Archive for the ‘News section’ Category

3-24-2023 – Exela Pharma Sciences to support hospital’s new inpatient pharmacy

Posted on: March 24th, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 24 2023





LENOIR – The Exela Pharma Sciences Inpatient Pharmacy will be a part of UNC Health Caldwell’s planned $33+ million expansion, the hospital announced Friday.


“We’re proud to be able to support our local hospital,” said Phanesh Koneru, founder and CEO of Exela Pharma Sciences. “The new inpatient pharmacy is very aligned with Exela’s focus on delivering excellence in quality and reliability.”


Last renovated in 1983, the current inpatient pharmacy is undersized and lacks the equipment and space needed to provide the expanded scope of services UNC Health Caldwell offers today.


“The pharmacy department has expanded services, regulations have changed, and the equipment and space needed has changed extensively in recent years,” said Gregory Shull, RHP, manager of Inpatient Pharmacy Operations. “Expanding and modernizing our inpatient pharmacy will significantly increase our capacity to meet the changing and complex needs of patient care. The staff will be able to operate more efficiently and we will be able to implement newer technology to provide safety measures for both patients and staff.”


The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation will be announcing the capital campaign next month that will support the growth at UNC Health Caldwell.


For more information, contact Foundation Director Virginia Hoyle at 757-5524 or

3-21-2023 – Commissioners Approve Bylaws for Economic Development Advisory Committee

Posted on: March 21st, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 21 2023



Since last fall, county leaders have worked to restructure the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission (EDC). On Monday, Caldwell County Board of Commissioners finalized the restructure by adopting bylaws for the Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC).


EDAC combines the Economic Development Commission Board and the Sales Tax Reinvestment Committee to create an advisory committee with leaders from business, industry, education, and government in Caldwell County.


“Combining the boards creates a strong advisory panel with the experience and expertise necessary to help grow our county,” said Caldwell County Economic Development Director Ashley Bolick. “I look forward to working with this advisory board to develop a strategic plan that will continue Caldwell County’s growth and prosperity.”


In the adoption of bylaws, Commissioners approved a committee of up to 18 members who serve three-year terms. Terms include previous board service.


Members with a term expiring on June 30, 2024, include Bonnie Caudle, Town of Gamewell; Deborah Wilkie, McMillon Electric Company; Jerry Church, Town of Granite Falls; Jonathan Greer, Town of Hudson; Max Dyer, La-Z-Boy; and Rick Coffey, McCreary Modern.


Those appointed to serve until 2025 are Ann Smith, retired banker; Janet Aiken, Aiken Development; Jimmy Harrison, Caldwell County Government; Jon Blair, Peoples Bank; Mark Transou, First Citizens; Richard Boyd, Automated Solutions; and Ronnie Setzer, Town of Cajah’s Mountain.


Members who will served through 2026 are Alan Merck, Blue Ridge Energy; Chase Winebarger, Town of Sawmills; Dr. Mark Poarch, CCC&TI; Rick Justice, Town of Rhodhiss; and Scott Hildebran, City of Lenoir.

3-20-2023 – City hires new planning director

Posted on: March 21st, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 20 2023




Mar 20, 2023


LENOIR — The city of Lenoir has given its interim planning director the job on a permanent basis.


Hannah Williams has been hired as the city’s new planning director. Williams has been working in the City Planning Department for more than five years, and has served as interim planning director since January this year.


City Manager Scott Hildebran said Williams is familiar with the city’s planning efforts and current projects and has the skill, ability, and connections to be a successful department director.


“Hannah has worked with the county and the city for more than five years, and she’s very knowledgeable in the fields of planning, zoning, and development,” Hildebran said. “She served as an intern with us, worked for Caldwell County, and then joined the planning department full-time when she had the opportunity.


Hannah is customer service driven and has chaired the city of Lenoir customer service team for a number of years. She’s done great work for us as a planner and I believe she’ll continue that commitment as our new planning director.”


