Archive for April, 2020

4-6-2020 – Businesses make bids to stay open

Posted on: April 6th, 2020 by admin


April 3, 2020





Many businesses in Caldwell County that are not in the categories of businesses the state initially deemed essential when the governor’s stay-at-home order took effect have appealed their status, enabling them to remain open.


Large manufacturing companies make up the bulk of Caldwell applicants who have requested to be considered essential, and some of their requests already have been approved by the state thanks in part to their role in a larger nationwide supply chain, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.


“Sealed Air is making the packaging materials that make it possible for the COVID-19 test kits to be transported,” she said. “They’re also the ones that make a lot of materials for Amazon packaging.”


Fairfield Chair also was granted permission to stay open. In Fairfield’s letter of request, the company indicated that it has stopped making furniture and instead dedicated over 500,000 square feet of manufacturing space to making N95 and KN95 masks and surgical gowns and isolation gowns. McCreary Modern announced a similar shift in production and requested to remain open.


Small businesses are able to apply for special consideration as well. Janey Porter, who owns Natural Elements of NC in Lenoir, which sells CBD and other natural health products, was approved by the state to remain open but is following strict social distancing practices.


“We take temperature readings as people come in the door, and we have marked distancing inside the shop,” she said. “We have a lot of clients who rely on us for anxiety treatment and in an anxious time like this they were concerned about their wellness.”


More than 3,000 businesses statewide have filed appeals with the Department of Revenue. Those businesses can remain open while the state considers their appeal.


If the turnaround on applications is slow, it might create a window for companies that cannot conduct business safely to remain open much longer than they should. But Murray said that so far she hasn’t seen much evidence of a slow turnaround in Caldwell County; some businesses were granted essential status within just five days of their filing.


According to information from the governor’s office, even businesses that are considered essential should promote remote work as much as possible and implement social distancing. Employees that are deemed essential “should continue to go to work and practice social distancing to the extent possible,” according to a press release.


The Department of Revenue has more information about essential businesses on its website,, under the “Essential Businesses” tab. To review the governor’s executive order and submit an application to be considered an essential business, visit


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

4-3-2020 – Manufacturers help fill medical supply gap

Posted on: April 3rd, 2020 by admin


April 3, 2020



By Kara Fohner


Local manufacturers are working with the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission to bring critical supplies to medical workers.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the EDC, named more than a dozen companies who are working to connect health care workers with supplies such as masks and gowns that are in short supply because of an elevated demand for them.


“We were asked to help get the word out to see if there were surplus inventory anywhere in our county, and so we put the word out to local business and industry and schools, and we found some places that they had … an impressive amount of surplus that they could share,” Murray said. “Some companies I believe … even gave sacrificially, parting with essential supplies that they use even in their own business.”


Jim Craven, vice president of sales at Fairfield Furniture, said Fairfield has been working with government officials and public agencies to compose a plan to help provide masks, gowns and similar medical supplies.


“It’s not finalized yet. We are researching. We have spoken with multiple different agencies about what the needs are and what our capabilities are,” he said.


McCreary Modern announced in a Facebook post that it has researched and developed a mask that is similar in design to those used by certified medical manufacturers. The company is making the masks for Hospice of Catawba County, which had run completely out of masks, “and we have offered our services to the county, state and nation as needed.” Company officials did not return calls from the News-Topic.


Emily Roberts, vice president of NuTex Concepts, said that NuTex is repurposing materials to sell to manufacturers who are making masks and gowns. Roberts said that many of NuTex’s customers are furniture and mattress manufacturers who are beginning to produce medical supplies.


“Since a lot of our customers are converting their sewing capability over, we’re able to supply them with our fabric that they’re using in their sewing capabilities,” she said.


Murray said that many companies have industrial sewing operations and can order the proper fabrics to make medical supplies, “so they are stepping up and basically coming to the rescue with these types of things.”


Officials from Caldwell County Schools have also provided help, bringing goggles, gloves, aprons and masks from middle and high school labs.


“We’ve got the most in that first round from those places, which I was so impressed with,” Murray said.

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