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2 Burke companies receive grants for expansions
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2 Burke companies receive grants for expansions

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Two local companies will get some help from the state with planned expansions.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s Office and the North Carolina Department of Commerce announced Thursday the award of building reuse grants to J.E. Ekornes USA and Toner Machining Technologies.

Ekornes received a $500,000 grant for its expansion of its facility on Wamsutta Mill Road in Morganton. The city of Morganton applied for the grant for Toner.

The 100,000-square-foot expansion is projected to create 102 new jobs with 80 tied to the building reuse grant, according to a release from Burke Development Inc. The company plans to invest $5.7 million, according to BDI.

“These jobs will go to local workers. Not only is it good for the local economy, but it will distinguish us from our competitors who only make or source products abroad,” Randy Tallent, vice president of J.E. Ekornes USA, said in the BDI release.

Ekornes currently has 47 full-time employees at its Morganton facility, which produces all Stressless sofas sold in North America, including motorized sofas, Stressless dining chairs, ottomans and accessories, the release said.

The expansion and increase in their labor force will allow them to increase their production and add additional products, as well as expand warehouse and distribution space. The Norwegian-based company has seen tremendous growth since opening its doors in Burke County in 2012, the release said. 

“This is a great project and we’re excited to announce it,” said Jeff Brittain, chairman of the Burke County Board of Commissioners. “Not only are the new jobs important but solidifying the existing jobs was key to this project. We hope this means J.E. Ekornes will be in Burke County for a long time to come.”

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Alan Wood, president and CEO of BDI, said helping the county’s existing industries grow is at the core of the organization’s efforts.

“We need our local companies to grow and expand,” Wood said. “It is a sign of a healthy economy when this occurs and we hope that J.E. Ekornes is not the only company we can find ways to assist over the coming months.”     

The grant requires a 5% local match, of which the $25,000 will be split equally between the county and city of Morganton.

In January, the Burke County Board of Commissioners also approved a local grant for the company equivalent to 50% of the taxes paid on the new taxable investment of an estimated $10 million for five years. The county’s portion would be $34,750 a year for the five years.

Toner Machining Technologies was awarded a $130,000 grant for the reuse of the 50,000-square-foot former Food Lion building on West Fleming Drive.

The company, a precision machine shop that specializes in milling and machining operations for the energy, automotive, transportation and nuclear fields, has 16 new jobs tied to the grant, and will invest $593,000 in the project, according to information from the state.

The News Herald has previously reported the company expects to create 31 new jobs with the move.

The grant requires a 5% local match, which would be split between Burke County and the city, with each paying $3,250.

Toner Machining has been in its current 212 E. Fleming Drive building, which previously was a Drexel Heritage machine shop, for nearly 20 years, The News Herald has reported.

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