North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Eight local small businesses were announced as receiving Entrepreneurial Grants from the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation at the EDC’s board meeting on Friday, June 11, 2021. This is the eighth year of the Entrepreneurial Grant Program competition awarded by the EDC. Twelve local businesses of various types applied for this year’s program, including hospitality, retail, agriculture, taxidermy, and film services.

Applicants were asked to submit a Video Pitch in addition to their business plans and financial summaries this year 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 $13,500 were distributed between four existing and four new businesses. 

3 Pink Flamingos Boutique, a retail clothing store located at 107 West Main Street in Wilkesboro, received $1,300 to assist in purchasing a second Point of Sale System. This new boutique is owned by sisters Brandy Miller, Tasha Handy and their mother Judy Snyder. Specializing in women’s clothing, the aim of 3 Pink Flamingos is to offer personalized shopping experiences for their customers based on their style and body type. To view their inventory, follow them on Facebook, visit theirwebsite or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Dylan and Deanna Prevette own New Castle Farm, a new You-Pick Farm located at 3378 Clingman Road in Ronda. For their first harvest season, the Prevette's planted 18,000 strawberry plugs by hand. They plan to offer seasonal selections, like pumpkin picking in the fall, to allow families and individuals a unique experience without having to drive outside of Wilkes County. New Castle Farm was awarded $3,000 to purchase a Rain-Flo Water Wheel 1600 Series planter and additional wheel that will allow them to efficiently plant double rows at once. To learn more about New Castle Farm visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

Castello Barone, a new vineyard located at 475 Groce Road in Ronda, is owned by Scott and Elizabeth Barone. This Veteran-owned small business plans to use their $1,700 to purchase grape vines they will use in their first planting of the grape varietals Vermentino and Montepulciano. They will begin constructing their Tasting Room and hope to open by 2023. For more about Castello Barone, visit

Erin and Michael Vanderploeg, along with LB Prevette, have planned to open Merle’s, a cocktail lounge in the Fall of 2021 at 106 East Main Street in Wilkesboro. Merle’s is planned to be a gathering place for locals and visitors alike where they can socialize and network while enjoying custom craft cocktails. The trio plans to provide an inclusive community experience by revitalizing their historic location and encouraging customers to also visit local restaurants in downtown Wilkesboro. The Wilkes EDC awarded them $1,500 toward the purchase of restaurant equipment. For information on The Cocktail Lounge, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

JR Pixels, a Veteran-owned photography studio located at 101 West Main Street in Wilkesboro received $800 from the EDC to go toward marketing efforts. Owner Nelson Gonzalez delivers premium studio and commercial location photography in the Wilkes County area. To inquire about services, send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit his website

Reavis Skull Works is a taxidermy-based business owned by Jody Reavis of 176 Pennington Road in North Wilkesboro. Reavis Skull Works specializes in a unique cleaning service of bones using dermestid beetles. Reavis also offers articulations of full skeletons of small mammals and custom laser cut metal hangers for sportsmen to display their trophies. The Wilkes EDC awarded Reavis Skull Works $2,000 to go toward marketing efforts and the purchase of inventory. Contact Jody by visiting his website.

Elyse and Dustin Serrano, owners of Serrano Film Co. received $2,000 from the EDC to go toward purchasing an additional camera for their business. Serrano Film located at 118 Piney Top Drive in Millers Creek. Elyse and Dustin provide custom, personal story-basedvideography services primarily for weddings. They also serve small businesses by providing commercials, training or real-estate videos, and more. Visit Serrano Film Co. by following them on Facebook or on their website

Sew Blessed Quiltworks, located at 201 Sparta Road, Suite A in North Wilkesboro is a small fabric and quilting shop. Owner Libby Whittington specializes in making quilts using a long arm quilting machine to the specifications of her clients. She has been awarded $1,200 to go toward training sessions for herself and a new employee to create more complex custom designs on quilts. Whittington says that the training will broaden the detailed designs offered by her shop and build her client base. Contact Sew Blessed Quiltworks by calling 336-818-0852 or visiting their website.

Robin Hamby, Vice President of Wilkes EDC shared her sincere thanks to all the program sponsors for contributing to this year’s program. “Without our funding partners, this program would not be possible. After a year of uncertainty, our team was inspired by the need to hold the grant program again in 2021. I have had the pleasure of watching this program help businesses in Wilkes County for eight years and each year I am increasingly impressed at the innovation and dedication of our local entrepreneurs.” Hamby also expressed thanks for the judges of this year’s competition. “We had a great group this year. Everyone collaborated to problem solve and distribute funds in a way that benefitted as many businesses as possible.”

