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Garner's Pat Brogden wins N.C. Women's Senior Amateur golf title

Pat Brogden of Garner overcame tough, windy conditions to win her fifth
major Carolinas Golf Association championship on Wednesday.

Brogden shot a 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday for a 147 total and the
championship of the seventh North Carolina Women’s Senior Amateur
Championship.

The victory at Cedarwood Country Club in Charlotte came by four strokes over the defending champion, Melissa Sage of Charlotte.

NC cities get more stimulus funds for energy efficiency

Three local governments will receive an infusion of federal stimulus money through an Atlanta nonprofit that promotes energy efficiency projects.

The Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, or SEEA, has been awarded $20 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The money will be used for residential and office building retrofits and other energy-efficiency projects by local governments in eight states, including Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Charlotte.

Belk reports stronger annual results

Belk Inc. announced today that it returned to profitability in its most recent fiscal year, as it posted a decline in same-store sales that wasn’t as deep as some of its competitors, the Charlotte Observer's Rick Rothacker reports.

The Charlotte-based department store chain reported net income of $67.1 million for the year ended Jan. 30, 2010, compared to a loss of $213 million in the prior-year period, when it took a large goodwill impairment charge.

Belk’s net sales fell 4.4 percent to $3.4 billion from the year-ago period. On a comparable store basis, sales slumped by 4.6 percent.

Belk, founded in Monroe in 1888, operates 306 stores in 16 Southern states, including seven in the Triangle. Belk employs about 23,500 people.

Hewitt to add 463 jobs in Charlotte

Hewitt Associates, a human resources consulting firm, plans to expand its operations in Charlotte and add 463 jobs.

The publicly traded company already employs 534 people in two Charlotte offices. State officials this morning approved giving Hewitt a grant worth more than $4 million if it meets milestones for the new jobs.

The new jobs will pay average annual salaries of $43,438, slightly above the Charlotte average, the N.C. Commerce Department reported.

Siemens expected to expand in Charlotte

Charlotte residents will find out Thursday if Project Cardinal has landed in its city.

The Charlotte Observer is reporting that the economic development project that city and state leaders has been wooing for months is a $130 million expansion by Siemens Energy.

According to the Observer, citing sources familiar with the project, Siemens is moving part of its Canadian operations to Charlotte, and could add as many as 650 jobs.

The Charlotte Chamber has scheduled a press conference for Thursday but did not say what the announcement was about. The N.C. Department of Commerce, which must approve any state incentives, is also holding a meeting Thursday.

In December, the city promised $44.5 million in federal tax-exempt bonds for the expansion in December and Mecklenburg County pledged another $13.3 million, according to the Charlotte Observer report.

Siemens employs about 780 people at the plant where it makes turbines and generators, according to the Observer.

Ear candy? Harris Teeter offers free ringtones

While it's guaranteed to annoy much of the population, truly die-hard Harris Teeter fans now can get free ringtones based on the grocer's "My Harris Teeter" ditty.

The Matthews-based chain has 10 versions available, the Charlotte Observer's Jen Aronoff reports on her "What's in Store" blog.

The jingle is used in the chain's advertising and Harris Teeter runs contests where shoppers can create their own versions.

"The ringtones are another, fun way for Harris Teeter to interact with customers," spokeswoman Catherine Reuhl said.

Harris Teeter has about two dozen stores in the greater Triangle region. Still, I can't help but wonder what happens when your phone goes off while shopping in Kroger, Food Lion or Walmart.

Big banks' bonuses a welcome boost for Charlotte

Some good news out of the Queen City: Bank bonuses are rebounding.

In Charlotte, the nation's No. 2 bank town after New York, Bank of America and Wells Fargo are preparing to pay bigger annual bonuses to many of their 34,000 local employees, the Charlotte Observer reports.

The levels won't reach the peaks hit during boom times a few years back, but they should be up significantly over last year. Wells Fargo's total pool for bonus and commission pay is up about 66 percent over last year, the newspaper reports.

While politically sensitive nowadays, the payouts are a critical part of personal income - and consumer spending - in Charlotte. The bonuses help drive the city, funding charitable giving, the real estate market, retail and other aspects of the economy.

To a lesser extent, the fatter bonuses could provide an economic boost to this region's economy, where Wells Fargo's Wachovia and Bank of America also employ thousands of people.

Bank of America denies it will have dual headquarters

Bank of America doesn't have plans for dual headquarters, a bank spokesman told The Charlotte Observe today.

An article in the Wall Street Journal this morning had said the bank could establish dual headquarters in New York and Charlotte, citing “people inside the company.”

In denying the Journal report, spokesman Larry Di Rita repeated previous statements that the headquarters would stay in Charlotte.

“There is zero factual basis for this idea of dual headquarters,” said Di Rita. “Brian (Moynihan, the chief executive) has been unequivocal that the headquarters are in Charlotte. ...

There’s no thinking, planning, or discussions to the contrary.”

The Journal story did hedge the dual headquarters plan by saying it wasn’t clear how wide-ranging the discussions are.

Bank of America's acquisition of Merrill Lynch gave it a bigger New York presence, but it has major operations in other cities, too, such as Boston.

Di Rita told the Charlotte Observer that Moynihan will spend time wherever the bank has major operations.

Read the entire story here 

Celguard to add 289 jobs in Charlotte, Concord

A Charlotte-based company helping develop batteries for electric cars plans to expand and add a new facility in Concord, adding 289 jobs.

Celguard now has 390 jobs in Charlotte. The new jobs will pay average annual salaries of $56,960. The company is a division of Polypore International, a publicly traded company also based in Charlotte.

Celguard stands to receive state incentives worth up to $5.56 million over 11 years if it adds the new jobs and retains the existing ones. N.C. Commerce Department officials approved the breaks this morning in Raleigh.

Of the new jobs, 209 will be added in Concord, about 150 miles west of Raleigh.

Duke Energy offering buyouts

The state's largest utility will offer buyouts to employees and consolidate corporate functions in Charlotte and at its Midwest operations.

Duke Energy's headquarters will remain in Charlotte, the Charlotte Observer reports, and corporate operations such as finance, human resources and legal work will be consolidated there over two years. Duke maintains regional offices in locations including Cincinnati and Plainfield, Ind.

Duke has 2.4 million customers in the Carolinas, including more than 170,000 in Chapel Hill, Durham and other parts of the western Triangle.

Duke will extend the buyout offers to its 140 employees in this region, spokesman Tom Williams said. For all workers, there are some caveats: union employees aren't eligible, and workers must have been with the company for at least five years.

The buyouts and corporate changes are aimed at shaving $200 million from operating expenses this year. Duke set a $100 million target, later increased to $150 million, for cost-cutting in 2009. It will announce whether those savings were achieved when earnings for that year are released in mid-February.

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