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In Case You Missed It: News of Interest from Around North Carolina (Week of November 3, 2017)

Christmas trees will be more expensive this year amid shortages in Oregon, North Carolina – Statesman Journal

“Americans will pay more for pre-cut Christmas trees this year as shortages deepen from the country's top two producers, Oregon and North Carolina. Joe Territo sells Oregon trees in San Jose, California. But he’s becoming increasingly frustrated with rising costs, from the trees to labor. Territo says the only figure going down is profit. “It seems like every year, it’s harder and harder,” Territo said. He expects to sell 6-foot Noble firs for about $75 a piece this season, up from about $69 last year. The problem is one of supply. Christmas tree growers are coming up short as their 2017 harvest enters its critical period, with trees being shipped coast-to-coast and abroad. Around the time of the Great Recession, growers had an oversupply of trees after planting too many in the early 2000s. Subsequent low prices forced many farmers out of the Christmas tree business, leaving other growers to tend to the market. But now, with only so many trees to go around, remaining farmers can't keep up with demand — and they might not catch up for years. It can take nine years before some trees are ready to be cut and sold. Oregon farms harvest the most trees in the United States, exporting them to places like Asia and California. Trees from North Carolina are generally shipped to states east of the Mississippi River, such as Florida.”

All-American hemp could bolster farming – Daily Reflector

“North Carolina marked a historic harvest last month as more than 50 volunteers converged on a farm outside Dunn to haul in a bumper crop of hemp. It was the first hemp harvest in the Tar Heel State for at least 80 years, according to Hemp Inc., a pioneering manufacturer that built a 70,000-square-foot processing plant — the largest-such facility devoted to hemp in North America — just up the road in Spring Hope. “This is going to be the new cash crop for North Carolina,” grower Keith Dunn Jr. told The Daily Record newspaper of Dunn. “I believe the most lucrative crop in North Carolina is tobacco at about $5,000 per acre. I’m looking at beating that; it’s a plant that can be sold for four or five times that before the day is over with.” Tony Finch, a Nash County farmer with 170 acres of kenaf — a relative of the hemp plant — agrees with Dunn’s assessment. He told The Wilson Times that hemp “will take the place of tobacco” — at least in his fields. State lawmakers approved an industrial hemp pilot program in 2015, and formal rules for hemp cultivation were adopted this February. While state officials will want more time to study the newly reintroduced crop, all early indications point to a clear success for North Carolina agriculture.”

Affordable housing for the very low income is disappearing in Charlotte, new study finds – Charlotte Observer

“Rising rents are pushing more apartments out of reach for very low income renters in Charlotte – and North Carolina – so quickly that such housing is on the verge of disappearing. Those are the findings from a new study by Freddie Mac, released last month. The study found that it’s not just new apartments pushing up rents and replacing older, more affordable units – rents are going up fast at the more affordable apartments as well. Freddie Mac looked at apartments that it financed loans for multiple times between 2010 and 2016. That means the company was comparing the same apartment units, not just looking at average rents across a marketplace… Nationwide, the number of apartments affordable to families in the very low income category (with earnings less than 50 percent of the area’s median) fell 60 percent in the apartments Freddie Mac examined. In North Carolina, the results were even more striking, with almost all – just shy of 100 percent – of the very low income units no longer affordable by 2016. That was mirrored in Mecklenburg County, where Freddie Mac found that almost all – 98 percent – of the apartments that had been affordable to very low-income residents.”

CSX's $270M intermodal project in Rocky Mount may be in jeopardy—Triangle Business Journal

“Jacksonville, Florida-based transportation giant CSX (NYSE: CSX) is undergoing a "strategic review," one that could impact plans for its $270 million Carolina Connector (CCX) facility in Rocky Mount, the company said Thursday. "We have been conducting a comprehensive and strategic review of the company's intermodal business, including the use and development of existing and planned infrastructure projects," the statement reads. "Intermodal will remain an important part of CSX's business and any changes to existing service or to proposed plans will be discussed directly with CSX customers and relevant stakeholders. CSX appreciates the partnership we have developed with the State of North Carolina and we look forward to continuing the dialogue with the State about CCX and our new operating plans."  A company spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a question about whether the firm still plans to build in Rocky Mount. In a prepared statement to the Triangle Business Journal, Governor Roy Cooper said he was aware of CSX's strategy shift.”
  • 6 November 2017
  • Author: Brett Dyson
  • Number of views: 644
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