UIC 002Founders of a community group organized after the Charlottesville riots in 2017, have been selected by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce as Individual Diversity Champions for 2018. Willie and Pam Jones, Sue Rankin - White, and Ron Parts are the three key founders and original members of the community network called Unity in Community.

Unity in Community is focused on education and reduction of discrimination and segregation in the Lake Norman area. The primary vehicle is small groups of mixed race, gender and ethnicity who study history and share personal experiences related to discrimination and racial bias.

Following the Charlottesville riots and death of Heather Heyer in August 2017, local churches organized a prayer vigil in the Village Green in Davidson. At that event, individuals signed up to participate in discussions on racial issues. Joel Simpson (formerly Associate Pastor at Mt Zion United Methodist Church) along with Willie and Pam, Sue and Ron emerged as leaders and organized small mixed-race groups. The small groups meet regularly, and they have become a place of trust to share history and personal challenges.

Members talk frankly about institutional and individual racism. Larger scale events have been held that bring together citizens of differing races to hear speakers talk on related topics. They established committees that focus on Social Justice, Education, and Communications. The three Diversity Champions have taken the lead, built trust and continuity. Georgia Krueger, Executive Director of the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, has also been extremely involved with the group.

Current priorities include voter registration and the saving of Smithville, the oldest historically African American neighborhood at Lake Norman. After more education and an expansion of members, UiC will focus on solutions that will help close the racial divide and reduce poverty among minority residents.

Also recognized was Central Piedmont Community College whose Merancus Campus serves the north end of Mecklenburg County. CPCC’s commitment to workforce development and diversity has placed it at the forefront of efforts to address issues of economic mobility in the region.Diversity 37 1

Top Right Picture: Founding members of Unity in Community (UiC) receive the Individual Champions of Diversity Award from the Lake Norman Chamber. Pictured are: Willie and Pam Jones, Sue Rankin White, Chris Hailey, Ron Potts, and Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.

Bottom Right Picture: CPCC’s Merancas Campus was cited by the Lake Norman Chamber as the nonprofit Diversity Champion for 2018. Pictured is Diversity Chair Chris Hailey, Clidell Conston, Mike Price, Nzingha Williams, Andrea Ambercrombie, William Kennedy, and Major Pat Brown – CPCC, along with Chamber President Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.

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Huntersville’s Southwire Company honored for Diversity Practices

Corporate Diversity RSouthwire Company, LLC, North America’s Leading manufacturer of wire and cable used in the distribution and transmission of electricity, was honored last week for its diversity and inclusion practices by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Southwire’s Huntersville facility was singled out among Lake Norman companies for its hiring and management practices and for encouraging its employees to develop a better understanding and appreciation of other employees when it comes to sex, race, and cultural identity.

Nearly one hundred business and community leaders gathered at the River Run Country Club as Michelle Murphy, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion and Global Talent Acquisition for Ingersoll Rand in Davidson, gave an inspirational message on “The Business of Belonging.” Murphy shared how Ingersoll Rand is fostering a spirit of inclusiveness throughout the company.

The Lake Norman Chamber annually recognizes Champions of Diversity who are working to bring the Lake Norman communities together. Chamber Diversity Chair Chris Hailey, a former Director of Central Piedmont Community College’s Criminal Justice Center, was on hand to join Chamber of Commerce President Bill Russell as they recognized the founding members of Unity in Community for their individual efforts, Central Piedmont’s Merancas Campus as the non-profit honoree, and Southwire Company as the Corporate Diversity Champion of the Year.

Chris McGill, Plant Manager, and Jasmine Monet, Human Resource Specialist, were in attendance to receive the award. McGill noted, “Southwire Company in Huntersville is committed to creating and sustaining a culture that appreciates all of our differences – our backgrounds, skills and perspectives. A place where people feel free to grow, trusted to try and empowered to be themselves.”Diversity Corp 2 40

McGill added that Southwire’s people are what makes the company strong and unique. Recognizing, valuing and celebrating each other’s differences creates limitless opportunities for the employees and organization.

