Archive for December, 2021

12-28-2021 – Housing demands continue to rise

Posted on: December 29th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 28, 2021




Dec 28, 2021


LENOIR — A continued demand for more housing is driving a number of related factors that should lead to more options for buyers, sellers and renters.


Examining the housing market in any region is complex. Within any specific county there are regional variations in demand and pricing among the communities. In addition, affordable housing means different things to different people. For some, affordable housing is interpreted as government subsidized housing; for others it is about being able to afford a home or an apartment in the private-sector market. One thing is certain, competition for housing — government subsidized, or in the private sector — is tight. forecasts that the “Existing Home For-Sale Inventory” will increase 0.3% in 2022. Although there is a predicted upturn in available housing, the housing market in Caldwell County remains competitive. In a standard private housing market there are about six months of housing inventory. As of Sept. 2021, Caldwell County had one month’s supply of inventory. However, the Local Market Update published by Canopy Realtor Association reveals a 7.95% increase in new listings for Caldwell County with a median sales price of $225,000.


The average private sector home can expect to stay on the market for approximately 20 days and sellers can expect to receive 97.9% of the original list price. As of September, there were 418 new listings, which is a 2% increase from 2020. As in any market, demand drives price. predicts an increase in price of rent and mortgage payments. In Caldwell County, the average sale price of a home increased 4.8% from $270,566 in 2020 to $283,650 in 2021.


Caldwell County has been working to increase housing options.


“We [our community as a whole — the town, the county, and the Economic Development Commission] have made it a priority to grow housing options for our community. “ Deborah Murray, executive director at Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Although the pricing of homes and rent is expected to rise in 2022, incomes may be on the rise as well. According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, Caldwell County has the 28th highest private sector average wage in the state. In addition, the development of business and industry has contributed to the 15.3% increase in the median household income. As people move to the county, it is a priority to bring new housing options to the county, including single family and multi-family options.


“We are just now starting to see bricks and mortar to fill the housing need.” Murray said.

The plan to develop housing opportunities in the private sector is coming to fruition as the newly reconstructed Lenoir Cotton Mill is now the home of the Blue Bell at Lenoir Mills.

12-22-2021 – CCC&TI celebrates first BioWork students

Posted on: December 28th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 22, 2021



Dec 22, 2021


LENOIR — Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute celebrated the first group of students to complete the new BioWork Process Technician course during a ceremony on Monday, Dec. 20 on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson.


The 20-week course is designed to prepare students for entry-level process technician jobs in bioprocess manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and chemical manufacturing. The first class launched in August 2021 as part of the college’s push to provide workforce development support to the area’s biopharmaceutical industry. As part of that effort, CCC&TI also launched a 2-year Biopharmaceutical Technology associate degree program, the only one available west of Raleigh.


Eight students, some already working in the industry, completed the first course and were at Monday’s ceremony with their families, college officials and representatives from local pharmaceutical companies, Exela Pharma Sciences and Stallergenes Greer.


Dates for the next BioWork Process Technician course will be announced in early 2021. Additional information about the program is available on the college’s website at: BioWork.asp

12-10-2021 – Granite Falls company land grant for rural areas

Posted on: December 13th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 10, 2021




Dec 10, 2021 Updated Dec 10, 2021


RALEIGH — A Granite Falls company is one of 16 grant recipients chose by the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA).


On Thursday, Dec. 9, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that the RIA, the appointed board that awards grant funds for rural community development, has approved 16 grant requests to local governments totaling $4.1 million. The requests include commitments to create 718 new positions, 144 of which were recently announced. The public interest in these projects is expected to draw more than $95 million in private venture.


“Our rural communities are the backbone of our state,” Cooper said. “The effects of the pandemic have been profound, but our people are resilient, and these grants will stimulate economic growth through building reuse and other infrastructure.”


The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s group of rural economic development experts works with RIA to audit and support funding requests from local communities. Financing comes from an assortment of grant and loan programs offered by N.C. Business’ Rural Economic Development Division, led by Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Kenny Flowers. Grants can support a number of activities, including foundation renovation, building redesign, expansion, demolition, and site upgrades.


“These grants allow us the opportunity to unite good businesses with good people,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “While businesses will benefit from access to our high-quality workforce, our rural communities will expedite their post-pandemic economic recovery through the creation of hundreds of well-paying jobs and millions in private investment.”


