The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 10th

Chamber welcomes new members

The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce Expo was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Chapel Hill. New Chamber members as well as returning members showcased their businesses. Kevin Rutledge and Becca Thomas of Moe's Southwest Grill in Durham share chips and queso with Samantha Handler of Aflac. Both companies were in attendance at the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce Expo.
Buy Photos The Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce Expo was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Chapel Hill. New Chamber members as well as returning members showcased their businesses. Kevin Rutledge and Becca Thomas of Moe's Southwest Grill in Durham share chips and queso with Samantha Handler of Aflac. Both companies were in attendance at the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce Expo.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce met Thursday night to welcome more than 350 new members despite a still sluggish economy.

According to numbers from the Chapel Hill Economic Development Office, there are 6,360 businesses in Chapel Hill, 775 of which started in 2010.

That marks an increase from the 241 that started in 2009 and 322 in 2008.

Only 77 new businesses have come into existence in 2011, but many more are expected by the end of the year, said Dwight Bassett, Chapel Hill economic development officer.

“I think that considering the fact that we’re still in a downturn we’re having an OK year,” Bassett said.

Bassett said the vast majority of those additions were one- to two-member firms.

A recruitment effort by the chamber and its members brought in new additions this year, said Laura Morrison, program director for the chamber.

The majority of those new recruits are small, privately owned businesses, she said.

Morrison said the chamber — and Tuesday’s event — attracted both well-established and new businesses.

New chamber members were optimistic about the future of business in Chapel Hill at the event.

Tim Carnes, sales associate for Johnson Lexus in Durham, said the dealership invested a huge sum of money into tapping the Chapel Hill-Durham market.

“We recognize how important the Chapel Hill market is,” Carnes said.

One of the benefits of events like the expo is the ability to connect with other businesses, Barry Partridge of United Tae Kwon Do Academy said.

“This is a great way to network, and chamber members have a very positive energy,” he said.

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