Published by Area Development, October 3, 2019

Labor availability is generally the number-one concern of growing companies that need to locate a facility in a new location. Therefore, a company’s site selection team needs to determine which regional markets can satisfy that need. A regional market analysis will identify growing markets that provide the best chance to connect with customers and suppliers and gain the workers needed for success. Data points include population growth, GDP growth, unemployment levels, income growth, and poverty reduction, just to name a few. 

However, beyond the data points, a company seeking a new location must also ascertain if a prospective community aligns with their organization’s culture. For example, if a company’s mission statement stresses wellness and sustainability, then communities that have a similar focus should be on its radar. Honing in on the strategic integration and alignment between corporation, culture, and community is vital to ensuring a successful site selection.

Of course, project timelines must still be met. The difference between being able to break ground in six months versus 18 months could be the difference between a project’s success or its failure. Sites that are equipped with roads, water and sewage connections, and permitting in place can prove advantageous.

That’s why states that are investing in infrastructure upgrades are getting noticed. For example, to keep up with the needs of business and industry, Louisiana has undertaken several major infrastructure projects at its airports and ports. And Georgia is a top-ranked state for its distribution and supply chain hubs. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world, with total cargo warehouse space of 1.3 million square feet, and the Port of Savannah, the largest single container terminal in North America and the second-busiest in the U.S.

Published: Tuesday, 08 October 2019 14:25

North Wilkesboro, N.C. — The success of a low-cost farm equipment rental program in Wilkes County and a growing need for additional equipment has led the Golden LEAF Foundation to award a $63,000 grant to the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation. The Wilkes EDC will manage the funds with the N.C. Cooperative Extension and the Wilkes Cattlemen’s Association which will use the grant to purchase four pieces of new equipment: a Titan West portable corral, a tandem axle fertilizer and lime spreader, a 500-gallon liquid applicator and an Arrow Cattle handling system.

“Golden LEAF is pleased to support this collaborative effort to increase access to equipment for local farmers,” said Ted Lord, Acting President of Golden LEAF. “This grant responds to a clearly identified demand of the local farming community and expands a program that has demonstrated its ability to maintain its existing equipment using rental fees.  We look forward to continued outstanding results from this program.”

In addition to the Golden LEAF grant, the Wilkes EDC plans to contribute $15,000 and the WCA plans to contribute $5,000 to purchase a vehicle to transport the equipment to farmers utilizing the program.

“This low-cost rental program is a beacon of how collaborations can have a long-term economic impact on a regional industry,” said LeeAnn Nixon, president of the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation. “The program began in 2014. Funds from the Golden LEAF Foundation allowed for the purchase of four pieces of farm equipment at a cost of $27,500. Additionally, in 2017 Wilkes EDC contributed $16,175 for two more pieces of equipment to the program. Low-cost rental fees cover maintenance of the equipment. Since the program’s inception, 65 producers were assisted 154 times, processing over 7,100 animals with an estimated increase in profit to the producers of $532,000.”

Nixon added, “John Cothren, N.C. Cooperative Extension director, has been using his personal vehicle to transport rented equipment to farmers throughout Wilkes and neighboring counties. While this shows his sincere dedication to the success of the program, the purchase of a vehicle totally devoted to the program provides a long-term solution to the logistics of delivering the equipment to the farmers.” 

Wilkes ranks third in the state for production of poultry broilers and beef cattle, fifth for hay, and tenth for poultry layers. Wilkes is the state’s seventh largest county in agriculture cash receipts. The agricultural impact on the county was around $551 million in 2017, making up 36 percent of the county’s GDP and providing 22 percent of the county’s jobs.

“Younger farmers are challenged with continuing in the farming tradition due to the lack of access to and the high cost of necessary equipment,” said Cothren. “I believe this rental program provides valuable assistance to farmers. It supports agriculture as a way of life in Wilkes; it helps existing farmers who are challenged when buying expensive farm equipment; it provides support to those who are considering agriculture as a career; and it helps strengthen farmer relationships with the extension office, which provides further education and is an ongoing resource to farmers.”

