Category Archives: Triad Biz

Triad Biz  “If not me, who?” At 80, Jim Melvin still building a legacy

Jim Melvin

My first interview with Jim Melvin was in 1988 when I was a young reporter in Winston-Salem for the News & Record of Greensboro. I’ve interviewed him scores of times since. In this most recent interview, he discusses the biggest economic development project he’s ever chased, and — to the delight of advocates and the dismay of critics — makes it clear he has no intention of retiring any time soon.

Excerpt:  Eighty years old. A bronze statue. His name long affixed to City Hall. A list of accomplishments, as well as legions of admirers and critics, that could fill his beloved ballpark. All this might suggest that the end of the road for Melvin as a community leader is in sight.

It’s not. He says he can’t imagine anything worse than getting up in the morning and not having something important to do. He says there is no succession plan at the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation. He says he has no immediate plans to retire.

“Like Mr. Bryan (who retired at 97), I’ll know when it’s time,” he says . Click here for the story.

Photo by Julie Knight

EnvironmentTriad Biz  Eden fights to set the record straight on coal ash spill

Dan River behind the spill

The Dan River in Eden, N.C., just above the Duke Energy plant and site of one of the nation’s worst coal-ash spills.

After 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash rom Duke Energy retention ponds spilled into the Dan River just outside Eden, N.C., in early February 2014, the news coverage by local, state and national media was intense. I wrote early on about the environmental impact, too, but saw a larger business story. Two-thirds of the Dan River was unaffected by the spill, yet the communities, and businesses, along that still-clean stretch of the river couldn’t be heard above the outcry over the massive spill. My cover story in the Triad Business Journal explores that angle.

Excerpt: “Add this irony for Eden and a host of Dan River communities west — upstream — of the spill: Their Dan River has no coal ash. It is just as clean and safe as in the days before the massive spill. That simple point has been lost in the great deluge of ongoing media coverage. Eden and Rockingham County have perhaps never gotten so much sustained national attention. Virtually all of it negative. Water, and coal ash, flow downstream. But a toxic perception has flowed in both directions.”

Brian Williams, Dan River Steam plant, coal ash spill, Duke Energy, Eden

Brian Williams, a program manager with the Dan River Basin Association, dredges the river bottom across from the Duke Energy steam plant.

Triad Biz  Entrepreneur Andy Zimmerman through the years


Since first meeting Andy Zimmerman in 1999, I have chronicled his career as an inveterate entrepreneur, innovator and leading force within the paddlesports industry. Those columns and the dates they ran are listed here.

Photo by Justin Catanoso

Triad Biz  Midas touch: Olympic-sized goals for Greensboro gold medalist

Since winning a gold medal in the men’s 500 meter speedskating race at the 2006 Winter Olympics, Greensboro native Joey Cheek has given motivational speeches, graduated from Princeton University and started his own sports-related website.

My October 2011 interview with renowned Greensboro speedskater and Olympic Gold medalist Joey Cheek about life after the medals. The story is here.

Excerpt: “Joey Cheek has done a lot since he grabbed the nation’s attention in 2006 by winning a speedskating gold medal in the Winter Games in Turin, Italy, and then donating his prize money to draw attention to the war-ravaged Sudanese region of Darfur. He raised more than $1.5 million for that cause, with $300,000 coming from his hometown of Greensboro. He graduated from Princeton University, majoring in economics and Chinese. He’s delivered scores of motivational speeches to corporate audiences nationwide. He became an entrepreneur, founding a sports-related website.”