The following is a statement by 2018 Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Joshua Dobi in response to the action taken yesterday by Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS).. It was distributed to Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Members and area elected officials via an email Wednesday,, August 29, 2018..
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Member:
Recognizing that our local, regional, and state educational systems are foundational to a healthy business & economic climate, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce remains committed to working with our local elected officials in Huntersville, Cornelius, and Davidson, our regional elected officials in the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and our state representatives in the NC General Assembly to seek healthy ways to address both current and ongoing needs of our students and teachers.
We are blessed to live in a region which is growing, but there are challenges which come with that. The Lake Norman Chamber encourages ongoing constructive conversation at all levels of government and in our business community so that our school systems can continue to have the opportunity to perform at a high level and continue to make the Lake Norman region a beautiful place to live, work, and play.
2018 Board Chair
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce
For more information contact: Melinda Bales
Huntersville, N.C. - April 30, 2018 The Lake Norman Education Collaborative, in partnership with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, Lake Norman EDC and Hopewell High School’s Academies of Engineering and Hospitality and Tourism hosted the 3rd Annual Speed Networking Event at Hopewell High School in Huntersville NC on April 24, 2018. This workforce development event is designed to allow students an opportunity to network with business professionals in the career fields that interest them. The students are currently involved in courses designed to prepare them for careers after high school.
The speed networking event targeted career opportunities in the areas of Hospitality, Tourism, Marketing and Engineering and had approximately 90 students participated.
One High School senior who participated in the event stated, “I have an interest in the engineering field and the Speed Networking event helped me learn valuable skills that will carry over as I enter college and eventually the workforce. I was able to meet and speak with several professionals who are successful in their respective careers. They were able to provide me advice on steps I can take in college and how to build connections with people to allow myself to utilize college to its fullest potential and make connections along the way. This will give me an advantage as I enter the workforce.”
Hopewell’s Career Technical Coordinator Catrese Parks added that “The community of Huntersville and Charlotte truly believe in the students at Hopewell High School and these career days have had an amazing impact. The Speed Networking Event gives students a glimpse into the future.”
Lake Norman Education Collaborative Co-Chair Melinda Bales expressed her gratitude for the businesses and volunteers who made the event a success, “It is rewarding to see students have the opportunity to speak to individuals who have made a career for themselves in an area that they are interested in. It gives the students a different perspective on how that career would align with their goals.”
The Lake Norman Chamber is indebted to the Taste of Buffalo Pizzeria, 9610 Sherrill Estates Rd B in Huntersville, who donated the lunch for the Career Day volunteers and staff of Hough High School.
Caption: Hopewell High Students are counseled by local business volunteers at the third annual Speed Networking Career day hosted by the Lake Norman Education Collaborative. Photo by Melinda Bales.
Voters throughout Mecklenburg County, in addition to selecting local, county and public school board members, will weigh in this election on a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond referendum.
The Towns of Huntersville and Cornelius, along with the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, have all voiced their opposition to the bonds which provides the North Mecklenburg area with very little if any new school infrastructure over the next decade.
In a written statement, the Lake Norman Chamber Board of Directors said:
The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has always advocated for strong support of our local elementary and secondary educational systems, believing that the foundation for any healthy regional economic engine includes a robust school system.
With that in mind, while the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors encourages multiple lines of thinking when it comes to financing our ongoing and growing educational infrastructure and physical plant needs, we are opposed to the current $922MM bond referendum before the voters in Mecklenburg County this November.
The rubric used to determine school priority and the analysis of what defines classroom overcrowding do not address either the current or ongoing needs of our North Mecklenburg communities and students.
Since 1995, I have lived in the Town of Huntersville, whose population in 1990 was just over 3,000 citizens. Today, we have a community of 61,800 citizens and it is projected to increase to 84,000 by 2030.
It does not seem that long ago that current CMS District #1 Board Member Rhonda Lennon, then a concerned parent with the grassroots organization called FUME, and I drove down to a CMS Board Meeting, speaking out for a new high school to be built in North Mecklenburg. North Mecklenburg High School at the time had the largest enrollment of students in the state. While new schools have since been built, mobile classrooms still adorn our school grounds and our classroom space has fallen dramatically behind our pace of growth.
Twenty years ago, our school officials seemed to be totally out of sync with the growth taking place in the north corridor – or worse did not care. It has been pointed out that North Mecklenburg received significant support in the previous school bond, but for many of us – that was simply attempting to catch Huntersville, Davidson, and Cornelius up to the two decades of neglect.
When it comes to adequate road and school infrastructure, the Lake Region seems to always get short changed in the minds of many business and community leaders.
It is likely that the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond will be approved but it clearly does not benefit children throughout the county – namely those in our community.
When you vote this election cycle, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce urges you to VOTE NO on the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond.
Education is the foundation of our economic and business development. It is the cornerstone of our quality of life and what makes any community a great place to live and operate a business.
However, as business leaders, we cannot in good conscience, go along with a plan that does not address the needs of ALL of our children. Those students deserve more and quite simply, we can do better. The Lake Norman Chamber hopes you agree. Vote NO on the CMS Bonds!
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce
The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will host a Focus Friday Legislative Briefing Friday, May 16th 8:30 until 10:00 am to discuss an education initiative which is likely to be a focus of discussion when the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes for the short session May 14th. In 2010, the NC General Assembly adopted the Common Core State Standards and has since spent millions of dollars implementing the program.
Common core is a set of standards that set a consistent group of measures of student progress in math and English from kindergarten through high school. To date forty-four states have adopted Common Core. However, the standard is now under attack with those who believe local and state authorities should control standards and not be part of a national effort. Many in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and North Carolina want to end Common Core in North Carolina and have the state set its own standards.
The Lake Norman Chamber, which has taken no position on Common Core, will hear from Rhonda Lennon, the District #1 Representative to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education and Terri DeBoo with Ideas@work. DeBoo, who serves on the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Board of Advisors, is credited as the catalyst for business expansion into North Carolina for many companies including IKEA. DeBoo will cite the advantages to a common standard for education as it relates to economic development and business recruitment. Lennon, who was first elected to the Board of Education in 2009, is expected to discuss both the concept of Common Core and the challenges of the current program.
Bill Russell, president of the Chamber of Commerce, believes the program Friday at the Lake Norman Chamber will help local businesses obtain better insight into a lightning rod issue during an election season. "While local and state control over education is essential, it is critical North Carolina not abruptly disengage from a national standard that could adversely impact not only our ability to create a high skilled workforce but be competitive in our economic development efforts," said Russell.
The Focus Friday briefing will be held at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce in the Randy Marion Board Room, 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. While intended for chamber of commerce members as an opportunity to discuss community and legislative issues, the briefing is open to the public. The Chamber does ask that interested businesses and citizens who are not chamber member and wish to attend, RSVP to the Chamber at 704-892-1922. The program will be emceed by Public Policy Chair Richard Pappas. Focus Friday is sponsored by DavidsonNews.net and CorneliusNews.net.
Lake Norman Chamber Members and Stakeholders:
Chamber Backs Bonds
The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has voted to endorse several bond packages before North Mecklenburg voters on November 5th. The Chamber is encouraging its members to VOTE YES for the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bonds and the Central Piedmont Community College Bonds before Mecklenburg County voters in the upcoming referendum. Chamber members who are registered voters in the Town of Cornelius are also encouraged to vote for the three municipal bonds on the ballot. These bonds will be the topic of the next Focus Friday on October 18th at the Chamber. Current CMS school board representative Rhonda Lennon (District #1) and Carrie Kester, Chair at Community of Huntersville Education Collaborative will provide more information regarding the bonds. Read more about the Bonds and the Chamber's position here.
Forums held in Davidson and Huntersville give voters a chance to meet the candidates
The Chamber will host a candidate forum in Davidson and Huntersville next week. A forum was held in Cornelius October 1st. The two-hour forum will be held at the respective town halls. The forum for Davidson is Tuesday, October 15th and Huntersville, Thursday Oct 17th. All forums are 7:00 – 9:00 pm. The events are moderated by Jerry Hancock, General Partner of Alexander Hancock Associates. Hancock is well known in Charlotte as a guest commentator on "All Things Considered," National Public Radio, and the publishing of numerous journal articles. For over 25 years he hosted programs on public television including FINAL EDITION on Channel 42, a weekly roundtable discussion of current news topics with local reporters.
The forum in Davidson is co-sponsored by Davidsonnews.net and the Huntersville Forum is co-sponsored by the Lake Norman Political Association. For more information, read about it here.
Public Safety Luncheon Salutes our First Responders
The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will host the eighth annual salute to North Mecklenburg Public Safety officers and volunteers at a special luncheon Thursday, October 17th at noon at the Peninsula Club (19101 Peninsula Club Drive) in Cornelius. The event, Presented by Wells Fargo Bank, is sponsored by Central Piedmont Community College – Merancas Campus and The Herald Newspaper. An officer from the Cornelius, Davidson, and the Huntersville Police Departments will be honored as well as members of the North Meck Rescue, and the local fire departments.
In addition to honoring the officers, the Guest Speaker will be Tamara Williams, the new Dean of Central Piedmont Community College – Merancas Campus. Dean Williams will touch on the role CPCC plays in training public safety officers and first responders.
Join us as we salute our first responders! RSVP by calling the Chamber at 704-892-1922 or online. The cost is $16 for Chamber members. Read more about this event here.
While the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan organization and we do not endorse candidates for elected office, we do believe in the principles of good government. We strongly encourage our members to actively engage themselves in the political debate in their local community, state, and nation. It is a shame that typically, only 13% of the electorate turn out to select elected leaders which will govern our communities and schools.
The Lake Norman Chamber encourages you to get to know the candidates running for office at all levels and vote for those who best represent your values and that of your business. We would also ask that if you are a Mecklenburg County voter, you Vote FOR the CMS and CPCC Bonds. If a Cornelius resident, Vote to SUPPORT all three Cornelius Town Bonds. These important bonds will provide the financial resources for our roads, school, and quality of life and will be critical components for our economic development efforts and the business growth of our region.
Perhaps Abraham Lincoln put it best when he said, "Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."
Let's all hope looking back from the days ahead, we don't regret the community and region we could have been simply because we didn't take time to be informed and take advantage of our right to vote on election day.
W.E. "Bill" Russell, CCE, IOM
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce