Customers of Blue Ridge Electrict Membership Corp. may see rate increases over the next five years as a result of closing older coal plants and replacing them with new natural gas and coal plants for environmental compliance, CEO Doug Johnson said at the cooperative's annual meeting Thursday evening in Lenoir.
The costs will be incurred by Duke Energy, the wholesale supplier of energy to Blue Ridge Electric, and passed on through rates.
"If Duke's estimates are accurate, it will cause us to have annual retail rate increases of 2 to 3 percent," he said.
Data and computer services company CentriLogic announced late Thursday that it has acquired Dacentec Inc., a Lenoir data center operator and hosting services provider.
Dacentec operates a 23,000-square-foot data center in Lenoir and offers a number of data services. CentriLogic will take on Dacentec Inc.’s staff, its existing office space and current customer contracts.
The Economic Development Commissionl has managed to hold down its expenses this year, and with the fiscal year winding down has spent less than 70 percent of the $373,000 that was in its budget. Currently there’s about $113,000 left.
Members of the EDC board voted Tuesday to have Executive Director Deborah Murray ask the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners to put about $50,000 into the EDC’s underutilized site program
Sattler Corp., which came to Hudson in 2011, is expanding, and a trucking and logistics firm is on the verge of publicly announcing it is moving to Hudson, county officials said Monday night.
Caldwell County also is in the running to land a technology firm now based in Florida that is looking for a new headquarters site, Deborah Murray, executive director of the county Economic Development Commission, told the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners.
Caldwell County’s unemployment rate continued to fall in April, dropping more than half a percentage point from the previous month and hitting the lowest rate the county has seen since fall of 2008.
The drop continues a pattern of month-over-month declines of at least half a percentage point since the beginning of the year, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported on Wednesday. More importantly, it continues a much longer pattern of declines from the previous year. The unemployment rate in April 2012 was 10.9 percent. Year-to-year declines are considered a more reliable indicator of trends than month-to-month changes.
The last time Caldwell’s unemployment rate was under 10 percent was October 2008, when it stood at 8.8 percent.
The hospital’s charter makes Caldwell Memorial Hospital a nonprofit, so it seeks to have a marginally positive revenue stream to be reinvested back into the hospital. CMH had always been independent and fiercely protective of that status, but hospital officials began to consider whether it could remain independent and still keep that positive revenue stream.
“With a new era of health care, it’s making it more difficult for a free-standing hospital to survive, said Parker Williamson, chairman of the CMH Board of Directors. “We made that determination while we were a strong hospital. The trends of consolidation had been very clear five to six years ago.”
A downtown Lenoir bookstore is preparing to close at the end of the month, after years of struggling to generate enough sales to stay open as the only independent book store in the city.
The planned closure May 25 of Venti’s Casa Bookstore and Cafe, on whose storefront windows going-out-of-business signs appeared Tuesday, is the result of a combination of factors, including the departures a family member and friend who helped run the business.
A bill in the N.C. Senate to overhaul the state’s economic development structure would abolish state funding for existing regional economic development organizations, which has raised apprehension among local and regional officials.
Senate Bill 127 did not have input from local economic development officials before it suddenly was introduced in the Senate Commerce Committee late Thursday, said Dana Clark, the chairman of the Lenoir Tourism Development Authority and chairman of the hospitality and tourism management program at Appalachian State University.
“There’s real frustration on our part because not a lot of communication is going on,” he said at a meeting Tuesday morning of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commision. “We don’t know what they are doing, and they don’t seem to be asking our opinion.”
Google has never before hired interns to work at any of its data centers around the world, but it is starting with Lenoir.
Next week, up to eight Appalachian State University students will begin working at Google for just under three months, Enoch Moeller, the data center’s operations manager, said Tuesday at a meeting of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission.
Google considers it a pilot project. If it’s successful, it may be tried at other data centers, and the Lenoir data center may involve other universities, Moeller said.
It wasn’t long after she took responsibility for a group of horses a couple of years ago that the reputation of Karen Guerra and her Oak Hill ranch started spreading across the country and overseas.
The rising stature of some of the show horses trained for equestrian competitions by Guerra already has captured the attention of breeders, mainly from Holland, Greece and other parts of Europe. And in emails and phone calls in the past year, they have expressed interest in what has emerged as the largest ranch of Friesian horses, a breed traced to the Netherlands, in western North Carolina.
Caldwell County’s unemployment rate continued its trend of year-over-year declines, dropping to 10.7 percent in March, a full 1.4 percentage points lower than the 12.1 percent rate seen in March 2012, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported Wednesday.
The unemployment rate in February was 11.5 percent. The February-to-March change, a drop of 0.8 percentage points, was slightly better than the state average and the drops seen in neighboring Catawba, Burke and Alexander counties.
But the March-to-March change was the fourth-best improvement in the state.
Google will double its investment in Lenoir, spending $600 million to expand its data center here, the company announced Friday.