Picture Top Left: Southwire Company, LLC in Huntersville was selected as the 2018 Corporate Diversity Champion by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. Pictured is Chris Hailey – Chamber Diversity Chair, Jasmine Monet and Chris McGill from Southwire Company, and Bill Russell with the Chamber. Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.

Picture Bottom RightFrom left to right: Aaron Whiteside, Jasmine Monet, Sarah Ursitti, Jacob Fearington, Christopher McGill.Photo by John McHugh – Ocaid Photography.




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NonprofitTwenty five area Lake Norman nonprofits attended a quarterly meeting held at Angels and Sparrows Soup Kitchen in Huntersville. The meeting hosted by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce allowed the executives, staff, and volunteers from regional nonprofits and civic clubs to share programs, fundraisers, and activities being held in the last quarter of the year as well as the mission of each organization. The meeting was facilitated by Chamber President & CEO Bill Russell.

Nonprofits who participated included: The Cain Center for the Arts, Butterfly Nation, Answer Scholarships, American Legion – Huntersville. Lake Norman - Huntersville Rotary Club, The Catalyst Academy, Lake Norman Wildlife Conservationist, Lydia’s Loft, The Aktion Club, North Mecklenburg Women’s Club, Solace for the Children, Caterpillar Ministries, North Meck Crime Stoppers, Hugh Torance House & Store, Just Serve, The Lotta Foundation, Community Pregnancy Center of Lake Norman, Thrivent, Puma Homes, Beds for Kids, Little Smiles, Our Towns Habitat for Humanity, Lake Norman Kiwanis, North Mecklenburg Rotary Club, and Angels & Sparrows Soup Kitchen who hosted the meeting.

The next meeting is expected to take place Feb 2019 at the American Legion in Huntersville.

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Three Outstanding Fire Fighters of the Year were recognized at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Annual Public Safety Luncheon Presented by Wells Fargo Bank. The 16th annual award s program was sponsored by CPCC and Lake Norman Publications. The event was attended by approximately 70 business and community leaders at Northstone Country Club in Huntersville. Each of the three Fire Departments singled out one Outstanding Officer of the Year by their respective Chiefs. Below is a write up on each one by their department:

Huntersville Fire 640x512Huntersville Fire Department: Firefighter Adam Gant

Chief Dotoli writes: Each year the officers of the department vote on a firefighter who we feel is worthy of the “firefighter of the year” award. We honor this firefighter at our annual banquet by presenting them with an award and a few words about his exemplary service. As a department we recognize that these firefighters make extraordinary sacrifices while on and off duty performing a service that is critical to the well-being of our citizens.

In 2017 Firefighter Adam Gant was elected as Huntersville’s firefighter of the year. Adam was recognized for his willingness to faithfully provide numerous volunteer hours of service to the Huntersville community. As a member of the department Adam has worked over six hundred hours taking numerous exams and practical exercises to obtain his North Carolina Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician certifications while continuing to devote countless weekends and weeknights serving at the fire station.

Adam, in 2017 ran 1,214 calls 25% of the total calls for department that year; only to follow it up by responding to 1,032 calls in 2018 and he’s not done yet.

As the Chief of the Huntersville Fire Department, I encourage everyone to recognize this outstanding firefighter for his contributions in doing his part to provide excellent fire and rescue services to the Town of Huntersville.

Pictured are: Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla, Fire Fighter Adam Gant, and Huntersville Fire Deputy Chief Mark Auten. Photo by John McHugh / Ocaid Photography

Davidson Fire Department: Nalberta (Neenee) Cormier, EMS CoordinatorDavidson Fire 640x494

Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald writes, “If the measure of success for a fire department is the number of lives saved, then the pillar of any successful department is its EMS program. Today’s reality is that EMS response is arguably the most important service that a fire department provides.

In the Town of Davidson alone, there are numerous individuals who would not be alive today if a Davidson Fire Engine had not arrived quickly on the scene. And NONE of these individuals were pulled from a burning building.

Neenee Cormier has been a Davidson Firefighter for 17 years. She, along with her husband, Carl (who is now a Captain with the DFD), began as a volunteer in 2001, and worked diligently to obtain certification as a firefighter. She also obtained her certification as an EMT.
However, the EMT certification posed little challenge to Neenee, since she brought a high level of medical expertise from her full-time career as a Nurse Anesthetist.

