Archive for March, 2020

3-24-2020 – Events overtake unemployment report

Posted on: March 24th, 2020 by admin


March 24, 2020





Two months before the new corona virus crashed the economy, Caldwell County and the rest of the state saw a small increase in unemployment.


The N.C. Department of Commerce’s report on January’s local unemployment rate showed that all 100 counties saw their rate increase from December. In Caldwell, the increase was 0.6 percentage points, reaching 4%. Despite the increase, that is still a level that economists consider to be “full employment.”


That number is little more than an answer to a trivia game now, however, as unemployment claims statewide have shot up after business slowdowns or closures related to measures to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, said that new unemployment claims in Caldwell County are “heading northward in a hurry,” particularly in service and retail industries.


“Those unemployment numbers will be staggering when the March report comes out in several months,” she said.


She noted that Caldwell was one of just four counties that had a year-over-year — from January 2019 to January 2020 — reduction of more than 0.8 points in the local unemployment rate.


“Caldwell’s numbers continued to show strong, long-term growth and stability — before COVID-19,” she said. “It is difficult to crow over sustained improvements that are now only historic information frozen in a rearview mirror.”


She said that employers who are still hiring can submit their openings to the EDC, which will post them on the Caldwell Is Hiring page on Facebook.


She also tried to sound an optimistic note for when the virus crisis has passed.


“Caldwell business and industry were at their strongest before the corona virus began to hit home,” she said. “Because of that I am certain we will regain that footing in the future.”


3-20-2020 – EDC video addressing local response to COVID-19

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by admin


March 20, 2020



This video was broadcast to local businesses on Thursday March 19th. It contains information from local leaders in the health field who are working to inform businesses about local efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus. The presenters are Deborah Murray, Executive Director of the Caldwell County EDC, Laura Easton, President of Caldwell UNC Health Care, Dino DiBernardi Chief of Caldwell County Emergency Services and Anna Martin, MPH Caldwell County Health Director. Please click on the link below to see the video:





3-20-2020 – Employers briefed on COVID-19 protocol

Posted on: March 20th, 2020 by admin


March 20, 2020



By Garrett Stell

Mar 19, 2020 2:57 PM


Enforcing social distancing and calling ahead with doctors are the best methods for slowing the spread of coronavirus, local health officials told Caldwell County business and community leaders in a conference call Thursday.


There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Caldwell County to date – statewide the number was approaching 100 – but community leaders need to prepare for someone testing positive, said Deborah Murray, executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


Emergency Services Director Dino DiBernardi, Public Health Director Anna Martin and Laura Easton, the president of Caldwell UNC Health Care, joined Murray for a virtual meeting to brief local employers on the ways that they can help slow down the spread of the virus.


DiBernardi said that the virus more than likely already is in the community.


“Our key takeaway for all employers, employees and honestly the health care community as a whole is to prevent the mass spread of this,” he said. “We have to eliminate the mass surge, we have to eliminate that strain on the medical community that overwhelms us. The way we do that … is with the social distancing, with disinfecting and using common sense.”


He said that what differentiates COVID-19 from dangerous conditions like heart disease and diabetes is the sudden flooding of the health care system.


“The same thing happens every year with the flu: Hospitals get inundated,” he said. “The challenge here, though, is that there is no fallback.”


Martin said that one way to help health care workers is to call ahead to medical providers before going to them. COVID-19 is an upper respiratory disease with symptoms such as coughing and fever, and she encouraged anyone experiencing those symptoms to seek medical attention, but always call first.


“Our message is: If you need to go to the doctor, call ahead so we can take necessary precautions before you get there,” Martin said.


Once people are able to make contact with a care provider, the doctors there will assess their symptoms and determine the next step.


With some symptoms easily confused with signs of a common cold or allergies, Easton said to watch for fever a sign of a potential COVID-19 infection.


Caldwell Memorial Hospital has set up a drive-through diagnostic respiratory center, but people will be sent there only after they have been screened by health care professionals in order to prevent overwhelming the system, Easton said.


“We are seeking to have people come to that diagnostic testing center through their primary physicians or through urgent care,” she said. “If your employees are showing respiratory symptoms, they should call their primary physician, or call a Caldwell Urgent Care facility, and they will direct them appropriately to the resp diagnostic center at the right time.”

