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A recent recipient of the N.C. Economic Developers Association’s Economic Developer of the Year award is joining the staff at AdvantageWest, the economic development partnership serving the 23 westernmost counties of the state.

Thomas L. Johnson, who has served as executive director of the Rutherford County Economic Development Commission since April 2006, will head efforts to market the region as a location for advanced manufacturing, among other responsibilities, as AdvantageWest’s new executive vice president.

With three decades of experience in economic, business and community development and planning, Johnson’s most recent accomplishments are the leadership roles he played in bringing two major companies to Rutherford County: Horsehead Corp., representing the single largest manufacturing project in the county’s history, with a $360 million facility and 250 jobs, and Facebook, the largest non-utility announcement in the county’s history, currently building a $450 million data center, with some 400 construction jobs and 45 permanent jobs.


The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is posting on its website two new driving logs that teen drivers will be required to complete under the state’s graduated licensing program beginning January 1, 2012. The logs are required by legislation passed by the General Assembly to increase behind-the-wheel experience for young drivers.

The first driving log requires new drivers to log 60 hours behind the wheel under the supervision of a parent or designated experienced driver, including 10 hours at night. No more than 10 hours per week may count toward the total driving time. The teen driver must turn in the signed log to DMV when applying for a Level 2 limited provisional driver license.


H.R. Bill 1692, which pushes for a five-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act (SRSCA) which expired the first week of October, was introduced into the Senate late Wednesday afternoon. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, (D-NM,) and Lisa Mukowski, (RAR,) is the result of a lengthy battle of the reauthorization process, the debate is centered around the intention of regulating logging in National Forests, while also securing funding for rural county roads and public schools that began in 1908.

N.C. Congressman Heath Shuler has been an advocate for the reauthorization process, because out of all the districts in N.C. that will suffer, the 11th congressional district stands to lose the most.

“Congressman Shuler has always been a strong proponent of the Secure Rural Schools program and we are encouraged to see some momentum and wide bipartisan support for the initiative in the Senate,” said Whitney Mitchell, Congressman Shuler’s legislative assistant. “We are still waiting to see what the House comes up with and will move forward from there.”


Cites concerns over possible monopoly in utility market.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has conditionally authorized the proposed merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, after expressing reservations regarding the possibility of the merger having an adverse effect on competition in the Carolinas utility market.

On Sept. 30, the FERC issued an order which stated the companies have up to 60 days to propose measures to address the energy market concerns.

Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO Jim Rogers, and Progress Energy Chairman, President and CEO Bill Johnson said in a joint statement:


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