In 2015, Neenee was appointed to the new position of EMS Coordinator for the Davidson Fire Department. In addition to her regular firefighter duties of pulling shifts and responding to calls, Neenee became responsible for maintaining EMS training records for the entire fire department, and working as a liaison with Central Piedmont Community College and MEDIC to ensure that all of our employees remained up-to-date with their EMS training.

In 2016, the Davidson Fire Department began a new program which utilized Davidson College students as EMTs to supplement the emergency response to the college campus. With great enthusiasm, Neenee took on a leadership role with this program. Though it is still in its early stages, Neenee’s involvement and dedication to the program have helped to set it up for success.

With her upbeat personality and outlook, Neenee has always served as a positive force for the Davidson Fire Department. She is well-respected throughout the department, and her dedication to the department’s mission has helped to shape the department into what it is today.”

Pictured are Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox, Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald, Nalberta (Neenee) Cormier, EMS Coordinator and Lake Norman Chamber President Bill Russell. Photo by John McHugh / Ocaid Photography.


Cornelius Fire 640x512Cornelius Fire Department: Captain Tom Cichocki

Cornelius Chief Neal Smith states, “Tom Cichocki has been a member of Cornelius-Lemley Fire Rescue since April, 2009. As a new member, he concentrated on taking classes his first year to obtained the certifications needed for the fire service. His dedication to self-improvement continues to be commendable.

Tom has moved up in the department and now serves as a Captain showing outstanding leadership qualities. The knowledge he has obtained from our department, classes, training, and interactions at the fire stations has made Tom a valuable asset.

Captain Cichocki is an outgoing individual with an excellent work ethic. This is very visible at all times, especially during training and on fire scenes. When given an assignment or placed in charge of a project, Tom makes sure it is handled correctly, on time, and with precision. He currently oversees our incident reporting, Honor Guard, safety, infection control, physicals, fit testing, critical incident stress debriefings, personal accountability, and on the job injury reports. His dedication to make his community better through the fire service is commendable for this award.”

Pictured are Cornelius Mayor Woody Washam, Captain Tom Cichocki, Chief Neil Smith, and Chamber President Bill Russell.  Photo by John McHugh / Ocaid Photography.

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Vote Yes BondsMessage to the Membership:

This past Tuesday, the Lake Norman Chamber was pleased to host a candidate forum to help educate voters on the issues facing our growing and diverse region this election season. We thank both the candidates who participated along with those who could attend. Most of the forum was Face Book lived and WSIC Radio, a media partner of the Chamber, captured a great deal of footage that they will be airing on Social Media. We will make that available on our Face Book and Twitter feeds as we obtain it.

If you are a Cornelius Citizen, the Chamber encourages you to support the Transportation Bond Package before the voters. At the September Board Meeting, the Lake Norman Chamber Board of Directors unanimously approved the following statement in support of the Cornelius transportation bond referendum:

Recognizing the absolute necessity to continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure in our Lake Norman region, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors encourages Cornelius voters to support the $24MM transportation bond referendum on the November 6th ballot. These bond funds, if approved, would be used to address seven (7) significant road projects in Cornelius. Each dollar spent from these bond proceeds would be matched by approx. $4 in investment from the state, so it is an opportunity to leverage our commitment with significant contribution from NCDOT.

We live in a vibrant and growing region which brings with it both blessings and challenges. Healthy connectivity between each our lake towns is vital to our continued growth and prosperity. The Lake Norman Chamber has continuously advocated for the thoughtful address of the logistical challenges we face and believe that this bond referendum addresses a significant number of them not only for Cornelius, but for our entire lake region.

As you head to the polls over the next two weeks, the Chamber asks you to vote for the candidate of your choice which best represents your values and beliefs. It is extremely important you exercise that right and responsibility to vote!

Thank you for your support of our Chamber and Community!


