Lake Norman Chamber Legislative Newsletter – June 29, 2011

Bill Russell, CCE IOM

Chamber members and stakeholders

Carolinas HealthCare to Present Information on Planned Facility for Huntersville – Thursday, June 30 3:00 pm at the Chamber

 The Lake Norman Chamber invites any interested Chamber member to attend a special Public Policy Meeting of the Chamber to hear information on plans to build a 44-bed behavioral health hospital in Huntersville.  The meeting will be held Thursday, June 30th at 3:00 pm in the Randy Marion Conference Room.

 Carolinas HealthCare System has submitted a Certificate of Need application to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which, according to CHS, will help address the growing demand in the community for inpatient beds for behavioral health patients and ease the overcapacity at CMC-Randolph.  DHHS plans to hold a public hearing on CHS’s CON application on July 14, 2011, at 12:30 p.m. at the Government Center in Charlotte.

 Del Murphy, Vice President, Planning and Market Development for Carolinas HealthCare System will speak on the issue.  Our members are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion.

 Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx addresses Chamber in July

The QueenCity’s Mayor will make his first appearance with the Lake Norman Business community with a luncheon held, Thursday, July 21, at 11:45 at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville.  Mayor Foxx will address how the planned 2017 PGA Championship and the 2012 Democratic Nation Convention will elevate the Charlotte region’s national presence, aid in our economic development and stimulate commerce, and position Charlotte as a destination for travel and tourism.  The announcements are already impacting conference and convention bookings by the CRVA.  Register for the PowerLuncheon here or call the Chamber at 704-892-1922.

Final Thoughts

This past March, hotel owners / managers and officials with our Convention and Visitors Bureau asked for the Chamber’s assistance regarding a funding challenge with travel and tourism taxes.  This issue, which has been discussed and reported about at length by the media over the last few months, has now been settled by legislation in Raleigh.  The Chamber, which is often looked upon as the voice of business, is certainly an advocate of our own membership and we took a strong position supporting the nineteen hotels and more than fifty restaurants who are members of our Chamber.

The funding of Visit Lake Norman is also one of our position statements in our 2011 Legislative Agenda developed by our Public Policy Committee and approved by our Chamber Board of Directors.  That being said, with the funding now settled, it will be up to the officials with Visit Lake Norman and the elected officials of the three North Mecklenburg towns to agree on an Interlocal Agreement.  The agreement discusses how the organization is to be governed and how the towns and Visit LKN will work together to market our region attracting events which bring dollars to our local economy.

The last couple of months of political posturing before the passage of the legislation and the ensuing fallout has left some with bruised egos, hurt feelings, and perhaps mistrust – on both sides.  It certainly is the hope of the Chamber that we can put much of this behind us as quickly as possible to move our community and region forward.

While that may seem difficult, I am reminded of a striking scene of the 1970’s at the funeral of former U.S. Vice President Hubert Humphrey.  Seated next to Humphrey’s wife was former U.S. President Richard Nixon, a long time political adversary of Humphrey and a man who disgraced himself through his own words and actions.  Vice President Humphrey had asked that Nixon be accorded this seat of honor.

Three days before Humphrey passed away, Jesse Jackson visited him in the hospital.  Humphrey told Jackson that he had just phoned Nixon.  Rev. Jackson, understanding their past relationship and often bitter words, asked why.  Here’s what Humphrey had to say:

VP Humphrey

“From this vantage point, with the sun setting in my life, all of the speeches, the political conventions, the crowds, and the great fights are behind me.  At a time like this you are forced to deal with your irreducible essence, forced to grapple with what is really important, and what I have concluded about life is that when all is said and done, we must forgive each other, redeem each other, and move on.”

We have much to be thankful for as business owners, employees, citizens, and elected officials. Lake Norman is a great place to live, work and visit – and rather than focus on what we perceive as slights and shortcomings – we as community and business leaders have a responsibility to focus on what makes us a great community.  We achieved much of our success by working together as a region.  Humphrey’s sentiment reminds us all that our future is filled with unbridled opportunity as long as we work hard, work smart, and work together!   

I hope everyone has an outstanding 4th with your family and friends and as always, have a great day at the lake!

Lake Norman Chamber Legislative e-Brief

Carolinas HealthCare To Present Information On Planned Facility For Huntersville

The Lake Norman Chamberinvites any interested Chambermember to attend a special Public Policy Meeting of the Chamberto hear information on plans to build a 44-bed behavioral health hospital in Huntersville.

Carolinas HealthCare System has submitted a Certificate of Need application to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which, according to CHS, will help address the growing demand in the community for inpatient beds for behavioral health patients and ease the overcapacity at CMC-Randolph.  DHHS plans to hold a public hearing on CHS’s CON application on July 14, 2011, at 12:30 p.m. at theGovernmentCenterinCharlotte.

Del Murphy, Vice President, Planning and Market Development for Carolinas HealthCare System will speak on the issue.  Our members are invited and encouraged to participate in the discussion.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx Will Address Chamber in July

The QueenCity’s Mayor will make his first appearance with the Lake Norman Business community with a luncheon held on Thursday, July 21, at 11:45 at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville.  Mayor Foxx will address how the planned 2017 PGA Championship and the 2012 Democratic National Convention will elevate the Charlotte region’s national presence, aid in our economic development, stimulate commerce, and position Charlotte as a destination for travel and tourism.  The announcements are already impacting conference and convention bookings by the CRVA.  Register for the PowerLuncheon here.

United Way Community Needs Assessment

The United Waygave a brief presentation this week on a community regional needs assessment prepared by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.  The Executive Summary can be accessed on line by visiting United Way Needs Assessment.

July Focus Friday.

July’s Focus Friday will examine the Victim’s Advocate position in North Mecklenburgwhich is a partnership between the towns, county, and United Family Services.  The Focus Friday will be held Friday, July 22nd at 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the Chamber.  The Victim’s Advocate position will assist victims in rape, domestic violence and abuse cases.  Having a regional victim’s advocate could provide the next step in getting a magistrate dedicated to North Mecklenburg and make the court system more accessible to police and residents on matters like issuing warrants and bonds for the recently arrested.

Mecklenburg County Commissioner Karen Bentley (District #1) will speak on the need for this position.  Commissioner Bentley will be joined by Kathryn Firmin-Sellers the United Family Services Region Director for Mooresville andLakeNorman, andDanae Caulfield, Huntersville Town Board Member and advocate for the new position.

NLRB Proposes “Snap” Union Elections

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposed new reforms to union election procedures this week (6/21) to dramatically shorten the election process for workers to vote on whether or not to form a union.

Currently, 95% of union elections take place within 56 days of union election petitions being filed by a labor union. Last year the average time frame for elections was 31 days. Under the proposed rules, the time between filing a union election petition and the election would be shortened to as little as two weeksThe new regulations would also limit the time employers have to submit an electronic list of all employees, including their email addresses and phone numbers, from 7 days to 2 days.

How does this affect employers and employees?

The proposed regulations put employers at a disadvantage to the unions, giving them only a short window to share information with employees once formal notice of an election is given. This would, in effect, severely limit the workers’ capacity to receive adequate information on union membership from both their employer and a labor union, hindering their ability to make a fully educated decision. Additionally, unfair labor charges would not be taken up until after elections are held

What can you do?

The NLRB is accepting comments for 60 days.  Review full details of the proposed reforms, and submit your comments and concerns to the NLRB. 

OurChamberwill keep the members informed about this and other labor issues important to jobs and the economy, especially when there is an opportunity to weigh in and make a difference.

Final Thoughts

This week’s presentation by theUnited Wayhad a profound impact on me as I listened to not only the needs of our region and how far we must go, but also the achievements we have made in bridging the gap.  We have several outstanding community resources like theAdaJenkinsCenter,United Way, Angels and Sparrows, civic organizations, and most importantly – Churches, filled with volunteers looking to make the community a better place to live.

I am reminded about the story of Anthony DeMello who saw a starving child shivering in the cold.  DeMello angrily lifted his face to the heavens and cried, “God, how could you allow such suffering?  Why do you not do something about this?” 

