News and Updates

Sageworks founder Brian Hamiilton speaks at Belmont Abbey

Tuesday, January 29, 2019


Brian Hamilton speaking to a large group of business people and students at Belmont Abbey College. In the smaller photo below, Hamilton (left) is at Gaston Christian School, where he spoke at lunch with a group of community leaders. With him are GCS Head of School Dr. Marc Stout, Chamber Board Chair Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design and Ray McKenney of McKenney Business Management. 

Brian Hamilton Foundation based in Raleigh but going nationwide

Almost 200 people eager to learn more about starting and operating successful businesses came to Belmont Abbey College on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, to hear a highly successful entrepreneur speak on “Entrepreneurship: Unlocking the Door to Economic Opportunity."

Speaking at the free program was Brian Hamilton, who co-founded Sageworks, the first financial technology company in the nation and the largest provider of software to U.S. banks. He sold the company to a leading private equity firm in 2018 and has turned his attention to growing the Brain Hamilton Foundation, which helps bring entrepreneurship to people who would not otherwise have it, including veterans, students, and inmates. 

In this talk, he outlined why entrepreneurship is one of the best alternatives for building wealth and how you can do it with limited resources. Sponsors of the program were the Business Leadership Institute at Belmont Abbey, the Montcross Area Chamber of Commerce and TechWorks of Gaston County.

Hamilton made five presentations during his full day in Gaston County, speaking at Stanley Middle School in the morning, to a group of community and business leaders at Gaston Christian School during lunch, and to GCS middle-school and high--school students in the afternoon before the evening program at Belmont Abbey College.  

Brian Hamilton is a regular guest on Fox Business and CNBC and is a frequent contributor to many national media publications including Inc. and Entrepreneur magazines. The Brian Hamilton Foundation is based in Raleigh but is poised to grow nationwide. 

For more information, go to:


Students were eager to talk with entrepreneur Brian Hamilton after his presentation. 




The Long March: Herblock and the Civil Rights Era

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Elements of Empowerment Board Chair Delta Sanders (left) and Vice Chair Vince Hill prepare to cut the ribbon with Montcross Area Chamber Board Chair-Elect Shannon Thomas of Creative Solutions Special Events. Holding the ribbon are Montcross Area Chamber Board members Nicole Flowers of Wilbert Plastic Services and Robert Larrison of Atrium Health.

Herblock editorial cartoons from Civil Rights era on exhibit here

The Elements of Empowerment organization is sponsoring an exhibition of the Civil Rights era works of three-time Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Herblock at the Gaston County Public Library Main Branch in Gastonia. The exhibit is titled “The Long March: Herblock & the Civil Rights Era.”

A Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the exhibit to the public on Jan. 15, 2019. It is on display on the library third floor through February 28, 2019.

Herbert Block (1909 - 2001), better known as Herblock, was chief editorial cartoonist at The Washington Post for more than 50 years. The exhibit here features his cartoons during the Civil Rights era from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Elements of Empowerment Board Chair Delta Sanders pointed out in her remarks that the exhibit here was opening on the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and would be open throughout Black History Month in February.


Vince Hill and Delta Sanders in front of Herblock exhibit..

Holy Angels and Gaston Arts Council

Thursday, December 13, 2018

At left, representing the sponsors are Gaston Arts Council Executive Director Kim George, Chamber Board Chair Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design and Holy Angels CEO Regina Moody. At right are members of the Tenya Colemon Trio -- Vince Rivers, Tenya Colemon and Greg Cagle. 

Santa and Mrs. Clause were the special guests

Santa and Mrs. Claus were special guests when Holy Angels and Gaston Arts Council teamed up to host Chamber members and friends for Network After Work on Thursday evening in the tented and heated Push Place Pavilion. The grounds of the Holy Angels campus were ablaze with holiday decorations and dozens of beautifully lighted angels.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary Gaston Arts Council sponsored live entertainment by the Tenya Colemon Trio. Refreshments were provided by Cherubs Cafe. 

Lowell lands Sonic Automotive customer care center

Thursday, December 13, 2018


Lowell City Council members with Sonic Automotive CEO David Smith and Chief Deputy Secretary for the NC Department of Commerce Elizabeth Crabill (center). Lowell leaders, from left, are City Council members Ken Ervin and Candy Funderburk, Mayor Sandy Railey, Mayor Pro-Tem Thomas Gillespie and Council members DeWayne Chitwood and Phil Bonham. In the photo below, Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey is welcoming Sonic Automotive at the announcement ceremony.

Christmas came early for the City of Lowell  

The City of Lowell unwrapped an early Christmas present last week valued at more than $11 million, when Sonic Automotive announced it will bring 500 jobs over the next five years to a new building on Main Street in Lowell at I-85 exit 22. 

Sonic Automotive is a Fortune 500 company and is among the largest automotive retailers in the United States. The Lowell offices will house marketing and advanced customer care operations for the company. 

