North Carolina is the leader for Best Business Climate in Business Facilities’ 18th Annual Rankings Report, published in the upcoming issue of the magazine.
“North Carolina hit a new level for business attraction and retention over the past 12 months, and our ranking of the state for Best Business Climate recognizes what an increasing number of companies have recognized by locating or expanding there,” BF Editorial Director, Anne Cosgrove said.
In 2021, North Carolina stood out in BF’s Annual Rankings Report—capturing second place in the Best Business Climate category. “The state’s move to the top of the leaderboard this year is a recognition of the success of a broad-based economic development approach from teams across the state,” added Cosgrove. “This ranking also looks beyond the sheer numbers, evaluating diversity of growth sectors, incentives, workforce development and training, and education partnerships.”
The Tar Heel State has always been a contender in CNBC’s annual competitiveness rankings, rarely finishing outside the top 10 since the study began in 2007. The state finished a close second last year. But 2022 is the first year it has been able to climb to the top.
What made the difference this year? For one thing, state leaders keep managing to put aside their very deep political divisions to boost business and the economy.
When Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper signed a deal in March with Vietnamese electric vehicle manufacturer VinFast to build a $2 billion factory in the state, State Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, both Republicans, were close at hand. The three had worked together, across party lines, to craft a $1.2 billion incentive package sealing the deal.
“This is what happens when we work together. This is what happens when people with different viewpoints, different thought processes, come together,” Moore said at the event announcing that deal in April 2021.
North Wilkesboro, NC – In response to community needs, The Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation announced today the funding of a comprehensive childcare study for Wilkes County and the organization of a taskforce to guide and monitor progress. The study will provide documentation of existing services and resources, then recommend steps to create an innovative childcare ecosystem in Wilkes County, NC to enhance the labor force participation and create a healthy environment for families. The study will also identify the roles that community stakeholders must play in order to expand access and affordability for quality care.
“Improving access, quality, and affordability of childcare in Wilkes County is both a social and economic imperative,” said Craig DeLucia, CEO of the Herring Family Foundation. “Every day, we hear stories about the impact of insufficient childcare on the local workforce and local economy. We need the research, data and recommendations as to how we can address this as a community, especially now as Wilkes County is positioned for renewed growth.”
The study will document the current state of childcare in the county along with population and labor market trends. By estimating projected growth, the study will be able to determine what needs will arise for the community in terms of population, childcare and workforce in addition to the gaps that already exist. It will also research innovative childcare systems that could provide widespread benefit to both citizens and local employers.
LeeAnn Nixon, President of the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, was named to lead the Childcare Taskforce responsible for the study. Nixon stated, “On behalf of the Taskforce and community, we express our gratitude to The Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation for recognizing an important need. Investing in this critical component will lead to a better quality of life and vibrant economy. As we focus on how we can strengthen quality care for our children we are investing in their young lives. Also, we are ensuring caregivers have affordable and sufficient options that lead to successful careers. The Taskforce welcomes the opportunity to listen, observe, seek best practices, and encourage positive outcomes that will strengthen Wilkes County.”
Susan Cogdill, Taskforce Member and Executive Director of the Wilkes Community Partnership for Children (WCPC) said, “As a nonprofit that has spent over 25 years working with childcare centers and families, WCPC recognizes the need for good, quality childcare in Wilkes County. Parents need to work, and businesses need workers. The missing link for parents is often childcare. This study gives us an opportunity to analyze the current childcare landscape, determine gaps and make recommendations to ensure that the Wilkes County workforce is adequately served with quality childcare. It will make a difference for parents and businesses as greater workforce development for Wilkes is created.”
The taskforce is made up of individuals and organizations whose combined experience was determined to be the most qualified to conduct this study. Wilkes Economic Development Corporation staff members LeeAnn Nixon, Robin Hamby and Caroline Bracey-Adams will be providing marketing and facilitation services to the group during this process. Cyndi Dancy of Dancy Research is set to collect data and economic information to identify current and projected needs in the community. Her partnership with the invaluable academic experience of Dr. Pamela Shue, Ed.D. and her team of graduate students from Appalachian State University will ensure a thorough investigative analysis and proposed recommendations from this process. Susan Cogdill and Michelle Shepherd, incoming Director, from the Wilkes Community Partnership for Children bring years of combined early childhood development experience as well as a network of resources within the community. The Health Foundation Program Manager, Kirstin Roberts, will ensure that this study helps empower families in Wilkes and in turn creates a more resilient community.
The study will run in three phases. The first will be the Discovery Phase, where the team will define the scope of their work, research the current state of childcare in Wilkes County and compile those findings. The Discovery Phase will include identifying all existing licensed public, and private or in-home care facilities for two different age ranges, Birth to Age 5 and Age 5 to 11 years old. That data will be compared to the current population of Wilkes County and evaluated for its effects on labor market trends. During the Discovery Phase, questionnaires will be distributed throughout the community to gather information and identify needs. Participating in these questionnaires and Community Meetings will be critical for Parents, Business Owners, Resource Partners, Local Government Members and Residents. In the second Analysis Phase, both strengths and gaps will be identified in order to evaluate trends and quantify the cost and lost opportunities due to gaps in the existing childcare system. The final phase will provide recommendations for moving forward, producing a broad strategy and action steps that can be taken. The study is estimated to take a period of approximately 10 months to complete. The Wilkes Childcare Study Taskforce encourages community participation in this process and its results.
For more information on the Wilkes County Childcare Study, subscribe for updates and notify us of your interest to participate, please visit https://info.wilkesedc.com/childcarestudy
The Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation- The Herring Family Foundation(HFF), based in Wilkes County, honors the civic and philanthropic spirit of Leonard and Rose Herring and their family. Leonard retired from Lowe’s Companies in 1996 after over 40 years of service. As a member of the Officeof the President from 1960 to 1978 and then as President and CEO from 1978 to 1996, Leonard oversaw the growth of Lowe’s from a privately-owned 15-store company with $30 million of annual sales to a public company with more than 365 stores and annual sales of more than $7 billion. On behalf of the Herring Family, HFF seeks to fund resources that are broadly accessible to members of ourcommunities, and that enable individuals to learn, grow, andprovide richer and healthier lives for themselves and their families.
Dancy Research- Cyndi Dancy is based in the Piedmont Triad Region of NC and has more than 25 years of economic development experience spanning local and regional organizations such as the Greensboro Chamber. Her specialties include research, geospatial analytics, marketing, and business development. Visit www.dancyresearch.com for more.
Dr. Pamela Shue, Ed.D. and M.Ed., works as an associate professor at Appalachian State University but has also worked for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, where she served as the Deputy State Superintendent of Early Education. Prior to that position, she was the director of the NC Division of Child Development and Early Education and an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has over 30 years’ experience in the early childhood education field.
The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation aims to facilitate the creation of new jobs and capital investment in Wilkes Countythroughthe retention and expansion of existing businesses and the recruitment of new businesses. For more information about economic development inWilkes, please visit www.wilkesedc.com .
The Health Foundation helps children and adults in Wilkes Countythrive through supporting healthy eating, active living, and resiliency in their neighborhoods, schools, churches, and community. For more information, please visit www.healthywilkes.org .
Wilkes Community Partnership for Children, a local Smart Start Agency, ensures that young children in Wilkes County enter school healthy and ready to succeed. Visit www.wilkeschildren.org for more.
Spring 2022 Entrepreneurial Grant Winners Awarded by Wilkes EDC
North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Six local small businesses were announced as receiving Entrepreneurial Grants from the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation at the EDC’s board meeting on Friday, June 10, 2022. This is the annual Entrepreneurial Grant Program competition awarded by the EDC, with the program being held twice this year thanks to several generous local sponsors. Fourteen local businesses of various types applied for this year’s program, including agriculture, massage therapy, pet boarding, cleaning services, and a previous grant winner who has the opportunity to expand.