3-19-2020 – COVID-19 Federal and State Resources for Businesses

Posted on: March 19th, 2020 by admin


March 19, 2020



COVID-19         Federal and State Resources for Businesses


Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers


NC COVID-19 Helpline    866-462-3821

For online chat


North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services


COVID-19 Recommendations for Businesses and Employers



Business Link North Carolina (BLNC)   800-228-8443

Supply Chain Disruptions due to COVID-19, Find a NC Manufacturer / Supplier at



Carolina Community Impact, Inc   919-861-5321

Carolina Small Business Development Fund   919-803-1437

NC Community Development Initiative   919-828-5655

Self-Help Credit Union   800-476-7428

Thread Capital   919-212-4950


BUSINESS COUNSELING SERVICES, including layoff aversion strategies

Business Edge Services   919-814-0400   800-562-6333

SBTDC   Small Business Development Centers

3-19-2020 – North Carolina Business Relief Resources RE: Covid-10

Posted on: March 19th, 2020 by admin


March 19, 2020



North Carolina Business Relief Resources Re: COVID-19

For all general questions, call Business Link North Carolina (BLNC) at 800.228.8443. BLNC staff   are available Monday through Friday, 8:30 am – 4:00 pm. BLNC staff will connect your business to the appropriate organization for assistance. All inquiries will receive a response from a confidential business counselor within three (3) business days. “Se Habla Español.”



Is your business experiencing supply chain disruptions due to the impact of COVID-19?

Find the Manufacturer or Supplier your business needs at ManufacturedNC:




Looking for funding resources that can provide low interest lending options?

North Carolina is home to a variety of non-profit lenders that can provide access to the capital your business needs. Each of these organizations is a Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). These include (in alpha order):


Carolina Community Impact, Inc.


Carolina Community Impact, Inc. provides access to credit building and asset building techniques and services through financial education and small-dollar consumer loans.


Carolina Small Business Development Fund (formerly known as The Support Center) 919.803.1437

Founded in 1990 to promote economic opportunity for all, the Carolina Small Business Development Fund is passionate about supporting small businesses. Because those who go into business for themselves should never be left by themselves. Offices are located across the state.


N.C. Community Development Initiative


Initiative Capital, the N.C. Community Development Initiative’s lending arm, provides strategic lending and investment for community economic developers and businesses that create jobs, promote economic growthnd facilitate the development of affordable housing and community revitalization, particularly in low- resource areas of the state.


Self-Help Credit Union Lending Office: 800.476.7428  Business Loan Webform

Self-Help’s mission is to create and protect ownership and economic opportunity for all. They do this by providing responsible financial services; lending to individuals, small businesses and nonprofits; developing real estate; and promoting fair financial practices.  Branch locations are in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.


Thread Capital


Launched in June 2018 by the N.C. Rural Center, Thread Capital gives N.C.’s small businesses and entrepreneurs access to the resources they need to thrive. Thread Capital provides small business loans up to $50,000 to traditionally underserved entrepreneurs in North Carolina. Thread Capital also provides disaster recovery loans up to $250,000. Rapid Recovery loans provide immediate cash to businesses to keep their doors open in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Resilient Recovery loans are designed to help small businesses be better prepared for future disasters.


U.S. Small Business Administration

The SBA has approved the N.C. Governor Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in modified and additional Small Business Administration resources to help N.C. small businesses, small aquacultural businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and/or most private nonprofit organizations. Applicants are encouraged to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans online.


Interested in upcoming small business grant opportunities?


Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries due to the effects of COVID-19. Sign up for more info.!



Do you need business counseling services, including layoff aversion strategies?


Business Edge Services

919.814.0400 or Toll Free: 800.562.6333 (Choose Option 2 – Business Services)

Business Edge is a series of layoff aversion strategies and activities designed to help North Carolina employers prevent or minimize job losses. Through Business Edge, workforce partners collaborate with business leaders to assess the needs of, and options for, “at-risk” firms, and to deliver services that address those needs.


Small Business and Technology Development Center

919.715.7272 or Toll-Free: 800.258.0862

The Small Business and Technology Development Center provides management counseling and educational services to small and mid-sized businesses, including those in distress. Most of the SBTDC’s services are free of charge, and all are confidential.  Offices are located across the state.


Small Business Center Network

Find your local office at a community college.

The Small Business Center Network is here to assist you and your business with resources and assistance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBCN works in partnership with Federal, State and Local organizations to provide the information and strategies to help your business move forward. Offices are  across the state in your local community colleges.



