Economic Development in Burke: Supporting Small Business

Today’s editorial provides more information about the 2015-2016 Burke Development Action Plan in a continued effort to inform the community about how we carry out economic development work at BDI.

In this piece we focus on what BDI does to support small business, entrepreneurship and industry clusters. Organizations define small business in different ways. Many people think of small business as their local coffee shop, accounting firm or retail store. The U.S. government defines a small business as any company that employs 500 people or less, so it is no surprise that they consider 99.7% of all firms to be “small business”.

Since the recession there has been a greater emphasis on small business and recognition of the important role they play in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from mid-2009 to 2011 small firms accounted for 67% of net new jobs.

How do we, as a community, support these entrepreneurs and business owners? In a 2015 Harris poll of 505 small business owners, 76% said they face marketing challenges. Additionally, 41% said their challenges included identifying and reaching new customer prospects while 32% said finding money to market their business was a challenge.

This is where organizations like BEBO (Burke Entrepreneurs and Business Owners) can play a critical role in a community. BEBO is a networking group comprised of all the organizations and entities that provide small business support in Burke County. This includes the Small Business Center, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Technology Development Center, the Agricultural Extension office and VEDIC – a local revolving loan fund – among others. Helping find solutions to these three challenges is imperative if we are to have a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

BEBO hosts quarterly networking sessions that provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs to meet with each other and share what they do. The next event is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:30pm at the Foothills Higher Education Center. Learn more about these events at www.facebook.com/bebonetwork.

The BEBO leadership team also serves as a working group that supports high-growth potential businesses. These scalable companies have an opportunity to present to the leadership team for connections to resources and capital.

As part of BDI’s sector focused work we assist in the growth of the Carolina Textile District, an organization that meets demand for US textile production. The CTD has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a successful multi-year economic development project.

In this same vein we are looking at ways to support and lift up other industry clusters – such as the machining and metalworking cluster. Burke County has an extremely high concentration of machining companies, which is a huge advantage for a rural community like ours. Two weeks ago BDI attended the SOUTH-TEC machining trade show in Charlotte to meet with industry representatives and learn more about this growing sector.

Another role of BDI in supporting small business is to ensure the appropriate availability of small to mid-size buildings and sites for these companies. To do this we develop partnerships with local and regional developers to create sites for growth and also verify the pipeline is complete for available local sites. We have seen an increase in requests for buildings in the 10-20,000 sq. ft. range so it is important that we seek out these smaller industrial properties and ensure they are ready for occupancy.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet for how to support small business; however, by forming a network of providers that can collaborate to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and by maintaining our focus on the industry clusters where we have strong support, we are ensuring the infrastructure is in place to have a thriving small business community.

Economic Development in Burke: Supporting Small Business

Today’s editorial provides more information about the 2015-2016 Burke Development Action Plan in a continued effort to inform the community about how we carry out economic development work at BDI.

In this piece we focus on what BDI does to support small business, entrepreneurship and industry clusters. Organizations define small business in different ways. Many people think of small business as their local coffee shop, accounting firm or retail store. The U.S. government defines a small business as any company that employs 500 people or less, so it is no surprise that they consider 99.7% of all firms to be “small business”.

Since the recession there has been a greater emphasis on small business and recognition of the important role they play in the economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics from mid-2009 to 2011 small firms accounted for 67% of net new jobs.

How do we, as a community, support these entrepreneurs and business owners? In a 2015 Harris poll of 505 small business owners, 76% said they face marketing challenges. Additionally, 41% said their challenges included identifying and reaching new customer prospects while 32% said finding money to market their business was a challenge.

This is where organizations like BEBO (Burke Entrepreneurs and Business Owners) can play a critical role in a community. BEBO is a networking group comprised of all the organizations and entities that provide small business support in Burke County. This includes the Small Business Center, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Technology Development Center, the Agricultural Extension office and VEDIC – a local revolving loan fund – among others. Helping find solutions to these three challenges is imperative if we are to have a vibrant entrepreneurial community.

BEBO hosts quarterly networking sessions that provide opportunities for local entrepreneurs to meet with each other and share what they do. The next event is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 5:30pm at the Foothills Higher Education Center. Learn more about these events at www.facebook.com/bebonetwork.

The BEBO leadership team also serves as a working group that supports high-growth potential businesses. These scalable companies have an opportunity to present to the leadership team for connections to resources and capital.

As part of BDI’s sector focused work we assist in the growth of the Carolina Textile District, an organization that meets demand for US textile production. The CTD has been recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a successful multi-year economic development project.

In this same vein we are looking at ways to support and lift up other industry clusters – such as the machining and metalworking cluster. Burke County has an extremely high concentration of machining companies, which is a huge advantage for a rural community like ours. Two weeks ago BDI attended the SOUTH-TEC machining trade show in Charlotte to meet with industry representatives and learn more about this growing sector.

Another role of BDI in supporting small business is to ensure the appropriate availability of small to mid-size buildings and sites for these companies. To do this we develop partnerships with local and regional developers to create sites for growth and also verify the pipeline is complete for available local sites. We have seen an increase in requests for buildings in the 10-20,000 sq. ft. range so it is important that we seek out these smaller industrial properties and ensure they are ready for occupancy.

Ultimately, there is no magic bullet for how to support small business; however, by forming a network of providers that can collaborate to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners, and by maintaining our focus on the industry clusters where we have strong support, we are ensuring the infrastructure is in place to have a thriving small business community.

For Immediate Release

BDI News from the NCEDA Fall Conference

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (October 22, 2015) – Burke Development staff this week participated in the 2015 North Carolina Economic Development Association Fall Conference in Asheville. Attended by professionals from across the state, the conference featured various presentations and updates from statewide and regional economic development organizations.

Wednesday morning’s session began with a legislative update. North Carolina’s JDIG (Job Development Investment Grant) incentive was recently re-funded by the legislature for $20 million through 2019. The JDIG is a key tool for developers across the state as the primary incentive fund used to compete for recruitment of projects and industry. Information and advice was also shared for how to better foster grassroots participation from your community and elected officials to support economic development legislation.

Susan Fleetwood, Chief Economic Development Liaison for the NC Department of Commerce, presented an update on the NC Jobs Plan, which was developed over a six-month period and outlines 86 action items related to growing the NC economy. These include initiatives to support innovation and entrepreneurship, including the refunding of the NC One Small Business Program, attraction of foreign direct investment, creating a competitive business climate, talent and retiree attraction, and education and workforce development.

A panel of members from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) International Team shared information on what is being done to attract foreign direct investment to the state. These Investment Directors represent NC in target markets across the globe including China, Japan, Europe, Canada and Korea. They discussed impressions that companies in these countries have about North Carolina, as well as which countries are emerging markets for U.S. foreign direct investment.

The conference concluded with updates from NC’s regional economic development partnerships. Discussion centered on how the partnerships have changed since the legislature’s decision to de-fund the organizations and transfer to a public/private partnership. While Burke County is currently not represented by a regional partnership, Burke Development is exploring alternatives to ensure the County is represented in a regional or sub-regional group.

 

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 www.BurkeDevInc.com.

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Contact:

Alan Wood

828.764.1818

For Immediate Release

 Burke Development Releases Video Featuring Local Industry

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (October 20, 2015) – Burke Development released a video that highlights the local business climate and explains why Burke County is a great place to do business. “Welcome to Burke County” features beautiful scenes from throughout the County, downtown areas and several local manufacturing companies.

BDI will use the new video in presentations, as well as during project submissions with the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

“The importance of visual media is continuously growing,” said BDI President and CEO Alan Wood. “The ability to demonstrate to a prospect exactly what the area looks like is powerful. I think it helps them envision what it could be like for their company to operate here in North Carolina.”

The video is also an opportunity to highlight some of the County’s growing local companies. It includes footage from Catawba Valley Brewery, Valdese Weavers, Geiger Furniture, Toner Machining – and the County’s largest employer – Carolinas Healthcare System Blue Ridge.

“We have such a diverse employment base here in Burke County so it was good to show everything from retail to healthcare to manufacturing,” said Wood. “Burke County is truly a beautiful area so there wasn’t a shortage of amazing filming locations. It is a place that is easy to show off!”

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 www.BurkeDevInc.com.

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Contact:

Alan Wood

828.764.1818

For Immediate Release

 

Burke Development Receives Two Excellence in Economic Development Awards from the International Economic Development Council

BURKE COUNTY, N.C. (October 14, 2015) – The International Economic Development Council has selected Burke Development, Inc. as a two-time Excellence in Economic Development award recipient. BDI was recognized at the IEDC Annual Conference on October 5 for its role in developing the Carolina Textile District.

The Carolina Textile District was formed in 2013 by BDI; Opportunity Threads, a Morganton cut and sew facility; and the Manufacturing Solutions Center, a research and development institute in Conover. The organization is a network of textile related companies that collaborate to meet the increasing demand for US textile production.

2015 IEDC Awards Ribbon gold - croppedBDI was selected as a Gold Award recipient in the Multi-Year Economic Development category and as a Silver Award recipient in the Regionalism and Cross-Border Collaboration (Population 25,000-200,000) category.

