By John Josey (C) News-Topic

LENOIR — Caldwell County issued the official welcome to the newest member of its industrial family Monday.

Bakers Waste Equipment is consolidating its operations in Burke and Catawba counties and moving its base of operations into the former Broyhill 55/3 plant in Whitnel. The company employs 80 people at present and plans to add 60 new jobs once the facility is up and running later this spring. Bakers Waste Equipment manufactures and sells steel containers and compactors for the waste, construction, recycling, manufacturing and retail industries.

The average annual wage for the new jobs is $29,157 per year, which is consistent with the Caldwell County’s average annual salary.

Caldwell Economic Development Commission Chairman William Howard summed up the feeling of the entire county that there are new jobs coming.

“We are excited beyond measure to have Bakers Waste, our newest business, in Caldwell County,” he said. “There was a pebble or two along the way, but we were able to do what we could to make this a reality for the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County.”

Caldwell EDC Executive Director Deborah Murray outlined some of the process of luring Bakers Waste to Caldwell County. She said she met Bakers Waste President Ric Raines roughly six months ago thanks to an introduction by Bill Payne of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Payne had worked with Bakers Waste to find expansion space in Burke County, but they weren’t successful in finding a suitable site there. Raines wanted to find a location close enough for current employees to commute, so Payne paired Raines together with Murray to begin work on a location in Caldwell County.

“They decided to try to stay close to home to protect the jobs and keep the folks working that they valued so much and had been part of their success to poise them for this expansion for the future,” Murray said. “That close-to-home location became Caldwell County. We looked at a number of buildings and we’re very proud to say that not only did they choose Caldwell County, Ric and his team chose a former factory building in the 321-A corridor that has been silent for a number of years.

“Today, we celebrate the revitalization of the former Broyhill 55/3 facility. Today, it officially becomes the Bakers Waste site.”

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