Lynyrd Skynrd Will Rock The Coca-Cola 600!

lenrodWhat happens when Southern rock joins forces with NASCAR’s Memorial Day Weekend classic?

America wins!

Iconic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will perform for race fans during the Coca-Cola 600 Concert Presented By Advance Auto Parts.

N.C. rises to No. 2 in latest solar installation ranking

solar-61 750xx5184-2922-0-0North Carolina leap-frogged Arizona and rose to the second-biggest solar state in the country in terms of megawatts used, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

California, North Carolina, and Arizona took the top three spots in GTM Research and SEIA’s 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

In 2015, Arizona was second, followed by North Carolina.

North Carolina solar helped the U.S. solar market nearly double its annual record, topping out at 14,625 megawatts of solar photovoltaic installed in 2016, according to the report.

This is a 95% increase over 2015’s then record-breaking 7,493 megawatts.

For the first time, U.S. solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity additions on an annual basis. Altogether, solar accounted for 39% of new capacity additions across all fuel types in 2016.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” said SEIA’s president and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. “Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments nationwide, leading to more than 260,000 Americans now employed in solar.”

Here are some stats from the report:

A new solar project was installed in the U.S. every 84 seconds.
The industry installed 14,626 megawatts of solar in 2016, the largest total ever and nearly two times the record set in 2015.
The residential market grew 19% year over year.
The non-residential market grew 49%.
The utility-scale segment drove this success, bolstered by a pipeline of projects initially hedging against the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit. Not only did it represent the most megawatts installed, but the utility-scale segment also featured the highest growth rate of any segment, growing 145% from 2015.
For the first time since 2011, non-residential installation growth surpassed residential solar growth, which posted a “still-impressive” 2,583 megawatts, according to SEIA.
As a result of a remarkable 2016, the U.S. is now home to more than 1.3 million solar PV installations, with a cumulative capacity of over 40 gigawatts.

Project HALO & Charlotte Jaycees presents “Mardi Gras” at The 16th Annual Charlotte Bartender’s Ball

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Caldwell, President, Elevate Lifestyle
Cell: (704) 231-9700
Project HALO & Charlotte Jaycees presents “Mardi Gras” at The 16th Annual Charlotte Bartender’s Ball
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 9, 2017 – On Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017, Elevate Lifestyle and RockHouse Event will kick off the 16th Annual Charlotte Bartender’s Ball at Rooftop 210 at the EpiCentre. The annual charity event to benefit Project Halo and Jaycees Foundation, held from 7 pm to 12 am, boasts popularity among the service industry and young professionals in the Charlotte area.
The theme of this year’s Ball is “Mardi Gras,” which means the popular New Orleans celebration filled with performers, drinks, food and endless entertainment will be surrounding you the entire night.
This cocktail attire-soiree will be host to some of Charlotte’s most popular bars and restaurants, who will each present their signature cocktails and beers. In addition to the wide selection of refreshments there will be beat-thumping DJ’s spinning, dancing, live entertainment, performers, and more.
The importance of the ball is explained best by Steve Caldwell, President of Elevate Lifestyle, “It (Bartender’s Ball) is the only event in Charlotte where you can experience over 25 of the city’s best bars, clubs, pubs and restaurants in one location.”
This event will not only provide a fun and exciting night for its guests, but it will also benefit Project HALO, a non-profit, NO-KILL animal rescue and sanctuary based in Charlotte. Project HALO has been the chosen charity to be part of the Bartender’s Ball for the last five years and its 100% volunteer organization, along with all of the rescued dogs in their care, would profit greatly from the generous donors of the Ball.
To take part in the magic of the ball tickets can be purchased online here or at General admission tickets include top-shelf liquors, full line of beers, catered food, live music/entertainment and are $60 until Feb. 18th, tickets will be available at the door.
Red Bull VIP Tickets includes access to VIP Lounge with cocktail tables and seating, fully staffed bars serving top-shelf liquor, premium and craft beers, assortment of Red Bull, and catered food from King Caterers. This sweet spot is right by the DJ’s and dance floor, easy access to outdoors smokers lounge, and includes access to the express line to get into the event. There are only 200 of these tickets available and they are $100 until Feb. 19th so get them while you can.
Be sure to dress to impress while drinking some tasty beverages and mingling with some of the greatest company in the city. Check in at Blackfinn Ameripub on the 2nd level entrance for your unforgettable night to begin.
About Bartenders Ball
Bartender’s Ball was created in 2002 as an opportunistic platform for liquor and beer companies to launch and/or promote specialty products. Drawing from a large 21 and up crowed, all types of Charlotteans ranging from teachers, bankers, doctors and more, come to experience the best cuisine, drinks and entertainment that Charlotte has to offer.

Split Mecklenburg County board approves MLS stadium proposal — but there’s a new hang-up

county-mls-mk005 750xx5449-3070-0-0

The possibility of landing a Major League Soccer team in Charlotte inched closer Thursday morning, with a vote by Mecklenburg County commissioners to approve spending $43.75 million in taxpayer money to help fund a $175 million stadium in Elizabeth. But less an hour later, plans hit a roadblock when Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts canceled a meeting Friday to discuss a matching investment by the city.

First — a split county board green-lighted their resolution after about an hour of often testy changes between commissioners during their annual board retreat in Charlotte. Commissioners Jim Puckett, Pat Cotham and Matthew Ridenhour vocally voted against the approval. Bill James, who was in Florida for his brother’s funeral, participated in the meeting via speaker phone and went on record to voice his disapproval for the proposal, though it is not initially clear if his vote will stand since it was done electronically.
County Commissioners raise their hands to vote in favor of the MLS Stadium proposal on Thursday.

County Commissioners raise their hands to vote in favor of the MLS Stadium proposal on… more

Melissa Key

That approved $43.75 million would be used for replacing American Legion Memorial Stadium and the Grady Cole Center next door to make way for a new 20,000-seat professional soccer venue. A matching $43.75 million was to come from the city of Charlotte — if council gave its approval. A public forum had been scheduled at 4 p.m. Friday with a potential vote following.

But less than hour after Mecklenburg County commissioners voted yes, the city of Charlotte sent out a statement that it would halt that meeting on Friday.

“Over the past several days, we have been discussing this opportunity, and while this is very promising, it is clear that we are not prepared to move forward at this time on the current soccer proposal.
The Council is interested in a future opportunity to pursue Major League Soccer with more information and time to allow for interactive dialogue with the community and appropriate due diligence on our part.
Any major decision we make needs to be considered as part of the bigger picture as we serve our entire community. Continued partnerships with sports positively impacts many of the initiatives we are working on, and we need to be diligent in planning a future where everyone wins.
We very much look forward to continued discussions.”

After that news circulated at the county’s board retreat, Puckett told media he was glad that City Council was “being prudent” in asking for more time and information to consider the proposal. He earlier called the board’s approval of the plan a “travesty.”

Mecklenburg County held its own public forum on Tuesday, with dozens of residents speaking strongly on both sides.

Efforts to bring Major League Soccer jump-started in mid-December when the MLS disclosed plans to add two new teams in late-2017, but with a short turnaround time to submit bids. The deadline is set for Jan. 31. Charlotte, along with Raleigh, Nashville and St. Louis is among 10 cities selected by the league to compete for the $150 million franchises.

Marcus Smith, CEO of locally-based Speedway Motorsports, is leading the bid in Charlotte. The Smiths would pay the $150 million entry fee and half the construction cost of the stadium targeted for a 16-acre county-owned site now occupied by 81-year-old Memorial Stadium and the 3,000-seat Grady Cole Center.

Smith’s investor group would pay $12.5 million in cash upfront as part of its $87.5 million commitment. The rest — $75 million — would be funded by the county and repaid by the team at a rate of $4.26 million annually for 25 years, or $106.5 million total.

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

R145_ClownSelfie145_20150101_06614 145_20150104_02035-Edit

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