From the Editor

Drescher: Profiling small businesses

November 3, 2012 

The North Carolina furniture industry employs less than half the people it did 20 years ago. Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost to automation or shifted overseas where wages are lower.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for the furniture maker who can identify an unmet need in the market.

A Cary man has done just that. He’s quit his job with a large telecommunications company to create, with his wife and a production manager, a small company that builds custom furniture.

We will tell you their story Tuesday in Shop Talk, our new weekly two-page feature about small business and entrepreneurs. It will appear each Tuesday in the Triangle & Co. section.

The slow economy has prompted many people to think about how they might make a living on their own. About 85 percent of businesses in North Carolina employ fewer than 20 people, according to the Census Bureau. Those small businesses employ nearly a fifth of all workers in the state.

Shop Talk will tell their stories. In addition to the report about the furniture makers, our first Shop Talk includes a story about Watkins Shoe Repair, a longtime family business on Peace Street in Raleigh; tips from Jon Fjeld of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Duke University; and a list of upcoming networking events and resources, including the best business books of the year.

This new section will be edited by News & Observer veteran journalist Jessaca Giglio. You can reach her at 919-829-4649 or jmgiglio@newsobserver.com.

Shop Talk will be sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. In the last few years, we’ve added weekly coverage about science (sponsored by Duke Energy) and youth achievement (the Thumbs Up page, sponsored by AT&T). The sponsors underwrite the cost of these features, as advertisers always have, and get exclusive space at the bottom of the pages. They play no role in selecting content.

You also can read Shop Talk and our small-business blog at nando.com/shoptalk. You can follow us on Twitter at @shoptalk_nando.

We are pleased to bring you this new coverage. Please share comments and story ideas with Giglio.

The old is new again

The N&O recently celebrated its 118th birthday with a section-front design inspired by the first edition of the paper, published Aug. 12, 1894.

In researching that first paper, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a collection of news briefs called “Murphy to Manteo.” The naming of the two towns – one in the western corner of the state, the other on the Outer Banks – reflected the paper’s interest in covering issues of importance to all of North Carolina.

I remembered that growing up in Raleigh in the 1970s, I read a similarly named Sunday feature in The N&O. But I had no idea that it dated back to the paper’s birth. When I read the feature as a child, it had been renamed “Manteo to Murphy.”

That feature continued into the late 1980s, when it was discontinued, to the chagrin of one former member of Congress; Ike Andrews of Chatham County, a loyal reader, called to complain about its demise.

After a gap of more than 20 years, we are pleased to bring back “Manteo to Murphy.” Our Sunday briefs package, which runs on page 2B, will bear that historic name and will include news from across the Tar Heel state.

Drescher: 919-829-4515 or jdrescher@newsobserver.com. On Twitter @john_drescher

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