There was a long pause and then Anthony was startled when he heard a voice inside himself – the voice of God who answered him saying, “I have certainly done something – I made you.”

As we prepare for the weekend, with so much opportunity and need in front of us, we should all consider these comments by William Ward fromWesleyanCollege:

If you are wise, you will forget your greatness.

Forget your rights, but remember your responsibilities.

Forget your inconveniences, but remember your blessings.

Forget your own accomplishments, but remember your debts to others.

Have a great day at the lake! 

Lake Norman Chamber e-brief Legislative Newsletter

Chamber Members and Stakeholders

Representative Sue Myrick to Host Town Hall Meeting At Chamber

Rep. Sue Myrick

Congresswoman Sue Myrick, Republican N.C . Ninth District, will host a Town Hall Meeting at the Lake Norman Chamber at 1:30 pm on Friday, June, 17, 2011.  Rep. Myrick will speak on issues ranging from the economy to job creation and unnecessary government regulations.   Earlier in the day she will be meeting with investors of the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation and larger corporate members of the Lake Norman Chamber.  The reception will take place in the Visitors Center.  This meeting is open to all Chamber Members.

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx addresses Chamber in July

 The Queen City’s Mayor will make his first appearance with the Lake Norman Business community with a luncheon held, Thursday, July 21, at 11:45 at NorthStone Country Club in Huntersville.  Mayor Foxx will address how the planned 2017 PGA Championship and the 2012 Democratic National Convention will elevate the Charlotte region’s national presence, aid in our economic development and stimulate commerce, and position Charlotte as a destination for travel and tourism.  The announcements are already impacting conference and convention bookings by the CRVA.  Register for the PowerLuncheon here or call the Chamber at 704-892-1922.

Dr. Peter Gorman resigns from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

District #1 School Board Member Rhonda Lennon confirmed that Dr. Peter Gorman resigned Wednesday at a special called meeting of the Board to discuss teacher employment.  Lennon states that it may take 12 months to work through the process of getting the position filled.  In the meantime, an interim superintendent may be tapped from within the system.  This is a set back for the system as the Board will look for candidates who will champion reform of our public school system.

Chamber Focus Friday examines Davidson Four-Year Town Board Terms

The Chamber will examine a proposal being considered for the Town of Davidson which would extend two year terms for the Town Board to four in a referendum which will be put before voters this fall.  The Chamber’s monthly Focus Friday will examine the topic on Friday, June 24th at 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the Brick House Tavern 209 Delburg Street in Davidson.  The event is sponsored by DavidsonNews.net / CorneliusNews.net. The breakfast sponsor is The Brick House Tavern.

Carolinas HealthCare moves closer to building hospital in Huntersville

The N.C. Senate passed a bill to help Carolinas HealthCare System build a 44-bed hospital in Huntersville this week. Carolinas HealthCare laid out plans for the new psychiatric hospital earlier this year. They asked for county support to transfer beds from the state’s psychiatric hospital at Broughton to the planned Huntersville facility.   However, Mecklenburg county has yet to sign off on the project. County Manager Harry Jones states the county needs more information to evaluate the proposed facility and its potential impact on the county’s existing psychiatric hospital at CMC-Randolph.

A public hearing for the Huntersville psychiatric hospital will be held at 12:30 p.m. July 14 in Room 267 of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center 600 E. Fourth Street

County tax rate falls but bills will likely rise

Mecklenburg commissioners narrowly approved a county budget Tuesday that sends more money to schools, libraries and other services – and raises tax bills for most homeowners. The $1.38 billion spending plan actually lowers the property tax rate by 2.21 cents. But nearly 57 percent of homeowners will pay more because the county reset property values this year, and most of those appraisals rose.

Election season kicked off before filing deadlines with articles in local papers

While the deadline for filing for local and county offices is not open until July 1, the political season is already in gear.  It began with an article last month in Business Today when local mayors were graded by readers throughout the region.  An anonymous source stated the Lake Norman Chamber would play a role in the election of this year’s candidates.  I responded both to Business Today in an editorial this month and to both The Herald Weekly and Lake Norman Citizen.

The Chamber does play an important role in elections.  We host the annual candidate debates and forums, offer opportunities for candidates to meet our members and the public at large through networking events, and our Board Members and myself often meet with candidates for office to share insight into community and business issues.

As we enter the political season, I am certain candidates for office will seek, and may or may not receive, the endorsement of many of our business leaders, some of whom may serve on the board of this chamber.  However, the endorsement or lack thereof will come from individuals, not from the Lake Norman Chamber.  We remain a non-partisan organization that does not endorse or support candidates for office.

United Way Community Needs Assessment

The United Way will present its findings at a Community Needs Assessment on Wednesday, June 22 7:45 – 9:00 a.m. at Cornelius Town Hall.  The assessment  was completed on May 31st involving people from throughout the five county Charlotte region. The purpose of the presentation is to report the results.  RSVP by June 13th to attend to MLNRSVP@uwcentralcarolinas.org

Something to ponder

This weekend, my beloved Carolina Gamecocks head into the Super Regionals of the College World Series in baseball as they defend their national title from a year ago.  At this point, both Carolinas are represented with both Carolina and UNC – Chapel Hill perhaps meeting in the College World Series in Omaha.  So, I thought it fitting to leave you with this inspirational quote from former Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda

“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”

Have a great day at the lake! 

 

Lessons I Learned Along the Way #4 – “Love What you do”

The following is the fourth in a ten part series of  “Lessons I’ve Learned Along the Way… Love what you do…”

Bill Russell, CCE Lake Norman Chamber

I have written many times before of a mentor of mine, Gene Martin, who long ago encouraged me to “Love what you do, do what you love, and deliver more than your promise.”  It’s more than just a saying for me – it’s been my guiding principle for more than thirty years.

     This past weekend I was attending the North Carolina Brewer’s and Music Festival at Rural Hill when one of the Chamber’s newer members, Kelly Franklin from Rely Local, asked how I decided I wanted to work at a chamber of commerce. I shared my early civic involvement and how I started out of college in sales with an office furniture and supply company. However, my real passion seemed to be community service.  Simply put, making my community a better place to live and work.  That commitment to community was passed on to me by my parents who participated in a number of civic organizations themselves.    Long ago I asked dad why he worked so hard in the community and he quickly pointed to a verse from Matthew 5:16 which states, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Kelly listened intently and then began speaking about how welcomed he felt when he first met our staff as a prospective member.  The warm smile and open ear from members of our staff.  How he felt that first day and succeeding visits to Chamber programs and events, not just by our staff, but Ambassadors representing our organization.  I cannot convey how proud I was as he spoke about the important role we play in helping that business succeed.  It’s a statement I hear often, but one in which I never grow tired of hearing again.

Ribbon Cutting

Minutes later I was off to a ribbon cutting for a new veterinarian business in Huntersville. Speaking to the crowd at the Open House for Carolinas Veterinary Care Clinic, I welcomed Alisha and Alycen to our growing “Chamber family.”  As I was packing up the ceremonial scissors at my car, a young Huntersville couple commented on the remarks I made and agreed that much of what I said about our quality of life was why they chose to relocate to Huntersville and the Lake Norman region.

As we parted, the man looked back over his shoulder, and said, “Great remarks by the way – you looked like you were having fun!”  A quick smile and he was on his way.  Minutes later I was off to one last stop, “Brian’s Dog House Grill” and the grand opening of yet another new business – a family restaurant at Rosedale.

Grand Opening

Walking up I was greeted by Brian, the owner, and Elizabeth Morgan, one of our Chamber Ambassadors who presented me with a check and application for Chamber membership she had picked up from another business… and all this on a Saturday!

 That night, it occurred to me much of what had transpired that day – the community event, a ribbon cutting, and a grand opening all occurred on my day off – the weekend!  But I’m not sure I could have spent it any better.  Not every day is filled with fun and fellowship.  There are days when our task is much more serious and intent.  Our job is to grow business at the lake.  Jack, Janet, and myself – we’re in the people business.  We love what we do, do what we love, and we strive to deliver more than we promise.  And if we look life we’re having fun… well, we are!