Applicants were asked to submit a Video Pitch in addition to their business plans and financial summaries to give the judges insight into their proposed use of funds. Submissions were judged based on potential funding impact to the business, and the sustainability of each respective recipient. Grant amounts totaling $10,100 were distributed between the six winners.
Journey Well Thai Yoga Massage, located at 807 Main Street, Suite A in North Wilkesboro, offers traditional Thai Yoga Massage, Prenatal and Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage. Owner Anna Thompson began her Thai Yoga Massage practice after discovering a passion for culture and inclusion on her many travels. Thompson received a $1,500 grant to go toward the cost of Grief and Trauma training to further expand the therapeutic services she offers. Anna says that she also hopes to use the training to help educate her employees on trauma-informed care. To learn more about this business or to book a session at Journey Well, please visit www.wejourneywell.com
The Green Cleaners, owned by Katie Reynolds of North Wilkesboro, is a mobile cleaning service specializing in chemical-free cleaning products that also remove allergens. Reynolds opened this business in 2019, which offers a variety of cleaning services for residential homes and vacation rental properties. The Green Cleaners received a total grant amount of $1,600. $800 will be used to purchase booking and point-of-sale software for their website, and $800 will be used to purchase an interactive training video for staff. Visit www.thegreencleaners.us to inquire about their services and the history of the business.
Stardust Cellars was previously awarded an Entrepreneurial Grant in 2019 which allowed them to manufacture and distribute their line of custom Meads. Since then, owner Nick von Cosmos has secured contracts with retail stores statewide and continues to expand. This year’s application requested grant funds to help increase their available inventory in order to meet current customer demand and expand their retail presence. Stardust Cellars was awarded $1,000 for purchasing local honey, bottles and labels needed to give them the opportunity to expand. For more on their winemaking process, go to www.stardustcellars.com or visit their location at 1202 Curtis Bridge Road in Wilkesboro.
New Journey Farm located at 1702 South Lomax Road in Ronda, NC, is a rescue farm that rehabilitates equines who have been neglected, sold for slaughter, or been injured, and rehomes them safely. Owner Jessica Bell says that most of the donkeys and horses rescued are retired from racing or were used on farms to plow or provide transportation. Once they are rehomed, these animals usually become full-use horses or emotional support animals. New Journey Farm was awarded $1,500 for needed updates to their barn and establish a system that brings water to each of the stalls. Their goal is to continue to meet the need for equine rescues in Wilkes County, heal and rehab the animals, and connect them with loving forever homes. For information on New Arrivals, becoming a Sponsor, or adopting and animal- visit www.newjourneyfarmandequinerescue.com .
Wilkes Wags & Wiggles is a new business started in Wilkes by Amanda Cowles. Wilkes Wags & Wiggles will offer boarding services, and personalized drop-in care in a safe environment for their clients’ furry friends. Amanda received $3,000 in grant funds to purchase point-of-sale CRM software program for booking, and storefront sign once her location is secured. Wilkes Wags & Wiggles plans to announce their location to the community soon. To receive updates, or learn more about their services, visit www.wilkeswagsandwiggles.com .
Caroline Bracey-Adams, Marketing & Content Manager for Wilkes EDC stated that this year’s program was, “the second year that the EDC was able to hold the grant program twice, both in the Fall and Spring. When I came to the EDC full-time, I was excited to be able to participate in continuing this program for local businesses. Not only do you learn a lot about the caliber of the small business community in Wilkes County, but it has been very rewarding to watch the innovation and growth that happens in a short amount of time. We really hope that the benefit of this program is noticed by individuals and businesses who would like to support entrepreneurship in Wilkes, and in turn contact us to become active sponsors of this program.”
Program Sponsorships are available at various levels with private and in-kind donations also accepted. All our program sponsors receive free promotional marketing on the Entrepreneurial Grant webpage, an announcement in the EDC’s Monthly Activity Report, and are honored guests at our Annual Meeting. Each level above Bronze gives the donor an opportunity to be recognized even further. “It really is a great way to market your own business,’ Bracey-Adams stated. If you are interested in supporting entrepreneurship and economic development in Wilkes County, please contact our office at (336) 838-1501 or visit our Investor Page for more information.
