Russell’s Ramblings

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

Staying Afloat

The following column from Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bill Russell salutes the patience, perseverance, and promise of our regional business community as we face the pandemic of 2020.

Staying Afloat

Last month, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony opening the newly renovated Lake Norman YMCA. That day, as leaders of the YMCA talked about the hardship and challenges of a capital campaign during the wake of COVID-19, the most devastating physical and economic threat of our generation, each person referenced the hard work and commitment of volunteers, donors and staff.

In my comments to those who gathered to celebrate the accomplishment, I shared how the local YMCA was essentially my second home during the summers when I was a young boy. Even today, I vividly recall the pickup basketball games, practicing my hoops, and the hot summer days out by the pool.  Looking back, it is hard to believe I did that each day, Monday thru Friday, 9 to 5 until my dad picked me up after work.

Today, the debate rages about whether our schools will have virtual or in class learning.  Governor Cooper has ordered a new restrictive stay at home order going into effect this Friday for the hours of 10 pm until 5 am, which will largely impact our hospitality businesses. While I am most concerned about the impact this virus has had on the health of our families and friends, I also am reminded daily about the economic toll it has had on business and commerce. 

Perhaps no market segment has been hit harder than our hospitality, tourism, and fitness industries. When many could have just folded up – I am aware how our Lake Norman businesses stepped up to the plate. I was impressed last May as Vinay Patel from SREE Hospitality talked about how his hotels worked to keep his employees on board in the face of a dramatic downturn in occupancy.  Chef Wes Choplin with Choplin’s Restaurant created meals for kids in need of a hot lunch.  While his business and other local restaurants suffered under the pandemic, he took care of 700 area children each week. Simply spectacular!

Our Lake Norman YMCA had planned a massive capital campaign and major renovation to begin February 1, just weeks before we realized the devastation of this virus. The leadership of the YMCA rolled the dice, took a risk, and plunged head on into the renovations gambling that the facility would be ready for the start of camps this past summer. The generosity of Lake Norman residents and stakeholders was amazing as the YMCA raised $2 million dollars over the course of three years. Even more amazing was the fact they also served 437 campers this summer – all with appropriate COVID 19 guidelines being met from June 15 to August 14th.

While COVID is seeing spikes statewide, relief is just around the corner as vaccines have now been approved and front-line healthcare workers and the elderly may see distribution within the next week as Operation Warp Speed begins implementation. COVID 19 has been an insidious threat to our nation but it has brought out the best in our people – working together to help each other stay afloat during a rough and turbulent storm.  We have stared down a disease which knows no partisanship, religion, or race.

But one, which at the end of the day, will be beaten back.  The storm has not yet passed but the ravaging winds are subsiding and just over the horizon the sun waits to kiss the gentle waters and make calm the new day. I can see that day.  It’s just ahead.

Wishing health and happiness to you all.

Bill Russell

December 9, 2020 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Business of Politics

Russell thoughts 1

W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE, IOM

This month marks my 25th year with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce….a milestone from which to reflect on the past, but also look toward the future. Going through my files the other day, I found some letters we wrote to then N.C. Senator Fountain Odom in Raleigh years ago.
Most Chamber members join our association because of the many networking opportunities or for the chance to improve their marketing, management, or sales skills through our many seminars and programs. But a very important role the Lake Norman Chamber plays is being the voice of local businesses whether that’s at Town Hall, in Raleigh, or in the Halls of Congress.

In 1996, a group of our chamber members went to Raleigh to meet with Senator Odom regarding legislation he had sponsored. His bill would change the way our towns and cities annex. Our North Mecklenburg towns were opposed to the bill. While that may not sound like a business issue, the growth of our towns is very important to the overall vitality and health of our region. The chamber played, and still maintains, a key role in the economic well-being of the Lake Norman region.

It was my first trip to Raleigh and after a short wait we were escorted in to see the Senator. There was some small talk before we got down to the real reason we were there.  Senator Odom saw me looking at the beautiful ornate humidor sitting on his desk. He interrupted the Chamber Board Chair, Scott Lawrence, then opened the box and asked if we smoked. Indicating that we did smoke cigars on occasion, the Senator offered each of us a cigar, and took one for himself. He then leaned back in his chair, clipped the end of the cigar, and lit it up to my astonishment.

“Are you going to smoke that in here sir?” I asked, rather aghast. Senator Odom replied, “Son, this is Raleigh and North Carolina was built on tobacco.”

Senator Odom then asked if we were aware he had sponsored the Bill in question. “Yes sir,” I replied.  Odom took a few puffs on his cigar and with a glint in his eye said, “Boys, don’t worry.  That bill has been sent down to the rules committee where it will stay parked till we adjourn.” His language was clear – the bill would die in committee. Senator Odom sponsored legislation that pleased one group of supporters and had his own Bill sent to die in committee to take care of the other side.  In the end, nothing happened.

As we were walking back down the hallway, Charles Knox, our Chamber’s public policy chair at the time, looked at me and said, “Welcome to Raleigh.”

Over the course of the last 25 years, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has become very effective in advocating for our members. I could cite hundreds of cases where our chamber’s voice helped this region….whether it was assisting local businesses with zoning issues, overturning the county’s faulty property tax reval a few years ago, or bringing new health care facilities our classrooms our way. Statehouse Rediced

We successfully lobbied for new schools and expanded roads and stood up to Bond Packages which did not support our community. The Lake Norman Chamber led an effort to get a multi-jurisdictional transportation access management study when that type of study had never been commissioned before. We were able to get road improvements that had been denied to one of our towns by NC DOT.

But it’s the lesson I learned early from a freshman NC House Member I will always cherish the most.

On another visit to Raleigh, Representative Drew Saunders told us the greatest lesson he had ever learned was, “Never burn a bridge – whether that’s in business or politics! The person on the other side of the issue today could be one of your biggest allies’ tomorrow.”

In some respect Raleigh, much like Lake Norman has changed quite a bit in 25 years. Tobacco may have built North Carolina but it’s been replaced by finance and technology. But some of the games played decades ago are still going on, and not just in our state capital, but in Washington DC as well.

As we cross the bridge into our next decade, I am quite confident of one thing though – working hard, working smart and working together there is nothing that we cannot accomplish. Happy 2020!

Bill Russell

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Growing Pains” – Lake Norman Chamber May Message to the Membership

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to appear on a special Town Hall version of WFAE’s Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. The event, held at CPCC – Merancas Campus, featured our Town Managers, Transportation Planners, NC DOT staff, and Mayors.

The Charlotte Talks program was a discussion on issues ranging from transportation, and education to affordable housing and the pressing need for a magistrate in North Mecklenburg.

Pic c Charlotte-TalksNCDOT’s Scott Cole and Huntersville Transportation Planner Bill Coxe discussed the nearly half billion dollars in approved transportation projects planned for Huntersville, Davidson, and Cornelius and the improvements which will be made to our east- west arteries: Gilead Road, Sam Furr (NC Hwy 73), and Catawba Avenue.

Both pointed out with the improvements to other secondary roads, alternative modes of transportation such as Bus Rapid Transit, Rail, and Bike Paths, and the soon to be opened Managed Lanes – we could see congestion relief.

When Mike Collins asked me directly, what is the message I convey to businesses interested in locating to the Lake Norman region?  I could have taken on the role of cheerleader and sugar coated the issue.  I chose not to do that.

Instead, I responded that I-77 is the “Most Critical Issue” facing our lake communities and the aforementioned projects and alternative means of transportation will not dig us out of the hole we are making when it comes to our diminished quality of life and negative economic impact the Managed Lanes will ensure.

The Toll Lanes will not solve our congestion issue – they will guarantee it! 

As a Chamber of Commerce, we will continue to advocate that the project be finished, and the state buy out the contract and convert one of the proposed Managed Lanes to a Free General-Purpose Lane.  In the meantime, we must harden the shoulders of I-77 and provide additional General-Purpose (Free) lanes which could be used during peak driving times.

Some critics and toll road supporters have likened the efforts of our grass root opposition to tolls as foolhardy, wasted effort, or simply a belief in fairytales. Well, count me as one of the many who still believe in Fairytales!

