Region enjoys a diversifying economy
Agriculture and food production have long been major contributors to Wilkes County’s economy, but other sectors continue to gain momentum and are enjoying success in the region. Here are some highlights:
Wilkes County is still a thriving agricultural community, with crops and cattle leading the way. A blossoming industry is apple orchards, as temperate weather and good soil provide ideal conditions for growing apples throughout the county. More than a dozen orchards are thriving today in cities like Boomer, Moravian Falls and Taylorsville.
Also doing well in Wilkes County are vineyards, including Roaring River Vineyards in Traphill, where owners Tom and Josephine Silvey also run a truffle farm. Roaring River has a wine-tasting room and sells bottles and cases of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot, viognier and a sweet pearing dessert wine.
Honeybees and beekeeping are the specialty of Townes Farms, where B and Martha Townes operate their business in Boomer. B is a retired community college instructor and a key organizer of the first Merlefest in 1988. Today the couple runs an aviary that produces sourwood honey, sold to customers throughout the region.
More than 2,700 employees in Wilkes County work for Tyson Foods, which has spent millions of dollars in recent years on capital investment to improve the efficiency of its fresh poultry operations. Those improvements include modifications of Tyson’s bird cut-up area as well as upgrades in the chicken deboning system, which further streamlines production of tray-packaged fresh chicken for retail customers. The employees at Tyson are known as leaders in supporting organizations and projects that improve their community.
A burgeoning sector of the Wilkes County economy is advanced manufacturing, where several companies experiencing growth. Interflex Group manufactures flexible packaging products used mainly by the food industry; Tyson Foods is a primary customer. Interflex serves the bakery, snack foods, poultry and meat, pet products, health and beauty, and lawn and garden markets.
Developer Cam Finley of Finley Properties owns the Two Rivers Cinema building in Wilkesboro, and in early 2016 he led the largest solar energy project to date in Wilkes County. More than 900 individual solar panels weighing 50 pounds apiece were installed near the 26,000-square-foot building to provide an ideal clean energy source for the theater.
Locally Owned Banks
With its main office on U.S. Highway 421 in Wilkesboro, Great State Bank offers banking services quickly and securely, in person or online. Every management decision is made in Wilkes County for the good of the community, since all the bank’s customers are neighbors and friends.
Surrey Bank & Trust opened a one-story branch office in a North Wilkesboro in 2015. Officials say SB&T is primarily a business bank, with nearly 70 percent of its loans going to small businesses.