Category: Economy and Employment

March 13th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Six months after it made landfall, Hurricane Florence’s impacts on New Bern’s economy are still being felt throughout the city, but a new development may delay full recovery for some time.

Hurricane-damaged DoubleTree Riverfront hotel is closed indefinitely over insurance coverage issues related to the hurricane. Downtown New Bern will continue to face its worst economic crisis since 2008-10, when access to downtown was crippled by a bridge replacement and road construction projects.

“Business is definitely down,” said Lynne Harakal, director of Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corporation, said about Hurricane Florence recovery. “The best information I can provide is revenues are down about 15-20 percent since the hurricane. In retail, that’s a very large hit. Most small retailers have a profit margin of about 10 percent at the end of the year, so if these percentages continue many of our retailers could be in jeopardy.

“Not having the DoubleTree makes this situation even more ominous. Our downtown businesses need the DoubleTree operational. Furthermore, they need the Conventional Center up and running and a thriving Farmers Market to draw customers to our shops and restaurants.”

New Bern Riverfront Convention Center, a top venue for activities ranging from Marine Corps Birthday balls to corporate shareholder meetings, occupies about 3 acres of the downtown frontage on the banks of the Trent River.

The Convention Center was badly damaged during the hurricane, but is aiming to reopen in the fall. A big piece of its marketing plan has been the presence of a full-service hotel right next door—the DoubleTree Riverfront by Hilton.

Sources said there have already been two cancelled bookings at the Convention Center because of the DoubleTree being closed.

The Convention Center and DoubleTree Riverfront occupy a space previously known as Bicentennial Park and, before that, New Bern’s busy waterfront dating to the 1700s. More

Why does the DoubleTree matter? After all, there are two other hotels downtown, and several others elsewhere in the city.

Downtown’s two operating hotels are the Courtyard by Marriott, overlooking the Neuse River, with 100 rooms, and the Bridgepointe Hotel and Marina across the Trent River with 115 rooms. Both the Courtyard and the Bridgepointe are locally owned.

DoubleTree Riverfront, with 171 rooms, is by far the city’s largest hotel. More importantly, it is New Bern’s only full-service hotel. A full-service hotel offers full service accommodations, an on-site restaurant, and personalized service, such as a concierge, room service, and clothes pressing staff.

The DoubleTree was the hotel Alpha in New Bern, occupying the premiere location along the Trent River between the Convention Center and the N.C. History Center.

The DoubleTree is owned RPG Hospitality and managed by Singh Investment Group of Augusta, Georgia. More

Once a full-fledged Hilton and, before that, a Sheraton, the $12 million property in New Bern has been operating under Hilton’s DoubleTree flag for several years.

Singh Investment Group owns one other hotel property in North Carolina (all others are in Georgia), the DoubleTree Oceanfront by Hilton in Atlantic Beach. It, too, was severely damaged by Hurricane Florence and remains closed.

Singh Investment has not answered a request to be interviewed by New Bern Post, and local officials say they have not answered their inquiries since January.

In mid-February, the hotel’s general manager attended a Tourism Development Agency meeting and said that due to litigation with the hotel’s insurance carrier over whether it covered damage from wind-driven rain, the hotel might remain closed.

The hotel owners transferred the general manager and two weeks later laid off the entire staff except the sales manager and a couple of maintenance workers. The sales manager worked to cancel remaining bookings.

This puts downtown New Bern in a bad spot. Take the New Bern Grand Marina, for example. It is under separate ownership, but it partnered with DoubleTree to provide amenities to the marina including showers and laundry.

Then, of course, its impacts on Convention Center bookings, and a large hotel staff that has been laid off.

Then there are other effects. A vast, empty parking lot beside a large hotel is not a good indicator of a thriving downtown.

In short, it puts downtown growth and prosperity at serious risk.

Moreover, the longer DoubleTree remains closed, the harder it will be to bring it back into operation. The DoubleTree may very well go from being one of Downtown New Bern’s crown jewels, to a major liability.

It’s sort of like what the Days Hotel did in Five Points. The Days Hotel went from being in business to derelict to being razed over an eight-year span.