This year’s judges were Crystal Keener, Town of Wilkesboro; Thomas Salley, Wilkesboro TDA; Bill Roberts, Duke Energy; Johnny Harold, First National Bank; and David Henson, Small Business Technology Development Center. Special thanks to Laurie Brintle-Jarvis of the Wilkes Community College Small Business Center for helping applicants with their Business Plans and Financial Summaries.

The Wilkes EDC has already started to receive funding to hold the Entrepreneurial Grant Program again in the Fall of 2021 with a contribution from the Wilkes Community College Small Business Center. The future of this program relies on sponsorships to grow. Sponsorships are available at various levels with private and in-kind donations also accepted. All of our program sponsors receive free promotional marketing on the 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. If you are interested in entrepreneurship and economic development in Wilkes County, please contact our office or visit our website for more information.

Published: Thursday, 10 June 2021 12:52

In April 2021, the Town of Wilkesboro approved a re-zoning request made by Sun Ovens International Inc., an Elburn Illinois based company, that produces 6,000 solar cookers per year. They are planning to initially lease space from Cornerstone Church in Wilkesboro, where they will assemble their green products beginning in June 2021. The move from R6 residential zoning to B3 general business will allow Sun Oven to move their production operation from Illinois to Wilkes this coming fall. According to Forrest Garvin, one of Sun Oven’s principals, the company will be “releasing a brand new product this summer that will be assembled in Wilkesboro.” Sun Oven’s simple business model has made reliable green products that help people save energy and prepare for emergencies for the past 34 years. In addition to manufacturing their products, Sun Oven plans to implement an incubator concept focused on Green Energy. They will partner with Wilkes EDC, Appalachian State University and Wilkes Community College to, “cultivate creative ideas in the region and incubate them with investment capital, expertise, accounting and other businesses services for entrepreneurs and growing businesses.” This incubation will allow entrepreneurs to focus solely on their business, while receiving guidance from a successful, established company. 1 New and 2 Existing Businesses have already been identified to enter the incubator program. The Wilkes EDC welcomes Sun Oven principals, Forrest Garvin, Matthew Alpeter and Tripp Crites and invites their continued interest in bringing their businesses to Wilkes

Published: Friday, 30 April 2021 10:53


Groundbreaking for the North Wilkesboro, N.C. Water Tank


North Wilkesboro, N.C.— Wilkes Economic Development Corporation hosted a Ground-breaking Ceremony on Tuesday, March 30, for the Town of North Wilkesboro to commenceconstruction on a new 500,000-gallon, approximately 140-foot-tall water tank. The new tank will provide the necessary water pressure for the fire safety sprinkler systems at JELD-WEN Inc.’s NorthWilkesboro plant expansion. It will also improve hydraulics of the town water system from RiverRoad-Liberty Grove Road to N.C. Highway 268 East, an area currently served by an elevatedstorage tank and 12-inch water main off Flint Hill Road.

In November 2020, the Town of North Wilkesboro approved a $2.26 million bid for the water tower. Indiana-based Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC won the bid. The town is contributing $1.48 million to the project with two economic development grants covering the remaining cost. The N.C. Department of Commerce is funding a $580,000 Community Development Block Grant, andthe Golden LEAF Foundation is contributing $200,000.The    N.C. Department of Environmental Quality is providing a $1.9 million low-interest Drinking Water State Revolving Fund loan to the Town of North Wilkesboro.

The provision of water is one of the Town of North Wilkesboro’s most important services to citizens, that also creates economic opportunity. Reliablewater service gives businesses like JELD-WEN confidence to expand, which in turn provides jobopportunities for our residents, increases our tax base, and sends the message that NorthWilkesboro is a good place to do business,” said Mayor Robert Johnson. “I want to thank ourarea legislatorsSenator Deanna Ballard and Representative Jeffrey Elmorethe N.C. Department ofEnvironmental Quality, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and the Golden LEAF Foundation fortheir help in making this project happen.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is proud to be a partner with the Town of North Wilkesboro toprovide infrastructure critical to supporting economic growth,” said ScottT. Hamilton, GoldenLEAF president, chief executive officer. “This project will help create quality jobs andemployment opportunities for years to come.”

As a result of increased water capacity, Charlotte-based JELD-WEN was able to complete an $8 million expansion of its North Wilkesboro manufacturing plant, adding 29 jobs. The company’s commitment to invest in the expansion and additional jobs assisted in securing grants to offset some of the cost for the water tank.

“I want to express my appreciation for the hard work of the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation to get this project funded,” said Gary S. Michelpresident, and chief executive officer of JELD-WEN Holding, Inc. (NYSE: JELD). “The new water tower will allow us to operate our facility safely, and it positions us to continue our growth in Wilkes County.”

Earlier in the day, Michel, presented an award for global top performing plant to Jeff Mang, plant manager of the company’s North Wilkesboro manufacturing facility.

