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Chamber will celebrate 95th annual meeting virtually, with several ‘fun twists’

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce will host its 95th annual meeting during a virtual Power in Partnership program on Thursday, April 15, at 7:30 a.m.

Although the chamber won’t be celebrating 95 years in-person, there are plans to use production quality enhanced videos and award presentations to make the virtual event as exciting and engaging as possible.

“We’ll make this year’s 95th annual meeting a wonderful spring virtual program and celebrate in person with a super-duper Business After Hours mixer at the new Bell Tower Green Park in the Fall,” Annual Meeting Committee Chair Cindy Hart said in a news release.

The traditional passing of the gavel ceremony, with some “fun twists,” will be conducted from 2020 Chair of the Board Gary Blabon, president and COO of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, to 2021 Chair of the Board Bob Honeycutt, executive vice president of F&M Bank.

Annual award videos will be shown in a Publishers Clearing House-style presentation to winners of the Chamber’s Volunteer of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.

“We wish we could be with everyone in person; however, our committee did an excellent job planning this special event,” Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, told the Post. “The chamber has contracted with member firms to produce an enhanced production quality virtual meeting. Joe Girdler (JG Media) and Miller-Davis Advertising Agency are helping us have a more professional look to our Zoom webinar.”

The chamber was officially chartered on March 19, 1925. It began as the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce and later expanded to the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. The chamber recently started a Past Chairs Council and will recognize charter members, long-term businesses in the community and historic accomplishments throughout 2021. 

The chamber’s first annual report shows support for bringing Catawba College to Salisbury, lobbying for better roads and work on establishing a “creamery” in the community. Early business leaders included: Sam Carter, president; L.S. Moody, secretary; Ross Sigmon; J.O. Draige; P.A. Wallenborn; S.H. Snider; Stahle Linn; C.L. Coggin; J.L. Fisher; J.F. Somer; J.V. Wallace; T.M. Hines; and J.F. Hurley Jr.

More recent accomplishments of the chamber include priority project identification and advocacy efforts in conjunction with community partners for the Yadkin River Bridge (now Veterans Memorial Bridge), I-85’s four-lane expansion through Rowan County and the I-85 exit at Old Beatty Ford Road. Recent projects also include advocating for the Mid-Carolina Airport, the North Carolina Transportation Museum, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Rowan-Salisbury School System. 

Over the previous year, the chamber has helped local businesses navigate the pandemic.

“We are a business advocacy organization and that’s never been more important than this past year,” Spalding said. “The chamber has received excellent feedback on how well we’ve handled pandemic communication to our members and business recovery efforts.”

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Gateway Building development. The chamber conducted two separate fundraising campaigns, led by Paul E. Fisher and Pete Teague, to transform a block of downtown Salisbury into a community hub. The building was completed in Feb. 2001 with a building dedication ceremony held in May 2001.

For those who are not Power Card holders through the chamber, individual reservations for the event are welcome; however, the reservation deadline is Tuesday by 5 p.m. The cost is $15 for members and $25 for non-members. Contact the chamber for information on reservations or sponsorship opportunities at 704-633-4221 or info@rowanchamber.com or www.rowanchamber.com

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