Alderman Sabrina Bengel, when asked what the city could do about the hotel, said, “Nothing. It’s private property.”

She equates DoubleTree with the beleaguered SkySail condominiums right next door to the DoubleTrees and the long-vacant Elks Building smack dab in the middle of Downtown New Bern. They, too, are major properties in the downtown that seek solutions and remain vacant or underutilized.

She said DoubleTree’s owners said they are not interested in selling the hotel, and continue to seek a resolution from the insurance carrier.

Meanwhile, the hotel has not reached the level of nuisance abatement, and is current on its taxes, which total just over $120,000 per year.

While it is true that the hotel is private property, current on taxes, and may not have reached a point where it is a public safety hazard, it is demonstrably true that a vacant and empty hotel has an adverse economic impact on the city.

Cities have used that argument to justify employing eminent domain, the right of a government or its agent to expropriate private property for public use, with payment of compensation.

Whether the city has the stomach for that kind of nuclear option depends on how severe impacts become as the DoubleTree Riverfront remains closed.

Posted in Board of Aldermen, Boating, Business, Craven County Board of Commissioners, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, FEMA, Hurricane, Infrastructure, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

March 13th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The DoubleTree Riverfront by Hilton hotel in New Bern has been closed since Hurricane Florence in September 2018. Google Street View photo

Singh Investment Group is a privately held real estate investment and management firm based in Augusta, Georgia.

The company’s portfolio includes hotels, commercial, and residential developments. With 1,400 guest rooms, SIG has hotels ranging from limited service to full service properties operating under Hilton, Starwood, IHG, and Wyndham flags. With over 1,400 guest rooms, SIG sells itself as “a proven leader in hotel investment and operational management.”

In its Mission Statement, SIG seeks to implement efficient operational strategies that maximize financial performance in order to subsequently result in company growth. This objective is achieved through three key areas: Team Member Development, Exceptional Customer Satisfaction, and Disciplined Financial Management.

Singh Investment’s website includes a section called “Case Studies,” where it touts its successes. Ironically, the section is that the opening page is dominated by a panorama photo of New Bern’s DoubleTree Riverfront hotel.

Case studies shown on the SIG website include DoubleTree Oceanfront in Atlantic Beach. The main photo is of DoubleTree Riverfront in New Bern, which is not included in among the case studies.

The website does not include a case study about the New Bern hotel, but it does have one for DoubleTree Oceanfront in Atlantic Beach. Like New Bern’s DoubleTree, the Atlantic Beach hotel was damaged by Hurricane Florence and remains closed.

Except for hotels in New Bern and Atlantic Beach, all other SIG hotels are in Georgia.

Posted in Business, Economy, Economy and Employment, New Bern

March 2nd, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

GATHERED for a check presentation and celebration of a $50,000 grant award for disaster relief from the national Unitarian Universalist Association are some representatives of the Duffyfield Phoenix Project, the Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of New Bern.  They are, first row, seated, Paula Saihati, Grace Hudson, the Rev. Dr. Ethel Sampson, Fred Pittinger, and Anne Schout.  In the second row, Elijah Brown, Johnny Sampson, the Rev. Robert Johnson, Carole McCracken, The Rev. John Robinson, Robert Benjamin, Jim Schout, and the Rev. Charlie Davis.   Standing behind are Mike Avery and Sully Sullivan.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of New Bern (UUFNB) received a $50,000 grant from the national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Disaster Relief Fund to aid in disaster recovery in New Bern, primarily in the Duffyfield area.  

UUFNB has partnered with the Craven County Disaster Recovery Alliance (CCDRA) and will coordinate efforts with the Duffyfield Phoenix Project, (DPP).

Individual Unitarian Universalists locally, and from various parts of the country, sent unsolicited donations for UUFNB disaster relief efforts shortly after Hurricane Florence created such devastation in the area.  

UUFNB formed a committee to distribute the funds to UUFNB congregants impacted by the storm and in most need of assistance Concurrently, UUFNB strengthened its partnership with CCDRA to undertake a community-wide effort.  CCDRA is a group of faith-based, non-profit, government and business organizations formed to provide coordinated recovery efforts to county residents. Of primary concern to the UUFNB is the large number of hurricane victims in urgent need of assistance in New Bern’s Duffyfield area.

UUFNB prepared and submitted a grant application to the UUA’s Disaster Relief Fund and was given $50,000 to support CCDRA efforts in the Duffyfield community.  Ten percent is available to respond to emergencies outside of Duffyfield. The remainder will focus on priority Duffyfield cases identified by CCDRA with the assistance of DPP.  This is a natural fit as DPP’s mission is to improve both the physical surroundings and quality of life for Duffyfield residents.

On Friday, Feb. 8, representatives of all three entities gathered at UUFNB to announce the grant to the press, answer any questions they had and formally turn over the grant funds to CCDRA.

   

Posted in Achievements, Community, Community issues, Craven County, Economy, Economy and Employment, Environment, Hurricane, Infrastructure, New Bern

February 19th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

A BSH forklift is unloaded at Craven Community College, to be used in a training program as the manufacturer ramps up its workforce.

BSH Home Appliances, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of home appliances, is expanding the workforce at its New Bern manufacturing and assembly lines to meet demands for its products.

Working in collaboration with Craven Community College (Craven CC) and Blue Arbor Staffing (BAS), BSH is seeking to add approximately 50 new employees to its current workforce.

Craven CC will offer a Manufacturing Career Pathway (MCP) program from March 11-April 11 to help train and screen potential employees. The MCP will be dedicated specifically to the initiative to enhance the success for individuals wanting to start a career with BSH.

This program will provide training in the following topics: Intro to Manufacturing, Forklift Operator Certificate, Lean Yellow Belt, OSHA 10-Hour Safety, Workplace Ethics and Intro to Microsoft Word. Students will also receive hands-on training with mock simulators.

Students who complete the program will work through BAS. BAS will arrange an interview between the candidate and BSH. Candidates chosen after the interview process will start in a temporary position and work toward permanent placement. 

Craven CC offers MCP programs throughout the year that conclude with interviews from local manufacturers for potential direct-hire positions. At the conclusion of Craven CC’s last MCP class, 55% of the students were offered direct hire positions with local industries, 18 percent chose to further their education through Craven CC by enrolling in a trade program and 100 percent were asked to complete applications for potential employment through local employment agencies.

For additional information on the program, contact Eddie Foster, Craven CC executive director of environmental safety and corporate training, at 252-638-3919 or fostere@cravencc.edu. To register, contact Cat Johnson at 252-633-0857 or johnsonc@cravencc.edu.

Posted in Business, Community, Craven Community College, Economy, Economy and Employment, Education, New Bern

February 12th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

Request will be made at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting

New Bern community members and non-local activists will urge the New Bern Board of Aldermen to “Ban the Box” for hiring city employees at its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 12.

“Ban the Box” is a hiring practice that encourages employers to identify potential hires with the best skills and experience and delay asking applicants about their criminal records until after a conditional offer is made.

Durham and Carrboro are among cities in North Carolina that have already adopted this “fair chance” hiring practice.

Ban the Box is a movement started in the early 2000s by All of Us or None, a national organization created and led by individuals directly impacted by incarceration and the criminal legal system.

People who have been involved in the criminal justice system often face collateral consequences, difficulties people face in finding housing, education, and employment because of a criminal record.  

Trouble finding employment is one of the most common collateral consequences that people face upon release. Those who have a record and disclose it on their initial job application are 50 percent less likely to receive a callback than their peers without a record.

Ban the Box programs do not prevent employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record, but rather calls for employers to remove the initial question about criminal records from job applications (“the box”) and delay any related questions until after a conditional offer is made. This process ensures the best person is being hired for the job and also allows the employer to continue to make decisions about the relevancy of the record to the job.

What: Public comments on ‘Ban the Box’ at New Bern Board of Alderman meeting

When: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.

Where: City Hall Courtroom, 300 Pollock St., New Bern

Who: New Bern community members and representatives from All of Us or None – NC and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice Clean Slate Project

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Community, Community issues, Crime, Economy, Economy and Employment, Housing, Mayor, New Bern

February 9th, 2019 by newbernpostadmin

The Board of Aldermen meets Tuesday for two separate sessions, a regular meeting starting at 6 p.m. and a work session covering utility rates starting at 3 p.m.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting, here are some of the more interesting agenda items:

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

Ban the Box is the name of an international campaign by civil rights groups and advocates for ex-offenders, aimed at persuading employers to remove from their hiring applications the check box that asks if applicants have a criminal record.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence. 

Here is the full agenda:

CITY OF NEW BERN, 300 Pollock Street, P.O. Box 1129 New Bern, NC 28563-1129 . (252) 636-4000

Dana E. Outlaw Mayor

Mark A. Stephens City Manager

Memo to: Mayor and Board of Aldermen From: Mark A. Stephens, City Manager Date: February 8, 2019

Re: February 12, 2019 Agenda Explanations

1. Meeting  opened  by Mayor  Dana E. Outlaw. Prayer Coordinated by Mayor Outlaw. Pledge of Allegiance.

2. Roll Call.

3. Request and Petition of Citizens.

This section of the Agenda is titled Requests and Petitions of Citizens. This is an opportunity for public comment, and we thank you for coming to the Board of Aldermen meeting tonight to share your views. We value all citizen input.

Speaker comments are limited to a maximum of 4 minutes during the public comment period. At the conclusion of 4 minutes, each speaker shall leave the podium. Comments will be directed to the full board, not to an individual board member or staff member. Although the board is interested in hearing your comments, speakers should not expect any comments, action or deliberation from the board on any issue raised during the public comment period.

In the board’s discretion, it may refer issues to the appropriate city officials or staff for further investigation. If an organized group is present to speak on a common issue, please designate one person to present the group’s comment, which shall be limited to a maximum of 4 minutes.

Consent Agenda

4. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Neuse River Bridge Run.

(Ward 1) The Neuse River Bridge Run is slated for March 23, 2019. Accordingly, John Serumgard, Race Director, the event, has requested the 200 block of East Front Street be closed from 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the 200 block of South Front Street be closed from 5 a.m. until 1 p.m. The organizers also plan to hold a “Super Kids Run” on March 22, 2019 from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Union Point Park, and the Director of Parks and Recreation has authorized the closure of the park streets during this time. A memo from Foster Hughes, Director of Parks and Recreation, is attached.

5. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Great Glow Run.

(Ward 1) Kathy Lewis, Officer Manager for Easter Seals UCP, has requested specific streets be closed on April 13, 2019 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. for the annual Great Glow Run. The streets to be closed are the 200-700 blocks of East Front Street, a portion of the 800 block of North Craven Street, 700-800 blocks of Howard Street, 100-600 blocks of Queen Street, and 600-800 blocks of George Street. This Easter Seals fundraiser also promotes awareness. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached.

6. Consider Adopting a Revised Resolution to Close Specific Streets for the Black History Month Parade.

(Ward 1) After receiving a request from Victor Taylor with Vision Forward, the Board adopted a resolution on January 22, 2019 to close specific streets on February 16, 2019 for the annual Black history Month Parade. That resolution failed to include approval of the requested rain date of February 23, 2019. The resolution has been revised to include this date, and all other information remains the same with respect to the affected streets. A memo from Mr. Hughes is attached along with copies of the application, a map of the parade route, and the resolution approved in January.

7. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Portions of Spencer Avenue for the Ghent Neighborhood Mardi Gras Parade.

(Ward 1) Michael Genest, President of the Ghent Neighborhood Association, has requested the 1400-2000 blocks of Spencer Avenue be closed to vehicular traffic on March 2, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for the association’s annual Mardi Gras Parade and block party. A memo from Mr. Hughes, a copy of the application and a parade map are included in the backup documentation.

