News and Updates

Christi Falls Photography Open In Belmont

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Christi Falls cuts the ribbon, with her husband Jay standing behind her and Chamber members and friends in the background. On the front row, are (from left) Chamber Secretary Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design, Chamber Board member Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank - Mount Holly, Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin, Gaston County Commission Chairman Tom Keigher, Gaston County Sheriff Alan Cloninger, Andy Haynes and Natalie Tindol of Tindol Ford Subaru, and Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services.

Grand opening celebrated with Chamber ribbon-cutting

Chamber members, clients and friends turned out in large numbers at noon today to help Christi Falls celebrate the opening of her new wedding and portrait photography studio in downtown Belmont. In beautiful spring weather, the crowd spilled out of the studio at 27 Catawba Street and onto the sidewalk to enjoy refreshments, networking and learning about Christi Falls Photography. Formerly a photojournalist working for several area newspapers, Christi now works in studio photography focusing mainly on weddings and portraits. See examples of her work at For more information on Christi Falls Photography, call 980.522.2933.

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It was business and breakfast at BNI Chamber event this morning

Thursday, May 19, 2016

BNI members with Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey (center) and Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne (third from right) at Morning Spark networking breakfast today. Representing BNI (from left) are Chapter President Mike Claypool, Terry Knight, Jim Smith, (Mayor Railey), Diana Blair of CommunityOne Bank in Stanley, Crystal Armstrong, (Walter Payne), Bill Joles of International Minute Press and Phillip Poston. 

Business and breakfast mixed well today as the Twin Rivers Network Connectors of BNI (Business Networking International) hosted Chamber members for Morning Spark networking in Lowell. The dining room at Grits n Greens restaurant was filled with more than 40 Chamber members and BNI members all eager to make connections and do business with each other. BNI is a national referral network made up of local chapters. Members help each other by sharing business referrals with colleagues within the group. BNI president Mike Claypool presided and spoke about how BNI referral groups work and how effective they are in generating business for members. Montcross Area Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services spoke on behalf of the Chamber along with President  Ted Hall. For more information on Twin Rivers Connectors of BNI, call Mike Claypool at 704.689.1151. 

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Wee Houses a hit at Botanical Garden event with Lyerly Agency

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Wee Houses aren't for kids only, as event sponsors and Chamber representatives discovered during the "Network After Work" reception at the Botanical Garden. Here (and in the close-up below) trying out the Log Fort are (clockwise from bottom left) Botanical Garden Executive Director Kara Newport, co-hosts Elaine and Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency, Chamber President Ted Hall and Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services. 

Exhibit of forts, playhouses and treehouses open through Sept. 18

Wee Houses were a large attraction when Chamber members and friends descended on Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for a "Network After Work" reception co-hosted by Lyerly Agency of Belmont. While making business connections is an important objective of these events, so, too, is learning about and the hosts. Chamber guests at the Botanical Garden event enjoyed excellent food and drink and learning about the work of Lyerly Agency, and afterward spent time outside in the beautiful gardens exploring the array of treehouses, forts and playhouses that make up the "Wee Houses: Places We Play" exhibit. The creatively designed structures are intended to evoke childhood memories of escaping outdoors to explore, dream and play. The exhibit, presented by PNC Bank, is open at the Garden through September 18. For more on Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, call 704.825.4490, or visit For more on Lyerly Agency, call 704.525.3937, or visit

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Charlotte-Gaston economic development

Friday, April 22, 2016

Montcross Area mayors attending a Chamber breakfast today with Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts (center) are, from left, McAdenville Mayor Jim Robinette, Mount Holly Mayor Bryan Hough, Cramerton Mayor Ronnie Worley, Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey and Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin.

Economic development in Charlotte and Gaston County was the topic of the morning today, as more than 100 members and friends of the Chamber attended a Chamber Business Buzz breakfast to hear Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts say the region will near the 3 million population mark in just four years.  She called this a period of “transformative change.”  Mayor Roberts specifically addressed major economic growth expected around the Charlotte Douglas International Airport and in the “River District” between the airport and the Catawba River, just across from Gaston County.  Business Buzz breakfasts are sponsored by CaroMont Health and coordinated by the Chamber. 

In the photo with Mayor Roberts, are Chamber officers, from left, Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services, Chair-Elect Bill Ingram of Wells Fargo Bank and Past-Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency.