Williams grew up in Greensboro and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development and a Master of Arts degree in Geography and Planning from Appalachian State University. She received her Certified Zoning Official designation in 2019 from the North Carolina Association of Zoning Officials and certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) in 2022. AICP is the only nationwide, independent verification of planners’ qualifications.


Williams started her career with Lenoir as an intern during the summer of 2016 while completing her degrees at App State. As an intern, she completed a feasibility study on implementing a stormwater maintenance fee. She finished her Master’s degree that fall, and started working in the Caldwell County I.T. Department as the GIS director and address coordinator.


“I finished grad school on a Friday and started working a full-time job on Monday. I probably should have taken a vacation,” she said laughing.

3-16-2023 – Plans underway for new Broyhill Family Foundation Clinical Lab

Posted on: March 20th, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 16 2023




Mar 16, 2023


LENOIR — The Broyhill Family Foundation Clinical Lab will be a part of UNC Health Caldwell’s planned $33 million expansion, the hospital announced Friday.


The new lab is much needed and will be used for analyzing clinical specimens to obtain information about the health of a patient to aid in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease. The current clinical lab was last renovated nearly 40 years ago.


“The clinical lab is vitally important to the care of our patients and is essential for accurate diagnosis and developing treatment protocols,” said Dr. Sarah Hamler, pathologist at UNC Health Caldwell. “The new Broyhill Family Foundation Clinical Lab will provide our clinical and anatomic pathology teams with an expanded space and new equipment which will enhance quality, efficiency, and safety in the clinical lab and for our patients.”


The new space will be equipped with state-of-the-art clinical analyzing equipment. All heating, cooling, ventilation and electrical requirements will also be renovated to accommodate the new equipment and space needs. The revamped work flow will allow lab personnel to complete their work effectively and efficiently.


“We consider UNC Health Caldwell such a vital part of our community.” said Sheila Triplett Brady, executive director of the Broyhill Family Foundation. “Our Foundation is excited to support the hospital’s upcoming $33 million expansion efforts to address the hospital’s critical needs in the clinical lab.”


The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation will be announcing a capital campaign later this spring that will support the growth at UNC Health Caldwell.


For more information, contact Foundation Director Virginia Hoyle at 757-5524 or

3-10-2023 – State of the State: North Carolina leaders emphasize community colleges as workforce solution

Posted on: March 10th, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 10 2023



Tuesday, March 7, 2023


North Carolina community colleges were central in state leaders’ addresses Monday night as both top executives pointed to community colleges as the answer to the need for more highly skilled workers during the State of the State address and response.


North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson spoke to the career pathways and talent pipelines for residents and businesses through North Carolina community colleges. The remarks were a continuation of General Assembly leadership messaging.


Community college programs were woven throughout the remarks, which included high-demand skilled trades programs, apprenticeships, law enforcement and first responders, health care and emerging technologies.


“The education pipeline continues with our community colleges and universities that are central to the educated workforce of the future. In every corner of our state, community colleges are coordinating directly with local industry and workforce development boards,” Gov. Cooper said. “They’re creating hands-on training programs that help their graduates cross the stage with a degree or credential and a job offer in hand. I’ve worked with you legislators in a bipartisan way to make sure people can get this training through Longleaf Commitment grants, Finish Line grants and other community college funding. Let’s keep at it.”


In his response, Lt. Gov. Robinson pointed to the well-paying career opportunities for residents in skilled trades, apprenticeships, and other fast-tracked career programs in high-demand industries.


“Electricians, plumbers, masons, welders, mechanics, and other skilled trade workers earn incredible starting salaries. Many in those professions are aging out, leaving crucial shortages across our state. As our state grows and industries move here, skilled labor and high-tech manufacturing jobs will continue be in demand,” Robinson said.


The addresses echoed remarks issued by General Assembly leadership on the legislature’s opening day of session in January.


