By Bethany Fuller | Statesville R&L
Published: July 29, 2009
Despite the sluggish economy, Statesville business leaders still want to celebrate the city’s achievements this year and prepare for the challenges ahead, particularly with the United Way of Iredell County’s community campaign.
“We need to also remind people of the good in the community,” said United Way Executive Director Pat Stewart. “What a wonderful community we live and work in.”
Stewart and leaders from the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce, Mitchell Community College and the Greater Statesville Development Corporation highlighted the area’s achievements at the “State of Our Community … Celebrations and Addressing Our Challenges” community leaders forum Tuesday morning at the college.
The meeting highlighted Statesville’s recent All-America City award, Mooresville-Statesville again being ranked the No. 1 micropolitan by Site Selection magazine and Mitchell Community College’s recognition for “Exceptional Institutional Perform-ance.”
However, much emphasis was placed on the United Way and what successful campaigns can mean to a community. Agencies under the United Way umbrella will receive a total of $890,056 if the campaign goal is met.
Fundraising Chairman John Snow said the 2010 campaign season is going to be a challenge, but it is the perfect time for people to donate to help these agencies provide valuable services.
“Statesville has been recognized a lot over the past six months,” said Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Bradley. “We are doing things right. I think it’s a symbol of a collaborative effort that we are here.”
In addition to introducing people to area businesses, Bradley said the chamber focuses on local issues, such as the Troutman mixed-drink referendum, an upcoming shop-local campaign and creating a sense of community downtown with the Piedmont Healthcare Friday at Five concert series.
The chamber is also doing its part to prevent what some refer to as the “brain drain,” an idiom used to describe educated young people moving away from their hometowns after graduating from high school and college, Bradley said. The chamber holds Youth Leadership Iredell classes, which teaches leadership skills to outstanding high school juniors.
Mitchell Community College President Doug Eason said education will be the cornerstone of the economy once it is rebuilt.
GSDC Executive Director Mike Smith said Statesville is known around the state for doing a lot of things right.
For example, the partnership between GSDC and MCC to fund the existing industry program — Business Retention and Expansion Director John Marek’s job focus — is considered a best practice in the N.C. Community College System.
“That has been huge for our community,” Smith said.
Iredell County has also been able to maintain a steady tax rate because it has a solid base of residential, commercial and industrial property.
Among the GSDC’s achievements, Smith noted the recruitment of Doosan Infracore, which brought more than 500 jobs to the area, and Brazilian-based nonwoven fabrics manufacturer Companhia Providência, which chose Statesville for its first North American facility.
“What used to look like an empty football field is now full of people working,” Smith said, referring to the Doosan building near the intersection of U.S. Interstates 77 and 40