Archive for May, 2019

05/21/19 – CCC&TI expanding to former drug store

Posted on: May 24th, 2019 by admin


May 21, 2019


By: Garrett Stell


Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has purchased a building on U.S. 321 that once was a drug store to house the college’s new training center for advanced manufacturing, machining and engineering programs.


The State Board of Community Colleges authorized the purchase on Friday.


CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said that the college previously had tried to buy the building, which is at the northeast corner of Pine Mountain Road and U.S. 321 next to the college’s current truck driver training campus, but was outmatched by another bidder. In the past week, that other party backed out of the deal and the college was able to make the purchase.


The building formerly was a Rite Aid but has been vacant since shortly after Walgreens bought more than 1,900 Rite Aid stores last year. Walgreens already had a store at the southeast corner of the same intersection.


The building is about 13,600 square feet, and Poarch said the college will install a simulated factory floor, computer lab, classrooms and faculty office space.


The college began developing its plan for a new advanced manufacturing center last year, when grants started coming in from the Golden LEAF Foundation and Canon Charitable Interests, both of which provide grants to support economic development in North Carolina, for new machinery and building renovations.


Much like the college’s Furniture Factory Lab, which was unveiled last month, the new-look manufacturing center is part of the college’s ongoing effort to improve workforce development in the county, said Randy Ledford, the college’s vice president of instruction.


“You would be hard-pressed to find a company in Caldwell County that doesn’t have a need for machining or mechanical engineering,” Ledford said.


The new training center will also create opportunities for more partnerships with the Caldwell County Schools, Ledford said. Because many factories have age restrictions on who can visit the factory floor, it can be hard for younger students to gain exposure to the types of jobs that are prevalent in the county.


Poarch said that the training center was originally going to be put into the J Building on the college’s main campus, but the opportunities afforded by the new property are much better.


“The proximity to 321 is key,” Poarch said. “It will offer high visibility to these programs and help create interest in high-demand jobs in Caldwell County.”


Poarch said that sparking interest in younger students will help build the workforce, and changing the perception of manufacturing jobs remains a staple of the college’s mission.


“It is imperative to portray advanced manufacturing as it actually is: modern, clean, and advanced, with high pay and growth opportunities,” he said.


Poarch hopes that the college can visit the property with an architect in the coming weeks and close the purchase sometime during the summer. If renovations can start immediately afterward, classes might begin in the new building by the start of the spring 2020 semester.

05/09/19 – Lenoir company now has German owner

Posted on: May 13th, 2019 by admin


May 2, 2019


By: Guy Lucas


A Lenoir chemical company has been bought by a multinational company based in Germany.


Marlin Company Inc., which has offices on Virginia Street west of Southwest Boulevard, on May 1 became part of Brenntag Group, according to a press release and a notice on Marlin’s website. Terms of the sale were not released.


Marlin’s offices were bought by Brenntag for $2.2 million, according to Caldwell County property records.


Marlin provides custom chemical blending and packaging services for customers in the mid-South region of the United States and had sales of $7 million in 2018, the press release said. Brenntag had worldwide sales of $14.8 billion in 2018.


Marty G. Waters, the owner of Marlin, said in the press release: “This partnership is a significant milestone for my company and for our proud history. We are all looking forward to this exciting new chapter.”


Markus Klähn, a member of the management board of Brenntag Group and CEO of Brenntag North America, said the acquisition will strengthen the mixing and blending business of Brenntag North America.


“Marlin’s unique powder and liquid blending services for many different industries and their professional packaging and labeling system are an excellent addition to Brenntag’s value-added services business. With Marlin we are perfectly positioned to expand our offerings … in the mid-South region,” he said.


Marlin Company was formed in 1992. Waters, a 1988 graduate of Appalachian State University, worked in the chemical industry within textiles, specialty lubricants and polyurethane foam prior to starting the company, according to Marlin’s website. His father, M. Gene Waters, also served in the chemical industry over 30 years in sales for a large solvent coatings manufacturer prior to his retirement.


Marlin is the third U.S. company that Brenntag has bought in 2019, after the lubricants division of Texas-based Reeder Distributors and Massachusetts-based New England Resins & Pigments, according to CHEManager International, a website that follows the chemical industry.

05/02/19 – Job numbers settling down again

Posted on: May 2nd, 2019 by admin


May 2, 2019


By: Guy Lucas


The number of Caldwell County residents without jobs fell again in March as the local unemployment rate settled back closer to that of neighboring counties.


The county’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.2 percentage points to 4.3 percent in March, while neighboring Burke and Catawba had no change, remaining at 3.9 and 3.8 percent, respectively.


The local unemployment rate dropped in 81 of the state’s 100 counties in March, but only 19 had a larger drop than Caldwell.


After years of seeing employment growth that surpassed most of the rest of the state, Caldwell was hit last fall by two plant closures stemming from Heritage Home Group’s bankruptcy, and the unemployment rate climbed at the end of the year, going from 2.8 percent in September to 4.8 in January. The two plants employed more than 700 people at the time the closures were announced.


Since then, however, the rate has dropped for two months as laid off workers have been absorbed into the growing economy, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


“The March report verifies the continued recovery from the November HHG shutdown,” she said. “February and March both showed reductions.”


Murray also pointed to the continued strength of the labor force, which she said signals the real strength and stability of the local economy. The labor force, which is the combined number of those with jobs and those actively seeking jobs, had not averaged above 37,000 since 2011 until it hit that number last November.


“In 2018 we had only one month where the labor force topped 37,000, and that was November. Had the HHG scenario not played out our numbers would have continued to grow from November. Be that as it may, the labor force has exceeded 37,000 four of the five months since November last year,” she said. “Looking ahead, we are seeing healthy projections from employers for continued increases in employment. Hopefully those new jobs will be filled by people who will find both work and home in Caldwell County.”


The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan area’s overall unemployment rate of 3.9 percent in March was tied for sixth lowest among the state’s 15 metropolitan regions.

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