CEO David Bruton Smith made the announcement in a press conference coordinated by the Gaston County Economic Development Commission, which played a major role in bringing the jobs to Gaston County. Smith said the hiring process will begin in January 2019. The jobs are expected to pay an average of $53,000, which is $15,000 higher than the average annual wage in Gaston County. 

Lowell Mayor Sandy Railey welcomed Sonic Automotive. “This is truly a historic day for Lowell,” she said. “This will provide a tremendous boost for our local economy.” City of Lowell officials have worked hard in recent years to develop the exit 22 property. “We are excited you are here, and we greatly appreciate you choosing Lowell for your newest office facility,” Mayor Railey said. 

Gaston County Economic Development Commission Board Chairman Robert Browne welcomed Sonic Automotive, and Commissioners Ronnie Worley and Tracy Philbeck spoke on behalf of Gaston County. The state was represented by Chief Deputy Secretary of the N.C. Department of Commerce Elizabeth Crabill.


Rendering of the Sonic Automotive Lowell facility.






Low Country Boil another great Chamber event thanks to

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Please thank our sponsors, who are shown above and listed below. Presenting sponsors were Saltwater Markets, with owners Elizabeth and Clint Boyd above at left, and Shannon Thomas, who with Brad Thomas own Creative Solutions Special Events. In the photo below, is David Demperio, who entertained, and called on Elizabeth Boyd to join him for a song in a duo. 
A warm, dry tent on cool, damp night,
plus lots of food and fun, made for a great MACC evening
As the rain was letting up, the shrimp, potatoes and corn on the cob were heating up, and the combination created an ideal setting for a Low Country Boil with major sponsors Saltwater Markets and Creative Solutions Special Events on Thursday night, Nov. 15, 2018.
Brad and Shannon Thomas and their team from Creative Solutions Special Events erected a tent with sides and plenty of heat beside their office building on Wilson Road. Clint and Elizabeth Boyd and their team from Saltwater Markets provided plenty of great food. Other sponsors were Anatomywise, Manufacturing Services, Portable Restroom Trailers, and Stanton Enterprise/McDonalds.
Live music was by David Demperio.

McAdenville dedicates new Town Hall

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


McAdenville Mayor Jim Robinette cuts the ribbon at the new Town Hall with Town Council members, from left, Reid Washam, Jay McCosh, Carrie Bailey, Joe Rankin and Greg Richardson, along with Town Clerk Lesley Dellinger and staff member Angie Bradshaw. Holding the ribbon are, at left, Chamber Board Chair Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design and Board Secretary and former Chair Melia Lyerly of Lyerly Agency.

McAdenville celebrates with open house and ribbon cutting 

In most town hall council chambers, the mayor and other elected leaders sit in front of large round replicas of the town’s official municipal seal. 

Fortunately, the Town of McAdenville, also known as Christmas Town USA, is not like most towns. Blessed with a unique opportunity when the town renovated a former church building to become its Town Hall, officials chose to retain a large stained-glass window and make it the focal point of the council chamber. 

Mayor Jim Robinette and members of the Town Council invited McAdenville residents, Montcross Area Chamber members and the public to see the new Town Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, during a ribbon cutting and reception from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m., just before a meeting of the Council. 

The new Town Hall at 163 Main Street formerly was home to McAdenville United Methodist Church, which started at a nearby location in 1890, and built on the present site in 1961. The town bought the 4,800-square-foot building last year and began work to make it the new Town Hall, freeing up former town offices in the business district for additional retail space. Chamber member BowerTraust Construction is the contractor for the project. 

In addition to the stained-glass window, visitors to the new Town Hall will see from the former church the original floors, many of the 1960s light fixtures and some of the pews. A large 1892 bell from the original church is on permanent display in front of the Town Hall.


McAdenville Town Council members and Mayor Robinette take their places for a meeting that followed the ribbon cutting. 



W.O. Owens Jr. Worship and Fine Arts Center

Thursday, November 8, 2018

105-year-old Gaston Christian School founder Dr. M.O. Owens Jr. cut a ribbon Thursday officially opening a new Worship and Fine Arts Center named in his honor. The 26,000-square-foot arts center includes a 520-seat auditorium and a 2,000-square-foot stage for student assemblies, theatrical and musical performances. A bronze statue of Dr. Owens was unveiled in front of the Fine Ares Center. 

Band, chorus and other fine arts classrooms will serve the 1,000 GCS students, and the center also includes dressing rooms, space for set design and a large lobby reception area. The $4 million brick and stucco Fine Arts Center sits at the entrance to the 56-acre campus between the two elementary and middle and high school buildings. 

Gaston Christian School Board Chair Timothy Roberts spoke at the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting along with Head of School Dr. Marc Stout. Dr. Owens daughters, Celia Alexander, Mary Lancaster and Linda Russ, accompanied him to the dedication.  




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