Do you need to file an Unemployment Insurance claim?


N.C. Division of Employment Security


If you have lost your job or been laid off, file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. If you are not eligible for UI benefits, the business owner and/or employee may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). DUA is a federal program that provides temporary payments to people in a federally declared disaster area whose employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of the disaster. Business owners that are self-employed or who are unemployed as a direct result of the disaster may be

eligible. COVID-19 specific information is here.



Looking for other helpful government resources?


N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services: COVID-19 Recommendations for Businesses and Employers


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers


Posted on: March 18th, 2020 by admin


March 18, 2020



SBA COVID-19 Assistance

By: Thomas A. Stith III
SBA North Carolina District Director


In our continued commitment to support small businesses within our communities the SBA announced the following initiative to address businesses suffering from substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus.


SBA Assistance in Response to



• The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.


• Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


• SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.


• Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities as well as updated on our website:


• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per small business and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.


• These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.


• SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.


• SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.


• For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail


• Visit for  more information.



3-18-2020 – Caldwell Health Department Opens Health Information Line to Answer Questions about Coronavirus

Posted on: March 18th, 2020 by admin


March 18, 2020



For Immediate Release

March 17, 2020


Caldwell Health Department Opens Health Information Line to Answer Questions About Coronavirus


The Caldwell County Health Department opened its Health Information Line to provide information about Coronavirus (COVID-19). To access the line, people can call (828) 426-8456.


If a person believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 and develops a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, they should call their healthcare provider, urgent care, or the health department and tell them about their symptoms and suspected exposure.


“If we know people are symptomatic prior to their arrival at healthcare facilities, we can provide them with instructions and take precautions to help prevent further spread of the virus,” explained Caldwell County Health Department Director Anna Martin. “In many cases, we may be able to test patients in their cars.”


North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services developed the guidelines below to help people assess their own risk.


No Risk – Walking by or briefly being in the same room as a person who tested positive for COVID-19


Low Risk – Being in the same room as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms but not within six feet of the infected person


Medium Risk – Sustained close contact (10 minutes or longer) within six feet of a person with COVID-19 while they had symptoms


High Risk – Close household contacts of people with a confirmed case of COVID-19


The following are recommended ways to protect against the spread of COVID-19:

  • Clean hands often.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Practice social distancing.


Additional Updates


All branches of the Caldwell County Public Library are closed until further notice. Customers still have 24/7 access to their accounts and digital resources at Book drops are open at all three locations so that customers can return items, but due dates have been pushed back until March 30, 2020. All holds on materials have been suspended until the library reopens, and no fines will accrue for materials due after March 15, 2020.


For more information, visit

3-10-2020 County OKs cash for new jobs

Posted on: March 11th, 2020 by admin


March 10, 2020


By Guy Lucas

Mar 10, 2020 11:09 AM


Three local businesses are planning expansions that could create about 100 new full-time jobs, and economic development officials are trying to lure a new industry to the area that could create several hundred more jobs.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners approved job-creation incentives of $2,000 per job created for all four projects. The incentives for each would not be paid unless the company documents the number of jobs created and filled.


By far the largest project is the most uncertain. It involves a company that is considering Caldwell County among other sites for a $15 million investment in a new manufacturing plant expected to create 400 jobs over three years and eventually perhaps as many as 600, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


The company’s name is not being released until it selects a site. Murray refers to the company publicly as Project Q.


The commissioners approved offering incentives of $2,000 for each job created up to a maximum of $800,000. They also approved offering a tax grant that would return to the company 75% of the property taxes that would be assessed on the increased value created by the company’s investment. The grant would last for five years.


The county incentives would serve as local matching money for a state Job Development Investment Grant package for the company as well. If the company chooses Caldwell, the governor’s office would announce that package.


Of the three other projects, only one of the companies was identified. Roblon in Granite Falls, which makes coverings for optical fiber cables, plans to spend about $1 million on an expansion that is expected to add 30 new jobs over the coming year.


That comes after an expansion begun in late 2018 that grew Roblon’s employment from 47 to 73 and involved about $850,000 of investment in machinery and equipment, according to documents provided to the commissioners.


Another local company, which has asked local officials not to release its name until it announces its plans to employees, plans to invest $500,000 on an expansion that could add 60 full-time jobs to its current 141.


