Catawba County is constantly expanding and reaching new heights. Its well-planned program of steady growth is based upon a spirit of cooperation. INC. Magazine has twice named the Hickory MSA as one of the top entrepreneurial areas in America in both traditional industries and high-tech. Current national surveys also show Catawba County is one of the leading regions for new restaurant development.
"For a community this size, what goes on here in terms of business is unusual," says J.R. Steigerwald, Hickorys economic development coordinator. "I cant put my finger on it but there seems to be something about the entrepreneurial spirit." He adds, "People think nothing of starting a business and having a go at it." In the 90s there was a new business for every 100 residents of Catawba County, fifth-highest rate in the state of North Carolina.
Furniture and textiles manufacturing are two of the mainstays in the local economy, and have remained vigorous while the countys industrial and commercial base has diversified. Catawba County is recognized as the nations center for producing and developing fiber optic cable and is home to some of the worlds top producers of cable and associated products. At least 40% of the worlds fiber optic cable is made in the county.
Since 1978, the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation has assisted with some 219 business relocations and expansions, improving the countys tax base by more than $1.5 billion.
Numerous companies with strong regional, national, and global names have established corporate headquarters here. These companies include: Alcatel, a global leader in Optical Networking, whose primary North American optical fiber and cable manufacturing facility is located in Claremont; Corning Cable Systems, a world leader in fiber optic cable and connector assemblies; CommScope, Inc., the worlds largest manufacturer and supplier of digital broadband coaxial cable; and Shuford Industries, a major producer of cordage and pressure-sensitive tape. Well-known furniture manufacturers such as Broyhill Industries, Century Furniture, and Classic Leather are proud to make a home here in Catawba County. Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Hickory, is a distinguished supplier to the furniture industry.
Traditional industries continue to be among the regions powerhouses. These include: Carolina Mills, a textile manufacturer; Midstate Mills, a milling and feed company; Garbage Disposal Services, Inc., a major disposal and recycling company; CT Group, a firm providing specialized transportation services; and Fresh Foods, Inc., a food product firm with more than 200 properties.
Also based in the county are Alex Lee, Inc., a parent company of Merchants Distributors, Inc. and Institution Food House. These companies are large regional wholesalers of groceries and restaurant supplies.
Interlogix, Inc., a manufacturer and distributor of electronic security systems and RPM Wood Finishes Group are also headquartered in Hickory.
The positive business climate and the cooperative spirit of its workforce have attracted many international companies to Catawba County. A few of the companies that have set up operations in our area include Alcatel NA Cable Systems, Inc., of France; Getrag Gears, of Germany; Grasche USA, of Germany; Heico Fasteners, of Germany; Klingspor Abrasives, of Germany; Knill USA, a manufacturers representative for several European cable equipment manufacturers; Owens Corning Vinyl Operation, of Canada; Roll-Tech, of France; Sarstedt, of Germany; and Volex, of England.
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