Archive for December, 2019

12-16-2019 – Fairfield gets state help for expansion

Posted on: December 16th, 2019 by admin


December 16, 2019



By Guy Lucas



Dec 13, 2019 4:19 PM


The state has approved a grant to help a Lenoir furniture company with its expansion plans.


The $320,000 building reuse grant from the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority will help Fairfield Chair Company renovate two of its buildings, the N.C. Department of Commerce announced Friday.


The company previously announced plans to invest $1.2 million in its expansion, which is expected to create 40 new jobs with an average wage of more than $39,000 a year. The company has not released details of its plans, including the buildings that will be involved.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners approved in November offering job creation incentives of $2,000 per job, up to a total of $80,000. The county’s job creation incentives are paid only after a company documents that it created the job and kept it filled for a specified amount of time.


The Rural Infrastructure Authority also approved another building reuse grant in the region: a $90,000 grant to help Paragon Films Inc., a manufacturer of stretch film products, pay for a 50,000-square-foot expansion of its plant in Taylorsville that is expected to create 11 new jobs.

12-11-2019 – Report shows strong wage growth

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by admin


December 11, 2019



By Guy Lucas


Dec 11, 2019 12:00 AM


A new state report confirms income growth in Caldwell County that continues to outpace that of neighboring counties.


The average private sector wage — the average annual pay of all non-government full-time jobs — in Caldwell County this year was $40,124 a year, up $1,167, or barely under 3%, from last year, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


That means the county’s average private sector wage has risen 25%, or $8,115, since 2015, and now ranks as the 26th highest among the state’s 100 counties.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, touted the numbers at the Economic Development Commission’s annual Christmas breakfast on Tuesday.


“This is where we’re beginning to see the ship turning,” she said. “We are headed in the right direction, folks.”


The report is based on census data on employment and wages through mid-2019.


Caldwell’s neighbors in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area have also seen growth, but less.


Catawba County’s average private sector wage was the highest in the region, $43,133, which is up $1,059, or 2.5%, from last year and $6,381, or 17.3%, from 2015.


Burke County’s average private sector wage was $36,801, up $1,042, or 2.9%, from last year and $3,868, or 11.7%, from 2015.


The report on private sector wages follows close after the state’s annual report ranking counties on their level of economic distress. That report dropped Caldwell to Tier 1, the group of 40 counties that the state deems to be in the most economic distress.


But that report also showed that Caldwell had the fifth-highest jump in household median income in the state from the prior year’s report.


Addressing the local elected officials attending the EDC’s breakfast, Murray said that the largest factor in Caldwell’s economic distress ranking was its slow population growth, which may accelerate if some potential apartment developments get off the ground.


And she said there is a silver lining to being designated as Tier 1: It makes local governments eligible to more grants to help build the infrastructure needed to attract more industry.


“Take advantage of a Tier 1 situation,” she said. “Invest in the infrastructure we’re going to need to build the economy.”

12-2-2019 – Better numbers but worse ranking

Posted on: December 2nd, 2019 by admin


December 1, 2019



By Guy Lucas


Dec 01, 2019 12:00 AM


Caldwell County recorded the fifth largest increase in the state in median household income, yet it dropped back into the ranks of North Carolina’s most economically distressed counties in a new state report.


The county’s median household income rose by $5,632 from 2016 to 2017, the most recent year the figure was available, to $44,798, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. That’s an increase of 14.4% and ranks as the 46th lowest household income in the state, a vast improvement from 29th lowest in last year’s report.


In dollar terms, only four counties saw income rise more: Moore, $8,236; Lincoln, $6,328; Clay, $6,103; and Durham, $5,790.


But because Caldwell’s unemployment rate increased relative to the previous year, its population growth slowed slightly and it showed less growth in its property tax base than many other counties, Caldwell ranked as the 40th most economically distressed of the state’s 100 counties, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.


The 40 most distressed are labeled as Tier 1. The designation can help them get certain grants and other aid. The 20 counties that are best off are Tier 3.


Last year Caldwell ranked as 43rd most distressed and fell into Tier 2, but Caldwell has teetered around the Tier 1 cutoff in recent years, rising to Tier 2 six years ago, then dropping back to Tier 1, rising out of it again for two years, now dropping back in.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, pinned the county’s drop to Tier 1 on the shortage of desirable housing, particularly apartments, for workers who have been filling the growing number of jobs in the county.


“While it is very disappointing to be dropped back into Tier 1, I am not at all disappointed with Caldwell’s numbers. The reason for the drop was that we had no population gain,” she said. “We have not had any increase in housing inventory, so it isn’t a surprise that we did not gain population. We have created significant new and better paying jobs, but a growing number of those are filled by folks who live outside the county.”


The increase in Caldwell’s unemployment rate has been slight, and the overall rate has held near full employment levels, she said.


And the county’s tax base per capita — the dollar value of property divided by the population — grew by 1.5%, “which is neither weak nor strong,” Murray said. “When Caldwell has its (countywide property) revaluation in 2021 that number will improve significantly.”


“The state takes these four measurements and assigns the ranking accordingly. We know housing is an issue and are working hard to create more of it. This report confirms that housing is and should be a priority,” she said.


Caldwell dropped because four counties that also have been teetering around the margin of Tier 1 saw relatively better growth in more categories as measured by the state, though looking at those numbers illustrates problems with the rankings.


Cleveland County went from 35th most distressed last year to 41st, one place better than Caldwell, due largely to population growth and improvement in the unemployment rate. It’s median household income of $39,911 lags Caldwell significantly, though, and increased less than $800 from the previous year.


Hoke County went from 38th last year to 42nd, a change that the Commerce Department attributed to its median income improving “significantly,” but that increase was $4,773, far less than Caldwell’s. Hoke’s unemployment rate also is higher than Caldwell’s and slightly worsened from last year’s report, going from 5.13% to 5.14.


Gates County went from 36th to 52nd because of improvement in its property tax base, population growth and income — but its property tax base per capita is lower than Caldwell’s and its increase in income, $4,409, was less than Caldwell’s. It’s population increased 2.3%, but it’s a tiny county — fewer than 13,000 people — so the actual numerical increase in Gates County’s population was about half as much as Caldwell’s population increased over the same period.


And Surry County went from 34th to 50th because of improvements in three of the four categories — but its median household income and property tax base both are lower than Caldwell’s, and its population growth of 0.96% from 2014 to 2017 both was barely higher than Caldwell’s 0.65% and followed a period of population decline in last year’s report.

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