Archive for November, 2017

11/30/2017 – Caldwell County improves economic status to Tier 2 in state rankings

Posted on: November 30th, 2017 by admin


November 30, 2017


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Showing improvement in every economic indicator, Caldwell County has emerged – for the second time – from being labeled one of the state’s most economically distressed counties.


Caldwell showed growth in its tax base, population, median household income, and unemployment rate – the four main factors used to rank counties to determine whether they are economically distressed. The county’s four-year poverty rate also declined.


Combined, the improvement prompted the N.C. Department of Commerce to change Caldwell from a Tier 1 to a Tier 2 county in its annual Development Tier Designations. The 40 counties designated Tier 1 are considered most in need of economic help, and the designation can assist them in getting certain grants and other aid. The 20 counties that are best off are Tier 3.


Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said she was “incredibly proud” of the new Tier 2 ranking.


“We have worked diligently to regain that position,” Murray said. “The EDC’s mission is to increase tax base, jobs, and incomes – the improvement from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is documentation of the progress the county has made in each of these areas … The most significant aspect is that these measurements represent growth that bodes well for all of Caldwell County residents. It is one of the best indicators of the improving economic health of our county.”


Caldwell saw the greatest improvement in its property tax base per capita, which is the total property value in the county divided by the county’s population. It went from $77,580 in 2016 – 63rd out of 100 counties – to $80,124, or 59th, as the county’s official population increased by 221 people to 82,517.


Murray has pointed to the growth in the county’s tax base in recent years as an indicator of growing business investment and success. Over the past five years, the overall value of property in Caldwell County has grown 10.6 percent to a total of $5.8 billion, and property tax revenue rose from $38.8 million in 2013 – little changed from the previous three years – to $43.4 million in 2016, according to county tax figures Murray cited at a meeting of the Caldwell County EDC Board of Directors in October.


Median household income rose by 2.5 percent, from $38,653 to $39,636, the new Department of Commerce report said. That builds on the previous year’s growth of about 11 percent.


The average annual unemployment rate also declined from 5.51 percent to 4.63 percent.


The five-year poverty rate dropped from 20.5 percent in 2010-14 to 19.6 percent in 2011-15.


The state first designated Caldwell as Tier 1 in 2005 following waves of layoffs in the furniture industry, and it remained Tier 1 until 2014, when Caldwell County barely inched out of Tier 1 status despite ranking as the 22nd most economically distressed county, according to the four main factors. In 2015, two other counties leapfrogged past Caldwell, just enough to push it back to Tier 1 status. Last year, the county had far better numbers but by law had to remain a Tier 1 county for a second year.


11/29/2017 – Hampton Inn construction moving ahead

Posted on: November 29th, 2017 by admin


November 29, 2017


11/15/2017 – Development grants reflect Caldwell County growth

Posted on: November 15th, 2017 by admin


November 15, 2017


By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Caldwell County’s economic development program hit a record level of grant money payouts, which is tied to job creation.


From Jan. 1 through the end of October, local employers who have worked with the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, had drawn nearly $1.7 million in state and local grant payments, and the total appears poised to reach $2 million by the end of the year, according to Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray. That would be nearly double last year’s grant draw of $1.14 million.


The grants have requirements for companies to document the creation and filling of jobs before they are able to draw money, so the amount of money drawn is a reflection of new job creation.


The grant drawdown is among a number of positive economic indicators that Murray said leaves her hopeful that Caldwell County will be able to officially shed its status as one of the state’s most economically distressed counties when state officials issue an update next month.


The state first designated Caldwell as a Tier 1 – the category for counties most in need of economic help – in 2005 following waves of layoffs in the furniture industry. Caldwell remained at Tier 1 until 2014, when it qualified as a Tier 2 county. However, the county barely fell back into Tier 1 status in 2015 and, due to program rules, has had to remain there through 2017 despite economic improvements.


If Caldwell does not move out of Tier 1 this year, Murray said it might be due to a lack of population growth.


Although the number of jobs in Caldwell has been steadily growing, a lack of new, market-rate housing – especially apartments – means that many people filling new jobs are going to neighboring counties for housing. For the purpose of the local unemployment rate, that helps the rate in those other counties because the rate is based on where workers live, not where they work.


The EDC has been working to lure new residential development, and Murray said she hopes there will be an announcement on that front in early 2018.


11/7/2017 – Renovated movie theater plans to reopen in Lenoir

Posted on: November 7th, 2017 by admin


November 7, 2017


By Virginia Annable
(Lenoir) News-Topic


Caldwell County will have a movie theater again with the renovation and reopening of the cinema on Morganton Boulevard in Lenoir.


The target date for reopening the movie theater, which closed in November 2014, is Dec. 14,  contractor Warren Moody of Blue Ridge Maintenance LLC said.


Golden Ticket Cinemas LLC, which owns a theater in the coastal town of Washington, N.C., is operating the theater. Jeremy McMinn, president of Golden Ticket Cinemas, said the first movie planned is the new “Star Wars” movie, “The Last Jedi,” which opens nationwide on Dec. 14.


McMinn said he’s excited about the opening.


“We were looking for opportunities to open in smaller areas and found out Lenoir is one of the largest cities in the state without a theater,” McMinn said.


Golden Ticket intends to show first-run movies in Lenoir, he said.


The cinema has two screening rooms that are being completely renovated, Moody said. As of Monday, all the old chairs had been taken out and the carpet removed. There will be 140 electric reclining chairs in each theater and new carpet as well as new curtains, lighting, screens, and speakers. Moody said he expects the carpet to be in and the walls to be painted next week.


The lobby and bathrooms are also being renovated, Moody said.


McMinn said company officials wanted to renovate instead of building a new theater to draw on nostalgia.


“The building, when operating, had uncomfortable seats, cinderblock walls and one speaker … and we think we can turn it around … our goal is when people walk in they’ll say, “Wow!”


McMinn said people will be able to reserve seats after the first night. Tickets for the first showing and movies after that will be available to buy at the box office at the theater starting the day after Thanksgiving.


Wilbern Realty & Investment, associated with Bernhardt Furniture Co., owns the building and will act as a landlord, said Lowell Ball, general counsel for Bernhardt. The movie theater was previously run by Carmike Carolinas, which leased the building from Wilbern Realty & Investment. It was called the Carmike Westgate Twin theater at the time and had operated since 1974.


Carmike chose to close the theater when its lease expired. McMinn said he hopes that never happens with Golden Ticket Cinemas.


“Hopefully the people in town will welcome us and we’ll be around a long time. We wont’ be abandoning Lenoir any time soon,” he said.



11/2/2017 – Caldwell County jobless rate falls to 4 percent for lowest rate in 17 years

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by admin


November 2, 2017


Caldwell County’s unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in September, matching the yearly low and giving the county its lowest jobless level since December 2000.


The September rate dipped 0.5 percentage points from the August reading and is the lowest September unemployment number since 2000 when the rate was 3.4 percent. Compared to last year, the unemployment rate dropped 1.1. percentage points.


More than 500 people were added to the payrolls from August to September, with 34,872 reported jobs. The number of people unemployed shrank to 1,451 – the lowest number since December 2000 when 1,268 individuals were out of work.


Caldwell began the year with a 5.6 percent unemployment rate, but the county has been below 5 percent in every month since. The county’s average jobless rate for the year currently is at 4.5 percent.


Out of 100 counties in North Carolina, Caldwell is tied with the 43rd lowest unemployment rate. The rankings are a stark contrast to the beginning of the decade when Caldwell consistently had the third worst jobless rate in the state.


“Based on our current unemployment trends within the county, our expectation is that there will be continued job growth through the end of 2017,” Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said.


Murray added that the county continues to focus on bringing in new residential housing and market-rate apartments. She said too many people working in Caldwell County opt to live in neighboring counties.


“We have gone to great lengths to find and encourage residential development, both single-family and multi-family,” Murray said. “It is our hope that those efforts begin to pay off soon and our employment and population bases will evidence that growth as well.”


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