BDI Receives Grant to Support Workforce Development Initiative
For Immediate Release
Burke County, N.C. (May 5, 2017)- Burke Development Inc. (BDI) has been awarded a grant from the newly created “Maximize Carolina” program. The $75,000 grant (with 15% of the amount being provided by matching funds from project partners) will assist in kicking off Phase II of the “Burke County Workforce Marketing” initiative.
Phase I of the project, was completed in November of 2016, establishing that there is a lack of understanding on what opportunities are available in the county and that locating the information when available is extremely difficult. This data was developed through a series of surveys and interviews with local citizens.
Phase II supported by the Maximize Carolina Grant will begin to address the gaps in information on jobs available in the marketplace now and growth areas anticipated in the future. It will tie these opportunities to the training required to successfully attain these positions (much of the training being available through Western Piedmont Community College) and provide information on possible assistance with funding the required training.
The campaign is being spear-headed and funded by partners from across the county, region and state, including: local business and industry, Western Piedmont Community College, Burke County Public Schools, Burke County Chamber of Commerce, Western Piedmont Workforce Development, BDI and others. Work will begin immediately to create the content for a robust website and a multi-media marketing plan aimed at providing needed information to primarily middle-school students and their parents. Plans are to expand the reach of the program as more resources become available.
Alan Wood, President and CEO of BDI had the following to say concerning the grant and the campaign “We appreciate the assistance provided by the NC Department of Commerce to our efforts. With the rapid changes taking place in technology in the workplace, it is increasingly important for all students to continue their education beyond high school. With all our partners engaged in these efforts, we believe we can close the information gap that exist and assist more of our students in finding a career that is right for them.”
The Maximize Carolina Sector grants are designed to “address skills gaps in robust and emerging industry sectors” according to the NC Commerce website. These grants can be used to address challenges such as applicants lacking specific skills, lack of sector brand awareness and work-based learning opportunities.
About Burke Development, Inc.
Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDIworks with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit
Alan Wood

For Immediate Release

 BDI Publishes Workforce Campaign Report

 Research Gauges Perceptions of Students, Parents and Millennials Toward Job Opportunities


BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (December 16, 2016) – Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) has published a report from the first phase of its workforce marketing campaign, which evaluates the perceptions citizens have of the job opportunities available in Burke County. Research was gathered from 10 focus groups, as well as interviews and surveys with over 260 students, parents, employers and millennials.

The full, 15-page report, an overview presentation and survey results can be accessed on BDI’s website at The information details the current attitudes of students, parents and millennials toward Burke County jobs, specifically manufacturing and healthcare related positions. It also evaluates the communications channels that are most effective in reaching these audiences and the key messages that will best change their attitudes.

BDI embarked on the campaign, in partnership with Western Piedmont Community College and Burke County Public Schools, because many existing companies are struggling to find and retain employees. This is especially true in manufacturing.

According to NCWorks Burke Career Center Manager Chuck Brown, during the second week of December the office had approximately 300 vacancies in Burke County and over one-third of those were for manufacturing occupations. This is despite the fact that manufacturing companies typically offer higher than average wages and employee benefits.

BDI President Alan Wood expressed the need for the campaign, “We want to expose young people and their parents to the jobs available and also demonstrate the path a student should take to pursue a career in these fields. There are well-paying jobs that offer opportunities for advancement right here in Burke County.”

Dr. Michael Helmick, President of Western Piedmont Community College, agreed, “It is important to note that while those jobs are unfilled the education and training to prepare for those jobs is available at Western Piedmont Community College. The cost is incredibly low and sometimes even free. I hope with the advent of this new awareness campaign we can provide information that will change attitudes about education and employment in our area.”

With the research phase complete BDI will move forward with implementing the campaign, which will require participation from community organizations, private sector employers, foundations and public sector supporters. Next steps include the finalization of a comprehensive communications plan, creation of branding and development of an annual budget for the campaign, which is a long-term, five-year strategy.


About Burke Development, Inc.

Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit economic development organization supported by private and public funding that supports and promotes the development of jobs, investment and wealth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit



Alan Wood


Leviton Completes Renovation



Leviton has completed renovations to the Morganton facility in North Carolina. Improvements have been made to the cafeteria, administration area, and exterior of the building. Upgrades include open market food service, larger flexible training areas, and enhanced security. For energy efficiency; new glass, siding, and LED lighting has been installed. The exterior is finished with new walkways, landscaping, and logo.leviton_04-1

Functionally, all service and support departments are now in one central location for optimum communication, efficiency, and teamwork. A recreation room is planned for employees along with a new ECS (Employee Communication System) for distributing information real-time including news and weather.


