EDC reviews strong 2012, looks ahead to better 2013

Jan. 09, 2013 @ 08:07 AM

The first meeting of 2013 for the Caldwell Economic Development Commission’s board of directors was one of celebrating accomplishments, but the message was clear: They’re not resting on their achievements.

In 2012, the EDC was instrumental in the creation of 682 new jobs and $18.6 million in new wages. Executive Director Deborah Murray said the month of December yielded five leads, and the EDC currently has seven ongoing projects. She also noted the strong start to 2013 with the addition of Bakers Waste Equipment to the county’s manufacturing base, a move that was announced Monday morning. Bakers Waste will bring 60 new jobs as it consolidates three plants in Burke and Catawba counties into a facility that was once Broyhill Plant 55/3.

Combine that accomplishment with the announcement last week that Exela Pharma Sciences will expand its Lenoir facility, adding 38 new jobs paying an average of $47,395 a year and investing $8.5 million over the next three years, and it’s easy to see how the enthusiasm is beginning to grow as the relics of Caldwell County’s manufacturing past are being repurposed and reborn.

“We starting to amass a track record of breathing life into old factories,” Murray told the board. “We have a shrinking number of empty buildings. My concern now is what are we going to do when they’re all full.”

Board member Allen Stewart also addressed the stock of potential sites that are available in the county and the impact having good facilities already in place has on efforts to recruit industry to Caldwell County.

“The bad news is we have had, for some time, a lot of vacant buildings,” he said. “The good news is we have a lot of vacant buildings. As you will see in Deborah’s report, the preponderance of new businesses and industry moving into the area have moved into existing buildings. ... The inventory of buildings has been a real asset to the EDC.”

In other discussion, Murray advised the board that the annual Business and Industry Awards ceremony will be a combined board meeting and luncheon taking place at noon on Tuesday, February 19, at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.