“We must provide (North Carolinians) with the tools needed to determine their future — from a world-class education to finding a good-paying job in a career of their choice, or to the freedom and opportunity to open their own business.”


Learn more about the North Carolina Community College System at

3-6-2023 – Poarch and Phipps awarded for educational excellence

Posted on: March 6th, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 6 2023




Mar 1, 2023


LENOIR — In terms of educational leadership, Caldwell County doubled down after two of its school leaders were awarded for their dedicated and outstanding service to the community and the institutions they represent.


Dr. Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI), and Dr. Don Phipps, superintendent for Caldwell County Schools, have been honored for their professional contributions.


Poarch was named the 2023 President of the Year from the North Carolina Community College System and State Board of Community Colleges. Poarch became president of CCC&TI in 2016.


“It’s not about the names on the award, it’s more about what it represents,” he said.


Phipps was the first superintendent from Caldwell County to be named the 2023 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year, a prestigious award presented annually by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA), the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA). Phipps has served as superintendent for Caldwell County Schools for the last four years. Prior to that, he worked for eight years as superintendent in Beaufort County.


Poarch and Phipps agree that education is a key component of the economic growth and stability of the county.


“There’s no question that education plays a role in economic development,” said Phipps. “It plays a role, I think, in the ultimate decisions that parents choose to live whether they’re working in our area or not.”


“For us, having Dr. Phipps and the team at Caldwell County Schools as education partners has just been tremendous,” said Poarch. “The work that we’re doing together in building pathways and pipelines for students to pursue educational opportunities that align with business and industry needs has been hugely successful. I think it does attract businesses. The first question they ask when they’re considering coming to or expanding in Caldwell County is, ‘Where are we going to get our workers? Where’s our talent pipeline going to come from?’ If they see that collaboration and that work, it makes us a more attractive place to be.”


Caldwell County’s public schools and the community college have created mutually-beneficial partnerships with a number of businesses and organizations, such as Google, the health department, public safety, and other colleges and universities, all with the goal of providing students with the best resources for success.


“Google provided Chromebooks for students so they would have access to technology,” said Poarch. “They built rolling hot spots on school buses so we could station those in remote parts of the county so students could access Wi-Fi and continue to complete their courses.”


Additionally, the local hospital and health department are working in tandem with CCC&TI to develop programs that provide for the next generation of health care workers in the area.


“We’re getting ready to embark on what will be the largest building project in the history of the community college in a new Health Sciences building that will allow us to co-locate all of our programs,” said Poarch. “I think we currently have 11 Health Sciences programs, which is a lot for a community college of our size. That’s going to allow us to better respond and provide better educational experiences for students that will align with what they’re going to see in hospitals and other health care setting when they go to work.”



Another partnership is with local public safety services such as EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies. CCC&TI is working closely with county commissioners and County Manager Donald Duncan to provide a pipeline for basic law enforcement training, paramedic training, fire training, and more, all of which are critical to the county’s sustainability.


While many communities across North Carolina have seen a decline in enrollment numbers, especially during the COVID pandemic, CCC&TI saw just the opposite: the pipeline continues to grow as more students successfully complete their college-level courses.


Phipps described COVID as an “odd catalyst” for Caldwell County Schools.


“I think in some people’s perspectives or in other places, they may look at it and say that the world kind of stopped, and we haven’t recovered from that,” he said. “During COVID, we had the opportunity to meet on a regular basis, and we had the folks from the Health Department and the hospital, business people, elected officials, and we really pulled together and it galvanized the work that we do. I think we were stronger coming out of COVID because of the partnerships and the reliance that we had.


“The other thing is, I think a lot of the extraneous things kind of dropped off because we didn’t have time to worry about that stuff. Now we’re back to the things that are really most important and allows us to carry on,” Phipps continued.


Phipps said Caldwell County has also worked to eliminate barriers for individuals interested in becoming teachers.


