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By Brandy Templeton, Observer News Enterprise

Catawba Valley Community College's (CVCC) Manufacturing Solutions Center (MSC) hosted the Lonati Group from Italy on Wednesday. Lonati is a colossal company that "has the most modern and state-of-the-art textile equipment in the world."

Suppliers, school officials, state and local dignitaries and out-of-state business executives were all invited to preview new knitting machine prototypes. These machines are expected to help make socks and hosiery more quickly and efficiently. Not only are they efficient, but they are instrumental in changing the pantyhose that American woman have endured all of their lives.

"Lonati is the number one name that led the textile revolution," said Darrell l. Frye, CFO of Harriss & Covington Hosiery Mills and Chair Commissioner of Randolph County, N.C. "This is the first equipment show of its type in the twenty-first century." North Carolina cities that suffer from lost industry can benefit from this equipment.

Frye said that High Point is just one of the cities that could use this technology. The city, like many, has suffered from lost textile revenue. It went from 30 textile mills in the mid-eighties to only two operating today. By purchasing and utilizing the new high-tech Lonati machinery, an industry that has been clinging to life support will most likely be revitalized.

Dan St. Louis, Executive Director of MSC, said that it's been 25 years since CVCC started their hosiery center. At the beginning of his career, St. Louis did not have much to work with.

"I went on a professional begging tour, because our equipment was over 50 years old," St. Louis said. He, like Frye, welcomes technological advancement.

Lee E. Moritz, Jr., Mayor of Conover and marketing director of IOMAX, is also on board with supporting manufacturing in Catawba County. Mayor Moritz said that he has "a big heart, and a big heart for manufacturing." He said that manufacturing has provided a means to support his family. Other families depend on manufacturing also.

Out of 477 local businesses, 27 percent work in manufacturing. Catawba County is at three times the national average in manufacturing. Moritz hopes to "kick start a revolution of manufacturing." Already, Conover is thriving in our county's manufacturing initiative.

Because of the city's success, Harvard University granted Conover the "Bright Ideas in Government" award. This award recognizes the most innovative community to launch new equipment. Ettore Lonati is the president of the company that manufactures this new equipment.

Eager to address the group, Ettore Lonati, spoke about his company's role in this significant change. In 1956 he joined the company. By 1971 Lonati was selling to the United States. With 59 years of dedication to a business that is now a renowned conglomerate, Lonati is eager to move forward in technological advances and business relations in Catawba County.

Dan St. Louis, Lee Moritz, and Darell Frye stood to thank Mr. Lonati.

"This is a new era," St. Louis said. "No more ribbon cutting."

And with the ringing of a bell, the launch of a new era was recognized in the manufacturing world of Catawba County.

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