The Monthly e-Newsletter for Catawba County's Existing Industries

Recent good news you may have missed in the last month:
-       Business NC feature on a number of great initiatives underway within Catawba County

Lastly, a congratulations to Lindsay Keisler for being named the new President & CEO of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber and EDC are very close partners, and we fully expect this to only grow under Lindsay's leadership. 
Thank you for your time this month and please do not hesitate to contact myself ( ; 828-244-3085) or the EDC if we can assist you or your business.
EDC's Industry Survey Results 

Judging from this year's industry survey, the local economy appears poised for continued growth, but finding the right employees (and rising employee-related costs) continue to be a significant concern for Catawba County employers. Thanks to the many who took the time and provided their valuable insight.
Below are some of the survey's more interesting takeaways:
  • Nearly 94% of the survey's 56 respondents expressed some level of confidence for profitable growth in 2017, with 55% even suggesting they were very confident.
  • Companies suggested that on average they were operating at 75% capacity. The industries with the least available capacity were: Transportation & Warehousing (84% capacity), Other Services (79%), Furniture (79%), and Machinery (79%). The industry sectors with the most available production capacity: Plastics and Rubber (56% capacity) and Textiles (65%).
  • 64% of respondents presume at least some headcount growth in 2017.
  • Companies are trying many different strategies to better retain and attract the best talent:
    • 46%, greater focus on skills and adaptability in our people
    • 37%, increasing pay, incentives and benefits
    • 35%, improving the workplace culture
    • 33%, greater focus on productivity through automation and technology
    • 20%, more effective performance management
  • The two biggest employer concerns were attracting/retaining qualified workers and rising employee-related costs. The weighted scores for these two choices fell directly between "moderately" and "very" concerned. Government regulations and general economic uncertainty followed closely behind.
  • Companies appear somewhat concerned over coming technological changes, but anticipate the disruptions to only be mild to moderately disruptive to their business.
  • Companies seemed to have a mostly positive view of possible outcomes from the technological change. More than a quarter felt it would lower costs/pricing, nearly 20% said it would result in new products from their company. Potentially most interesting, more than 16% said it would require a change to their company's business model. 
Dept. of Labor Overtime Rule Update      
In May, the US Department of Labor released final regulations that increase the minimum salary required to be earned by an employee in order for that employee to be exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime requirements from $455/week ($23,660/year) to $913/week ($47,476/year). The current levels have been in place since 2004. For more information, please see an Industry Pulse article from last year.
In October, 21 states asked the US District Court for an emergency preliminary injunction against the FLSA's overtime changes. The court ultimately agreed with the states, granting an injunction and delaying the overtime scheduled to go into effect on December 1 st. The delay is temporary while it remains in the court system and a final decision is made. Additionally, it is fully possible that the new Trump administration could modify or repeal the FLSA changes separate and apart from what the court decides.
In the meantime, many employers have spent months preparing for these changes, identifying workers affected by the final regulations and determining whether to increase their salaries to comply or reclassify them as nonexempt employees - and communicating those changes.
HR experts seem to agree that while the rule is delayed, employers should continue to evaluate the FLSA status of their employees by reviewing job duties and descriptions and ensuring that they have employees classified properly. Whether the rule is upheld or not, all employers are subject to current FLSA requirements that dictate classification and payment methods.
Hickory Charity in Search of Space 

A local charity has contacted our office in search of approximately 3,000 square feet of space in Hickory to further expand their program(s). The space would be used to store food items and then load backpacks for Hickory City School students.

If you or your business would consider donating (or leasing) some of your excess building space to this charity, please let me know. I will put you in touch with the appropriate parties to learn more if you can help. Thank you for your consideration.

Vol. 9, Issue 2 - 

February 2017   
In This Issue
Industry Survey Results
Charity Needs Space
3D Printing Road Show
Talent Jam
 Stratasys 3D Printing Solutions Road Show
Tuesday, February 21
9:00AM - 1:00PM

Are you searching for a way to make more cost-effective prototypes or manufacturing aids? Then make plans now to attend next week's Stratasys Solutions Roadshow hosted at the Manufacturing Solutions Center in Conover.
During this three-hour seminar, industry experts from Stratasys, including the Head of Tooling Solutions, will share how untapped opportunities for additive manufacturing can impact your business. Sessions will include: FDM Composite Tooling, Manufacturing Aids - Jigs and Fixtures and a Demo Area for Solutions.
Learn how these cutting edge technologies can improve your response to demand, increase operational efficiency, and lower costs.

Talent Jam: HKY Metro 

Wednesday, March 8 
5:30PM - 8:00PM 
Free to attend/$20 to pitch,
What is Talent Jam?
Talent Jam is the perfect combo of job fair, connection event and speed matchmaking. It's a perfect opportunity to feature open spots within your front office,executive/management level, technical or creative-class positions.
Great companies AND job seekers can opt to take the mic for one minute to "pitch" their professional needs and talents; we have a limited number of "pitching" slots ($20 per pitch).
Three Reasons to Attend:
  1. You're seeking an awesome new career opportunity.
  2. Your company is looking for a unique way to connect with talent. Highlight your company!
  3. You simply enjoy good company and good, local brew. General admission is free.
How you can play a leading role
  • Sign up and pitch your company (limited to first 20 spots - these are quickly filling up).
  • Even if you don't pitch, register and show up! This will still be a great opportunity to represent your company and connect with lots of interesting folks.
  • Please forward this info on to friends, soon-to-grad high school or college students, sons/daughters, moms/dads, your cousin who really does need to get off the couch and get a job, military veterans, anyone and everyone!
Thank you for your time and interest,
Nathan Huret
Director, Existing Industry Services 
Office - (828) 267-1564          Cell - (828) 244-3085