Two independent community hospitals are the best in the Triad in terms of quality, according to a study released today by CareChex, a division of The Delta Group, which rates quality care for hospitals and physicians.
Randolph Hospital in Asheboro was ranked in the top 10 percent nationally, receiving CareChex’s highest quality rating for overall medical care, and Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin was ranked in the top 10 percent for overall hospital care. Hugh Chatham was also in the top 10 percent for overall surgical care, orthopaedic care and pulmonary care.
In terms of overall hospital care, Northern Hospital of Surry County, another community hospital in Mount Airy, received a “high quality”, or better than average rating, as did Novant Health’s Forsyth Memorial Hospital and Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem and Thomasville Medical Center in Thomasville.
Scoring average in terms of overall hospital care were Randolph Hospital in Asheboro, High Point Regional Health System in High Point, Alamance Regional Medical Center in Burlington, Lexington Memorial Hospital Inc. in Lexington, N.C. Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem and Davie County Hospital in Mocksville.
Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro received a below average ranking on overall hospital care, but was among the top 10 percent for major cardiac surgery. Morehead Memorial Hospital in Eden received the CareChex’s lowest possible quality rating.
Asheboro’s Randolph Hospital also scored in the top 10 percent in pulmonary care and neurological care. Mount Airy’s Northern Hospital was in the top 10 percent for cardiac care and pulmonary care, and High Point Regional also scored in the top 10 percent for cardiac care.
CareChex compiled the rankings based on statistics tracked by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Studies statistics for patient safety and satisfaction, hospital inpatient mortality and post-surgical complications.
The Business Journal
November 1, 2010
Mount Airy, NC—Virginia Tech’s innovative net zero energy, solar powered, super-insulated “LUMENHAUS” won first prize in Europe’s 2010 Solar Decathlon. The international competition included 20 entries from top colleges and universities from around the world and by agreement of the Government of Spain’s Ministry of Housing and the U.S. Government. The competition’s goal is advancing the knowledge and dissemination of industrialized, solar and sustainable housing.
Virginia Tech’s LUMENHAUS chose NCFI’s InsulStar® high-performance spray foam insulation to help achieve top honors in this year’s U.S. Solar Decathlon. LUMENHAUS won third place despite an unfortunate last minute technology glitch. The team that won this year’s U.S. Solar Decathlon, The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also used InsulStar in their top prize-winning “Gable House.”
The European Solar Decathlon’s 20 competing homes were judged in ten separate contests (thus, the “decathlon” designation) including: Architecture, sustainability, innovation, comfort conditions, construction and engineering, solar systems and hot water, energy balance, usage, communications and social media, industrialization and market viability.
“This was the toughest competition by far,” says Joe Wheeler, associate professor of architecture, College of Architecture and Urban Studies, and one of only three faculty members of the smallest team in the competition. “It was judged by some of the most influential architects in the world like Australian Glenn Murcutt, winner of the Pritzker Prize and the AIA Gold Medal. Plus, we were head-to-head against the Germans and French at their game. They are so far ahead of the U.S. in energy efficiency work. For us, going over there and winning is a small miracle.”
Wheeler says his team needed a “super insulation” to help LUMENHAUS smartly use the energy it creates via its solar panel system, and help balance efficiency with user comfort. “We love InsulStar. We call our design ‘responsive architecture’, meaning the house can operate completely self sufficiently, responding to environmental changes. InsulStar insulates the walls and floor/undercarriage, and keeps the house airtight, with no drafts or leaks when it is closed up.”
NCFI chose GoldStar applicator, Mark Zammit, of Building & Design of Va., Inc. to apply the high performance spray foam to the LUMENHAUS. Zammit says, “I think it was fortuitous for us to be involved with this amazing project. My wife, her father, my son and daughter have all attended, or are attending, Virginia Tech. It’s a family pride thing for us to help their team win this international competition.”
Nelson Clark, senior vice president of NCFI, says his company is extremely proud of the role they played in both solar decathlon wins. “It’s a testament to our products and people. Winning not one, but two major energy efficiency competitions is clear evidence InsulStar spray foam is a superior insulation product and the future of world building.”
Wheeler says InsulStar went above and beyond it’s intended use when the team was invited to bring the house to New York City to appear on ABC’s Good Morning America program back in January. “We designed the house so that it could be transported easily. In fact, we worked with engineers from a trucking/transportation company to help design the house so that only a wheel assembly and gooseneck need to be added for the home to go from our location in Blacksburg and in two hours be on the road headed anywhere. In January, we needed to put the home on the road and go to Times Square—in a major snowstorm. The InsulStar provided ideal protection for the chassis of the house, by keeping out water, ice, salt, and rocks.” Wheeler concludes, “If it can do that in those extreme conditions, it can surely provide protection and comfort for a home in normal living conditions.”
Wheeler says Virginia Tech next current projects include a village approach called “Luminocity”, which he says will be solar powered, have an open plan, use computer technology, flexible architectural design and energy efficiency to be the “iPhone” of houses. He also guarantees they will use InsulStar. “It’s the next generation insulation.”
DOBSON--After attending the dedication of a new facility in Elkin, N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco participated in a roundtable discussion yesterday with local officials, answering their questions and offering advice.
The small group met at the college in Dobson for a one-hour discussion. Representatives from all Surry County municipalities, county government, the governor’s office, the department of commerce, the college and the Surry County Economic Development Partnership were present.
Crisco chatted and joked with the officials, quoting lines from famous country songs and getting to know those present. But he spent the majority of his time talking about how to create and retain jobs in the county. He presented a realistic yet hopeful view of the task ahead.
“I wish I could come here and give you a magic wand, push a button ... but I’ve got bad news for you. The department of commerce doesn’t know where that button is,” said Crisco.
“But we’re working our tail off,” he continued. “The good news is the pipeline is really full.”
The secretary said he’s “keenly aware” of what’s going on with Surry County’s economy. He has seen the loss of textile and manufacturing jobs across the state.
He did point out that in seven months, the number of people employed in the state has gone up each month. The state unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in July. Crisco acknowledged that 9.9 percent was “still terrible,” but that at least there was improvement.
Crisco gave several suggestions to the officials. He said, “First of all, you need to be close to your legislators.” He suggested people get to know legislators of both parties and let them know about Surry County’s needs.
He also mentioned the importance of collaboration between leaders and planners in the county. He said, “The way to do it is to hire a partner and the leader work on it, too ... You can’t hire someone to do all the work.”
Members present at the round-table discussion mentioned different collaborations in the county. Paul Johnson, chairman of the Surry County Board of Commissioners, said, “The county and the municipalities are working together ... We need to know how to do what we’re doing more efficiently.”
“Just keep on keeping on,” the secretary gave for advice.
He gave an example of a board in Cleveland County where they decided to have two commissioners focus on economic development. Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran was inspired by this and decided to go back and discuss it with her board members.
Cochran asked during the meeting if there were any funds available for towns such as Mount Airy. She reported that according to Census data, 26.3 percent of people are living in poverty in the southern half of Mount Airy. The secretary said his office would see if community assistance funds could be utilized.
“We need to reach out to you,” he told Cochran.
Cochran said after the meeting, “For me, the meeting today brings hope for Mount Airy.”
Pilot Mountain Mayor Earl Sheppard asked if businesses considering expansion were looking for empty space at new industrial parks or for old buildings. He said Pilot Mountain had many old vacant buildings.
“It varies,” answered Crisco.
Melissa Smith, regional manager for the department of commerce, did say that the majority of the people she receives calls from are looking for existing buildings. Todd Tucker, president of Surry County Economic Development Partnership, said the same thing.
“But your buildings have to fit,” Crisco pointed out.
Lestine Hutchens, mayor of Elkin, told him that one difficulty is all of the rolling hills in the county, which may not accommodate big, flat plants. She did say that some locations would serve as great locations for film shoots. Tucker said someone with a local film group was just in his office last week.
Sandy Hallman, chair of Surry County EDP, said she has seen that companies are reluctant to spend money right now due to the economy. She asked, “Are there things we can do to impact that? ... Until the money gets freed up, we’re sort of in a suppressed state.”
Crisco said that was happening across the country. He said it has improved slightly over the past few months. He suggested counties continue to do as much as they can to encourage companies to locate or expand in the county. He says those who continue to work hard and get a little bit now will leave other counties in the dust when the economy turns around.
The group also talked about grants and incentives for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Leslie Schlender, economic development director for Elkin, asked near the end of the discussion, “What can we do to help you help us?”
The secretary encouraged the officials to contact their legislators and to continue to team up with the department of commerce.
“We don’t take that for granted ... We don’t see that everywhere. Keep up the good work,” said Smith.
After the discussion, Sheppard said it was the first time in his six years serving for Pilot Mountain that he had been in a meeting where the secretary of commerce had sat down with representatives from all of the municipalities.
“I like that,” said Sheppard. “I think that’s pretty big time.”
He also found it encouraging to hear that the county was doing the right things to try to bring jobs.
Crisco said afterward that he wanted the public to know, “You’ve got a whole array of developers that are working hard to bring business.” He also wants the public to know that leaders care.
“North Carolina wins a lot of projects ... We’ve got a good thing going,” said Crisco.
The Mount Airy News
by Meghann Evans
September 3, 2010
The Mount Airy News by Mondee Tilley, August 15, 2010
School systems in Surry County continue to have graduation rates above the state average according to statistics released recently by the State Board of Education.
The four-year cohort graduation rate reflects the percentage of students who graduated from high school in four years or less, and the state average for the graduating class of 2010 is 74.2 percent. Mount Airy City Schools has a rate of 85 percent, and Surry County Schools has an overall school district rate of 77 percent.
For the second year in a row, Mount Airy City Schools’ graduation rate ranks it ninth best in the state out of 115 school districts. Last year Mount Airy High School had a four-year rate of 81.8 percent.
“We set high expectations and goals for academic achievement and these results are another indication that our students are receiving a quality education,” said Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent for the school system.
He continued, “We could not have achieved such outstanding performance without the support of the parents in our community; parents are our most important education partners.”
The overall school district four-year graduation rate for Surry County Schools held steady in the 77 percent range. The rate was 77.7 percent for the graduating class of 2009.
The individual high schools in Surry County Schools each stayed within four percentage points of the previous year. East Surry High School’s rate increased from 81.2 percent in 2009 to 83.9 percent in 2010. North Surry High School dropped from 74 percent in 2009 to 70.3 percent in 2010. Surry Central High School dropped from 81.1 percent in 2009 to 80 percent in 2010.
Dr. Ashley Hinson, superintendent for Surry County Schools, said, “Graduating students for success in the 21st Century is a major focus for our school district and we continuously examine data and look for ways to help students stay in school and work toward earning a high school diploma and beyond.”
The state four-year rate improved from 71.8 percent in 2009 to 74.2 percent in 2010. State Superintendent June Atkinson said in a press release that she is pleased with the overall progress schools in the state are making.
“Addressing North Carolina’s graduation rate continues to be one of my top priorities,” said Atkinson. “A high school diploma is essential to a student’s future success.”
The four-year cohort graduation rate reflects the percentage of ninth-graders who graduated from high school four years later.
The Mount Airy News
by Meghann Evans
August 14, 2010
The preliminary results for Adequate Yearly Program are out and area schools once again faired well.
Millennium Charter Academy met all nine of its target goals to meet AYP once again. The school has met AYP every year since its inception.
“It’s exciting that we have been able to do that. We’re proud of that and we’re glad for that,” said Headmaster Kirby McCrary. “I also would like to think that people know that’s just one measure of a school’s success. They also need to look at the academic mission, the attention to character, the quality of the teachers, the leadership and the expectations. (AYP) is only a small piece of what makes a good school.”
As a district, Mount Airy City Schools made AYP by meeting 42 of 42 target goals. In looking at the individual schools, two of the tested schools met AYP while one did not.
B.H. Tharrington Primary School students are not included in the AYP measure meaning the school receives the same status as J.J. Jones Intermediate School. Jones Intermediate did not make AYP this year, meeting 20 of 21 target goals. According to Superintendent Dr. Darrin Hartness, the one target goal the school did not meet pertains to students with disabilities in math.
Mount Airy High School did meet AYP, meeting nine of nine target goals, as did Mount Airy Middle School, which met 25 of 25 target goals. Of the 55 target goals for schools, the system met 54, meaning it was 98.2 percent proficient.
“AYP is an all-or-nothing model. Every goal has to be met for schools to make AYP. It is my hope that when federal guidelines are revised, there will be a focus on academic growth rather than on an all-or-nothing approach,” said Hartness. “I’m very proud of the performance of our students and the dedication of our teachers. While our students were extremely successful according to these federal measures, we strive to be even better in 2010-11.”
Surry County Schools met 270 of 275 target goals. Fourteen of the 17 county schools met AYP for the 2009-10 school year including Cedar Ridge Elementary, Central Middle, Copeland Elementary, Dobson Elementary, Flat Rock Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Gentry Middle, Meadowview Middle, Mountain Park Elementary, Pilot Mountain Middle, Shoals Elementary, Surry Early College High School of Design, Westfield Elementary and White Plains Elementary schools.
East Surry High School met 12 of 13 target goals. North Surry High School met 11 of 13 target goals, and Surry Central High School met 15 of 17 target goals.
“Students, parents and educators have worked hard to meet the challenge of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, and we are very proud of the success of each of our schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Ashley Hinson. “We will continue to focus on the needs of each child as we strive to achieve future standards and prepare students for success in the 21st Century.”
One school in the Elkin City School System met AYP this year. Elkin Elementary School met 19 of 19 target goals. Elkin High School met nine of 11 target goals meaning it did not make AYP. Elkin Middle School met 12 of 13 goals and did not make AYP.
AYP is the federal measure of progress that is the central component to the No Child Left Behind education legislation signed into law in January 2002. The legislation requires that all students in grades three through eight and grade 10 be tested in reading and mathematics each year.
Each year, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction sets goals for each individual school which indicate the percentage of students performing at grade level or better as measured by the End of Grade tests. In order for a school to make AYP, every goal has to be met. If only one goal is not met, the school does not make AYP. AYP also uses the attendance rate for students in grades three through eight and the graduation rate for students in grades nine through 12 as academic indicators for success.
Not only is AYP a goal for each school overall, but also for each subgroup of students in the schools. Subgroups could include Asian/Pacific Islander, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Multiracial, White, Limited English Proficient, students with disabilities and economically disadvantaged students. In order for a school to have a target goal around one of these subgroups, there have to be at least 40 students in that subgroup in the school. If a school has four subgroups of students numbering at least 40 students each, each of those four groups must meet its AYP goal in order for the school to be successful under this federal law.
By 2013-14, No Child Left Behind requires that North Carolina’s goal is for 100 percent of all students to be proficient on state reading and mathematics assessments. For the 2009-10 school year, the state’s goals for students in grades three through eight were for 43.2 percent to be proficient in reading and 77.2 percent to be proficient in math. For 10th graders, the goals were for 38.5 percent to be proficient in reading and 68.4 percent in mathematics.
Title I schools in the state face additional hardships if they do not meet AYP. Title I schools, which exist in every school district in the state, are those which receive federal funds designed to serve students who are economically disadvantaged. If a Title I school does not meet AYP for two or more consecutive years in the same subject area, it faces sanctions under federal law including providing a school choice for parents, supplemental educational services and school reorganization. No schools in Surry County will see any federal sanctions under this category.
AYP is one component of the ABCs of Public Education, the primary school improvement program for North Carolina. The full report, which will include the official results for AYP, will be presented to the state board of education and released to the public on Aug. 5.
The Mount Airy News
Contact Morgan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.
DOBSON — Each year, the North Carolina Community College System measures eight performance indicators from the 58 community colleges.
The eight measures include the progress of basic skills students; passing rates on licensure and certification for first-time test takers; performance of college transfer students; passing rates in developmental courses; student satisfaction of completers and non-completers; curriculum student retention, graduation, and transfer; and client satisfaction with customized training.
Surry Community College met all eight of the performance standards identified by the N.C. Community College System and is ranked as an exceptional community college for the 2009-10 year.
SCC President Dr. Deborah Friedman said, “The results of this report indicate the continued success of our students in a number of important academic areas. Even in times of limited resources, our employees continue to remain focused on our mission. We are serving the citizens of our communities today, so that they can achieve their educational goals for a better tomorrow.”
“We are one of 11 so it’s a select group of colleges that are able to perform at that level,” said Dr. Anne Hennis, vice president of planning, research and assessment for SCC, noting that there used to be a different ranking system. Colleges were ranked as exceptional or not at all. “Quite a few colleges met seven measures and quite a few met six. In a good year, the college would get funding for this, but it’s my understanding none is available right now. It just means that we’re an exceptional college.”
Progress of basic skills students improved from 85 percent in last year’s report to 87 percent in the new report. Basic skills students are those trying to get a GED or improve their reading levels. The students set goals for themselves at the start of the year and the report shows that 87 percent of those students met their goals. Once a student completes his or her GED through the college, the SCC Foundation provides a scholarship for the student to take an additional class in either the curriculum or continuing education department in the hopes that the student will want to further his or her education.
According to Virginia Stammetti, director of basic skills, “We have a team of dedicated basic skills instructors and coordinators who are conscientious about the students and their progress. They monitor the students’ goals and progress to ensure their success. We are proud that a large percentage of our basic skills students continue their education here at SCC in additional continuing education or curriculum courses.”
Business and industry satisfaction with services provided also improved from 97 percent in last year’s report to 98 percent in the 2010 report.
“We have been able to respond to the specific training and retraining needs of industries in a timely manner,” said Dr. George Sappenfield, vice president of corporate and continuing education. “Businesses and industries are also excited about the possible future class offerings at centers to be located in Pilot Mountain and Elkin through the Golden LEAF Community Assistance grant.”
“I think that shows we are being exceptionally responsive and are continuing to work closely with them,” said Hennis, vice president of planning, research, and assessment, of the college’s partnership with the community.
Surry Community College also holds the rare distinction of meeting the performance measure for college transfer students since 2003.
Dr. Jami Woods, vice president for curriculum programs, explained, “When Surry students go on to achieve success in the university setting or on industry-recognized certifications, you have to recognize that the faculty members who taught those students are key factors in that success.”
Last year and the year before, the college met seven of the eight measures, falling short on the passing rates on licensure and certification for first-time test takers.
“We’ve put a lot of focus on those particular areas like nursing and EMT,” said Hennis of how the college worked to overcome that issue for this year.
Despite meeting all eight measures and being named an exceptional college, the school will continue to work to improve in all of the areas measured in an effort to achieve even higher percentages next year.
“Each year, we review the results of the report to see how we can adjust and improve for the following year. We are pleased with our results, but we realize the need to continuously monitor and adjust our programs so that they are meeting the identified standards,” said Hennis. “We are fortunate to be one of 11 community colleges in the NC Community College System to be ranked as exceptional for this year.”
A new company in Pilot Mountain is helping small and mid-size farms by providing a market for their local produce.
Pilot Mountain Pride is set up as an LLC (limited liability company) owned by the nonprofit Surry County Economic Development Foundation. It consists of a distribution center in the former Amos and Smith Hosiery Mill building in Pilot Mountain.
About 52 farms, ranging from ¼ acre to 40 acres, are starting to supply produce to the center to be washed, graded, boxed and shipped to local markets. Pilot Mountain Pride also finds buyers for the produce.
"Farmers love to grow produce. They don't necessarily love to sell produce," said Bryan Cave, the director of the Surry County office of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service.
Cave and Chris Knopf, the assistant manager of Surry County, have been working on the idea for about seven years. Both were interested in ways of supporting agriculture, which makes up 25 percent of the county's economy. The idea really started to take shape in 2007 when the two men were involved with N.C. STEP, a statewide revitalization program for small towns.
"We had two things in mind," Cave said. "One was diversifying agriculture. Tobacco growing is tailing off. We were looking for a way to diversify farms. The other thing was getting young people back into agriculture."
Pilot Mountain Pride gives 80 percent of its revenue back to farmers. The other 20 percent goes to supplies, labor and other costs.
The company has four employees. All the farmers receive free food-safety training, and the company keeps detailed records so that all the produce can be traced.
Charles Boles, the director, said that gross revenue is up to $8,000 a week. "And it's increasing every week," he said. "About 60 acres of corn is going to be harvested in a few weeks."
Boles helps farmers find buyers, and he helps farmers learn to grow new crops and extend their growing season. Farmers growing squash, for instance, are encouraged to plant broccoli in the fall. The company hopes to be in operation about 10 months of the year. And Boles said that it is on target to reach $250,000 in gross sales in the first year.
Knopf and Cave were able to get significant grants and other help to get the project started. Surry County loaned the town of Pilot Mountain money to buy the building used for the center. The town in turned leased it to Pilot Mountain Pride free for the first three years. Part of the building is a satellite campus for Surry County Community College. Wake Forest University School of Law provided legal services.
The Golden Leaf Foundation provided $100,000 to renovate the building and $90,000 for equipment. The N.C. Department of Agriculture provided $28,000 for marketing and supplies.
The company got $75,000 from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund and $75,000 from N.C. Rural Center to pay for a cooling system and other needs. And the Surry County Farm Bureau board provided about $33,000 for a truck, wash line, ice machine and scales.
Boles said that the company may need some more grant money, but his goal is to make it self-sustaining by about this time next year.
For buyers, Boles has been approaching restaurants, hospitals and retail stores. He was fortunate to get interest from Lowes Foods, which has been buying almost all of Pilot Mountain Pride's produce to date. Lowes displays the produce in Winston-Salem and other area stores along with the Pilot Mountain Pride logo so consumers will know that they are getting local produce.
On July 10 from noon to 4 p.m., Pilot Mountain Pride will hold a farmers market outside of the Lowes Foods on Robinhood Road.
The company also has sold produce to restaurants and Surry County schools. It trucks food to a market at the Surry County Government Center and Farm Bureau office in Dobson on Thursdays, and Pilot Mountain Pride holds a farmers market at its own location for the public on Fridays.
The company has provided welcome relief to Darren Slate. He mainly grows tobacco, but the declining market has him worried about being able to pass the farm to his sons, 19-year-old Isaac and 23-year-old Zach.
"I want to keep my sons on the farm, but you've got to make some money," he said.
Slate has sold the company cabbage and will soon have corn and sweet potatoes. The company not only allows him to diversify and have a guaranteed buyer, but it also gives him a good price. "I'd probably be getting $4.50 a (50-pound) box from a broker, but they're paying me $7.95," he said. "The market is what we've needed for years."
The Winston-Salem Journal
July 7, 2010
July 04--From the Chicago Sun Times to the Miami Herald, to a four-page spread in AARP Magazine, people around the world are taking more of an interest in small town America.
Mount Airy offers just that to those looking for a getaway to a place with a small town feel, yet big enough to have a wide variety of activities. From Mayberry to Merlot, tourism in Mount Airy has hit a fever pitch.
Last month, visitors from 49 different states and 14 different countries passed through the Mount Airy Visitors Center. According to Jessica Icenhour, director of tourism and marketing with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and the vice chair of the Tourism Partnership of Surry County, tourism numbers are up, and there are no signs the numbers will be going down anytime soon.
Mount Airy was featured in AARP Magazine in its July/August issue, which claims to be the most highly circulated magazine in the United States. The article is called, "Whistle if you love Andy Griffith."
"The magazine gives exposure to over 47 million people who read this powerful magazine that targets those 50 years and older. The value of something this significant could never be purchased with a four-page spread that includes local images," Icenhour said.
Most recently, Mount Airy has gained exposure in newspapers and publications such as the travel section in the Charlotte Observer and a Top 25 foods article promoting the pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch; Blue Ridge Country, The Enterprise Ledger in Alabama, the Huntsville Times, also in Alabama, the Charleston Post, the Chicago Sun Times, the Miami Herald, the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Lynchburg News, the Hickory Daily Record, the Gaston Gazette, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Greenville Sun, and TV stations including News 14 Carolina, WLOS-TV, WBTV-Charlotte.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a piece on the Yadkin-Valley wine region and included an article that promoted Old North State Winery, Round Peak Vineyards, Shelton Vineyards, Stony Knoll Vineyards and several other vineyards in the Yadkin Valley.
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently did a piece on Mount Airy called "Mayberry Reborn."
Much of the media exposure came from a travel writer tour, which was hosted in partnership with the Cascade Highlands, Tourism Partnership of Surry County and the Mount Airy TDA.
A recent ad sponsored by the Mount Airy Tourism Development Authority and the Very Surry campaign in O magazine generated more than 5,000 requests for visitor's guides, according to Icenhour.
