By Nathan Ham
Boone area businesses will come together on Thursday for the 70th Annual Boone Area Chamber of Commerce Meeting happening at the Holmes Convocation Center.
Each year, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce comes together to celebrate local businesses and hand out awards to business leaders that have played a positive role in the community.
“The common thread between all of the folks that we will be honoring is that they really do put community first in their thoughts and efforts, whether it be the back to school festival that satisfies a huge need in the community or someone who has been volunteering in organizations around the community forever,” said David Jackson, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO. “This is the opportunity for the entire business community to get together and really celebrate what been largely a very successful year for so many.”
The speaker for this year’s event will be Andrew Davis. Davis is a bestselling author and internationally acclaimed keynote speaker. Before building and selling a thriving digital marketing agency, Davis produced for NBC’s Today Show, worked for The Muppets in New York and wrote for Charles Kuralt.
Davis has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and on NBC and the BBC. He has crafted documentary films and award-winning content for tiny start-ups and Fortune 500 brands.
Recognized as one of the industry’s “Jaw-Dropping Marketing Speakers,” Andrew is a mainstay on global marketing influencer lists. Wherever he goes, Davis puts his infectious enthusiasm and magnetic speaking style to good use teaching business leaders how to grow their businesses, transform their cities, and leave their legacy.
“We’re really excited about the speaker. He specializes in working with communities of all sizes and helping them make sense of what they are best known for, both internally externally, and really talks about how that can best be leveraged, and in our case, off the mountain,” Jackson said. “As we think about business recruitment, recruiting families to come to the area and in some cases urging businesses to stay in the area, he helps communities create a dialogue around what strengths there are here and what the community can ultimately support well.”
Jackson says that taking what Davis tells them will be a “great opportunity to help drive conversations for the next year.”
“We will certainly be outlining some of the plans we have as a chamber, but also eager to have conversations that can lead us down other roads. Some of the biggest things that we were involved with this past year were not on our radar at this time last year,” added Jackson. “Those conversations that start when you get people together ultimately lead to issues being brought to the forefront and we will always try to advocate for our members.”
One of those things that the chamber was involved with that no one planned for was the Highway 105 Superstreet Project. The chamber spoke out on behalf of several businesses on the Highway 105 corridor during the project discussions held with town officials.
Tickets for the event are $40 for chamber members and $50 for non-chamber members. There will also be raffle tickets available for purchase where the winner will receive a grand prize of a $2,500 credit to a vacation through local business A Travel Story. A portion of ticket sales will also go to benefit the non-profit organization WAMY Community Action. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $25 or five tickets for $100.
Jackson said that the chamber is anticipating having between 400 and 500 people in attendance for the event to celebrate Boone’s business community.
“We appreciate the support that people and many legacy businesses that have been in the chamber of decades. Our membership is at one of its highest points that we’ve had in several years. That’s a testament o the strength of the business community right now, but also hopefully people enjoy and benefit from what the chamber can provide them,” said Jackson. “You want people to ultimately be benefitting from the services. From 1943 until now, there have been discussions of the ultimate path of the community that the chamber has been involved in or helped facilitate and we hope to be involved doing that for another 70 years.”
2019 Community Award Winners
Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development:
Booneshine Brewing Company completed a move to a new production facility and a 3,500 square-foot tasting room in East Boone during the past year. Started in 2015 by Tim Herdklotz and Carson Coatney, Booneshine increased its production capacity from 1,500 barrels of beer per year to over 4,000 after the move.
The Alfred Adams Award for Economic Development recognizes individuals and/or organizations who have worked for the orderly growth and development of Boone and Watauga County. Adams served as a local banker and provided influence on many Chamber committees in the organization’s formative years.
Baker/Jones Woman of the Year Award:
Carolyn Clark, Founder, After Ever Communications, LLC , started her own Public Relations Firm to assist international business brands with corporate communication strategies. She serves as a member of the Silicon Hollar Advisory Board, assisting local entrepreneurs in the High Country with growth planning and ideation. She is an adjunct professor in the Appalachian State University Department of Communication and is Past President of the App State Alumni Association.
The Baker-Jones Woman of the Year award is named for long-time Chamber volunteers Gillian Baker and Susan Jones. This award honors an inspiring member who exemplifies the qualities of leadership, mentorship, and community involvement.
Dan Meyer Community Partnership Award:
The Back 2 School Festival is an annual event that aids any Watauga County Family that is struggling to afford the high costs of sending their children back to school. In 2018, nearly 1,200 children were served by the program. Over 2,000 people attended the festival that is funded largely by business, non-profit, and faith community support and volunteer hours.
The Dan Meyer Community Partnership Award recognizes a community leader for their efforts to bring multiple parties together for a common cause. Meyer served as President/CEO of the Chamber for 12-years before retiring in August of 2016.
Sue W. Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism:
Valle Country Fair is an authentic fall festival and juried arts and crafts show, featuring food, mountain music, and crafts. Celebrating its 40th year in 2018, the fair attracted over 13,000 visitors and 160 juried artists to the Valle Crucis Community. Last year’s fair channeled $40,000 to High Country organizations which serve people in need.
The Sue W. Wilmoth Award for the Advancement of Tourism is named for the former Chamber Director, who used her influence in tourism promotion to capitalize on the region’s natural resources while balancing progress with preservation.
everGREEN Award for Sustainability:
The Cove Creek School Solar Array is a 5-kilowatt photovoltaic array that was installed at the school thanks to the help of NC GreenPower, a group that supports renewable energy carbon offset projects by providing grants for solar installations at K-12 schools across North Carolina. Cove Creek students and families raised more than $14,000 in corporate and local support to assist with installation. Beyond supplying the school with a portion of its power, the new solar array is also equipped with a weather station and allows for real-time monitoring of the system’s output and performance. The system is designed with education in mind, its addition to the school is paired with curriculum-based content to help students learn how solar power systems are incorporated into the energy grid.
The evergreen Award is presented to a business, organization, project, or person who has furthered the inclusion and integration of sustainable development principles.
Ben Suttle Special Services Award for Volunteer Leadership:
Cindy Wallace, Chair, Western Youth Network Board of Directors, has been a part of the Boone community for over three decades. She was first introduced to WYN during a long career at Appalachian State University. Wallace advanced her involvement with the organization by joining the Board of Directors in 2016. In her year as Chair, she assisted in organizing efforts to aid WYN staff in administering events, projects, and programming.
The Ben Suttle Special Services Award, named for the former Boone Town Councilman, recognizes the spirit of volunteerism in the community.
Wade Brown Award for Community Involvement:
Lane Robinson, Owner, Creekside Electronics has been involved with numerous High Country organizations as a native to the area. He recently completed a year as President of the Boone Sunrise Rotary Club and maintains an active role in volunteer and project support with the organization. He currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Southern Appalachian Historical Society Board of Directors, helping the group administer the annual Horn in the West outdoor drama. Robinson donates time to Western Youth Network, helping spearhead the Men for WYN initiative. He frequently donates items from his family business, Creekside Electronics, for silent auctions and fundraisers for local non-profit organizations.
The Wade Brown Award for Community Involvement is the Chamber’s oldest award, dating back to 1979. Named after the first recipient of the honor, this award recognizes a significant contribution through community engagement.