Neil Gaiman, an English Author said, “Fairytales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

We do have a great many dragons facing us as we grow: our transportation challenges, overcrowded schools, affordable housing for our teachers, police, and firemen  – all critical to our basic needs as a community.

However, these are all challenges which come from growth.  I don’t think any of us would rather live in a region that is stagnant and dying such as a rural community that lacks the basic infrastructure to support business and industry.  It would be devastating to live in a community like that where children leave when they graduate from school on a quest to find employment in a different community that is vibrant and growing.

Each of us have a responsibility to leave our community better than we found it. That is our charge and by Working Hard, Working Smart, and Working Together – we will slay those dragons.  They can be beaten. Quite simply, it is the responsibility we owe to the generation who succeed us and we cannot settle for anything less.

Bill Russell

Picture:   Mike Collins and Doug Boraks of WFAE along with Chamber President Bill Russell on the Town Hall Edition of Charlotte Talks. Photo Courtesy of Ellen Stafford, LKNConnect.com

May 9, 2019 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Transportation & Road Improvement, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Legacy We Leave

Career

Jeffrey Johnson, a student at Hough and one of our Future Business Leaders of America, is going to be a strong force in the business world.

Incentives and rewards are important to drive people beyond what they thought was achievable. As I write this column, athletes who have trained all of their lives, are competing for the Gold in the Winter Olympics. Imagine if you can, any sport without a championship or the workplace without an opportunity for a “bonus.” We are a competitive society that likes to win and we strive to be recognized as the “Best of the Best” among our peers.

This past month, while attending a Davidson Town Board Meeting, I had the opportunity to thank Commissioner Jim Fuller for his term of service on the Lake Norman Chamber Board. Jim had missed the Annual Banquet when we recognized other Chamber Board Members, and those who have gone the extra mile, with plaques recognizing their achievements and service to our community.

Mayor Rusty Knox quipped, “That will look really nice among all your other awards Jim.” Mayor Knox, like many of the visitors to Jim’s office, have seen the recognitions and plaques that speak boldly of Commissioner Fuller’s legacy of leadership.

I read a story once about a man named James Dobson whose goal it was to become his school’s tennis champion. He felt proud when the school placed his trophy prominently in the school’s glass trophy cabinet for all to see. Years later, someone mailed him the trophy. They had found it in a trash bin when the school was remodeled. Dobson realized, “Given enough time, all your trophies and plaques will be discarded by someone else.”

As I look up on the walls of my own office, with its array of plaques and pictures, there is a small silver plaque presented to me by the Future Business Leaders of America. The plaque is a recognition of our support of Hough High School’s Career Days.

Pic 2 Career

2017 Pine Lake Prep Career Day  

“Career Day” is an opportunity for business owners, managers, professionals, and employees to counsel and advise young people as they look to post-secondary education or perhaps to enter the workforce at graduation from High School.

This month the Lake Norman Education Collaborative, Economic Development Corporation, Visit Lake Norman and Chamber will work with Pine Lake Prep, Hough, and Hopewell High Schools to host Career Days and Speed Networking Events with students. Information on these events can be found on the Chamber’s website at LakeNormanChamber.org.

The two or three hours spent with a student could be that spark that ignites their career. One morning or an afternoon’s gesture may impact a lifetime.

Commissioner Fuller chuckled for a second at Mayor Knox’s statement. Then I watched as Jim silently sat down the plaque, gazed across the crowd and began to thank the businesses and volunteers who work hand in hand with our town to make the community a great place to live and work.

He, like many other servant leaders understand well, it’s not what we receive for being the best – but what we become by doing it.

We have within our ability the opportunity to prepare the future generation with the insight, skills, and confidence to build on the foundation we have built working hard, working smart, and working together.

What some may fail to realize is all of the achievements will eventually be surpassed, all of the records broken, and most of the reputations will eventually fade from memory. However, the lives we touch along the way and the difference we make in leaving this place better than we found it, will not!  And that is the legacy we leave.

Bill Russell

Check the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce website at www.lakenormanchamber.org for area Career Days and Education Events.

April 5, 2018 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Lake Norman Chamber Education Collaborative | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lots to be thankful for!

