Mecklenburg County discloses details of Charlotte’s MLS stadium proposal

memorial-stadium-mk016 750xx5524-3107-0-288Mecklenburg County released terms of the proposed Major League Soccer stadium on Friday, confirming previous reports by CBJ of a project totaling $175 million for a 20,000-seat stadium and costs divided evenly between team owners and local government.

Dena Diorio, county manager, told CBJ the deal makes sense because it would convert an aging and rarely used property into a new stadium housing a big-league franchise while jump-starting development in surrounding areas. Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith is leading the campaign to land an MLS expansion franchise. Bids are due Jan. 31 and MLS plans to select two expansion cities later this year.

Each expansion team will pay a $150 million entry fee — Charlotte’s would be paid by Smith — and begin play in 2020. Diorio and Smith told CBJ during an interview Friday that construction would likely take 18 to 24 months.

A public forum is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at the Government Center with county commissioners hearing from citizens on the possible taxpayer investment in a privately owned sports venture. The county would own the stadium and continue to own the 16-acre site on the edge of uptown that now houses Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center.

Charlotte Center City Partners estimates about 60 acres in and around Memorial Stadium and along the edge of the Elizabeth neighborhood would likely be developed and redeveloped, in part, from momentum created by bringing an MLS team to town. Economists have long disputed the impact of pro sports investments and economic impact touted by teams and politicians, but their skepticism has done little to slow a tide of taxpayer investment in arenas and stadiums locally and nationally.

Neighborhood leaders told CBJ this week they plan to survey residents for opinions on having the MLS move in and those leaders plan to speak at the forum next week. Two days later, on Jan. 26, county commissioners will vote on whether to approve the investment. City and county government would contribute $43.75 million each for construction.

Behind the Scenes: What this local CEO took away from ‘Undercover Boss’ appearance

jeffWhen CBS aired its “Undercover Boss” segment on Huntersville-based AdvantaClean Wednesday night, company founder and CEO Jeff Dudan watched it for the first time like any other viewer.

His consensus: The show painted a “very fair and accurate representation of our company and what we stand for,” said Dudan during an interview with CBJ on Thursday.

The episode opened with showing how the Chicago-area native built AdvantaClean — a company that focuses on water damage and mold remediation services — from the ground up after graduating with his business degree from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.

The genesis of AdvantaClean came when Dudan traveled to south Florida in 1992 to help with the cleanup process after Hurricane Andrew. Then realizing the business potential in the industry, he opened a location in Orange County, Fla., two years later. He later expanded the business to Wilmington in 1996, after coastal storms struck there.

Fast forward to 2009 and Dudan began franchising AdvantaClean. It has since grown to more than 225 locations in 33 states, generating $50 million annually, and relocated from Charlotte to Huntersville in 2007.

Donning a long beard and glasses, Dudan played the role of an AdvantaClean employee named “Dusty.” He visited several job sites, crawling into tight spaces under houses and cleaning filthy air ducts, among other tasks. Along the way, he interacted and received feedback from workers about the company.

Dudan said he was kept in the dark on nearly aspect of the show’s taping, which occurred in early 2016.

“There’s always risk in everything that you do, and certainly we had no control over what happened on the jobs. We had no control over who they picked. I didn’t even know where I was going until I showed up at the airport for each location,” Dudan said. “I didn’t know which franchise we were going to be working with. I didn’t know what the job was going to be until they dropped you in.

Film studio complex moves to South Carolina

Film studio complex moves to South Carolina

by Amy Cowman

YORK CO., SC– “The film industry is the number one industry that attracts tourism dollars and York County gets it,” said Studio South President, Bert Hesse.

Studio South President Bert Hesse says he’s teaming up with the Catawba Indian Nation for a $350 million state-of-the art studio complex. It will be built on 120 acres between Dave Lyle Boulevard and Sturgis Road.

“Anything that’s going to be beneficial and profitable for the Nation, I’m going to say is going to be a good economic development project,” said Catawba Nation Chief, Bill Harris.

Hesse tried working with Charlotte city leaders to buy the old Eastland Mall site, but that fell through.

“We have lifted our master plan from to what called Studio Charlotte to Catawba Studios,” said Hesse.

There will be three districts. First is sound stages, second is the educational component, where universities in SC will be on the lot for film schools, and then retail, and restaurants.

While the project is still in the works Catawba Nation purchased a production company Red Heritage, they’re renting space in Fort Mill already working on projects, then the equipment plus much more will be part of Catawba Studios.

Red Heritage President Chris Cates says being lured from Charlotte wasn’t hard.

“Our state legislature helped a little bit with that when they put a knife in the film incentives,” said Cates.

Cates says with South Carolina incentives and the Catawba Tribe resources it’s a perfect fit.

“Our potential is immense in terms of the volume of work we can do,” said Cates.

Hesse says this plan is different than in Charlotte, and a much better fit.

