Rep. Sue Myrick: A Legacy of Leadership

Jack Salzman, Rep. Sue Myrick, and Bill Russell

American humorist Will Rogers once said, “This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”  My mother loves to tell the story that as I child I simply destroyed my toys.  In 1964, at the age of five, mom purchased one of the new Tonka toys from West Main Hardware in Rock Hill.  The salesman stated this new line of construction toys made of metal were the perfect toy for kids who were hard on their toys.

Mom said she put me in the backyard, locked the gate, assuming I was good for the afternoon.  She claims within the hour she saw me sitting on the ground beating the dump truck with a hammer.  Perhaps more priceless was the shocked look on the salesman’s face when mom walked back in with the remnants of a bashed in yellow dump truck.

One of the first elected officials I met when I arrived at the Lake Norman Chamber was Representative Sue Myrick.   Rep. Myrick has represented North Carolina’s ninth district for 18 years.  There is no question she has been an outspoken spokeswoman for conservative principles,America’s security, and business.

Sue, as she prefers to be called, served two terms as Mayor of Charlotte, a term on the Charlotte City Council, and ran a successful advertising firm.  She’s also a breast cancer survivor and has been a staunch supporter of American healthcare – sponsoring a law to provide Medicare coverage for mammograms and pap smears for low-income women.

The Chamber has made annual trips to Washington DC for more than a decade and Sue always made time to listen to our delegation about issues of importance to the Lake Norman region. She was just as accessible back home in the district hosting town hall meetings, business briefings, and legislative forums.

Rep. Myrick has railed against the corporate income tax, which hovers at slightly under 40% and higher than business taxes in France,China, and many other industrialized countries.  Rep. Myrick has pointed out that adding new bureaucratic jobs in Washington is not the answer.  Lowering taxes and rolling out the welcome mat to primary job creators and small business and entrepreneurs is the solution.  “Government jobs don’t grow the economy,” said Sue.  “The only thing that grows the economy is private sector jobs.”

This month as we celebrate Small Business Week – May 21-25, it is fitting that we have Rep Sue Myrick on May 11th to get us focused.  The Chamber will honor Rep. Myrick for her unwavering support of business at the luncheon as she caps off a wonderful career of public service.      

I’m not sure Will Rogers was flattering Congress with his remarks but I am certain that Sue Myrick knew when to use her velvet glove and when it was appropriate to bring out the hammer.

Unfortunately, I didn’t leave many hand-me-down toys to my brother Todd.  But I am certain Rep. Sue Myrick leaves the citizens of District Nine and our nation much stronger because of her sound judgment and commitment to conservative values and principles. 

Sue once told our Chamber delegation, “We have to make those tough choices so our America will be there for our kids and our grandkids.”    Representative Myrick went to Washington to make a difference – to make her district and her nation better than she found it – and she did.  It is her legacy of leadership.


Behavioral Health Hospital in Davidson is a great decision for the Lake Norman region

The below editorial was distributed and has appeared in much of the Lake Norman media.  It is reprinted here in my blog:

Mary Beth Kuzmanovich speaks about the new hospital planned for Davidson

News last week at a press conference held at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce that Carolinas HealthCare System plans to build a 66-bed behavioral health hospital in Davidson was welcomed.  While it could be argued the former site in Huntersville was appropriate given the dramatic increase in the population of that area, the new site, with its easy access to both I-77 and I-85, may prove to be more accessible for our region.

The Chamber was given the unique opportunity last week, not only to host the announcement, but to comment on the facility itself.  The economic impact of this decision is considerable as the total investment of Carolinas HealthCare is estimated at $36 million and will provide 155 well-paying jobs, many of which will be filled from the local employment market.

In addition, the campus itself will serve as an incubator to other ancillary businesses, which will gravitate to that site supplying more economic activity — and with it … jobs!

While there is no question the medical facility will be a significant economic catalyst for Davidson, it provides a critical healthcare need that we lack at the present time.  The loss this year of a high school principal and two young students, and more recently the tragic news regarding a former north Mecklenburg elected official and community activist, who all lost their battle with conditions such a facility may have helped relieve, underscore how much of a need this is.

