The Competitive Advantage – North Carolina’s wireless network

Last week, I was speaking to a chamber member who had called me from his car in a rural area of South Carolina.  While we did not experience the familiar “dropped call,” our reception was poor and he said he would have to call me back when he reached the city.

Each week announcements of a new smart phone with its amazing capabilities flood our email.  While you can literally speak into your iPhone and have Siri look up the closest Starbucks, it wasn’t that long ago that we were dependent on faxing documents over telephone lines.  Now edits can be made on the run and transmitted back to a sender in moments.

Michael Douglas in Wall Street
Michael Douglas in Wall Street

You may recall in the movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (based on the 1987 movie Wall Street), the chief protagonist of the film, Gordon Gekko, collects his belongings when he is paroled from prison in 2001 after serving eleven years for insider trading and securities fraud.  In the film, a prison guard releases personal items that have been placed in storage, among them, Gekko’s dated cell phone – a bulky beige phone that resembles a walky talky from World War II.

Ironically the cell phone he returned to Gordon was a Motorola DynaTac 8000X and represented stateoftheart technology costing over $4000 when he went into prison in 1990.  The device was over a foot long and weighed nearly 2lbs. Far different from the Droids and Apples which fit conveniently in our pockets now.

The smart phones and tablets we use today carry out many of the capabilities required of our older desk top computers.  It is not just the corporate executive who is reliant on this ever-changing technology.  The small business owner, retirees, even today’s students are dependent on mobile communication technology to provide productivity and entertainment.  In just the last two years alone, AT&T has invested more than $500 million in the Charlotte region in its wireless and wireline networks, with a focus on expanding 4G coverage and continually improving the performance of its networks.

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis has said, “Investments in the state’s broadband

Bill Russell, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis, and Jerry Broadway
Bill Russell, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis, and Jerry Broadway

networks are critical to keeping North Carolina competitive…”   Firms like AT&T understand the critical need to make significant investments in technology. It is also very important that we have a state legislature that creates and fosters regulations which encourage our communications industry.

The strong support of the Charlotte region’s business and political leaders have spurred mobile Internet upgrades and helped business prosper giving us a major competitive advantage, as nearly a third of the United States still lacks 4G service.

Whether it’s placing an order online, checking movie times over the Internet, or doing research for that homework assignment – our local communications industry and state elected officials are making investments in our commerce and industry, quality of life, and future!

W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM



Lake Norman Chamber President’s e-Brief Newsletter for April 5, 2013

Bill Russell
Bill Russell

Chamber Members and stakeholders:

Chamber U: QuickBooks

This Tuesday at 3:30 to 5:00 pm, the Chamber welcomes Christine Carlini, CPA who will provide a high level overview of QuickBooks for Chamber U attendees.  Christine is a CPA that is certified in QuickBooks, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Point of Sale. This takes place at the Chamber.  Read more about Chamber U here.

Economic Forecast Luncheon – April 18 noon Northstone Country Club

Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo, will provide an in depth analysis of the US economy in terms of the current regional market and national economy when he presents: “Finally, We Have a Real Recovery.”  Vitner will discuss recent economic developments including sequestration, the budget, as well as fiscal and monetary policy. The luncheon will be held at Northstone Country Club Thursday, April 18th at noon.  Read more about the luncheon and registration information here

Focus Friday welcomes NC Senator Jeff Tarte

Friday, April 26  8:30- 10:00 am

Join us Friday morning, April 26 from 8:30 until 10:00 am as we welcome N.C Senator Jeff Tarte to speak on North Carolina legislation.  There is no charge and all members are welcome to attend and ask questions of Senator Tarte. To view Senator Tarte’s newsletter and topics he will likely cover at the Focus Friday read more here.

Calling all Leadership Lake Norman Graduates

If you are a graduate of the LeadershipLakeNorman program (1997-2012), the Chamber will host a graduation of Class XVI and honor past graduates of the program.  The event will be held Tuesday, May 14 at a location TBD. If you are a graduate and have not heard about this event, chances are we don’t have your most current email.  Please email for more information. New applications for Class XVII will go out in June.

Managed Lanes – Lake Norman’s HOT issue

A great deal has been written about managed or “express” lanes recently as NC DOT makes plans to widen I-77.  Chairman of the Board Moran and I recently attended a briefing in Raleigh with speaker Tillis, members of Widen I-77 opposed to managed lanes, town and state elected officials and business leaders. I shared with our Legislative delegation that, “The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce fully supports and seeks the widening of I-77 in this corridor, sooner than later – whether that is by managed lanes, private investment, design-build, or general purpose lanes.  The economic development, business growth, and quality of life of our region depends on this critical road improvement.”

While the Lake Norman Chamber, to date, has taken no formal issue on toll lanes or private investment in our transportation infrastructure, there is an interesting article on the subject in a report prepared for the John Locke Foundation, arguable the most conservative think tank organization in the state.  The report cited tolling as an alternative to dwindling gas tax revenues as a source of revenue for funding transportation improvements on pages 41-45.  You can read the report prepared by The Hartgen Group here.

Bill Russell, CCE IOM

President & CEO

LakeNorman Chamber of Commerce