H-V EDC Encouraged By Community Growth

Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission Encouraged By Community Growth

by Kelly Bondurant, Freelance Writer for Hire

Dennis Jarvis, II, the newly appointed Director of the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission (EDC) has been hard at work in his first two months on the job.

Jarvis, who began his new position on November 6, 2017, is focused on familiarizing himself with his coworkers and the community. “My days since I began have been about staying late, learning names and getting my feet on the ground,” said Jarvis.

According to Tommy Hester, Chairman of the Vance County Board of Commissioners, Jarvis is doing a fantastic job in his new role. “Dennis Jarvis, II is a great addition to the Economic Development Commission and will be an asset to our area.”

Jarvis comes to the Economic Development Commission at a time of new growth and opportunity. Mako Medical Laboratories, based out of Raleigh, NC, has begun the process of expanding and setting up shop in Vance County. Occupying the former Harperprints Building on Industry Drive, Mako is in the process of remodeling, purchasing and installing equipment and hiring qualified employees.

In addition to other grants and incentives, Mako received $1 million in grants provided by the Goldenleaf Foundation and the Department of Commerce in December 2017. Earmarked for lab equipment and building upgrades and repairs, Mako has wasted no time in putting the resources to good use.

According to Hester, Mako has $6 million in lab equipment already in place. One of the more impressive pieces of equipment being installed will allow the lab to process approximately 2,000 specimens in one hour. Diagnostic lab testing provided by Mako includes blood, urine, genetic and allergy.

In addition to installing lab equipment, Mako is currently training and hiring employees for the new Vance County location. According to Hester, 11 people have currently been hired by Mako at a salary of approximately $56,000 per job. Mako anticipates bringing approximately 153 jobs into the area and anticipates a sales volume of $250 million this year.

“When you hear numbers like that, it goes without saying that Mako is a great thing for our area and for economic development,” said Hester.

The excitement around Mako has started a chain reaction of interest and pride in the community. “Other companies have seen the collaborative teamwork involved in the process by the County and various organizations and have inquired about opportunities in our area,” said Hester.

While Mako is certainly a boon for the area, Jarvis stresses that the EDC is also emphasizing and focusing on expansion of the county’s current base and courting new potential investments.

“Since October 2017, the EDC has submitted approximately 8-10 proposals to the State of North Carolina. Our focus is on retention of our current base and attracting new business opportunities,” Jarvis said.

With all of the current growth and future potential, both Jarvis and Hester feel a new day is dawning for Vance County.

“Our area has new business opportunities coming into the county, potential new businesses touring currently vacant building structures and existing businesses such as MR Williams growing and expanding. Vance County is heading in the right direction,” said Hester.

The next meeting of the EDC will be held Wednesday, February 7 at 8:30 am in the community room of Maria Parham Medical Center.

The EDC Board and guests will attend a meeting at Mako Medical Laboratories on Wednesday, March 7 for a tour of the facilities and company updates.

(WIZS contracted with the writer of this article Kelly Bondurant, Freelance Writer for Hire for publication here and on the air.)

Leadership Vance 2018

— courtesy Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce | John Barnes, President ~ 252-438-8414 ~ [email protected] ~ Facebook

Applications are available for the upcoming 2018 Leadership Vance Program! Interested professionals who live or work in Vance County are invited to apply. The program will be limited to a maximum of 25 participants who will be selected to represent all backgrounds, occupations and geographic areas of Vance County. The Leadership Vance program is designed to create a group of informed and dedicated leaders who will contribute to the community after graduation. The program informs, challenges and educates the participants on the opportunities and needs of the community and will strengthen their leadership skills while learning about the social, economic, and political dynamics that shape the community. The intensive training and exposure to all aspects of the community will provide participants with the historical background and the skills necessary for volunteer civic and community positions. It will also benefit participants in their business and career goals.

Brochures for the upcoming year will be available in early January with the first session to be held in February. The 10-session program will conclude in June and the cost for participating is $325 for Chamber members and $400 for non-Chamber members. Included in the price are all expenses, meals and materials. Participants are exposed to various aspects of Henderson and Vance County, specifically in regard to city and county government, health and community resources, economic development, agriculture and natural resources, history and media, and criminal justice and law. All potential participants should submit a completed application to the Chamber office no later than Wednesday, January 17, 2018. Notifications will be made by Wednesday, January 31, 2018. For more information, contact Director of Administration
and Events, Melanie Mann at the Chamber at 438-8414 or [email protected].

