Axios Raleigh

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May 06, 2024

Good Monday morning!

🌦️ Weather: Mostly cloudy with a high of 82°. A chance for showers and thunderstorms throughout the day.

🎂 Happy birthday to our Axios Raleigh members Trafton Dinwiddie and Elizabeth Jackson!

🏒 Situational awareness: The Hurricanes lost Game 1 of their second round Stanley Cup playoff series to the New York Rangers 4-3 yesterday.

Today's Smart Brevity™️ count is 839 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: North Carolina voucher program could swell significantly

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

North Carolina Republicans are moving to significantly expand the state's Opportunity Scholarship program, which offers state-funded vouchers to pay for private schooling, during the short session.

Why it matters: More than 72,000 families applied for private school vouchers this year, after the program was opened to all families in the state regardless of income.

State of play: Under the current funding level of $191 million, only a small portion of applicants in the lowest income levels received vouchers.

  • For example, a family of four making more than $115,440 could not receive a voucher.

Driving the news: A bill that moved through the state Senate would add $248 million to the program to clear the waitlist — currently at around 55,000 families.

  • The bill would also increase annual voucher funding, rising to $800 million by 2031.

Yes, but: Many of the state's top private schools — from Providence Day in Charlotte to Ravenscroft School in Raleigh — don't accept vouchers, an Axios analysis found. Many North Carolina students receiving vouchers attend religious schools.

Between the lines: The program is one of the most significant changes to education in the state in recent years — potentially moving tens of thousands of students out of the public school system and into private schools in the coming year.

  • It's also sharply divided Republicans and Democrats within the General Assembly, with Gov. Roy Cooper aggressively campaigning against it, arguing it drains resources from public schools.

What they're saying: "Education dollars should follow students, no matter what school they attend," Republican Sen. Michael Lee of New Hanover County said in a statement.

Read more about North Carolina's voucher program

2. Holly Springs' post office woes

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Holly Springs post office needs upgrades to serve one of the fastest-growing towns in the state, according to a delegation of elected officials in Wake County.

Why it matters: Holly Springs has seen rapid population growth in the past decade, growing in size by 86.3% since 2010 to around 46,000 residents.

  • It's become one of the most prominent suburbs of Raleigh and is attracting large employers like Fujifilm Diosynth, a biotech company adding more than 1,000 jobs.

Yes, but: Elected officials say its postal infrastructure has not kept up with the growth.

  • The existing post office was built in 1991, when Holly Springs had 908 residents, says the area's Congressional Rep. Wiley Nickel.

What they're saying: "The existing facility is struggling to meet the needs of our residents, resulting in long queues, frustrating wait times, and additional travel to neighboring towns for postal services," Nickel wrote in a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

Read more about the local post office's challenges

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Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

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3. The Tea: N.C. Theatre wants $2 million

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

💰 The bankrupt N.C. Theatre is seeking $2 million from the state as it attempts to continue operating. (Triangle Business Journal 🔒)

🪟 Crystal Window & Door Systems plans to create 501 jobs in the Johnston County town of Selma after agreeing to a state incentives deal worth more than $4 million. (News & Observer🔒)

The Campus Y, a building that houses a 160-year-old student organization at UNC-Chapel Hill, has been "closed indefinitely" by university administrators amid safety concerns after the campus center supported student activists during last week's pro-Palestine protest. (WUNC)

⚖️ A Wake County judge ruled that N.C. State University has 30 days to turn over documents related to Poe Hall and let outside experts independently test the building for health concerns. (WRAL)

The Triad, stuck between the surging growth of the Triangle and Charlotte, is trying to remake itself on an economy based around high-skilled manufacturing. (New York Times)

4. 🏁 NASCAR's effect on North Wilkesboro

Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Gov. Roy Cooper is touting the economic benefits the state is seeing from the North Wilkesboro Speedway, which will host the 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race on May 19.

Context: Built in 1947, the speedway is one of the sport's oldest and most iconic venues, hosting popular NASCAR races for decades. Amid financial challenges, it closed in 1996 and fell into disrepair.

  • Yes, but: $18 million for renovations on the historic track was secured in the state budget in 2021.

By the numbers: According to a new study from the governor's office, the 2023 race:

  • Generated $29 million in visitor spending.
  • Created 625 jobs for North Carolinians.
  • Had a statewide economic impact of $42.4 million.

The intrigue: North Carolina has been historically reticent to spend state money on sports facilities. In 2013, for instance, state lawmakers declined to help then-owner Jerry Richardson pay for upgrades at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

5. An upstate New York favorite opens in Raleigh

A Brooklyn Pickle overstuffed sandwich. Photo: Courtesy of Brooklyn Pickle

Brooklyn Pickle, a New York sandwich company founded in Syracuse, is doubling down on its presence in North Carolina.

The latest: The eatery said Friday that it will open its first Raleigh location on Lake Boone Trail today.

  • It's the sandwich shop's sixth location and second in North Carolina, with another in Southern Pines.

What to expect: Sandwiches you'd see at most New York delis, including pastrami, Reubens and roast beef — all starting at under $10.

  • Brooklyn Pickle also offers subs, wraps, soups, salads and a variety of pickles.

Location: 4025 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 120.

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This newsletter was edited by Katie Peralta Soloff and copy edited by Lucia Maher.