“We weren’t looking to just buy 84 acres, we were looking for a partner to help us develop an industry in a state, and that’s what we have been able to find in South Carolina a partner in the Catawba Indian Nation,” said Hesse.

The Catawba Nation will own the land and finance much of the project with Federal Indian grants.

Studio South will manage the film business. They plan to break ground before the end of the year.

Charlotte must-see event this week at TWCA – Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus Roars into Charlotte January 27-31

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents Circus XTREME being in town at Time Warner Cable Arena until Sunday, January 31, with tickets still available on Ticket Master BUY TICKET HERE

It’s time for your family to be amazed by all the X-TRAORDINARY things you know and love about America’s favorite live family entertainment experience

They will be visiting at Levine Children’s Hospital Thursday at 11 a.m. for a $10,000 check donation to Levine’s and Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation for cancer research, where performers will conduct a small show for pediatric patients. They also have an elephant painting party with outpatient children on Friday at 1 p.m.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus first headlined almost a century ago. Since then it has been watched and loved by millions in North America and Europe. The circus presents a number of shows to add variety to its repertoire. One of their most famous shows is Legends. It features high wire motorcycle stunts, Chinese acrobats, a clown crew, trapeze acts, horse riding maneuvers and a wide range of exotic animals. The show’s prominent feature is bringing back mythical creatures such as a mammoth, a Pegasus and a unicorn. The circus is coming to Charlotte, North Carolina for performances at the Time Warner Cable Arena. So grab Ringling Bros And Barnum &Bailey Circus Charlotte tickets and enjoy the show.

Ringling Bros. Presents Circus XTREME – Official Music Video

Feld Entertainment Announces Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Traveling Elephants to Leave the Circus in May 2016 LEARN MORE HERE

CharlotteNow will be at the show on Saturday, I have not been to  a circus in 20 years so I am very EXCITED. Will be doing some tweets during the show so follow us on twitter @CharlotteNOW

This is a must-see event for the whole family

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How social media can drive website traffic for your business

howtowebtraffic 800xx2001-1124-0-232Social media marketing is often touted for increasing brand awareness and engagement, but there’s another advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked: increased website traffic.

A recent report from Shareaholic shows that social referrals were responsible for 31 percent of website clicks during the fourth quarter of 2014.

This analysis is based on data collected from more than 300,000 websites with a global audience of more than 400 million unique monthly users, looking at how they connect to the top eight social platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube and Pinterest).

Changing habits

“Over the years (and in 2014, especially), our media consumption habits have changed dramatically,” wrote Danny Wong in a Shareaholic blog post announcing the report. “We rely less on homepages and search engines, discovering news pertinent to us through social media and direct messaging on mobile apps.”

The data reinforces the fact that Faceboook is extremely important for marketers. The report noted that Facebook continues to dominate the social referral market. Nearly one in four clicks to a website came from Facebook. Referrals from Facebook account for 24.63 percent of traffic. This makes Pinterest, which drives 5.06 percent of overall visits to sites around the web, a distant runner-up. Twitter, which is in third place, captures just a 0.82 percent share.

Unfortunately, the year-over-year numbers weren’t good for most of the platforms they researched. Facebook and Pinterest saw gains, but the other networks have fallen from their 2013 totals. Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube all saw their shares dip year-over-year by more than 25 percent. YouTube lost the most. According to the Shareaholic data, YouTube saw its share drop 93 percent in 2014. It currently has a paltry 0.01 percent share of overall traffic.

More proof that Charlotte is a boomtown

charlotte-skyline02 304xx4248-2832-4-0As if Charlotte needed confirmation that people are moving to the area in droves, a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the city is among the fastest-growing in the nation in its size category.

The Queen City ranks No. 2 among the country’s 25 largest cities for population growth between 2010 and 2013, topped only by Austin, Texas. Charlotte experienced an influx of more than 61,000 people in that three-year period, representing population growth of 8.4 percent.

With its population estimated at 792,862 as of July 1, 2013, the city ranks 16th in size in the U.S., up from No. 17 at the time of the last official census in 2010.

The report, “Population Trends in Incorporated Places: 2000 to 2013,” examines population changes from 2000 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2013, highlighting fastest-growing cities, population densities, the distribution of population, land annexations and more. Read the full report here.

Other findings include:

More than 198.2 million people, or 62.7 percent of the total U.S. population, lived in “incorporated places” in 2013 — defined as “local governmental entities with powers to collect taxes and provide services within legally defined geographic boundaries.”
Between 2000 and 2013, population within those incorporated places grew faster than the nation’s overall rate of population growth.
Charlotte is in the city-size category that is fastest-growing across the board — those with 500,000 to 1 million residents.
North Carolina ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of the percentage of its population living in incorporated places in 2013, roughly on par with the U.S. figure.
Among cities of 100,000 or more residents, Fayetteville posted the largest percentage gain (149.1 percent) in land area between 2000 and 2013.
James Island, S.C., a town of roughly 11,500 people just south of Charleston, was one of 16 newly incorporated places between 2010 and 2013.
Cary ranked No. 4 among the fastest-growing incorporated places of 100,000 or more residents between 2010 and 2013, posting a population increase of 11.7 percent in the three-year period.
Mount Pleasant, S.C., ranked No. 10 among the fastest-growing incorporated places of 50,000 to 99,999 residents between 2010 and 2013, with population growth of 10.4 percent

Tesla Motors to open Charlotte sales and service center

tesla-model-s-black 304xx6216-4144-0-0Tesla Motors Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) plans to open a Charlotte sales and service center off Independence Boulevard near Matthews.