The Building Reuse Program provides financial support to local governments for renovating vacant buildings, renovating and/or expanding buildings occupied by existing North Carolina companies, and renovating, expanding, or constructing health care facilities that will lead to the creation of new jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties and in rural census tracts of Tier 3 counties.


The RIA approved 15 grant requests, six from surrounding counties, under the state’s Building Reuse Program in three categories: The Vacant Building category, the Existing Business Building category, and the Rural Health category.


In the Vacant Building category, the town of Granite Falls was granted $200,000 to support the reuse of a 22,000-square-foot building, where SERVPRO plans to locate its operations. The company specializes in mass and individual disaster cleanup and restoration, and offers a variety of services that include fire, smoke, and soot restoration, mold mitigation and remediation, and general cleaning and deodorizing services. This project is expected to create 25 jobs, with an investment of $500,000 by the company.


In the Existing Business Building category, three grants were approved throughout several surrounding counties.


In Burke County, a $240,000 grant will support the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot building in Morganton. The building is occupied by Toner Machining Technologies, Inc., which specializes in milling and machining operations for the energy, automotive, transportation, and nuclear fields. This project is expected to create 30 jobs, with an investment of $672,000 by the company. Additionally, a $240,000 grant will support the renovation of a 195,000-square foot building in Morganton, which is currently occupied by E.J. Victor, Inc., a locally-owned, high-end furniture manufacturer that has become a top licensing partner to premier global lifestyle brands. The project is expected to create 30 jobs with an investment of $1,617,880 by the company.


In the city of Conover in Catawba County, $440,000 will support the renovation of a 145,000-square-foot building occupied by Sherrill Furniture, a 75-year-old upholstery and case goods manufacturer offering mid- to high-end home furnishing products. The overall project is expected to create 90 jobs and attract an investment of $2.9 million, while 80 jobs and the company’s investment of $2,543,000 are already tied to this grant.


In the Rural Health category, the city of Mount Airy in Surry County was awarded $500,000 to support the 25,000-square-foot expansion of Northern Regional Hospital’s existing facility. The hospital serves over 100,000 residents in a six-county region of North Carolina and Virginia. The organization expects to create 50 jobs, with a private investment of $8,900,000 in the project.


The RIA approved one grant request under the state’s federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Economic Development program. The city of Statesville in Iredell County was given a $350,000 grant for the renovation of Parker Hannifin’s newly purchased manufacturing building in Statesville. Parker Hannifin is a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies, and manufactures fluids and filtration products for industrial use. The project is expected to create 30 jobs, with an investment of $3,823,041 by the company.


The Community Development Block Grant program is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program managed to a limited extent by N.C. Commerce. CDBG’s economic development funds give awards to local governments for creating and retaining jobs. Project funding depends on the number of jobs to be created and the level of economic distress of applicant communities.

12-9-2021 – McCreary Modern continues rapid expansion

Posted on: December 9th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 9, 2021




Dec 8, 2021 Updated 12 hrs ago


GAMEWELL — Planned expansion at McCreary Modern will create 100 new jobs for a furniture company with products in high demand.


McCreary Modern has been a private-label manufacturer of residential furniture in North Carolina since its founding in 1986 by Bob and Michele McCreary. The company specializes in upholstered chairs, sofas, sectionals, occasional chairs, and exposed wood pieces, and now is working to expand several of their locations in response to increased sales.


Their Maiden manufacturing campus will have a new 80,000 square foot centralized sewing operation. Additionally, planned expansions are underway at the company’s nearby Maiden framing plant and the woodworking plants in Lenoir and Gamewell. The three expansions and new sewing facility are expected to add 100 jobs to McCreary Modern’s 1,000-employee workforce.


“McCreary Modern’s physical growth is in large response to the demand for our products,” said Rick Coffey, company president. “The growth has been in the works for several years as our business has steadily increased, but the demand over the past 18 months for our bench-made furniture has been unprecedented, quickening the pace and growing the scale of these expansion plans.”


The new building in Maiden will be constructed next to the company’s existing fabric storage, automated cutting and sewing facility on U.S. Highway 321 Business. Once completed in the third quarter of 2022, the company’s expanded sewing department will relocate to the new facility, while fabric storage and automated fabric cutting will continue to grow in the existing space.


One of the facilities in Gamewell presently specializes in upholstery. The other facility, right across the street, is currently under construction but will focus on woodworking once opened in March 2022.


“This period of thoughtful but rapid growth represents one of the largest investment periods for the company in its entire 35-year history,” said Coffey.


As McCreary Modern’s footprint grows, so has the company’s commitment to retain, recruit, and train some of the industry’s best furniture artisans.


“When Bob and Michele McCreary started the company all those years ago, they established a culture based on a simple premise: treat everyone like family,” said Coffey. “We desire for every single employee at McCreary Modern to have a safe, engaging, satisfying and rewarding career.”


With these latest expansions, Coffey said they are looking for “well-grounded individuals that are ready to make a career with McCreary Modern. We will make the investments in their success to allow them to grow, and to feel appreciated and rewarded for their contributions.”


One unique way the company has rewarded employees is with ownership in the company. In 2008, Bob and Michele McCreary gifted 30% of the company to employees, allowing all employee-owners the opportunity to share in the successes of the company. McCreary Modern is now considered to be one of the most successful family and employee-owned (ESOP) businesses in North Carolina.


“This alone allows us to provide a long-term outlook for our business while providing security for our most important assets, our employee-owners,” said Coffey.


In addition to the ownership offering, Coffey maintains McCreary Modern can boast one of the “most comprehensive benefit packages in the region” offering everything from free healthcare for employees/spouses through two on-site nurse practitioners and accompanying pharmacy to paid seniority bonuses or gas cards for employees with at least two decades of experience. “As we look towards the future and undergo this significant series of expansions, we are extremely proud that we maintain those original values set forth by Bob and Michele, and continue to build a company that produces furniture of the highest-quality made by the best craftspeople in the industry.”


Interested applicants can apply for immediate openings via the company’s hiring website:


12-9-2021 – College introduces center for advanced technology

Posted on: December 9th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 9, 2021




Dec 8, 2021 Updated 12 hrs ago


LENOIR — Wednesday marked the ribbon cutting for Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies.


Caldwell County has long been a leader in manufacturing in North Carolina. With assistance from local businesses, the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has developed training programs which simulate the real manufacturing work environment, with the specific instruction and equipment needed to meet current industry standards. This collaborative design guarantees a secured path to high-wage job opportunities for students as well as a promising talent pool for regional employers.


In 2020, CCC&TI converted a 13,600-square-foot former retail building at the corner of Pine Mountain Road and Hickory Boulevard in Hudson into the Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies. With integral support from the Broyhill Family Foundation, the building was named after the late Paul H. Broyhill for his many years of influence within the institution and the community.


“It’s a real honor to have Dad’s name on this building,” said Hunt Broyhill, Paul’s son. “He was a builder of things; he was a builder of people; and he was a builder of communities. There is no better junction of these three ideas than this building: machines, people, and community.”


Featuring an artificial factory environment with modern classrooms and high-tech equipment, the Center for Advanced Technologies houses the Engineering and Industrial Systems Technology programs, which include training in electronics engineering, mechanical engineering, machining, and mechatronics. Students in these new programs will learn multi-craft technical skills in electricity, machining or fabrication, print reading, welding, diagnostic and repair procedures, hydraulics and pneumatics, and mechanical systems maintenance.


“This building is a testament to the new spirit of Caldwell County,” said Deborah Murray, executive director of the Economic Development Commission.


12-7-2021 – Board OKs local jobs incentive grants for 2 Hudson businesses

Posted on: December 7th, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 7, 2021





LENOIR – During Monday night’s Caldwell County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve two local jobs incentive grants for a pair of growing companies in Hudson.


The two companies, Sattler Corporation and Adhezion Biomedical, were the recipients of the grants set to help them expand while adding jobs in the county.


Sattler Corporation is one of the oldest operating textile mills in the state. Sattler’s Hudson location specializes in high-performance outdoor fabrics for casual furniture collections, as well as boat, truck, and trailer awnings and other industrial products.



During the last year, Sattler Corp. has seen remarkable sales and production increases. The company plans to expand their business by adding new positions, including a third shift, in Hudson. Additionally, Sattler Corp. has already implemented two significant wage increases this year and has improved employee benefits packages to strengthen their ability to recruit and retain workers.



“Sattler has always been proud to be a big part of the Caldwell County community, and we look forward to expanding our workforce development partnership to include more creative and inclusive strategies for jobs, recruitment, and to strengthen alignment between people, skills, training, and reliable jobs for the community,” said Klaudia Sanders, Sattler’s chief financial officer.



The Sattler Corp. asked the board to grant them a Caldwell County local jobs incentive of $2,000 per new hire for up to 20 new jobs to be added in addition to their base employment of 76 employees.



Adhezion Biomedical, LLC is a medical device company that manufactures and distributes adhesive and infection prevention products. Last year, Adhezion, also in Hudson, developed a new intravenous catheter that has dramatically increased their sales. The company has asked to be considered for a local jobs incentive.

The company is also seeking a North Carolina building reuse grant to assist with their production line expansion, or to gain more manufacturing space.



“Due to the increase in demand for Adhezion Products over the past two years, we have elected to expand our production capabilities at our Hudson location,” said Pete Molinaro, chief executive officer and chairman of Adhezion. “We are also delighted to continue our partnership with the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission and our commitment to growing our business in the Caldwell County area.”



Adhezion formally requested consideration for a local jobs incentive of $2,000 per new hire for up to 20 jobs to be added in addition to their base employment of 29 over the next two years. The company is also pursuing a building reuse grant through a municipality, which will be used for expanding manufacturing space.


12-3-2021 – Report shows foothills region regaining slight foothold

Posted on: December 3rd, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 3, 2021




Dec 2, 2021 Updated 13 hrs ago


LENOIR — A new report shows that Caldwell County is slowly beginning to improve its financial situation, despite its continued Tier 1 designation as among the state’s economically distressed.


The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s N.C. Development Tier Designations report details and compares the level of economic stress within each county. The rankings are divided into three tiers: Tier 1 designates the 40 most distressed counties; Tier 3 designates the 20 least distressed counties; and Tier 2 contains the other 40 counties.


The report uses four different factors to determine each county’s ranking: the average unemployment rate; median household income; the percentage growth in population; and the adjusted property tax base per capita, from the most recent 12 months.


Caldwell County currently ranks in Tier 1.


“Unemployment hurt our ranking the most,” said Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Per the reports, Caldwell demonstrated significant improvement with its per capita tax base — a 15% increase.


The report calculated the average unemployment rate for each county from October 2019 to September 2020, so the prolonged effects of closures from the pandemic were taken into account. Caldwell County’s average unemployment rate was the 27th highest in 2020. Consequently, the county ranked as the 26th economically distressed county out of the state’s 100 counties. However, the ranking improved to 37th in 2021, according to the report.


In 2021, Caldwell’s average unemployment rate dropped to 5.29%, bringing the county ranking to 38th highest unemployment in the state.


“The most recent year’s unemployment rate had the most negative affect on our ranking,” Murray wrote in an email to stakeholders about the report. “The prolonged effects of COVID unemployment through the spring of 2021 pushed Caldwell’s average unemployment rate to 5.29% for the October 2020 through September 2021 measured year. Today Caldwell’s unemployment rate is 3.7%.”


In more encouraging news for the county, Caldwell’s average private sector wage revealed promising growth. The county’s average annual wage grew from $41,157 to $43,905, a 6.7% increase.


The tier designations, which are mandated by state law, determine a variety of state funding opportunities to assist in economic development. That means there are several financial advantages to being in Tier 1, as the county will receive more federal grants and aid. This money can be spent on improving the county by building schools and housing infrastructure.


“We were not expecting significant improvement in population growth,” said Murray, “but our ranking in that measurement improved slightly. As the new housing developments gain momentum, we should see improvement there.”


The county sum rank calculates each of the four factors mentioned above to grade each county, and then the economic distress designation ranks them on a score of 1-100, 1 being the most distressed and 100 being the least distressed. In 2021, the most distressed county in North Carolina was Robeson County, which has the lowest average property tax base per capita at $62,790 and the lowest median household income at $36,366. Robeson’s sum rank is 19 and their designation is 1st and most distressed. Scotland County is ranked as 2nd most distressed, with the highest unemployment rate in the state at 9.83%.


The least distressed county is Currituck County, which ranks at 100 and is in Tier 3. The county has consistently high scores across all four categories, with the highest score being 98th in the state for a population growth of 8.75% since July 2017. Their county sum rank totals 380, the highest score in the state; the highest possible score is 400.


Comparing Caldwell County’s economic distress rank with other surrounding counties in the western North Carolina shows that specific elements, such as the median household income for Caldwell, has climbed above other counties like Burke and Cleveland, and Caldwell’s improvement in household income stands out all the more because neighboring Catawba County (the part of the region with the largest population, economy, and income) saw no growth in its median household income.


