News and Updates

GO GASTON: County looking good in latest numbers on tourism

Friday, August 26, 2016

Participants in the Business Buzz breakfast on tourism are (from left) sponsor CaroMont Health CEO Doug Luckett, Heath Dillard of Visit Charlotte, Marlise Taylor of Visit NC, Michael Applegate, director of Gaston County Department of Travel & Tourism, and Montcross Area Chamber Board Chair Walter Payne of ImageMark Business Services.

Thank a tourist; They saved your family $475 in taxes last year

Visitor spending in Gaston County increased by 3 percent in 2015 from $234 million to $241 million, Chamber members and friends learned Friday morning, when "The Business of Tourism" was the subject for discussion at Business Buzz breakfast at the Belmont campus of Gaston College. CaroMont Health was the sponsor.

Gaston County Department of Travel and Tourism Director Michael Applegate presented the local report, while regional and statewide information was provided by Heath Dillard of Visit Charlotte and Marlise Taylor of Visit North Carolina. 

The best news presented for Gaston County is that in many categories of lodging, a key measurement of tourism, hotels and motels here are outpacing the regional and statewide averages. (See table above.) 

Gaston County ranks third in tourism spending in the 10-county Charlotte region, behind Mecklenburg and Cabarrus. Gaston is 4th in the region in tourism employment with 1,890 jobs and also 4th in tourism taxes collected at $17.8 million. (See details in table 2 below.) 

Michael Applegate told more than 70 attending the breakfast that while the supply of hotel rooms here has remained relatively flat over the past decade, the demand for rooms has increased 40 percent. Since 1990, annual visitor spending in Gaston County has grown from $75 million to $241 million. 

Marlise Taylor put the difference tourism makes in North Carolina into perspective by pointing out that every household in the state last year saved $475 in taxes because of the tax revenue collected on tourism spending.

 TABLE 2: Visitor spending, employment and tax revenue in Charlotte region


More than 70 Chamber members and friends attended breakfast program on tourism.

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See the PowerPoint slides from the presentations

Habitat dedicates Johan Newcombe Event Center

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Artie Newcombe, son of the late Johan Newcombe cut a ribbon to open the Event Center at Habitat for Humanity named for his mother. He's joined by several other members of the Newcombe family, Habitat for Humanity Board members, Habitat Executive Director Mary Harris and representatives of the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional Chambers of Commerce. In the photo below, are Habitat Executive Director Mary Harris (left) and Carolyn Phillips of the Habitat administrative staff.

Center named for founder of Gaston's Habitat for Humanity

A 6,000-square-foot banquet and meeting venue was dedicated today to the founder of Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County the late Johan Newcombe. Mrs. Newcombe also served as the first volunteer executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County.

Habitat builds homes for people who otherwise could not afford to own a home, and now is working to complete its 110th home. Those chosen to receive homes participate in the construction. The mission statement is: "Seeking to put God's love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope," 

Habitat Executive Director Mary Harris spoke at the dedication, along with Gastonia Mayor John Bridgeman and Johan Newcombe's son Artie Newcombe, Several other members of the Newcombe family also attended the dedication and participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted jointly by the Montcross Area and Gaston Regional chambers of commerce. 

The event center will seat 340 for a banquet and can accommodate up to 500 standing. It is located in the same building that houses the Habitat for Humanity offices and ReStore at 1840 E. Franklin Boulevard in Gastonia, The facility features a covered entryway, a large video screen, audio and visual equipment and Wi-Fi access. Eight-person dining tables and chairs are provided. 

For information on renting the Johan Newcombe Event Center, or for more on Habitat for Humanity, call 704.864.6536, or visit

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Art by J hosts Chamber for Network After Work

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Art by J students (from left) are Jordan Truss, Elizabeth Capps, Addison Aldrich and Paul Harris, \ith studio owner Jeaniene Dibble. With them are members of the Chamber Board of Directors (from left) Robert Aldrich of Aldrich CFO Services, Jeff Lee of The Vintage Nest, and Moses Nueman of NB Technology.

Members and friends enjoyed a fun and colorful visit to a working art studio

Students and teachers at Jeaniene Dibble's Art by J Studios hosted a fun and colorful Chamber "Network After Work" at their 4,000-square-foot working art studio on Wilkinson Boulevard in Belmont on August 11. With many new Chamber members and many first-time visitors attending, the networking was profitable. Members even got a chance to test their artistic talent by doing some drawing. Jeaniene has been teaching art for more than three decades to students from first through 12th grade. And she has a few spots remaining for her fall classes. For information, go to

Art by J teachers Trudy Johnson, Morgan Mathieu, Susan Allran,

Sarah Monteleone and Jeaniene Dibble.