The high-end electric carmaker has been issued several building permits for the location at 9140 E. Independence Blvd., a former Mercury and Lincoln car dealership, according to Mecklenburg County filings. The 26,000-square-foot building received a temporary certificate of occupancy last week.

Tesla has not returned messages from the Charlotte Business Journal. But the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company says on its website the Charlotte-Matthews location is “coming soon.” Tesla has a store in Raleigh and several charging stations for its vehicles across the state. The first Charlotte Supercharger (as Tesla calls its stations) opened this year near University City.

Charlotte Center City Partners report: ‘We’re thriving again’

michael-smith-pat-mccrory-cccp 304xx1632-1088-0-68

Charlotte Center City Partners has released its annual State of the Center City report, and with the uptick in commercial real estate development activity in uptown and surrounding submarkets, the report is pretty upbeat.

The introduction to this year’s report cites the rebound in development activity across various sectors in center city: 2.9 million square of office space under construction or proposed as well as 1,658 hotel rooms, nearly 6,900 housing units and 300,000 square feet of retail space, according to the report, which includes uptown, South End and midtown in its definition of center city.

“It’s a defining period for our center city,” says Michael Smith, CEO of the organization. “We’re thriving again. With what’s being built here, we’re going to have more employees, more residents and more guests.”

Smith says the development activity is building on the public investment made in parks, transportation and infrastructure in recent years. The development of BB&T Ballpark and Romare Bearden Park have attracted several new multifamily projects, the latest being Greystar’s planned 33-story high-rise apartment tower.

Charlotte Center City Partners will present the 2015 report at an event Thursday evening. N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory will be in attendance for a Q&A session with Smith, who says the conversation will touch on economic-development issues including incentives, which have been a hot topic lately due to corporate relocations across the state line to South Carolina and the announced closure of Chiquta’s Charlotte headquarters.

McCrory recently told an audience in Raleigh that until lawmakers expanded recruiting funds and other sweeteners, the state didn’t have the tools it needed to win major projects.

Google Fiber coming to Charlotte, major utility work to follow

google-charlotte-skyline 600xx2100-1403-0-67It’s official: Google Fiber is coming to Charlotte.

The ultra-high-speed Internet service from Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is being announced today at a joint press conference between city officials and representatives from the technology giant.

After months of speculation, anticipation and behind-the-scenes planning, Google has selected Charlotte in its first wave of U.S. cities to receive the service. Raleigh-Durham also made the cut today, along with Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn. The service debuted in Kansas City, Kan., and Austin, Texas. Google also purchased an existing network in Provo, Utah.

Charlotte startup Socialtopias raises $4.2M, plans glitzy New Year’s Eve launch

joshua-clinton-lineberger-founder-v2-socialtopias 304xx3331-2218-0-242The founders of a new social media network and mobile app have chosen Charlotte on New Year’s Eve to launch the first public version of their product.

Socialtopias, based in a small SouthEnd office suite, targets nightlife and social interactions as it seeks to become a social media application that connects people for real-world interactions, its founder Joshua Lineberger said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

The startup’s apps will be available on Android and Apple devices Wednesday. The platform is designed to help users find friends interested in going out for a night on the town or other social happenings and connects their group to restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other hospitality-industry offerings. Ultimately, the app’s goal is to connect friends to social events and venues that match their preferences and link them with like-minded people in their networks.

“You feel more connected than ever, but we’ve never been more disconnected,” Lineberger says of most social networks. He says social networks should be built to lead people to connect in real-life situations, rather than just exchange information online. He believes Socialtopias and its nightlife niche will accomplish that vision.

“There’s no means to an end. Social networks should progress from the digital world to the physical world.”

Lineberger and partner and operations director Martin Miller of Greer, S.C., say they developed the concept over the past four years, raising $4.2 million last year, mostly in a private placement with a wealthy investor who’s identity has not been disclosed.

The startup is spending big on marketing this week. It invited every local media outlet to a kickoff event Tuesday morning, plans to fly a banner in the sky over uptown ahead of the Belk Bowl, has flooded local bars and restaurants with posters, coasters and swag and plans to host a series of parties around the Queen City on New Year’s Eve. One Socialtopias event: An 8-ton truckload of snow delivered to Montford Drive Wednesday night.