Archive for July, 2019

7-24-2019 County aims at big business

Posted on: July 24th, 2019 by admin


July 24, 2019



By Virginia Annable


Jul 23, 2019 3:23 PM

An international pharmaceutical company is considering Caldwell County for a new manufacturing plant that could bring up to 200 jobs to the area, county officials say.


The pharmaceutical manufacturer, whose name was not released and is being referred to only as “Project Vanderbilt,” is looking for a site in North Carolina to build its first manufacturing site in the U.S., said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. The company has looked at sites in Charlotte and three western North Carolina counties, including one in Caldwell that would need extensive renovations, Murray said.


“If that particular site is chosen it will require some substantial transformation,” she said.


The company would invest about $8 million in the building and equipment and within four years of operation expects to create up to 200 full-time jobs with an average pay of $42,000 a year, Murray said.


“It (could) continue to help Caldwell be one of the fastest-growing biotechnology clusters in the state,” she said.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to approve job-creation incentives of $2,000 for each job created up to a total of $400,000.


The commissioners also approved offering a tax grant that would give back to the company 75 percent of the property taxes it would pay on any new value added to the property. The grant would last for five years.


The company is also applying for a state Building Reuse Grant and a state Job Development Investment Grant, in which the state grants companies money for new jobs and investment made over a period of 12 years.


Reporter Virginia Annable can be reached at 828-610-8724.

7-19-2019 – Link seen between business, education

Posted on: July 19th, 2019 by admin


July 19, 2019



By Garrett Stell


Jul 19, 2019 12:00 AM


Teachers can be a key to helping students learn about the variety of careers available in Caldwell County, a group of them were told Thursday by local business community leaders.


The group took part in a daylong event, Hired Education, organized by the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. Participants went on tours of various businesses to see many of the career fields, and during lunch at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center they heard a panel discussion with representatives from the businesses.


EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray said the teachers’ firsthand experience seeing the career options is vital to communicating with the students.


“If you have never seen it, you can’t describe it,” she said.


Krista Bridgwood, human resources director at Bemis Manufacturing Company, which makes a variety of plastic products, said that now is the time to strengthen the bonds between schools and businesses.


“We are planning for the future as the older generation begins to retire,” she said. “The school system and employers have a shared interest in these students. We want to be a resource for the school system that bridges the gap between being a student and being an employee.”


She said that bridge might involve community college, university training or just a move directly into the workforce. But the ease of passage depends on teachers showing their students what will be expected of them at the next level.


Dr. David Lowry, chief medical officer at Caldwell Memorial Hospital, said that teachers can dispell misconceptions about the skills that are required for specific careers.


“Health care is not just about doctors and nurses,” he said. “Almost any discipline has a health care use.”


He described how music and the arts are used in hospice care, computer skills and programming help with cybersecurity at hospitals, and data analysis is relevant in almost every position. Lowry also mentioned summer internship programs that are available to high school students.


Because high school students can graduate from Caldwell County Schools with certification to be a nursing assistant, they can go right to work even while they pursue further education, he said. Within just four years of finishing high school, a student could be ready to start on a master’s degree in nursing or a nursing education degree.


William Howard, a vice president at Bernhardt Furniture, said his company needs “all types of kids coming to us from the school system.”


“You’re the key to the prosperity of the county,” he said.


And Misty Lawrence, a former educator who now is training and development manager at Stallergenes Greer, an allergy pharmaceutical maker, said the teachers can show students how things they learn in school have real-world applications.


Superintendent Dr. Don Phipps called the event a success and said he wants to see relationships with businesses get more directly involved in the classrooms.


“I would love to have every business owner put together a quick 45-second video to show what their jobs are like,” he said. “So many jobs go into the making of any one product, and we want to open eyes and broaden perspectives.”


Darrell Pennell, the chairman of the Caldwell County Board of Education, said that it’s good for people to be reminded of the opportunities that are nearby.


