Local firms part of statewide contest

Published 4:38 pm Friday, August 25, 2023

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RALEIGH – Two businesses in the Roanoke-Chowan area are among the 130 nominees across the state for the annual “Coolest Thing Made in NC” online competition.

The nominees were announced on Thursday of this week by the NC Chamber. This marks the fourth year that the NC Chamber has held the popular, public-driven contest, which spotlights North Carolina’s cutting-edge manufacturing industry—an industry that generates more than 17% of the gross state product and employs more than 10% of the state’s workforce.

The contest recognizes two winners: one for businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and one for businesses with 100+ employees.

In the small business category, Bertie County Peanuts was nominated for its famous blister fried peanuts. The company’s tradition of frying peanuts dates back to 1980 when Jack Powell Sr. (aka “Papa Jack”) purchased an old popcorn popper and began frying peanuts in oil to give away as a snack to local farmers that would drop by Powell & Stokes of Windsor.

Steel plates manufactured at Nucor Steel of Hertford County are ready to be shipped by rail or truck from its plant near Cofield. Photo courtesy of Nucor Steel

What was once just a friendly gesture by the Powell family to their workers, farmers and friends set the table for what is today Bertie County Peanuts and its ever-increasing variety of flavors that it sells locally and all across the United States.

“This is an exciting nomination for us,” stated Jon Powell, who represents the fourth generation of the family-owned business. “The support we’ve received for the past 30 years as we’ve grown our brand has been incredible. And, this nomination means that folks really like us! Hopefully they will take the time to vote for us as it will take us all to bring home the title of the Coolest Thing Made in NC!”

Nucor Steel of Hertford County is nominated in the large business category for the steel plates they manufacture at their massive facility developed on 990 acres along the shoreline of the Chowan River near Cofield. That state-of-the-art mill produces plate for uses ranging from railroad tank cars to armored personnel carriers.

Nucor proudly stands on its mission to become the world’s safest steel company.

“We live each day with gratitude for the families, customers, and partners that make our work possible,” is the company’s mission statement.

“Congratulations to our 2023 nominees; each product tells a special story of the impact and innovation manufacturers have on our great state,” said NC Chamber President and CEO Gary Salamido. “As we always say at the NC Chamber: what’s made in North Carolina makes North Carolina.”

In 2020, the NC Chamber launched the “Coolest Thing Made in NC” competition to celebrate North Carolina’s vital manufacturing community – and champion the next generation of manufacturers and creators by raising awareness about the rewarding careers of modern manufacturing. Last year, the online contest began with 80 nominees and after three rounds of public voting totaling 46,000 votes, the Caterpillar Cat® track loader and beachBub umbrella system earned the top spots, earning 6,397 and 5,436 votes respectively.

How to Vote

Go to coolestthingmadeinnc.com to vote for the coolest thing made in NC; the 10 semifinalists will be announced on Sept. 7. The field of candidates will narrow with each round of voting, and the winning product will be revealed on Oct. 5, the day before National Manufacturing (MFG) Day. October is Manufacturing Month, and MFG Day, organized nationally by the NAM and The Manufacturing Institute, highlights the rewarding career opportunities of modern manufacturing.

In addition to receiving a trophy, the victorious company and product will be featured in NC Chamber and Business North Carolina publications, podcasts, social and digital media, among additional statewide publicity efforts.

Join the contest’s social media campaign by following #CoolestThingMadeinNC.




About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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