In 2003 I was the Chairman of the Board of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. In my time as chairman, and as a member of the board, I was fortunate to be part of the group that brought the Lake Norman Regional Economic Development Corporation into existence. I served on the founding board, pushed for passage in all three north Mecklenburg towns, and take great pride in its continuing existence.

While there was some precedent for collaboration between the three towns, the EDC (and the Convention and Visitors Bureau before it) was a rare combination of the public and private sectors. It was an incredible show of cooperation between the three town boards and the business community. It was a pleasure working with Mayors Phillips, Cato and Kincaid as they took a stand for economic development in the region.

I understand that current economic times calls for tough action. However, I am so disappointed that our elected leadership would consider abandoning the very regional approach to business, tourism and commerce that has made our region so successful. We are the envy of much of North Carolina. The EDC and Visit Lake Norman are integral to our success.

Over the years, I have served on the boards of 26 chambers of commerce across the country, and chaired four of them. Most wanted to avoid controversy with their elected leaders. They wouldn’t speak up publicly. That is how bad policy gets through the process. The business community remains silent at their own risk. When they stay silent, policies and decisions are passed that have a negative impact to business and the quality of life for all people in the community.

I applaud the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce for their political courage, and would hope that the elected officials appreciate an active and informed business community. By working together, the true promise of a very special region can be realized.

–Chip Sholz

Sholz served as Chairman of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce from January 2003 until December 2004. Formerly of Cornelius, he currently lives in the Denver area.