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The Chamber Convenes 400+ Community Leaders for 2020 Annual Meeting

Chamber members share success stories and honor three outstanding leaders as Directors discuss 2019 achievements, 2020 priorities, and Big Bold Ideas


Chapel Hill, NC – On January 31, 2020, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro (The Chamber) convened more than 400 Chamber members and community leaders for the 77th Annual Meeting presented by Bold Construction. During the meeting, Chamber members shared success stories and honored three outstanding leaders as Directors discussed 2019 achievements, 2020 priorities, and Big Bold Ideas. 

2019 Achievements   

New this year, in addition to discussing 2019 performance and releasing the 2019 Annual Report, the Annual Meeting featured updates from Chamber members who made the most of their Chamber membership and maximized their business success.
 

Member successes from left to right: Vimala Rajendran, chef and founder of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café; Betsy Brucker Harris, IT Project Coordinator for Armacell; David Newton, founder and president of Local Presence SEO; Stephen Dunn, founder and principal of Graphix Solutions; Barbara Jessie-Black, Executive Director of CommunityWorx and member of the Carrboro Business Alliance (CBA) Leadership Council, Connolly Walker, North Carolina’s youngest State Farm Agent Insurance Agent and Chair of Chapel Hill Young Professionals (CHYP) network, Wes Rowe, General Manager of The Franklin Hotel and graduate of Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Paige Zinn, second-generation owner of healthcare marketing firm, Jennings, and Chair of the Orange County Economic Development Advisory Board; Scott Maitland, founder and proprietor Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery and proprietor of TOPO Distillery. Scroll down for a summary of their stories.

The 2019 Chair of the Chamber’s Board, Creighton Blackwell of Coastal Credit Union, summarized 2019 by saying, “During my term, we put an emphasis on four things: 1) Delivering Member Value, 2) Improving Operational Efficiency, 3) Ensuring Financial Sustainability, and 4) Increasing Community Impact. I’m proud that we delivered on all objectives. Your Chamber and our business community had a very good year.” 

Awards

During the Annual Meeting, three outstanding local leaders were recognized with special awards.
 

 
Awardees from left to right: Tom Stevens, Former Mayor of Hillsborough and 2019 Recipient of The Chair’s Award for Public-Private Partnership; Reagan Greene Pruitt, Vice President, Marketing & Community Engagement, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC (Blue Cross NC) and 2019 Recipient of The Chair’s Award for Service to The Chamber; and Dr. William (Bill) Ingram, President, Durham Technical Community College and the 2019 Recipient of The Duke Energy Citizenship & Service Award. Scroll down for the full citations.

Big Bold Ideas 

The Big Bold Steering Committee Chair, Creighton Blackwell of Coastal Credit Union, provided an inspirational update on Big Bold Ideas – the community-wide goal-setting venture that was launched at the 2019 Annual Meeting – and played a short film created by John Bollenbacher of Critical Focus Creative, which captured the big, bold progress throughout 2019. 
 

 

Blackwell acknowledged the founding investors of Big Bold Ideas - Atma Hotel Group, Bank of America, Bold Construction, Coastal Credit Union, East West Partners, Fidelity Investments, and ShineBiG – and reiterated the three shared goals that will make a substantial and positive impact on the community in the years ahead: 1) Create dramatically more affordable housing; 2) Increase all students’ performance and close the achievement gap, and 3) Accelerate innovation and workforce development.

Going forward, the Big Bold Steering Committee will establish sub-committees for each big bold idea, help establish specific and measurable objectives for each idea, and raise funds. Blackwell called on all Annual Meeting attendees to get involved through volunteer service and financial contributions.

2020 Vision & Leadership 

The Chamber’s new Board Chair, Ellen Shannon of Shannon Media, Inc – producer of Chapel Hill, Chatham, and Durham Magazines – introduced the Chamber’s 2020 priorities and leadership team (Executive Committee members) who will help bring the vision into reality. 

The Chamber’s has three priorities for 2020: 1) Deliver on a new member promise that better reflects community impact work (“drive progress and build community”), 2) expand small business services, and 3) increase Chamber membership diversity and inclusivity.
 
The Chamber’s 2020 Executive Committee: Chair Ellen Shannon, Shannon Media, Inc and Chapel Hill Magazine; Vice Chair Tom Wiltberger, Terra Nova Global Properties; Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair Joel Levy, Joel I. Levy CPA, PLLC; General Counsel Robert (Bob) Saunders, Brooks Pierce; Chair of the Partnership for a Sustainable Community, Creighton Blackwell, Coastal Credit Union; Membership Committee Chair Lori Doherty, Doherty Home Inspection; Government Affairs Committee Chair Betsy Brucker Harris, Armacell; Technology Committee Chair Tola Oguntoyinbo, ShineBiG, and Secretary and CEO Aaron Nelson, President and CEO, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro. Review the full list of 2020 Directors of the Board.
 
