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

Plans are underway for the 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo to be held at Davidson College’s Belk Arena. The region’s premier business trade show will be held Friday, March 8th from 11 am until 5:00 pm. Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and Randy Marion Automotive are the Presenting Sponsors of the event.

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber, cited many different reasons why the Expo has been a success for more than a decade. “Lake Norman is home to many unique businesses. These particular businesses meet the lake lifestyle that is attractive to the new homeowners, residents, and businesses moving to the Charlotte region’s dynamic market,” said Russell. Russell also cites the energy of the event, the attendees who typically frequent the area’s largest business trade show and the special events created by the Expo’s steering committee.

The Chamber is now seeking sponsors for the event. In addition to the Presenting Sponsors, Gold Sponsors include MI Connection, Lake Norman Magazine, and Presbyterian Hospital Huntersville. The Chamber is working to secure the marketing partners which bring tremendous exposure to the event along with Silver and Bronze sponsors. For more information about sponsorship in the 2013 Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo contact Bill Russell at the chamber at 704-892-1922 or e-mail Russell@lakenorman.org.

“We will be contacting this past year’s sponsors to renew for the event. They have the first right of sponsorship in the 2013 event. We hope to secure our sponsors on a first come-first serve basis,” said Russell. A benefit to all sponsors includes the opportunity to direct their booth placement.

General Business Booths are expected to be released in early December and are limited to the first 165 businesses. If you are interested in working on the Chamber’s signature event, the next meeting is Wednesday, November 28th at 3:30 pm at the Chamber.

November 13, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Several Lake Norman Restaurants featured at Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

Have Lunch with us on Monday! 

Make plans to have lunch at the Lake Norman Business Expo this Monday, March 5th at the Davidson College Belk Arena (200 Baker Street, Davidson).  The Chamber’s Expo will feature 135 Lake Norman businesses and 25 area non-profits, attractions, and civic clubs.  The event which is open to the public with no admission charge will take place 10 am until 5 pm.

Three lake restaurants will serve lunch from 11 am until 2 pm.  Honey Baked Ham Company & Café (Cornelius), Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails (Cornelius), and Fox and Hound – Birkdale (Huntersville) will serve lunch which includes the meal, desert, and beverage for $8 inclusive.  Lunch Tickets will be sold at the Chamber Booth and registration table at the event as well as pre-sold at the Chamber.

The menus for the three restaurants are located on the Lake Norman Business Expo website.  The Chamber encourages you to purchase your tickets in advance at the Chamber today or Friday and avoid any lines. Visa and MasterCard is also accepted.  Purchase tickets for your staff, family, friends, and clients.

In addition to the three food vendors, The CoffeeBoss will be set up serving delicious coffee as the exhibitors set up and guests arrive at no charge.  There will also be a cooking demonstration with The Grill Doctor set up outside at the entrance after lunch with grilling tips as we move into the spring and summer season.

To encourage public participation, Best Buy in Mooresville has donated a 42″ Insignia – Plasma Flat screen television.  Guests will be encouraged to visit at least twenty-five percent of the exhibitors, getting cards initialed from the exhibitors, and then turning in the cards at the registration table.  A $1 donation will be solicited for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors

Exhibitors and guests will be invited to a special post event reception at The Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse located at 215 S. Main Street in Davidson.  Appetizers will be furnished along with a cash bar as the business to business networking continues in a relaxed atmosphere. 

For more information, visit the Lake Norman Expo website at www.lakenormanexpo.com or call the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce at 704-892-1922.

March 1, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Special Events will again take Center Stage at Lake Norman Chamber’s Business Expo

Expo is Monday March 5th at Davidson College Belk Arena

A dance exhibition will be featured at the expo

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo will be held Monday, March 5, 2012 at the Davidson College Belk Arena (200 Baker Street, Davidson, NC) 10 am until 5 pm.  There is no admission charge and the public is invited to attend.  This year’s event features 135 businesses and 25 non profit civic clubs, human service organizations, and regional attractions.

