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Biz Roundup: Food Lion CEO joins diversity and inclusion coalition

SALISBURY — Food Lion President Meg Ham recently joined the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion coalition.

The organization is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance the working of fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. In joining the coalition, Food Lion is teaming up with a partnership of more than 1,500 CEOs pledging to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace environment where associates have a sense of belonging and feel comfortable discussing diversity and inclusion.

“At Food Lion, our value of care is at the center of everything we do, and one of the ways we care for our associates is by nourishing a sense of belonging,” Ham said in a news release. “Joining the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion coalition gives us a greater opportunity to share and learn best practices from organizations who share our commitment to growing a diverse and inclusive environment. The towns and cities we serve are diverse, and a diverse workforce makes us a better neighbor.”

As a signatory of the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, Food Lion said that it is dedicated to working collaboratively to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace through conversation, engagement, and collaboration among organizations and is committing to four actions:

  • Continue to cultivate workplaces that support open dialogue on complex, and sometimes difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion
  • Implement and expand unconscious bias education
  • Share best known – and unsuccessful – actions
  • Create and share strategic inclusion and diversity plans with our board of directors

To learn more about the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion, visit CEOAction.com.

Last month, Food Lion earned its 12th consecutive perfect score on the 2021 Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index. Additionally, the National Business Inclusion Consortium named Food Lion among the Best-of-the-Best corporations in America committed to diversity and inclusion for a fourth consecutive year.

Food Lion supports nine internal business resource groups, comprised of associates committed to ensuring a sense of belonging for all associates in the organization.

In September 2020, Food Lion announced it made significant donations to long-standing community partners to support their work to racial equality and justice. All funding was earmarked for related initiatives, including scholarships and internships for Black and African American students, education and social engagement in the Black and African American community, Census participation and voter registration, development of diverse suppliers, education for children on civil rights, police community relations, virtual town halls and community engagement series.

For more on Food Lion’s commitment to supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace, click here.

Chamber hosting wine tasting event to celebrate Fat Tuesday

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business will host a virtual wine tasting event on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

The wine tasting will be led by Amie Morgan Baudoin, of the Morgan Ridge Vineyards and the RailWalk Brewery and Eatery. Wines may be purchased prior to the tasting at either location, but both are closed on Monday and Tuesday. Those who want to participate in the tasting are encouraged to ask for a wine trio including these wines: Morgan Ridge Rose 2016, Seyval Blanc 2016, Red Dawg, Morgan Ridge Riedel Glass.

The wine tasting will serve as a Fat Tuesday celebration and will be free for chamber members and cost $20 for non-members. More information can be found at rowanchamber.com or by emailing info@rowanchamber.com.

Local politicians to speak at Chamber’s legislative Power in Partnership

SALISBURY — Four state legislators representing parts of Rowan County will speak at the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s virtual Power in Partnership event on Thursday at 7:30 a.m.

Sen. Carl Ford, Rep. Julia Howard, Rep. Harry Warren and Rep. Wayne Sasser will speak about how their plans for moving Rowan County forward during the 2021 state legislative session. The chamber’s Governmental Affairs Committee has developed a list of priority projects and business advocacy issues for the legislators.

Attendees must reserve their spot by noon on Tuesday. More information can be found by emailing info@rowanchamber.com.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport posts lowest passenger totals in over a decade

The COVID-19 stifled Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s 2020 year-end passenger and operation numbers.

The airport served 27.2 million passengers in 2020, a 46% decrease from the CLT’s all-time high of 50.2 million passengers in 2019. The last time the airport served less than 30 million passengers was in 2006 and the 2020 number is lower than any year since 2004. 

“Nearly 30 million passengers is still a big number,” Acting Aviation Director/CEO Haley Gentry said in a news release. “By far, it’s definitely not where we want to be, but we are faring much better than many of our counterparts who have seen passenger reductions between 60 to 70%.”   

 Currently, Charlotte Douglas International Airport is at 54% of its 2019 passenger numbers due to fewer business and leisure travelers. 

Overall, aircraft operations logged 397,983 departures and arrivals in 2020 compared to 578,263 in 2019, a 31% drop.

Flights, however, were added last year from Charlotte. Early in the pandemic American Airlines identified CLT as a focus city as it rallied to rebuild its schedule. American launched service in 2020 to Appleton, Wisconsin; Bozeman, Montana.; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Williamsport, Pennsylvania and Montrose-Telluride, Colorado. Southwest Airlines also began flights to Denver, St. Louis and Phoenix. 

CLT currently offers nonstop flights to 180 destinations, including 35 international locations and three U.S. territories.

Cargo, although slightly down, was the big winner of 2020 due to the popularity of e-commerce with 174,913 tons of goods transported through CLT versus 184,449 tons in 2019, a 5% dip.

The Airport remained focused throughout 2020 on instilling confidence in passengers to fly again and to deter the spread of COVID-19. Numerous safety measures were implemented. A housekeeping crew of nearly 300 employees worked around the clock to provide daily and deep cleanings with extra attention given to high-touch points. Protective shields were installed at ticket counters and cashier booths, and touchless payment options were introduced at many concessions. Hundreds of signs were placed in the terminal reminding passengers to wear a face covering, wash their hands and social distance.

CLT earned the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR Facility Accreditation in December, which recognized the airport for implementing stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention in its facilities. CLT is the first airport in the state of North Carolina to achieve the accreditation. Nationwide just 13 airports have received the GBAC accreditation, although numerous others are in the process.

In CLT’s most recent 2020 passenger survey, nine out of 10 passengers gave the airport high marks for the cleanliness of the terminal and eight out of 10 passengers were highly satisfied with the Airport overall.

On another high note, Destination CLT, the airport’s $2.5 to $3.1 billion capital improvement program, continued making progress. Charlotte Douglas completed Concourse A and C renovations in 2020 and construction of the Terminal Lobby Expansion remains on schedule for completion in 2025.

“The past year has been a learning experience for all of us,” Gentry said. “If anything, it has taught us perseverance, resilience and how to develop multiple plans. We remain vigilant about the needs of our passengers and employees and are truly optimistic about what lies ahead for CLT in 2021.”   

As an economic engine of the Carolinas, in 2019 CLT contributed $24.6 billion in annual economic input, $1.3 billion in state/local taxes, 169,390 jobs for N.C. residents and $6.8 billion in personal income, according to a report conducted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation.

To stay connected with the Airport, follow @CLTAirport on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get the latest Airport news at cltairport.mediaroom.com or sign-up to receive CLT’s electronic newsletters at cltairport.mediaroom.com/newsletters. The CLT Airport app is free at the App Store or on Google Play.  

State Labor Department now accepting applications for workplace safety awards

The North Carolina Department of Labor is now accepting applications from businesses that qualify for a workplace safety award.

Safety awards are given to companies that have above-average worker safety and health programs.

“I am committed to building upon Commissioner Cherie Berry’s historic support of the Safety Awards Program for many years to come,” Labor Commissioner Josh Dobson said in a news release. “Thank you in advance for your interest in the program and for your commitment to creating a strong safety and health culture in your workplace. I look forward to meeting all award recipients in person once we get to the other side of the pandemic.”

Businesses that qualify for the award must meet two requirements: they must be free of fatalities at the site for which they are applying and the site’s injury and illness rate also must be at least 50% below that of their industry’s average rate.

Award recipients will be honored in their communities throughout the state at safety awards banquets co-sponsored by the N.C. Department of Labor and local chambers of commerce and other organizations.

For more information on the Safety Awards Program or to download an application, go to labor.nc.gov. The deadline for submissions is March 19.

Small Business Administration updates PPP progress, announces small changes

The Small Business Administration announced last week that it has approved $103 billion of Paycheck Protection Program funds to more than 1.4 million small businesses.

The SBA stated that 82% of all loans are going to businesses requesting less than $100,000 and that 28% of businesses who have received funding in the most recent round are in rural communities.

The SBA also asserted that it is taking additional steps toward improving the speed to resolve data mismatches and eligibility concerns so that small businesses have as much time as possible to access PPP funds. Three important changes the SBA will make:

  • Enable lenders to directly certify eligibility of borrowers for First Draw and Second Draw loan applications with validation errors to ensure businesses who need funds and are eligible receive them as quickly as possible
  • Allow lenders to upload supporting documentation of borrowers with validation errors during the forgiveness process
  • Create additional communication channels with lenders to assure we are constantly improving equity, speed, and integrity of the program, including an immediate national lender call to brief them on the Platform’s added capabilities     

“We are pleased that the Paycheck Protection Program is targeting the smallest of small businesses and providing economic relief at a crucial time in American history,” SBA Senior Advisor to the Administrator Michael Roth said in a news release. “The SBA has achieved another major milestone to provide critical recovery capital to America’s small businesses by approving 1.3 million PPP loans totaling $104 billion in the current round. While we are excited that we are doing a better job of reaching the hardest hit industries and communities, we are committed to taking additional steps to ensure that there is equitable access for underserved businesses and that we are leading with empathy to support small businesses in a difficult spot.”

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