“A student in Caldwell County can graduate, stay here, get a great job, earn a great wage and raise a family,” he said.


Reporter Garrett Stell can be reached at 828-610-8723.

7-16-2019 – Woman took roundabout path to Google

Posted on: July 16th, 2019 by admin


July 16, 2019



By Virginia Annable


Jul 16, 2019 12:00 AM

Lauren Roland didn’t have a typical career path.

Her studies in college centered on history and humanities, and never faltered through undergraduate and graduate school, but when she graduated in 2015, Roland faced a tough job hunt and ended up back home in Happy Valley searching for anything.


That’s when she stumbled into a temporary job at the Google data center in Lenoir. She had no computer science experience at the time, but now about three years into working for Google, Roland has become fluent in the technology used there and has fallen in love with the company atmosphere.


“It’s kind of a roundabout trajectory,” Roland said. “I never saw it for myself.”


Roland always had an interest in technology and was more than computer literate — she built herself a computer after graduating college — so the leap into tech wasn’t too far, she just had no formal training, she said.


Roland was first hired after applying at Google’s booth at Caldwell is Hiring, a countywide job fair, for a three month position. She didn’t know exactly what to expect at the massive data center, and the reality was beyond anything she could have expected, she said.


“I knew what a computer server was, but I didn’t understand the scale of it (Google’s servers at the data center),” Roland said. “People don’t really go around thinking about where everything on the internet is.”


After working just three months at the data center, Roland was able to get another year as a temporary worker.


“I didn’t want to leave,” Roland said.


The atmosphere promoted learning, improving and collaboration with coworkers, not competition, Roland said. When she decided to study up on computer science to become a full time “Googler” she had support at every turn.


“The technical interviews are very hard,” she said. “I have some excellent mentors at Google who would show me things and teach me things.”


After going through the interview process, Roland became a full time Googler as a data center technician.


Growing up in Caldwell County during the 1990s and early 2000s, Roland saw the effects of offshoring of furniture jobs and then the recession. When she left for college, she never saw herself coming back to her hometown. To now be working at Google is something Roland takes pride in.


With Google, Roland gets to reach out into the community she grew up in by volunteering, speaking at local schools and helping to put on the Gravity Games, a soapbox derby competition and festival put on by Google every spring.


“It’s gratifying to be out in the community and say, ‘We are here,'” Roland said.


The platform also gives Roland a chance to show other local people that tech and science job opportunities are available right in their backyard and that with a strong drive, they can learn anything they need to succeed in the sector, she said.


“It’s really cool,” Roland said. “I like to tell them you don’t have to be in California or from California to be in this role.”


Roland said she feels a special connection to the people she works with and place she works.


“It’s the team and the culture,” she said. “And it’s something unique about Lenoir, we’re known for being scrappy, and doing more with less.”


Reporter Virginia Annable can be reached at 828-610-8724.

7-12-2019 – Workshop connects businesses, educators

Posted on: July 12th, 2019 by admin


July 12, 2019



By Garrett Stell


Jul 12, 2019 12:00 AM


As technology and a new generation of employees present businesses with new problems, a local professional development program is working to create ways for Caldwell County students to help find solutions.


“Filling the Gap: Project Based Learning” is a program sponsored by STEM West — the science, technology, engineering and math educational arm of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments — that brought together 14 teachers from Caldwell and Alexander Counties to take part in a week-long workshop alongside local businesses.


Over the course of this week, teachers and support staff members have taken tours of eight businesses and learned about problems that company leaders were facing. At Little Gunpowder Creek on Monday, Gina Barrier of the N.C. State University Science House oversaw demonstrations that tested the water quality and then helped teachers put together poster boards to educate the public.


Teachers also participated in other project-based learning exercises at different businesses throughout the week, and Barrier said that whichever company they decide to partner with, she will provide them with the equipment for the project at no cost.


STEM West Director Carol Moore, who partnered with Barrier to organize the workshops, said it is the goal of the project to send teachers back to their classrooms with steps in mind for how they can teach their students to help local businesses.


