Belmont Chamber of Commerce

Coffee with Local Legislators – April 11

Have Coffee & Conversation With Local Legislators on April 11

Here’s your chance to ask questions of and make suggestions to your local legislators

before the N.C. General Assembly convenes in May. Sen. David Hoyle, Rep. William Current

and Rep. Wil Neumann are scheduled to participate in a Chamber Coffee & Conversation

on Friday, April 11, at Queen of The Apostles Catholic Church Family Center, 503 N. Main St., Belmont.

david-w-hoyle.jpg Hoyle   wil-neumann.jpg Neumann

bill-current.jpg  Dr. Current

Coffee and juice and a light breakfast will be provided starting at 7:30 a.m. The program will start promptly at

8 a.m. and end at 9. The cost is $5 at the door. Registration is requested by email to info@belmontchamber.com.

For more information, call 704-825-5307, or go to the Chamber website at www.belmontchamber.com.

Wow ! Newcomers make another impact

See The Spectacular 33 N. Main Renovation Thursday

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What a difference in the building at 33 N. Main in Belmont from August to March!

And here’s your chance to see the renovation that owner Richard LaVecchia has achieved as the new Designing Brides and the relocated Peppermint Shoestring hold an open house and grand opening Thursday, March 13, from 10 AM until 7 PM.

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Nancy Lepore, owner of Designing Brides, and Lynnelle Dobbins, owner of the Peppermint Shoestring Children’s Boutique, extend a special invitation to Chamber members and friends to come by between 5 p.m and 7 p.m. for tours and refreshments.

The building, which was once used as a funeral home, a clothing store, and most recently, a gift basket shop, will be a fine addition to the thriving downtown community.

Several neighbors and friends met Nancy Lepore and her husband, Patrick, last summer during the Friday Night Alive activities.  

Ribbon-Cutting Tuesday, March 4, at Stowe Pointe Community

New Montcross Area Chamber member, Stowe Pointe, invites fellow members and friends to a catered lunch, prize giveaways, a ribbon-cutting and tours of the newly decorated Winslow II model on Tuesday, March 4, from 11 AM until 2 PM

stowe-pointe-winslow-ii-model.jpg 

(Lennar Homes rendition)

Stowe Pointe is a Lennar Homes community at 405 Stowe Road, which is off South Point Road, just south of South Point High School. Homes are 4 and 5 bedroom, from 3,042 to 3,735 square feet and priced from the $270s.

The Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place about noon. RSVP is
requested at 704-258-8290. More information on Stowe Pointe is available at www.lennar.com

Crowded house in Gastown watches council commit millions

“Big Plan” Palenick had his vision and confirmation of at least 3 more years of job security voted in by the Gastonia City Council last night, 5-1. Even tenacious city-cheerleader/mayor Jennie raised her hand in the vote. We wondered about that, was she worried about a tie?

cheerleader-mayor-stultz.jpg big-plan-palenick.jpg (Palenick considering the mind-meld technique)

In the so-called Downtown Revitalization plan, the former First Union building will be torn down to build a parking deck. That surely must be a good first step. Can’t find parking for the Thursday night summer events at the Rotary Pavilion and on the 4th of July, so it must be able to alleviate that mess. It is certainly very close to the other “Gastonia” destination hot-spots of the DS Botanical Gardens (11.51 miles), the Schiele (2 miles, ok 1.98 miles), and the always jumping Franklin Square 1 (4.51 miles).

It is really doubtful that the other voting members of the Gastonia City Council get it. Business markets develop over time. Government interventions to jump-start private investment have very mixed results. One key is the local community support through pride of the the financial committment, and “boots on the ground”. Many of the downtown property owners know that, have waited for the “free” money (i.e. your taxpayer $$) to flow their way and ultimately allow them to cash out.

We have no problem with property owners wanting to get the best deal for themselves, or for a community to “profit” by investment in the downtown areas. But when a plan “elbows” its way into the process, with little discussion and the spectre of class warfare below the surface, it becomes a fairness discussion.

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Moving the Salvation Army Shelter and administrative functions out of downtown, to “…hide your brothers and sisters…”, as Captain Stan Colbert has commented, is one way to rid the appearance of blight and depression. Ok, so 5 million privately contributed dollars later, the shelter is moved across the tracks and the homeless cross the Marietta Street bridge and hang out in front of the new downtown Microtel Inn and Convention Center?

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It is just a shame that this proposal also chooses to ignore the already committed investments that the city has made to renovate the Webb Theater and the private investment plans that are slowly turning.

A downtown investment is not a quick fix. Mr. Kirlin knows that. The city of Belmont knows that as well. Our downtown “beautification” is certainly taking on a life of its own, but remember, it was a decade ago and commitments by PRIVATE property owners to work together to make it all happen. The city just dealt with the streetscape and made an investment into the park area. The Belmont downtown development group (underwritten by Stowe Mills), and the revitalized downtown merchants association (re-formed when the chamber was struggling with membership), worked very hard to work on a mix of business types to hopefully balance a purpose to visit the downtown area.

That result is an apparently vibrant downtown at 9:00 AM, 3:00 PM, and 8:00 PM. Of course, that commitment also cost a visionary mayor his elected seat, and brought several more years of obstructionist cronyism before we could seriously address the need for nurturing our community soul.

Gastonia has to suffer the throes of similar tribulation – it will all work out in the end, that of which, we are hopeful.

To comment on the event last night itself:  

The Belmont Front Porch’s intrepid editors, taking pages from the political science playbooks, stationed people at the council meeting and watched the drivel unfold on television last night. The exit polls by the “watchers” definitely indicate an uprising brewing among the Gastonia electorate. As far as television is concerned, it would seem that both city council members and staff should learn to dress for the low-tech cameras that are trained on their every  utterance of  “uh”, “yeah”, “okay”, and our collective favorite,  “um”.

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Gaston College offers public speaking classes, Toastmasters International has at least two area chapters, and there are a host of community consultants that for a fee could help these elected public officials and hired staff stand before a mic and camera. Please invest your training dollars wisely if you hire or elect mumble-mouths.

Chamber changes town’s name to “Montcross”

Yes, that is the word around town the past couple of weeks – for real. We are not making this up.

And people are furious.

So much for the gossip gabbies, the name change of the Chamber is NOT the name change of the town — so settle down. It is just the Chamber name not the town name.

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At the very end of the Chamber’s annual dinner on January 24, an announcement was made that the Belmont Chamber would hence be known as the the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce, signifying the regional aspect and vision of the Belmont community.

Several members were “aghast” (our words) over the development. Some were downright angry that a small group of people could change the focus of a community chamber that quickly and without much external debate.

However, most of the Belmont Chamber’s membership are not truly Belmont businesses, but branch representatives, and businesses with market groups in the Belmont area. When speaking with several different board members about the proposal, it seems that many of the 2007 board were not present at the meetings where this name change was discussed — or so they say. This discussion had been taking place over the course of several board retreats, but never was really discussed publically. 

So, it begs the question, who voted for the name change? Do people serve on boards of directors to build resumes and networked inside tracks, or are just a minority driving the agenda?

Upset small business owners who are members of the chamber for 2008 have one way to drive their point home. Vote by withholding your membership dues upon renewal — of course, for many that isn’t until next November or December. Not really a wise idea though…big things are ahappinin’…

We hope that the the Abbey/Parkdale/Stowe Mill consortium known as Montcross paid big money to rebrand a community name, along with the regional focus.

With an expected $2 billion investment and 14,000 jobs over the 20-year+ master plan for the development, it seems logical to “help” Bill Monroe, and the Abbey with a more visible name than Belmont.

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Belmont Citizens of the Year

citizens-of-the-year-2007-gearl-dean-and-jack-page.jpg 

(Gazette photo)

The Belmont, oops, Montcross, Chamber of Commerce bestowed its highest community award to Jack and Gearl Dean Page at its January 24 annual dinner.

We also congratulate the Pages for this award. As friends and neighbors at church and in the community, Jack and Gearl Dean have always been active and engaged in community projects.

Both the Gazette and Gaston/Lincoln section of the Observer wrote very nice stories about the Page’s involvement in a host of community activities.

vince-hill.jpg (Gazette photo)

Caravan Coffee owner, Vince Hill, was recognized as Business person of the year.

Now about changing Belmont to Montcross…