Archive for the ‘News section’ Category

1-27-2023 – Winter 2022 Economic Indicators Newsletter Highlights Hickory Metro Region Traffic Count Trends.

Posted on: January 27th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 27 2023

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January 26, 2023 –The latest issue of the Economic Indicators Newsletter (EIN) was released today by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. In print since 1998, this quarterly publication focuses on economic trends and issues impacting the Hickory Metro Region. The issue addresses Hickory Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) unemployment rates, Hickory Metro State gross collections, and Hickory MSA traffic counts.

 

 

Here are a few key highlights of the EIN:

 

  • The Hickory MSA’s unemployment rate equaled 4.0% in October 2021. Over the past year, the Hickory MSA’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8% as of October 2022.
  • Between October 2021 and October 2022, the estimated number of employed persons increased from 162,861 to 165,889 (3,028), while the civilian labor force grew from 169,389 to 172,412 (3,023).
  • Hickory Average annual Hickory MSA wages increased from $39,624 in 2017 to $47,320 in 2021.
  • Data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation reveals that the highest 2021 traffic count in the Hickory Metro region of 67,500 vehicles per day occurred along I-40 between L-R Blvd (Exit 125) and MacDonald Parkway (Exit 126)
  • The largest traffic volume increase in the Hickory-Newton-Conover area between 2011 and 2021 (8,000 vehicles per day) was along US 321 north of NC 127 and L-R Blvd south of E Ave SE near Lenoir-Rhyne University
  • The highest Alexander County traffic count in 2021 (15,500) was at NC 16 just south of US 64 in Taylorsville.
  • Between 2011 and 2021, Average Daily Traffic (ADT) increases of more than 2,000 vehicles per day occurred along NC 16 north of US 64, just north of Fairground Rd and north of Hines Farm Rd, and at US 64 east of NC 16.
  • Twelve traffic count locations in Caldwell County had ADTs of 30,000 or more in 2021. These counts occurred on US 321 between Hospital Ave in Lenoir to the Catawba River Bridge.
  • Traffic counts were much higher in 2021 than in 2011 at several locations along US 321 (Blowing Rock Blvd) and US 64/NC 18 (Morganton Blvd) in Lenoir.
  • Burke County/Morganton area traffic counted more than 35,000 vehicles per day in 2021, all found along I-40.
  • The largest traffic count increases (4,500 to 8,500) in the Morganton Area over the past ten years occurred at US 64-70 (Fleming Dr) west of US 64 (Burkemont Ave) and NC 181 (N Green St) north of NC 126. Over the past two years, the largest increase (4,000 vehicles per day) was at NC 181 (N Green St) north of NC 126.

 

 

 

The EIN is produced quarterly and is a Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board publication. To subscribe to the EIN, please contact Taylor Dellinger, Data Analyst, at 828-485-4233 or by email taylor.dellinger@wpcog.org.

 

 

Western Piedmont Council of Governments

1880 Second Ave NW

Hickory, NC 28601

 

1-26-2023 – North Carolina economy continues to excel

Posted on: January 26th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 26 2023

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By JOHN HOOD

Jan 25, 2023

 

RALEIGH

North Carolina faces many challenges. You and I may disagree with how to rank those challenges, or what to do about them, but we share a belief that our state could be a better place than it is today.

 

This reformist impulse is proper and useful. But we shouldn’t let it make us unduly and unrealistically dour. Few states can match what North Carolina already has to offer — which is why few states match or exceed our growth rate.

 

The latest population data from the U.S. Census Bureau, for example, show that North Carolina’s population grew by some 133,000 last year, to 10.7 million residents. Only Texas (471,000) and Florida (417,000) increased more in population during the period. In terms of annual growth rate, North Carolina ranked 9th at 1.3%, with Florida (1.9%) topping the list.

 

America’s fastest-growing states are primarily in the Southeast and Mountain West. That’s been true for some time now. Similarly, the places with the largest drops in population last year were also rather predictable. There were six-figure population declines in New York, California, and Illinois. In percentage terms, the fastest-declining states were New York, Illinois, and Louisiana.

 

As for gross domestic product, North Carolina’s economy has since the beginning of 2020 posted a compound annual growth rate of 2.8%, adjusted for inflation. That’s significantly higher than the national (1.6%) and regional (2.1%) averages. Idaho (4.2%) ranked first in this category, followed by Tennessee (3.8%), Florida (3.6%), Utah (3.6%), and New Hampshire (2.9%). Our state ranked 8th.