The program began with a vision to help farmers in Wilkes County affordably access farm equipment; however, Cothren has also established relationships with farmers in Surry, Yadkin, Iredell, Caldwell and Alexander counties who needed the equipment rental program. Awareness of this great need prompted the Wilkes EDC, along with the Wilkes Cattleman’s Association, to seek additional funds from Golden LEAF to secure farming equipment that is currently not available to rent locally and make it available through the low-cost rental program.

For more information on the farm equipment rental program, contact John Cothren, Wilkes County extension director, at 336-651-7348 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation. The Foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 64,000 jobs, over half a billion dollars in new payrolls and more than 77,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.

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.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension partners with communities to deliver education and technology that enrich the lives, land, economy, and families of North Carolinians. N.C. Cooperative Extension is a strategic partnership between N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University along with federal, state and local governments. The N.C. Cooperative Extension provides offices in all 100 counties and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Its Wilkes County Center is located at 416 Executive Drive in Wilkesboro.

Wilkes Cattlemen’s Association hosts regular meetings to provide educational opportunities and support to local farmers.

Published: Friday, 09 August 2019 12:39

Wilkes Economic Development Corporation (Wilkes EDC) has released a new website as a resource and marketing tool for our citizens, entrepreneurs, existing businesses and those who are exploring relocating their business to Wilkes County. “Having a strong digital presence will enhance Wilkes EDC’s ability to accomplish its mission of facilitating the creation of new jobs and capital investment,” stated the Wilkes EDC President, LeeAnn Nixon.


Official Press Release

Wilkes Journal-Patriot Article

Published: Wednesday, 31 July 2019 12:32

Wilson Hooper, Town Manager and Meredith Honeycutt Detsch, Planner arrived on July 29th and are ready to begin their service to the Town, employees, and citizens. Wilkes EDC Staff and Board Members look forward to continuing to work on the water tank project and other development needs with the new leadership and providing support to the Town of North Wilkesboro’s Mayor, Commissioners and employees. Join us welcoming them as we press forward in growth.

Read more…. Wilkes Journal-Patriot Article.

Published: Wednesday, 31 July 2019 12:21

Wilkes Economic Development Corporation (Wilkes EDC) has released a new website as a resource and marketing tool for our citizens, entrepreneurs, existing businesses and those who are exploring relocating their business to Wilkes County. “Having a strong digital presence will enhance Wilkes EDC’s ability to accomplish its mission of facilitating the creation of new jobs and capital investment,” stated the Wilkes EDC President, LeeAnn Nixon.

The website provides access to information on services, along with available programs where Wilkes EDC collaborates with various partners to support business growth.  This tool will assist in locating demographics, statistics, industry insight, educational opportunities, employment information and links to local government and utilities conveniently on-line.  Individuals and business owners can explore the exceptional quality of life, various business sectors and unique industries in Wilkes County.

Discover the GIS map of available commercial and industrial properties as a tool to showcase real estate, research property data, identify opportunity zones and view all towns boundaries in one central location.  A business directory is accessible of Wilkes employers who manufacturer or provide corporate services with greater than 10 employees. Join Wilkes EDC in expanding the list by requesting to add your company. Clients, suppliers and potential employees can identify opportunities to engage with you through a link to your website and description of your business sector.

Be sure to subscribe to News and Monthly Activity Reports to stay engaged and connected to the growth and progress in Wilkes County. Wilkes EDC welcomes your input and will continue to expand upon the companies and information highlighted as an on-going process to promote Why Wilkes? is a great place to do business. 

A special thank you to the talented individuals and teams involved in the website development; Cube Creative Design, Amber Herman, Times Treasured Studios in conjunction with Wilkes Chamber of Commerce, Cavu Marketing and High Country Council of Governments.

Published: Tuesday, 30 July 2019 11:36