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Allstate Insurance - Ryan Clarke Grand Opening

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ryan Clarke is cutting the ribbon, which is being held by Chamber Board Secretary Carey Roberts of Carey Roberts Design and Board member Doug Luckett, who is CEO at CaroMont Health. Also in front are, from left, Chamber Board member Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank in Mount Holly, Allstate staff members Leslie Turner, Judy Clarke, who is Ryan’s mother, and Ashlee Dangerfield, Chamber Vice President Teresa Rankin, Belmont City Council member Martha Stowe and behind her Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin. They’re joined by other Chamber members, friends and family, including Ryan’s father Bill Clarke, brother Will Clarke and friend Josh Drennon

New Allstate agency open at 305 Belmont-Mt. Holly Road

A cookout with hot dogs, beverages and all of the trimmings greeted customers, Chamber members, friends and family as Ryan Clarke celebrated the Grand Opening of her new Allstate Insurance office at 305 Belmont – Mount Holly Road on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. Visitors toured the business, made business contacts and enjoyed the refreshments. Ryan thanked her family and friends and loyal local customers for their support and said she looks forward to many years of success at the new Allstate location. For more information on Allstate Insurance – Ryan Clarke, call (704) 827-8433, or visit the website:

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Bangz Salon & Spa Grand Opening

Friday, August 5, 2016

Brittany and Jake Farr are cutting the ribbon surrounded by members of the Bangz team, Chamber members, family and friends. Bangz staff (dressed in black) are, from left, Ann Watlington, Tracy Roberts, Kylie Wrenn, Caleb Grisdale, Katie Smith, Bangz founder and former owner Rita Lewis, Hannah Foster, Kaelee Scruggs, and Susan Foster, who is not visible in the photo. Holding the ribbon are Chamber Board members Jennifer Church (left) of the Chronicle Mill and Chyrch Realty and Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank. 

Celebrating new owners Brittany and Jake Farr

Bangz Salon & Spa celebrated in style with a grand re-opening to welcome new owners Brittany and Jacob Farr. Bangz is at 169 W. Main Ave., in downtown Gastonia, and the celebration was timed to coincide with a Gastonia Friday night concert featuring the Fantastic Shakers. Before the concert kicked off, Bangz welcomed Chamber members, customers, family and friends to the beautiful salon for refreshments, prizes and a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Drop by soon to congratulate the Bangz team. Be sure to ask about grand opening specials. You can call Bangz at 704.867.8311, or visit their website at

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Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park Dedicated

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Kevin Loftin's cousin Tom Weathers cut the ribbon at the entrance to a large observation deck and canoe and kayak launch. Other family members with him include Tom Weathers, Jr. and Abby Weathers, and their children Jillian and Rachael. Also in the photo are Belmont Mayor Charlie Martin along with other past mayors, members of the local legislative delegation, Belmont City Council members, representatives of the Parks and Recreation Board and other city officials.


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Hundreds turned out Saturday, July 23, 2016, for the grand opening celebration of Belmont's Kevin Loftin Riverfront Park. Family members of the late Mayor Kevin Loftin cut a ribbon to open the park, which features the city's first public access to Lake Wylie in addition to a large playground, picnic shelters, walking trails, an amphitheater and more.

The celebration featured live music, concluding with a concert by the Catalinas, children's activites and food vendors,

Kevin Loftin, who died in a car crash in 2012, was mayor in the late 1990s and led a push for downtown improvements that made possible the economic vitality Belmont enjoys today.

Ella B & Co. Boutique Salon Grand Opening

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In the photo, co-owners Pam Baxter and Zack Stone are cutting the ribbon along with (from left) Cramerton Mayor Ronnie Worley, Alex Conrad, Pam’s mother Betty Lawing and Pam’s husband Mark Baxter. Chamber members and friends and Ella B customers gathered around to show their support. Holding the ribbon are Montcross Area Chamber Board members Geanina Neal of CommunityOne Bank in Mount Holly and Jason Ramey of PSNC Energy. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016, was a very good day for Pam Baxter, who celebrated the grand opening of a new business Ella B & Co. Boutique Salon and the return from a six-month deployment in the Middle East of her husband Mark Baxter. Pam and her son Zack Stone are co-owners of the boutique salon, which is located at South Fork Village Apartments off Wilkinson Boulevard. A Montcross Area Chamber ribbon-cutting ceremony kicked off an evening of celebration, with music, refreshments, door prizes and special discounts.  

The boutique salon sells clothing and accessories for women and men and also offers haircuts and styling and hair-care products. The location is in the Cramerton town limits, though the address is 900-04 South Fork Village Dr., Belmont. For more information, call 704.824.1093 or visit 

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