News and Updates

School Bonds, sales tax to pay for them are topics of program

Friday, March 23, 2018

Chamber Board Chair-Elect Shannon Thomas introducing speakers at breakfast. 

Chamber Board urges voters to approve both primary ballot issues

A $250 million school bond package won't cover half of the school building needs in Gaston County, but that's all the county can afford to allocate at this time, Montcross Area Chamber members and friends were told at a Business Buzz breakfast program today sponsored by CaroMont Health. The system's total capital needs for new schools, expansions, repairs and renovations is $650 million. 

Gaston County Schools Superintendent Jeff Booker spoke about the bond proposal, and County Manager Earl Mathers made a presentation on the need for an additional quarter-cent local sales tax to pay for the bonds. Both issues will be on the ballot during the May 8 primary election.

Of the $250 million, $110 million will be used to build three new schools, one of which will be a new Belmont Middle School. $25 million will go to classroom additions, media center and cafeteria expansions and renovations to serve a growing student population. $115 million in repair and maintenance projects will be funded for schools in all six Gaston County townships. If approved, the projects will be completed over the next 7 to 10 years.  

MACC Board Chair-Elect Shannon Thomas of Creative Solutions Special events told the group the Chamber Board has adopted a resolution of support for the bonds and the additional sales tax. She pointed out the Chamber also supported the last school bond proposal in Gaston County for $175 million, which passed overwhelmingly in 2007.

CLICK HERE for a video and complete details on the school bonds. 

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Gaston Schools Superintendent Jeff Booker (left) and County Manager Earl Mathers.






Great Clips open in Belmont Town Center

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Co-owner Zack Naylor is cutting the ribbon at Great Clips, with (from left) Chamber Board Chair-elect Shannon Thomas of Creative Solutions Special Events, stylists Kathy Wilson and Toni Sengmany, Great Clips General Manager Robin Francis, salon manager Tiffany Merritt, area manager Cindi Hanrahan, Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin and Chamber Board Treasurer Dick Cromlish of School Resources.

Great Clips celebrates grand opening with ribbon cutting 

Great Clips, the largest salon brand in the country, is open for business in the Belmont Town Center, just two doors down from the new Harris Teeter supermarket. Zack Naylor and his father Jim Naylor are owners of the salon, which is one of 14 they operate in the Charlotte region.

Zack Naylor, salon stylists and staff and Chamber members and friends joined in a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting on Feb. 27, 2018. Great Clips has 1,200 franchises, 4,100 salons and more than 40,000 stylists.

Stop by to welcome a new business to the community and a new member to the Chamber, and take advantage of grand opening discounts available for a limited time. The address is 915 South Pointe Rd., Ste. D, Belmont, NC 28012. Great Clips is open seven days a week. Hours are 9 - 9 Monday - Friday, 9 - 6 on Saturday and 11 - 5 on Sunday. 

For more on Great Clips, call 704.829.8225, or CLICK HERE for the website.

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DJ Buddy Love's new business is Love Too Entertainment

Thursday, February 15, 2018

DJ Buddy Love prepares to cut the ribbon, with (from left) Chamber Board member Chris Kennedy of Kennedy Business Solutions, Greg McCall, who works with Love Too Entertainment, and his daughter Olivia, Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin, and Chamber Board member Robert Aldrich of Aldrich CFO Services.

19-year hobby becomes a new entertainment business

Buddy Love has turned his 19-year hobby of providing DJ services for all kinds of events into an event planning and referral service called Love Too Entertainment. He celebrated the move with a Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 15, 2018, hosted by the Majestic Mill Wedding Chapel inside Catawba River Antique Mall at 406 Catawba Street in Belmont. Love spoke movingly of his beloved late wife Bootsie during remarks at the ceremony. Love Too Entertainment provides a wide range of services for weddings, parties and other special events of all kinds. In addition to DJ services, Buddy can help with obtaining the right venue, florist, wedding planner, cakes, bands, caterers, tents and much more. For more information, call 704.813.9090, or visit




AR Workshop hosts "Network After Work"

Thursday, February 8, 2018

AR Workshop co-owner Ryann Fairweather (center) with staff members Jessica Posa (left) and Renee Huffstickler at Chamber event. In the small photo below, James Congelli of Wells Fargo Bank in Mount Holly works at perfecting his Valentine project. 

