01/18/17 – Event Spotlights Economic Progress

Posted on: January 18th, 2017 by admin

 

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January 18, 2017

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The annual Caldwell Economic Development Celebration largely honors specific local businesses and industry, but this year’s guest speaker lingered a while on some of the overall milestones that the local economy hit in 2016.

 

In particular, the 11 percent growth in median household income, to more than $38,000, was the highest percentage growth reported last month by the N.C. Department of Commerce, said Dale B. Carroll, a former deputy N.C. Commerce secretary who is now COO of the Appalachian Regional Center in Asheville.

 

That comes on top of a drop in the unemployment rate from 17 percent in early 2010 to 4.9 percent this past October, and a reduction in vacant industrial space from about 6 million square feet at its worst to under 1 million square feet now, Carroll said while praising the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, you are one awesome EDC,” he said.

 

Deborah Murray, executive director of the EDC, presented this year’s Herman Anderson Award, given for lifetime achievement in economic development in Caldwell County, to Donna Bean for her work representing Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute as part of the EDC’s industrial recruitment team.

 

Murray said Bean, who was hired by the City of Lenoir in late August as finance director, preferred to work behind the scenes but is a tireless worker who often helped design specialized training for industrial recruiting targets and found funding for those programs.

 

“Don’t ever, ever tell her that she can’t do something or that it can’t be done, Murray said.

 

Bakers Waste Equipment was honored as Industry of the Year. Bakers Waste began renovating a vacant former Broyhill Furniture factory on U.S. 321-A in 2012 to consolidate operations that had been split between sites in Burke and Catawba counties. Murray said that in many ways that project signified the beginning of the county’s economic recovery after the layoffs and closings that started in the mid-2000s and continued when the Great Recession hit.

 

The Economic Leadership Award went to Blue Ridge Energy, formerly Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. Carroll, who presented the award to Blue Ridge CEO Doug Johnson, said that since the company’s founding in Lenoir 81 years ago to bring electricity to rural areas it has been an integral part of economic development and is involved on all the boards and committees involved in industrial recruitment.

 

By Guy Lucas, (Lenoir) News-Topic

 

 

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