Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Finding the opportunity in our differences

diversityPick up a paper and the headlines are likely filled with trouble and unrest. Last year, the nation watched in anguish as cable news displayed the riots resulting from anger in Ferguson, Missouri. The racial tension was not confined to that region as protests and violence erupted across the country from Seattle to Downtown Davidson as students and teachers alike participated in a “Die-in.”

Spectators attending the annual Christmas in Davidson event looked on as protesters lay in the streets, their hands behind their backs, in a silent protest to a not guilty verdict. Christmas carols fell silent as the discontent seeped into the evening Yule Tide event

The last few weeks has seen our community gripped in a much less violent demonstration at the recent Kerrick trial of a white police officer accused of using unnecessary force in the attempted arrest and subsequent death of a black man. The mistrial again provoked demonstrations in the minds of some that somehow justice did not prevail.

Frustration, anger, and tension are not just confined to race as our state legislature in Raleigh finds rural lawmakers pitted against their urban counterparts. Perhaps at no other time in history has our state been so starkly divided between communities that are growing and those who are not.

Look no further than here at Lake Norman as we wrestle with the notion of tolling what many consider our main street – I77. This year marks my 20th year at the Lake Norman Chamber and at no time have I witnessed an issue which has so bitterly divided our community and region with the “haves” vs the “have nots.”

While transportation and some elected officials would point out that Express Lanes provide “choice” and guaranteed mobility to drivers, opponents which refer to them as “Lexus Lanes” see them as a tax on a “local road” that many simply cannot afford, and in the case of truckers, are prohibited from using.

Against the backdrop of these trying times, I am reminded of the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King.  In the midst of the Civil Rights struggle, Dr. King said, “The measure of a man is not where he stands in times of comfort and Kingconvenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

The one thing we can be assured is there will be change.  Challenges are brought about by change. Today is different than yesterday and tomorrow will be different than today.

Perhaps there is no more stark contrast politically to Rev. King than former President Ronald Regan. Regan too understood diversity when he reminded us, “It’s not enough to be equal in the eyes of God.  We must be equal in the eyes of each other.”

In September, the Chamber embraces “Diversity” and recognizes those companies, businesses and individuals who promote and encourage inclusion in their business practices at our annual Diversity Luncheon on September 17th.

As we face each new sunrise, let us move closer to the day, when we as a community, nation, and people find the opportunities in our differences and the strength in our common ground.

Bill Russell

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August 31, 2015 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People are the greatest profits

The international pharmaceutical corporation, Merck and Company, has always stressed that it was not just another drug company looking at making a profit.  It has always impressed upon its workforce that service to humanity is the best work of life.  About three decades ago, in the 1980’s, Merck and Company developed a drug that could cure river blindness, a disease that infects and causes blindness in millions of people, particularly those in developing companies with diminished infrastructure.

While it was a great product, the targeted consumer was perhaps the least able to afford the drug.  The customer simply could not afford to by it.  So what did the pharmaceutical company do?  It developed and manufactured the drug anyway and in 1987 announced that it would give the medicine free to anyone who needed it.  By the following year, the company had given away more than 250 million tablets.

George W. Merck said, “We try never to forget that medicine is for people.  It is not for profits.  The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear.”

This past month the Chamber heard an outstanding presentation from Jim Stella, a retail development specialist from ElectriCities.  Recently the utility company studied demographics and buying trends from the North Mecklenburg Communities of Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville.

A particular focus was what market segments do we have an over-supply, what segments could be targeted for retail growth, and what is the leakage to other communities.  The big take away from the session was how much we as a community and region support our fellow businesses.  The data strongly supported families who lived in Cornelius shopped in Huntersville and residents in Davidson bought goods and supplies in Mooresville as well as their own town.

As a Chamber of  Commerce, the message of “Buy Local” is extremely important.  Those dollars we spend in a local retail store or restaurant are turned several times in our community putting people to work and growing the local business community.

While no doubt the reason folks shop at stores and businesses in the lake is because of the deals they find and the service they receive.  But a big part of it is also the relationships we enjoy here.  We’re all one big family.   We also have some of the most compassionate and generous businesses owners, managers, and employees you would ever meet.  Our local charities: Ada Jenkins, United Way, Big Day at the Lake, Habitat for Humanity, Angels and Sparrows and many countless others are testaments to the fact that local businesses at the lake are not just focused on being great businesses, they are part of being part of something bigger than their own business.

Christmas in Davidson

This holiday season, when you look at buying that gift for someone special – shop the lake and the many businesses that make our region so special.  When you see that volunteer asking for a contribution to help someone in need – consider giving just a little bit more.  Do something good in business – profits will follow.  Do something good for someone else – you change a life. Quite possibly – your own!

 Happy Holidays!

December 21, 2011 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment