My Turn, Elaine Spalding: How can business community help in current times?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 16, 2020

By Elaine Spalding

As Rowan County’s largest business advocacy organization, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce recognizes the difficult times our country and our community are facing.

Our mission is to enhance the quality of life and nurture a thriving economy through pro-active and consensus-building leadership. In order to fulfill our mission, we must work to create a safe environment where all citizens can live and work without fear and discrimination.

“If our tears do not lead us to act then we have lost the reason of our humanity, which is compassion,” said the Dalai Lama. We have shed tears over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and many others. It’s time to listen, show our humanity and compassion and then act to bring about real and lasting change.  

Rowan County has a rich history of collaborating, finding hope, and coming together during difficult and stressful times. We’ve witnessed it recently with the COVID-19 health crisis and the Rowan Economic Recovery Task Force in conjunction with our community partners. These partnerships are the cornerstone of our success. We are a community that supports our neighbors in good times and in bad. While we watch what is happening across the country and in our own backyard, we need to show true humanity for our fellow citizens and work together to be part of the solution.

The Chamber’s Leadership Rowan program focuses on diversity and inclusion in every class, now in its 27th year. The chamber and the city of Salisbury started a Minority Business Council four years ago to help facilitate diverse business growth and economic parity. Our chamber board is diverse, and we were honored to have Nicole Holmes Matangira serve as our first African-American chair of the board in 2019. Our 2020 Chair of the Board Gary Blabon’s organization, Novant Health, took out full page ads in the Salisbury Post with a powerful position of support.   

So, how can the business community help?

• Support minority owned businesses: increase your percentage of minority vendors, buy from local minority-owned firms, post positive comments on minority business social media pages.

• Encourage Diversity: increase your percentage of minority hires and invite diverse people to serve on your boards, committees and not-for-profit organizations

Nominate someone for Leadership Rowan, a diverse leadership training program to facilitate open discussion and in-depth knowledge of our community. The deadline is June 19.

We all need to listen to all our neighbors and then work together with our community leaders and elected officials to move aggressively toward influencing positive solutions. We stand united with all of the people and businesses that make up our community. Go team Rowan!

Elaine Spalding is president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce. Contact her at