Sponsored By

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New art exhibit open at Chamber Gallery

Thursday, April 21, 2016


At the opening of the new art exhibit in the Chamber offices are the featured artist Sigrid Hice (in red) and behind her Steve Hice, whose photography also is in the exhibit. Opening reception sponsor Dr. David Layne and his wife Janet of LandMark MD are on the second row at left. In front, from left, are Chamber Board Past Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency, LandMark MD Practice Manager Melissa McAtee, and at right, Executive Director of Gaston Arts Council Kim George, who coordinates exhibits at the Chamber.  

LandMark MD sponsors artist's reception to launch exhibit

An artist's reception marked the opening of a new exhibit in the Chamber of Commerce offices in the Stowe Building, 100 N. Main Street in Belmont. Book artist and photographer Sigrid Hice is the featured artist, with photography by her husband Steve Hice also on exhibit. The exhibit is open for viewing weekdays, 9 - 5, through July 5. 

The reception was sponsored by LandMark MD, the medical practice of Dr. David Layne, which also is located in the Stowe Building.

A native of the former West Germany, Sigrid Hice immigrated to North Carolina 38 years ago. She is a roster member of the Mountain Arts Program, the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Art in Education program, the Chatham County Arts Council, and the Arts & Science Council of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. For more than a dozen years, Sigrid has worked as a teaching artist in schools in North and South Carolina She also has taught numerous artist book workshops for organizations and institutions, including the Turchin Center in Boone, Hickory Museum of Art, Girl Scouts, 4-H, John C. Campbell Folk School, the NewArt School and many more.

Chamber art exhibitions are arranged and coordinated by Gaston Arts Council Director Kim George.

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Carolina Frame & Art Shop

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Carolina Frame & Art owner Nancy Albright is cutting the ribbon. On the front row, from left are Chamber Board Past Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency, artist James Norman, Timothy Roberts of Cottage Keepers, shop framer Jim Parizo, photographer and driftwood framer Frankie Moreno and Chamber board member Jason Ramey of PSNC Energy. On the second row, from left, are Annie Jenkins of WSGE 91.7 FM, Johanna Giese of Mary Kay Cosmetics, Delta Sanders of Creative Travel, Elaine Dimeo of George W. Stowe Insurance, Frank Cooke of Radco Construction Services, Jeff Huetteman of Nationwide Insurance, Nancy’s husband Alan Albright and Chamber President Ted Hall.

Nancy Albright celebrates more than 3 decades in business 

Nancy Albright operated separate locations for her art gallery and frame shop for many years, but both now are consolidated in Carolina Frame & Art at 6825 E. Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont. Montcross Area Chamber members and friends along with Nancy’s customers, artists and others came out on April 19 to help her celebrate with refreshments and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The gallery features the work of many noted local and regional artists, and the frame shop offers hundreds of moulding and mat options along with custom designed shadow boxes, beveled mirrors and much more. Carolina Frame & Art is open 10 – 5 Monday-Friday and 11 – 3 on Saturday. For more information, call 704.825.9601, or visit (Montcross Area Chamber photo) 

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R.J. Schrift Grand Opening a St. Patrick's Day celebration

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Ryan Schrift cuts ribbon, with Andrea Schrift, holding their son Ollie, and Cindy Eaker, operations and administrative manager at R.J. Schrift, and representatives of the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional chambers of commerce.

Ribbon-cutting kicked off an evening of St. Patrick's Day celebration

R.J. Schrift Private Asset Management turned a large part of Belmont green Thursday, March 17, 2016, with a St. Patrick's Day theme for its grand opening celebration and Chamber networking event at 27 Catawba Street. Irish food and drink and lots of green decor and costumes made the reception, which took place under a large tent in the parking lot, both fun and profitable for the huge crowd of Chamber members and friends who made valuable business connections. It was a joint event of the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional chambers of commerce. Host Ryan Schrift, with his wife Andrea and their infant son Ollie, cut a ribbon formally opening the new office location, conducted office tours and presented prizes to lucky guests. R.J. Schrift Private Asset Management is an independent financial planning and investment advisory firm. For more information on the business, call 704.461.8847, or visit (Ribbon-cutting photo by John Jacob)

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