8. Approve Minutes.

Minutes from the January 15, 2019 special meeting, January 22, 2019 regular

meeting, January 26, 2019 special meeting, and January 26, 2019 annual retreat are provided for review and approval.

______

9. Presentation of Longevity Certificates.

Employment service is recognized at five-year increments. A roster is enclosed of all employees who are eligible to receive a service certificate for the period of July­ December 2018. Some of these employees will be present at the meeting, and certificates will be on hand for the Mayor to present. Sharon Koprowski, Assistant Director of Human Resources, will be available to assist with the presentation. The Board is asked to extend a handshake of appreciation to the employees.

10. Presentation on NC Global TransPark Authority.

Allen Thomas, Director of the North Carolina Global TransPark (“GTP”), was scheduled to make a presentation before the Board last July, but cancelled due to illness. He has rescheduled that presentation for this meeting.

11. Presentation by Craven County Board of Elections.

Melani Wray, Director of the Craven County Board of Elections, will make a presentation that covers a cost analysis of the City’s election process. She will also discuss the advantages of changing from a nonpartisan election/runoff method to a nonpartisan plurality election.

12. Presentation on Downtown Parking Update.

(Ward 1) Billy Faulkenberry and Lynn Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, will update the Board on the downtown parking enforcement.

13. Presentation on African American Heritage & Cultural Center of New Bern Project.

(Ward 1) Carol Becton, a representative with the African American Heritage & Cultural Center, will make a presentation on the center’s vision, as well as its plans to celebrate Juneteenth in 2019.

14. Presentation on Reliable Public Power.

Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, will make a presentation regarding the City’s application for the American Public Power Association’s designation as a Reliable Public Power Provider (“RP3”).

15. Presentation on Ban-the-Box.

Whitley Carpenter, Staff Attorney with The Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will be joined by Corey Purdie and Angaza Laughinghouse to make a presentation on the Ban-the-Box movement.

16. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a Human Resources Policy.

As a follow-up to the previous presentation, a Resolution approving a Human Resources Policy is proposed.

17. Receive Public Comment and Consider Adopting a Resolution Naming a Currently Unnamed Street as Sheryl Drive.

(Ward 4) In the area of Glenburnie Road, an unnamed street connects Elizabeth Avenue and Amhurst Boulevard. In 2013 and 2015, a proposed development named Quail Forest was reviewed and the right-of-way for this roadway dedicated, but not officially named. The proposed name, Sheryl Drive, was reviewed and approved by E911. Staff has met with adjacent property owners regarding the name proposal. It is requested the Board receive public comments on this naming and then consider adopting a resolution to establish the name.

18. Consider Adopting a Resolution Approving a License/Use Agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Ward 5) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has requested to lease office space at the old Water Resources building located at 2825 Neuse Boulevard. The proposed agreement provides for their use of the building through June 30, 2019 at no cost. FEMA will be using the office space to serve the citizens of New Bern and surrounding areas following the devastation from Hurricane Florence.

19. Consider Adopting a Resolution to Accept a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure of Tax Lien.

(Ward 1) Craven County pursued foreclosure on 209 Lawson Street for delinquent ad valorem taxes owed to the County. At the time of the foreclosure, there were also delinquent taxes owed to the City. A commissioner’s deed was recorded on August 18, 2018 conveying the property to the County, which resulted in the City’s tax liens remaining intact. In order to avoid foreclosure by the City to collect those taxes, the County proposes a deed to convey the property to the City and County jointly, with the deed specifying the amount of both the County and City’s taxes, interest, liens, fees and costs as of August 18, 2018. The resolution authorizes the recording of the proposed deed and accepts the same in lieu of foreclosure of the City’s tax lien.

20. Consider Adopting a Resolution Authorizing the Installation of Additional Street Lights.

(Ward 5) Time McKean of 2800 Millinder Lane has requested additional street lighting at the intersection of South Glenburnie Road and Millinder Lane. The Department of Public Utilities evaluated the area and determined the current lighting does not meet the City’s light standard. The installation of one street light will cost approximately $574.96, and the monthly utility charge for service will be $8.44. A memo from Charles Bauschard, Director of Public Utilities, is attached along with other supporting documentation.

