The Davie County Chamber of Commerce presented its 52nd Annual Chamber Meeting on Thursday, March 24th at WinMock in Bermuda Run.
The meeting was a sold-out event with 178 community and business leaders in attendance to hear about the “state of the region” and to honor the recipients of the Chamber’s signature awards: E.C. Tatum Humanitarian Award, Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, and Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
Chamber President Caroline Moser opened the meeting by acknowledging the continuing impact of the coronavirus global pandemic on the Davie County community. “Our community, like many others, continue to face lasting results of the past couple of years, with the labor shortage and/or supply chain issues.”
“Mother Teresa said, ‘I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot, together we can do great things.’ Some of you continue to struggle and others have found ways to grow, you are not an island, we are a community. I challenge you to be a community, those of you that are struggling reach out to those who have found new ways to navigate.”
Moser went on to detail some of the services the Chamber offers the business community. “Your Chamber is dedicated to helping you become that community. With labor shortages, we promote your job openings through our chamber website, through the management of DavieWorks.com, and host community job fairs. We facilitate HR & Plant Managers’ Educational luncheons to encourage collaboration amongst the group. These are just a few opportunities your Chamber has provided you to be a part of. We ARE and WILL ALWAYS be an advocate for your business. Think of your chamber as your Match.com; tell us what you need, and we will help you connect.”
Moser began by recognizing the 2021 Class of Leadership Davie. “Please look at who has personally invested in the county. These individuals have gained insightful knowledge from quality leaders and have had a hands-on approach to understanding life in our community. These individuals not only possess superb leadership skills, but they are the ones who will make your board better and make our community thrive. So, I encourage you to reach out to this class, as well as the past and present classes, to begin a conversation on how to plug them into your organization for the betterment of our community. They are our future!”
Chamber Board members then presented the Chamber’s highly anticipated awards: E.C. Tatum Humanitarian Award, Business of the Year, Small Business of the Year, and Chamber Ambassador of the Year.
The Davie County 2021 Business of the Year award was presented to Comfort Bilt by, Josh Hanes, past board chair, who recognized the company for its notable contributions to the community. He shared the following remarks:
The first tenant in the County’s first spec building, Comfort Bilt has made a home in Mocksville since 1999. The proud to be a “made in America” manufacturer started work in Mocksville manufacturing on a single production line. Today they build multiple brands in well over 1,000 product variations.
In 20 plus years they have made literally millions of products and employed hundreds of Davie County residents. Their business is built on core values of safety, quality, productivity, positive thinking, and teamwork.
“Not only is this company an important economic engine, but they have also become an important part of our community, as a valued partner with the Chamber and other local organizations,” said Hanes. “They have supported the Chamber as a Chamber Champion, participated in the bed race, supported the United Way of Davie Co. through an employee campaign, supported local food banks, and have had multiple participants in Leadership Davie.”
The Davie County 2020 Small Business of the Year Award was presented to Maddie Cakes Bakery by Melinda Szeliga, incoming board chair, who recognized owner Maddie Myers for her hard work and remarkable success despite the pandemic.
“This thriving small business is the quintessential American Dream,” said Szeliga, in her speech. “ It started with the daughter of a local family. A young girl with a servant’s heart whose hobby became a passion. Like with any business, there were trials and setbacks. Just look at the past two years, when many businesses struggled and even closed. But this young woman stayed true to her dream, and her community stayed true to her. Rather than floundering, this devoted young lady’s business thrived.”
“This business owner puts in long hours and has expanded her business twice, while always putting her customers and her employees before herself. And those who are close to her say she’s not slowing down anytime soon. Now remarkably in its fifth year, this business is Maddie Cakes Bakery and that determined young lady is Maddie Meyers.”
The 2021 E.C. Tatum Humanitarian Award was presented to Dr. Joel Edwards by Kathy Crews, daughter of E.C. Tatum. Chuck Taylor, executive director of the United Way of Davie County, presented the remarks.
“Quality is measured by the values that a body of people hold dear. In Davie County, we hold dear that a person of quality is one who exemplifies the character, persona, and values of a former person of distinction in our beloved community, Mr. E. C. Tatum. Mr. Tatum personified a commitment to our community for over 35 years through financial developments, humanitarian efforts, and community development,” said Taylor.
Today we honor Dr. Joel Edwards, a man whose love for others clearly represents the type of person that we want to hold high for years to come and who has built a legacy for others to follow.
“We saw a clear and decided devotion to the health and well-being of others. A service to not only the people of Davie County but to places that do not have quite so rich the opportunities afforded us here. We witnessed an intentional financial commitment to enhance the quality of life for our residents. These enhancements stem from this person’s personal expense and with no expectation for remuneration, or better said, “doing good for the sake of good itself.” In an age when investments happen only when “there is a good return on my money” this type of generosity shines like a beacon in the night,” said Taylor.
“Moreover, we saw wisdom on display for several local non-profits to ensure the quality of service exceeded the expectations of clients and donors alike. Even when faced with personal health struggles, like cancer, we witnessed an enhanced regimen of healthy living to battle these maladies.”
He went on to list Edwards’ many humanitarian contributions to the community. He has been an ardent volunteer for The Storehouse for Jesus, The Davie Community Foundation, Novant Health, Truist Bank, and his home church 1st United Methodist in Mocksville. He has helped on over 30 medical mission trips to Honduras. Moreover, he is a financial contributor to SmartStart of Davie County, Ignite Davie, Family Promise, the YMCA, Just Hope, Davie Community Foundation, the Storehouse for Jesus, MS Society, Novant Foundation, Carolina Honduras Foundation, Haiti’s Wings of Hope, United Way of Davie County, and has given considerable amounts of his time helping provide medical care to people facing emergencies or just needing assistance.
And he and his wife, Beth, have converted a portion of the now Colin Creek Golf Club into what is now the beautiful Park at Lake Louise. “They have done this at their own expense solely because they understand the value of healthy living and want others to fully enjoy the gift of life.”
“Dr. Joel Edwards is most certainly the definition of a humanitarian and Davie County is proud to call him ours.”
The 2021 Davie County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year award was presented to Andrea Kimura of Comfort Bilt by Chamber Board Director Thomas Johnson. Chamber Ambassadors promote their own companies; promote Chamber events and programs; visit new and existing Chamber members; represent the Chamber at groundbreakings, ribbon cuttings, and other Chamber events and assist with Chamber projects.
“A Chamber Ambassador is the Chamber’s biggest fan. They promote, support, and highlight, not only the Chamber itself but more importantly, the businesses we serve,” said Johnson.
In his speech about Kimura, Johnson noted, “The circumstances of the past couple of years have made everything more challenging. This individual met that challenge and continued the charge, serving as an ambassador since 2019, and also serving as chair for the past two years. She is an active community member, business leader, and entrepreneur, and yet still manages to find time to support the local business community.”
After the awards ceremony, Carolyn McManamy, director of Davie Connect, gave an IGNITE DAVIE update. IGNITE DAVIE is Davie County’s college promise program that pays tuition, fees, and a stipend for books for Davie County students to attend DDCC without incurring debt. Students can pursue a diploma, certificate, and associate/transfer degree.
McManamy shared how the program has grown since it was launched with graduating class of 2020: 71 students started their college career at DDCC the first year, 85 members of the class of 2021 took advantage of the program, and 86 students from the class of 2022 have already applied, and the deadline isn’t until May 15th. “Clearly the awareness and interest in IGNITE DAVIE is growing with our students and in our community!”
She went on to highlight the Career Connections component of the program, which is beginning this spring, explaining that it is a partnership with local employers to connect students with career exposure and work-based learning opportunities that align with a student’s academic pursuits.
“Career Connections provides students with real-world experience and employers gain access to a direct pipeline of well-educated students who will be joining the workforce,” said McManamy. She urged businesses to get involved, indicating that the program is looking for job shadowing opportunities, internships, tours, professional interviews, career fairs, and guest speaker events.
“We have 23 students graduating in May and July. Some are transferring to a four-year school but others are completing their programs and will be looking to start their careers. This is our up and coming workforce and they really need you to be involved with Career Connections.”
She ended by thanking those who have supported IGNITE DAVIE so far and inviting those new to the program to get involved. So far, the program has raised $2.2 million of the $3 million needed to ensure that IGNITE DAVIE is available in perpetuity. Learn more HERE.
Chamber Board Chair Keith Beck introduced keynote speaker, Mike Fox, president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, who leads regional efforts to promote the strengths and opportunities of the NC Carolina Core, partnering with economic development professionals and stakeholders, to build on strategies to recruit new businesses and jobs to the region.
Fox gave a “State of the Region” address detailing this year’s successes within the NC Carolina Core, a 17 county, 120+ mile stretch of central North Carolina from Yadkinville to Fayetteville encompassing Greensboro and High Point and Winston-Salem in close proximity to Charlotte and the Research Triangle, all along future Interstate 685.
“The region is doing great thanks to the work of the people you honored this morning as well as many others in our 17-county region. We’ve had a lot of great success over the last few years, a lot of it right here in Davie County. You’ve had some real wins as far as economic development goes,” said Fox.
Fox touted the benefits of creating a regional brand. “The Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP) is working to bring our communities together to work regionally to create a vision where municipal lines, county lines are not as important because they aren’t important to businesses that are looking to locate here. They want a community, a business climate that is favorable, they want available sites, they want a well-trained workforce and they don’t necessarily care where the county line is. Part of our mission has been to unify our different communities and counties across the area and help brand this region as an area that is desirable to live and to do business, and we have been very successful in that.”
He touted the recent Toyota Battery Phase 1 and Boom Supersonic announcements and their impact noting that they will bring thousands of jobs and more than $1.5 billion in investment to the region.
He also pointed out that there are currently 81 active business recruitment and expansion projects in the pipeline in the Carolina Core. These projects have 39,610 jobs and a potential $27.1 billion investment associated with them.
“We feel like we are poised to pick up the growth that Charlotte and Raleigh have been experiencing for decades… People across the country now know where that is and what we do and what we have to offer here.”
Moser ended the annual event by thanking the many sponsors that helped make the meeting a success. “This meeting would not have been possible without our generous sponsors Lambert Funeral Home, and My Geek Technologies.”
She also recognized Chamber Champions Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Davie Medical Center, Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Brakebush Brothers, Comfort Bilt, DEX Heavy Duty Parts, Duke Energy, Hampton Inn of Bermuda Run, Iredell Family Care Center, Marzano Capital Group, Red Thread, Re/Max Realty Consultants – Melinda Szeliga, TRU Taekwondo, United Way of Davie County, and WinMock at Kinderton.
Photo Credits: One Shot Photography