CONOVER, N.C. -- Gov. Pat McCrory joined Catawba County business and political leaders Friday in celebrating the renaissance of a local manufacturer.
The governor spoke to about 300 people gathered outside the new headquarters of Lee Industries, a furniture and textile manufacturer that expanded with the help of state and local incentives.
“North Carolina’s past has been in the furniture business… and it’s our future, too,” the governor told the crowd. “We’re never going to give up on manufacturing.”
The company, which employs 608 people, has added jobs in a county hard hit by the recession and global economic changes.
Catawba County’s unemployment rate reached 15.5 percent in 2009. It was 10.3 percent in July, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.
On Friday, McCrory helped dedicate Lee’s new company headquarters in downtown Conover, in a renovated building that once housed the Conover Chair Co.
Lee got $750,000 worth of incentives from the state as well as help from local governments. According to the governor’s office, the state grant was conditioned on the creation of 38 jobs over three years.
On Friday, state Commerce officials said the state’s August unemployment rate stood at 8.7 percent, a drop from July’s 8.9 percent.
Speaking to a reporter, McCrory suggested the still-sluggish economy was one reason recent polls showed his approval ratings slip. In an Elon University survey of registered voters, his approval fell to 36 percent from 46 percent in April.
The poll also showed that nearly 70 percent believe the state is headed in the wrong direction.
“We’re in here for the long run,” McCrory said. “But the economy is still going through a tough time and people are hurting. “I’m not here for short-term ratings. I’m here for long-term solutions.”
McCrory also said he believed a federal government shutdown would be a “mistake.” Some Republican members of Congress have said they’re willing to risk that if they can’t succeed in not funding the Affordable Care Act. The governor declined to comment on fellow Republicans in Washington.
“I’ve got issues in state government,” he said.