Surry County News

Read about new business, events and news that effects life and commerce in the western Piedmont Triad.

Insteel Industries acquires Pennsylvania company

Insteel Industries Inc. (NASDAQ: IIIN) of Mount Airy, through its wholly owned subsidiary Insteel Wire Products Co., has acquired certain assets of Ortiz Engineered Products of Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania, the company announced Monday.

Ortiz services the concrete industry by replacing conventional rebar with welded wire reinforcement — a process that saves both time and costs over the course of a construction project. Its headquarters is located in central Pennsylvania about 60 miles northwest of Allentown.

Insteel manufactures welded wire reinforcements at six facilities in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. The company has a total of 10 facilities across the U.S.

“We believe the addition of OEP’s capabilities will accelerate our ongoing efforts to penetrate the rebar market with engineered structural mesh and leverage the recent investments we have made in our manufacturing facilities,” said H.O. Woltz III, Insteel’s president and CEO.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Grant giving students career education

DOBSON — A grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation is helping Surry County Schools prepare kids for the workplace.

Crystal Folger-Hawks appeared before the county Board of Education Monday evening to give an update on what has happened since the launch of a new initative was announced in late September.

On Sept. 19, the school district and Surry Community College hosted an event in Mount Airy for local businesses to talk with educators about a new program called Next Generation Career Academy, sponsored by a grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation

“The foundation supports tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities working to transition to more prosperous and stable economies,” Dr. Jill Reinhardt, assistant superintendent, said at the time. “Surry County Schools pursued this grant hoping to fill some employment needs over the next few years in advanced manufacturing and STEM-related fields.”

“Students will complete internships or apprenticeships designed with local business and industry partners that can and will lead to employment,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent.

“Students will earn industry-related career credentials such as Career Readiness Certification, OSHA Certification, Lean Six Sigma Certification, and certificates from Surry Community College in content areas such as welding, construction, nursing, computer-integrated machining, and electronics,” stated Reeves.

A visibly excited Folger-Hawks said she was kept busy the whole month of October with site visits. She began meeting individually with businesses, touring their facilities, and designing internship opportunities.

One of her main responsibilities is matching students to specific careers in the supporting businesses and then monitoring and mentoring those student interns.

“Getting involved in this program is important to Smith-Rowe, but also important to our local economy,” said Jody Phillips, vice president of Smith-Rowe Inc. “We have the opportunity to teach young people about the good jobs in our community. This will help us grow our own. This is a win-win for everyone.”

  • On Oct. 13, Folger-Hawks organized a field trip to Smith-Rowe for a group of sophomores from the Surry Early College.

It was obvious that the company had put some effort into hosting the kids, she noted. When she brought this up to Phillips, she said that he responded, “We see this as an investment.”

As this trip was for sophomores, she said she would plan for the next such event to focus on the junior class.

  • On Oct. 19, a group of carpentry students from North Surry and East Surry traveled to the N.C. State Fair in Raleigh for the 32nd-Annual N.C. Department of Commerce Appenticeship Competitions.

Folger-Hawks said she had never heard of the competition before, and it was too late to sign up by the time students learned of the events. After seeing the competitions in person, the teachers told her they plan to sign up next year.

In the carpentry pre-apprenticeship category, students were given projects to complete during a briefing. Then the two-person teams had from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to design and build their own pieces to submit for judging.

The students must supply their own equipment, which is inspected to ensure safety before the competition.

Folger-Hawks told the board that in addition to looking for intern possibilities, she is trying to see what apprenticeships she can develop with businesses.

In an internship, a student may have a good idea what field is desired, but not a specific job. An apprenticement has a tighter focus where the student has a career path and is looking for training toward a specific job(s).

Before taking this position with the new school year, Folger-Hawks was a college liaison for East Surry. She said when she has been able to sit down and use some desk time, the Pilot Center on South Main Street has been kind enough to give her a place to work. Still, she said she’d rather be spending her time with the students.

Appointment of Johnny Easter as Development Services Director for Surry County

The County of Surry is pleased to announce the appointment of a Development Services Director who will oversee the operations of the Development Services Department. This department is the result of the consolidation approved by the Board of Commissioners in June as a part of the FY17-18 budget. The following departments and activities are being consolidated into this department: Planning and Development, Zoning, Inspections, Code Enforcement, Central Permitting, Lovills Creek, Flat Rock-Bannertown Water and Sewer District, Interstates Water and Sewer District, and the Elkin Area Water System. Johnny Easter, who currently serves as Environmental Health Supervisor II with Surry County, has been named to the position effective December 1.
Mr. Easter has been employed with Surry County since 2006. Prior to his employment with Surry County, he worked with Forsyth County for eight years as an Environmental Health Supervisor I. Mr. Easter graduated from North Surry High School and Western Carolina University and holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health. He has extensive experience working with the contractors and citizens of Surry County.
County Manager Chris Knopf said “I look forward to working with Mr. Easter in his new role with Surry County. His experience working with our citizens, contractors, and other County departments will allow him to hit the ground running in his new role.”
Mr. Easter stated “My sole focus as the new Development Services Director is to provide the best possible permitting process for the people of Surry County. My years of experience in Environmental Health have prepared me for the task at hand. I will be steadfast in establishing a positive, open and constructive experience for both the contractors and citizens at large”.
The Development Services model being implemented by Surry County is designed to provide enhanced customer service and improve the efficient delivery of services by consolidating those functions of County Government that cater to development activities. Giving stakeholders a single point of contact for development-related activities will assist the County in accomplishing its goals.
Surry County’s “one-stop” shop is in the Permitting Center, 122 Hamby Road, Dobson, North Carolina. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:15 am until 5:00 pm.
For additional information, contact: Sandra Snow, Assistant County Manager for Human Resources and Operations, at 336-401-8202.

Editor’s Notebook: It’s time for some manufacturing myth-busting

This week’s Special Report on advanced manufacturing highlights how Triad companies are using technology to increase efficiency and remain competitive in today’s global marketplace.

Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, 3-D printing and design and highly streamlined processes are helping these manufacturers increase their output, improve consistency and quality, and most of all, grow revenue.

One of their biggest challenges is attracting skilled workers. While area schools are drawing more students into advanced manufacturing careers, too many parents still believe their children deserve “better.” They picture a grimy, dimly lit, smokestacked factory that belches out exhausted, grease-covered workers with a loud whistle at the end of the day.

As someone who once held that same mental picture, I admit we need to do better job of educating not just students, but parents. For example, here are a few common myths:

Manufacturing is dirty: To the contrary, the floors of these advanced facilities are clean, safe and full of shiny equipment in well-lit spaces.

• Manufacturing is for people who can’t get into college: In fact, the skills needed at today’s plants demand training in STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. Much of the work involves computers, calculations and precision monitoring to make sure the machines are doing their jobs properly. For many students, devising a career path toward advanced manufacturing is a far more sensible way to find rewarding employment than a traditional college degree.

Manufacturing jobs are for men. Last week’s panelists described a diverse workforce that includes female employees who are handling technology and equipment as skillfully (or even more so) than men, advancing their careers and pay opportunities in the process.

Manufacturing jobs will just be replaced by robots, anyway, so why bother? People will always be needed to monitor, trouble-shoot and direct the computer-run equipment. And there are still many tasks that require hands-on work and human problem-solving.

Manufacturing is old-school. For an eye-opening reality check, take a tour of any of the factories mentioned in our special report.

Insteel Industries posts 4Q profit

Allegacy Federal Credit Union opens new location in Mount Airy

Allegacy Federal Credit Union, one of the largest credit unions in North Carolina, announced today it plans to open its newest location in Mount Airy. The credit union will be located at 1996 Rockford Street, Suite 300 and is expected to open by the end of the year.

“We are thrilled to join the wonderful, growing community of Mount Airy,” said Cathy Pace, Allegacy President and CEO. “Our expansion will allow us to better serve current members and provide fresh opportunities for new members looking for a financial partner dedicated to doing the right thing for their wellbeing. Allegacy is committed to helping our members lead a vibrant, healthy, financially sound life and we look forward to serving, partnering, and working in the Mount Airy community.”

Allegacy joins three other businesses to sign on to a new construction site located at the former Long John Silver’s restaurant, which was razed in 2016. Other new businesses include Starbucks, Jimmy John’s restaurant, and AT&T cell phone.

This location will include dedicated resources focused on small business, financial planning and mortgage services. In addition to offering a full array of retail services, Allegacy offers competitive small business products and services and employer benefits.

Many established Mount Airy and Surry County businesses are already members of Allegacy’s Select Employee Groups (SEGs), which allows employees to enjoy credit union benefits. Some of the local SEGs include Pike Electric, Insteel Industries, Insteel Wire Products, Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care, Omega Construction and Foothill Ford.

Hours at the new Allegacy location are expected to be 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Friday.

About Allegacy

For nearly 50 years, Allegacy has helped its members, employees and the communities it serves be their best by helping people make smart financial choices. By doing right, Allegacy has become one of the largest credit unions in North Carolina serving over 129,000 members worldwide with over $1.2 billion in assets and an additional billion dollars in assets under management in its financial planning group. With roots in Winston Salem, Allegacy has 12 convenient locations and eight high school student-run credit unions in the Triad. Allegacy offers personal and business financial services to help a broad membership base including the employees, retirees and families of over 680 companies throughout the country be their best. To learn more, visit

Northern Hospital earns national accolades

Northern Hospital of Surry County has earned three quality-care honors, all of which resulted from competitive comparisons with hospitals of similar size and scope.

The awards include High Performing Hospital, Top 100 Great Community Hospital, and Blue Select Tier 1 Facility.

Northern was ranked a High Performing Hospital for exceptional care and performance in pulmonary care by U.S. News & World Report in its 2017-2018 “Best Hospitals” rankings. Fewer than 30 percent of the more than 4,500 hospitals evaluated by U.S. News earn a “High Performing” rating. Additionally, Northern Hospital achieved an “Excellent” designation on U.S. News’ scorecard for individual hospitals.For the second consecutive year, Northern Hospital was named among the 100 Great Community Hospitals for 2017 by Becker’s Hospital Review; and it earned the highest three designations across the board for high quality and low costs from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North America for 2018.

“Such prestigious national rankings and top designations continue to validate the ongoing efforts and mission of our hospital,” said Ned Hill, president and chief executive officer of Northern Hospital of Surry County. “These high honors also serve as a testament to the dedication and commitment of our doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers – whose individual and team efforts permit us to consistently improve and enhance our patient-care offerings.”

Most recently, Northern’s expanded treatment options have included a full range of ENT surgical procedures, vascular surgery, and advanced cardiac rehabilitation care.

Surry school districts fare well in state results

Local schools again showed well in statistics released by the state on Monday.

The N.C. Department of Public Instruction stated in a release this week that 56.5 percent of high schools in the state received a grade of A or B based on such information as end-of-year test scores, graduation rates, ACT tests, academic growth, and indicators of a student’s readiness for college or a career.

Across all grade levels in the state, just 35.8 percent received an A or B grade.

The rate is much higher than that locally — nearly double that at 68 percent. There are 26 schools in Surry County; B.H. Tharrington was not included in the report as it is a primary school and only those with grades three and higher were listed.

Mount Airy City Schools said for purposes of accountability, Tharrington was paired with Jones Intermediate.

Of the 25 schools on the report, Surry County had one A, 16 B’s and seven C’s. No school was graded below C.

Surry County Schools has 19 campuses. The Surry Early College received a score of A. Then 11 schools received a B, with seven schools receiving a C. The cutoff for a B was a composite score of 70-85; five of the seven schools to receive a C had a score of 66 or higher, so they just missed the next grade.

Mount Airy City Schools posted two B’s and a C. Elkin City Schools had two B’s and a C last year, but the middle school climbed up to make all three B grades this year.

• Drilling down into the data, the county district noted:

“Across all grade levels (3-8) on the Reading, Mathematics, and Science End-of-Grade assessments, 67.3 percent of Surry County students scored at Achievement Level 3 and above compared to 58.8 percent across the state. Surry County Schools had two End-of-Grade subject areas ranked in the state top 10: fifth grade Mathematics (3rd) and fourth grade Reading (8th). Six additional End-of-Grade subjects had rankings in the top 20: fifth grade reading (12th); fifth grade science (12th); fourth grade math (13th); and sixth grade math (13th); third grade reading (18th); and eighth grade math (18th).”

Similarly, on the English II, Math I, and Biology End-of-Course assessments, 66.7 percent of Surry County students scored at Achievement Level 3 and above, up 4.2 percent from last year. Proficiencies across the state averaged 60.8 percent. As in the End-of-Grade results, Surry County had a End-of-Course ranking in the state top 15: Math I (13th).

• Mount Airy schools said its three schools met 100 percent of their academic growth goals. Also the schools met or exceeded growth for reading and math at all three schools. All three met or exceeded growth in K-12 science. The district ranked in the top 20 percent in achievements for end-of-grade and end-of-course testing.

The district said, “Average student growth is exception with an increase of 3.02 from last year, showing our dedication to every child.

• Mount Airy said Jones Intermediate exceeded growth and is ranked number 3 on the EVAAS growth index for all elementary schools in the state. Its fifth grade mathematics and science ranked second in the state for proficiency. Fifth grade reading ranked ninth in the state for proficiency.

Mount Airy Middle School met growth with 100% of students passing Math 1 and nearly 80 percent of students passing their science EOG. Sixth grade reading ranked 19th in the state for proficiency. Eighth grade mathematics ranked 15th in the state for proficiency. Eighth grade reading ranked 20th in the state for proficiency.

Mount Airy High School exceeded growth in end-of-course exams in English, biology and mathematics scoring 7 percentage points above the state average and ranking in the top 20 percent of EVAAS growth index. Math I ranked seventh in the state for proficiency. English II ranked 16th in the state for proficiency.

Mount Airy High School students scored 26 percent better than last year on WorkKeys which puts the district at 85 percent, an indicator of career readiness.

• The Department of Public Instruction said the state’s four-year high school graduation rate continued its upward trend, moving to 86.5 percent from the 85.9 percent the year before. North Carolina’s public schools have set a record graduation rate for a 12th consecutive year.

The graduation rate was higher for all three districts.

Mount Airy City reported a rate of 88 percent. Elkin City had 94 percent.

Surry County has four high schools, all of which scored the state average or better, with an average of 90.6 percent. North Surry had 86 percent, Surry Central 93, East Surry 94 and the Early College is listed as 95+ (the report doesn’t list any number higher than 95). The district noted that North Surry’s rate was an all-time high.

• While the state report lists many spreadsheets of data, Surry County Schools said it also got an overall district ranking.

The county said out of 115 districts in the state it ranked 13th for the past school year with an overall academic performance score of 67.2 percent.

“Being 13th in the state for academic performance of 115 school districts is an accomplishment that makes our Surry County Schools’ family very proud,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent.

“We realize this does not happen by chance. The implementation of the strategic plan set by the Surry County Schools Board of Education lead us in the right direction to move forward, and the deliberate high-impact teaching and learning in every classroom everyday also moved the needle.

“Our teachers, our administrators, and all our support staff are committed to providing personalized and customized educational experiences for students daily so they can achieve to their highest potential.”

When presenting the data to the school board a year ago, assistant principal Jeff Tunstall said he and his staff gave a few “yee haws” when they saw the county’s ranking at that time.

This continues a pattern of growth up the rankings for Surry from being between 24th and 19th for three years before jumping up to 15th last year and now 13th this year.

Mount Airy City Schools gave a written comment on the test scores and didn’t give a ranking. However, last year the district, like Surry and Elkin, was in the top quarter of all school districts in the state.

“Mount Airy City Schools staff has gone above and beyond, providing a quality education amidst many challenges,” wrote Dr. Kim Morrison, city superintendent. “Again, we are among the top school districts for growth in the state. We will continue to grow every child, every day through our continuous improvement model.”

“It’s great news that the top-line trends are in the right direction. We can all be proud, for instance, that most schools meet or exceed growth,” said Mark Johnson, state superintendent of public schools.

“But deeper into the data,”he said, “the results show stubborn concerns that call out for innovative approaches. It is with innovation and personalized learning that we can transform incremental progress into generalized success.”

“I commend teachers and students on these achievements and encourage everyone to continue to press forward,” said Dr. Reeves. “We are extremely pleased with the results of 2016-2017, but it is a new school year with new challenges. There are areas of concern we will continue to focus on in order to provide a quality education to all students.”

For all the data on individual schools and grade levels, visit the public schools’ website at

PTRDC Business Investment Fund- Press Release


U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $1 Million to Match Golden LEAF Foundation $1 Million Investment to Establish a Business Investment Fund in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad Region

KERNERSVILLE – N.C. On Tuesday August 28th 2017 U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded a $1 million grant to the Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation of Kernersville, North Carolina, as match to Golden LEAF funding to establish a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) that will provide small business loans across the 12-county Piedmont Triad Region.

“We commend the Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation for their focus on aiding small businesses, allowing for better access to the capital they need to grow and thrive,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
“The efforts of local leaders have ensured that the new Revolving Loan Fund will be a catalyst for starting and expanding small and medium-sized businesses in the Piedmont region.”

The total investment of $2 million provides capital for the Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation’s Business Investment Fund – an effort to bridge the gap for businesses of all sizes in the Piedmont Triad. “The Business Investment Fund will provide a much needed service for the entrepreneurial and innovative community,” said Piedmont Triad Regional Council Executive Director Matthew Dolge. “The investments by the EDA and Golden LEAF Foundation provide the capacity to stimulate business development, create employment opportunities, encourage community engagements, and improve living conditions for residents throughout the region.”
Financing through the Business Investment Fund is available for most business needs including: inventory, equipment, machinery, intellectual property, and other fixed assets. Typical loans will range from $200,000 to $600,000 – other amounts higher or lower may be eligible and will be decided on a case by case basis.

“The Golden LEAF Foundation is pleased to join with the EDA to support the business investment fund,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. “The fund is truly a regional project that will help address quality job creation through the provision of capital to a wide range of businesses and redevelopment in 12 counties that expressed their strong support for this initiative.”

About Golden LEAF
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The Foundation receives a portion of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 1,507 grants worth over $755 million since its inception. To learn more about applying for a grant, visit or call 888.684.8404

About the Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation (
The Piedmont Triad Regional Development Corporation (PTRDC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization tasked with implementing activities that further economic development and social welfare in the twelve-county Piedmont Triad Region. The PTRDC is an EDA designated Economic Development District (EDD) that promotes economic development and job creation by carrying out community and economic initiatives available to local governments and small businesses.

“The resources and assistance provided by the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, the City of Mount Airy, the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce and Surry Community College were essential to the success of our start up venture.”

Andrew Clabough

President, Willow Tex

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership, Inc.
1218 State St.,
Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128

Contact Us

Surry County Economic Development Partnership Inc. 1218 State St., Mt. Airy NC 27030
PO BOX 7128

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