21. Appointment(s).

  1. Raymond Layton’s second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is ineligible for reappointment. Alderman Kinsey is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  2. Sonny Aluzzo’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Aster is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Aluzzo or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  3. Jerry Walker’s first term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and he is eligible for reappointment. Alderman Bengel is asked to consider reappointing Mr. Walker or make a new appointment for a three-year term.
  4. Carol Williams’ second term on the Planning and Zoning Board has expired, and she is ineligible for reappointment. Alderwoman Harris is requested to make a new appointment to fill this vacancy. The new appointee shall serve a three­ year term.
  5. Joseph Anderson has resigned from the Historic Preservation Commission. Alderman Bengel is asked to make an appointment to fill the remainder of Mr. Anderson’s term, which expires on June 13, 2019.
  6. Rose Williams’ appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission expired February 8, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.
  7. Mattie Tatum’s appointment on the New Bern Appearance Commission will expire February 22, 2019. She is eligible for reappointment, or a new appointment can be made to allow others an opportunity to serve. The appointee will serve a three-year term. The ordinance provides appointees shall be residents of the City’s planning and zoning jurisdiction and shall, when possible, have had special training or experience in a design field such as architecture, landscape design, horticulture, city planning, or a closely-related field.

22. Attorney’s Report.

23. City Manager’s Report. 

24. New Business.

25. Closed Session.

26. Adjourn.

Posted in Aldermen, Board of Aldermen, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Elections, FEMA, Infrastructure, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Planning and Zoning

December 17th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Relocates disaster Loan Outreach Center in Craven County

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has extended the deadline to apply for physical disaster damages in North Carolina. Businesses and individuals with physical damages caused by Hurricane Florence on Sept. 7 – 29, 2018, should apply for SBA low-interest disaster loans before the Dec. 19, 2018 deadline.

SBA announced the relocation of a Disaster Loan Outreach Center from the Old Rite-Aid Building, 710 Degraffenreid Avenue, New Bern, NC 28582 to the New Bern Water and Sewer Department, 2825 Neuse Boulevard, New Bern, NC 28582 as indicated below:

  • Craven County
    • New Bern Water and Sewer Department
    • 2825 Neuse Boulevard
    • New Bern, NC 28582
    • Opens: Friday, Dec. 14 at 9 a.m.
    • Hours: Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    • Closed: Saturday and Sunday
    • Closes: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 5 p.m.

SBA representatives at the Center can provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application.

“Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business
assets,” said SBA’s North Carolina District Director Lynn Douthett.
For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations, the SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any physical property damage.

“Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for loans up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property,” said Kem Fleming, center director of SBA’s Field Operations Center East in Atlanta.

Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

Interest rates are as low as 3.675 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for nonprofit organizations, and 2 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amount and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov.

Businesses and individuals may also obtain information and loan applications by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing), or by emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Dec. 19, 2018. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 14, 2019.

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

Posted in Economy, Economy and Employment, FEMA, Hurricane, New Bern, SBA Tagged with:

December 8th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

Did you go by the new Harris Teeter since it opened on Wednesday? Odds are pretty good that you did.

In a small town like New Bern, folks here can be relied on to try something new. Remember when Cook Out opened?

On opening day, I saw city officials including Jeff Odham, in whose ward the new Harris Teeter is located, and City Manager Mark Stephens proudly roaming the vast floor space of the gleaming new store.

Coke Mann, a partner with Columbia Development Group, developer of the shopping center, was quoted in the Sun Journal crediting Odham and Mayor Dana Outlaw for their bringing the super-expanded HT to New Bern.

I saw lots of regular people combing through the almost 100,000-foot feet of shopping space, which is more than just a simple supermarket. (Some say the store actually has 105,000 square feet of floor space.)

We are not wedded to a particular grocery store. We shop at Publix most often, but not exclusively, and mainly due to its modern and wide selection coupled with its less crowded aisles.

With the opening of the new Harris Teeter, that may change.

The store replaces a 55,000-square-foot store on South Glenburnie Road, which closed the day before the new store opened.

It is claimed to be the largest Harris Teeter out of the chain’s 246 stores. Some media outlets have called it the largest in the world, but since its world is pretty much contained within Southern states, that’s a somewhat pretentious claim.

Still, it’s plenty big, and within it are sections that by themselves are impressively large.

There is a Starbucks inside the Harris Teeter, just as there was at the old location, but this one has a dining area that has to make this particular Starbucks one of the largest in the world, and that’s saying something.

Then there is the food court, contained within an area that could be a nice-size grocery store all by itself.

There is a bakery, fresh produce and meats, a deli, a sushi bar, a buffet, a burger bar, a specialty bar with changing themes, and a bar-bar. Yes, a bar … where you can get beer and wine by the glass.

As for the grocery aisles, they are so long they are subdivided, with a third row intersecting at the middle. Looking from one end toward the other, the aisles extend almost as far as the eye can see.

Filling all those aisles with merchandise must be a challenge by itself. I have not looked deeply into it, but the few places I did look showed a much-expanded variety of brands and varieties.

Staffing this store must be equally challenging. I counted six people working at the Starbucks counter, four at the burger bar, three at the beer and wine bar, and so on.

I am not sure if they staffed up for opening week or if they plan to maintain that staffing level.

Sarah, Mark and I went there on opening day and had dinner. We bought a couple of items from the grocery aisles before going home.

We returned on Saturday to find the same buzz one encounters when surrounded by hundreds of happy people. The store is large enough to accommodate a thousand customers without feeling overly crowded.

Sarah got several selections from the sushi train and described the quality as good as any restaurant in New Bern. I went for simple–a burger and fries. The way I figure it, if you can’t do a burger and fries right, then what can you do right?

And boy, did they do it right. It paired nicely with the glass of Mother Earth pale ale that I got at the bar.

While waiting for my order, I ran into four people I knew, and that’s the great thing about a venue like this. It’s a magnet that draws people together, and for more than one purpose.

Before, you would go to Harris Teeter for groceries. Maybe you might grab something from the salad bar or deli or the Starbucks counter, but there was really nothing that set it apart from any other modern grocery store.

This Harris Teeter is not just a retailer, it is a community amenity. You can literally spend the day there, enjoying a fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a couple of glasses of beer or wine later in the day before actually doing any grocery shopping.

Note: the beer and wine bar opens at 10 a.m. daily except Sundays, when it opens at 11 a.m. But who’s judging?

The parking lot is large and full but sufficient and well laid out. Other stores in the shopping center, which is called New Bern Marketplace, round out the remaining two-thirds of retail floor space at the 34-acre, 325,000-square-food retail venue.

One thing it has over Downtown New Bern: parking is not limited to two hours.

So what can you expect at the Teeter?

Greeting you as you arrive at one of the entrances is the floral counter managed by Mary Gierie-Merrell, who Mayor Outlaw has described as New Bern’s unofficial mayor.

At that same entrance, off to the right, is the Starbucks counter with its spacious and open dining area. It is equipped with tables and booths and two big-screen TVs. The window-wall is lined with a long counter with tall chairs for computer users and enough USB ports and electric sockets for every two chairs.

Beyond is the amazing food court, and to its left, the expansive grocery aisles.

One glitch was WiFi. Though it is provided, I was unable to connect to the internet using it. Another quibble is that if you want to sit at a table and plug in your device or computer to a power source, there are just two tables within range of just one wall socket, and they are right underneath a big-screen TV. That may be by design. It is understandable why a store would not want its tables taken up by people using computers all day.

The impacts of the new Harris Teeter on New Bern will be interesting to see.

It will undoubtedly cut into business of other existing grocery stores. But being so large, it will draw shoppers from outside New Bern and maybe from outside Craven County.

When the N.C. 43 connector is extended from U.S. 70 to U.S. 17 in the next few years, it will make access to New Bern Marketplace easier to reach from Pitt and Lenoir residents. It’s already the easiest retail center to reach in New Bern from Jones and Onslow counties.

