By Laura Doster, Executive Director
As we move into 2022, we thought it would be nice to share what our Chamber is working on and how you can support our Chamber. It certainly has been a tough two years for everyone, we are no exception! Nonetheless, we are optimistic and continue to develop programs and initiatives to enrich the lives of our residents, promote local businesses, seek out new business opportunities, collaborate with community leaders and find ways to connect with our visitors.
Our board has been reviewing past signature events and ensuring future events support our businesses and community interests. In 2022 we will host the Soup & Salad Contest in February. Details coming soon via our website and Facebook page. February will also bring a “public’ meeting to present our Culinary Journey Through Tuscany. This is a seven day trip starting October 25, 2022 through the Chianti Region of Italy. In June is the Lure of the Swim and in August the Olympiad. Lake Lure Classical Academy’s Music Festival will return in June. July will bring, once again, Starfire Pyrotechnics fabulous 4th of July fireworks display. September is goal again for the Lake Lure Dirty Dancing Festival. Contrary to rumors, we have not lost the rights to the festival. October 28th & 29th is the first Jeep Show event by Lake Lure Jeep Rentals. After Thanksgiving, is the 3rd Annual Light Up the Gorge. December returns our Holiday Gala. Other events we continue to support are the Spring & Fall Arts & Crafts Festivals and the Classical Auto & Boat Show.
Monthly we search for our business members to host a Chamber Cheers. This provides our local merchants the chance to shine a light on what they do and share their goals and vision (and have a little fun). Ribbon cutting ceremonies are provided for new business openings, community project completions, etc. Social media is a great way for our Chamber to keep the public informed as well as share local business happenings.
Economic Development efforts continue to progress. The Hickory Nut Gorge Outdoor Initiative is moving full steam ahead. We have released the NCGrowth Hickory Nut Gorge Asset Map and Report to our Outdoor partners, Gorge businesses and community leaders. The gaps we are addressing are hosting a quarterly meeting of our HNG/WNC Outdoor partners, working with local businesses to connect them with the Outdoor enthusiasts to extend shoulder season hours, creating an outdoor rec “hub”, and creating a marketing plan to brand the Hickory Nut Gorge as an outdoor destination. Finding a bank is a huge priority for us right now. There have been encouraging discussions with several banks, but no deal yet.
Lastly, collaborating, networking and hosting presentations is an ongoing effort with other Chamber Executives in WNC and the Carolinas, Rutherford County Commissioners & Manager, other surrounding town mayors and managers, the Tourism Development Authority, Rutherford County Economic Development, Lake Lure Town Council, Mayor & Directors, NC Commerce, Duke Power, and many other regional organizations and representatives. Having relationships with all these groups are critically important to place our community needs in the forefront, stay informed and find new ways to support our Gorge community.