N.C. State and UNC Chapel Hill can sue their universities for refunds of student fees charged during the early days of the pandemic when campus facilities were closed. A trial court this summer allowed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract to move forward. The universities charged hundreds of dollars for services such as computer labs, sporting events and public transit even though the campuses operated remotely in the fall of 2020, the lawsuit claims. (Carolina Journal)
Just like Greensboro: Charlotte planning director Taiwo Jaiyeoba told a Greensboro TV station that Charlotte and Greensboro are alike in many respects, when you set aside population differences: They attract jobs and have big healthcare systems, lots of housing options and high concentrations of transportation investments. “In these, Charlotte and Greensboro are alike,” he said. Jaiyeoba was named Greensboro’s city manager last month. (WGHP)
CMS re-election campaign: School board member Sean Strain said on social media that he plans to run for re-election this year to the south Charlotte district he represents. He has been the most outspoken board member in favor of having students in in-person classes and has often been the lone “no” vote against the board’s majority.
Jagger explains Thirsty Beaver photo: Asked by The Washington Post how he wound up at The Thirsty Beaver dive bar in Charlotte for that famous photo in September, Mick Jagger said: “Well, I mean, local people tell me that that’s a popular dive bar. … If you go there at certain times of the day, there’s not so many people. [Then you] take the mask off and do the picture.” (Washington Post)
South End land deal: GEM Realty Capital of Chicago paid $13M for 6 parcels totaling 1.9 acres on the southeast corner of South Tryon Street and Tremont Avenue, property records show. It’s a collection of industrial buildings beside The Penrose apartments and down the street from millennial hotspot Pins Mechanical.
River District land purchase: Crescent Communities bought a 59-acre tract near the River District for $15.8M, property records show.
Charlotte lawyer says he’s still alive: After a well-known business magazine declared him dead, Moore & Van Allen partner Ben Hawfield tells The Ledger that he remains very much alive. In highlighting “Legal Eagles” in its January issue (page 55), Business North Carolina referred to wise advice dispensed from “the late Ben Hawfield of Moore and Van Allen.” Asked by The Ledger on Sunday if he’s alive, Hawfield replied: “Still kicking. They have corrected the online edition and will publish a retraction.”
No spellcheck in NCDOT’s stocking, apparently
Eagle-eyed drivers heading north on I-485 in south Charlotte are noticing a misplaced “i” in a new sign at the exit for “Pinevllie,” also known as Pineville. The spelling slip-up didn’t go unnoticed on on Reddit Charlotte last week: “I'm headed to Hemdy Bribge from Pinvllie. Just got off wrok,” wrote one poster. “Somebody needs to paint a red squiggly line under that,” wrote another.
Taking stock: Coke Consolidated with biggest ’21 gain
Of local stocks of interest, Coke Consolidated had the biggest gain last year, up 133%. Moody’s said in a note last year that the Charlotte-based soda distributor had strong financial results, added territories and reduced debt.
Steelmaker Nucor’s stock price also more than doubled during the year (up 115%), helped by increased demand for steel:
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