“Every school district in the county is struggling right now to find teachers. We sat down and talked about what we can do to make it easier, not easier in terms of lowering the standards, but eliminating as many barriers as we could,” he said. “We hope it equalizes the playing field in terms of folks who have an interest in doing it and the ability for them to do it.”


It is important for both Poarch and Phipps to use the platforms they’ve been given, both within and beyond their educational institutions, to uplift students and the community.


“We’ve got to continue advocating for our communities, our employees, our students,” said Poarch. “We need to make sure that we’re able to provide what they need as they’re preparing to enter a workforce or attend a four-year institution.”


The last CCC&TI president to receive the President of the Year award was Dr. Ken Boham in 2003. Poarch served as executive vice president under Boham at CCC&TI, as did two other winners: Dr. David Shockley won President of the Year in 2017 at Surry Community College and Dr. Garrett Hinshaw won it in 2015 at Catawba Valley Community College.


Melissa Smith, the Dean of Health Sciences at CCC&TI, won Faculty Member of the Year in 2022 while at Forsyth Tech Community College. She came to CCC&TI in summer of 2022.


“You look beyond the two of us, and we’ve got just tremendous support folks,” said Phipps. “It’s a testament to the great work of the organizations that we just happen to represent.”

3-3-2023 – New cardiovascular suite will be named in memory of William R. Johnson

Posted on: March 3rd, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 3 2023





LENOIR – UNC Health Caldwell announced further details on a new cardiovascular procedure suite which will be a key area of the more than $33 million planned expansion to begin later this year. The area will be named in memory of William R. “Bill” Johnson, a long time advocate and past Board President of UNC Health Caldwell and Board Member Emeritus of Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation. The suite will be located on the 2nd floor within the new AP and Bunch Anderson Heart Center.


The current cardiac catherization lab was last renovated in 1998, and has significantly outgrown its space needs. In addition, the current equipment is at “end of life” and will be replaced with new state-of-the-art equipment.


“The new Johnson Family Cardiovascular Procedure Suite will significantly improve and expand many heart and vascular procedures. The enlarged area and new equipment will allow UNC Health Caldwell to continue to provide the highest quality of care available,” said Dr. Andy Chiu, UNC heart & vascular cardiologist.


“This is such a fitting way to recognize Bill’s long history of leadership service to our hospital and Foundation,” said Bob Floyd, past Board Chair. “We are very grateful to Bill’s family, specifically his sister Russellene Angel and children Russ and Meghan, for their generous financial support of this critical new area.”


The Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation will be announcing a capital campaign later this spring that will support the growth at UNC health Caldwell. For more information, contact Foundation Director Virginia Hoyle at 757-5524 or

3-2-2023 – Google Teams Up with Betabox Learning to Launch STEM Tour of NC School Districts

Posted on: March 2nd, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 2 2023



By Greg Bahr – GBW Strategies

March 2, 2023


(North Carolina) – March 2, 2023 – Google is teaming up with Betabox Learning, a leading provider of mobile STEM labs, to launch a STEM tour of North Carolina school districts. The tour will visit schools across the state and provide hands-on learning experiences for students in grades K-12.



The tour will kick off on March 11 with an event at the MLK Center in Lenoir, NC (313 Greenhaven Drive NW, Lenoir, NC 28645–home of Google’s NC-based data center. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and include free food from area food trucks (for the first 300 attendees) and other activities for the whole family. Parking is limited at the MLK Center, and a shuttle will run from satellite parking at the Freedman Cultural Center (312-398 Greenhaven Dr. NW, Lenoir, NC 28645).



The partnership aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technologists by directly bringing the latest in computer science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education to the classroom.



Betabox Learning directly brings hands-on experiential learning opportunities to schools with mobile STEM labs. The company’s labs have the latest technology to engage students in hands-on, project-based learning. Google’s investment in this tour increases the accessibility of Betabox STEM experiences, building upon the success of Betabox Learning’s existing STEM programs in North Carolina, which operate in 30 districts in partnership with NCDPI and the General Assembly.