Robin Hamby, Vice President of Wilkes EDC has led this grant program for the past eight years. “Our sponsors make this program possible, and we are encouraged by the funding support it receives. Offering this program twice per year is necessary for both new and existing businesses; sometimes entrepreneurs cannot wait a full year for funding. We are glad to be able to offer this grant opportunity every six months.” The future of this program relies on sponsorships to encourage entrepreneurship. Wilkes EDC hopes to continue holding it twice per year in the Spring and Fall. The Spring 2022 Sponsors were: Duke Energy, Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority, Town of North Wilkesboro, Surrey Bank, First National Bank, Wilkes Community College Small Business Center, Truist and Wilkes EDC. Funding commitments for the Fall 2022 Entrepreneurial Grant Program are starting to come in, but we still sponsorships in order to meet our goal of $12,500 for the next grant cycle.
Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon thank this cycle’s judges. “Their dedication to the program is more than apparent. The Judges’ Panel represents small business supporters from both North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro, as well as regional resources for entrepreneurs. Their experience and knowledge often provides applicants with referrals and insight they didn’t know they needed!” Spring 2022 judges were Danielle Buckins and Jimmy Flythe of Duke Energy, Crystal Keener, Town of North Wilkesboro; Thomas Salley, Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority; and David Henson, Small Business Technology Development Center. Special thanks to Laurie Brintle-Jarvis of the Wilkes Community College Small Business Center for continuing to help applicants with their Business Plans and Financial Summaries during grant cycle and beyond. Laurie establishes relationships with businesses to ensure their success by providing free and confidential business coaching services to small business owners in Wilkes, Ashe and Allegheny counties. For information and more resources, please contact her office or visit the Small Business Center’s website.
|Wilkes Wags & Wiggles- Owner, Amanda Cowles||
Stardust Cellers- CEO, Nick von Cosmos
New Journey Farm- Resident Donkey recieves treat from Owner Jessica Bell
|Journey Well- Owner, Anna Thompson||
Swan Creek Acres- Owner, Kris Schultz
The Green Cleaners- Katie Reynolds
Wilkes Journal Patriot- The Golden LEAF Board of Directors on June 2 announced that Wilkes County was chosen for participation in a program that helps identify potential industrial sites. The Wilkes Economic Development Corp. submitted the application for Wilkes County’s participation.
Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon said a company hired by Golden LEAF will review sites submitted by the EDC and others to determine which have the greatest potential for economic development.
Nixon said the sites submitted by the EDC were already listed with information about each on its website.
“The EDC is grateful for the opportunity to be a recipient of Golden LEAF’s site identification program,” she said. "We will receive consulting services that will complement our internal efforts to identify and evaluate known and unknown sites for future industrial growth opportunities. We encourage Realtors, developers and property owners to contact us to discuss all properties that are available, especially those greater than 30 acres near infrastructure,” including water and sewer lines.
“They will tell us he sites we really should focus on,” she said. Nixon also expects to receive recommendations on what is needed to made some sites more marketable. Moore and Stokes counties were chosen for the same program.
“We’ve done what we can locally to figure this out” and look forward to receiving additional input in the company’s report, she said.
Nixon explained that site identification is the first in three stages offered by Golden LEAF, so Wilkes is now positioned to advance to the next two.
In the second stage, Golden LEAF provides funds to enable completion of due diligence on sites already identified, extend public utilities, or conduct rough grading and clearing of sites for which due diligence has been completed. Surry was among counties recently chosen for this. Surry was awarded $39,650 for the Westwood Industrial Park.
In the third stage, Golden LEAF provides funds for extension of water or sewer lines or other public infrastructure work to sites with diligence completed.
“Our goal, after completing this (first) step, is to return to Golden LEAF for assistance with the next phases of their program,” she said.
“A key element to move Wilkes forward is being able to identify where an existing or new company can locate. Land needs to identified that can be acquired and developed at a price point that allows growth to be feasible,” said Nixon
Read the full Press Release here.