Archive for January, 2020

1-29-2020 – New bank aims for ‘hometown’ feel

Posted on: January 29th, 2020 by admin


January 29, 2020



By Guy Lucas

Jan 29, 2020 9:14 AM


The bank that soon will be the newest addition to Lenoir’s business community will put the emphasis on “community,” the company’s president said.


Work is underway for Skyline National Bank to open in March in the former Parkway Bank headquarters at 509 Wilkesboro Blvd., president and CEO Blake Edwards said. When it opens, Edwards hopes people will find it a comfortable fit.


“We’re just a small, hometown, community bank,” he said.


As a community bank, its emphasis is on small business lending and consumer lending, “the kind of thing that big banks don’t look at,” he said. Skyline employees also are encouraged to be active in civic organizations and schools, he said.


“We’ll try our best to be good community citizens,” he said.


Bank consolidations following the 2008 economic crisis have “left a lot of communities like this without a solid community bank,” Edwards said. “Our goal … is to step in and fill that void in Western North Carolina.”


Skyline, based in Independence, Virginia, has been making a push in North Carolina. Lenoir will be the third new branch it will have opened.


Edwards hopes the Lenoir opening will be followed by a new branch opening in Hickory in April and one in downtown Hudson in May. All formerly were Capital Bank branches.


That will bring Skyline to a total of nine branches in North Carolina and 15 in Virginia.


Skyline formed in 2016 from the merger of two community banks in southwest Virginia, Grayson National Bank and the Bank of Floyd. Seeking a name that resonated with the region, bank officials originally thought about Parkway because of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but the name was taken, Edwards said. They settled instead on Skyline — from the parkway’s original name, Skyline Drive.


Skyline then merged with Wilkes County-based Great State Bank in 2018.


1-16-2020 – Building named for Paul Broyhill

Posted on: January 16th, 2020 by admin


January 16, 2020



By Garrett Stell

Jan 16, 2020 12:00 AM


The Broyhill name can be found on buildings and placards across Caldwell County, including the Satie and J.E. Broyhill Caldwell Senior Center in Lenoir, the J.T. Broyhill Highway (U.S. 321 from Blowing Rock to Hickory, and the T.H. Broyhill Walking Park.


Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Board of Trustees voted Wednesday to add to this list and renamed the former Rite Aid building at the corner of Hickory Boulevard and Pine Mountain Road in Hudson the Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies.


The space will house a simulated factory floor to offer state-of-the-art training in modern manufacturing techniques and technology.


CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said that naming a center that will educate the next generation of manufacturers is a fitting way to honor Paul Broyhill’s contributions to the county.


“(Broyhill) is a man who has stood for innovation and progress, and this building represents many of those same ideals that he stood for and that made Broyhill (Furniture) a success for many years in our community,” he said.


Broyhill is the son of J.E. Broyhill, who in with his brother T.H. Broyhill started a furniture company that grew to become a worldwide leader in the industry. At its peak in the 1970s, Broyhill Furniture Industries had 20 factories and employed about 7,500 people, about 4,500 of them in Caldwell County.


Paul Broyhill, 94, served in the Army in World War II and returned after the war to complete his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the then-family-owned company in 1947 and rose through the ranks to become chairman and chief executive officer.


The naming decision comes near the end of a long process of converting the property from a retail space to a modern factory and education space, which began when the board voted to buy the property last March.


The building had been vacant for over two years, since Walgreen’s bought about half of Rite Aid’s stores. Walgreen’s already had a store across the street from the Hudson Rite Aid.


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.


Trustee Bill Stone said that workers have installed new ceilings and a new sprinkler system so far.


Donnie Basinger, vice president of operations, said he expects the next major step to be installing new floors that can withstand the wear and tear of heavy industrial equipment.


Stone said that the building should be finished over the summer and ready to open in August. Poarch said that there will be an official ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony, but no date has been set.


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

1-15-2020 – Bernhardt, Poarch win awards

Posted on: January 15th, 2020 by admin


January 15, 2020


By Guy Lucas

Jan 14, 2020 3:02 PM


One of Caldwell County’s oldest and largest companies, which in the past year was named by the governor’s office for its leadership in exports, was named the county’s Industry of the Year Tuesday.


Executives with Bernhardt Furniture accepted the award at the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission’s annual Caldwell Economic Development Celebration.


In presenting the award, guest speaker John Loyack of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina called Bernhardt, founded in 1889, a “steady and stalwart presence” in Caldwell County that has become “an iconic brand known worldwide.”


