Watauga Opportunities Receives Boone Chamber 2020 Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development
Watauga Opportunities, Inc produces a variety of products within three manufacturing divisions: medical devices, custom plastic thermoforming, and packaging/ subassembly. They also serve as a non-profit community rehabilitation program providing vocational training, job placement, employment opportunities, community opportunities and residential services to adults who have barriers to employment and community inclusion.
With dedicated space to assemble test tubes and other equipment for the medical industry, the Boone-based organization has become a major contributor to the nation’s much needed COVID-19 test kit supply.
Working with Sarstedt, Inc out of Spartanburg, Watauga Opportunities, Inc received an initial order in March to assemble 750,000 collection sample vials for use in COVID-19 test kits. Just one month later, Sarstedt returned to order 1 million vials. As demand continued to increase, Watauga Opportunities began to hire staff at a time where many other industries were forced to shed workforce.
Now with a standing order for nearly 2 million vials per month, Watauga Opportunities, Inc completes a significant step in the supply chain that provides COVID-19 test kits to the Centers for Disease Control, National Institutes of Health, and North Carolina-based Lab Corp. In early December, the staff in Boone passed the 10 million mark of vials assembled.
In addition to their enhanced manufacturing work, Watauga Opportunities continues to offer a wide array of vocational services for people with disabilities in a variety of virtual and in-person settings. Their Pre-Employment Training Services reach students in 25 high schools from Asheville to Sparta, providing students virtual job training and other curriculum to prepare them for life after high school.
WOI staff have partnered with some businesses to provide socially-distanced work plans to allow for in-person employment to continue, or have provided alternate programming in a virtual setting to continue to distribute their vocational services. Close to 750 Watauga Opportunities clients are served by the agency annually.
The Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development recognizes individuals and/or organizations who have worked for the orderly growth and development of Boone and Watauga County. Adams served as a local banker and provided an influence on many Chamber committees in the organization’s formative years. This award is sponsored annually by Wells Fargo.