More than a dozen international businesses gathered together to celebrate their achievements at Lincoln County’s Laboratory Mill, a place that many refer to as “the cradle of North Carolina’s textile industry.” The annual event is hosted by the Lincoln Economic Development Association. According to their Existing Business Manager, Kara Brown, the association serves as recruiting agent to the county, bringing new industries, creating jobs and diversifying the tax base. The reception was the last event for Industry Appreciation Month, a celebration LEDA created to honor the industries in Lincoln County. Guests were treated to international cuisine from their homelands, prepared by Shelby chef Nancy Pinkerton. “We tried to bring a taste of the world to Lincolnton for just a few hours to celebrate their presence in our county,” said Brown. “It’s a significant event where we recognize international companies specifically.”
While the mill is mainly known to outsiders as the setting for hit television shows such as “Banshee” and “Sleepy Hollow,” its history dates back to the 1800s.
According to current owner John Dellinger, The Lincolnton Cotton Factory, successor to the Schenck Mill, was built in 1819. The mill burned in 1861, followed by the destruction of the wool carding mill in 1863. However, the site is most known for being home to one of seven laboratories established by the Confederate States of America to manufacture drugs such as morphine and opium for troops.
Dellinger and his wife, Cyndy, were behind the mill’s five and half year renovation.
“We used all local contractors and laborers,” said John Dellinger. “That’s not the way these renovations normally happen.”
The couple also opted to use materials from former mills and school houses in the area in order to preserve the integrity of the building.
“We had to be careful to try and preserve the original footprint,” said Dellinger.
The mill is said to draw people from across the region, with significant numbers from Charlotte, Hickory and Greensboro.
While Dellinger says that weddings provide the “bread and butter” of the mill, class reunions, proms, dinner banquets and Christmas parties are also staples for the venue.
“In this area, there are not a lot of places to put 500 people indoors with climate control,” said Dellinger.
Although Lincoln County is known for igniting the state’s textile industry, international businesses have found many other benefits to the area.
Dr. Lothar Hackler, President and CEO of the German textile company Tenowo Inc., is but one of the many international business representatives that attended the reception.
“North Carolina is known for being a textile area,” said Hackler. “And [Lincolnton] is close to Charlotte’s international airport, which has direct flights to Germany. It’s just a great area to do business and to live.”
“For us, we just need to emphasize how important it is that we have industries in Lincoln County and that they make an investment here,” said Brown.
“They hire our residents, volunteer in our communities and do a lot to make this county a better place to be.”