The STEM tour will conduct a tour of Caldwell County Schools throughout March and early April. These stops will include the following:



  • Monday, March 13 – Tuesday, March 14
  • Gamewell Middle School – 3210 Gamewell School Rd, Lenoir, NC 28645
  • 8:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


  • Wednesday, March 15 – Thursday, March 16
  • Hudson Middle School – 291 Pine Mountain Rd, Hudson, NC 28638
  • 7:50 a.m. – 2:20 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


  • Thursday, March 30 – Friday, March 31
  • William Lenoir Middle School – 1366 Wildcat Trail, Lenoir, NC 28645
  • 8:15 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


  • Monday, April 3 – Tuesday, April 4
  • Granite Falls Middle School – 90 N Main St, Granite Falls, NC 28630
  • 8:00 a.m. – 2:25 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


  • Wednesday, April 5
  • K8 Schools at William Lenoir Middle – 1366 Wildcat Trail, Lenoir, NC 28645
  • 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


  • Thursday, April 6
  • Gateway School – 1889 Dudley Shoals Rd, Granite Falls, NC 28630
  • 9:00 a.m. – 2:20 p.m. *a detailed schedule can be provided upon request


These school events are not open to the public, and press attendance must be coordinated in advance.



It will allow students to participate in various interactive activities and experiments, including coding, artificial intelligence, robotics, and 3D printing.



After completing its tour of Caldwell County, the Betabox will tour other NC school districts to be announced later.



Google and Betabox Learning hope this tour will inspire students to pursue careers in STEM fields and help close the gap in the number of women and underrepresented groups/populations in these fields.



The STEM tour is part of Google’s ongoing education and workforce development commitment. The company has also launched initiatives such as Google for Education, which provides teachers with free tools, resources, and training. SAS and the NC Business Committee for Education support the tour.



For more information about the STEM tour, please visit






Representative Destin Hall – District 87 – Caldwell County

“I appreciate and applaud the commitment Google has made for more than a decade to helping Caldwell County grow and prosper. Launching this statewide STEM education effort in Caldwell again shows Google’s focus on helping our community’s school children access important educational resources that will inspire the next generation of science and technology leaders in our state.”



Mayor Joe Gibbons, City of Lenoir

“Betabox is another example of Google launching statewide and even national programs right here in our tiny corner of North Carolina. Rolling Study Halls started in Caldwell County and soon became a heralded program Google rolled out in communities across the country. Our Gravity Games became the model for other STEM competitions in other states. Google, Lenoir, and Caldwell County have a great track record of working together to incubate big ideas that support students and communities.”



Lilyn Hester, Head of External Affairs – Southeast, Google

“When I saw what Betabox had to offer, I knew immediately that Caldwell County would be the perfect place to launch a program that could tour the state and show schoolchildren from all backgrounds what a career in STEM can offer. Caldwell County and our state, local and business leaders are dedicated and thoughtful partners where we can pilot exciting initiatives.



Dr. Don Phipps, superintendent, Caldwell County Schools

“We are grateful for the partners who help provide resources and opportunities for our students. Google is an established partner who has had a tremendous impact on our work. We look forward to the addition of Betabox and how the combined efforts will help not only students in Caldwell County Schools but students across the state. These STEM efforts are critical and the ability to leverage resources with partners like Google and Betabox helps us create experiences that we would simply be unable to do on our own.”



Greg Pearlman, Chief Success Officer, Betabox Learning

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Google on this important initiative. By bringing our mobile STEM labs to schools across North Carolina, we can provide students with the opportunity to learn and explore in a fun and engaging way, while also preparing them for success in the 21st-century workforce.”



Pat Triplett, Executive Director, Caldwell County Education Foundation Inc.

“We’ve seen firsthand the impact having a company like Google in our community has done for our young people. The presence of such a leader across so many industries in their own backyard makes students feel like they, too, can accomplish great things if they apply themselves and seek out opportunities to learn. This tour will replicate that in communities across the state.”

3-2-2023 – CCC&TI announces upcoming SBC workshops

Posted on: March 2nd, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 2 2023



Mar 1, 2023


HUDSON — Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center offers free workshops, one-on-one assistance and many more services to help local small businesses. To reserve a seat at one of the free workshops, call 828-726-3065 or visit to register.


Upcoming Free Online and In-person Workshops:


How to Build a Wix Website Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “How to Build a Wix Website” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 6. Wix is the world’s most popular website design platform. It serves more than 200 million people in 190 countries and has 45,000 new sign-ups every day. This class presents a step-by-step guide to help empower business to build an online presence with specialized features and easy “drag and drop” method to create a professional website and manage a business with Wix.


Selling Products Online with Amazon and Etsy Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Selling Products on Amazon and Etsy” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8. This class will explore the popular platforms of Amazon and Etsy and how to sell products on both. Participants will learn how to start an online e-commerce business quickly and work toward becoming an online entrepreneur.


Selling on Shopify

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Selling on Shopify” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13. This webinar will explore the features of well-known e-commerce host Shopify and how to establish a brand online with a custom domain name and unique online store.


Using Paid Online Ads to Generate Traffic for Your Business Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Using Paid Online Ads to Generate Traffic for Your Business” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 15. In this webinar, participants will learn about different options to advertise a business using online resources. These options are often easier and much less expensive than traditional advertising.


Strategic Planning for Business Success Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free in-person workshop at the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce titled “Strategic Planning for Business Success” from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21. This session is designed to help business leaders develop a strategy beyond the document creation process. Participants will learn how to engage the entire team and produce a realistic, action-focused plan. This workshop is ideal for organizations needing to take an existing plan off the shelf and organizations ready to implement a new strategic plan. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce is located at 579 Greenway Rd., Suite 101 in Boone.


Validating Your Side Hustle and Making Money Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Validating Your Side Hustle and Making Money” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 4. This impactful seminar teaches participants how to turn a passion into a business, analyze products or services for potential profit, market to find the right customers and build a creative launch plan.


Finding Your Business Uniqueness and Owning It Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Finding Your Business Uniqueness and Owning It” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5. This session will help participants determine what makes their business stand out from the competition and how to market that unique angle.


How to Start a Business Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “How to Start a Business” from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 11. This seminar teaches the basics of starting a business from idea to opportunity. Participants will learn key strategies for start-up, financing and marketing as well as important information about legal issues, licensing, zoning, operations and more.

3-1-2023 – Marshall spearheads rural initiative with small businesses

Posted on: March 1st, 2023 by admin No Comments


March 1 2023




Feb 28, 2023


MORGANTON – North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall was joined by small business owners, economic developers, small business advocates and others from Burke and Caldwell counties for a Business Roundtable at the Foothills Higher Education Center on Tuesday morning.


Marshall discussed the new Rural RISE NC Initiative, which puts crucial resources in the hands of business creators early on. Rural RISE NC connects small business owners and advocates with mentors, business counselors, resources, and more within the community and beyond.


She also detailed new business creation data for the area and discussed recent survey analysis of new business creators.


Marshall’s office started the Rural RISE NC initiative nearly a year ago. RISE stands for Resources for Innovators, Start-ups, and Entrepreneurs.


“We started this with 14 pilot counties,” Marshall said. “Burke and Caldwell were both in our pilot initiative. Now, we are up to 26 counties in what we’re doing.”


Each unique county requires specific resources to help its citizens, so Marshall’s office has created a website,, to provide additional information.


“We have data that shows that we have a pretty short window of time to get entrepreneurs in touch with the resources that are available to them. But we also found out through our research that there’s a significant gap in learning about them,” said Marshall. “Our data [shows] that in the past two years, North Carolina has been totally on fire with new businesses. During 2021 and 2022, my office has been creating between 650 and 700 new business entities every business day. I’m talking about corporations, LLCs, and nonprofits … The great majority is LLCs.”


