Chamber, Atrium Health present “Get Ready Gaston” 2020

4th Annual Forum on Preparing for Growth

Thursday, October 1, 2020


Webinar screenshot of “Get Ready Gaston” speakers (L-R from top left) Heath Jenkins, Joe Albright, Melia Lyerly, Dr. John Hauser, Randi Gates, Dr. Catherine Passaretti, Michael Peoples, Donny Hicks and Brandon Bellamy.

All elected officials, candidates, planning professionals invited  

Every elected official in Gaston County and every candidate for office in the November election were the primary audience when the Montcross Area Chamber and Atrium Health presented the fourth-annual “Get Ready Gaston Forum on Preparing for Growth” on Oct. 1, 2020. Others participating included local government managers, planners, economic development professionals and business and community leaders. 

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the forum this year was presented online. Traditionally, the half-day program has been in an auditorium and included a lunch with keynote speaker. 

The Montcross Area Chamber developed and presented the first “Get Ready Gaston” forum in 2017. Atrium Health has been the sponsor of all four forums. Previous forums focused on factors in and around Charlotte impacting growth in Gaston County. This year was a time for Gaston County self-analysis, serving as a checkup on where the county is and where it needs to improve in meeting the challenges and opportunities that come with growth. 

Topics covered during the forum were: an update on the coronavirus pandemic, economic development in the county, all modes of transportation, water and sewer infrastructure, major projects under way in the City of Gastonia and the role of Gaston College in economic and workforce development and preparing for growth. 

Chamber Board Chair Health Jenkins, Stanley Town Manager, kicked off the forum and presented closing comments. Former Chamber Board Chair Melia Lyerly, COO of Lyerly Agency in Belmont, hosted the program and introduced speakers, including: 

  • Dr. Catherine Passaretti, Atrium Health Medical Director for Infection Prevention.
  • Donny Hicks, Gaston County Economic Development Executive Director.
  • Randi Gates, Senior Planner and Administrator at Gaston-Cleveland-Lincoln Metropolitan Planning Organization.
  • Joe Albright, Director of Public Utilities at Two Rivers Utilities.
  • Michael Peoples, Gastonia City Manger
  • Dr. John Hauser, President of Gaston College


Velocity Companies CEO Brandon Bellamy during his presentation showing an image of how the baseball stadium will look with nearby buildings overlooking the ballpark.

Brandon Bellamy, CEO of Velocity Companies and majority owner of the new Gastonia professional baseball team, was a surprise special guest speaker. He talked about the team, plans for the stadium, which his company will manage, and also plans his company has for economic development involving several buildings adjoining the baseball park in the FUSE District. 

The entire program was recorded and is available online. To request a link to the recording, email Montcross Area Chamber Vice President Julie Bowen at




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