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Several images came to mind during a drive to Hickory following a multi-hour luncheon with Gary L. Herman (Alexander County Public Information Officer) and Connie Kincaid (Alexander County EDC Business Development Manager and former highly-regarded Director of Hickory’s Downtown Development Commission). I agreed to meet following Gary’s and Connie’s invitation. Gary’s invitation was preceded by an inquiry: “Tony, do you consider Alexander County to be a part of the ‘Catawba Valley’ that GFB Connect, Inc. is focusing on in its coverage of small, entrepreneurial and innovative businesses?” The answer? “Absolutely! With pride and eagerness.” Gary quickly let me know, “We have a lot of stories and positive things you can write about.”
As I quickly learned…YES, they do. The GFB Connect (including the GFB Monthly, GFB NOW, and www.gfbconnect.com) readers will be reading about a number of these exciting economic and business development activities and announcements in upcoming issues of GFB Monthly. Be on the look-out.
However, I do have to admit, even though I have lived in Catawba County (Hickory and Newton) for 40+ years, I knew little of the happenings in Alexander County. Mostly my knowledge was limited to driving to Taylorsville and beyond to buy fresh apples. So, although I had high hopes, I entered the interview with some reservations including thoughts of small town America, slow growth, apples, and (wrongly) “just a place across the river”.
Boy, was I surprised! Not only were these two executives “over the top” prepared for the meeting with notes, data, and ideas, but their enthusiasm for all that is happening in Alexander County (and Taylorsville and Bethlehem specifically) was obvious and contagious.
READER: Please know, this brief article is just a “primer” and prelude to articles to come on the small, innovative and entrepreneurial businesses located in Alexander County (see the partial list below). My thanks to the Alexander County Economic Development Commission for seeking out GFB Connect, Inc. and willingly agreeing to be a “source” of Economic Development “leads” as they emerge in Alexander County.
So, what was learned that knocked my socks off? Scan this info on the “land beyond the River” before learning of some of the more recent “economic development happenings”:
- Alexander County is frequently ranked high nationally and statewide (by the USDA National Statistics Rankings) in the areas of pullet production (#1 ranking), layer hens (#2) and “broilers” (#13) —NATIONALLY!
- Cattle production ranks nearly as high – ranking 10th and 11th NATIONALLY in three categories.
- Crops…well, that one we know about – those wonderful, crisp and juicy APPLES. 3rd in the state in apple production and 5th in peach production…Who Knew??
- Astounding FACTOID: Alexander County won 1st prize at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris, France. For what? APPLES – the best in the WORLD in that year. As a fan and reader of all things World’s Fairs, this really interested me.
- Taylorsville has a “sister City” in Germany, Altenberg.
TONS of other things SOLD to business and industry: Recreational areas, Annual Events, Tourism destinations and MANY on-going Infrastructure Improvement Projects.
More on these later. They were shared with me during the interview when I asked, “So, what are you selling to prospective companies that are considering Alexander County?”
What’s New LATELY?
There is a LOT that has happened in Alexander County in the past TWO YEARS:
- ACE Hardware expansion
- Bethlehem Direct Care (an interesting healthcare delivery concept)
- A new CPA firm – Dorran Swearngan, CPA
- Bodies of Steel – Fitness Center
- AND, opening in April 2020, The Vault, a “gathering place” in the vacant BB&T building, just across the river on the right (future GFB article)
- Brushy Mountain Brews – pub and brewery…another future GFB interview subject
- Nickel’s Pickles Sweet Treat Bakery – interesting, can’t wait to visit!
- Little Caesars Pizza
- Carolina Tie Dyes
- Lolyann Co. – Salon and Day Spa
- Arby’s (a very site-selective franchise)
- Benbow & Martin, P.C.
- Lake View Apartments – upscale apartments on the right crossing the bridge
AND, there are many others in planning or early development stages.
I never knew…but now I not only know, but understand and appreciate the economic development efforts of Catawba County’s neighboring county.
REMEMBER, Economic Development movement and aggressiveness is not limited to large cities, urban or highly financed areas. Notable and innovative things are happening in slow growth, small population parts of our state. Economic and Business Development is all about a community investing in its future, and Alexander County is making things work!
Look for much more in future GFB Connect, Inc. features.
For more information on developments, upcoming events and to sign up for the Alexander County Newsletter, visit or contact:
Gary L. Herman
Public Information Officer, Alexander County
Connie A. Kincaid
Business Development Manager, Alexander County Economic Development Corporation
GFB Connect, Inc.