Downtown Business Owners Receive Fascade Improvement Grants

— by Kaine Riggan

The Henderson-Vance Downtown Development Commission awarded three grants to local entrepreneurs recently. Grantees were selected through a competitive grant process to assist businesses in the downtown business district with making improvements to the overall curb-appeal of their storefronts.

Charles Bowman, a veteran local business owner, renovated the building at 117 Horner Street into an antique car showroom called Southern Classic Cars. Bowman was awarded $1710 for half the total cost of installing new awnings along the front fascade.

“We’ve invested a great deal into making the building something everyone can be proud of,” admits Bowman who has been a classic car collector for decades. “I’m proud of the city leaders and the DDC for making these incentives available to folks who are willing to invest in downtown.”

The DDC’s website (DowntownDevelopment.org) lists the guidelines and eligibility requirements for all of the incentives they offer. The fascade incentive grant can cover 50% of improvement costs up to $2500. The sign incentive grant can cover 25% of costs associated with new storefront signage.

Chef Cherie Pittman of Next Door Bistro and Chef Llew Sutton of Uncle Llew’s Restaurant & Pub received the full 25% allowable reimbursement for their new storefront signage.

Pictured are Kaine Riggan, Downtown Development Director, Cherie Pittman (Next Door Bistro), Llew Sutton (Uncle Llew’s), Charles Bowman (Southern Classic Cars) and Phil Hart, HVDDC Chair. Photo credit Mike Noel.

“Grants are reviewed monthly by committee and applications are accepted until the annual grant budget allocation is exhausted”, shared Downtown Development Director, Kaine Riggan.

Riggan also worked with downtown’s Kerr Lake Signs & Banners to design and install billboard-type signage across the fascade of the former Abigail’s Books at 405 S. Garnett Street. The property had become an eyesore since the previous owner abandoned the property allowing it to revert by due process into city and county ownership.

“Reaction has been very positive to the recent improvements,” said HVDDC Chair Phil Hart. “An attractive and thriving downtown is the life-blood of any successful city and what we are seeing is both recognition of that from city officials and support of that from a community willing to shop local first.”

In addition to awarding grants, the DDC also offers low-interest loans to bolster investment in its business district. Now in its second round of loan projects, the DDC can offer funds originally awarded through the USDA’s Revolving Loan program at a 3-6% interest rate. More information about any of these programs may be obtained at www.DowntownDevelopment.org or by calling (252) 820-9785.

Students learn about careers at VGCC Manufacturing Day

— courtesy VGCC

Vance-Granville Community College held a “Manufacturing Day” celebration on Thursday, Oct. 5, in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. Nearly 200 high school students from Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties attended, along with VGCC students, educators and other members of the community. They learned about how manufacturing has changed, local career possibilities in the field and options for education and training related to careers in the industry.

“Manufacturing Day is a national event meant to inspire the next generation of manufacturers and expose them to modern manufacturing trends,” said Tiffani M. Polk, an academic and career coach with the TechHire program at VGCC. “Our industry partners described the students as highly engaged and inquisitive. Together, I think we were able to reframe what manufacturing is for our future workforce.”

Participating employers included Altec of Creedmoor, Boise Cascade of Roxboro, Carolina Sunrock of Butner, Dill Air Controls of Oxford, Edwards Inc. of Spring Hope, Fastenal of Raleigh, Glen Raven of Norlina, Home Care Products of Oxford, Mars Petcare of Henderson, Novozymes of Franklinton, Plastic Ingenuity of Oxford, Revlon of Oxford, and Superior Tooling of Wake Forest.

Students talk with, seated from left, Revlon representatives Bonnie Garrett and Wendy Grissom at Manufacturing Day in the VGCC Civic Center. (VGCC photo)

VGCC technical programs were represented, including Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Technology, Automotive Systems Technology, Electrical Systems Technology, Electronics Engineering Technology, Mechatronics Engineering Technology and Welding Technology. A representative from the Kerr-Tar Workforce Development Board was on hand, as well.

Attendees also learned about the North Carolina Triangle Apprenticeship Program (NCTAP), which partners with colleges like VGCC and employers to prepare a skilled workforce. An alternative to the traditional four-year college degree, the program takes a student from high school through a two-year community college program like Mechatronics Engineering Technology, with the guarantee of a job at the completion of the program.

Sandy Whitfield from Altec talks with students at Manufacturing Day in the VGCC Civic Center. (VGCC photo)

Reflecting on the event, Revlon representative Bonnie Garrett said that “it was nice to get to introduce high school students to our company and to careers in manufacturing that they don’t often think about. We rarely get an opportunity like this.”

Joel Bailey of Edwards said it was his company’s first time participating in a VGCC Manufacturing Day event. He noted that Edwards, a full-service industrial general contractor with a specialty fabrication shop, has many job openings and was particularly interested in recruiting graduates of VGCC’s Welding, Electrical Systems and HVAC programs.

Steve Tsotsoros from Dill Air Controls shows some of the products manufactured by his company to students attending Manufacturing Day in the VGCC Civic Center. (VGCC photo)

The TechHire grant program at VGCC organized Manufacturing Day, with support from the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Alliance (AMSTA), a partnership of VGCC and local K-12 school systems. The North Carolina TechHire program supports advanced manufacturing and information technology training. VGCC is one of four partnering community colleges in the North Carolina TechHire Alliance, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. For more information on TechHire, contact Tiffani Polk at [email protected] or (252) 738-3291.


(Vance Granville is a paying advertising client of WIZS.)

Joel Bailey from Edwards Inc. (center) talks with VGCC Welding student Cedric Rodebaugh of Franklinton at Manufacturing Day in the VGCC Civic Center. (VGCC photo)

VGCC agricultural initiative highlighted at local food economies meeting

— courtesy VGCC

Vance-Granville Community College’s Main Campus served as the host for a late-September gathering of community leaders from throughout the region interested in local food economies.

The meeting, entitled “Innovations in Economic Development through Local Foods,” was organized by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), a partnership of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and North Carolina State University. Laura Lauffer of CEFS said that the organization had conducted the same event at two other locations elsewhere in North Carolina before VGCC, but that this was their best-attended to date.

As she welcomed participants to the college, VGCC President Dr. Stelfanie Williams said, “We are excited about the opportunities ahead for this region of North Carolina, and we are happy to be a partner in economic, agricultural and environmental stewardship.”

The first part of the meeting consisted of presenters sharing innovative models related to entrepreneurship and supporting local farmers that could be replicated in other communities. First up was VGCC Small Business Center Director Tanya Weary, talking about the college’s “NC REAL Agricultural Entrepreneurship” program. Lauffer said that Weary and VGCC are “pioneers in leading agriculture business classes and promoting agriculture in the community college system.”

Tanya Weary, director of the VGCC Small Business Center (standing), addresses attendees at the “Innovations in Economic Development through Local Foods” event.

Weary told attendees that the Agricultural Entrepreneurship program, a seven-week, interactive course designed to strengthen the business savvy of community farmers and budding agricultural entrepreneurs, succeeded in part because of strong partnerships. She partnered with the VGCC Human Resources Development department, the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the Vance County Regional Farmers Market, N.C. Cooperative Extension, local city and county governments, attorneys, banks and other businesses.

“We have worked with other community colleges to share our experience about how we started this, who our partners are and how we’ve been able to grow this,” Weary said. “We have served around 65 students since starting in late 2014, and that’s a real success for this area. We’re very pleased with it.”

She added that the course spurred VGCC to offer other agriculture-related programs. A new free, three-part workshop series, “Planting Your Marketing Seeds for Your Agricultural Business,” is scheduled for Tuesday evenings, Nov. 7-21. Carrie Harvey, the instructor, also taught many of the college’s Agricultural Entrepreneurship classes.

Other presenters included Ardis Crews of the Green Rural Redevelopment Organization; Henry Crews (a graduate of the first NC REAL Agricultural Entrepreneurship class at VGCC) and Jennifer Dietsche, discussing a Vidant Health initiative at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville; Jimbo Eason and John Kimber from Covington Vodka; Eric Hallman of the Piedmont Food and Agriculture Processing Center (PFAP); Mike Ortosky of Orange County Agriculture Economic Development; and Gabe Cummings of Warren County-based Working Landscapes. CEFS has produced a short video on Working Landscapes, which participants enjoyed watching during lunch.

The Harvest Restaurant of Oxford catered a lunch featuring local food for the meeting. After lunch, attendees heard presenters discuss statewide resources, including the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Rural Center and CEFS projects.

The CEFS “Local Food Economies” initiative is part of the NC Growing Together (NCGT) project. NCGT is a five-year, USDA-funded project that aims to bring more locally-produced foods into mainstream markets, strengthening the economics of small to mid-sized farm and fishing operations and their communities. In addition to research, academic and extension components, NCGT also aims to create an enabling environment for farms and food businesses.

For more information on the VGCC Small Business Center, contact Tanya Weary at [email protected] or (252) 738-3240.


6th Annual Small Business Summit – October 24th

The summit is designed to help you make the holidays pay off for your business.

“I am pleased to announce that the Small Business Center at Vance-Granville Community College will host its 6th Annual Small Business Summit next Tuesday, October 24 from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Lake Gaston Lions Club. This year’s theme is Making the Holidays Pay Off,” said Tanya Weary, director of the Small Business Center at Vance-Granville Community College.

Registration includes a free lunch and discussions on the following topics:

  • Shop Local – Buy Local – Invest Local to Gain More Business for You and Your Area
  • Holiday Event Planning for the Small Business Owner
  • Take Photos Like a Pro to Get More Business with Your Social Media
  • Get Social! Grow Your Business!

To register and for more information including a map, click here, https://www.ncsbc.net/workshop.aspx?ekey=530370043.

Weary told WIZS News in her email, “Event brought to you in partnership with VGCC’s SBC, CenturyLink, Chamber of Commerce of Warren County, the Warren County Economic Development Commission, and the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center.”

Two New Restaurants Open Downtown Saturday

— courtesy Henderson-Vance Downtown Development Commission

Downtown Carves Path As A Culinary Destination

Two new local eateries will open in downtown Henderson Saturday, bolstered by fascade and start-up incentives from the Downtown Development Commission. Factoring in long-time landmark George’s, the three downtown restaurants will boast an impressive resume chocked with big-name culinary influence.

Cherie Pittman, owner and Executive Chef at Next Door Bistro, has spent the last decade with Greensboro cafeteria chain Food Express. She joined them right out of culinary school as a manager and worked her way through the corporate ranks to become district manager, then head corporate chef – opening new locations and developing menus.

“I’ll incorporate the lessons I learned in those ten years with my passion for healthier comfort foods,” shared Chef Pittman. She and her husband Daniel have recently lost a collective 100 pounds on the Keto diet, a low-carb health regimen using the method of Ketosis.

Photo by Kaine Riggan, pictured (l to r) are Chef Ali Onsoy of George’s, Chef Llew Sutton of Uncle Llew’s and Chef Cherie Pittman of Next Door Bistro.

Just around the corner on Montgomery Street, Llew Sutton brings expertise from several of the Triangle’s top franchises to his Italian eatery called Uncle Llew’s Restaurant. In addition to Mellow Mushroom and Raleigh Beer Garden, Llew spent six years opening new locations for Ruckus in Cary, Apex and Morrisville. He also worked with renowned regional entrepreneur Bobby Goodnight as Executive Chef for Sass.

“We will offer flatbread pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches, in the beginning, but hope to extend our pizza offerings with the addition of a wood-fired pizza oven,” admits Sutton, whose wife Nikki will manage the front of house operations.

“The DDC uses USDA funds to extend very low-interest loans to promising entrepreneurs investing in the downtown business district,” shares Kaine Riggan, downtown’s Development Director. “We believe our community will support the strong insurgence of culinary talent we’re seeing and the DDC is committed to nurturing that growth.”

Riggan plans to help Sutton with the purchase of the pizza oven and is leading a collaborative marketing effort for the three restaurants as well, starting with a photo shoot for the three chefs at downtown’s Daniel Hendley Studios in early November.

The third Chef became Executive Chef and partner at George’s of Henderson last Fall. Ali Onsoy worked as a chef at George’s Oxford location since 2007 prior to the Henderson move. Interestingly, he also served as a chef in the Turkish military before coming to the United States. Onsoy’s Turkish influences can be spotted in George’s menu specials and in the restaurant’s décor.

The three restaurants will be open Saturday in conjunction with the 16th Annual Show, Shine, Shag & Dine, downtown’s largest event, hosted by Nancy Wilson and Vance County’s Tourism and Development Authority.

Getting There:
Uncle Llew’s Restaurant – 130 W. Montgomery Street
Next Door Bistro – 219 S. Garnett Street
George’s Restaurant – 210 N. Garnett St.