In manufacturing, Leviton has invested in capital equipment and tooling including electric injection molding presses, and automation. Investments are being made as well in human capital through employee training and development at all levels.


Leviton’s Morganton facility has been in continuous operation since 1966, and produces products for the Residential and Commercial/Industrial Business Units.


leviton_09 leviton_11

It is exciting to see this article about the western NC School of Science and Mathematics in this week’s News Herald. The school will bring bright, talented students to the area and will also bring over 100 PhD level faculty to the community. What a wonderful asset to add to our growing County!


For Immediate Release

 Burke Development, Inc. Wins SEDC Communications Award

Welcome to Burke County Video Recognized

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (August 3, 2016) – The Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC) gave an Award of Excellence to Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) for the organization’s Welcome to Burke County video. The SEDC Communication Awards recognize excellence in message, marketing and outreach.

The video, completed by BDI in 2015, highlights the local business climate and explains why Burke County is a great place to do business. It features beautiful scenes from throughout the County, downtown areas and several local manufacturing companies. The economic development organization has used the video in presentations and also for marketing purposes.

“We are honored to receive this award and be recognized for our work on the video,” said BDI President and CEO Alan Wood. “We wanted to showcase the diversity of our manufacturing base and explain what makes Burke County great. We find it to be a very effective tool as we market Burke County both nationally and internationally.”

The SEDC is the oldest and largest regional economic development organization in North Carolina with a network of more than 1000 economic development professionals operating in 17 states. Awards were announced and displayed this week at the 2016 SEDC Annual Conference in Kansas City, MO. Judges for the awards are economic development consultants, practitioners and design professionals from across the southern U.S. Burke Development won in the Audiovisual, Small Division category.

Several growing manufacturers are featured in the video including Catawba Valley Brewery, Valdese Weavers, Geiger Furniture and Toner Machining Technologies. Other community organizations, such as Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, Burke County Public Schools and Western Piedmont Community College are also highlighted in the video.

About Burke Development, Inc.

Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit



Alan Wood


Reimagining BroughtonBurke County has a tremendous opportunity for growth with the redevelopment of the historic Broughton campus. Local leaders and elected officials have spent several years laying the groundwork for a successful reuse of the campus.

The Development Finance Institute, based within the UNC School of Government, has been instrumental during these early planning stages. Visit their site to read more about the project and see their recently released report, which [Re]imagines the Broughton Campus.

For Immediate Release

 Two Burke County Manufacturers to Grow

$650,000 in Building Reuse Grants Announced for County

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (June 24, 2016) – The Governor’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Commerce have announced the award of Building Reuse grants to support the growth of two Burke County manufacturers. PEDS Legwear received a $500,000 grant to support the expansion of its facility in Hildebran and will add 50 news jobs. Fonta Flora Brewery received a $150,000 grant to aid in the company’s renovations of the Whippoorwill Dairy Farm where they will create 12 new jobs.

PEDS Legwear is located in Hildebran and currently has 184 full-time employees in North Carolina. The company manufactures and distributes socks under the Peds, Medi-Peds and Growing Socks brands. Major customers include Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, K-Mart, TJ Maxx, Payless, and  The Canadian-based company has seen tremendous growth since opening its doors in Burke County in 2015.

“The Town of Hildebran is excited to see PEDS continue to grow,” said Town of Hildebran Mayor Jennie Cook. “We are glad to support the project and see the company add more jobs.”

PEDS will utilize grant funds to renovate a building on their campus in Hildebran. Upfits include roof repair, HVAC replacement, electrical upgrades and office renovations. Increased use of the building will support their need for additional manufacturing capabilities. The five percent local match was provided by the Town of Hildebran and Burke County.

Fonta Flora Brewery is a locally owned business that has garnered national attention since opening only two and a half years ago. The Whippoorwill Dairy will allow them to increase production while maintaining their current location in downtown Morganton.

The Dairy Farm, which is located adjacent to the North Carolina State Park at Lake James, has buildings that date back to the 1940s. Grant funds are for various renovations including HVAC, plumbing, electrical, flooring, doors and finish hardware. The facility will be used for brewing, storing of brewing equipment and materials, and barrel aging. The five percent local match was provided by Burke County.

“We are very happy to see Fonta Flora expanding,” said Wayne Abele, Chairman of the Burke County Board of Commissioners. “This builds on everything happening in the county right now for travel and tourism with the growth of Lake James State Park and the Burke County Fonta Flora Trail. It is a great project.”

Burke Development, Inc. and the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) assisted with the grants. For the full announcement from the Governor’s office visit

About Burke Development, Inc.

Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) is a nonprofit organization supported by private and public funding that is charged with accelerating economic growth in Burke County. BDI works with industry leaders, site selection consultants, government agencies and other entities to facilitate expansion strategies for existing businesses and recruit target industries to Burke County. For more information about BDI visit



Alan Wood


This month we want to discuss one aspect of economic development strategy that has become increasingly relevant in recent years – finding enough qualified workers to fill the jobs that are available in today’s economy. Specifically, we want to discuss the skills gap. You might have heard this phrase, “the skills gap”, but what does it mean and why are so many people talking about it?

When speaking with some of Burke County’s largest employers you will hear them say, “We can’t find the right employees,” although we all know someone who is out of work and searching for a job. We are not alone. Communities and employers all across the country are experiencing this problem.

A 2014 CareerBuilder report found that, “more than half of employers nationwide have an open job for which they cannot find qualified candidates, and 8 in 10 have difficulty filling positions altogether.”

Generally, the skills gap refers to a complex issue that is defined by employers having difficulty hiring skilled workers – specifically, workers with the right skills to deal with new technologies.

The problem is complex and can’t simply be blamed only on the belief that jobseekers aren’t “educated” in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, forty-four percent of college-educated workers under 25 have jobs that do not require a college degree.

There are varying opinions on what has caused and continues to contribute to the skills gap. Experts attribute the issue to various factors including:

  • Education gaps in particular areas
  • Gaps in on-the-job training
  • New/shifting technologies
  • Gaps in expectations about wages
  • Lack of knowledge about potential career opportunities
  • Access to education
  • Job requirements that are too specific

While this is a national problem it is widely recognized that solutions must come from the ground up and be created locally. In our December editorial we described BDI’s formation of a Workforce Task Force to delve into this issue and determine the best locally crafted response.

The Task Force includes key partners like Western Piedmont Community College, Burke County Public Schools, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce and our existing employers. These groups are in agreement that what is needed is an internal marketing campaign that targets students, young adults and their parents.

The campaign will utilize various channels to:

  • Describe the existing and future careers available in Burke County
  • Detail the career pathways someone should take to obtain a job in these fields
  • Encourage participation in the existing training programs that are already available
  • Promote opportunities within local companies – such as internships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training and tuition reimbursement – that provide hands-on experience

The campaign will focus on several emerging trends. It is vital that young people become lifelong learners. By 2018 nearly two-thirds of the nation’s jobs will require some postsecondary education or training. The average millennial stays in a job for only 4.4 years so it is critical that they are continuously obtaining new skills and adding to their resume to make themselves more marketable.

Employers must invest in training and providing skills to both new and existing employees. According to the CareerBuilder survey, seventy-two percent of job seekers are willing to take jobs in a different field from the one in which they are currently looking. If they are willing to provide training, then employers can cast a wider net when searching for the best talent.

Schools, colleges and community partners working on this issue must do a better job of understanding the jobs available five or ten years from now and communicating those opportunities to our young people and their parents.

BDI has set aside funds from our 2016-2017 budget to launch this campaign and will be selecting a marketing firm in June to carry out the first phase of the work. While this will not immediately solve the larger issue of the skills gap it is a step in the right direction.

For numerous reasons – including many that are outside our control – rural communities like ours continue to see declining population numbers, especially amongst the 18- to 25-year-old demographic. For many years we have focused on sending our young people away rather than preparing them for the jobs that will be available to them in their own towns.

The issue of the skills gap is not something that will be solved overnight, or even in a year’s time. At the local level we must continue to work together to develop long term solutions that fill the jobs of today – and more importantly, the jobs of tomorrow.

For Immediate Release

Burke County Job Fair Set for June 21

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (May 25, 2015) – The Foothills Recruitment Event is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21, from 9:00am to 12:00pm at the Conference Center at the Foothills Higher Education Center.

The job fair, which typically draws over 50 local and regional employers, will feature opportunities in almost every field from manufacturing and healthcare to retail and construction. The event is free and open to the public. Jobseekers are encouraged to arrive early and to have resumes on hand.

The job fair is sponsored by Leviton, McDonalds, Case Farms, and Accuforce. Community partners and organizations supporting the event include NCWorks, Burke Development, Inc., Vocational Rehabilitations Services, Western Piedmont Community College, the Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board and Burke County Public Schools.

The Foothills Higher Education Center is located in Morganton at 2128 South Sterling Street across from Fatz Café. The event will be held rain or shine. For the latest updates on the event and attending employers, visit Facebook and search “Burke Foothills Recruitment Event” or call 828-438-6161.



Stephanie Hoover