Chamber makes push to keep Corning headquarters in Hickory

HICKORY, NC (WBTV) - The Catawba County Chamber of Commerce is now asking citizens to help convince Corning Optical Communications to keep its headquarters in Hickory.

The company has more than a thousand people on the payroll in the county, most of them at a manufacturing plant making fiber optic cable and at technology center. Still, several hundred work at the headquarters building on Highway 321.

The structure is 40 years old, and company officials say it is not suited well anymore for the the growing company.

"We have to get out of that building," said Corning spokeswoman Isolde Karro.

Consultants are studying where the most cost effective location would be for the company to locate it's headquarters and the hundreds of jobs that go with it. The new location may or may not be in Hickory.

The manufacturing plant and technology center would stay where they are in town, regardless, says Karro. "We are evaluating a business decision for the headquarters only." She added, "We are still committed to this area."

Even with the larger part of Corning's operations staying put, city and business leaders want to be sure the headquarters stay in town as well.

"It is my number one priority," said Mayor Rudy Wright. "It is a critical part of who we are here."

The mayor says the city has put together an incentive package to keep the Corning headquarters in Hickory but would not elaborate on the details. "We cannot talk about it to preserve our competitive posture."

Since the package was offered to the company, the local Chamber of Commerce is now asking citizens to get involved. A Facebook page has been set up called "HkyCorningProud" for people to visit and Like.

Officials are also urging those who tweet to use #hkycorningproud to let others know how they feel about the Corning Optical Communications company.

Officials are hoping the company will see a strong outpouring from the community and that it will play a part in what the company does. Karro says there is no deadline for a decision but city officials believe one will come in just a matter of months.

Danny Hearn, President of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce says the local economy is coming back from a deep recession and has made great strides.

He hopes Corning's headquarters will stay. "We've had some rough spots economically over the last decade and we don't want to add to that."

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