Craft workshop makes for a unique Chamber event 

When AR Workshop co-owner Ryann Fairweather hosted Chamber members and friends for networking on Feb. 8, 2018, she gave them a hands-on demonstration of a DIY (do-it-yourself) workshop by leading the group in making a Valentine-theme craft item. The fun activity combined with business networking, refreshments and information on AR Workshop made for a unique event. 

AR Workshop opened seven months ago at 65 Glenway Street in downtown Belmont. Maureen Anders of Waxhaw, who is a founder of the fast growing franchise, is co-owner of the Belmont shop, which features a wide variety of home decor items and craft supplies for sale and specializes in group sessions in which participants learn to make their own unique products.

AR Workshop offers an extensive schedule of workshops at which participants can design and make their own creations, such as pillow-print painting, building Lazy Susans and making plank wood signs. Also offered are special custom-designed events for groups booking birthday parties, club events, workshops, ladies' nights and more. The shop provides the necessary tools, materials and instruction to help even beginners through a project. 

Maureen Anders and co-founder Adria Ruff started AR Workshop as an online business in 2010. Their first brick-and-mortar location opened in Pineville less than two years ago, and they now have more than 55 franchise shops in 24 states. 

For more on AR Workshop Belmont, call 704.967.4004, or visit

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Chamber Board Chair Carey Roberts (left) of Carey Roberts Design with VP Teresa Rankin at AR Workshop event.  




Chamber awards salute outstanding accomplishments in 2017

Thursday, February 1, 2018

On the left, accepting the Business of the Year Award, are Holy Angels Board Chair Rob Hinman and CEO Regina Moody with Janet Sarn of sponsor Park Sterling Bank. In the center, Cathy Cloninger accepts the Harley B. Gaston Jr. Public Service Award from Shannon Thomas of sponsor Creative Solutions Special Events. On the right, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden COO Jim Hoffman and CEO Patrick Larkin receive the EPIC Award from sponsor Timothy Roberts of Cottage Keepers. (Photos by Dodie Huffman of Image Source)

Holy Angels - Cathy Cloninger - Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden 

Business of the Year: Developing new commercial and vocational enterprises such as the Cotton Candy Factory and Bliss Gallery in Belmont and Cherubs Market in Cramerton helped earn Holy Angels recognition as the Business of the Year for 2017. Cherubs Café and Candy Bouquets are two more Holy Angels enterprises that have been operating for years. The non-profit service organization for children and adults with fragile intellectual and physical conditions also was recognized for its impact on the area economy by providing more than 300 jobs and an annual budget of more than $15 million. The Business of the Year Award is sponsored by Park Sterling Bank and was presented by Janet Sarn.

Public Service Award: The Harley B. Gaston Jr. Public Service Award is named for a founder of the Chamber who spent his life in service to the community. It was presented to Cathy Cloninger, who retired in 2017 after 34 years working to prevent incidents of domestic violence and to protect victims. She created The Shelter of Gaston County and has worked tirelessly to develop services and find funds, sometimes from her own pocket, to help female and male victims of abuse and their families. In 2016, The Shelter answered 1,080 crisis calls and provided safe housing for 165 women and 171 children. The Public Service Award is sponsored by Creative Solutions Special Events and was presented by co-owner Shannon Thomas.

EPIC Award: EPIC stands for entrepreneurial, progressive, innovative and collaborative. The spectacular Chinese Lantern Festival hosted by Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in 2017 met all of those criteria and more. The eight-week festival drew more than 100,000 visitors, with 85,000 coming from outside Gaston County, including visitors from 46 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Marketing for the festival reached coast to coast. The EPIC Award, which is sponsored by Cottage Keepers, was presented by owner Timothy Roberts in recognition of the leadership team and entire staff of the Botanical Garden for bringing the festival to Gaston County.



