• Chamber Chat

    The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  Martin Luther King Jr.

    In both good and challenging times, it remains the Chamber’s privilege and mission to serve you

    By Laura P. Doster
    Executive Director

    April 2020: The Chamber of Hickory Nut Gorge, its leadership, staff, and board of directors are working relentlessly during this unprecedented time in our history from the global COVID-19 pandemic.  We will stay the course to continue finding ways to keep you informed and supported.  The following are a few examples of what we have been doing:


    • Providing resources to our small businesses for financial relief such as the Small Business Administration’s new COVID-19 guidelines and advances

    • Sending links about the latest unemployment guidelines and grant offerings to employees who have lost their jobs

    • Participating in calls with the state, county, and local governments to ensure your Gorge has a voice

    • Hosting calls with small leadership groups to help us stay connected

    • Posting factual and urgent information via e-mail blasts and the Chamber’s Facebook page

    • Working closely with the US, Carolina and Western North Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives – sharing ideas, best practices, resources

    • Creating a gift card campaign for local restaurants and retailers with 100 percent of the revenues going to the merchants.

    • Creating a COVID-19 tab to our website with crucial resource links, local hours, NC Updates, & Rutherford County Updates

    • Researching the creation of a community fund to financially support the local small businesses that do not meet SBA guidelines

    Information changes minute-by-minute as we continue our best efforts to disseminate the information.  

    From a personal perspective

     During this time, retreating should not be our course of action during this pandemic.  That may be difficult to understand, especially since we are told to stay in our homes. We are isolated, and many are alone.

    Nevertheless, consider that instead of retreating, take a moment to reflect and then rally.  Reflect on what behaviors we can each change, what actions can we take under our current executive orders or mandates, and how do we change our mindset.  How can we rally together as we did for the flood, the fire, the mudslides, and the ice storm?  What can we do to rally around our front-line soldiers – medical personnel, nurses, doctors, truck drivers/deliveries, EMT, grocery store workers, pharmacy employees, and firefighters?

    Since we cannot be together in person or groups, we can do this with TECHNOLOGY!   The resources are limitless, and most are free. Zoom conference calls, Skype, Twitter, U-Tube, Instagram, Google, House-party, Facebook, smartphone cameras, e-mail, and LinkedIn, just to name a few.   You only need a computer or a smartphone.  If you do not know how to use these resources, reach out to someone who does. And if you have skills in this area, then help someone else learn.  Use these tools and resources to share a great story or create an online store for a non-essential retailer. Post an inspiring video, request help, or establish a prayer group.  Start a sewing group to make needed items, encourage one another, host church,  or search for available funds, and share it. Post a beautiful picture of nature or say thank you to someone.  Technology is a fantastic mechanism that does connect us and connects us quickly.  Start doing something today; it will make a difference.

    In closing, even though we do not all think the same, may not agree on everything, and may even get prickly with each other from time to time, it does not matter.  At the end of the day, we are an amazing, beautiful, and caring community.  We are a place of tolerance, grit, hard work, faith, beauty, love, and kindness.  How we come together during this event looks a bit different.  But we are together in this, and together will we prevail, heal, and come out better on the other side. 

    Stay safe, everyone. Stay well. Stay positive. Stay connected.  

  • 2019 achievements and milestones:  2019 achievements and milestones:

    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
    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
    Financial Team established, Budgets established and approved for 2020
    New Treasurer appointed - revamp of Treasurer's Report for monthly Board Meetings