Bill Russell, president of the chamber of commerce, says business is bouncing back as the Expo has filled up and organizers are adding additional booths for vendors.  “We are excited to have some of our real estate and home builders back that we were missing in the last couple of years,” says Russell.  “We are also lining up some great activities both at the Expo and the post event wrap up.  The chamber invites everyone, whether a local business owner or employee, as well as seniors and stay at home mom and dad’s, to participate in the region’s largest business trade show.”

This year‘s Business Expo will feature dancers from the Havana Banquet and Ballroom giving demonstrations at 11 am and 2 pm.  There is also a Business Fashion Show taking place at 1 pm that will involve area elected leaders and business executives.  The show coordinated by Vickie Stevens includes area boutiques such as The Olive Branch, Le-Mu-El Woman’s Couture & Design Boutique, Peek-A-Boo Couture, Sanary Alba Boutique, The Fashoenista, Designing Brides, Classic Bride & Formals, Savvy Salon, and Halo Salon.

Models for the show include North Carolina Senate candidates Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte and John Aneralla, Cornelius Commissioners John Bradford and Dave Gilroy, Huntersville Mayor Jill Swain and Commissioner Melinda Bales, Davidson Commissioner Laurie Venzon, business leaders Arlene Arciero, Bill Ellison, and Bill Russell as well as the Miss Lake Norman and Junior Miss Lake Norman.

Approximately two dozen non-profits will be present including the Carolina Raptor Center, Davidson Community Players, Latta Place Plantation, SCORE, and civic groups such as the Kiwanis, Lions, and Rotary Clubs among others.

To encourage public participation, Best Buy in Mooresville has donated a 42″ Insignia – Plasma Flat screen television.  Guests will be encouraged to visit at least twenty-five percent of the exhibitors, getting cards initialed from the exhibitors, and then turning in the cards at the registration table.  A $1 donation will be solicited (not required) for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors

Exhibitors and guests will also be invited to a special post event reception at The Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse located at 215 S. Main Street in Davidson from 6 to 8 pm.  Appetizers will be furnished along with a cash bar as the business to business networking continues in a relaxed atmosphere

For more information, visit the Lake Norman Expo website at www.lakenormanexpo.com or call the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922.

February 29, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Lake Norman – Rebranding a Legend

One of my favorite films is “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence” with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.  It is a western I have seen so many times that I often repeat my favorite lines as they are being said.  Among them is a real gem.   At the end of the movie, the individual credited with actually shooting Liberty Valence, the scourge of the town, states it was really the Duke that did it.  Jimmy Stewart who plays Lance Stoddard, or “Pilgrim”, as Wayne refers to him, has gone on to be Governor, Ambassador, and Senator.  The reporter on hearing the confession, rips up the story, turns to Stoddard and say’s, “This is the West Senator.  When the fact becomes legend, print the legend.”

Last month, consultants were turned loose on the Lake Norman region.   A firm from South Carolina met with business owners, elected officials, and community leaders to create a new branding strategy for the Town of Davidson.  Ironically, national consultants from all over the United States, representing the Urban Land Institute met with regional leaders to discus strategies to implement transportation and land use planning for the four lake towns.  Those recommendations also centered on a regional brand.  In both instances there was debate, or at least discussion, on what our region should be called.  Are we North Mecklenburg?  But that leaves out Mooresville.  Are we the North Charlotte region?  Again, same issue.

Davidson College

In Davidson, there was even one local citizen who questioned whether the town should be identified with the college and a few who questioned any tie to the lake.  This particular resident questioned, “We don’t have any real shoreline or access to the water… do we?”  Actually, yes you do and one of our nicest lakefront restaurants – North Harbor Club.  However, it is a question I’ve heard a time or two from Huntersville as well.  Are the businesses in Huntersville part of the lake region?  For me, that question was settled resoundingly enough when the marketing firm and developers who built one of the Charlotte region’s largest malls at exit 18 interestingly enough named it the “NorthLake Mall.” They knew then, what many of us are just discovering, is our greatest liquid asset – Lake Norman.

Lake Norman

I attended the town meeting in Davidson when that discussion took place questioning the importance of the lake to Davidson.  I shared with the folks who attended that night, how many new residents of Lake Norman have stopped into our Visitors Center and recounted the reason they moved to the lake was the awe inspiring view they had of Lake Norman from I-77 going through Davidson on the bridge overpass.  Some located to Mooresville and Cornelius, while others made their new home in Huntersville and Davidson.  However, their first vision of Lake Norman came from their windshield looking out on the sparkling and inviting waters of our great lake from Davidson.  The lake ties our four lake communities of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and Mooresville together as a region. While each community, like siblings in a family have their own unique character, it is the blood that bonds us as a family – a regional community. Lake Norman has been called the Great Inland Sea.  There are those who would consider it the Carolina’s “Great Lake.”  As a Huntersville resident living here since 1995, I simply call it home.

Birkdale Village

Our region has been recognized as both a great place to live and a great place to do business by leading national magazines.  Sports enthusiasts recognize both the lake and our recreational facilities as among the country’s best.  No longer a secret, Lake Norman has moved from the undiscovered country, to legendary status as a great place to live, work and visit.   And when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

April 9, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Makes a Splash in BusinessWeek

Every day, Americans across this country continue to read and hear about the negative economic indicators citing our economic recession. While we in the Lake Norman community share in the challenging and uncertain market, many of our business and community leaders can take great pride in what readers across this nation are just finding out – the Lake Norman region is a great place to live, work and visit. BusinessWeek Magazine has reinforced that claim by naming Cornelius one of the country’s Ten “Best Affordable Suburbs.”  

 

ln_summerCornelius was ranked #1 in North Carolina and 7th overall in the nation. The magazine pointed out such factors as livability, which includes short commutes, low pollution and amount of green space. The editors at BusinessWeek also examined crime rates, job growth, median household income, median home prices and the quality of schools. Recently a reporter called the Lake Norman Chamber for a reaction – was this a welcome surprise? Welcome – yes. Surprise? Not really!

 

 

Accolades are nothing new to our region. In 2005, the Town of Huntersville was ranked in the Top 100 Best Places to Live (#76) by Money Magazine. The Town of Mooresville has routinely been heralded as one of the nation’s best communities to host new and expanded facilities in Site Selection magazine’s Top 100 Small Towns in America. Davidson, whose population figures usually prevent the town from being considered in national ranking, received more publicity than perhaps any economic development firm or advertising agency could produce when the Davidson Wildcats Basketball Team took the nation by storm falling one basket short of a NCAA Final Four Appearance last March.  ski1

 

 

What makes our region special? The recognition is a testament to the leadership of our elected officials, business leaders, and civic and service clubs, organizations, and churches who have given their time and talent to make this region a cut above the rest. When there is still much to lament when reading about vacancy rates, unemployment numbers, and falling retail sales, there is still so much to be thankful for. This recent ranking by BusinessWeek Magazine is a testament to so many blessings we enjoy. The lake living lifestyle and our small towns’ charm make our quality of life second to none.  

 

We are excited that one of our towns was singled out as the Best of the Best. However, to the area resident who may live in Cornelius, shop in Huntersville, work in Mooresville, and go to church in Davidson – it is all one big community. Economic downturns and market corrections are never welcome although they are necessary in a capitalistic society.

 

 

The Lake Norman Chamber is committed to helping our businesses weather this storm and will continue to provide the training and networking opportunities to help market and promote a healthy business climate. We can take comfort that Lake Norman is a great place to be in a bad time. More importantly, good times and bad, our region is a shining beacon to all as a great place to live, work, and visit.

March 13, 2009 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , | Leave a comment