Welcome, Elaine Spalding

  • Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 12:16 a.m.
New President Elaine Spalding, center, talks with (from left) Cindy Hart, Cathy Griffin and Robin Scharding, at the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce reception.
New President Elaine Spalding, center, talks with (from left) Cindy Hart, Cathy Griffin and Robin Scharding, at the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce reception.

The new president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce probably went home Wednesday evening with “welcome” ringing in her ears. Fresh from Paducah, Ky., Elaine Spalding shook hands with hundreds of people from the local business community and exchanged warm greetings with all.

Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Now, on to the hard work. Here’s the lay of the land:

Rowan County has a great location, situated right on an interstate highway between two major metropolitan areas. You’ve heard the drill. Three colleges. A thriving arts community. Proud heritage. Hard-working workforce. Abundant natural resources. Between the mountains and the sea.

If you’re a glass-half-full person, Rowan enjoys a prime spot in the middle of a thriving region. If you lean toward the half-empty view, the county and its 10 municipalities appear left behind in the middle of nowhere as Charlotte and the counties immediately around it boom with growth. The chamber president has to keep her eye on both views — embracing Rowan as the wonderful place it is while working to change the factors that threaten to drain the half-full/half-empty glass dry altogether.

What are those factors? Spalding will hear lots of theories about that and see some finger-pointing. Perhaps the best thing she can do is hold up a mirror and help everyone see clearly what they have or have not done that may be impeding the county’s growth. She brings a fresh perspective; maybe she can freshen our perspective, too.

People think of the private, not-for-profit Chamber of Commerce as a business advocacy group, and it is. But the Rowan Chamber takes a whole-community approach. Its mission is “to enhance quality of life and nurture a thriving economy through pro-active and consensus-building leadership.” Best wishes to Spalding as she pursues that mission and ushers the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce into a new era.

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