Last weekend, a longtime friend called to inform me she was moving to Colorado and hoped we could get together again before she made that trek out west.

Jill was one of the first people I met at the lake when I took over the helm of the Chamber in 1996. She and I could not have been more different in our political philosophies. She was a diehard progressive and I was clearly a conservative when it came to my beliefs and values. Yet, our love of the Lake Norman community and the potential of this region transcended our partisan differences.

jayceesAs a reporter for the only newspaper in the area at the time, Jill and I were both involved in many of the milestone events for our area, such as the groundbreaking of the “New” Exit 25 on I-77 and the grand opening of Birkdale. Since she also served as president of the Lake Norman Jaycees and was active in both the Chamber and Rotary, she and I interacted a great deal over two decades.

As we sat together on her last weekend in town, we lamented how partisan, bitter, and angry politics have turned both nationwide and locally. Ironically, we also both remarked how glad we are that it will soon come to an end – at least until next fall! We spent the next two hours reminiscing friends we have lost here at the lake and celebrating how things have grown and prospered since we first met over 20 years ago.

As we started to say our goodbyes, almost on cue – a beautiful Lake Norman sunset burned brightly in the sky above The Port City Club. We watched as the sun slowly sank below the cool waters, glistening orange and yellow as the day gave way, surrendering to twilight.

We hugged one last time and she left for her new life out west. Driving home, I was reminded that during this season of Thanksgiving, how very fortunate and thankful I am to all of the many people like Jill who have profoundly shaped our community and my life. And, how much better the Lake Norman region is because of these remarkable individuals. I am also very thankful that unemployment is down, our local real estate market is thriving, and commerce is strong. The chamber continues to introduce new businesses to the Lake Norman market, engage new members and benefit from the immense dedication of our volunteers. For these things, we are immensely grateful!

Recently, the Chamber held a Public Safety Luncheon where we saluted our local Police, Fire, and First Responders for keeping our families and businesses safe. While riots and protests ensued just a few miles down the road, our communities were safe! For that and for the services this special group provides each day, we should all be relieved and thankful!

We also celebrate the growth of our Lake Norman Chamber Young Professionals who celebrate their second anniversary this month! This group is growing as we see more and more young adults get involved in their community. America can feel the power of her young people and nowhere is that more evident than Lake Norman.ed-collab

Last month, we called on local businesses to help our Lake Norman Education Collaborative and you responded recognizing the need for businesses to partner with our public education. Thank you!

While I am thankful the campaign season is coming to a close – I am also very grateful to the men and women who both serve and those who seek political office.

As I watched Jill walk away, it occurred to me sometimes it’s the smallest of things and the people who have touched your life you cherish most of all. You may not remember all they said, perhaps not all they did, but you remember how they made you feel and the impact they have had on your life.  It really is a lot to be thankful for.

 

 

December 20, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches, Politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce – The Regional Approach to Business

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Earlier this month I wrote a column for Business Today on the regional approach the lake Norman Chamber of Commerce takes to small business development and growth for our business members in Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius and the greater lake Norman region.

Recently I had the chance to watch the sun set over our beautiful Lake Norman. The bright orange skyline kissed the rippling waters. Teased by the wind, it skipped across the expanse that touched my soul and I was reminded of a passage in a book by Norman Maclean that read “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

In the early 1980s, long before I joined the Lake Norman Chamber, my mom moved to Huntersville. I was struck on my first visit to North Meck with the rural country side. Considered a suburb of Charlotte, Huntersville was largely pastureland. Cornelius, just to the north, was a former mill town and surprisingly the real population seemed to reside in the little college town of Davidson.

Before the end of that decade, Huntersville businessman John Cherry would share a vision of what we could accomplish as a region by creating what was known at the time as the North Mecklenburg Chamber. The Chamber was composed of businesses in Huntersville, Davidson, and Cornelius with Town Board representation by all three towns. John created an opportunity for businesses to network and support each other. The organization quickly grew with the population, as did it’s greater voice in the county and state.

In 1996, I was hired to serve as the Chamber’s president and one of the primary challenges we faced was the shortage of classroom space. North Mecklenburg High School had the largest enrollment of any school in the state. Yet, Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board Members refused to acknowledge the desperate need for a new High School in north end of the county.

I still vividly recall a group from the Chamber going to a CMS meeting to passionately advocating for the new school. We orchestrated the collective voice of the towns, community, and business leaders and through determination and a commitment to our kids, we were successful in getting Hopewell High built.

Soon we saw our communities begin to grow together.  Folks living in Huntersville, working in Cornelius, employing staff from Denver and Mooresville, and shopping in Davidson. The name of the Chamber was changed to reflect our more regional identity – Lake Norman – but our commitment remained steadfast in our roots to North Mecklenburg.

The Chamber stretched its ability to advocate for business when we successfully lobbied for an access management study for Hwy 73. The NC DOT countered such an undertaking had never been done. It took the collaborative efforts of three chambers, three counties, and several municipalities but it resulted in what is known today as the Highway 73 Council of Planning.

It was the Lake Norman Chamber that first brought the three North Mecklenburg towns together at quarterly dinner meetings to share ideas and opportunities. That process evolved into four towns as Mooresville was invited to join.

The Lake Norman Chamber also gave birth to two other outstanding organizations serving our region – Visit Lake Norman and the Lake Norman Economic Development Corporation. Both were initiatives of the chamber. Community leaders recognized the unbridled opportunities when you partner the towns together with the chamber of commerce.

John Cherry told me that it was difficult early on to recognize the sum of parts was greater than anything we could have accomplished on our own. Even today, almost three decades later, some think that progress means going back to where we started – working separately, rather than together. I think the past thirty years prove that is not the sound strategy. When we work hard, work smart, and work together, there is no limit to what we can accomplish for our communities, commerce, and citizens. The Lake Norman Chamber has indeed been a catalyst to bring our communities together and accomplish so much that each could not have done independently. We have grown our business community and we are working to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Standing on that dock, watching another day end and a new one set to take its place, I realized our North Mecklenburg communities have indeed merged into one.

Eventually, the vision has become reality and the energy and passion of our people run through it.

Bill Russell
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Special Message to the Membership from 2016 Chamber Chair Callan Bryan

 

Callan BryanLake Norman Chamber Members:

2016 is off to a great start for business in our region and I am excited about what lies ahead for our Chamber during my tenure as your 2016 Chamber Chairman of the Board of Directors. As we are charting the course for the future of our Chamber, I believe it is important to understand the foundation of our strong organization.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce was chartered by the State of North Carolina in June 1989 as the North Mecklenburg Chamber of Commerce and whose stated purpose is “The advancement of the civic, commercial, industrial, and agricultural interests of the North Mecklenburg area, and the surrounding territory; the promotion of the general welfare and prosperity of the North Mecklenburg area and its surrounding territory, and the stimulation of public sentiment to these ends…”

In addition, our Charter Bylaws under which the Chamber was incorporated, defined our area: (Article I section 3) “The Lake Norman area shall include the Towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and the greater Lake Norman area.” To this end, our Chamber has, since its inception, included a Town Board Representative from each of the three North Mecklenburg Towns.

Could Founding Chairman John Cherry have created chambers of commerce in each town rather than a more united regional chamber? Yes, he could have. However, Mr. Cherry and the founding members realized our business members could achieve a great deal more working together than individually. This regional model and approach has significantly benefited our businesses and served our communities in a unified way during a period of extraordinary growth.

As you may know, The Lake Norman Chamber was recently recognized for its impressive community service and business related programs and events by being named Chamber of The Year for North and South Carolina.  Our award winning level of regional service will continue as we fulfill our mission of unparalleled representation of the businesses of Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and the greater Lake Norman region.

Our Chamber is committed to maintaining its role in the fabric and growth of the Huntersville community and the Lake Norman area.  We are the Huntersville Chamber, we are the Cornelius Chamber, we are the Davidson Chamber, we are the Chamber for our neighboring lake communities, and we have been for almost 30 years. We are your Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Callan H. Bryan

2016 Chairman of the Board of Directors

Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce

February 19, 2016 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Join the biggest social networking event on the links

Lake Norman Chamber’s Fall Captain’s Choice Classic – Oct 15th at River Run

Another year has passed and it is again time for the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Annual Golf Tournament.  This year is building up to be one of the best outings we have ever hosted.  We will be holding the tournament on October 15th at River Run Country Club and are expecting a full field of participants.  This private course is currently getting a make-over.  All of the greens are being replaced and the sand-traps and bunkers are being reshaped and worked over as well.  Renovations will be completed at the end of September so the course should be in outstanding shape for the tournament. 

It will again be a captain’s choice event with an 11 am shotgun start, but this year we have added multiple contests to give the players more opportunities to walk away with some great prizes.  “Our past tournaments have been great so this year we challenged ourselves to host a tournament that will be truly exceptional”, said Mike Russell Chairman of the Chamber Golf Tournament.  “We wanted to pack as much value as possible into this event and I think we’ve accomplished that.”  Some of the enhancements are a $20,000 Putting Contest, sponsored by Wells Fargo, and a $5,000 Chipping Contest, sponsored by BB&T Bank in Davidson.  This year every player will get a chance to participate in these contests for no additional charge.  There will also be two (2) Hole-in-one contests this year with the prizes being a trip to the 2013 ESPY Awards and a trip to the 2013 Masters.

Mike Russell

The Chamber has added all of these new prize opportunities and more to the event while lowering the player costs.  Individuals can register for $140 and foursomes are $560.  For this the players get a round of golf with cart, box lunch on the course and dinner after the round.  They also will receive a golf shirt complements of McIntosh Law Firm, 2 sleeves of golf balls courtesy of Piedmont Natural Gas and National Financial Services Group and a 3-day resort travel voucher without a timeshare presentation requirement valued at $600.

The value isn’t limited to just the players.  To recognize and thank each of the sponsors for helping us put this event together, every sponsor will receive a Pin Flag with their logo on it.  Sponsorships are still available.  To register as a player or become a sponsor, contact Brett Zabek (Zabek@lakenorman.org) at the Lake Norman Chamber.

September 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North Mecklenburg’s Night Out is a Huge Success

Cornelius Assistant Town Manager Andrew Grant at the Huntersville Night Out

Local citizens turned out in mass in Huntersville at the National Night Out organized by the Huntersville Police Department.  Parking at Birkdale Village was scarce as parents attended with their children as they played games and sampled goodies from the vendors.  While Birkdale Village was packed, there was also a very good turn out in both Davidson and Cornelius as residents, at Roosevelt Wilson Park and Jetton Village respectively, had an opportunity to meet their public safety officers and find out more about safety awareness and crime prevention.

 National Night Out is billed as an event to give “Neighborhood Crime & Drugs” a going away party.  Our local Crime Stoppers Chapter had a presence at all three venues as they handed out literature on how to make our neighborhoods safer.  I was impressed by the community and business support of the events as local restaurants like The Brickhouse Tavern in Davidson, Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails in Cornelius, and Chik-fil-A at Northcross provided much of the free food.

 Local civic organizations, health care providers, and businesses were also well represented in the family event.  While the sky remained overcast for much of the evening and actually dampened the tail end of the Cornelius event, the participants all enjoyed a great evening socializing with our local law enforcement, learning more about how we as citizens can work together to make a safer community, while generally having an awesome time.  A special thanks to all the local law enforcement officers and volunteers who made National Night Out such a success in all three communities!

On Thursday, October 18th, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will have our opportunity to formally say thank you with a salute to our public safety officers at an annual luncheon which recognizes the Public Safety Officer of the Year from each police and fire department as well as North Mecklenburg Rescue Squad and the Crime Stopper of the Year. 

Davidson Town Manager Leamon Brice with Crime Stopper President Tommy Davis

National Night Out is a great community event for the towns of the Lake Norman region.  Creating a “safe” community does not happen by accident.  We are fortunate to have dedicated public servants keeping a watchful eye on our communities – both those who are employed by the towns and those who volunteer.  Their commitment, hard work, and selfless service are what make our community a great place to live, work, and visit.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Social Causes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Social Causes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment