Macon County’s Economic Development Commission (EDC) finished up the inaugural BizWeek 2012 celebration with a banquet held at Holly Springs Baptist Church. BizWeek was a week-long celebration of business, industry and entrepreneurship with the EDC and its partners holding several events in honor of businesses in the county. Each event was designed to show appreciation for the businesses that are part of the fabric of Macon County’s economic community.
“On behalf of the Macon County EDC, I want to thank the approximately 300 participants in the BizWeek 2012 festivities this past week,” said Tommy Jenkins, director of the Macon County EDC. “We were proud to honor the successes of our manufacturing and technology economic partners, as well as celebrate the creative entrepreneurship synergy that is alive and well in Macon County. We look forward to joining with our strategic partners and the local business community in producing an even more exciting and successful BizWeek in 2013.”
“Biz Week 2012 was a great success. There is a nice buzz around Franklin and Macon County, and some things are being put into motion already,” said Matt Bateman, marketing director for Franklin Young Professionals. “Our area is prime for small businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of, and Biz Week was a nice intro to it all. The Macon County EDC and Tommy Jenkins did a fantastic job in raising awareness this year.”
Local entrepreneurs and community leaders gathered last Thursday night for networking, over a meal catered by the Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps and to hear North Carolina Secretary of Commerce, Keith Crisco’s keynote address on economic development for North Carolina.
Crisco was appointed Secretary of Commerce by Gov. Bev Perdue in January 2009 and has 40 years of experience in business and commerce.
According to Crisco, he has ties to Western North Carolina through family history that traces back to Hayesville, and through friendships he has formed with House Representative Phil Haire and former North Carolina Senator John Snow, both of whom attended the banquet to show their support for Macon County economic growth. Crisco said that when he was a child his family started a textile business from scratch and has since built it up and are now selling textiles throughout the country and overseas. He encouraged businesses in Macon County to have the same outlook on future economic development in the community. “We made strategic moves and thrived from it,” said Crisco. “We looked outward instead of inward.”
Crisco charged Maconians with being innovators in economic development and to be leaders who set an example for the rest of Western North Carolina to follow. “I think North Carolina needs to focus on innovations, whether it’s in new equipment, innovations in our universities with our education, or creating new ideas completely.”
A Stanley, N.C. native, Crisco earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University.
Crisco has served on the Asheboro City Council, chairman of the Pfeiffer University board of trustees, chairman of the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research and as chairman of the National Elastic Manufacturer's Association.
During the banquet, Jenkins announced the winner of the “1 idea, 90 seconds, 1000 dollars = Awesome Business Idea Event.”
The concept for the contest was kept pretty simple. Participants related to the judges what problem they wanted to solve, how they planned to solve it with their business idea, and how they would use $1,000 to make it happen, and do it all in 90 seconds. David Izquiredo, who developed an all-natural lip balm, was named as the winner. Izquiredo was awarded $1,000 and will have the opportunity to have a one-on-one mentoring lunch with a local entrepreneur.
Jenkins was charged with naming the seven BizWeek 2012 honorees.
“As part of this year’s festivities, your Macon County EDC has selected seven outstanding companies as BizWeek 2012 honorees,” said Jenkins. “This year’s honorees were selected for their contributions towards strengthening and diversifying our local economy, providing economic stability for employees and for making substantial investments in our community. From local to global, they share two common themes; a commitment to excellence in their respective fields and a commitment to being good corporate citizens within our community. We are truly honored to have them as part of our local economy.”
Honorees included Caterpillar (CAT), Duotech Services, Drake Software, Shaw Industries – Hardwood Division, SKF- Franklin, Tektone and Whitley Products. According to Jenkins, this year’s honorees were recognized for being innovators in their industries and have proven themselves as integral parts of Macon County’s economic development.
Phillip Moore accepted the award on behalf of Caterpillar. According to Jenkins, CAT currently employs 240 individuals who work four shifts and in November of last year, the company completed a one million dollar facility expansion. “With more than $42 billion in sales in 2011, Caterpillar was ranked number one in its industry and 58th overall in the 2011 Fortune 500 survey,” said Jenkins. “Locally, CATFranklin is part of the Caterpillar Precision Seals Organization, producing metal seals commonly used in wheels and undercarriages of construction equipment.”
Duotech Services was recognized for being being a premier provider of repairing existing weapon systems. “Located in the Macon County Industrial Park, Duotech Services relocated to Franklin in 1986,” said Jenkins. “Duotech clients include the U.S. Airforce, U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, U.S. Army, NASA, leading military contractors and various U.S. allied foreign governments. Duotech currently employs approximately 50, 45 percent of which have a Bachelor of Engineering education or better.”
Phil Drake of Drake Software was commended for continuing to grow his business in Western North Carolina. “In the software business since 1977, Drake currently employees 649 people in Western North Carolina with annual payroll and benefits of approximately $25 million per year,” said Jenkins. “Drake has 37,000 tax offices in the U.S. which use Drake software every year. This year, Drake will electronically file 10 million federal returns and seven million state returns. With the acquisition of a Massachusetts company last year, Drake was able to create 45 additional seasonal jobs in Franklin during this tax season.”
General Manager Todd Braun, was on hand to accept the award for Shaw Industries. Shaw was recognized as a full-service flooring company with more than $4 billion in annual sales and approximately 25,000 employees. “The associates’ daily efforts illustrate their commitment and their determination to stay on top in an ever-changing and highly competitive marketplace,” said Jenkins.
“Shaw employs 160 associates within the flooring operation in Franklin and 55 associates in the finishing operation in Bryson City. Since the purchase of Zickgraf in 2008, Shaw has committed capital investment to infrastructure and building/ machinery assets to grow the solid wood business and focus on long term sustainment of the business. Shaw has also focused on corporate citizenship in the community through sponsoring local athletic teams, participation in the annual fair, donation of flooring for educational needs, and partnering with area providers to better support the well-being of associates and families throughout the community.”
SKF-Franklin was recognized as a BizWeek 2012 honoree for being the largest bearing producer in the world and also manufactures precision seals. “A true global company, SKF is a Swedish company,” said Jenkins. “The Franklin facility is a specialized operation producing customized precision seals on demand throughout the global economy. SKF currently employs 30 at the Franklin facility.”
For more than 20 years, TekTone Sound & Signal Mfg., Inc. has been growing the company’s operations in Macon County. Although TekTone originated in Lake Park, Fla. in 1973, it began operations in Macon County in 1989 with three employees, and in 2001, completed its relocation to Franklin. “The company has grown rapidly to serve the intercommunication market both nationally and internationally,” said Jenkins. “Tek- Tone currently employs approximately 70 people.”
TekTone production facilities specialize in high quality and affordable nurse call, apartment entry, wireless nurse/emergency call, radio pocket paging, area of rescue assistance systems, and alert integration systems that are used in a number of applications. TekTone products can be found in facilities throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, Asia and the Caribbean.
Lastly, COO Mike Stevens accepted the award on behalf of Whitley Products. “Servicing its customers for over six decades, Whitley Products is the largest Tier-Two supplier of precision tubular products to the diesel engine, agriculture equipment, offhighway, construction equipment and the HVAC markets,” said Jenkins. “Operating the Franklin operation since 1991, Whitley Franklin currently employs 130 and is currently renovating their local facility.”
Jenkins recognized the Franklin Young Professionals as being an essential group in the continued growth of Macon County. “I don’t know about everyone else, but I don’t think I would be able to do this forever,” joked Jenkins. “But there is one group in Franklin who are young and determined are going to be a vital part in the economic development of our community, and that is the Franklin Young Professionals.”
“I envision the Franklin Young Professionals group as a way to get our younger population involved in the community... anywhere from encouraging small business owners and entrepreneurs to future leadership positions,” said Bateman. “The future of Franklin will be guided by our younger population, so I believe it is crucial for us to have a seat at the table.”
FYP is a group of young professionals in Franklin who dedicate their time to give back to the community through outreach, volunteering, and participation in local events. The organization, which officially became incorporated in March of last year, are dedicated to becoming engaged in Franklin.