Monday, 30 October 2017 15:11

The Politics of Business

Tip O’Neil, the 55th Speaker of the House and perhaps one of the most influential members of the United States Congress once said, “All politics is local.” He coined the phrase in a 1992 Congressional campaign running against an attorney who was heavily financed with out of state campaign contributions. What O’Neil was referring to was the principles that a politician’s success is directly linked to his or her ability to understand fully and influence the issues of their constituents.

The last few weeks and the week ahead will see a flurry of campaigning for local office and school board by both incumbents wishing to hold onto their seats and newcomers looking for an opportunity to serve. This year’s town boards are quite competitive with perhaps the most ever seeking an opportunity to represent their community.

The last local election could have been seen as a referendum on I-77 as tolls at Lake Norman figured prominently into the debate. There is no question that transportation – whether they are state roads or under local control – are critical in the minds of voters.

ReaganThe Chamber has aggressively advocated for the cancellation of the Cintra Contract and moving forward with general purpose lanes since we adopted a Resolution calling for that action in June of 2015.

At a recent trip to my dentist, he pointed out I-77 has significantly impacted his business as they almost daily have to shuffle appointments from patients who are caught in traffic. Those of course are  patients who choose to reschedule!

This election cycle, voters in Mecklenburg County will decide the fate of a $922 million Charlotte Mecklenburg School Bond. As I write this article, your Chamber Board has not taken a position on the Bonds and may not.

As business leaders, we understand that education – public and private – is the foundation of our economic and business development. Our schools provide our workforce and the future generation which will inherit our communities tomorrow.

One of my favorite politicians of all time was Ronald Reagan. I met Reagan when I was National President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).

It is well documented that Speaker O’Neil and President Reagan were constantly at odds. O’Neil said Reagan was the most ignorant man who ever occupied the White House and “a cheerleader for selfishness.” In his memoirs, the Speaker was asked about the attacks on the President and how the two seemed to remain friends. O’Neil commented, “Before 6:00 pm it’s all politics.”

Reagan himself once quipped, “If you’re afraid of the future, then get out of the way, stand aside. The people of this country are ready to move again.”

Our economy seems to be doing quite well and I believe our citizens are ready to get moving again. The businesses of Lake Norman have looked to the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce for 30 years to help create jobs and provide an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and business development.

The bottom line is we as business, community, and elected leaders cannot go back and change any mistakes that were made yesterday but we can create a brand new beginning. A change that begins with us, one person and one community at a time. It is the charge we have from our past and the responsibility we owe to the future.

Bill Russell

This column was written originally for the October Lake Norman Chamber Splash Newsletter and appeared as a Guest Column in the October 4th issue issue of the Lake Norman Citizen Newspaper (Page 32), Photo taken at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) Portland Oregon, June 1992.

 

Published in President's Blog

Logo VertVoters 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!

Bill Russell
President & CEO
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce

 

Published in President's Blog

Focus Friday – Friday, May 19th, 2017 8:30-10 am

049 640x480 CopyFocus on Mecklenburg County & Ramsey Creek Beach
Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce 19900 West Catawba Ave, Cornelius NC

This month, Friday, May 19th from 8:30-10 am, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce will focus on Mecklenburg County and the re-opening of Ramsey Creek Beach in Cornelius. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett will be on hand to discuss the Mecklenburg County Budget and answer questions from those who attend on a variety of questions impacting the County.

Also on hand is Greg Clemmer, Mecklenburg County Park Operations Manager who will discuss the Re-Opening of Ramsey Creek Beach located at 18441 Nantz Road in Cornelius, The beach is slated to open May 20, 2017 through Labor Day.

Individuals and families planning a trip to the beach will be able to visit daily between 10 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Lifeguards will be on duty during beach hours.

Throughout the summer (May 20, 2017- Labor Day), a park entrance fee will be collected. Rates are as follows:

Vehicles Monday - Thursday
• County resident $5 per vehicle
• Non-County resident $10 per vehicle

Vehicles Friday - Sunday and County observed holidays
• County resident $10 per vehicle
• Non-County resident $15 per vehicle

Walk-in
• Individuals 14 years and older $5 each039 640x480
• Children 6-13 years old $3 each
• Children under 6 years old FREE

Season Passes
• Season park pass County resident $52
• Season park pass non-County resident $77

Beach Shuttle
A free shuttle will operate from Northcross Park and Ride lot in Huntersville (17126 Northcross Drive) to Ramsey Creek Beach on weekends and holidays. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Beach goers who use the shuttle will have free access to the beach.

Focus Friday is a public policy program of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce which examines community and legislative issues from multiple perspectives. While intended for chamber of commerce members and community leaders, guests are welcome by RSVP to the Chamber at 704-892-1922. Focus Friday is presented by Novant Health - Huntersville Medical Center and sponsored by Business Today and WSIC 100.7 FM. The program is emceed by Public Policy Chairman Joshua Dobi.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce, with approximately 1,000 business members, represents the Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and greater Lake Norman regional business community.

 

Published in Member News

downloadRALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday that several key transportation projects aimed at improving regional mobility and better connecting central North Carolina’s communities will be included in the state's next draft 10-year transportation plan, which will be released in January 2017. The plan includes the years 2018 through 2027.

“A strong transportation network is the backbone of the state’s economy,” Governor Pat McCrory said. “We took the politics out of transportation planning to ensure roads and other important infrastructure are prioritized based on need. These projects demonstrate the process is working as intended to make smart decisions that keep North Carolina moving.”

Projects for central North Carolina include:

  • Widening N.C. 50 (Creedmoor Road) from I-540 to N.C. 98 in Wake County, which will help reduce congestion along a major corridor to the Raleigh economic center from the north.
  • Improving N.C. 68 (Eastchester Drive) from Hickswood Road to Gallimore Dairy Road in Guilford County, which will enhance safety and mobility along an important regional corridor between the greater High Point area and the Piedmont Triad International Airport.
  • Constructing another segment of the western section of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway from N.C. 67 to south of U.S. 52 in Forsyth County, which will improve regional mobility.
  • Widening N.C. 24 from N.C. 73 to the Troy Bypass in Montgomery County, completing a four-lane N.C. 24/27 connection between Charlotte and I-73/74.
  • Widening N.C. 73 from U.S. 29 in Cabarrus County to N.C. 115 in Mecklenburg County and from Northcross Drive in Mecklenburg County to N.C. 16 in Lincoln County, providing improved access within the Lake Norman/Cabarrus County region.

A complete list of projects can be found at NCDOT.gov/STI.

“These projects are helping to fulfill the Governor’s 25-Year Vision for transportation in North Carolina by improving regional connections and enhancing freight movement,” State Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said.

The projects are being paid for under the state’s Strategic Transportation Investments law, which allows the department to use data and local input to fund transportation projects at three levels: statewide, regionally and locally (also referred to as being at the division level).

The list of projects in the draft at the statewide level was released in May and is also available online. Projects included at the division level are expected to be released in late fall, and after final schedule adjustments, the draft 10-year plan will be made available.

Background
Under the Strategic Transportation Investments law, projects are evaluated based on a combination of data and local input. Statewide project scores are based entirely on data-driven criteria; regional project scores are based on 70 percent data and 30 percent local input, which is based on an established methodology; and division project scores are based on 50 percent data and 50 percent local input.

Projects that did not score high enough to be funded at the statewide level rolled over to the regional level to be considered for funding. Projects that did not make the list for regional-level funding can still be considered at the division level. This cascading aspect of the process helps ensure that local input plays an important role in prioritizing projects for funding.

In June and July, the department’s local transportation divisions and the state’s metropolitan and regional planning organizations held a public comment period to receive local input on area projects. Local input “points” were then assigned to each regional project by the NCDOT divisions and the planning organizations based on this feedback to determine the projects’ overall scores.

Next Steps
Now that the regional projects have been finalized, another public comment period will be held this fall, and local input points will be assigned to each of the division-level projects, including those that have cascaded down from the statewide and regional levels.

When all project scores are finalized at the statewide, regional and division levels, the top-scoring projects will be scheduled into NCDOT’s draft 10-year plan based on available funding and other factors – such as the status of environmental studies – that affect when a project can be completed.
Once the draft plan is released, a public comment period will be held and then the final plan is expected to be adopted by the N.C. Board of Transportation in June 2017.

The department’s 10-year plan is updated every two years using this process. Projects scheduled into the first five years of the plan are considered committed and will not be reevaluated, but projects in the final five years of each 10-year plan will be prioritized again for inclusion in the next plan.

Published in Member News

ramseysignFor nearly twenty years, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce has advocated for a public beach to be created in North Mecklenburg for the residents and guests of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville and neighboring Lake Norman communities. Chamber president Bill Russell first cited the need for a public swimming beach in editorials to area papers in 1997. According to Russell, “While there is a public beach at Lake Norman Sate Park in Troutman (Exit 42), unless you have lake front property or a personal watercraft or access to either, you simply are left high and dry at the lake.”

Momentum for public swimming in North Mecklenburg really took a step forward with the hiring of Jim Garges as the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Director in 2007. Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner (District #1) Karen Bentley and NC Senator Jeff Tarte, then Cornelius Mayor, added their strong support and moved the project forward with other elected officials and county staff.

After years of advocating, planning, budgeting, and ultimately constructing North Mecklenburg’s first Public Beach it is set to open Memorial Day Weekend. Parks and Recreation Director Garges indicated at previous workshops held on the topic that the county planned to spend $425,700 on the beach which should host approximately 500 swimmers. It is anticipated parking will accommodate 127 cars.

Garges will be on hand to give business and community leaders details on the project at the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Focus Friday this Friday, March 18th from 8:30 am until 10 am at the Chamber located at 19900 West Catawba Avenue in Cornelius. The program is presented by Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center and sponsored by Business Today and WISC 100.7 FM. It is intended for Lake Norman Chamber members but members of the public are welcomed provided they RSVP to the Chamber at 704-892-1922.

Garges will be joined by Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett who will share his perspective on the new beach and other county issues.

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce with approximately 1,000 members serves the business communities of Huntersville, Davidson, Cornelius, and the greater Lake Norman region.

Published in Member News

Bentley2012Join us Friday, June 21 8:30- 10:00 am for the Lake Norman Chamber Focus Friday as Karen Bentley, Mecklenburg County Commissioner District #1, gives a special presentation on Mecklenburg County including the status of the Re-Evaluation, the search for a new County Manager, Public Access Swimming, and the County Budget. The Focus Friday is open to all members (and invited guests) and members are encouraged to ask questions. The program is sponsored by DavidsonNews.net and CorneliusNews.net .and is held at the Chamber 19900 West Catawba Ave in Cornelius.

Commissioner Bentley is a Republican elected to her third term on the Board. Bentley serves on the Board of University City Partners and is a member of the South Iredell/North Mecklenburg United Family Services Advisory Board. She served on the board of directors of Lake Norman Charter School.

Bentley has 23 years of executive sales experience. She received a degree in business administration from the University of Montana, where she was elected to the Associated Students of the University of Montana and appointed to the Silent Sentinel, a select group of students working anonymously on projects enriching campus life.

Bill Russell, president of the Chamber, states that Commissioner Bentley has been a strong proponent of business growth and economic development.  "Karen has been a dynamic representative for District #1 as well as Mecklenburg County.  Whether its providing a strong voice on issues ranging from a Victim's Advocate and Magistrate to public access swimming, Karen works hard for her constituents.  She has been a great friend to the Chamber and business community as well providing resources for our existing business and industry to grow." 

Any local citizen wishing to attend this informative program should call the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce to RSVP at 704-892-1922.

Published in President's Blog
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