Chamber Business Expo to spotlight area small business

Lake Norman Chamber Business Expo

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s signature event, the 2012 Business Expo, will be held Monday, March 5th at the Davidson College Belk Arena from 10 am until 5 pm.  The Expo is presented by Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.  Gold Sponsors include Lake Norman Magazine and MI Connection.  Silver Sponsors are The Herald Weekly, M&M Graphics, and Carolinas Healthcare System.  Admission is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

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 for the Chamber’s Junior Leadership Lake Norman program – a nine month program the chamber conducts for high school juniors. 

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend with approximately 135 businesses and 25 non-profits exhibited in what has become the Charlotte region’s largest business trade show.  Lunch will be provided by three Lake Norman restaurants: Alton’s Kitchen and Cocktails, Fox and the Hound Birkdale, and the Honey Baked Ham Company & Café will serve meals for $8 including beverage.  Tickets can be purchased at the Expo or in advance at the Chamber.  The restaurant menu can be found at www.lakenormanexpo.com.

Special event activities will take place throughout the day including dance exhibitions by the Havana Banquet and Ballroom and a Business Fashion Show coordinated by Bruna Oliveira of The Olive Branch in Cornelius. A highlight of the fashion show is participation by area elected officials and business leaders.  The Carolina Raptor Center will also be present with Birds of Prey and area arts and cultural facilities.

Bill Russell, president of the Lake Norman Chamber said, “The Business Expo, now in its eleventh year, is an excellent opportunity for local businesses and non-profits to showcase their products, services, and organizations to the community.  It has also become a tremendous networking opportunity as we re-establish old friendships and create new relationships.”

For a complete listing of sponsors and exhibitors, directions, and other information see the Expo website at www.LakeNormanExpo.com or call the Chamber for more information at 704-892-1922. 

We Need the Behavioral Health Hospital in Huntersville

Bill Russell, Lake Norman Chamber

Set to be voted on by the Huntersville Town Board this month is a 66-bed behavioral health hospital to be built by Carolina’s Healthcare Systems.  CHS officials reviewed the need for the facility last summer at a Lake Norman Chamber Focus Friday.  Del Murphy, vice president of Carolinas Healthcare System’s management company pointed out to business leaders that an average of 20 to 30 patients are held in emergency departments and general acute beds at CMC hospitals in Charlotte, awaiting psychiatric bed placement.  There are simply not enough beds to service our growing county.

A few weeks ago, I attended and spoke at the Huntersville Town Board Public Hearing on the topic.  The Town Hall was overflowing with spectators as well as residents from one of the local neighborhoods.  Most of the residents were there to speak against the project.  They were not against the idea of a hospital – “Just not in my backyard.”

I listened intently as the hospital administrators and health care officials were questioned by Huntersville Town Board Members and Planning Board staff regarding traffic patterns, roads, buffers, walls, and even landscaping.  The residents themselves then took the podium to speak about home values and the notion they were not informed, even though this issue was written about in the papers this summer.

Given the chance to speak, I wondered aloud why we spent so much time speaking to infrastructure and so little time focusing on people.  I pointed out in the little research I did on the topic, I learned that 1 in 4 families has at least 1 family member with a behavioral health issue.  Certainly behavioral health has touched my family with a grandfather who succumbed to Alzheimer’s and a grandmother who dealt with dementia until we lost her a year ago this month.

Looking around the room, I pointed out that many there that evening were likely being treated for some type of behavioral health problem. In my 2-minute remarks, I reminded the commissioners, as well as the residents, that the people who would be treated in that facility are their neighbors, friends, co-workers and perhaps family members.

In addition to my role at the Chamber, I have the opportunity to work with kids with disabilities.  Actually these young people in our Aktion Club are individuals 18 years of age or older.  However, they remain – “my kids.”  They are often referred to in society as special needs.  I learned long ago, they don’t want to be treated special.  They only want to be treated the same.

In a community of 47,000 people and a region that’s home to tens of thousands more, we need this critical healthcare facility.  While a small minority may fear what they do not know, I fear what we will lose as a community by not focusing on people who need our support when it comes to quality health care –  and at a time, when they need our support the most.