 WE. "Bill" Russell, CCE, IOM

President & CEO


Published in Member News

Crimsestopperi 640x353Mrs Latasha Coleman was honored by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce at the 16th Annual Public Safety Luncheon presented by Wells Fargo Bank on Thursday, October 18th.  Mrs. Coleman was selected by the North Mecklenburg Crime Stoppers for her actions on October 14, 2017 in the apprehension and arrest of two individuals by the Cornelius Police Department.  The award was presented by Lake Norman Chamber President Bill Russell accompanied by the Board of the Crime Stoppers. The luncheon was held at Northstone Country Club in Huntersville.

Officers were tipped off by Mrs Coleman who stayed with a vehicle driving erratically to the McDonalds at exit 28 I77.  The officers arrested an impaired subject and while searching the vehicle found a two year old infant who was later remanded to Child Protective Services. An additional subject was also taken into custody.

One of the Responding Sergeants stated, "Working thousands of cases, this is one I will never forget. Standing by as Officers on the scene dug trash, clothing, luggage and other items out of the back seat uncovering the small child underneath.  We are extremely thankful to Mrs. Coleman. She made a difference and likely saved innocent lives."

Mrs Lartasha Coleman is the North Mecklenburg Crime Stopper of the Year for 2018.

Pictured are Mrs Lartasha Colman receiving the 2018 Crime Stopper of the Year Award from Lake Norman Chamber President & CEO Bill Russell accompanied by Crime Stopper Board Chair Tommy Davis, Vice Chair David Rochester, Huntersville Town Commissioner Dan Boone, Arlene Arciero, Billl Walsh and Ray Pejse. Photo by John McHugh / Ocaid Photography.

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Logo Vert


Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Members:

Notice of Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Nominations


Pursuant to Article IV, Section Three of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Bylaws, the Nominating Committee has recommended the following individuals as Board of Directors Members for the Class of 2021:

Joshua Dobi, North Main Financial Group, LLC
Tricia Sisson, The Range at Lake Norman
Joe Labovitz, Atrium Health
Sam James, James Funeral Home & NorthLake Memorial Gardens
Douglas Marion, Advanced Wealth Strategies, Inc.
Roger Layman, LaBella Associates DPC

At the regular September Meeting of the Board of Directors to be held Monday, September 24, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. at the Hurt Hub 210 Delburg Street Classroom #208 in Davidson, additional nominations can be made from the floor by Directors or Chamber Members present. If there are no additional nominations or a contested election, the slate of Directors will be deemed elected by acclamation of the membership without further action.

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Pic B Michelle Murphy picOn Thursday, November 15th, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will host its Annual Champions of Diversity Luncheon at noon at River Run Country Club in Davidson. The Chamber will recognize the Corporation, Small Business, Nonprofit, and Individual who practices and promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace. This event was previously scheduled for September 20th but postponed because of Hurricane Florence.

In addition, the chamber will host Michelle Murphy, Vice President Diversity & Inclusion and Global Talent Acquisition at Ingersoll Rand. Michelle leads Ingersoll Rand’s efforts to create and sustain a Progressive, Diverse and Inclusive (PDI) work environment, a key underpinning of their winning culture, deeply integrating PDI into Human Resource, functional and business processes across the company.

Chris Hailey, the Chamber’s Diversity Chair, oversees the Chamber’s efforts to increase an awareness and appreciation for the diverse demographic which makes up the Lake Norman regional workforce as well as the communities themselves. “Corporations, businesses, and community organizations that are diverse and inclusive are more dynamic, innovative, and much more successful than those who fail to recognize the strengths in our differences and our unique individual talents,” said Hailey.

The Lake Norman Chamber has focused efforts on Diversity since 2008 with an emphasis on programs which recognized the emergence of women in executive roles. Bill Russell, president of the Chamber, points to female owners and entrepreneurs in the Lake Norman market. “We have a substantial number of Lake Norman businesses owned and managed by female executives and we’re seeing more female involvement in the Board Room,” said Russell. “Our Women’s Conference held annually is attended by more than 100 local women business owners and a quick look around at our civic clubs and non-profits provides a strong indication at just how women have emerged as business and community leaders over the last couple of decades.”

The Chamber has also taken strides to engage minorities in the business and community fabric of the region. “It is extremely important to create programs that engage our African American, Asian, and Latino demographic as we shape and nurture the leadership of our community and emerging workforce,” added Hailey.

