Russell’s Ramblings

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

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 | Uncategorized, Chamber of Commerce, Politics, Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycee) Speeches | , , , , , , , , | 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

Our Community Journey – Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of The Herald Newspaper (Lake Norman, NC)

The following column ran in the March 1, 2012 issue of The Herald Weekly celebrating the paper’s tenth anniversary.

Our Community Journey     
 
 

Bill Russell speaking to Tucker Mitchell at the 2007 Business Expo

Just over ten years ago, Tucker Mitchell, Editor and Associate Publisher with The Leader Newspaper met with me at the offices of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce to discuss a new business venture.  Mitchell was considering the creation of a newspaper which could capture the spirit of “community and place” he felt was lacking by the media covering North Mecklenburg at the time.

Sitting across from me as we enjoyed our coffee, he asked confidentially could the Town of Huntersville and its growing business community support such a venture.  “On its own,” I replied,  “probably not.  However, if you include the growth and potential in Cornelius and Davidson, absolutely.”   I am certain Tucker had already reached that conclusion before meeting with me and months later The Huntersville Herald was born.  Today, The Herald Weekly and its spinoff publications in Mountain Island Lake, Denver and Mooresville reach an estimated market of  56,000 people.

 In 2006, Mitchell was recognized as the Robert T. Cashion Business Person of the Year for his vision and investment in our Lake Norman communities. The creation of a regional newspaper tying our communities together was another step in our journey which began more than two decades ago with the founding of the Chamber.

Nine of the Lake Norman Chamber Chairmen 1987 to 1999

The Lake Norman Chamber, which is also celebrating a twenty-fifth anniversary this year, had its start as the North Mecklenburg Chamber.  Business leaders in the late 1980’s were frustrated with the lack of representation within the Mecklenburg County governance structure.  They also saw a need to create a sense of identity.  Business and elected leaders in the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville did not want to be “just” a suburb or bedroom community to Charlotte although each benefited greatly from its proximity to the Queen City. That sense of place, which had been lacking, took hold when water and sewer lines were extended to the lake.  The Chamber’s leadership pushed for representation on the county’s watershed committee and began actively participating in the community plans which led to the town’s land development codes impacting business and commerce.

In front of the main stage at the 1998 LakeFest

The Chamber organized a regional fall festival – NorthFest, which became LakeFest, and after a 10 year run it became simply too successful as we outgrew the Jetton Park facilities.  LakeFest galvanized our rapidly growing business and civic communities with numerous new neighborhoods and new families.       

While its full impact would not be felt for another decade, the Chamber pushed for equal distribution of hospitality taxes, hotel and prepared meals taxes, which now generate approximately $3.2 million of which $1.6 is returned to the North Mecklenburg towns.  The Chamber, in the first of two public-private partnerships, launched the creation of Visit Lake Norman which is responsible today for generating events totaling $19 million in FY2011 and 54,844 visitors at 72 events.  That visitors spending saved every household in Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville $315.91 last year in taxes it would otherwise have to pay in property taxes were it not for travel and tourism.

In the summer of 2002, the Lake Norman Chamber contracted with the economic development consultant firm of Leak-Goforth to create a strategic plan for primary job creation and a blueprint for economic development efforts in North Mecklenburg. The results of which was another successful partnership between the towns, the chamber, and the business community in the creation of today’s Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation.

So what is the most significant contribution of the Chamber over 25 years?  I asked that question of one of the Chamber’s early founders and former Cornelius Town Mayor Gary Knox. His response – “Regionalism!” “We practiced regionalism when “regionalism” was just another word.  Our kids went to North Meck High in Huntersville. We might live in Cornelius, work in Huntersville, and go to church in Davidson,” said Knox.  “The Chamber was the thread that stitched together the fabric of our community and in everything we did – we did it recognizing we had to support each other and work together.”  

Lake Norman Chamber

Politics in the Park

 Lake Norman is a great place to live, work, and visit.  However, just as the generation of business and elected leaders worked to build a solid foundation for our success, we still have ways to go before we rest.    We need more classroom space, employment opportunities for our citizens, and lake access for public swimming.  North Mecklenburg must have a magistrate, improved transportation infrastructure, and a balanced tax structure between business and commerce and our residential tax base.

 This year marks a celebration in the life of a community newspaper and a regional chamber of commerce.  It also serves as a daily reminder that the only limitations we have – are those we impose upon ourselves.  
 
W.E. “Bill” Russell, CCE IOM
President & CEO
 
Bill Russell is the President & CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with approximately 900 members serving the business community of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and the greater Lake Norman region.

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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 Citizen Newspaper – Letter to the Editor

The following Letter to the Editor was written and appeared in the April 16th issue of the Lake Norman Citizen in regards to an article which appeared April 9, 2010 “Rebranding talk: Is the ‘lake’ history.”

