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The Year in Business: Cancer center opens, Mayne Pharma expands

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The new Cancer Center at Vidant on March 16, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Saturday, December 29, 2018

The opening of a new cancer center, expansion at Mayne Pharma and Wells Fargo’s decision to close it’s Winterville dealer services branch were among the top business stories in Pitt County this year.

The 418,000-square-foot, six-story Vidant Cancer Center opened in March, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by a variety of dignitaries. It is home to both inpatient and outpatient services, allowing patients to receive all of their care in one place.  

In April, Mayne Pharma showed off its 126,000-square-foot, $80 million oral dose commercial manufacturing facility in Greenville, increasing its operational footprint to 225,000 square feet.

And Wells Fargo announced the closure of its Winterville site in March, taking with it 600 jobs. 

1. Cancer tower welcomed

Hundreds of Vidant employees, financial contributors and those touched directly and indirectly by eastern North Carolina’s deadliest disease gathered in March at the new Vidant Cancer Center to celebrate the completion of what now is the regional epicenter of care.

In a series of speeches that preceded a ribbon-cutting at the entranceway of the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Cancer Tower, Vidant administrators, medical VIPs and a representative of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department thanked those who contributed time, talent and the first $43 million in accumulated donations toward the $174 million price tag to raise the building. 

The 418,000-square-foot, six-story facility that sits facing its twin edifice, the East Carolina Heart Institute, features 96 inpatient rooms, 60 infusion areas with a view of outdoor healing gardens and 58 different clinics centered on patient care. The theme throughout the building features flowering trees, calming color palates and artwork of soothing nature scenes and North Carolina flowers. An image renewal center provides access to wigs, prosthetics and compression sleeves and garments. A resource center offers additional services to patients and families, including psychotherapy, support groups and complementary therapies.

2. Greenville pharma giant expands

In April, one of the pharmaceutical pillars on which Pitt County showed its investors, community leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper what the future of the industry looks like with a tour of its newly expanded, state-of-the-art facility.

After a two-year construction project, Mayne Pharma in April cut the ribbon on its 126,000-square-foot, $80 million oral dose commercial manufacturing facility in Greenville, more than quadrupling the company’s capacity to manufacture potent compounds and adding new capacity to manufacture modified-release bead and pellet products.

The addition increased Mayne Pharma’s Greenville operational footprint to 225,000 square feet.

Mayne Pharma will continue its growth in Greenville beyond the new plant and the stability center it completed in 2017. It is repurposing its existing manufacturing facility to support the growth of its Metrics Contract Services division and a new training and cultural center. The company has invested an additional $100 million in research and development to advance its pipeline during the next five years, Richards said.

3. Wells Fargo closes Winterville dealer services branch

Wells Fargo announced in March that its dealer financial services center in Winterville will permanently close, taking with it about 600 jobs from Pitt County.

“We notified approximately 600 team members that the Wells Fargo location at 1451 Thomas Langston Road in Winterville will close over the next 6-12 months,” said Josh Dunn, a Wells Fargo communications official in a phone call.

Wells Fargo Auto no longer will have offices in Winterville and also will close two other sites in South Dakota and Delaware, according to an announcement from Laura Schupbach, executive vice president and head of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Wells Fargo Auto.

The Greenville employees will be allowed to transfer to the company’s office in Raleigh or to locations in Chandler, Ariz., Minneapolis, Minn. or Irving Texas, officials said.

4. Deadline extended for 'Project Unify'

A final decision on merging the region’s largest health care providers — the Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Health — has been postponed, East Carolina University’ Board of Trustees learned in November.

However, efforts to finalize the merger still are underway as North Carolina’s state treasurer reviews portions of the proposal, said Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of the Brody School of Medicine and chairman of the committee overseeing the merger.

The committee overseeing the merger process said earlier this year that the Project Unify transition process would be finalized by Jan. 1.

“We continue to work like we were, as close as possible, so we can do this quickly,” Stacy said.

“The final blending into a new company, we are awaiting for some guidance from the state in terms of our bond issues,” Stacy said. “We have state-issued bonds as part of ECU.”

If the merger takes place, the bonds will have to be converted, he said, so local officials are waiting on a report from the state treasurer.

They also are working on benefit details for employees of ECU Physicians, who are state employees.

5. Industrial shell building draws interest

While interest is high in Greenville’s pharmaceutical sector, Pitt County economic development officials understand the importance of attracting and growing a diversified portfolio of industries.

They have a showcase industrial park, and now a showcase building that demonstrates what the city and Pitt County can offer just about any light manufacturer.

In November, county officials unveiled a new 51,000-square-foot shell building, raised at a cost of $2.4 million (including about $600,000 in private funding) located on about seven wooded acres in the Indigreen Corporate Park, located off of the U.S. 264 bypass. The building can be expanded to more than 200,000 square feet if a company needs or wishes for a larger facility.

“Shell buildings are a popular way to go when marketing to industry,” Pitt County Development Commission associate director Brad Hufford said. “Seeing a building like this tells companies that the county is serious about development.”

Since opening, several interested clients have visited the building, PCDC associate director Kelly Andrews said.

6. Overton's building to house camping, outdoor supercenter

Outdoor enthusiasts mourning an earlier announcement of the closure of Overton’s retail location on Red Banks Road received some good news.

Camping World Holdings, the nation’s largest network of RV-centric retail locations, announced that the showroom, located 111 Red Banks Road would be rebranded and would reopen. The company will expand the facility, according to officials.

“The Greenville market and all the outdoor enthusiasts that patronize that area are important to us and we want to keep bringing them the best products in our portfolio,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and chief executive officer of Camping World.

The new rebranded location will focus on sales of a full assortment of RVs, parts, accessories and services and an assortment of Gander Outdoors, Camping World and Overton's products. The location will continue to serve as a customer call center and an e-commerce center fulfilling online purchases, in addition to adding a distribution center.

7. Retail growth continues in Greenville, Pitt County

One of the nation’s leading off-price retailers opened in Greenville, leading a list of new businesses that offered a variety of fashion, dining, recreation and other services to the growing community while adding more jobs. Among the notable additions:

• A 22,000-square-foot Marshalls, located in the Lynncroft shopping center at 3160 Evans St., opened in may, alongside Michael’s craft store, which relocated from Arlington Boulevard.

• On Dickinson Avenue, one of the fastest-growing retail and dining sections of downtown Greenville, Smashed Waffles opened its doors. The offbeat eatery concept of principal owners Justin Cox and Hunter Harrison features a variety of waffles, “waffle-wiches,” minis and ice cream waffle-wiches.

• Sup Dogs at 213 E. Fifth St. in Greenville, finished its expansion next to the ECU campus with a 1,200-square-foot rooftop dining addition. The restaurant added a full bar and kitchen on the second story.

• The iconic frankfurter business Bill’s Hot Dogs, located in Washington, N.C., since the 1920s, opened a site in Greenville at the intersection of at the intersection of Eastern Pines and Portertown roads.

8. Farmers face crop loss due to Florence

Farmers in Pitt County scrambled in September to salvage as much as their harvest as they could as Hurricane Florence brough high winds and drenching rain to the state.

Following s spring dry spell, farmers faced 6-12 inches of rain in Pitt over a three-day period, followed by showers and thunderstorms. At the same time, rivers, lakes and creeks overflowed from a combination of tropical rains and storm surges from Florence’s winds that pushed rivers from the coast back inland.

The weather nightmare got worse when the storm finally passed. Rivers upstream flowed into the already saturated coastal plain, overflowing their banks.

After harvesting what they could, local farmers were forced to leave many crops — including soybeans, cotton and tobacco, to be plowed back into the ground.

The the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimated overall state agricultural losses at more than $1.1 billion. 

9. Club's demand for parking spells end for pool

A $2 million renovation at a popular Greenville fitness club drew so many new customers inside that it is closed an outdoor feature that has been a fixture in the city’s recreation landscape for decades.

Dallas-based Fitness Connection announced to members earlier this year that it would not reopen the large swimming pool and slide adjacent to the Charles Boulevard facility when the weather gets hot this summer. The club’s membership has grown so much thanks to the renovations that it needs the space to help alleviate a parking crunch, the company said.

Customers were informed that the pool and surrounding playground area was proving to be the most viable solution for adding as many as 200 new spaces. City approval, the permitting process and further significant investment will take time and provide for a complete evaluation process, but the decision to immediately close the pool was made.

The pool in the past has been a place for community groups to rent for parties and for members to take their families and guests to cool off from the summer heat. When Gold’s Gym owned the facility, it hosted a summer swim team and community swim meets.


The Daily Reflector is looking back on the biggest stories of the year today through Jan. 2. This Series is divided into categories, as follows:

Wednesday: ECU sports

Thursday: Education

Friday: Arts & Entertainment

Today: Business & Industry

Sunday: Pitt County

Monday: ECU & PCC

Tuesday: City of Greenville

Wednesday: Crime & Rescue

Coming tomorrow

Change was a theme that ran throughout Pitt County institutions and governmental entities in 2018. The Pitt County Board of Commissioners saw three new members elected and a fourth announce his resignation shortly after election day. Meanwhile, the county’s tax department gained a new administrator and new rules for governing development in a growing rural area were adopted.

Follow the series online at reflector.com.