Carey Roberts leads Chamber Board in 2018

Thursday, February 1, 2018

2018 Board Chair Carey Roberts speaking to a full house at the Chamber's 58th Celebration.

"Members First" key to Chamber success

More than 270 chamber members and friends registered to attend the 58th Annual Celebration and Silent Auction on Feb. 1, 2018, in the Grand Hall of the Mount Holly Municipal Complex. Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design in Belmont was elected to chair the Chamber Board of Directors for 2018. Other officers elected are Chair-elect Shannon Thomas of Creative Solutions Special Events, Past Chair Bill Ingram of Regions Bank, Treasurer Dick Cromlish of School Resources and Secretary Ryan Clarke of Sherpa. Eighteen other voting directors and eight non-voting advisory directors also were elected. (See the list below.)

In her remarks, Carey Roberts told the audience:

“Members First" is the theme of our annual celebration because that philosophy has been key to the past success of the Montcross Area Chamber, and tonight we rededicate ourselves always to uphold that principle. The Board of Directors and I also pledge to uphold four additional core values that guide everything we do at the Chamber. We will continue our work to “Build Bridges” connecting people, businesses and communities, and to “Tear Down Walls” that divide people, businesses and communities. In everything we do, we will strive to “Make Business Fun,” and we always will “Look for Ways to Say Yes,” rather than excuses to say no."

CaroMont Health was the presenting sponsor for the celebration, and other major sponsors included: Cottage Keepers, Creative Solutions Special Events, H&M Catering, Park Sterling Bank and Wilbert Plastic Services. H&M Catering provided the dinner.

2017 Board Chair Bill Ingram presented the year in review and announced a 13th consecutive year of record-setting membership, ending the year with 535 members. He also highlighted new programs such as the Get Ready Gaston Forum on Preparing for Growth and the MACC Amazing Race and new partnerships such as the Regional Access Membership agreement that provides a substantial discount to MACC members also wishing to join the Charlotte Chamber. 

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Cramerton marks ABC Store #1 expansion

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Cramerton ABC Board Chairwoman Carolyn Helms is cutting the ribbon, with (from left) Town Manager and Chamber Board member David Pugh, Mayor Will Cauthen, Commissioner Susan Neeley, ABC Board General Manager Sam Carpenter, Store Manager Greg Matthew, Board CFO Gil Aguirre, Chamber Board member Dick Cromlish of School Resources and store staff members. 

Cramerton ABC Store #1 celebrates expansion

Almost 11 years after the Town of Cramerton opened its first ABC store with a Chamber ribbon cutting on March 26, 2007, the town celebrated a major expansion of the store in the Cramer Market Place shopping center on Jan. 23, 2018. The location at 202-C Market Street became known as Store #1 last year when Store #2 opened in an new brick building on South New Hope Road.

Store #1 was almost doubled in size and in inventory with an expansion into to an adjoining retail space that became available.

Cramerton ABC Board Chairwoman Carolyn Helms cut the ribbon and Mayor Will Cauthen spoke during the ceremony. A big crowd of Chamber members and Cramerton residents turned out to see the new store and enjoy refreshments by H&M Catering.

Others came because they held hopes of claiming the right to purchase a rare bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon in a drawing that was the climax of the celebration. The happy winner wished to remain anonymous, since the bottle is reported to have brought several thousand dollars on the open market.

Store hours are Monday - Saturday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. For more information, call 704.461.8752.

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Watch the ribbon-cutting video.


On March 26, 2007, then Cramerton ABC Board Chairman Barry Smith prepares to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the town's first ABC store, with ABC Board members Carolyn Helms, who now serves as Board chairwoman, and Board member Sam Carpenter. Former mayor Ronald Murphy is in the back behind then Town Commissioners Jacque Sumner and Sandra Ware. Holding the ribbon are Montcross Area Chamber Executive Director Ted Hall (left) and then President Paul Lowrance of Mckenney Family Dealerships. 

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