“From localized community projects, to large scale endeavors, economic development efforts have played a vital role in the global economy,” said JoAnn Crary, CEcD, Chair of the International Economic Development Council and President of Saginaw Future Inc. “As we address new and longstanding challenges, these efforts continue to take on even greater importance. The award serves as a salute to pacesetting organizations like Burke Development, Inc.  for leading the charge.”

Recipients of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards demonstrate to an experienced panel of judges that they are at the forefront of the economic development profession. They are recognized as the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. These awards honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

“We are honored to receive the IEDC awards, which are very prestigious,” said BDI President Alan Wood. “BDI and our partners at Opportunity Threads and the Manufacturing Solutions Center have put a lot of effort into this project and it is paying off.”

As a result of the Carolina Textile District, western North Carolina was selected in March 2015 by Textile Insight magazine as a “Top Ten Emerging Hub for Textile Production.”

Alan receiving silver award“The textile industry has long been a part of who we are in western North Carolina,” added Wood. “This project has allowed us to revitalize the industry at a time when there is great demand for US production of sewn textile goods.”

According to the 2014 A.T. Kearney Reshoring Index, apparel was the third largest reshoring industry in the manufacturing sector in 2014. The Textile District assists both start-ups and well established companies that want to bring their textile production back to North Carolina by connecting them to manufacturers that can produce their product.

Click here to see the IEDC press release and here to see the full list of winners.

About the International Economic Development Council

The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 4,600 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities, by creating, retaining and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base.  From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members are engaged in the full range of economic development experience. Given the breadth of economic development work, our members are employed in a wide variety of settings including local, state, provincial and federal governments, public private partnerships, chambers of commerce, universities and a variety of other institutions. When we succeed, our members create high-quality jobs, develop vibrant communities, and improve the quality of life in their regions. www.iedconline.org.

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 www.BurkeDevInc.com.

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Contact:

Alan Wood

828.764.1818

Economic Development in Burke: A 12-month Plan

Retention and Expansion

Recently the BDI Board of Directors approved our 2015-2016 Action Plan. For anyone wanting more information, you can view the complete Action Plan here.

In today’s editorial I want to discuss one of our four areas of emphasis outlined in the Action Plan – business retention and expansion. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of having a strong existing industry program. For most counties – especially rural ones – 80 to 90 percent of job growth comes from existing industry and businesses that are started by local citizens, with the remainder coming from outside sources.

What does it mean to have an existing industry program? The foundation is a good relationship with the manufacturing companies that are in the County. We do this in various ways. We visit with companies regularly. Our goal each year is to make approximately 50 industry visits. Sometimes we meet with the CEO or President. Other visits we meet with a Plant Manager or Human Resources representative. This is an opportunity for the company to share current and future plans with us to see if there are ways we can help them grow.

Large corporations will often plan an expansion several years in advance so it is important for local company officials to know who to call if there is a discussion of an expansion at their facility. It is also important to know this information early in the process because it is a critical requirement if the company is seeking grant assistance. Many state grants require that no work be done toward an expansion before the grant is approved.

There are a few different types of grant assistance. The Building Reuse program from the NC Department of Commerce offers matching funds for businesses that are creating jobs and making additions or renovations to their existing facility.

The Economic Infrastructure Program provides grants to local governments to assist with infrastructure projects that will lead to new, full-time jobs. This can include installation, repairs or upgrades of public water or sewer lines, publicly owned natural gas, public broadband, publicly owned access roads or public rail spur improvements.

JDIG (Job Development Investment Grants), which was recently re-funded by the NC Legislature, is a discretionary incentive that provides annual grants to a new or expanding business. The state has a very rigorous set of criteria for a JDIG grant.

It is obvious that helping existing industry grow is a major part of our plan of work but let’s not ignore the retention piece. Having a company downsize or close is a blow to any community and is especially traumatic for the employees that lose their job. Having a robust retention/expansion program does not guarantee that this will not happen but it should provide some advanced warning and possibly provide an opportunity to mitigate the damage by addressing any local issues that are negatively impacting the employer.

Another important piece of our existing industry program is special events. To provide an opportunity for our local employers to meet in a relaxed atmosphere, on October 27 BDI will host a B2B Manufacturing event. This is an opportunity for local companies to network with each other, potentially find new suppliers and share their story. We have extended an invitation to utility providers, financial institutions and other organizations that can provide support and services to our local manufacturers. We would like to thank Duke Energy, Wells Fargo and Ekornes for their generous support of this event.

Next month we will further discuss a second body of work for BDI, Industry Recruitment, which is an often misunderstood process. We hope these editorials are lifting the curtain so Burke County citizens can gain a better understanding of how economic development is done and the role that BDI plays in creating wealth in our community. If you ever have any questions, please give us a call or stop in for a visit!