News, Information, Opportunities & Benefits
February 12, 2015
Jazz Up Your Networking at the Annual Meeting on March 5

Burke County's top networking event is just around the corner, and you'll want to be there. It's the Chamber's 2015 Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 5, from 6:00-7:30 pm at CoMMA in Morganton. "Last year's Annual Meeting generated quite a buzz in the business community, and this
Nearly 200 Chamber members from businesses across Burke County attended last year's Annual Meeting.
year's event promises to be even better," said Stacey Ripley, VP of Business Development. Savor great food and drinks from Burke Chamber members FATZ,     JD's Smokehouse, My Local Bakery,     Fonta Flora, Brown Mountain Bottleworks, Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery and Lake James Cellars. Enjoy the music of Joe Hasty & Centerpiece Jazz, as you make contacts with businesses and organizations from across Burke County. We'll recognize the Burke Chamber's 2014 Ambassador of the Year and salute our outgoing leaders on the Chamber's Board of Directors.  Don't miss out! Tickets are $30 per person and include two complimentary drinks, great food, entertainment and -- best of all -- fantastic networking. Register and purchase your tickets by calling the Chamber at 828-437-3021 or you can pay online at: 
Special Offer for Chamber Members Only
CPI Security and Burke Chamber Partner

The Burke Chamber has partnered with NC-based CPI Security to provide a 
customized security system for the Chamber offices. To introduce its services to Burke County, CPI is also making a special offer exclusively to Burke County Chamber business members. 
"We are delighted to welcome CPI as one our newest members and, for the first time, to have an extra level of security in place for our Chamber headquarters," said Chamber President & CEO Jerry Davis.

CPI's Chris Revis said the company, in operation for 20 years, is one of the only providers to design, install, monitor and service its own state of the art technology security systems for business and residential clients. "CPI has a dedicated Quality Assurance team, round the clock monitoring and 24 hour customer care. All of our installation and service technicians are full-time CPI Security employees, professionally trained and Installation Quality Certified," he said. CPI's inTouch platform keeps businesses and home owners connected to their property with real-time information, including remote interactive services like system alerts, video monitoring, temperature, lighting control, fire alerts and door control.

To celebrate joining the Chamber, CPI Security has two special incentives for members who purchase a system by February 28 and have it installed
by March 15, 2015. 

First, CPI will install its Residential Realtime Response security system with full cellphone backup (no land line needed) for $99 and issue a $99 credit, making the installation and the following equipment package free (or apply your $99 coupon toward your BUSINESS security package):

-  Realtime speaker/mic
-  InTouch app (view/save video and arm/disarm through your smart phone)
-  LED keypad
-  7 door OR window contacts
- 1 motion detector
- 1 fire communicator
- 2 wireless interior cameras (720pHD, requires Internet access)

Second, CPI will apply a $100 credit toward monthly monitoring. 

Call Chris at (828) 803-7690 or email him at to schedule a security analysis walk through of your facility or if you have questions. Also, look for news about a special CPI event to be held at the Chamber offices on February 27

WPCC Seeks Nominations for 2014 Outstanding Alumnus Award

Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) welcomes nominations from the community for the 2015 Outstanding Alumnus Award to be presented at the College's spring graduation ceremony on 
Wednesday, May 20. Made possible by the Western Piedmont Foundation, the award is an honor that provides recognition for exceptional achievement by former WPCC students and graduates. For an online nomination form, please visit and select Outstanding Alumnus Award in the menu on the left. For a hard copy nomination form, deadlines or other information, please contact Jessica Epley at 828-448-3122. 
Growing Business...
Burke Manufacturers Executive Council Visits Siemens 
Companies; Learn About Apprenticeship Program

The Burke Manufacturers Executive Council (BMEC) recently visited the Siemens manufacturing facility in Charlotte to learn about its apprenticeship program. Several companies from the group are working to implement a similar program in Burke County in partnership with Western Piedmont Community College, Burke County Public Schools and Burke Development, Inc. After an in-depth tour of the plant, where Siemens produces generators
Siemens produces generators and turbines at its Charlotte plant.
and turbines, BMEC members enjoyed an informative presentation from Roger Collins, who manages Siemens' apprenticeship program.

"We are pleased to see the impact the college and our local community is making on our industry's need for diverse recruitment," said Valdese Weavers Training Manager Scott Buchanan. "Technology is evolving every day and it is great to see the value placed on adapting to these changes. The trip to Siemens only solidified the amount of success our community can look forward to as we embark on development of an apprenticeship program," he added.

"I think it is a concrete step towards resolution of a current workforce need," said Bryan Steen, County Manager and Chairman of Burke Development, Inc. (BDI).

"This shows our manufacturers, and those that might be looking to locate here, that we are progressive and we strive to get results that are beneficial to our local industries - as well as the citizens of Burke County who are employed by them," explained Steen.

Western Piedmont Community College convened a meeting with local employers following the trip to discuss the next steps in developing an apprenticeship program in Burke County. As part of the program, each apprenticeship is registered with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the US Department of Labor.

Components of the program include on-the-job learning from one to five years (approximately 2,000 hours per year based on occupation) and job-related education (144 hours each training year). Students are paired with a mentor for the on-the-job learning component.

Upon completion of the proposed program each apprentice would have earned an AAS degree from Western Piedmont Community College and journeyworker credentials that are nationally recognized. Typically the student is paid as a full time employee with a progressive wage scale based on attainment of skill levels and the partnering company covers the cost of their tuition and books.

"While there are many others out there in the marketplace, we can look to Siemens as a model," said Michael Daniels, Western Piedmont Community College Dean of Science, Engineering and Mathematics.

"With buy-in from our manufacturing partners, we can then customize the program to fit their needs and the needs of our community," Daniels added.

BDI Hires Stokes County EDC Director as New President and CEO

Alan D. Wood, CEcD, has been named President and CEO of Burke Development, Inc. (BDI) and will join the organization March 9. Wood, an 11-year economic development veteran, was offered the position after an extensive search. 
Wood is a Caldwell County native with experience in economic development, banking and manufacturing
BDI Board Chair Bryan Steen said, "Alan brings significant economic development experience and a 'can do attitude' to the job. We look forward to working with him to assist existing industry growth, as well as the recruitment of new industries to Burke County for the benefit of our citizens."

Wood will join BDI next month, after completing his commitment as Director of Economic Development in Stokes County, where he led their development efforts for the past six years. Prior to that, he was Senior Development Director in Caldwell County.

"I don't believe that economic development is 'one size fits all'," said Wood. "Each community has specific assets that make it unique. It is the job of our office to work with our board, local businesses and the elected officials across the county to develop the best strategy to create wealth and jobs in Burke County, and then execute that plan."

Wood has developed a reputation for being creative in his strategies for promoting local communities. He has worked on numerous projects, large and small, most notably the effort that recruited a Google Data Center to Caldwell County.

"We're getting a person with a background in banking, manufacturing and economic development, which is a great background in my opinion," said John Cantrell, who served on the Search Committee. "Alan is a native of an adjoining county, has had success in other counties and wants to live here. I'm looking forward to him leading our economic development team."

"Everyone who has worked with Alan has the highest praise for his work ethic," said Search Committee member John Branstrom. "He has well-established relationships with site consultants and with the Department of Commerce. Alan is excited about our potential for economic growth. He's coming here because he thinks that we have a lot to offer and the future for Burke County is bright."

As he relocates to Burke County, Wood will be joined by his wife Kelly, an Account Executive with True Textiles.
Building Community...
Students Earn College Experience and Credits in Dual-enrollment Program at WPCC and BCPS

Burke County Public Schools (BCPS) and Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) are offering juniors and seniors the opportunity to dual enroll in high school and college classes through the Career and College Promise (CCP) program. By the end of the school year, the students currently taking advantage of CCP will have earned 15 college credits for free, as WPCC waives tuition for high school students in the program. The credits are transferable to any college in the University of North Carolina system. Going into college with these credits saves families money and helps students get into their degree field of choice sooner. Students interested in enrolling should see their school counselor or contact Amanda Cooper, WPCC admissions/transfer counselor, at a or 828-448-3159 to learn more about CCP.


Students Intern at Shenandoah and Geiger 

Geiger Furniture in Hildebran and Shenandoah Furniture in Valdese face a challenge shared by many employers in Burke County: how to train the next generation of workers as the current workforce nears retirement. Both companies see internships as one way to get younger workers on their plant floors. Burke Development Inc. arranged internships at the plants.for two East Burke High School grads last summer with lasting results. Both students 
East Burke grad Joe Brown interned at Geiger Furniture
are working full-time jobs with benefits, including paid time off and health insurance.

Steve Trinks, plant manager at Shenandoah, said, "Older workers are phasing out and younger workers are not getting into the furniture industry because of the impression they have. There is a lack of knowledge about what is available, that there are stable, well-paying jobs still here in the furniture industry."

Gene Bryson, vice president of manufacturing at Geiger, echoed Trinks. Bryson said, "We have to reach out to the younger generation to get them interested in the furniture industry and the craftsmanship of it. The furniture industry can provide a good career path."

Both companies like internships because they offer hands-on job experience while giving younger workers an idea of what a job is all about. Interns have the opportunity to work in several departments and find their niche.

Kelly Beach, executive assistant and human resources liaison at Geiger, said internships are great ways for younger workers to learn soft skills, such as arriving to work on time, effectively communicating in a work environment and the expectations of a job. And she knows young interns talk to their friends and help spread the word about what types of work are available and what it takes to make it.  
BCPS Superintendent Larry Putnam started his career in the furniture industry, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He said, "From having worked in furniture and now in education, I see the importance of building relationships with local businesses and industries and understanding each other's needs. We appreciate Burke Development, Inc., the Burke County Chamber of Commerce and Western Piedmont Community College for their roles, as well, as we forge these relationships and join together to strengthen our local workforce. We have had two successful summers in which our students and/or recent graduates have interned in local factories, and we look forward to continuing the program."

If you are interested in hiring a summer intern, contact Cheryl M. Shuffler, BCPS public relations officer, at or call 828-438-2989.
It's February, and what better way to say Happy Valentine's Day, than a catered lunch from FATZ Café! Let your employees know you appreciate their efforts by sending around a sign-up sheet for lunch. Email your order to Jamie Steiner, FATZ Catering Representative, at You'll receive $10 in FATZ cash for catering orders placed directly through her throughout the entire month of February. No order is too big or too small. For more information, you may also call Jamie at the office (803-606-8242) by cell phone at 828-450-9469. Happy February from FATZ! 
Note - Registration for the following WPCC program is open until classes begin on Feb. 24







Director Level



Executive Level
Burke Hospice & Palliative Care
Case Farms
Catawba Valley Staffing
Charter Business
Western Piedmont Community College

Advisor Level
Duke Energy
Environmental Inks
Friday Staffing Service
Grace Ridge Retirement Community

Republic Services
CPI Security Systems

Supporter Level
Abeles Restaurant
Canteen Vending
J. Branstrom & Associates
Pepsi Cola Bottling Co.
Servpro of Burke County
Shenandoah Furniture
Sypris Technologies
Toner Machining Technologies
Wendy B's