Since its initial announcement in December 2006 of the $600 million investment to build the data center, Google has hired more than 150 people, said Enoch Moeller, the data center’s operations manager.
Also, Duke Energy will seek state permission to create a separate rate structure for energy produced by renewable energy for large users such as Google to purchase, said Paul Newton, Duke Energy’s president for North Carolina.
Amanda Pope wondered why 20 large, white tanks suddenly turned up on a property across from her house off Valway Drive.
“It’s kind of alarming, because you don’t know what’s in those tanks -- is it dangerous chemicals or what?” she said.
Turns out the 20 tanks are part of 63 spare water storage tanks donated by Google in February 2012 to the Caldwell Green Commission, Atlantic Caviar and Sturgeon Co., and the Caldwell Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Alan Huffman’s Antiquities Vending Company is home to the largest collection of antique soda machines in the world. He restores the machines for customers, both individual and commercial. Occasionally he gets calls from the History Channel and Discovery Channel.
Often, the customers are just people who found an old soda machine. Maybe it belonged to their grandparents, no one really took care of it, and it has stopped working.
They call Huffman and ask if he can fix it. He always can.
The planned Laurel Park Medical Pavilion is is planned for the intersection of Harper Avenue and Boundary Street, near the Thomas Sayre art installation. There, it will offer preventive medical services, including a range of health screenings and physical exams for women and children and pediatric care. A groundbreaking ceremony is set for Monday.
A group of Lenoir residents upset that plans to turn slightly more than six acres in their neighborhood into an apartment complex for senior citizens would create traffic hazards and raise property taxes did not find relief on Tuesday. The City Council unanimously approved the development.
The housing project calls for a three-story building designed for as many as 50 senior citizens at the intersection of Brookdale Place and Abington Road, around which opposition has mounted in recent months among homeowners concerned the building will tarnish the character of the largely residential neighborhood.
The prospect of turning Lenoir into a regional supplier of renewable energy resources might have seemed farfetched not long ago.
But that very thing may start taking shape in the coming year, when Verdante BioEnergy, the only substantial renewable-energy venture in the county, plans to leverage the same natural resources that once helped sustain the furniture industry, such as wood, for liquid biofuel.
The road leading to the growth of John Pritchard's trucking company in recent years was not smooth.
Nor were the financial dealings involved in going from a single tractor-trailer and driver about seven years ago to a 20-truck fleet with 26 drivers.
But the mounting financial pressure, perpetuated by interest on loans for tractor-trailers and other shipping equipment, subsided a couple weeks ago. That was when Pritchard received a letter from Raleigh saying his company has secured a $250,000 grant for which he had nearly abandoned hope.
The local economy has seen slow but consistent growth in jobs, retail sales and housing sales the past couple of years, local business officials said Thursday morning as they sounded an optimistic note for the coming year.
All three who addressed the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce’s first “Business 4 Breakfast” meeting referred in various ways to the local economy having turned a corner but said that continuing the progress will take constant attention, and housing is a potential bottleneck.
Caldwell County's unemployment rate dropped by almost half of a percentage point from January to February, putting it a full percentage point lower than February of last year, according to a state report released Wednesday.
The county’s work force has remained relatively steady, at about 38,000, over the past year, while the number of them employed has increased by about 400. The change in employment from January to February amounted to 17 people.
A growing pharmaceutical company in Lenoir is working to close a deal this month to buy what once was the corporate headquarters of the county’s most prominent employer, Broyhill Furniture, the latest symbol of a shift in the local job market.
Exela Pharma Sciences has an “immediate need” for extra warehouse and laboratory space and for offices for its executives and administrators, Phanesh Koneru, the president and CEO of Exela, said in an email.
“This is the right place for us,” he said. The company researches and manufactures a range of pharmaceuticals, including injectable drugs.
The company is expected to sink about $8 million into renovating the building.
It was not so long ago when Lenoir, like the rest of Caldwell County, prohibited alcohol sales in restaurants and other establishments.
But attitudes in the city largely have changed. And now, a few downtown alochol producers — a winery, a microbrewery and a distillery — are emerging as centerpieces in a plan for spurring tourism growth. The plan targets what some call an emerging market of “alcohol tourism” in North Carolina.
More than 650 job-seekers, despite wintry weather, traveled from across the county to the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.
The presence of 23 employers – ranging from Google and Caldwell Memorial Hospital to Clark Tire and Rue 21, a clothing retailer with several locations across the region – seeking to fill nearly 700 full- and part-time jobs carried significance for many seeking a career change.
About two weeks ago Dennis Spann took a leap of faith and moved his welding and manufacturing business, Spann's Enterprises, out of a 40-by-60 shop behind his house to something with nearly 10 times the space —- a 20,000-square-foot industrial building at 511 Creekway Drive.
He notes wryly that every previous tenant of the building, behind Action Sign Creative, went out of business.
:I still don’t know if it was the right decision, but if I hadn’t tried, I’d never know,” he said.