Feb 282013


Posted: February 27th, 2013

By: Lindsey Chessum *


CiscoCisco Systems, Inc. (“Cisco”), one of the largest producers of .computer networking equipment, embarked on a campaign in December spending $100 million in hopes of creating a new image. It launched its campaign with a meeting of analysts in New York, quickly followed by a deluge of print materials, webcasts, and commercials. The tagline, “Tomorrow Starts Here.”

This was meant to be a turning point for Cisco. In summer 2012, Cisco’s stock hit a low of $15.12 (compare with low of $15.17 in November 2008), and negative press revolved about the layoff of 1,300 workers. This was Cisco’s coming out after a period of underperformance. This was to be a milestone turning point.


Unfortunately, Cisco ran into some difficulties. East Carolina University (“ECU”) is suing Cisco in federal court for the unauthorized use of “Tomorrow Starts Here.”

Log-in-windowECU’s chancellor stated the university has been using the tagline for ten years. A spokeswoman for Cisco replied with a brief statement voicing surprise, but at this point little more has been said or done by either ECU or Cisco.

The only other source of information is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office where both ECU and Cisco have trademark filings. According to a USPTO trademark search, ECU’s filing was registered in April 2011. A filing must be approved before the trademark is registered. Then upon registration a trademark becomes enforceable. So, on the other hand, Cisco’s filings have not yet been registered. It was filed on December 10, 2012, according to a search of the USPTO database, when Cisco launched the marketing campaign and is waiting for approval.


Trademark law follows common sense in many ways. When two entities are claiming the same mark, for example, “Tomorrow Starts Here,” people can become confused. People that know both entities might think there is some connection between the two, that there is a sponsorship or endorsement. Think of the Wake Forest men’s basketball jersey; it has a Nike sign. Nike is the team’s sponsor. What if you see a t-shirt from a 5K race with “Just Do It” on the back? You think Nike is a sponsor, and maybe you decide to participate in that race because you like Nike. The problem arises when you show up for the race, and you figure out it is not Nike, just a small time running club.

Trademark law protects against this by giving the registrant of a trademark exclusive use. Only the person or company who registers a trademark can use it. The other advantage it that registration gives nationwide protection. Thus, ECU, a university in NC, can protect its slogan in NC and the rest of the United States.

DivinityThere is one applicable limitation on this right to enforce exclusive use. This limitation to exclusive use is the phrase “likely to cause confusion.” As discussed before, the goal of trademark law is to stop consumer confusion. Thus, to enforce an exclusive right to a trademark, the party, ECU in this case, must show that the other party’s use, Cisco, is likely to cause confusion among consumers. When you see “Tomorrow Starts Here” on ECU’s webpage, is it likely you think Cisco is a sponsor of the university? Or conversely, when you see the Cisco tagline is it likely that you will think it is sponsored or endorsed by ECU?



The best place to start is with what the two parties think, ECU and Cisco. Whenever an entity files a trademark, it must select a category to file the trademark under. According to the filings, ECU registered under university-level “educational services,” while Cisco filed with a laundry list of computer hardware and software products and telecommunication services. Are educational services likely to be confused with computer hardware?

Off the bat, these filings appear unrelated, but ECU plans to argue both Cisco and it operate in the same computer technology industry. Specifically, it has an “overlapping field of goods and services.” The best connection for ECU is its College of Technology and Computer Science that has commercialized products and intellectual property. Still outside commentators on the suit are skeptical ECU will be successful.

While ECU acts confidently, Cisco has clearly expressed its surprise about any chance of confusion. The spokeswoman went so far as to say, Cisco is “confident that [its] new campaign does not create any confusion in the marketplace.”


There are already bets on the suit settling. It is usually a cheaper way to resolve any issue, and it guarantees the complaining party, ECU, walks away with something.

StopOne speculator suggests that universities are always strapped for cash, so ECU is going after Cisco, a deep pocket. He then goes on to mention another theory for the suit. In trademark law the owner of the trademark, ECU, has to take action. Otherwise, it is essentially authorizing the use of its mark. Still the trademark owner must be discerning in the fights it picks. Litigation is expensive, especially when you lose.