In addition to the job-creation incentives offered by the county to the company, referred to as Project Trilogy, Lenoir also has signed on to an application for the company to receive a state building reuse grant to help pay for its expansion.


Murray said the third company, referred to as Project Drumstick, has requested that its name be withheld while it considers whether it can expand on its current site or will need to find a new site. She said it is a “wood-based” manufacturer and is planning investing up to $1 million in an expansion that could more than double its employment, going from its current 12 full-time jobs to as much as 27.


In other business, the commissioners approved spending up to $7,300 to help Caldwell County Animal Control buy a climate-controlled trailer that could hold up to 12 animals at a time so Animal Control can take animals to pet adoption events around the county. The total cost of the trailer is expected to be $18,300, and Animal Control currently has about $12,300 in private donations to help pay for it, Health Director Anna Martin said.


The commissioners also approved rezoning a 1.36-acre site on the south side of Wilkesboro Boulevard between Cedar Rock and Lenoir that is owned by Tommy L. McGee from a residential zoning to general business. County Planning Director Shelley Stevens said she thinks the current plan is to put a surveying business on the site.

3-10-2020 Scheduling Conflict

Posted on: March 10th, 2020 by admin


March 10, 2020



We have a scheduling conflict with the upcoming Caldwell Is Hiring event.  When the rescheduled date is determined, we will announce and pick up where we left off. Sorry for the inconvenience.   Please stay tuned!


Looking forward to the 20th event and making it the best ever!

3-5-2020 – New CCC&TI program a first in region

Posted on: March 6th, 2020 by admin


March5, 2020





In response to the growing pharmaceutical industry in the region, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is rolling out a new program that will be just the second of its kind in North Carolina.


CCC&TI’s newest two-year degree — the Associate in Applied Science in Biopharmaceutical Technology — will be available for enrollment in the fall. President Dr. Mark Poarch said it should have a positive impact for Caldwell County and neighboring areas.


“It’s not just necessarily going to be a Caldwell County program,” he said. “We’re looking at this being a regional program for western North Carolina that strengthens our partnerships with other colleges, other companies as well as the workforce all throughout our area.”


The only other community college biopharmaceutical program is at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, and Poarch said that hosting the only program in the western half of the state could turn CCC&TI into a hotspot for a growing industry.


CCC&TI is in the process of converting a section of the Hudson campus that used to house the manufacturing classes into a lab space for the pharmaceuticals program. The manufacturing classes will be moving into the new Paul H. Broyhill Center for Advanced Technologies at the intersection of U.S. 321 and Pine Mountain Road.


Vice President of Instruction Randy Ledford said that the classrooms and work spaces will be refitted over the summer to accommodate the needs of the pharmaceuticals program.


“We’re looking at installing a modular septic clean room with a simulated fill-line just like you would see when working anywhere in the industry,” he said. “Even though it’s manufacturing, it’s a different kind of environment that students need to get comfortable with. Understanding how to work in a clean environment is especially critical in this field.”


When deciding whether to start a new program, Ledford said that college officials looks at a number of factors, including the benefits for potential students and the hiring capacity of companies.


“We spend a great deal of time learning exactly what a two-year degree would give our students,” Ledford said. “We ask what values the industry itself is putting on the degree. Does it change the rate of pay for employees?”


Through research into statewide hiring trends they learned the pharmaceutical industry places a high value on the two-year degree as well as on short-term programs that educate existing or prospective employees, Ledford said.


The new program is indicative of the college’s mission to remain in line with the needs of local business and community partners, Poarch said.


“Existing companies in this industry — like Exela Pharma Sciences and Stallergenes Greer — are growing,” Poarch said. “And now with an additional 167 new jobs planned in the next five years, there’s a growing capacity for workers to be filled.”


The 167 new jobs was a reference to Bio-Nutra, an India-based maker of probiotics, vitamins, medicinal foods and dietary supplements that plans to open its first U.S. plant in Lenoir.


The arrival of Bio-Nutra was facilitated partly by a state grant program that will provide job-creation incentives to the company. The deal also brought in $480,000 in grant money to the college from the Golden LEAF Foundation for establishing the biopharmaceutical program, including funding the addition of over $250,000 in equipment, faculty and classroom space and almost $200,000 for the clean-room.


Fall registration for courses at CCC&TI begins March 25 and will close Aug. 11. Summer registration begins on the same day and ends May 13.

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