 

Which states are slackers in economic growth? Well, Louisiana’s GDP actually shrank by an average annual rate of 3%. Other places with net negative growth since January 2020 included Alaska, Wyoming, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Hawaii, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Maryland.

 

As should come as no surprise to no one, I believe that the past decade of free-market reforms and fiscally conservative policies made North Carolina a more attractive place to live, work, invest, and create new jobs. We went from having one of the worst-designed tax systems in the country to one of the best. I also credit infrastructure improvements and a series of regulatory-reform measures for improving our business climate.

 

It is important to keep in mind, however, that government is not the primary driver of economic decisions. All other things being equal, states with smaller, less-intrusive, and more-effective governments tend to grow faster than average. But all other things are never equal.

 

Look again at that list of states with shrinking economies. While some of them are “blue” states with relatively high tax and regulatory burdens, others such as Wyoming and North Dakota don’t fit that description. States overly reliant on industries such as oil drilling, mining, and tourism have had a rough few years. Even Texas, a popular destination for migrating families and business alike, managed only to match the national average in GDP growth (1.6%).

 

North Carolina’s economic portfolio is more diverse — and becoming more so over time. Is there room for improvement? Sure. But we already have a lot to be thankful for.

 

John Hood is a John Locke Foundation board member.

1-26-2023 – Poarch honored with President of the Year award

Posted on: January 26th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 26 2023

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By NEWS-TOPIC STAF

Jan 25, 2023

 

RALEIGH — Dr. Mark Poarch, president of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute (CCC&TI) has been selected as President of the Year from the North Carolina Community College System and State Board of Community Colleges.

 

“I am deeply honored and humbled by this award,” Poarch said. “There are 58 community colleges with great leaders doing amazing work to serve students and communities across North Carolina. This award is a reflection of the great work happening in Caldwell and Watauga counties through strong collaboration with many community partners. Our faculty and staff, Board of Trustees, elected officials, public school and university partners, business and industry representatives, economic and workforce development partners, donors, and many others are all working together to make life better for the students and communities we have the privilege of serving.”

 

The State Board Awards recognize the top-performing individuals and partners that best represent the North Carolina Community College System and its mission to provide accessible, high-quality education and service.

 

For 2022-23, the following were awarded:

 

President of the Year — Dr. Mark Poarch, Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.

The President of the Year Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo, was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 2001. This award encourages, identifies, and rewards outstanding leadership and commitment to the community college mission among the presidents of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System.

 

Excellence in Teaching — Dr. Kara Finch, Stanly Community College.

The Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by R.J. Reynolds, was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 1985. This award provides statewide recognition of faculty members who exemplify the highest quality and standards of instruction throughout the NC Community College System.

Staff Person of the Year — Sara Newcombe, Central Carolina Community College.

The Staff of the Year Award, sponsored by BB&T, was established in 2001. This award recognizes excellent performance and commitment to the community college mission by the non-teaching staff of the 58 institutions of the North Carolina Community College System and the System Office.

 

Two Distinguished Partners were also awarded:

CaroMont Health with Gaston Community College;

Centro Unido Latino Americano (CULA) with McDowell Technical Community College and Isothermal Community College.

 

The Distinguished Partner in Excellence Award was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 2006. This award recognizes an exemplary employer, business or industry group that has demonstrated decisive involvement and firm commitment to the professional development of its employees and/or to the development of North Carolina’s workforce through its partnership efforts with one or more of the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.

 

In addition, the I.E. Ready Award for significant statewide contribution to the North Carolina Community College System was awarded to Julian Philpott of Central Carolina Community College.

 

The I.E. Ready Award was established by the State Board on October 10, 1985 and was re-named for the first System President on April 9, 1987. This award is an honorary award given to those that have made a significant statewide contribution to the Community College System. A “significant statewide contribution” is defined as a contribution that benefits more than one service area in the North Carolina Community College System. The I.E. Ready Award honors individuals only.

 

“Congratulations to our award winners across the state and I thank you for your tremendous effort and impact in making North Carolina community colleges successful,” said Dr. Bill Carver, interim president of the North Carolina Community College System. “We had very strong nominations this year, which are indicative of the incredible work and success at our 58 community colleges.”

 

The North Carolina Community College System is a network created to improve the quality of life across North Carolina by opening the door to opportunities that minimize barriers to post-secondary education, maximize student success and develop a globally and multi-culturally competent workforce. The 58 institutions located throughout the state work to provide easy access to low-cost, high-quality educational opportunities and academic support that focuses on increasing employability.

 

For more information, please visit www.nccommunitycolleges.edu.

1-21-2023 – CCC&TI announces upcoming courses

Posted on: January 23rd, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 21 2023

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By NEWS-TOPIC STAFF

Jan 20, 2023

 

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is now registering for several upcoming continuing education and workforce training courses. Following is a schedule:

 

Furniture Technology Institute: Industrial Sewing

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Furniture Technology Institute will offer Intro to Industrial Sewing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., from Jan. 24 to April 18 in J-121 on the Caldwell Campus. Introduction to Industrial Sewing is designed to train students in the manufacturing concepts, tools, safety and the communication skills that will help prepare them for a career as a sewer in various manufacturing settings. Emphasis is placed on machine operation, setup and maintenance, threading, sewing straight lines, corners, curves and welts. Upon completion, students should be able to set up and operate a variety of industrial sewing machines. The cost of the class is $182. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.

 

BioWork Process Technician

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer the BioWork Process Technician course Mondays and Wednesdays, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., from Feb. 6 to April 24 on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson. The course will combine classroom lecture and online instruction. The total cost for the course is $262, which includes textbook. The BioWork Process Technician course provides basic preparation for process technician jobs in bioprocess manufacturing, pharmaceutical manufacturing and chemical manufacturing. The course will include understanding the role of a process technician, safety, quality processes, measuring process variables, transforming matter, process technology (including processing equipment and plant utilities), controlling the process, maintaining sterile processes and growing living cells. For more information or to reserve a seat for the BioWork Process Technician course, please call 828-726-2242.

 

General Contractor Exam Prep

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer a General Contractor Exam Prep class from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Feb. 7 to April 13 in H-207 on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson. This 60-hour course prepares students for the General Contractor’s licensing examination. Emphasis is placed on blueprints, laws and regulations, employment security laws and workers’ compensation. Upon successful completion of the course, students are eligible to sit for the N.C. Contractor’s licensing examination. For more information on this course or to register, call 828-726-2242.

 

Mental Health First Aid

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer a Mental Health First Aid course Wednesday, Feb. 15 and Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson. This training will help participants learn to recognize and intervene during a mental health emergency. It is excellent training for human resources professionals, medical professionals, business staff, faith community leaders, law enforcement personnel and educators. The cost of the class is $92 and includes textbook. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.

 

Truck Driver Training

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer a Truck Driver Training course from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, March 13 to May 18 at the Transportation and Public Services Center in Hudson. Orientation for the class will be Feb. 28. Scholarships are available to help cover the tuition cost. For more information, or to register, call 828-726-2380.

 

Phlebotomy — Caldwell Campus

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer a Phlebotomy course on the Caldwell Campus in Hudson on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., from April 24 to Aug. 14. The cost of the class is $203. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2242.

 

Massage Therapy — Watauga Campus

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute will offer a Massage Therapy course from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday from June 7 to Dec. 20 on the Watauga Campus in Boone. This course is designed to prepare students for the certification examination required for the North Carolina licensure application process. The course will include anatomy and physiology, multiple massage styles, multiple therapy styles, ethics, North Carolina laws and regulations and wellness and self-care. Students who successfully complete this massage therapy training will receive three points toward competitive admission into the Physical Therapist Assistant program at CCC&TI. For more information or to register, call 828-726-2341.

1-21-2023 – Duncan presents ‘State of the County’ to Rotary Club

Posted on: January 23rd, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 21 2023

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By CADY DAVIS CDAVIS@NEWSTOPICNEWS.COM

Jan 20, 2023

 

LENOIR — During the Rotary Club of Lenoir’s weekly meeting on Friday, Jan. 20, County Manager Donald Duncan addressed the club regarding recent changes and developments that have been or will be enacted in Caldwell County.

 

Rotary Club of Lenoir’s president Stephen Starnes introduced Duncan to the group of Rotarians.

 

“Donald Duncan has a long history of service to our community,” said Starnes.

 

Duncan previously served as town manager for the town of Troutman, and he served for 15 years as the city manager for the city of Conover. He received his Master’s degree in Public Administration at Appalachian State University. He is also a former Rotarian and twice president for the Rotary Club of Newton-Conover.

 

“We’ve had so many things happen this year in Caldwell County,” Duncan began. “A lot of it you didn’t get to see but some of it you will never see because it’s all behind the scenes.”

 

In the field of IT, the county’s systems used to be incredibly old and outdated. Duncan said that the county has now “completely revamped” the IT department in order to properly maintain and secure the private data of county residents.

 

The Animal Control department has also been reworked to better serve the community. Animal Control has been taken out of the Health Department and renamed Animal Care Enforcement. The new facility is set to open today, Saturday, Jan. 1, at 180 Government Way.

 

“Animal Control was considered a laughing stock,” Duncan said. “Thanks to our General Assembly, they gave us a $3.5 million grant, and the county borrowed a little additional money, as well, to help build the fantastic facility.”

 

Duncan went on to talk about environmental health in Caldwell County. He said the second biggest complaint he receives is about septic tanks.

 

“Septic tanks are an issue because we don’t have sewer everywhere,” he said. “We have septic tank applications that went back more than a year, and the average wait time was more than six months. The wait time today is less than two weeks … We’re very proud that we were able to get that list down, it took a lot of work. We essentially redid the Environmental Health department and now people are cross-trained in different disciplines.”

 

Duncan said the real shortage in law enforcement right now is not in front-line officers but detention officers. The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners along with Sheriff Alan Jones are working to increase the pay rates and change the career trajectory so it is not a “dead-end job” with no room for advancement.

 

“Detention officers are your biggest concern now in law enforcement,” said Duncan. “There’s a 30% vacancy rate in detention officers across the country. North Carolina is no exception, and our county is no exception … we can create a position for them to grow, and they can become part of a system that gives them long-term care. The jails are not emptying, they’re only filling up.”

 

The commissioners negotiated with the General Assembly and received a large grant to be used to design and build a new emergency operations center.

 

“The week of Christmas, we had 3,900 calls for service,” said Duncan. “One dispatcher in a 14-hour shift answered 900 calls. That’s a call, response, and dispatch every 90 seconds for that person. It’s incredible, we can’t handle that volume … Heart attack calls are through the roof, stroke calls are through the roof. In 2021, just for ambulance, there were 23,000 calls and ambulance runs. We can’t keep it up.”

 

The Caldwell County Courthouse is scheduled for renovations to modernize the building. Duncan said the project will be the most expensive undertaking the county has ever seen.

 

“A modern courthouse is an extremely secure zone. Your body is screened, you walk through metal detectors, and every inch you take is on camera,” he said. “Underneath is a fully functioning prison, and we have to move those prisoners through that building securely and make sure they don’t interact with someone who’s just there to handle their grandmother’s estate. It’s going to take years for us to decide what to do, and costs are not going down.”

 

Duncan next talked about the RESTART program, which aims to assist residents suffering from opioid addiction.

 

“We have an unusually high rate of opioid-addicted patients,” he said. “We’re using our opioid [settlement] funds to expand RESTART. We went from one staffer to having eight or nine, people who are solely focused on getting people help.”

 

“Just under 300 people died of COVID-related illness in Caldwell County. Almost 900 people died of opioid addictions,” he added.

 

The Board of Commissioners continues to fight to keep the county streets and rivers clean and free of trash and debris. The Clean Sweep day brings county residents together to pull trash out of the rivers in October, and on Litter Sweep Day, residents collect litter along the roadways in April. Additionally, last year the county introduced Hazmat Day, which allows residents to drop off waste that is not intended for landfill, such as batteries and other electronics. Duncan said they plan to continue and even expand Hazmat Day in 2023.

 

“It’s been a busy 13 months,” said Duncan. “I enjoy getting up every morning and coming to work here. Every time I open a drawer, it is a bag of snakes because so much was left undone or partially done. My goal is to get you into this century, and I’ll do the best I can with the resources that we have. You have a very aggressive group of commissioners right now. They’re trying to get the county to be the best county it can be. Thank them for what they do. They’re a good team.”

1-19-2023 – Caldwell County Commissioners tour MDI espansion

Posted on: January 19th, 2023 by admin No Comments

 

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January 19 2023

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Recently Caldwell County Commissioners Mike LaBrose and Robbie Wilkie along with Economic Development Director Ashley Bolick had an opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art automation expansion at the MDI facilities located in southern Caldwell County.

 

1-17-2023 – You Decide: How Can We Fix the Labor Market?

Posted on: January 17th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 17 2023

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By Mike Walden

Jan 16, 2023

 

There are several worries about today’s labor market.

 

The first is the ongoing “labor shortage.” The percentage of adults who are working or looking for work — termed the “labor force participation rate — has substantially recovered from its low during the pandemic, but it has not fully recovered. If the same labor force participation rate that existed before the pandemic was applied today, there would be over 2 million more adults in the labor force nationally and 46,000 more in North Carolina.

 

The second concern is the possibility the labor shortage will only worsen in the future. Lower birth rates are causing slow growth in the nation’s population and workforce. North Carolina is in better shape due to the large number of people who continue to move to the state from other states. But even with this interstate in-migration, North Carolina’s prime labor force — considered to be adults aged 25 to 54 — is projected to increase by less than 1% annually in future years.

 

The last worry is about skills. Will the education and training of our workforce be sufficient to provide workers with the skills needed for future jobs? This question is made even more important as the nature of jobs and the skills required for those jobs rapidly change as technology takes on a more important role in shaping the economy.

 

The good news is that total jobs in North Carolina are actually 6% higher today than immediately before the pandemic. However, this growth in jobs is 25% less than the state’s economic expansion over the same time period, resulting in two job openings for every unemployed person.

 

One way that businesses in our state have responded to the labor shortage has been to raise wage rates substantially. Since the last month before the pandemic in early 2020, the average wage rate in North Carolina is up 17%, actually slightly higher than the total inflation rate over the same period of 15%.

 

Interestingly, the sectors with the highest wage gains have been those with moderate or low pay scales, including leisure/hospitality, personal services and construction. These sectors increased their wage rates between 22% and 25% from early 2020 to late 2022. But while construction saw its workforce increase by 8%, jobs in leisure/hospitality only expanded by 3% and personal services jobs increased a modest 4%.

 

There is an important takeaway from these results. While sectors like leisure/hospitality and personal services have significantly raised their pay, it may not be enough, especially in a growing state like North Carolina, where jobs in better-paying sectors are expanding, and labor supply will continue to be tight. Firms in these sectors will need to decide if they can afford to pay even more. If the answer is “no,” then we may see the firms turn to technology to replace humans in the accomplishment of work tasks.

 

Nationally, college enrollments are expected to decline in the coming years. With a downward trend in the number of high school graduates in North Carolina, there is concern the number of college students in our state may also drop. Together with ongoing concerns over college tuition and student debt, the role of colleges and universities in training future workers could be on the verge of changing.

 

Indeed, with the potential need to re-train thousands of workers for new skills needed in the post-pandemic economy, universities and colleges may be motivated to step up and expand their program offerings to adults between occupations.

 

Such programs will likely be much shorter than the traditional four-year degrees common to higher education. Many adult students will have family and other responsibilities that make quick re-training a necessity. Degree programs will therefore be shortened to meet this need. The result could be that future universities will no longer be dominated by students ages 18-24. “Middle-age” may ultimately be the common description of future college students.

 

Let me close by being very futuristic. While today’s labor market issues will likely prompt changes in businesses and educational institutions, advances in interactive technology may create entirely new methods of both education and work.

 

The pandemic caused an explosion in computer technology for learning and interacting. During the pandemic, Zoom classes and meetings offered ways to learn and meet without personal contact. While not as prominent as during the peak of COVID-19, “zooming” has continued after the pandemic due to its advantages in convenience and cost.

 

A big disadvantage of zooming is the inability to interact directly with other persons like company colleagues, other students and instructors. Yet, futurists say it is only a matter of time before technology overcomes this limitation. From the comfort of your home, technology would create duplicates of yourself — called “avatars” by some — that provide sensory experience from a distant location directly to you. It’s like you are there! Such a capability could enhance both learning and working, even from long distances. Versions of this technology already exist.

 

The labor issues we see today may be a bridge to new ways of learning and working in the future. Decades from now, people may look back and consider our current educational and work methods exceedingly primitive. Is this exciting or scary? You decide.

 

Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University.

1-17-2023 – Mayor presents ‘State of the City’ to rotarians

Posted on: January 17th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 17 2023

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By CADY DAVIS CDAVIS@NEWSTOPICNEWS.COM

 

LENOIR — Lenoir Mayor Joe Gibbons gave a presentation about recent developments and improvements in the city during the Rotary Club of Lenoir’s meeting on Friday, Jan. 13.

 

Stephen Starnes, president of Rotary Club of Lenoir, introduced Gibbons to the Rotary attendees.

 

“I am very, very proud that he serves as mayor of our community,” said Starnes. “He represents our community so well, and we’re very grateful for what he does for our community.”

 

Gibbons, with assistance from the city’s Public Information Officer Joshua Harris, presented a slideshow detailing everything that’s been going on in Lenoir and the surrounding community.

 

“It’s an honor always to be with the Lenoir Rotary Club,” Gibbons began. “This is a great club, and we appreciate all that Rotary means to this community.”

 

The first section of the presentation detailed private investment developments in the city, such as housing, retail, and commercial businesses.

 

Forty-six new market-rate loft apartments were created at Blue Bell at Lenoir Mills, which officially opened at 1241 College Ave. in April 2022.

 

New businesses opened in downtown Lenoir, including Aary’s Ice Cream (108 Main Street NW), Mi Molcajete (104 Main St), The Time Capsule Vintage Store (808 West Ave), 4440 Ranch and Cattle Company (215 North Main Street), Wolf Moon Salt Cave and Stress Reduction Center (814 Harper Ave), The Buckin’ Babe Boutique ( 221 North Main St), The Boomerang (309 Main Street Suite C), Brews and Mews Cat Cafe (219 N Main Street), Ben Griffin Realty and Auction (1035 Harper Ave.), and R&R Salon at the Courtney (818 West Ave. NW in the old Courtney building).

 

Other businesses celebrated relocation and reopenings, such as The Lenoir Service League Thrift Shop (906 West Ave) and Taste of Havana (now located at 819 West Ave).

 

A number of festivals and gatherings took place in downtown Lenoir in 2022, bringing visitors from all across the country.

 

Love the Spring Festival, led by Moonjoy Meadery, was held for the first time. The free event brought in 64 total vendors including local breweries, wineries, and businesses, 45 local artists and crafters were there celebrating the beginning of spring.

 

Golden Cardinal Gallery hosted their annual Carolina Tattoo & Arts Gathering at their new location, 1016 Harper Ave.

 

A record number of roughly 21,000 visitors attended the 2022 North Carolina Blackberry Festival in downtown Lenoir. Attendees enjoyed vendors and exhibits, blackberries and cobbler, blackberry eating contests, the Blackberry Festival parade, and more. The city will take over the event this year.

 

The next section of the presentation discussed public investments for new events, facility improvements, paving, plans, and more.

 

Lenoir High School Auditorium renovations are currently underway. Phase 1 included gutting and rebuilding two bathrooms on the lower floor of the facility. Phase 2 includes painting the walls and ceiling of the entry and main lobby area, repairing the roof over the entry lobby, painting the stage walls, replacing the HVAC units, and switching the existing lighting in the auditorium to LED. Workers will also replace the carpet in the lobby and install new roof gutters on the auditorium building. Phase 3 is on the way.

 

In early 2022, Public Works completed the improvements to the Tucker’s Gallery art bases to make it easier for artists and the Caldwell Arts Council (CAC) to display sculpture in downtown Lenoir. Tucker’s Gallery includes 12 pedestals located on Main Street and West Ave.

 

In May 2022, city staff launched a new festival, the Lenoir Bicycle Festival. About 300 people attended the first event. The festival offered a free-ride lane around downtown on Main Street, West Ave, Church Street, and Harper Ave.

 

Moreover, staff held the city’s first Neon Night Ride at the Lenoir Rotary Soccer Complex on Zacks Fork Road to celebrate World Bicycle Day in June 2022. More than 100 riders decorated their bikes and selves with glow sticks and lights and rode a couple miles on the greenway.

 

In July 2022, the city hired Fat Boy Pressure Washing to clean sidewalks in downtown Lenoir. The cleaning was part of the continuing effort to keep downtown and Lenoir looking great.

 

Council recognized and honored Central Barber Shop for the business’ centennial celebration during the July 19 city council meeting. Central Barber Shop has been operating in downtown Lenoir since May 1922.

 

Contractors built a new stormwater feature at J.E. Broyhill Park in August 2022. The Regenerative Stormwater Conveyance slows down rainwater and reduces erosion at the lower end of the park.

 

In September 2022, city of Lenoir Fire Department earned a Class 2 rating from the N.C. Department of Insurance Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM). Lenoir Fire joined the ranks of the 3.9% of fire departments across the state with a rating of Class 2 or better. Higher ratings can significantly lower business insurance rates in that fire district.

 

Staff launched the reimagined Wood, Fire, Smoke Festival in October 2022. Skilled craftsmen, artisans, and chefs converged in downtown to carve with chainsaws, pour molten metal, and cook delicious barbecue to celebrate Lenoir’s furniture heritage and commitment to art, design, and innovation.

 

Public Services hired a Horticulture Specialist in the Public Works Division in December of last year who will create a landscaping plan for downtown Lenoir and city properties and will also maintain the city’s plants, shrubs, and decorative trees.

 

The city bought a lot of new Christmas lights and decorations to celebrate the holidays in 2022. The lights were a big hit with the public, and staff received many compliments about the beautiful decorations.

 

The renovation to the police department entrance is nearly complete. Contractors installed a new ADA compliant ramp, new stone facade, a new stamped-concrete entrance, and a new sign.

 

Last year, council approved the new Downtown Lenoir Social District. The district allows the public to purchase alcohol and walk around downtown as long as they stay within the district boundaries. The district went into effect in January 2023.

 

The Downtown Master Plan will kickoff Jan. 24. The Master Plan will establish a cohesive vision for downtown Lenoir and guide future development in the heart of the city.

 

In December 2022, the city of Lenoir was awarded $580,000 toward planning and development of The Campus at the Historic Lenoir High School project. The Campus includes LHS auditorium, LHS gymnasium, LHS band building, Trades/Masonry building, Mack Cook Stadium, and Farmers Market.

 

Lots of exciting new things are expected to be coming to downtown Lenoir in 2023. Visit www.lenoirrotaryclub.com or follow The Rotary Club of Lenoir on Facebook for more information about Rotary Club meetings.

1-9-2023 – CCC&TI announces upcoming Small Business Center workshops

Posted on: January 9th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 9 2023

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By NEWS-TOPIC STAFF

Jan 6, 2023 Updated Jan 6, 2023

 

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center offers free workshops, one-on-one assistance and many more services to help local small businesses.

 

To reserve a seat at one of the free workshops, call 828-726-3065 or visit www.cccti.edu/smallbusiness to register.

 

Upcoming Free Online and In-Person Workshops:How to Start a BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “How to Start a Business” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

 

The workshop focuses on the basics of starting a business, taking you from idea to opportunity. Learn key strategies for start-up, financing and marketing as well as important information about legal issues, licensing, zoning, operations and more.

 

Realize the importance of a self-assessment and how to evaluate the feasibility of a business idea.

 

Discover the resources available to help start and successfully operate a business.

 

Preparing for Capital to Grow Your Landscaping BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free in-person workshop titled “Preparing for Capital to Grow Your Landscaping Business” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir. Participants will learn best practices for seeking access to capital for business expansion and equipment purchases, as well as tips for working with a lender.

 

Fully Maximizing Your Profits for Your Landscaping BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free in-person workshop titled “Fully Maximizing Your Profits for Your Landscaping Business” from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir.

 

This impactful seminar teaches how to understand break-even numbers to turn a profit, and the importance of knowing numbers and projections to reduce costs, expand profits and grow a successful landscaping business.

 

How to Write a Business PlanCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “How to Write a Business Plan” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

 

A business plan can be the most important tool for a small business owner. Learn how to turn ideas into a solid plan for financing and long-term success.

 

This seminar is designed for both new and established business owners.

 

Financing Your Small BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Financing Your Small Business” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

 

This seminar provides an insider’s view of how to best prepare when seeking a business loan or finding ways to self-finance a business.

 

Key points will be shared for obtaining a successful loan package, as well as mistakes to avoid when working with a lender.

 

Understanding Your Market and Your CustomersCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Understanding Your Market and Your Customers” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

 

Participants will explore business concepts, fine tune value proposition, learn how to find their own niche and attract customer loyalty.

 

ABC’s of Starting a Small Business on a Limited BudgetCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “ABC’s of Starting a Small Business on a Limited Budget” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31.

 

These are the ABCs of how to start a small business, combined with winning strategies from low-cost startups.

 

Starting a small business on a limited budget is easier now than it has ever been.

 

Using Facebook to Grow Your BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Using Facebook to Grow Your Business” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

 

In this webinar, participants will learn the basics of setting up a Facebook business page, as well as information about promotions, advertisements and making an impact for business online.