One in four families hasa member who deals with depression, anxiety, a bi-polar disorder or some other behavioral health issue.  It could be the good-natured fellow that dresses up as Santa for his community and entertains legions of kids at Christmas.  Perhaps, it might be the secretary down the street, or even a child at school.

Behavioral health hospital site in Davidson

The heartfelt and painful admission by a young teenager recently in The Lake Norman Citizen that she herself struggled with depression and tried to take her own life is evidence that depression and behavioral health issues are not confined to any gender, race or age.  Its victims come from all economic and social walks of life.

Without proper diagnosis and treatment, this thief silently changes its victim’s outlook on life and their perspective on the riches of living, leaving in its wake, tragedy and despair for loved ones and friends, many of whom “never saw it coming.”

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce would like to thank Carolinas HealthCare System for pursuing this critical healthcare need despite recent setbacks on prior zoning decisions in Huntersville.  We would also like to convey our sincere appreciation to Davidson Mayor John Woods and the entire Davidson Town Board for stepping in and embracing this facility.

Bill Russell speaking on behalf of the Lake Norman Chamber

Mayor Woods, a banker by trade, understands this healthcare facility will be a significant investment for his town and our region, which will pay huge dividends in the future.  It will serve as a catalyst for economic growth and vitality for his community supplying employment and ancillary businesses that will be attracted to the site.

But more importantly, it will provide a critical healthcare need that is sorely lacking in the Lake Norman-north Charlotte market.  It also sends a strong and profound message to the thousands of residents, family members, friends, colleagues, and kids who suffer from some type of behavioral health issue, that from this day forward help is on its way.

Bill Russell

Bill Russell is the president and chief executive officer of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with more than 900 business members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and greater Lake Norman region.

Climbing the ladder of success

Dad & I riding in Fort Mill (SC)

I’ve been one fortunate guy in my professional career.  I cannot begin to describe how much fun it is to work at the Lake Norman Chamber with some of the most creative, energetic, and generous business people in the Charlotte region.  A couple of months ago I attended a fundraiser for Triple Cross Ranch which helps instill confidence in young people with special needs riding and working with rescued horses.

It comes on the heels of the Ada Jenkins Ice event which raised well over a hundred thousand dollars for our outstanding outreach center.  Add to that the Chamber’s Habitat Build and the generosity of Wells Fargo and our many other businesses and you understand what I mean about the generosity of our business community.

Prior to going to work at my first Chamber of Commerce 19 years ago, I was active in a service organization called Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce).  I had no grand plan to lead the organization other than serving as a local president like my dad did in 1965.    Through hard work and a great deal of help by many people working together, I was fortunate to climb the leadership ranks of the organization eventually being elected national president in 1992.  I travelled to 47 states and seven countries speaking to Jaycee chapters across the nation.

Meeting with the Montana Delegation in Portland, site of the 1992 Convention

Years later, I had a young man ask me how a local Jaycee becomes national President.  As I talked about the lonely nights traveling hours by car to meetings as a state officer to a membership night only to find a handful of people and no prospects in the room – or turning around the next night and driving four more hours to train officers to find 3 or 4 people had shown up – how demoralizing that could be.

However, it was all worth it seeing new clubs and chapters making an impact in their community or an individual who might have been one of those handful I spoke of one day becoming a business, community, or elected leader because we encouraged and pushed them to be their absolute best.

As I spoke to this young man, I saw him glancing all around the room, not listening at all to what I was trying to tell him.  He was more interested in who he was going to talk to next.  He wanted to be the best but he was  not interested in the journey – just the destination.  That journey is the dues we all have to pay to get there.  There is no elevator to the top of success.  You have to climb each step one at a time, working hard every step of the way.

There are simply no short cuts to success.  That’s why sports teams practice each day leading up to the game.  That’s why successful business men and women seek out business coaches, mentors, executive training and never stop in their search to learn and be better each day.

As I mentioned, I simply love what I do.  Each day I get a chance to work and learn from the very best.  People who dare to reach for the stars every day and even if they fall short of the sky, they clear the tree tops and leave the ground far behind.