“When I first joined the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation in fall of 2018, JELD-WEN’s local operation employed approximately 80 people. Now it has over 200 employees, far exceeding the commitment of 29 jobs, in North Wilkesboro,” said LeeAnn Nixon, president of the Wilkes EDC. “While this project supported JELD-WEN’s local expansion, it will also create the infrastructure necessary for us to recruit new businesses to North Wilkesboro for additional economic growth. I sincerely thank all of the contributing partners involved in making this effort successful.”

Contributing partners are:

  • Town of North Wilkesboro - $1.48 million investment in water tower
  • JELD-WEN Windows and Doors - $8 million expansion in North Wilkesboro
  • N.C. Department of Commerce - $580,000 N.C. Community Development Block Grant
  • The Golden LEAF Foundation - $200,000 grant for water tower
  • N.C. Department of Environmental Quality – –$1.9 million low-interest Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan to Town of North Wilkesboro
  • Economic Development Partnership of N.C. – Assisted Wilkes EDC in grant development
  • McAdams & Associates – Grant administration
  • Kimley-Horn – Engineering design services
  • Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors LLC – Construction services


The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, a 501 c3 public-private partnership, aims to facilitate the creation of new jobs and capital investment in Wilkes County through the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the recruitment of new businesses. The EDC is located at 213 Ninth Street in historic downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. For more information about Wilkes EDC, visit or contact LeeAnn Nixon at 336-838-1501 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published: Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:43

Apple Brandy Prime Cuts retail shop comes to North Wilkesboro- Processing plant is expanding



North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Shoppers will soon have a new option for fresh cuts of premium meats in downtown North Wilkesboro as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts opens a retail space at 106 Chestnut Street next to Smoot Park. It is slated to open in early spring 2021, adding four positions bringing its total to 12 employees. Seth Church, owner of Apple Brandy Prime Cuts, also operates a harvesting and processing plant on Thomas Street in North Wilkesboro. His processing plant is under inspection for calves, cattle, swine, sheep, goats and ratite, which are large, flightless birds such as the ostrich.

“While fresh, hand cut-to-order Apple Brandy Beef steaks will always be at the center of the offering for Prime Cuts, a variety of local products from Western North Carolina will be more convenient and readily available to the residents of Wilkes,” said Church.

According to Church, Prime Cuts will continue to rely on local farms and producers to source the food items offered in the retail shop. Apple Brandy Beef, raised in Wilkes County, is the anchor product of Prime Cuts. Prime Cuts also offers fresh pork sourced from Looper Family Farms in Granite Falls, as well as whole country hams and packages from A.B. Vannoy Hams of West Jefferson. Cheese products from English Farmstead Cheese in Marion, N.C., will be added to the product line. 

Apple Brandy Prime Cuts provides inspected harvesting and processing of livestock for both producers utilizing it for their own consumption and licensed meat handlers who sell their products through markets and retail outlets. The livestock processed at Apple Brandy Prime Cuts are drawn predominantly from central and western North Carolina.

COVID-19 has dramatically increased the demand for services at Wilkes Abattoir, which is doing business as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts. At the onset of the pandemic, the lead time on appointments for harvesting all species went from six weeks to well over one year. As a result, appointments are currently booked through the end of calendar year 2021, according to Church.

“In addition to request for custom processing, Apple Brandy Prime Cuts incurred a substantial increase in demand for retail sales at the onset of the pandemic. The community reached out to Prime Cuts to stock home freezers and ensure their families would have quality local proteins for the duration of the pandemic. The Apple Brandy Beef and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts team put in extra effort and hours to be able to service everyone through the current small retail shop on Thomas Street,” said Church. “This demand for our products has grown throughout 2020. The addition of the larger, more convenient retail space will allow Apple Brandy Beef and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts to serve the community at a much greater scale.” 

Church says the Thomas Street processing plant needs to expand to meet demands from regional butcheries that rely on Apple Brandy Prime Cuts to harvest livestock that are then processed in the local butchery shops. Church received an IMPEC (Increasing Meat Production Efficiency & Capacity) grant from N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services for equipment upgrades and a 700-square-foot expansion at the Thomas Street plant.

"On behalf of the Mayor and Commissioners, I want to thank Seth Church and Apple Brandy Prime Cuts for choosing downtown North Wilkesboro for their expansion. They're bringing the flavors of the Wilkes County countryside into town, giving all area residents the opportunity to enjoy farm fresh meat. Between Apple Brandy Prime Cuts and the seasonal Wilkes County Farmers Market a few blocks away, downtown North Wilkesboro should be the area's culinary destination of choice for years to come," said North Wilkesboro Town Manager Wilson Hooper.