Lake Norman Chamber does not endorse or support local candidates for office

Bill Russell, President

The letter to the editor below was distributed to The Herald Newspaper and The Lake Norman Citizen in regards to a letter the previous week citing my involvement in recruiting candidates for political office.  While I along with Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meet with prospective candidates for political office, our role is to inform them of the issues facing our local communities and region.  The article below catures the spirit of our involvement:  
Last month, Business Today published an article (Mixed bag: Business grades mayors).  The last paragraph made a statement which greatly surprised me.  Anonymous sources were cited stating the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will work to defeat a current elected official in her re-election this November.   This article was referenced by Molly Patton from Huntersville in a Letter to the Editor in our local papers last week.

It is very unfortunate when news articles quote unidentified sources or publish letters based on rumor and innuendo. While I cannot stop that type of banter, particularly as the election season heats up, I can state for the record, I am not engaged in supporting or working against any candidate for any office, nor as some rumors have them – running for office myself.  The Chamber promotes good government and encourages our local membership and our area citizens to get engaged in the political debate of our region.  However, we do such as a non-partisan organization neither supporting nor working against any candidates for any office.

N.C. Speaker Thom Tillis with Chamber President Bill Russell at the Coca Cola 600

The Lake Norman Chamber annually hosts political debates, advocates for our membership on legislative and community issues, and encourages business leaders to take an active role in the leadership of our region.  While the Chairman and members of the Board of Directors of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and I often meet with candidates for office on the issues which face our growing and diverse region, as a chamber we have never supported or endorsed any candidate in the 24-year history of our organization.  

As we enter the political season, I am certain candidates for office will seek, and may or may not receive, the endorsement of many of our business leaders, some of whom may serve on the board of this chamber.  However, such endorsement or lack thereof will come from individuals, not from the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.    The article further stated that I had “no comment” on the issue.  My “no comment” was on ranking our mayors.  As spokesperson for the Chamber, I would never partake in an exercise of grading elected officials.  Upon further reflection, I did feel it would be appropriate to comment and share my perspective regarding our elected officials as requested.  My email to Business Today follows below in its entirety. It was disappointing that those comments were not used at the time. However, here they are for the readers of The Herald Weekly:    
 
    “First, I have the greatest admiration for any elected official, particularly a mayor, who devotes their time and talent to their community.  A public official, regardless of their role, is often criticized, rightly or wrongly, and it takes someone with a great deal of self-confidence, who must provide sound leadership and vision, and leaving their town and region a much better place than they found it.

Beginning with my community – I have always been impressed with Mayor Swain’s commitment to the arts and community resources such as the United Way. We served together on the Board of the Ada Jenkins Center in 2003-2004 and I had the chance to see first hand her enthusiasm for helping those in need. I know her time is stretched but I would like to see her more engaged with the chamber of commerce.  The Chamber conducts a great many programs and events in Huntersville and I think we could benefit with more interaction by the mayor and I think it would serve her as well giving her insight into our diverse and growing business community.

Mayor Jeff Tarte with Bill Russell (Photo courtesy of Cornelius Today)

Mayor Tarte is a visionary, who sees his community as it could and should be.  I have always been impressed by his knowledge on a variety of subjects and his openness to new ideas.  He is extremely approachable and cares very much about the community he serves.  If there were a criticism of Mayor Tarte it may be that he sees the bloom of the flower and not the thorn on the rose.  As the CEO of his company he is accustomed to being the decision maker and in the role of mayor, that task falls to the Board rather than its chief elected official.  A difficult adjustment for any engaged CEO, allowing the decision to be made by others.  His task it to influence that decision with outstanding leadership and reason.

Mayor Woods, as a professional banker, is always looking for the return on investment. He understands that the investment may take some time to show a return and the market itself will have many up and down cycles, but if you stick to the plan, it will yield your return.  The question is how much time are the investors willing to wait?  There is no question he and his board look at business development as a blueprint for the future.  They look to create a town that their children will be thankful to inherit.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce is grateful to the commitment and dedication the mayors and their respective town boards demonstrate as they lead our dynamic region.”