In recent months, Mount Airy and the Andy Griffith Museum has been promoted on NPR radio with the N.C. Division of Tourism on a show called, "Charlotte Talks," on N.C. Weekend on UNC-TV, the Winston-Salem Journal, the Bristol Herald Courier and on Web sites such as satellitetvguru.net, visitnc.com, virtualblueridge.com and yourcarolinatv.com.
Articles are expected to be featured in USA Today, The Washington Post and in AAA magazine in coming months.
Icenhour said another outlet that is generating some interest is the Mount Airy, NC Facebook page that has continued to grow with more than 4,400 friends and 2,300 fans.
"We are getting requests on a daily basis and answering questions directly from Facebook fans about booking travel arrangements," Icenhour said.
With all of the exposure, Icenhour said, local occupancy tax collections have grown, and are up over the same period from last year.
Near the end of the winding road that runs through Piedmont Triad West Corporate Park, work continues on a $1.7 million, 55,00-square-foot facility where an Arkansas-based company will soon open its doors with 45 new jobs.
Next door to Central States Manufacturing Inc., Harvest Time Bread is investing $4.5 million on a 70,000-square-foot building where it plans to create 38 jobs.
Those are just two examples of new and existing Surry County companies that are investing millions of dollars in expansion plans that will increase Mount Airy and Surry County’s tax base while creating desperately needed new jobs.
It’s the same story at a former Kentucky Derby Hosiery plant where Catalina Tempering is renovating a 67,000-square-foot manufacturing facility that will employ 20 people. The California-based company said it chose the Mount Airy location to bolster its presence on the Eastern coast.
Two other formerly vacant Kentucky Derby Hosiery plants are the new homes for Pilot Mountain-based Granite Tactical Vehicles Inc., which plans to invest $2.5 million in the plants and hire close to 200 workers.
Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, worked diligently with state and local officials on each of the projects. Tucker said that in each case representatives from the public and private sector collaborated to make the projects happen. Tucker believes that the economy is slowly beginning to turn the corner. Surry County’s jobless rate has decreased the last two months from a peak of 13.6 percent in February.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the facilities to market,” Tucker said in a recent interview. “In one sense you don’t want to have that many buildings empty. But in another it has helped us because we’ve had an inventory to promote to our clients.”
Tucker said that he continues to field inquiries in his office. As the county and its four municipalities continue to demonstrate collaboration and show a commitment to extending public utilities and other infrastructure, Mount Airy and Surry County will continue to be on the short list of several companies looking for a new home, he says.
“We were lucky that we seemed to get several good licks at one time last fall,” Tucker said. “Hopefully we can continue that.”
Five Triad counties are part of 25 projects recommended to receive more than $5.7 million from the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Projects were reviewed by the North Carolina ARC office, and the commission will make a final decision on funding.
Projects with Triad connections include:
• $1 million for a 1.2-mile access road at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport. The total cost is $4.7 million.
• $500,000 to the N.C. Department of Commerce for the Consolidated Technical Assistance program to support economic, community development and long-range planning needs. The total cost is $1.1 million and includes Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.
• $300,000 to the town of Mocksville to help upgrade a wastewater pretreatment plan. It will allow the Crestwood Farms poultry plant to expand production without violating state and federal regulations. The total cost is $2.7 million and could add 103 jobs.
• $300,000 to Surry County to fund construction of water and sewer lines supporting eight existing businesses at the Interstates Water District. The total cost is $5 million.
• $200,000 to the Surry County Board of Education to purchase 23 mobile computer carts. The total cost is $200,000, and it includes a matching grant of $200,000 from the Golden Leaf Foundation.
• $100,000 to The Conservation Fund to create 12 seed grants that support community-based organizations on entrepreneurial opportunities, job creation and retention. The total cost is $227,900 and includes Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.
• $43,853 to the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Inc. to provide training and assistance to government officials in developing long-term asset management plans. The total cost is $131,560 and includes Surry and Yadkin counties.
• $35,000 to the N.C. Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning Inc. to initiate region-wide entrepreneurial training and a support network to create and expand sustainable agricultural-based businesses. The total cost is $70,000 and includes Davie, Forsyth, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties.
The Triad Business Journal
June 17, 2010