Town helps HVO seek state grant

The Town of Waynesville plans to step in for Haywood Vocational Opportunities in procuring state money to help with an estimated $2 million expansion at the old Wellco site in Hazelwood.

HVO must create at least 40 jobs in exchange for the town’s efforts in obtaining a $480,000 grant from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. HVO cannot apply for the grant directly since it is only open to local governments and governmental agencies.

HVO CEO George Marshall predicts that the company will well exceed the 40-job requirement with 75 new full-time positions within two years of beginning operations at the newly-renovated facility. HVO hopes to have the factory, which formerly was a shoe plant, up and running by January 2010. Wellco recently announced it is moving out of Haywood County and plans to relocate the Hazelwood production line at a newer plant Tennessee.

Haywood Vocational Opportunities, a private, not-for-profit corporation, manufactures and assembles medical supplies. It also provides vocational training and employment to adults with disadvantages and disabilities.

Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown said the town chose to work with HVO because of the social and economic benefits the company provides to the community.

“It benefits us by creating jobs for people that the traditional marketplace doesn’t do,” Brown said.

This is not the first time HVO and the Town of Waynesville have partnered up. In 2005, the town helped HVO acquire a grant from the Rural Economic Development Center for expanding a water line.

So far, HVO has obtained a $300,000 grant from The Golden LEAF Foundation. The company is seeking yet more grant assistance from other foundations.

HVO currently employs 321 on a full-time basis and serves over 250 individuals in its employment and training programs annually.

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