• Chamber Chat

    News from Executive Director, Laura P. Doster

    Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber Hitting its Stride

    With Strong, Engaged Leadership in Place, it's poised for a banner year ahead

    By Laura P. Doster
    Executive Director
    February 2020: It is difficult to believe it has almost been one year since I joined the Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge as your director.  Time flies when you're having as much fun as I'm having. 

    What a year it has been for your Chamber, and what year it is shaping up to be!

    Thanks to the efforts of a well-oiled committee, we closed out 2019 with another successful Holiday Gala, bringing into the Chamber's budget record-breaking net revenues of $23,000. The community's support of this long-running local's event is one important leg of the stool that ensures smooth operation of your Chamber.

    The year was full of many successful achievements, all thanks to our working board of directors, part-time and contracted staff, numerous volunteers, a supportive resident community, and a cadre of event committees that go above and beyond. (More on that below).

    Hickory Nut Gorge has a small population, but we are a dedicated and hard-working community of business owners, real estate professionals, non-profits, stakeholders, retirees, and municipal leaders.  As Chimney Rock Village Mayor Peter O'Leary recently said, "While we can survive alone – together we thrive!

    If you have not met your 2020 Board of Directors and Officers, they are:

    President, Crystal Morrison. Buddy Morrison Photography
    Vice President and Events Co-Chair, April Schick. April's Boutique & Chimney Rock Manor
    Treasurer, James Cain. Rumbling Bald Resort
    Secretary, Andrew Mize. Canopy Ridge Farms
    Directors:
    Teri Coutu – Chair Membership. Teric Enterprise Solutions, LLC
    Laura Krejci – Co-Chair Events/Economic Development. The Town of Lake Lure
    Jennifer Duncan. Carolina Trust Bank
    Thomas Keever. Lake Lure Classical Academy
    Howard Redmon. Cedar Creek Stables
    Diane Daneau. Marathon Builders
    Rick Stockdale. Myriad Women’s Health

    For an extended look at 2019 achievements and milestones, see below.  

    2019 Accomplishments

     

    Category

    Description

     

    2019

    Administrative/Office

    Job Descriptions for staff

     

    Hiring Executive Assistant - one employee 4 days/week

     

    Branded Presentation Templates

     

    ChamberMaster Training held with staff

     

    Editorial Calendar established

     

    Created "Dirty Dancing Merchandise Store" in Chamber offices

     

     

    Board of Director/Executive

    Definitive Committees w/Designated Chairpersons

     

    New Board Member Packages

     

    Hired Executive Director

     

    New Board Nomination Governance/Success

     

    Organization of Board - creating culture, "working" board vs "advisory" board

     

    First Nominating Committee established for election - high number of interested candidates

     

    Action plans established with Committees

     

    Governance Established - BOD Agenda/timeframe/Bylaw review/voting/absenteeism

     

    Community Leadership Alliance Committee formed - face to face meetings cadence with key decision makers of Gorge community leaders

     

    Budget Presentation to the Town 

    Economic Development

    Attendance of the NC Economic Development Workshop in Marion

     

    Moved Dirty Dancing Festival to September - 50% increase in sales for CRV

     

    Affinity Assisted Living Approved - groundbreaking, TBD.

     

    Chamber Presentation to Town

     

    Memorandum of Understanding established with the Town of Lake Lure for an additional $10,000 investment

     

    Established and Strengthening Relationship with Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce

     

    Attendance to Isothermal Housing Planning Session - trends and how to grow our "reasonable" housing segments

     

    Meeting with Appalachian Regional Planning Commission, (ARC) - Community Development Planning & Economic Development

     

    Promoting Lake Lure Rowing Club - facilitating introduction to ARC for funding opportunities

    Community Development

    Presentation to Rutherford County Mayors & Town Managers

     

    Community Development Chairperson established

     

    Comm Dev Brainstorming Sessions - 2 Saturday morning sessions with strong attendance

     

    Candidates Forum - 2 forums hosted and led by Chamber

     

    Joined & attended conferences for Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and Western North Carolina CACCE

     

    Attended 1st CACCE Fall Conference in Myrtle Beach

     

    Attended 1st WNC CACCE Fall Conference in Asheville

     

    Hosting WNC CACCE Spring Conference in the Gorge

     

     

    Membership Development

    Created Cheat Sheet & Website slicker - Membership Benefits

     

    Membership Services Chairperson

     

    New Member Packages created and implemented

     

    Improved Communication w/Membership

     

    Recharges all filled for 2019

     

    Annual Picnic Meeting held and presented financial YTD results

     

    Sent out Survey to Members on "wish list"

     

    One on One meetings with lost members - feedback

     

     

    Marketing/Social Media

    E-Newsletter - consistent delivery

     

    FB - consistent bi-weekly postings – increased engagement and followers

     

    Weekly condensed e-blast of upcoming events - higher open and click rate

     

    Articles in The Breeze, Daily Courier

     

    Coordinated itineraries for media fam visits from South Carolina and Florida

     

    The Gorge Online Calendar promoted and growing

     

    Mother's Day Giveaway's - WTZQ Campaign

     

    Seasonal press releases

    Events

    Sale on the Trail - largest ever

     

    Holiday Gala - record net revenues

     

    Dirty Dancing Festival - highest ticket sales/attendance - moved to shoulder season with positive impact to merchants

     

    Volunteer Program Chairperson established

     

     

    Finance/Budget

    Financial Team established, Budgets established and approved for 2020

     

    New Treasurer appointed - revamp of Treasurer's Report for monthly Board Meetings

     

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    The Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge - Your advocate and representative with Local Government

    Much of our work on behalf of our members or in the name of strengthening tourism and the local economy is slow, quiet work involving a lot of collaborative partners. One such partner is the Town of Lake Lure. Your Chamber and its board leadership are committed to having a seat at the table when it comes to the decisions and direction we all take to move the Gorge forward.

    That commitment is indeed collaborative, as the Town of Lake Lure is the largest financial stakeholder support that the Chamber has. We take this level of support seriously and understand that it means we work closely with the Town in identifying and executing together those initiatives and projects that will best benefit the citizens and visitors to our area.

    Over the next year, we will provide updates to our members on how we are specifically working with the Town on several economic development fronts.

    For now, you may wish to review our 2019 State of the Hickory Nut Gorge Chamber Presentation to the Town of Lake Lure, made earlier this year.