9/13/2017 – Data show economic surge for Caldwell County

Posted on: September 13th, 2017 by admin

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September 13, 2017

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By Guy Lucas
(Lenoir) News-Topic

The best known measure of Caldwell County’s economic rebound is in the local unemployment rate, which stood at 4.5 percent in July, down from 17 percent in early 2010.

 

But from industrial growth to tax revenue collections, other measures also show the county’s growing economic health, Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said.

 

There have been more than 30 new companies to come to the county since 2008. Just in the past five years, the growth of 18 companies tracked by the EDC staff has increased the value of their property (real and personal) by 43.7 percent to $277.19 million, while the county’s overall property tax value grew by 10.6 percent, Murray told the EDC’s Board of Directors.

 

“I never thought five years ago we could be where we are today,” Murray said.

 

The improvement is more notable because, in some cases, long-vacant industrial properties had been assigned assessed values for tax purposes that were much higher than what the properties eventually sold for, so the official starting point for measuring the change was inflated, she said.

 

The largest change in dollar amount was for Merchants Distributors Inc’s grocery distribution warehouse south of Granite Falls, which because of expansion over the past five years increased 20.6 percent in value to $124.49 million.

 

Other notable changes include Woodgrain Millwork, up 317.5 percent to $17.1 million; Sealed Air Corp., up 166.5 percent to $19.5 million; Exela Pharma Sciences, up 121.1 percent to $19.39 million; Associated Hardwoods, up 65.3 percent to $10.1 million; Bakers Waste Equipment, up 37.7 percent to $2.67 million.

 

Accordingly, Caldwell County’s overall property tax revenue has climbed 11.9 percent since 2013, after changing little for several years, Murray said.

 

The county collected $38.3 million in property taxes in fiscal 2010-11 and $38.8 million in fiscal 2013-14, but then collections grew to $43.4 million in fiscal 2016-17.

 

U.S. Census Bureau estimates also show that median household income has climbed for two years. After hitting a low of $34,811 in 2015, the median household income for Caldwell this year is $39,636, an increase of nearly 14 percent.

 

Along with that, the county’s poverty rate peaked at 20.8 percent in 2013 but has dropped to 16.2 percent this year, the Census Bureau estimates.

 

“That is probably one of the most significant needles we could move,” Murray said.

 

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