Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

I met Richard Petty

Thanks to Herald photographer Ashley Garner for snapping my photo after I talked to Richard Petty last week. Petty, a North Carolina native, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Small Business Banquet, sponsored by Central Carolina Community College’s Small Business Center and the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce.

I like NASCAR, but my little brother is a huge fan, so I think he was super jealous.

erin and petty

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sanford’s Pantry buys 40 more stores

Sanford-based company The Pantry announced today it has acquired 40 convenience stores for an undisclosed amount of money, mainly based in the Mobile, Ala., area.

The Fortune 500 company said in a press release that the purchase was made from Herndon Oil Corp using cash reserves. The deal is expected to close during the second half of fiscal 2009 (which ends in September).

“This acquisition fills a gap in our existing store base and represents our initial entry into the attractive Mobile market,” Pantry Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter J. Sodini said. “We expect this transaction to be accretive to our earnings per share in the first 12 months after closing.”

The company also announced during the second fiscal quarter, it repurchased $26 million in principal amount of outstanding bonds.

April 14, 2009 Posted by | Business | , | Leave a comment

How Lee County financials are faring

Last week at the Lee County Board of Commissioner’s retreat the board heard an update from County Manager John Crumpton about the county’s financial picture.

The following is an excerpt of the PowerPoint presentation. It reviews the county’s revenue sources such as sales and property taxes, as well as expenses (education, safety, etc). It also has some charts that help highlight why the county is having financial difficulties.

Enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions!

View this document on Scribd

March 26, 2009 Posted by | Business, politics, Sanford | , , | Leave a comment

Some county financials…

February’s financial picture for the county mostly continues the gloom of the U.S. recession, but there was one bright spot presented by Finance Director Lisa Minter at Monday’s Lee County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The county will receive about $261,000 from the federal economic stimulus to help offset Medicaid costs from October 2008 through May 2009, according to an estimate by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | Business, politics | , | Leave a comment

Cutting the stimulus… and education

The U.S. Senate is debating an agreement that would pare down the proposed economic stimulus of President Barack Obama. The new magic number: $780 billion. Earlier in the week that number had ballooned as high as more than $900 billion, drawing harsh Republican criticism (not that the new bill isn’t).

So where has the money subtracted out of the bill come from? Aid to local governments and funds for school construction and other initiatives is one area where the Senate and House of Representatives bills differ. After a bill is passed by the Senate, the two houses will conference to iron out the differences.

It’s not clear before seeing the final version how much Lee County entities will be impacted. However, Lee County Schools officials are hoping for some of that school construction money to go to projects such as improvements to Lee County High School. I’ll have more updates as the bill continues its way through Capital Hill this week.

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Business, Education | , , , | Leave a comment

Unemployment woes continue

The N.C. Employment Security Commission released its latest unemployment numbers today, and they aren’t pretty: Lee County unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in December.

Lee County’s November umemployment rate was 9.8 percent.

The county is outpacing other surrounding counties. Chatham County’s rate of 6.2 percent places it tied for third lowest in the state with Durham County.

Visit here for the full report.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | Business | , , | 2 Comments

Some Wyeth reading for Sanford

Thought some of you out there in Wyeth land of Sanford might want to know some tidbits about what people across the country are saying about Pfizer‘s planned acquisition of the biotech pharmaceutical company.

The deal, which is worth about $68 billion, is the largest deal since the credit crisis took hold this fall. It is expected to aid Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, especially when its cholestorol-lowering drug Lipitor faces competition from generics in November 2011.

Here’s a rundown:

January 27, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , , | Leave a comment

Pfizer in talks to buy Wyeth

UPDATE (3:40 p.m.): Wyeth employees were officially informed this morning, according to company spokesman Doug Petkus.
“No specific decision has yet been made regarding job reductions or facilities,” he told me.

UPDATE: Pfizer and Wyeth announced this morning that the deal will go through for $68 billion. Read the New York Times story here. Read the AP story on the Sanford Herald Web site here. No word yet on how this could impact Sanford.

Several media organizations are reporting that Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company, is close to completing a purchase of pharmaceutical company Wyeth.

Wyeth has a large operation in Sanford and is one of Lee County’s largest private employers. The company has slashed about 200 jobs at its Sanford plant since April in an attempt to cuts its workforce by 6 percent worldwide in 2008.

It is not immediately clear how the acquisition would impact the Sanford plant. The company’s Sanford facility is used to make components of the vaccine Prevnar, which is used in infants and children to target a number of diseases. The drug was expected to bring in $2.8 billion in 2008.

Analysts have said that one benefit of the merger would be the cost savings provided by cutting areas where the companies duplicate activities. The deal is estimated to be $68 billion and would be worth $50.19 a share, according to media reports.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | Business, Sanford | , , | Leave a comment

Why Black Friday matters

Shoppers in Virginia on Black Friday. Reuters photo

Shoppers in Virginia on Black Friday. Reuters photo

I’ve heard some chatter in the blogosphere asking why newspapers cover Black Friday every year and what value is added by multiple news sources writing stories. This year I covered the annual shopping bonanza for The Sanford Herald. Thousands of people waited to get into the Wal-Mart on N.C. Highway 87 looking to score some doorbuster deals.

All of the people I interviewed said the economy had had an impact on their holiday budget. Even people who might be in financially sound households are at least feeling some of the pinch in a psychological way. Consumer spending is a critical part of the U.S. economy, when it starts to dry up, everyone feels the effects.

So why does Black Friday matter? It’s a chance to get an insight into just what consumers are feeling this holiday season. Many retailers make profits for the year based on holiday sales. So fewer sales will end up meaning fewer profits and possibly more lost jobs and manufacturing orders down the road. Black Friday is an insight into just how bad Americans think this economic slowdown might be. So far, I’d say it’s looking like Americans don’t think the worst is over. What do you think?

It matters that each news outlet covers the event because just how badly Americans are feeling differs based on geography. I think it’s important to take the pulse of your local community to see what’s in store for the holidays.

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Business | , , , | Leave a comment