As I said, this Harris Teeter is not just a store, it is a community amenity.

Fun facts

  • Harris Teeter’s previous largest stores, measuring at 80,000 square feet of store space, are located in Pinehurst and Charlotte.
  • The New Bern store is only the second location to have a juice bar.
  • It is the first to have a build-your-own burger bar.
  • It is the first to have a sushi train.

Posted in Achievements, Activities, Aldermen, Beer, Board of Aldermen, Business, Commentary, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Entertainment, Events, Food, Mayor, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce, Opinion

December 7th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

New Bern was selected as one of the nation’s top retirement destinations and one of its best small retirement towns by WhereToRetire.com in its sixth edition of “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire,” a guidebook of the country’s most appealing retirement towns.

WhereToRetire.com spent 11 months researching more than 800 cities. The chosen cities vary in size, climate, amenities and lifestyle, and each falls into one of 10 categories that focuses on the city’s defining feature, such as beaches, mountains, low costs, four seasons and appealing downtowns. Each city profile combines extensive research, local knowledge and in-depth interviews with retirees who made the move.

New Bern is a certified retirement community. The Certified Retirement Community designation means a city has completed a comprehensive evaluation process with requirements outlined by the North Carolina General Assembly.  Certified Retirement Communities are recognized for providing the amenities, services and opportunities retirees need to enjoy active and productive lives.

New Bern was recognized in April 2015 as one of the “10 Most Beautiful Towns in North Carolina,” and one of the “Top 10 Coastal Towns Where You Can Afford to Retire.”

Founded in 1710, New Bern it is the second oldest city in the state. It was the last colonial capital of North Carolina and its first state capital. “The City is a grand mix of carefully restored and maintained historical homes with old growth trees, a historic downtown, and contemporary houses ranging from condos to mansions, many with riverfront locations,” according to the website, Visit New Bern.

“New Bern’s character is palpable, and the people you meet are as vibrant as their surroundings. In addition to its beauty, New Bern is well-situated at the confluence of the Neuse and Trent Rivers, and only 35 miles from the Crystal Coast. The Atlantic Ocean is accessible by boat from New Bern, and New Bern’s rivers and creeks make a perfect playground for sailing, yachting, kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding and fishing. New Bern has direct access to rivers and beaches without the high costs associated with beachfront living.”

Eight North Carolina cities were selected as top retirement destinations in “America’s 100 Best Places to Retire.” Other North Carolina towns are Boone/Blowing Rock, Charlotte, Durham, Hendersonville, Sylva, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem. 

North Carolina had the second highest number of towns on the list, behind only Florida. In addition, Winston-Salem was among the Best Four-Season Towns; Charlotte and Durham were among the Best Low-Cost Towns; and Boone/Blowing Rock, Hendersonville and Sylva were among the Best Mountain Towns.

For more information on visiting or relocating to New Bern go to www.VisitNewBern.com or www.visitnewbern.com/retire-new-bern/ Questions may be directed to marketingdirector@visitnewbern.com

Posted in Business, Community, Craven County, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Economy and Employment, Education, Entertainment, History, Housing, New Bern, Retirement

November 26th, 2018 by newbernpostadmin

The parcel that had been the Strike Zone bowling alley on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard has been acquired by Aldi LLC as shown in this Craven County GIS map.

While there has been no official statement, it sure appears that Aldi, the German grocery chain, has its sights set on New Bern.

Aldi LLC acquired the former Strike Zone bowling alley in New Bern from SZ Properties on Nov. 14 for $1.68 million.

The city approved a site plan for Aldi in early 2017. The plan calls for the 30,600-square-foot bowling alley that’s there now to be removed to make way for the new 20,000-square-foot grocery store.

Strike Zone closed in 2017.

Aldi operates a store in Kinston and two in Jacksonville and two in the Greenville area among about 1,800 stores it operates in 35 states.

A New Bern store would be the first in Craven County. Lidl, another German-owned grocery chain, has opened stores in Havelock and Kinston.

Posted in Business, Economy, Economy and Employment

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