1. Bad news: Jobs in the western North Carolina furniture industry fell from an estimated 7,411 in 2000 to 2,463 in the third quarter of 2006, according to state figures. Hardest hit are the high volume, mass production furniture factories. Doing better and showing signs for future growth are the hand-made boutique producers who sell on the high end to wealthy homeowners.
2. Good news: A team of students from Appalachian State University's Department of Technology has won a $75,000 award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the development of an affordable solar greenhouse. Inventiveness and innovation from the grassroots!
3. Bad news: According to this, North Carolina is competing to host near Raleigh a 520,000-square-foot storage locker for anthrax, avian flu, and dozens of other designer bio-hazards. That is to say, some state and private officials actively want this stuff, and they are fighting to get it from the Homeland Security Department, offering (guess what!) tax incentives, roads, public services, you name it. First Dell, then Google, now hoof and mouth disease.