The Champions of Diversity Luncheon is presented by The McIntosh Law Firm. Gold Sponsors are MSC Industrial Supply and Sam’s Club of Mooresville and Silver Sponsors include Aquesta Bank and People’s Bank. The Media Sponsor is Business Today / Cornelius Today and the program Sponsor is Mama’s Pizza Express of Cornelius.

The luncheon is $20 and members and guests can register at lakenormanchamber.org or by calling the Lake Norman Chamber at 704-892-1922.

Caption: Michelle Murphy, Vice President Diversity & Inclusion and Global Talent Acquisition at Ingersoll Rand will keynote the Lake Norman Chamber Diversity Luncheon Thursday, September 20th at River Run Country Club in Davidson.

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Logo VertI-77 Business Briefing
Where: Comfort Suites 14510 Boulder Park Drive Huntersville
When: Wednesday, August 22nd 7:00 - 8:15 pm
Contact: Bill Russell 704-650-8987 cell


The Economic Toll of a Fifty Year Blunder

A Financial Analysis on the Devastation the Cintra Contract will have on the Lake Norman Region

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, representing 950 businesses in the Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and greater Lake Norman region, will host a business briefing on the costs and economic impact the planned tolls lanes will have on business and industry in the Charlotte – Lake Norman area. The presentation will take place this Wednesday, August 22nd at 7:00 pm at the Comfort Suites Lake Norman located at 14510 Boulder Park Drive in Huntersville.

Presenting the financial case is Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett and John Hettwer, President and CEO of Payroll Plus. Both are members of the I-77 Policy Advisory Group which met last week at the Chamber to hear a presentation by North Carolina DOT Secretary Jim Trogdon.

Commissioner Puckett will review the path offered by the Department of Transportation and discuss the positive progress made to date by NC DOT and the Advisory Group as well as the actions needed on the path moving forward.

John Hettwer, a former Board Chair of the Chamber added, “The I-77 Business Plan, working in conjunction with the chamber, feels it is imperative to keep the public informed. An engaged and vocal public is critical as we continue to resolve this regional challenge.”

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber, points to the I-77 project as more than a transportation and quality of life issue for the communities and citizens of Lake Norman. “There is little question surrounding the impact I-77 congestion has had on business and commerce for some time. At long last the General Assembly and NC DOT recognize this project does not solve the congestion issue. The recent unanimous votes in both the House and Senate to cancel this project indicate state lawmakers see this as a nonpartisan issue hurting our region.”

David T. Hartgen, Emeritus Professor of Transportation Studies at UNC Charlotte, stated in a July 28, 2015 Affidavit, that the total direct costs of the toll lanes over the life of the contract would have a $33.84 billion negative impact or roughly 6% of the Total Corridor GDP (excluding inflation and a faster corridor growth than anticipated).

The meeting is open to the public. For more information contact the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce at 704-892-1922.


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IMG 0888 583x640The below message was distributed to Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Members in an email Wednesday afternoon, August 15th following the I-77 Policy Advisory Board Meeting at the Chamber.

Lake Norman Chamber Member:

A little over three decades ago, I sat with great anticipation as Geraldo Rivera kept me on the edge of my seat opening Al Capone's secret vault on television. There was a lot of hype and hope but at the end of the day, all Geraldo discovered was a few old discarded beer bottles.

I felt that same sinking feeling today after all the hype of a significant decision regarding the I-77 toll lane project. That said, I do believe the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Governor's office, and our State Legislature all recognize the planned I-77 Toll Lanes will be an economic calamity for our region.

Next Wednesday, August 22nd at 7:00 pm, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will host an I -77 Business Briefing to be held at the Comfort Suites at Lake Norman, 14510 Boulder Park Drive in Huntersville. Attendees may arrive at 6:45. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett and Past Chamber Chair John Hettwer will be the presenters. While open to the public, the capacity is 85 people so it’s on a first arrival basis.

Don't expect the Chamber to sugarcoat the issue. This region must have congestion relief and that requires General Purpose Lanes for Lake Norman. The briefing will be a discussion of our next course of action as a business community.

I hope you can join us.



W.E. "Bill" Russell, CCE, IOM
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce
704-892-1922 (o)

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