Business briefs

May. 06, 2013 @ 05:51 PM

Nine N.C. State Farm agency field offices close

DURHAM – Nine State Farm agency field offices in the state closed at the end of April, resulting in the loss of 17 jobs.

Offices closed in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Asheville, Charlotte, Wilmington and Winston-Salem.

That’s according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice sent to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Amy Preddy, a spokeswoman for State Farm, said the offices housed employees, and not agents. She said the company has offices where customers go to buy insurance from agents, as well as offices that support the agents.

Preddy said employees in those jobs transitioned to other roles within the company or they may have relocated, or retired.

Carolina Brewery expands distribution

CHAPEL HILL – Carolina Brewery announced Monday that it has four new distributors to help expand distribution of the brewery’s beer in the Southeast.

The brewery now has deals with distributors to cover the state of Georgia as well for Nashville and an area of Virginia including Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News.

The distributors will focus initially on distribution of the brewery’s Sky Blue Golden Ale and Flagship IPA. Its beer sells by the keg to restaurants and bars and by the six-pack to retailers.

“Our goal is to be a regional Southeast Brewery and we are now filling in our footprint within a 400-mile radius of our brewery,” Carolina Brewery owner Robert Poitras said in a news release.

Carolina Brewery was founded in Chapel Hill in 1995. In 2007, the brewery added a second brewpub in Pittsboro.

In January, the business re-tooled its brewing operations in Chapel Hill to focus on small-batch beers.

The brewery’s beer is now distributed in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia.

SJF Ventures raises $90 million for third fund

DURHAM – SJF Ventures, the Durham-based investment firm that looks to invest in growing clean energy and technology companies, has commitments for more than $90 million for its third investment fund.

The fund is more than three times the size of its second, $28 million fund. The target for the third fund was $75 million, according to a news release, but it was oversubscribed at its final April closing.

“We are particularly excited that a wide variety of bank, insurance, foundation, family office, pension, mutual fund, and individual investors have recognized that SJF’s impact investing strategy can yield above-market financial and mission results,” David Kirkpatrick, SJF’s managing director and co-founder, said in a news release.

SJF Ventures looks to invest in fast-growing companies that have a positive impact and are looking for capital of between $1 million and $10 million. The firm has invested in 36 portfolio companies in the last decade.

The firm has a team of six senior investment professionals who are based in offices in Durham, New York and San Francisco. It invests nationwide.

The firm’s focus is on companies working in the areas of asset recovery, recycling and reverse logistics, energy and resource efficiency, intelligent infrastructure, sustainable agriculture and food, education, health and wellness sectors.

Precision BioSciences announces patent lawsuit win

DURHAM -- Precision BioSciences Inc. announced Monday that it has received a favorable verdict in a patent infringement lawsuit brought by the French company Cellectis.

According to a news release, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Delaware found that all claims were invalid for one of Cellectis' U.S. patents asserted against Precision. The company also said the jury found that Precision did not “literally infringe the asserted claims.”

The lawsuit was the third infringement action brought by Cellectis against Precision since 2008.

The company said Cellectis’ patent claims against Precision have been held invalid by a U.S. District Court judge, found invalid by a jury in a U.S. District Court trial, held invalid by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or dismissed by Cellectis.

A spin-off from Duke University, Precision is working to build business behind its Directed Nuclease Editor technology that allows the production of genome editing enzymes that can insert, remove, modify and regulate essentially genes in the cells of mammals or plants.