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by Jordan Green

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Produce market among new businesses in downtown Greensboro

Downtown Greensboro’s business community is showing signs of growth, innovation and responsiveness to consumer needs amid a persistent and oppressive national recession.

The big news is the recent launch of the Downtown Farm Market on North Greene Street, responding to the long-stated desire of downtown residents for grocery store. Many downtowners and residents in the adjacent neighborhoods of Fisher Park, Westerwood and College Hill currently make the hike out to Harris Teeter in the Shops at Friendly Center to meet their grocery needs.

Operator Mike Causey of Dodge Lodge Farms will keep the market open six days a week, offering produce, eggs, meats and other goods from North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, according to a release by Downtown Greensboro Inc. The Greensboro Farmers Curb Market, where Causey was formerly a vendor, does business on Saturdays and Wednesdays on Yanceyville Street across from the decaying War Memorial Stadium.

Causey’s business practices have not been without controversy. His new business launch comes on the heel of a decision by the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department to suspend him from the city’s farmers market. Causey ran afoul of the city by selling produce that he had not personally grown on his farm, bypassing guidelines meant to give preference for locally produced goods and ensure that customers have accurate information about the source of food products.

“You have continued to bring and sell produce at the market that was not approved on your 2008-’09 Variance to Sell nor was it confirmed by the Grower’s Certificate dated 9/22/09 (for example, garlic, green beans, cabbage, okra, watermelons, corn, blueberries). This is the third time this calendar year that we have documented your bringing items to sell at the market which you have not personally grown, and for which you have neither requested nor received a variance prior to selling.”

Two new businesses, Rental Works and Partymakers Party Rental, held grand openings on Nov. 21 at their location on North Elm Street. The two businesses, which share an address, respectively specialize in the rental of tools and equipment for homeowners and contractors, and in the rental of china, flatware, glassware, linens, tbles, chairs and tents, according to information provided by Downtown Greensboro Inc.

Speaking of which, Downtown Greensboro Inc. is introducing a “Green Saturday” concept this week to promote shopping local and supporting small business as an alternative to big-box commerce during the holiday season. Just Be, Mack and Mack and Jules Antiques & Fine Arts, all businesses located on South Elm Street, will offer free hot cider on Saturday, and stores along the strip will be showcasing local art, handmade jewelry, baked goods and local antiques.

PureLux receives state grant for new lighting technology

PureLux, a Winston-Salem-based nanotechnology company, announced on Nov. 20 that it has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the NC Green Business Fund. The company hopes to develop a commercially viable light source that is three times more efficient than fluorescent and 10 times more efficient than incandescents, a company press release states. A spin-out of the Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials at Wake Forest University, PureLux was founded in 2007 and is located in the Piedmont Triad Research Park. “PureLux has developed a uniquely efficient lighting system that will prove to be a revolutionary new way of lighting in commercial and residential structures,” said David Carroll, director of the center for nanotechnology and the inventor of PureLux technology in a formal statement. The company aims to capture segments of the emerging green market as federal and state governments gradually limit the use of incandescent light bulbs. The NC Green Business Fund supports “green innovation, job creation and economic development,” according to the press release.

State’s employment picture remains bleak

North Carolina’s employment picture showed little change from September to October, according to new numbers released by the state Employment Security Commission on Nov. 20. The state’s unemployment rate increased slightly to 11 percent, higher than the national rate of 10.2 percent. “The numbers have been pretty steady since February,” commission Chairman Moses Carey Jr. said in a formal statement. “We’ve had ups and downs concerning the number of people employed and unemployed, but we haven’t experienced any significant changes.”

The number of peoplefiling for unemployment across the state has increased by174,184 sincethis time last year, but the total number of workers employed hasdecreased by 227,898, suggesting that many people have becomediscouraged and stopped looking. The commission’s labor marketconditions report for October states that the current recession is in22nd month of contraction in comparison to the July 1990-March 1991 andMarch 2001-November 2001 recessions, which each lasted eight months.

Free goods exchange at the Hive on Friday

Black Friday,so named because retailers often come out of the red and start to showa profit, marks the holiday gift-buying rush on the day afterThanksgiving. It also can mark the onset of massive stress for membersof cash-strapped households that feel societal pressure to express lovefor family and friends by purchasing high-ticket consumer items. Somepeople are concluding that their wallets and the earth are tapped out.Activist and artist Kathy Clark is merging two preexisting concepts:Buy Nothing Day and the Really, Really Free Market. “We’re running outof money,” Clark argues in press release that’s making the rounds.“We’re running out of natural resources. Our excessive spending hasplunged us into bankruptcy. While the trash heaps grow larger, ourpocket books grow smaller. It’s time to do things differently. It’stime to consume less.” In response, the Hive, at 1214 Grove St. inGreensboro, will open its doors for a Really, Really Free Market onFriday. As Clark explains, “Have some stuff you want to get rid of?Bring it. If you need stuff, come and get it. The Really, Really FreeMarket is like a multi-family yard sale except everything is free.Bring your old stuff. Get other stuff — or take nothing. Bring nothingand take whatever you want.”

Screen-printing business closes

ALPZ Screenprint ofGreensboro has closed, Kevin Wilson announced in a Nov. 20 e-mail toclients. “Due to circumstances of the owners of the business andbuilding that were beyond my control, we have ceased operations,”Wilson wrote. Wilson told clients he can fill future orders withoutbeing saddled with responsibility for running a business. “I amfortunate in that I was able to keep all of my design files and designsoftware & hardware so that future repeat orders and any artcreation needs can be handled seamlessly,” he wrote. “I want to thankevery one of you for your business in the past, the relationships thatwe forged, and hope that you understand any delays or problems withinthe last few weeks were caused by some very traumatic events.”

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