Alexander County’s designation has changed from Tier 1 last year to Tier 2 this year, with their economic distress rank at 53rd in the state. Alexander County has a higher median household income than Caldwell County at $54,960, compared to Caldwell’s $48,512. Caldwell’s median household increased 12% over its previous measurement.


“We will continue to see these numbers improve,” Murray added.


Burke County has a lower unemployment rate at 4.8% than Caldwell County’s at 5.29%. However, because of the other scores being lower than Caldwell’s, Burke County’s overall economic distress rank is 32nd in the state, compared to Caldwell at 37th.


Catawba County has higher scores than Caldwell in every category, with an overall economic distress rank of 68th in the state and a Tier 2 designation. For instance, in 2021 Catawba County experienced a 2.15% increase in population, while Caldwell experienced a 0.47% decrease.


Cleveland County is ranked as 38th in the state with a Tier 1 designation. While the county has higher population growth than Caldwell County at 2.51%, it has lower scores than Caldwell in the other three categories.


Rutherford County is ranked as 22nd in the state with a Tier 1 designation. This county is one of the most distressed in western North Carolina. The county’s lowest score is for its unemployment rate at 6.77%.


Wilkes County is ranked as 29th in the state with a Tier 1 designation. The county’s lowest score is for its median household income, which is 27th in the state at $45,250.

11-30-2021 – Caldwell’s 20-year population growth surged, then waned

Posted on: December 1st, 2021 by admin No Comments


December 1, 2021




Nov 30, 2021


LENOIR — The populations of Caldwell County’s municipalities have drastically changed over the past 20 years.


Caldwell County saw significant population growth from 2000 to 2010, based on data from the Economic Indicators Newsletter, which provides information from the U.S. Census. The population in Caldwell County grew from 77,708 to 83,029 in just 10 years. However, from 2010 to 2020, this growth did not continue as population numbers decreased to 80,652. While Caldwell has experienced growth, the decreasing numbers within the last decade are cause for contemplation about the impact this will have on the county’s municipalities.


For example, Lenoir reaped a significant increase in population from 2000 to 2010. In 2000, the population was 16,774. Ten years later, the population had grown to 18,228, an 8.7% increase. From 2010 to 2020, though, the population grew only 0.7% to a total of 18,352 residents.


Deborah Murray, executive director at Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, cited the housing shortage as a factor in population numbers.


“Caldwell County is just now beginning to generate new housing inventory for the first time since the Great Recession in 2008,” she said. “Housing has been a top economic development priority for the EDC. Our businesses and industries will grow faster when we can meet that need.”


Jenny Wheelock, the planning director for Lenoir, said that even though jobs are available and wages have increased recently, the “huge loss of furniture manufacturing jobs in the mid-2000s” and the lack of housing has “held back our full growth potential in the last decade.”


“Great efforts have been made by local leaders over the past decade to diversify Lenoir’s and Caldwell’s economy,” Wheelock said, “and unemployment has stayed low in recent years (with the exception of COVID-19 shutdowns). But with a housing shortage also comes another problem — the in-migration of workers for the new diversified economy didn’t happen, because those workers couldn’t find housing.”


Another example is the Caldwell County part of Rhodhiss, which has seen only declining numbers over the past 20 years. In 2000, the population of people living in this section of Rhodhiss was 394. Last year, this number dropped to 358, according to the 2020 Census.


Rick Justice, the town manager for Rhodhiss, said that this loss could be attributed to the majority of residents being senior citizens.


“In a two-year span, on one street, we lost about seven individuals,” he said.


This steady decline in the population has impacted the community of Rhodhiss in a meaningful way. Justice noted that the historical values that people held for their hometown have been lost.

“Lots of people who left were major contributors to the city,” Justice said. “People who played a role in the community are now gone.”


According to the Economic Indicators Newsletter, which reports economic trends in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area, Lenoir is the second largest municipality in the region with a population of 18,352 as of the 2020 Census. Municipalities including Blowing Rock, Cedar Rock, and the Rhodhiss part in Caldwell County all saw a decrease in their populations from 2000 to 2010. However, from 2010 to 2020, Blowing Rock and Cedar Rock saw their populations increase, while Rhodhiss and other municipalities continued to have decreases in population.The largest population losses from 2010 to 2020 occurred in Gamewell (349 population decrease) and Sawmills (220 population decrease).


Area stakeholders suggest the trend that can be seen in these population numbers is one of slow, but steady, increase. With the introduction of new jobs and the development of new residential housing, there is hope the county will soon begin to see significant population growth again.


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