A last theory that sounded plausible is that ECU sued Cisco as a defensive tactic. It is possible had ECU not sued, Cisco might have. Being on the defensive end of a fight against a large company like Cisco can be daunting. Cisco has money to spend, and any lawsuit would be focused on destroying or limiting any ownership rights ECU has.

Thankfully for ECU, it is fairly well insulated. It has a registered trademark, proving ownership of the slogan, at least for university level education services.

It cannot be stressed enough, the importance of registering trademarks, and now, filing can be done online.

* Lindsey M. Chessum is a second year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law. She has a Bachelor’s in Economics & Business and a Bachelor’s in Philosophy from Westmont College. She spent nearly two years in the stock market industry prior to law school, and upon graduation in 2014, Ms. Chessum plans to return to California to practice business law.

via CISCO’S NEW START IS FRUSTRATED BY A TRADEMARK FIGHT: East Carolina University Sues Cisco over slogan “Tomorrow Starts Here” | Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law | Wake Forest School of Law.

Feb 282013



“I think it’s important for people to realize that federal dollars do reach the local level and do have an impact on services like public health.”

Dr. John Morrow

director, Pitt County Health Department

By Ginger Livingston


Local organizations are waiting to see how sequestration will affect their funding.

Agencies are getting little information about how and when an automatic cut of $1.2 trillion in defense and nondiscretionary spending the next 10 years could be implemented.

George Perry, director of the Pitt County Department of Social Services, said he has received no information about the sequestration, which is scheduled to begin on Friday. A significant portion of social service programming, including income maintenance, food assistance, child care assistance and Medicaid for family and children, fall under discretionary spending, Perry said.

Pitt County’s Health Department will see cuts in its child vaccination, Women, Infants and Children, HIV testing and emergency preparedness programs, director Dr. John Morrow said.

“I think unfortunately (sequestration has) become a political debate, but on the local level we are talking about people’s health and people’s livelihood,” Morrow said. “This is where the impact will be, on the local level.”

Combined state and federal funding makes up about 25 percent of the Pitt County Health Department’s budget, Morrow said.

“We have very little flexibility on how those dollars can be spent,” he said.


“We are being told if there is a sequester, there will be cuts in these programs (vaccinations, WIC and HIV testing) and others such as emergency preparedness,” Morrow said.

Last year, the department gave about 2,500 childhood vaccines and did more than 5,500 HIV tests.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that federal dollars do reach the local level and do have an impact on services like public health,” Morrow said.

Grants utilized by the sheriff’s office will continue to receive funding but future programs may be jeopardized.

The sheriff’s office receives multiple forms of federal money. Some is given to the state, which distributes it to local law enforcement. There also are two types of grants.

Block grants are repeated awards based on a community’s crime statistics, and there are short-term grants that address specific issues, said Melissia Larson, grants administrator.

The county’s prescription medicine drop-off program was started with a short-term grant designed to combat prescription drug abuse. The block grants support the purchase of bulletproof vests and housing illegal immigrants in the local detention center, she said.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice recently sent out a letter alerting grant recipients that existing grants will continue to be funded, but new programs face reductions, Larson said.

As long as existing grants are funded, Larson said she is comfortable. However, the sheriff’s office will have to examine its budget if new grant money is not available.

Pitt County Schools is preparing for a $1 million loss in federal funds, said Michael Cowin, assistant superintendent for finance.

Of the $220.3 million school budget, $17 million of that is earmarked for Title 1 and Exceptional Children programs. Because the government allows a school district to spend the money in a span of more than one year, Cowin said the effects will not be felt.

“We will try to carry over dollars (from this cycle) to minimize the impact,” he said in December. “Sequestration to me is preventing us from moving the programs forward as they are now.”

Vidant Health will experience an $8.3 million decrease in federal reimbursements for medical care with $5.9 million of the reduction at Vidant Medical Center, Dr. David Herman, president and CEO, said.

“Sequestration is just a small part of many things that are happening on a federal level,” Herman said.

East Carolina University also is expecting cuts.

The Brody School of Medicine would feel an immediate effect because of a two percent cut in Medicare rates to providers. ECU Physicians, the school’s clinical branch, estimates the cut will reduce revenues by $450,000 to $600,000 annually, said Mary Schulken, public affairs director.

Cuts to existing research grants are not expected, but future grants could be reduced or eliminated. ECU receives about $8.5 million in grants from the National Institute of Health.

The university also receives more than $1.2 million from the Department of Defense. Officials expect Operation Re-entry, a program assisting returning veterans with health care and support, to lose funding, Schulken said.


Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

via The Daily Reflector.

Feb 282013



Thursday, February 28, 2013

It is reasonable to see both sides of a recent City Council debate about where to locate early-voting stations for this year’s municipal election. While some members contended that adding a site close to East Carolina University might help increase participation, especially among youth voters, others claimed the push for an on-campus location attempts to influence the results.

By the very nature of their location, voting sites hold some sway over voter turnout in that their proximity to a subset of the electorate encourages its participation over those farther from the site. That is why the outcome of this debate, which saw the council vote unanimously to choose a central location for a new polling place, would seem to be the reasonable conclusion.

Prompted by an inquiry by Pitt County Elections Director Dave Davis, the council on Monday took up debate over early-voting sites for the city elections in November. The nonpartisan vote will determine the six members of the council as well as who serves as mayor, so those intending to seek re-election — and all those who call this community home — have a stake in the outcome.

In addition to the two sites now used annually for early voting, it was proposed by Councilman Max Joyner that an additional polling place be established on the East Carolina campus. Backed by Councilman Dennis Mitchell, the suggestion met the opposition of Councilwoman Marion Blackburn and Councilman Calvin Mercer. Blackburn worried that the station would affect turnout in her district, which includes the campus, while Mercer was wary of the council picking specific locations for voting sites, which he considered the responsibility of the Board of Elections.

Uncommonly, those are all reasonable positions to hold. Joyner and Mitchell are perfectly correct to desire greater participation in municipal elections, and wrapped themselves in that populist argument. Blackburn’s concern is well placed since, given traditionally low turnout for municipal elections, a handful of votes can turn the tide of a race. And Mercer is not wrong to think that the elections board, rather than the council, should be choosing locations based on accessibility and use.

The conclusion of a central location — the Drew Steele Center — near the campus, but without the parking problems and other legal complications, represents a rare bit of compromise from City Hall. And though the council may have reached it reluctantly, in this case, that may be what serves the public best.

via The Daily Reflector.

Feb 282013



Published: February 27, 2013

By Jane Stancill — jstancill@newsobserver.com

CHAPEL HILL — Surprise inspections have been taking place across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus in recent days as administrators seek to prove that students and faculty are, indeed, meeting for their scheduled classes.

Administrators have been working against the clock to account for courses before a visit this spring by an outside review team. The reviewers are expected to prepare a report for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges – the regional accrediting agency that monitors campuses for academic quality. The SACS board could decide in June whether to sanction the university for the academic fraud scandal that has unfolded in the past couple of years.

To prove the legitimacy of classes, administrators have fanned out to hundreds of classrooms to verify that students and professors are present. Some departments even discussed bringing in photographers to document classes, according to one professor, Lew Margolis, a faculty member in public health.

While many accepted the mass monitoring effort as a necessary step in appeasing the university’s accreditors, others were incredulous.

“It was more than irritating,” said Margolis. “As I spoke to some colleagues about it, they looked at me and said, ‘This is ridiculous. What the heck’s going on here?’ ”

Margolis was prompted to write a blog for WCHL radio’s website in which he suggested that there is no system, short of George Orwell’s Big Brother screens in each classroom, that could really document students’ education. And, he pondered, what about all the informal time outside of class, when students are learning and teachers are teaching?

The unusual spot checks are the latest fallout from an academic fraud scandal that has dealt a blow to UNC-CH’s reputation. In December, a review by former Gov. Jim Martin and the Baker Tilly consulting firm found more than 200 African and Afro-American Studies classes with little or no instruction dating back to the late 1990s. Among the irregularities were no-show classes, poorly supervised independent studies, and hundreds of unauthorized grade changes. Athletes accounted for 45 percent of the enrollments in the bogus classes in a 10-year period, the review found.

The problems caught the eye of SACS, the accrediting agency, whose president, Belle Wheelan, sent a strongly worded letter in January to UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp, saying that the university had not provided sufficient evidence that it had addressed breaches in academic integrity.

Now it appears that university leaders are taking the documentation effort seriously.

‘We need a report’

Deans have been asked to collect all class syllabi from professors, showing outlines of assignments and course requirements. In a Feb. 19 memo, Bruce Carney, executive vice chancellor and provost, wrote to deans saying they had a short timeline to complete their monitoring reports.

“We need a report from you on the progress of checks of lecture and other courses that were intended to meet on a regular basis with an instructor,” Carney wrote. “What method was used? How many classes were surveyed? What were the results? If a class was not underway at the expected time, we need a detailed explanation.”

In the College of Arts and Sciences, there were too many classes to visit one by one, so administrators checked a random sample of 187 courses out of 2,300 lectures, labs and discussion sections offered this semester. A few were meeting in alternate locations, but only one could not be accounted for. That one will be re-checked this week, spokeswoman Dee Reid said.

Looking in windows

At the School of Education, administrators checked on more than 80 classes. Deborah Eaker-Rich, associate dean and chief academic officer, visited many of those. A few classes could not be located, she said, but it turned out they had valid reasons. One was meeting at an art gallery, and other courses in educational leadership were attending an area school board meeting. Everyone else, she said, was in the appointed place.

“I tried to do it in a very nondisruptive way,” Eaker-Rich said of her checks. “Our building has windows on the doors, so if the doors were closed, I could just look in and say, ‘OK, there’s Dr. So-and-So, and there are approximately 25 students in there and obviously they’re doing something.’ ”

With each stop, she documented the time and date and initialed her visit.

George Noblit, an education professor whose two classes were visited, said students thought it was funny.

“They clearly saw this as being connected to the scandal,” he said. “So the nice thing about our associate dean introducing herself and explaining it, it became kind of a teachable moment about the politics of higher ed.”

Noblit said he took it in stride because the education school is used to extensive monitoring for its own accrediting organizations.

“It does seem a little overboard, but it does seem to me that it is in response to outside pressures that are real,” he said. “Clearly we cannot ignore our accrediting agencies.”

‘I’m an old reporter’

In the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Dean Susan King, a self-described data nut, said the spot checks were a useful exercise. She and her staff checked 200 classes over a one-week period.

They found only three that didn’t meet, but professors later confirmed that they had conducted class in other locations, including Carrboro Town Hall and a video shoot for a multimedia assignment.

“I’m an old reporter,” she said. “So you go and check and document. That’s what reporters do. I thought it was not a bad process.”

Margolis wrote in his blog that many faculty were perturbed that the academic operation was under such scrutiny for what many perceive to be an athletics scandal.

“I do not believe that any of these credit-hour monitoring proposals would have seen the light of day had there not been exasperation about the disconnect between big time college sports and the mission of universities,” he wrote. “There may be more than one reason to create a fake class, but at the very top of the list, with a large gap between number one and number two, is the need to keep revenue-generating athletes eligible. I don’t think that we fake classes in musicology or modern European history or molecular chemistry, because faculty across the galaxy of universities hold one another accountable.”

Noblit said faculty are generally worried about how the university will sort out its relationship to what he called the “industry” of the athletics operation. But for now, he said, people want to satisfy the accreditors and get a clean bill of health.

“If we need to lay to rest this belief that we’re not here doing our job,” Noblit said, “then let’s get that done.”

Stancill: 919-829-4559

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/27/2712446/unc-chapel-hill-checking-on-its.html#storylink=cpy
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/27/2712446/unc-chapel-hill-checking-on-its.html#storylink=cpy

via CHAPEL HILL: UNC-Chapel Hill holds surprise inspections of classes to make sure they’re real | Education | NewsObserver.com.

Feb 282013


Published: February 27, 2013 Updated 1 hour ago

By Andrew Carter and Dan Kane — acarter@newsobserver.com

CHAPEL HILL — For the past three years, John Blanchard has led the University of North Carolina’s student-athlete services department through scandals that called into question the department’s role in various cases of academic fraud.

Now Blanchard, a senior associate athletic director at UNC, is retiring to open his own consulting business. He will work his final day Thursday. The university announced his retirement in a statement Wednesday.

Blanchard, 60, spent 25 years working in the UNC athletic department and since 2002 has been the director of student-athlete services, which includes the academic support program for athletes. That program has faced scrutiny in recent years amid two academic fraud scandals.

There was the academic fraud involving a former tutor, Jennifer Wiley, who provided improper help to UNC football players. That case, along with an impermissible benefits scandal involving agents, led to NCAA sanctions – including a one-season postseason ban – against the UNC football team.

More recently, UNC has been embroiled in controversy since an internal investigation last spring identified widespread academic fraud in the Department of African and Afro-American Studies. University records show a significant percentage of athletes were enrolled in fraudulent AFAM courses, and questions have persisted about whether athletes – including football and men’s basketball players – used those suspect classes to remain eligible.

Blanchard’s retirement has been in the works since last spring, according to UNC.

Blanchard, a 1975 graduate of Stanford, first worked at UNC from 1985 through 1999, when he served as director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes. He left for the University of Minnesota but returned to UNC in 2002.

Blanchard at UNC received an annual salary of $110,749. UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham changed Blanchard’s role last spring. Cunningham last August reorganized the athletic department and hired Vince Ille to be the department’s liaison with academic advising and counseling for athletes. Before Ille arrived, Blanchard had been that liaison.

At the time, Cunningham said the reorganization wasn’t an indication that Blanchard failed his responsibilities. Cunningham on Wednesday defended Blanchard’s record, and he praised how Blanchard handled adversity during the past several years.

“I think John has been great to work with, and been a leader locally, nationally, and I’ve enjoyed working with him,” Cunningham said. “I think he handled things very well. I think his career has been outstanding.”

Blanchard helped organize the student-athlete services department when he returned to UNC in 2002. The department includes career planning, life skills, community service and the Baddour Carolina Leadership Academy. He serves on the executive committee for the Sports Management Institute, and also was a chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct.

“The thousands of students I have served have fueled my passion for education and student development, challenged me and taught me,” Blanchard said in a statement. “They have a special place in my heart.”

Throughout UNC’s misdeeds, Blanchard has never been accused of wrongdoing. Still, he became a major focus of the AFAM scandal in December, when a UNC-CH commissioned report by former Gov. Jim Martin and the Baker Tilly management consulting firm found that Blanchard and Robert Mercer, the director of the Academic Support Program for Student-Athletes, had expressed concerns to a faculty athletics committee about lecture courses that did not meet and only required a 20-page paper.

Blanchard said in a subsequent email message that he twice told the committee in 2006 about such classes, involving a professor within the African and Afro-American Studies department.

But several faculty members on that committee, including then Chancellor James Moeser, said they had no recollection of the issue being raised. Martin and Baker Tilly interviewed none of those faculty members on the committee.

Minutes from that time only mention an independent study scandal at Auburn University, with faculty members asking whether such a problem could exist at UNC-CH. The committee tasked Mercer with tracking independent studies, but earlier this month university officials acknowledged they had no evidence in hand to show he had done that.

Other UNC correspondence related to that period show no discussion of the African studies department. Two emails from Mercer among that correspondence were of news articles that downplayed the Auburn scandal. Mercer was quietly transferred to another position away from athletics in August. He has not responded to requests for comment.

As recently as Feb. 13, Blanchard maintained he had raised concerns with the faculty committee, but he declined to provide details.

“I did address the entire Faculty Committee on Athletics regarding the lecture classes being taught as independent study,” Blanchard wrote. “I remember what I said and their response. I have told the investigative bodies that have looked into this issue and I do not think there is a need to relate all the details over again here. I do understand how six years later some of the committee members do not remember the discussion. Keep in mind, none of us had the detail of the situation that we now have.

“The fact of the matter is that the Faculty Committee on Athletics said faculty has the right to teach their classes the way they see fit. Whether or not members of the committee recall that part of the discussion does not change the fact.”

Blanchard said he did not have any documents to show he had reported his concerns to the committee.

Before he returned to UNC in 2002, Blanchard spent roughly 20 months as the director of the academic support unit for athletes at the University of Minnesota. Within weeks of his arrival, one of the worst academic fraud scandals in NCAA history broke, when the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that a former office manager had been writing papers and filling out take-home exams for basketball players over a five-year period.

Blanchard told local media that the stress from the scandal, and subsequent reforms at the university that altered his position, caused him to leave the job in fall 2000. A News & Observer reporter asked him via email why that experience wouldn’t have taught him to document a perceived problem at UNC-CH. Blanchard did not respond.

Cunningham said Blanchard’s position will not be filled. But UNC is close, Cunningham said, to announcing a permanent director of academic support for athletes. Harold Woodard has served in that role on an interim basis.


Carter: 919-829-8944 Twitter: @_andrewcarter

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/27/2711900/unc-associate-athletic-director.html#storylink=cpy

via CHAPEL HILL: UNC associate athletic director Blanchard retires | North Carolina | NewsObserver.com.

Feb 272013


By Michael Abramowitz

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Eliz Greene of Milwaukee, Wis., is a woman with a mission — and a message that goes straight to the heart.

Greene, who travels several months each year throughout the United States, shared her story with a room packed mostly by women at Rock Springs Center. She and Dr. Noel Peterson, a physician with Eastern Cardiology and director of women’s cardiovascular disease and preventive medicine for the Heart Institute, were the featured speakers at the fifth annual Heart Truth Social, presented by the East Carolina Heart Institute at Vidant Medical Center and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital.

The event, now a fixture on the Greenville social calendar, was one of several the heart institute is featuring during American Heart Month.

When she was just 35 years old, Greene, now 47, suffered a heart attack while in the hospital to deliver her twin sons. Her heart stopped for 10 minutes just before she gave birth. But, as she said, if your heart is going to stop working, a hospital is a good place for that to happen.

“In the middle of all that was happening, weird things were going on inside,” Greene said. “I had a heartburn feeling, I threw up and felt shivery and cold. My obstetrician kept asking me questions about heart disease in my family and whether anyone in my family had a heart attack early in life. I just thought she must be crazy because I’m not having a heart attack. But that’s exactly what happened moments later.”

She was revived after her heart stopped beating. After delivering her babies, Greene was rushed to the operating room for emergency bypass surgery. She said she is in good health now, but has to work at it.

“It’s something I have to pay attention to every day,” she said.

She hardly looks like a heart attack survivor, but that’s the point, she said.

“That’s one of the reasons I do this tour, because I don’t look the part, and I always associated the disease with older people,” Greene said. “My experience changed my understanding of what heart disease is, and it gave me a mission. Going out and showing a different face of heart disease is really important. It’s not just a man’s disease or an old lady’s disease. It really does affect all of us.”

Greene shared the risk factors for heart disease with her audience, then explained that busy women can reduce the risk factors, manage stress and enhance their lives in the process. She had the audience of more than 300 on their feet and moving to music, one of several simple methods for recapturing and preserving heart health.

Peterson shared the chilling facts about heart disease, revealing that, while traditionally thought of as a man’s disease, is the primary killer of women, claiming more lives than all types of cancer combined.

“Women also present different symptoms than men, more subtle signs like indigestion, jaw pain, flu-like symptoms or lack of energy and tiredness,” Peterson said. “A lot of times, symptoms get missed or take longer to diagnose.”

The cardiologist spoke to increase women’s awareness and motivate them to get checked by a doctor when they experience any symptoms. She also wanted her audience to learn that heart disease is largely preventable.

“It’s true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Peterson said. “People here in the ‘heart and stroke belt’ share common risk factors like obesity and hypertension combined with a sedentary lifestyle.”

It was not all science and physiology, though. One of the annual highlights of the event has been the Wear Red fashion show. Employees from the Heart Institute and Vidant Edgecombe Hospital featured red outfits and strutted their fashion-fitted message of heart health to match the mood.

It all fit together for the professionals and for Greene, who were hoping their audience got the point.

“It’s not rocket science,” Greene said. “We all know about moving more and eating better. But when you connect what you’re supposed to do with things that you really value, that’s the magic.”

Contact Michael Abramowitz at 252-329-9571 or at mabramowitz@reflector.com.

via The Daily Reflector.

Feb 272013


By Wesley Brown

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A renewed focus on road infrastructure and the possibility of partnering with local agencies to develop a $2.5 million medical research park in Greenville were touted on Tuesday as the keys to accomplishing the city’s main economic goals of tax-base expansion and job creation.

The points of interest were among the major highlights of a 90-minute brainstorming session led by Mayor Allen Thomas’ Economic Development Advisory Council on how to spark a “lightning rod” of activity in the city that will attract new investment and industry to Greenville.

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More than 10 organizations were represented in the roundtable discussion, asking the city to provide “direction and money,” two areas the City Council made some headway this week in attempting to grow Greenville into the economic and medical hub of eastern North Carolina.

The governing board gave staff clearance to start building connections with potential partners and identifying funding options to spend as much as $10 million in an aging road system to spur growth, particularly a medical research park.

“We have to have each other’s back and make a commitment if we are going to move forward,” Thomas said to the 10 groups at Tuesday’s meeting. “Sometimes economic development is seen as an issue that should be left up to elected officials, but the city is just a small piece of the puzzle. The community is what really drives ideas.”

At the core of the mayor’s strategic vision for economic growth is collaboration, but first Greenville has to position itself to be a viable partner, with more than 600 miles of bumpy and deteriorating streets being at the forefront of the city’s needs.

Kevin Mulligan, director of Greenville Public Works, presented a two-part strategy for fixing area roads, either of which could be on the municipal ballot in November for possible funding through a general obligation bond.


Plan A would be to spend $10 million to resurface the 100 miles of city road most in need of repair.


Plan B either would spend $5 million to resurface 50 miles of road or split the cash to rehabilitate Arlington Boulevard between Stantonsburg Road and Evans Street and improve the Fifth Street corridor downtown.


Mulligan said if neither was selected that in time it could cost 10 times more money to rebuild a road once it eventually fails.


“It is not a glamorous idea, but I am proud of this council for going back to the fundamentals and looking towards better maintaining our roads, the lifeblood of our economy,” Carl Rees, Greenville economic development manager, said.


Rees said that in recruiting industry, the city’s road system is one of the first things a prospective company reviews.


Crystal Morphis, founder of Creative Economic Development Consulting, is conducting a three-month assessment of Greenville’s market to determine which markets, products and industries Greenville should target to outbid its regional competitors — identified by Morphis as Athens, Ga., Lynchburg, Va., and Johnson City, Tenn.


Morphis described the college cities as “aggressive” competitors, adding that economic development is a “team sport” and cooperation among private industries, Pitt County government, and organizations and local colleges and universities is a must to succeed. Morphis and city staff plan to present a report to council on potential partners and economic strategies in May.


A project that could unify the community is a $2.5 million medical research park that at-large Councilman Dennis Mitchell has suggested to provide more large-scale office space in the area, expand training opportunities and retain young professionals who graduate from Greenville colleges and universities.


In researching impact studies, Mitchell said that the development of a 200-acre research park in North Carolina’s Piedmont created 100 jobs, a $50 million payroll, and netted local counties and cities $42 million in revenue.


Mitchell said for a research park to become a reality in Greenville more than anything the city needs to create fertile groundwhere not only homegrown companies, but also outside businesses, can thrive.


“If we build it, they will come,” Mitchell said of infrastructure.


District 1 Councilwoman Kandie Smith agreed, but on a different type of investment.


“It is important that we build partnerships and invite all parties — from both the public and private sector — to the table in the interest of working together and moving our city forward,” Smith said. “Everyone should be involved, and if they are, it is going to be easier to sell our city, both to ourselves and others.”


Contact Wes Brown at wbrown@reflector.com or 252-329-9579. Follow him on Twitter @CityWatchdog.

via The Daily Reflector.

Feb 272013


The Daily Reflector

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Dave Sanderson

By Jane Dail

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement, first responders and many others met to focus on the American Red Cross and listen to the powerful story of a special guest who needed its assistance at a desperate time.

Members and supporters of the Red Cross gathered at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU to kick off the annual Heroes Campaign, a grassroots fundraising and awareness raising effort held every March, which is Red Cross Month.

Dave Sanderson spoke about his experience being the last passenger off U.S. Airways 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson flight in which all 155 passengers aboard survived a crashing into the Hudson River in 2009. He shared with the audience how the Red Cross helped him when he needed it most.

“About 60 seconds after we took off is when I heard the explosion,” he said. “It was a loud explosion. I’ve never heard anything on a plane like that before, so it definitely got my attention. I looked out the wing, and I saw fire coming out from underneath the left wing, so I knew something had happened.”

Sanderson recalled how people scrambled yet worked together during that hectic time. He made sure everyone was off the plane and was the last to leave in the 24 minutes before the plane sank into the frigid water.

“You can discard what a miracle is all you want, but to have somebody to rescue you after a plane crashed in ice-cold water, that’s a miracle,” he said.

By the time Sanderson escaped from the cabin onto the wing, others already were rescued and on their way to land.

“There are a lot of people that helped a lot of people that day, but only two groups that touched every one of us, the New York Waterways, the ferries, and the Red Cross of both New York and New Jersey side,” Sanderson said.

ECU sophomore Taylor Waters also shared how the Red Cross helped her loved ones at a critical time.

“My journey with the Red Cross started in January 2010 when my grandma’s house burned down and I saw the assistance that they gave to her,” Waters said. “The Red Cross was there and gave her that rock that I couldn’t be. Not only did they give her financial assistance to be able to move forward to the next day, having food and clothing, they gave her hope. Hope is something she needed so badly at that time.”

Waters is president of the Red Cross chapter at ECU and recently was awarded the TeenNick Halo Award, which earned the Red Cross a $10,000 donation.

“In the spring of 2011, a tornado hit my hometown of Sanford,” she said. “Again, I saw the amazing assistance the Red Cross can give, and it’s amazing to see it being your neighbors and people that you know. I thank you all for being here today and working with the Heroes campaign because it’s going to help this community in amazing ways that you may not be able to see, but I can tell you from personal experience that it’s going to change lives.”

Karen Herman, chairwoman for the Heroes Campaign, said in 2012 the Red Cross helped disaster victims in eastern North Carolina.

“This organization is with us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days out of the year, regardless of what’s going on,” Herman said. “When disaster strikes, the Red Cross will be there for each of us — our families, our friends and our community.”

Sanderson said although he never expected to need the Red Cross, he forever will be thankful.

“I never thought I’d need the Red Cross,” he said. “Life was pretty good … then in 14 hours I had three Red Cross experiences. You never know when it’s going to happen to you.”

Contact Jane Dail at jdail@reflector.com or 252-329-9585.

via The Daily Reflector.