The Lincoln Economic Development Association has kicked off its annual Industry Appreciation Month, with events planned throughout October to celebrate local businesses.
The celebrations officially got under way with a signing of proclamations by both Lincolnton and Lincoln County officials on Oct. 1.
Originally introduced nine years ago as International Appreciation Week, it has transformed, beginning in 2006, into a month-long recognition designed to call attention to the role all local industries play in the economic well-being of the community.
“It started as International Appreciation Week in 2003 to create greater public awareness, and further educate the community, about Lincoln County’s international companies and their native lands, and to thank Lincoln’s international companies for their presence and commitment to the community,” Kara Brown, existing business manager for LEDA, told the Times-News last week.
“It has since evolved into Industry Appreciation Month, where we try to recognize all of our manufacturing and distribution contributors to the economy, and not just the international ones.”
Several events, some of which are invitation-only for LEDA members and stakeholders, are scheduled for the month. These include a forklift rodeo, during which 16 members of the Industrial Manager’s Association compete on an obstacle course to test their skills and accuracy, an industry tour, open to the public, of Aptar Food and Beverage at 10 a.m. on Oct. 16 and an international reception on Oct. 25 to celebrate the 10 foreign countries operating out of Lincoln County.
The reception, a private event for industry representatives and LEDA members, will be at Vesuvius Vineyards and feature foods from all of the countries, as prepared using authentic recipes and ingredients by chef Nancy Pinkerton of Black Ties to Barbeque. Pinkerton, said Brown, does a lot of research to develop the items she serves.
This year, a new website, www.manufacturingafuture.com, is also being launched to coincide with the month and to drive home the importance of jobs provided by manufacturing.
“We want teachers, educators and students to realize what a career in manufacturing can mean,” Brown said. “Whether you enter the work force out of high school, get a two-year degree or four-year and higher, there is a job for any education level in Lincoln County.”
Over the years, Brown noted that local industries have greatly appreciated the recognition they’ve received for their efforts.
“They always love to attend the events and meet with each other,” she added. “They enjoy taking the opportunity to visit other facilities and see other operations, and maybe pick up an idea on how they do one thing better.”
There are other added benefits for the businesses participating in the events, as well.
“In several cases, we have had honorary consuls from other countries attend our international event, and the industries have made useful contacts with those individuals, usually to help with a trade matter,” Brown said.
“Sometimes, they meet a potential supplier that they didn’t know existed. These events really can open doors to help them in their business, in addition to the recognition of their presence in our community.”
She also stressed the need for Lincoln County residents to truly understand why their local industries should matter to them.
“Without our manufacturers and distributors who operate in Lincoln County, our community would not be where it is today,” Brown said.
“It is the economic impact they have that drives our local economy and provides jobs to our citizens. A Lincolnton and Lincoln County without industry would not be an inviting place to live at all. Their presence is definitely worth celebrating.”