In 2022, Burke County became home to 536 new businesses, a number that has more than doubled in the last three years.


Caldwell County became home to 497 new businesses in 2022, compared to 183 new businesses in 2019.


“The Secretary of State’s mission is to facilitate business activities in a multitude of ways. One of them is to support entrepreneurs in the creation of new business,” Marshall said. “The Secretary of State’s office is the front door for new businesses entering North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our entrepreneurial spirit is why the state’s economy has been ranked as the No. 1 in the country. But we have so much more work to do.”


Marshall herself is a former small business owner and can appreciate the ups and downs that small businesses face every day. She grew up in a rural county in Maryland.


“I know what it’s like to feel like a second-class citizen,” she said. “We cannot continue to have the same rural divide in this state.”


Marshall’s office issued a survey for businesses created in 2020 in order to better serve local and small businesses with getting started and staying in operation.


“As far as I know, we are the only state that is trying to figure out what, where, when, how, and what comes next,” she said. “We can get a lot of information from the data, but we can also drive policy decisions for here in North Carolina.”


The survey asked new business owners questions such as, “Where did you initially get your information to start? What do you wish you had known when you first started your business? What kind of obstacles did you experience?”


“Inadequate funding was number one,” Marshall said. “Government regulation was next, and insufficient know-how, were the three top obstacles … For rural areas, inadequate broadband was significant. It was reported as an obstacle three times the rate of urban business creators.”


Additionally, survey participants said they wanted more access to opportunities for funding, assistance in back office functions like accounting, and more information on how and where to start the process of opening a new business.


“Our Rural RISE project answers those questions,” said Marshall. “State and federal governments, as well as the non-profit community, have been offering help for years. But there is an incredibly significant gap, a deficit, in the knowledge that these resources exist. Our survey showed that the Secretary of State’s office is in a unique position; we serve as the primary communications channel to these new businesses.”


A number of small business owners from Caldwell County joined Marshall’s discussion.


Jennifer Indicott is the owner of Fercott Fermentables, the craft, beer and wine shop that has operated in downtown Lenoir for the last five years. She said she grew up in this area and moved back after a period away when she saw that the city of Lenoir was making strides to revitalize downtown.


Stefanie Keller is the owner of Wolf Moon Salt Cave and Stress Reduction Center in downtown Lenoir. She said her Salt Cave and Stress Reduction Center constantly brings in clients from Raleigh, Cary, Charlotte, and beyond, which brings tourism to downtown, as well.


Angela Postigo is the co-owner of Happy Valley Filling Station and 3rd Eye Blinds. She and her fiance, Jesse Plaster, have made incredible progress in helping with the revitalization of downtown Lenoir.


Chris and Breanna McKay are the owners of a brand new food truck, Cowlick Moos & Chews, which will soon serve gourmet Smashburger sliders and homemade cookies.


Deborah Murray, formally the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission (EDC), has recently founded a consulting company called Carpe DM. She said it’s been her privilege to work with hundreds of companies and help them start businesses.


Rhonda Walker is a realtor with Walker Real Estate Services in downtown Lenoir. She’s been in the real estate businesses for nearly 23 years and has owned her own operation for about nine years.


Other Caldwell County community leaders who were in attendance on Tuesday were Wayne Rash, Caldwell County Register of Deeds; Carmela Tomlinson, director of the Small Business Center; Bryan Moore, president and CEO of the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce; and Ashley Bolick, executive director of the Caldwell County EDC.


“No one wins when a business fails,” Marshall said in conclusion. “We’re working diligently to deliver these critical resources to new businesses as part of this project. We will finish up with every county, rural and urban, to have the same access to information. After all, our mission is to help these businesses be as successful as possible and help the ones that came before them.”


For more information about Rural RISE NC, visit


Foothills Higher Education Center is located at 2128 South Sterling Street, Morganton.

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