 

Create and Manage a Powerful Business BrandCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Create and Manage a Powerful Business Brand” from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 1.

 

Participants will learn branding strategies to create powerful images and messages that will stand out and reach the intended audience.

 

Beyond the Business PlanCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Beyond the Business Plan” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

 

In this webinar, participants will learn how to bring a business plan to life, implementing goals and strategies for optimal success.

 

This seminar teaches project management insight and is designed for established business owners.

 

Finding Your Customer and Creating a Marketing PlanCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Finding Your Customer and Creating a Marketing Plan” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

 

Participants will learn the four types of customers, sources that are available to discover customers in a particular market area, and five ways to create a winning plan to target them.

 

Using Instagram to Build Your BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Using Instagram to Build Your Business” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8. Instagram is one of the fastest-growing media platforms where users can paint a picture of their business with photos and videos.

 

This webinar focuses on how to use Instagram in connection with Facebook to grow business to great heights.

 

Dynamite Marketing for Small BusinessesCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Dynamite Marketing for Small Businesses” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14.

 

There has never been a time as easy and economical to do great marketing.

 

This webinar teaches more than 50 ways to successfully market a business and easily reach customers.

 

Using YouTube to Promote Your BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Using YouTube to Promote Your Business” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

 

More and more people are turning to YouTube for information, news and entertainment.

 

A business should have a presence there as well. In this webinar, participants will learn how to get started with video marketing, make quality videos, set up and promote a YouTube channel, and advertise to customers using a simple method.

 

Financing Your Small BusinessCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Financing Your Small Business” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

 

This webinar focuses on how to find the funds to start a business.

 

eCommerce Basics of Selling Items OnlineCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “eCommerce Basics of Selling Items Online” from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. One way for a small business to expand its market is to sell products online.

 

This webinar will discuss several options to help determine whether there is a need to sell online, explore online platforms, how to setup an online store and how to develop an online marketing plan.

 

Creating a Winning Business PlanCaldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Small Business Center will offer a free online workshop titled “Creating a Winning Business Plan” from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., and again from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

 

This webinar offers simple, easy-to-follow steps for creating a business plan.

1-6-2023 – North Carolina is ‘State of Year’ for economic development, magazine says

Posted on: January 6th, 2023 by admin No Comments

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January 6 2023

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January 4, 2023 Rick Smith

 

 

RALEIGH – North Carolina is the “State of the Year” for economic recruitment after a record year for investments won and jobs to come, says Business Facilities magazine, a leading publication for business recruiting across the U.S.

 

State economic developers at the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership for North Carolina have reported the landing of nearly 30,000 jobs and multi-billions in investment for 2022. The totals exceeded records set in 2021.

 

For those reasons, the magazine chose North Carolina as the winner of its annual award that dates to 2007. The state also won two years ago.

 

“A succinct regional economic development strategy in recent years has propelled North Carolina, and 2022 was another banner year for the state in capital investment and jobs creation,” said Business Facilities Editorial Director, Anne Cosgrove in a statement. “Paired with a world-class education and R&D resources, the support of incentives and programs from organizations at all levels for a variety of industries, including high-growth sectors such as electric vehicles, made the state our choice for top recognition this year.”

 

Such awards – such as CNBC naming North Carolina in 2022 as the best state for business – provide recruiters with data and support they need in competing for new or expansion projects.

 

Major wins in 2022 include:

  • Electric vehicle maker VinFast
  • Semiconductor firm Wolfspeed
  • Boom Aviation
  • A battery plant from Toyota
  • Plus a host of numerous life science projects

“North Carolina is the best state in the nation to do business, and large companies like VinFast, Wolfspeed, Eli Lilly and Boom Supersonic have noticed and taken advantage of that. We have a world-class education system, a highly skilled workforce, a strong commitment to clean energy and sustainability, the most competitive tax environment in the country, and a demonstrated bipartisan approach to economic development policy,” said Christopher Chung, CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, in a statement.

 

And Chung, as he disclosed in an interview with WRAL TechWire, says the group has numerous projects on its target list for this year despite a slowing economy.

 

“We currently have 235 active projects, with a total of $111.8 billion in capital investment, and 100,112 total possible jobs in our pipeline, and our team is looking forward to assisting each one of these companies in choosing North Carolina. 2022 was another year of record performance, and we are confident North Carolina will continue that momentum into 2023,” Chung said.

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