“Wilkes Economic Development Corporation congratulates Apple Brandy Prime Cuts in growing to meet demand at its current facility and expanding into a new location. The expansion is an excellent example of how agriculture and food processing, two sectors Wilkes County excels within, have overcome challenges and remained strong in 2020,” said Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon. Vice President Robin Hamby welcomed the opportunity to provide assistance to Seth Church throughout his search for a new location. Both stated, “We look forward to supporting Apple Brandy as it embarks on the next stage of business growth.” 


Wilkes Abattoir, doing business as Apple Brandy Prime Cuts, purchased Thomas Brothers Meat Processing May 2, 2019, as a means to continue the provision of inspected meat processing to livestock producers and meat handlers in North Carolina. Thomas Brothers began in the late 1960s. Apple Brandy Prime Cuts is the sister company to Apple Brandy Beef, a North Carolina meat handler since 2006. Both organizations are owned by fourth generation cattle producer Seth Church.


The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, a 501 c3 public-private partnership, aims to facilitate the creation of new jobs and capital investment in Wilkes County through the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the recruitment of new businesses. The EDC is located at 213 Ninth Street in historic downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. For more information about Wilkes EDC visit or contact LeeAnn Nixon at 336-838-1501 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Published: Tuesday, 08 December 2020 10:06

Owen Medical Products, LLC opens in North Wilkesboro

owne medical


North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Owen Medical Products, LLC, a woman-owned small business (WOSB), is opening in the Town Square business complex in North Wilkesboro this month. The new company will manufacture and supply non-woven disposable ASTM Level 1 procedural face masks and distribute other disposable and medical products. These disposable medical products will be sold direct to the end user (hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, outpatient medical clinics, long-term care, dental, veterinary and consumer markets) and through distribution channels to diversify the customer portfolio.

Jill Parsons Owen, owner and chief executive officer, says the company was created to address the United States’ dependence on China and other foreign suppliers for critical medical products. Joining her in this venture is her husband Brian Owen, who will serve as chief operating officer.

“Wilkes EDC is grateful that Jill and Brian Owen of Owen Medical Products shared their vision and allowed us to assist in a building search for their new endeavor. We look forward to a successful start-up and product launch that will provide critical medical supplies to those in need, while also creating local job opportunities in Wilkes County. As they grow, we will strive to be a continued resource that offers support and celebrates their success,” said Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon.

The Owens plan to employ five workers initially in phase one but anticipate employing approximately 10 as they add additional automated mask lines by the end of their second year in business. Phase two of expansion, anticipated in the third year of operation, will include the manufacture of additional disposable PPE (personal protective equipment) products such as isolation gowns.

According to Brian Owen, Owen Medical Products is in the early phase of discussions with healthcare systems both in North Carolina and across the United States, and the intial feedback from these organizations has been very positive; they are excited and eagerly awaiting the start-up on its manufacturing line. The same can be said for long-term care facilities throughout the United States.

Other sales channels for the company include large industrial, commercial and transportation companies where the need to protect their workforce as well as their customer base is essential to their business operations. The company also plans to target local, state and national government organizations where the use of PPE is now the norm.

The company also plans to target the “direct to consumer market” utilizing different channels, first by way of national retail store chains and national wholesale store chains and secondly by way of e-commerce utilizing an Amazon store front.

"Owen Medical Products puts a 21st century spin on North Wilkesboro's long tradition of manufacturing, using high technology in a lab-like environment to make products that are essential in today's environment,” said Wilson Hooper, town manager for Town of North Wilkesboro. “What's more they'll be occupying a landmark property downtown, helping bring commerce and activity to Main Street. On behalf of the Mayor and Board of Commissioners,
I welcome Owen Medical Products and thank them for choosing North Wilkesboro."

Jill Parsons Owen is a native of Wilkes County and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in economics and history. She obtained her nursing degree in 2013 and has a total of 16 years of experience in the healthcare market, including marketing, administrative and clinical experience.

“My extensive knowledge of the regulations and requirements associated with the healthcare market and the products used in this field will give the company a definite advantage with selling our products into the major healthcare systems, long-term care and other vertical healthcare markets we will target,” explained Owen.

Brian Owen, a graduate of Elon University’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, has more than 30 years of experience in the areas of sales, manufacturing, operations, product marketing and supply chain in the medical device market. In particular, he has over 15 years’ experience in clean room manufacturing. He has worked with healthcare systems and long-term care facilities throughout the U.S. supplying essential medical products and other value-added services.

For more information about Owen Medical Products, visit or call 336-818-2160.



The Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, a 501 c3 public-private partnership, aims to facilitate the creation of new jobs and capital investment in Wilkes County through the retention and expansion of existing businesses and the recruitment of new businesses. The EDC is located at 213 Ninth Street in historic downtown North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. For more information about Wilkes EDC visit or contact LeeAnn Nixon at 336-838-1501 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published: Friday, 13 November 2020 09:33