“I want teachers to go back with a unit plan,” Moore said. “The goal is to get kids doing real work. … Businesses will present teachers with real problems, and then students will work together to solve those problems.”


The program will culminate today with a meeting between representatives from the eight businesses and the teachers. The business leaders will discuss one specific problem that they are facing in their industry, and the teachers will then work with one of the companies during the fall semester.


The end product, Moore said, is that the problem will be solved by students. She said that the results of past years have shown her the benefits of bringing real-world problems to kids to solve.


Through interactions with local businesses, Moore hopes that her program will help students think about available careers right in their hometown.


“By getting the students to feel involved in helping businesses tackle something they are actually struggling with, it makes such a positive impact on them,” Moore said.


She referred to one middle school student who commented last year that it was the first time she felt like anyone had ever asked her what she thought. But even more telling, Moore said, was a student who was excited because they had “never been given a problem that didn’t have an answer.”


Each of the teachers will go home from the workshop with a $200 stipend, which Moore said is typically used towards getting the project with the partner business off the ground.


“Sometimes they will set up a field trip for students to go and hear directly from the business about their problem,” she said.


Once a plan is made, Barrier supplies the teachers will the equipment they need to complete their projects.


“Bringing the private and public sector together to help kids grow and learn is our goal,” Moore said.


Reporter Garrett Stell can be reached at 828-610-8723.

7/10/2019 – Study backs push for apartments

Posted on: July 10th, 2019 by admin


July 10, 2019



By Guy Lucas


July 10, 2019 12:00 AM


There appears to be enough of an unmet demand for market-rate apartments in Caldwell County that several hundred could be filled quickly if they were built, according to results of the first phase a study commissioned by the county.


The median rent in Caldwell County is $460 a month, but that’s not where the demand is, according to the study. There is just a 1 percent vacancy rate in the apartments renting for $700 to $1,100 a month, and the small number with higher rents basically are rarely ever vacant.


That alone would indicate a potential to quickly fill 270 to 380 apartments renting for more than $700 a month, according to the study.


When comparing the demographic and income groups where Caldwell is seeing population growth with rental patterns in the rest of the state, there is potential to fill more than 1,000 new apartments by 2023, the study said.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said the study confirms what local employers have often said in recent years, but the study provides solid data that will help developers justify the financing needed for an apartment project. Murray presented the phase one results to the EDC’s board on Tuesday.


“I can tell you if we built 150 units they’d be gone as soon as they were built,” she said.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted in December to hire the Development Finance Initiative at UNC’s School of Government to conduct the study in hopes of building the case for developers to build multi-family housing here. No market-rate apartment developments have been built in the county in over 30 years.


A survey of local employers that was part of the study found that 81 percent said that the tightness of Caldwell’s housing market has become a recruitment problem as they try to grow.


Caldwell County’s economy has added about 1,000 new jobs a year the past few years, but with no new housing being built, an increasing number of workers are living in neighboring counties and commuting.


The study found that 15,400 employees of Caldwell County businesses commute here from outside the county.

The study also identified five sites as having high potential for success with a multifamily development, based on their size, infrastructure and proximity to such things as retail and grocery businesses, and the EDC will use that information in talks with developers who had expressed some interest before the study was done, Murray said.


County officials will decide in the coming weeks whether to have DFI move on to the proposed second phase of the housing study, which would include recommendations of steps local governments could take.

7/09/2019 – Lenoir recognized for art

Posted on: July 9th, 2019 by admin


July 9, 2019


By Virginia Annable


Art installations speckle the streets of downtown Lenoir, adding color to the scene and enlivening the city.


Lenoir’s public art adds character to the city, Lenoir Main Street Coordinator Kyle Case said. This month, the city’s public art was recognized with a Great Places award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association.


The award to Lenoir for Public Art — Lenoir and three other North Carolina cities were recognized in this category — named one exceptional piece of art in particular: “Across the Grain,” the towering, red ring created by Thomas Sayre in 2012 that sits at the corner of Harper Avenue and Church Street.


That piece and others, such as Tucker’s Gallery, the outdoor display of sculpture downtown, help define Lenoir as an artistic and diverse community, Case said.


“You’ve got this variety of art that I think represents our community,” Case said.


The award also names Kue King’s “Wherever Flames May Rage” sculpture, which was put on the front of the Lenoir Fire Department’s main station last year.


The city decided to nominate its local art for the award because of the important role art plays in town, Case said.


“It just felt like we have such a talented artist community in more ways than one but in particular the collaboration and planning between different departments and community partners stands out,” Case said. “It’s kind of what I think these awards are about. It’s about communities coming together to make great places.”


Public art plays a big role in an area’s quality of life, Case said, which is why the city puts an emphasis on it.


“I think for me personally it makes life a little better,” he said. “To have some color and have some character, really. If you walk around downtown you see new installations — and a variety of art.”


Reporter Virginia Annable can be reached at 828-610-8724.

7/07/2019 – CCC&TI program gets more support

Posted on: July 8th, 2019 by admin


July 7, 2019


From Staff Reports


Jul 05, 2019 2:57 PM

A furniture program at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is receiving another donation toward its new technology.


The American Home Furnishings Alliance Furniture Foundation announced that it has awarded $11,200 to the college, with $6,500 going toward technology needs and $4,700 for supplies.


In April AHFA Chief Executive Officer Andy Counts was on hand when CCC&TI unveiled its Furniture Factory Lab, which will simulate a factory floor for training students with sophisticated, modern equipment for sewing, upholstering and cutting.


The foundation said in a press release that its grant will equip the lab with additional computers and wireless access points, and with scissors, thread, bobbins, welt cord and other upholstery supplies.


Two other of the more than $88,000 in grants announced by the foundation last week are going to other groups in the region:


The Alexander Furniture Academy, part of Catawba Valley Community College, will receive $15,000 to fund 60 scholarships. The Alexander County academy, which also simulates a factory setting, was launched in 2016 to create a pipeline of workers for upholstered furniture.


Appalachian State University in Boone will receive $12,000 to fund four scholarships for furniture design students.

7/07/2019 – Caldwell business leader honored

Posted on: July 8th, 2019 by admin


July 7, 2019


LENOIR — Alvin Daughtridge, retired vice president of Fairfield Chair, has received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the SpecializedFurniture Carriers, a division of the American Home Furnishings Alliance.


Henceforth, the award will carry Daughtridge’s name, being presented annually as the Alvin Daughtridge Lifetime Achievement Award.


A native of Rocky Mount, Daughtridge began his career more than 53 years ago at Lenoir-based Fairfield Chair, originally a manufacturer of upholstered seating for the residential, office and hospitality industries. In recent years, the company expanded into importing wood desks, dining tables and accent furniture. Although he began in the personnel department, Daughtridge rose through the ranks and has long served as vice president.


When transportation and logistics came under his operational responsibilities at Fairfield, Daughtridge soon began lending his expertise to the industry organizations that focused on these areas. He was one of the first board members of the Furniture Shippers Association and helped guide the growth of AHFA’s transportation and logistics division. He served on AHFA’s Transportation and Logistics Council, as well as on the industry’s Supply Chain Council.


Outside the home-furnishings industry, Daughtridge is a community volunteer and an advocate for several local causes focused on health, business and education. His support for arthritis research and care led to a new clinic at Caldwell Memorial Hospital in Lenoir. It opened its doors in 2001 as the Alvin W. Daughtridge Arthritis Clinic. He has served on the boards of Caldwell Memorial Hospital, as well as Caldwell County’s Cancer Society, Red Cross and Board of Health.


In the business community, he is a past president of the Lenoir/Caldwell Chamber of Commerce and has received the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year Award, the Lenoir Jaycees Distinguished Service Award and the Non-Rotarian Award for Professional Excellence and High Ethical Standards. In January, he received the Caldwell County Economic Development Legacy Award for 50-plus years of service to business and educational endeavors.


