Flexaust and National OnDemand are bringing 80 new jobs to Burlington this year and using existing buildings for their new sites.


Flexaust is opening a manufacturing and distribution site at 1902 Tucker St., while National OnDemand is opening its headquarters at 245 W. Davis St. Flexaust makes flexible lightweight ducts and hoses. National OnDemand provides cabling and fiber services.


The companies represent a capital investment of $5.3 million. Both received Building Reuse Grants from the N.C. Department of Commerce.


“We were really excited about the growth opportunities,” National OnDemand CEO Douglas Boteler said Tuesday, Jan. 14, at the annual Alamance County Economic Development Foundation meeting. “The grant really helped us in making that final decision, but we’ve been really excited with everything so far.”


Alamance Chamber President Mac Williams thanked investors, including Duke Energy, Elon University and LabCorp, over lunch at the Alamance Country Club as 2019’s success stories were celebrated.


“In 2019, we’re proud to recognize these two companies for their investment in Alamance County,” Williams said.


Alamance Chamber awarded both companies 2019 Company Awards. Williams also gave Mebane’s N.C. Industrial Center the 2019 Economic Impact award. NCIC was made possible by the Ray family, Samet Corp. and Mebane, with all parties receiving the award.


Chandler Concrete also announced expansion to a new site last year in Mebane’s N.C. Commerce Park.


Looking back, ahead


Apprenticeships are on the rise, and the chamber has invested in this growing trend as part of the Eastern Triad Workforce Initiative, which provides apprenticeships and on-the-job training.


“The apprenticeship movement is really taking off in and around the state,” Williams said.


The Chamber has focused also on expanding economic development and nurturing small businesses by creating an appropriate ecosystem for them. This includes easier access to resources and information they need to succeed in Alamance County.


The Chamber also has been trying to promote the area and attract more people by emphasizing what the county already has to offer.


“Some places are paying people money to come here. We’re not quite there yet,” Williams said.


State outlook


North Carolina’s economic outlook is positive in the next years, according to Troy Woodard, chair of the county Economic Development Foundation. The biggest challenge for the state is workforce development, Woodard said.


“We have the land. We have the resources. And we definitely have the labor, and we have a great relationship with Alamance Community College to support workforce development.” Woodard said. “I think we’re pretty well posed for future growth.”


The keynote speaker at the lunch was David Spratley, senior assistant secretary of finance at the N.C. Department of Commerce. Spratley also reviewed 2019 and addressed challenges that he sees the state facing in the future. The biggest challenge he sees is the declining number of projects.


“We continue to see a slowdown on decisions and the number of projects that are foreign projects, in light of trade tensions,” Spratley said.


Typically, the department works on 280 to 300 projects on any given day. That number is down to 200.


“Things are slowing down,” he said.


Full employment, trade tensions and the election year are the main reasons, according to Spratley.


“That fact alone causes companies to pause their planning and execution of investment until the outcomes of the election are known,” he said.


To compete in this climate, Spratley recommends being prepared.


“This is the one key piece that a lot of communities do, and a lot of communities don’t do well.” he said.


The main reason that communities in North Carolina lose projects is the lack of viable real estate options, he said. The key to staying competitive is being able to respond to project demands quickly, he said.


“You don’t have time to sell yourself,” Spratley said. “You’ve got to be able to respond to something quickly, and then be able to deliver quickly.”