Chair Shannon closed her 2020 vision by saying, “Have high expectations of us. Count on us to deliver real value for your business and to our economy and our community.” The meeting concluded with Chamber President and CEO, Aaron Nelson, inviting members to join us for International Travel (Peru in May, Greece in Nov, and Christmas Market Cruise in December), Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro starting in May, and the Inter-City Visit in October.
 

About the Annual Meeting 

The 77th Annual Meeting was held at The Carolina Club in Chapel Hill from 7:30-10:00am. Event photographs were taken by Nicole Danielle Photography and will be available on the Chamber’s flickr account, Annual Report was designed by Christy Gharbo at VizualWorx, and trophies were provided by Signs Now with engraving by Occasions Engraving. The 2020 Annual Meeting was presented by Bold Construction with additional sponsors including Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau, Coastal Credit UnionCMIT SolutionsPiedmont HealthEast West PartnersTerra Nova Global PropertiesDuke EnergyUNC Student StoresGlen Lennox, Nicole Danielle PhotographyCommunity Home TrustErickson Advisors, and Prestige Associates.


About The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro

The Chamber is a membership organization that serves and advances the business interests of Greater Chapel Hill, including the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro as well as southern Orange, northern Chatham, and southwest Durham counties. The Chamber's network is growing with nearly 800-member enterprises that employ more than 95,000 workers throughout the region. Together with its network, The Chamber is committed to building a sustainable community where business thrives.

Contact: Katie Loovis, VP for External Affairs, The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, KLoovis@carolinachamber.org, (919) 696-0781 (cell).
 
 

Member Success Stories

 
Vimala Rajendran, chef and founder of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, made the most of the Chamber’s Small Business Health Plan. She accessed high quality, low cost health care through the Chamber’s partnership with Piedmont Health and provided it to her own family and employees. She encouraged all Chamber members to take advantage of this and other vital Chamber member money saving benefits.

Betsy Brucker Harris, IT Project Coordinator for Armacell and Chair of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee, saw several business owners save precious time and significant money by engaging Chamber staff when navigating complicated governmental rules and regulations as they started or grew their businesses. She encouraged all members to take advantage of the Chamber’s governmental affairs support.

David Newton, founder and president of Local Presence SEO, made the most of several Chamber events, including Business After Hours, and made valuable new connections that allowed him to grow his business. He encouraged all members to take advantage of the Chamber’s networking opportunities.

Stephen Dunn, founder and principal of Graphix Solutions, made the most of the Chamber network as he developed and launched his business concept, and then maximized his business growth through Chamber promotional opportunities and awards. He encouraged members to take advantage of the Chamber’s promotional opportunities and awards.

Barbara Jessie-Black, the Executive Director of CommunityWorx and member of the Carrboro Business Alliance (CBA) Leadership Council, shared how nearly 100 Carrboro-serving enterprises are working together to foster a more vibrant Carrboro. She unveiled a new video produced by I-40 Films and encouraged all Chamber members serving Carrboro to take advantage of the complimentary membership in the CBA.

Connolly Walker, the newest State Farm Agent Insurance Agent now serving the Greater Chapel Hill community praised the Chapel Hill Young Professionals (CHYP) network as a key element in her professional development to becoming State Farm’s youngest agent in North Carolina’s history. She encouraged all Chamber members under 40 years of age to take advantage of the Chamber’s CHYP connections and professional development.

Wes Rowe, General Manager of The Franklin Hotel also recognized The Chamber’s professional development programs as significant in his own journey to as he rose through the ranks in the hospitality industry. He encouraged all Chamber members to sign-up for Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro.

Paige Zinn - a lifelong Chapel Hillian, second-generation owner of healthcare marketing firm, Jennings, and Chair of the Orange County Economic Development Advisory Board - acknowledged The Chamber’s long history of advocating for regional economic development and shared recent wins (nearly $200 million in investments through ABB, Medline Industries, Well, and the Lloyd Farm project, and the creation of more than 1,000 new jobs). She thanked local elected officials for recent incentives and successful job creation and encouraged all Chamber members to get involved and stay involved our collective advocacy.

Scott Maitland, founder and proprietor Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery and proprietor of TOPO Distillery, made the most of direct access to Chamber staff for real-time, business-critical information and encouraged all Chamber members to take advantage of this member access. He proceeded to share Chamber President and CEO Aaron Nelson’s cell phone. 
 

Award Citations

 
Tom Stevens, Recipient of the 2019 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership

Citation read by Creighton Blackwell: “First, I am so excited to present The Chair’s Award for Public-Private Partnership, sponsored this year by East West Partners. East West is one of North Carolina’s most successful developers with a long history of community-building, environmentally responsible developments that help create a distinct sense of place.

