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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

BizWorthy: How Phase 3 Might Not Help Bars; Atrium CEO Gene Woods' Music Video


North Carolina will move into Phase 3 of reopening on Friday. That means bars can reopen for the first time in six months, but only outdoors and only at 30% capacity. Small, outdoor venues and movie theaters can also reopen at 30% capacity. Large, outdoor venues like Bank of America Stadium can reopen at 7% capacity.

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For more, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter for our segment BizWorthy.

Marshall Terry: Tony, many of our discussions these past six months have focused on bars and how they would survive being closed during the pandemic. What's the reaction you're hearing to Wednesday's announcement?

Tony Mecia: Well, Marshall, I think it's still a little bit early. I think bar owners are probably trying to figure out these regulations and what they mean. I do think it's going to be a little tricky for some of these bar owners. You know, it looks like they're being thrown a bone. They're going to be able to do a little bit of something. But, you know, the restrictions, there's still some pretty severe restrictions as far as capacities.

They can open their indoors and they have 25 people inside, but they can't serve them alcohol there. They can serve them outdoors. But there again, you know, the number of people that they're able to serve is going to be very small. I don't know that this is a big help for bars. As we know, Marshall, a lot of places that we think of as bars are already open because they're actually restaurants and serve food. So, you know, the number of bars that this actually applies to might be a little bit limited.

Terry: I'm also thinking that it's starting to get cold outside. So are people going to want to stand outside and drink?

Mecia: Yeah. I mean, you can't have all that many people standing outside and drinking because of some of the capacity limits, No. 1. And to your point, yes, it's getting colder. You know, a lot of bars don't have outdoor areas. So I think there are really a lot of question marks of how this would exactly work.

Terry: The Wall Street Journal is reporting Duke Energy turned down a buyout offer from the country's largest utility, NextEra energy. How much money are they offering Duke? And why did Duke say no?

Mecia: Well, we don't know a lot of the specifics about it, although it is sort of intriguing to think that Duke Energy would be a target for a buyout offer. Traditionally, you know, sort of like Charlotte's banks, it's been one of the acquirers that's been buying up other companies. So, you know, we don't have a lot of details on that.

But the thing that's interesting going forward here, even though Duke had said no to this NextEra Energy offer, according to The Wall Street Journal, this sort of put some things in play, maybe. You start looking at are there other deals that could be made? Does NextEra come back with another offer? So I don't think that this is the end of hearing about potential deals involving Duke Energy.

Terry: There was a headline in The Ledger this week that read "The Charlotte area is becoming America's lithium capital." Quickly, what is lithium and why is Charlotte becoming known for it?

Mecia: Lithium is an element that is used in pharmaceuticals, in industrial applications and ever-increasingly in batteries. And as you know, Marshall, batteries are becoming very important in this sort of green energy era that we're entering. Tesla signed a deal this week with a company that wants to mine lithium in Gaston County, about 30 miles west of Charlotte. There's actually a band of minerals that runs from Gaffney to about Lincolnton, you can mine this mineral and it can be converted into lithium. And so the fact that Tesla is interested, and you have a bunch of companies here in Charlotte that are working on lithium, there's a pretty big hub of lithium production here in the Charlotte area.

Terry: Finally, Atrium Health CEO Gene Woods has released a music video. It features a band playing a song that he wrote, and Woods is in the video playing guitar. So what's this all about?


Terry: Well, that's a good question. It's very interesting, Marshall. It's not every day you see the CEO of a major employer like Atrium Health cut a music video. But there's a pretty slickly produced video shot in Charlotte. It's called "Not Enuff Joy," enough spelled e-n-u-f-f. It's a tune that Woods wrote himself when he was in his 20s. Produced it here. Features a flamenco dancer on a parking deck. A 1970 Chevy Chevelle courtesy of Rick Hendrick. Musicians performing at the Black Lives Matter street mural and even a cameo by Mayor Vi Lyles.

Credit Gene Woods / YouTube
Atrium CEO Gene Woods performs in a music video for his song "Not Enuff Joy."

Some of the lyrics, Marshall, I've got them in front of me here: "People dying every day for the chance to live a better life. It fills me up with rage. There's got to be a better way."

I think it's maybe a message that Atrium's thinking that resonates with a lot of people.

Terry: All right. Well, that's a good point to stop at this week. And we'll go out on a little bit of that song. Thank you, Tony.

Mecia: Thanks, Marshall.

Terry: That's Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.