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Film and TV producers lobby to keep N.C. incentives

Film and TV producers are warning that North Carolina could lose thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment if it doesn't extend a state incentive program set to expire at the end of 2014. The Motion Picture Association of America wrote to state officials four days before the Legislature adjourned recently, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. The group’s head of government affairs Vans Stevenson wrote that the unwillingness of lawmakers to extend the program is already having an effect on the state and meant North Carolina would no longer be considered for major future feature films. Bill Vassar, head of the state's major film studio, said he had nothing to do with the letter and was "disturbed" to hear about the MPAA's demand.


North Carolina's largest health insurer is taking  new approach to signing up new members. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina says it will open a half-dozen stores in strip malls as it seeks to educate and enroll consumers shopping for coverage because of the new federal health care law that requires nearly everyone to buy health insurance.    The company also is hauling around an air-conditioned showroom trailer to fairs and farmers markets as it tries to reach the estimated 600,000 people statewide now shopping for policies.


At least two schools in the University of North Carolina system are facing layoffs after lawmakers cut state spending at 13 of the 16 campuses. The News & Record of Greensboro reports that North Carolina A&T Chancellor Harold Martin said his school will cut about 50 positions this fall. UNCG Chancellor Linda Brady said she'll decide on job cuts next week.   The pending layoffs follow a move by the UNC Board of Governors on Friday to adjust the budgets of the 16 state universities affected by the new state spending plan that Gov. Pat McCrory signed last month.


High winds blew down the top of a stage at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Shelby Saturday, forcing cancelation of a concert that had been scheduled as part of the American Legion baseball world series.  The band MercyMe was supposed to headline the concert before a crowd of about 10,000 people. Nobody was hurt when the collapsed happened around 3:30 p.m.  The band The Afters were doing a sound check at the time, but members were able to get off the stage before it fell.


Charlotte-based bus manufacturer DesignLine USA has been laying off workers as it struggles for funding. The Charlotte Observer reports that at the end of July, DesignLine closed down operations for 10 days and furloughed its workers. The number of layoffs isn't clear and a company spokesman has declined to comment.  In a letter to employees, CEO Joseph Smith said employees were being let go because of "lack of funding." Smith also said the company faced the withdrawal of an "imminent business/financial partner" and the nonpayment of past-due invoices from clients. DesignLine was the employer of former Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, who served as deputy general counsel for the company before he was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Transportation. 


A couple of young race-car drivers from North Carolina competed for a big break on the race track last month in the Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which will be broadcast Sunday on the Speed Channel. Nineteen-year-old Florida native Amber Colvin, who now lives in Mooresville, is among nine finalists. So is nineteen-year-old Logan Ruffin of Cornelius. He’s been racing since he was eight years old and has been working his way up through auto racing’s ranks.  He said the Dream Challenge was a big break.

“It gave me the opportunity to show some really important people in the racing industry what I can do," Ruffin said. "And it also has put me in the position to be this TV show, which will be nationally broadcast for everyone to see. So the exposure is unbelievable and such a tremendous help to our careers.”

The winner will be announced in a TV show airing Sunday at noon on Cable TV’s Speed Channel. Read more on at our news partner, DavidsonNews.net


   Marcos Ambrose has the pole Sunday afternoon as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series runs at Watkins Glen, New York. Ambrose set a track record with a qualifying lap of just over 128 miles per hour. Clint Bowyer starts No. 2 and Martin Truex No. 3. The race begins at 1 o’clock.