This year marks the tenth year the Chamber has presented an award to recognize an individual whose work and community service builds bridges between the community’s public and private sectors. This year’s award is presented to an elected official with more than a decade-long track record of public and private partnership.

Our winner is a social worker by training, a master wood craftsman, an accomplished professional painter, a business coach, a mentor and sought-after personal and professional advisor. A man who taught our Chamber, through several facilitated Board retreats, how to set clear goals and report on them. A Chamber Major Investor whose work with our Leadership Chapel Hill-Carrboro program has helped shape a new generation of community leaders. A man who successfully served for a decade as mayor of the Town of Hillsborough and helped transition the community from Historic Hillsborough to what we have heard him call ‘Happening Hillsborough.’

From intercity visits to regional planning efforts, we credit Mayor Tom with bringing Hillsborough to the regional table. This past year, and for many years, Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens has demonstrated a commitment to public-private partnerships and effectively and consistently strengthened his community’s partnership with the business community throughout the county and region. Please join me in recognizing Tom Stevens with the 2019 Chair’s Award for Public Private Partnership!”  

Reagan Greene Pruitt, Recipient of the 2019 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber and its members

Citation read by Creighton Blackwell: “Next, it is my honor to present the Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber and its Members. This award is presented to an individual in recognition of their exceptional service to the Chamber, its mission, and its members and is awarded to a Chamber board member or volunteer whose service to our organization has left a lasting and positive impact on our organization and our community.

This year’s winner is a long-serving member of the Chamber’s board of directors and an active leader in the greater Chapel Hill community. A fearless leader with zero interest in doing small things and a successful track record is taking on big projects and doing them well. As the 2018 Chair of The Chamber’s Board of Directors, this leader set a new bar for ambition and success.

Under her leadership your Chamber: 1) Hosted the most successful membership drive in The Chamber’s history welcoming more than 200 members and raising more than $100,000; 2) Launched a new brand and new name for the Chamber; and 3) Personally secured major investor support for our successful economic and community development work.

For 10 outstanding years of service on the Chamber Board, it is my pleasure to present the Vice President for Marketing and Community Engagement at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Ms. Reagan Greene Pruitt, with the 2019 Chair’s Award for Service to the Chamber and its members!”

Dr. William (Bill) Ingram, 2019 Recipient of the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award 

Citation read by Vakesia Graves: “Good Morning! Duke Energy is proud to partner again with The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro to recognize outstanding leadership in our community through the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.

With more than 115 years of service, Duke Energy understands that the true work of our communities is accomplished by people like those gathered here today – people who make a positive difference in the lives of others through service.

The Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award is a tribute to individuals or groups who make a difference in their communities and organizations by using their time, talents, and compassion to make a positive difference.

Recipients of the award help foster a culture of citizenship and service that acts as a catalyst for others to become involved. The honoree must exhibit the following business values: integrity, stewardship, inclusion, initiative, teamwork, and accountability.

My colleague, Indira Everett, who usually presents this award, could not be with us today but sends her regards. She wanted me to relay her excitement about today’s honoree. She has observed our honorees’ passion for helping the community and his relentless voice on ensuring equity is top of mind in every effort he leads.  She believes there is no one more deserving of this award.

Today it is my honor to join the Chamber and Duke Energy in recognizing one of our regions greatest champions for education and an individual committed to expanding educational opportunities for all, the President of Durham Technical Community College, Dr. Bill Ingram.

Dr. Bill Ingram has served our community and Durham Tech in various capacities for more than 35 years, the last twelve as its President.

Under Bill’s leadership, Durham Tech has grown to include new campus locations, additional buildings on the Main Campus, and new programs to offer more opportunities for students to earn livable wages and achieve upward economic mobility.

Dr. Ingram helped Durham Tech adopt a new strategic plan and expressed a clear objective - to be a first-choice institution.  A first-choice place to work for faculty and staff and a first choice for its students.

Dr. Ingram led Durham Tech’s expansion into Orange County with the Orange County Campus in Hillsborough. It was also under Bill’s leadership that Durham Tech achieved national recognition as a “Leader College” with Achieving the Dream for an outstanding commitment to minority male student success.

Bill is a leader among leaders in the world of community colleges and is a peer evaluator and former trustee for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and has co-authored a book on community colleges. Bill has expanded access and lowered the cost of high school student participation with dual enrollment and scholarships for local students. And Dr. Ingram successfully partnered with Duke Energy to form a line workers certification program that launched in 2019.

Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Ingram created and leads Durham Tech’s largest ever capital campaign, which is rapidly approaching its ambitious goal of $5 million to support the educational objectives of the people of our community. 

Dr. William Ingram: for your exceptional service to our college and community, and - most importantly - in the lives of so many students; for always going the extra mile; and for being a leader among leaders nationally, and always making your local community proud, it is my privilege to present to you, on behalf of Duke Energy and The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the 2020 Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award. Congratulations!”
 
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