Residents, community leaders and business owners met at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Tuesday to discuss how local businesses can positively impact future development of the area’s economy.
Marc Pons, the new chairman of the chamber’s board of directors, said the chamber will focus on unifying the community around business interests in the coming year.
“For our community to survive and thrive out of this recession we need a strong business community,” Pons said. “Our goal is to create an organization focused on member value.”
Pons said the chamber will achieve this goal by continuing Business After Hours, an opportunity for member businesses to network, and holding a membership drive in April to add 100 businesses to the organization’s current 900 members.
Chapel Hill’s Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett said initiatives for the year include improving local economic opportunities by supporting existing jobs and creating new ones.
This year the Orange County Economic Development Commission will begin marketing programs in magazines and business journals, including the group’s first ad — a two page spread in Chapel Hill Magazine.
Bassett said marketing shows the success of Chapel Hill businesses and sends the message to others that the area is a good place to start a business.
“We want this to be the turning point of a positive business climate in Chapel Hill,” he said.
Orange County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Bernadette Pelissier discussed the importance of the opening of the Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center in Hillsborough to economic development. The center, which is scheduled to open in April, will be a business incubator that will help people start up enterprises of their own.
“We want to coordinate so that we can facilitate opportunities when they present themselves,” Pelissier said.
The Chamber of Commerce also announced its 2010 Business of the Year awards and the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award at the meeting.
Business award winners included Top of the Hill as the large Business of the Year, the Morgan Creek Foundation as Nonprofit of the Year and PTA Thrift Shop as Progress Energy Sustainable Business of the Year.
Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, received the Duke Energy Citizenship and Service Award.
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