Daughtridge is a long time member of the Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute board of trustees and is the founding chairman of Communities in Schools of Caldwell County.

7/2/2019 – Report shows job market strength

Posted on: July 2nd, 2019 by admin


July 2, 2019



By Guy Lucas


Jul 02, 2019 2:44 PM

Caldwell County’s labor force has steadied from the autumn shock of two plant closings, and the local unemployment rate in recent months has resumed moving in concert with that of its regional neighbors, the N.C. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday.


More important is the growth in jobs and the labor force, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Reports from the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division over the past six months show the number of Caldwell residents with jobs has remained at or near a 12-year high, and the labor force has been at or near an eight-year high.


In May, the number of county residents with jobs was approaching 35,700, and the labor force – the number of those with work combined with the number seeking jobs – was nearly 37,300.


Murray said that those numbers are now more important measures of economic progress than the unemployment rate, which in May rose by 0.5 percentage points from April to 4.3 percent.


“Yes, the unemployment rate went up, but not because of a loss of jobs — it increased because of the increase in the number of people looking for jobs,” she said. “This holds promise and stability for the economy and employers for the immediate future.”


Due to seasonal factors, the unemployment rate rose in 95 of the state’s 100 counties.


The increase in Caldwell’s unemployment rate was in line with increases in nearby counties. Burke’s rate rose by 0.5 points to 3.9 percent, and Catawba’s rose 0.4 points to 3.7 percent.


Only 14 counties in the state had changes smaller than 0.4 percentage points.


The closure of two Heritage Home Group plants in Lenoir last fall after that company filed for bankruptcy protection in July jolted the local unemployment rate in the final months of 2018, but in 2019 the numbers have gone back to their previous pattern of matching or outperforming most other counties’ numbers.


Murray noted that comparing the number of Caldwell residents with jobs in May 2019 to the number in May 2018 underlines the county’s overall progress despite the temporary setback last fall.


“Three-hundred forty-six more people working in May 2019 over May 2018 means more Caldwell County paychecks received,” she said.

6/30/2019 – College to launch mental health technician program

Posted on: July 1st, 2019 by admin


June 30, 2019


HUDSON — To meet the needs of local health care providers, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute has added a new, short-term

training program to prepare students for work in the mental health care field.

Beginning in fall 2019, CCC&TI’s Caldwell campus in Hudson will offer the mental health technician program, which is designed to give students the

knowledge and skills to provide safe, therapeutic patient care to people who have mental and behavioral health needs in an effective and ethical



Topics will include:

» History of mental health care.

» Identifying normal growth and development.

» Importance of trust and communication in health care.

» Proper safety in the work­place.

» Chemical dependency and its effects.

» Common psychiatric disorders.

» Proper documentation for patients.

» Understanding and respecting patient rights.

Successful completion of the program will prepare students for the American Association of Psychiatric Technicians Level 1 certification exam, and

entry level positions such as psychiatric aides, mental health care technicians and health care technicians and certified nursing assistants whose

primary patient population has special mental health/behavioral needs.


Brandy Dunlap, dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, says that the program is being added as a direct result of local employer

needs. “This is an industry-recognized training that will help them in the new positions with Caldwell UNC and Appa­lachian Regional Healthcare,”

said Dunlap. “Both organizations are increasing their mental health capacities and are looking for people with mental health experience.”


CCC&TI’s mental health technician Program will be offered through both online and seated instruction and will include lecture, module assignments,

module tests and case studies.


Classes will run from Aug. 20 to Nov. 1.


The seated portion will take place every other Tuesday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. for a total of 18 seated classroom hours. The remaining coursework will be

delivered online.


Cost for the program is $181. Students must be a current Nurse Aide I with proof of valid N.C. Nurse Aide Registry and have a high school diploma or



For more information about the program or to register, call 828-726-2242.

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