Bernhardt has more than 1,500 employees, 90 percent of whom work in Caldwell County, making it one of the county’s largest private employers, but as important the company and related Bernhardt Family Foundation are known for contributions to the welfare of their employees and the community, Loyack said.


The Herman Anderson Award for contributions to local economic development was presented to Dr. Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, in recognition of his efforts to expand the college’s economic development partnerships, including with local industries to meet their training needs and with industries local officials are trying to recruit.


The award is named for a former Blue Ridge Electrical Membership Corp. executive who “was known as Mr. Economic Development,” said Bob Floyd, who presented the award. Anderson passed away late last month.


Poarch said that the fact that Anderson recently died made it particularly humbling to receive the award.


He said that supporting local business and industry is one of the three prongs of the college’s mission.


“We try to throw everything in our tool belt at business and industry,” he said.

1-8-2020 – Local company plans big expansion

Posted on: January 8th, 2020 by admin


January 8, 2020



By Guy Lucas


Jan 07, 2020 9:40 AM


A Caldwell County company plans to invest $20 million in an expansion that could add up to 126 new full-time jobs over the next two years, county officials say.


The name of the company was not revealed when the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted Monday night to offer job-creation incentives of $2,000 for each job created, up to a total of $252,000. Executive Director Deborah Murray of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission referred to the company’s plan only as Project Buckeye.


Murray said the company also plans to apply to the N.C. Department of Commerce for a building reuse grant to help pay for renovating an existing building.In other business, the commissioners approved an extension for job-creation incentives they had approved in 2018 for an expansion of Automated Solutions.


Murray said that getting state approval for the revision of an air emissions permit took much longer than company officials had expected, which delayed the expansion. The permit recently was approved.


The company, which currently has 75 employees, still expects to add 20 full-time jobs, but the previous incentives of $2,000 per job, up to a total of $40,000, expired at the end of September, she said.


The commissioners voted to extend the incentives to this coming Sept. 30.





1-5-2020 – Job market still shows strength

Posted on: January 6th, 2020 by admin


January 5, 2020



By Guy Lucas


Jan 03, 2020 1:33 PM


Caldwell County’s continues whittling away at the increase in the unemployment rate that followed a major employer’s bankruptcy in 2018.


The local unemployment rate dropped 0.3 percentage points in November to 3.5 percent, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported. That’s the lowest since Heritage Home Group’s last two furniture manufacturing plants in Lenoir closed in November 2018.


The local unemployment rate had dropped to 2.9 percent in September 2018, and then after the plants’ closing rose to 4.8 percent by January 2019.


Even when the unemployment rate went up, though, the monthly jobs report has been showing continuing signs of the local economy’s overall strength: the size of the labor force, which rose above 37,000 in January 2019 and has remained there ever since, and the total number of Caldwell County residents with jobs. Both are at pre-recession levels.


The November employment report continues to show that strength and stability in the local economy, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


“Fewer people are unemployed month over month (112 fewer), and the unemployment rate is at its lowest for all of 2019. January 2019 began with 1,781 people unemployed. That number has been dramatically reduced to 1,299 in the November report,” she said. “The competitor in me is disappointed that we haven’t yet exceeded 36,000 employed this year but I am certain we will get there in early 2020.”


The number of those with jobs has hovered just under 36,000 for much of 2019.


“While these are just numbers on paper about how many are working, there is a really strong story to be told,” Murray said. “Today Caldwell has the largest number of people working in over a decade, and when you layer on top of that that Caldwell has the 26th highest average private sector wages of the 100 N.C. counties, individual workers in Caldwell County are incredibly better off than they were a decade ago. Measuring Caldwell wages over the last five years, Caldwell is outpacing even the counties around us. Full employment is a great thing, but full employment with significantly and consistently improving wages is impactful for every worker and every family in Caldwell.”



Caldwell’s drop of 0.3 points from October’s unemployment rate was among the best in the state – only 15 of the state’s 100 counties saw unemployment drop more – and puts the county’s unemployment rate right at the statewide median, tied with seven other counties for 45th lowest in the state. Neighboring Burke and Catawba counties both had a drop of 0.2 points, to 3.3 percent in Burke and 3.2 percent in Catawba.


The unemployment rate in the overall Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area was 3.6 percent in November, tied with Burlington and Winston-Salem for the sixth lowest among the state’s 15 metro areas.

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