Dear Editor,

Bill Russell

Last week’s article in The Lake Norman Citizen cited discussion among some community leaders about the most appropriate regional brand for the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and Mooresville communities.  These community leaders cited the ULI’s recent recommendations to revise our use of “The North Corridor,” to be more inclusive of Charlotte, as a mandate to revise our regional brand.  As a member of the Lake Norman Transportation Commission, I believe the most compelling recommendation of the committee was to continue our collaboration, inclusiveness and regional cooperation.
I have been fortunate to serve as the president of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce since 1996.  During my tenure, I have witnessed our evolution as a dynamic and diverse region. I believe there are three significant catalysts for our unprecedented growth and prosperity:
• Our proximity to Charlotte provides us with the arts and cultural resources that are the foundation for our excellent quality of life, and the Queen City’s corporate and business district is the heart of our economic engine.

• Our transportation resources such as Interstates 77 and 85, along with Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, serve as the arteries which are critical to sustain our economic health and quality of life.  Other Charlotte neighboring communities have the aforementioned resources, yet they have not quite enjoyed our economic vitality.  So what’s the missing ingredient? The lake!

• Lake Norman is Charlotte’s lake.  It is our lake.  It is more than the 520 miles of majestic shoreline on 32,510 acres. It is a region recognized as the best in business by Site Selection Magazine (Mooresville).  It has received accolades from Business Week as one of the Best Affordable Suburbs in the Country (Cornelius and Huntersville).  It is home to one of the nation’s finest liberal arts colleges.  Our lake is recognized by sports and recreation enthusiasts as among the best lakes in the country.  However, to many of us, it is simply the place we call home.

The Park Huntersville Aerial

I am reminded of the words of President John F. Kennedy, and I paraphrase — Those who look only to the past, or present, are sure to miss the opportunities of the future. —  Lake Norman is that future.   The article also cited Davidson residents who questioned whether an association with the lake was prudent in a proposed branding for the Town of Davidson.  I attended that meeting and was astounded when another resident questioned whether Davidson College should also be deleted from the new campaign.  The Town of Davidson distancing itself from Davidson College is as absurd as claiming residents of Huntersville do not recreate or benefit from Lake Norman.

Lake Norman is the common bond that ties our communities together. It is a great place to live, visit and grow your business.  The real strength of our community is the ability to see past the municipal and county boundaries that can become limitations for some.  However, the only real limitations are those we impose upon ourselves.

We will continue to grow and prosper because we understand that by working hard, working smart, and working together, there is simply no limit to what we can accomplish as a region!

— Bill Russell, CCE

Bill Russell is the President and CEO of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with 1,100 members in the Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, and greater Lake Norman region.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | Chamber of Commerce | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Passing Thoughts on the Political Scene

Flag electionAs Bruce Springsteen – “The Boss” – was strumming on stage at Time Warner Cable Arena, anxious politicians and supporters were glued to laptops and television screens watching the results of Tuesday’s election results trickle in, precinct by precinct.  While the region will see two new mayors in Charlotte and Mooresville, for the most part voters returned incumbents to continue the job they were doing.  In Huntersville, a conservative seat on the board was filled by a newcomer to the political scene, but one whose conservative views may very well match those of her predecessor.

Cornelius saw the three incumbents returned to continue their public service and were joined by two experienced planning board members who may again closely match the experience and progressive vision the former commissioners share.  Certainly, in neither Huntersville nor Cornelius, will there be a major shift in the course the towns have been headed when it comes to land planning and zoning decisions.

The parity in the elections of Huntersville and Mooresville’s Mayoral contests show just how split the towns may well be in what voters are seeking from their chief elected official.  While the political philosophies in Huntersville could not be more stark in Brian Sisson and Jill Swain, the electorate was almost evenly split in the closest election I can certainly recall in that community. In Mooresville, only 16 votes separated incumbent Mayor Bill Thunberg from challenger Chris Montgomery.  That race centered on fiscal policies – the same issue in which Sisson and Swain were most sharply contrasted.

In the election of our regions’ Mayors – Anthony Fox, Jill Swain, and Chris Montgomery – all three find themselves edging out their opponent with less than 2% separating them from their challenger. (Mayors Tarte and Woods were unopposed.)  Each needs to examine carefully the philosophies, views, and talents from their challenger that the public embraced.  It will not come natural, but they should try to seize on those traits and beliefs in which nearly half their community supported and work to build a strong team and consensus on their board.

It will be much easier in Davidson where the two political newcomers already embrace much of the philosophical direction of their predecessors based on the feedback we heard in the Chamber’s candidate forums last month.  Matthew 22:14 states, “Many are called, few are chosen…”  Last evening, some very good people were elected to lead our communities. Some other very good people were not.  Such is politics.  Few are actually given the opportunity to serve.sunrise

In the hands of that chosen few lay our unbridled opportunities.  Let us hope they put aside the challenges which distract them from the good they can do and capitalize on the strengths that will help us all reach our potential as a region.  Let us work together to build a community and region so compassionate and strong that the generation coming behind us say of us later, they gave their absolute best…

And let us not dare fail in that task.

 

November 4, 2009 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment