Biz Roundup: Spalding wins state Executive of the Year award for work as Chamber president

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 31, 2020

SALISBURY — In the time that Gary Blabon has known Rowan County Chamber of Commerce President Elaine Spalding, he’s never seen her at a loss for words.

That changed Thursday when Spalding was announced as the 2020 North Carolina Chamber Executive of the Year by the Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. The announcement was made on Zoom call during the organization’s virtual management conference.

“I was very surprised,” Spalding said. “Just really excited.”

Blabon, who currently serves as chairman of the Rowan Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, nominated Spalding for the award. He found out that Spalding was going to be honored two weeks ago, but managed to keep it a secret until it was revealed Thursday.

“I was able to be on the Zoom call and she was obviously surprised and caught off guard,” said Blabon, president and COO of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center. “You usually don’t see Elaine at a loss for words, but she was (Thursday).”

The Executive of the Year award recognizes long-term executives who have excelled over a period of years in leading and innovatively building their chamber. 

Spalding, a Kentucky native, came to the Rowan Chamber of Commerce seven years ago after serving as president of the Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce for 13 years. The Rowan Chamber was in good shape before Spalding arrived, but it didn’t take long for her to take things up a notch, Blabon said.

“She’s built a great team that she has at the chamber,” Blabon said. “The chamber has done a great job in Rowan County for years, but with her experience — she’s worked in chambers for 30 years — she brought a great wealth of knowledge to the position.”

Spalding won the Executive of the Year award in part due to her ability to provide support to local businesses as they struggled through the coronavirus pandemic.

“What I’m super proud of Elaine and her team for has been her response during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Blabon said. “As stores were really hurting, they were reaching out and calling businesses to see how they could help. How they could help them work online. They were instrumental in getting them loans and grants and telling them how they could get from the state and government.”

In addition to working with local businesses on COVID-19 recovery plans, Spalding and her staff adapted the Chamber of Commerce’s programming to offer virtual events like the Power in Partnership Series, a monthly event that features informational speakers.

“I’m particularly proud of this last year with the coronavirus pandemic and how we have been able to pivot and better serve the business community with webinars and different Zoom meetings to make sure our chamber members knew about the small business loan and grant programs,” Spalding said.

One of Spalding’s proudest accomplishments during her time as Rowan County chamber of Commerce president is having helped establish the chamber’s Minority Business Council. Led by Elia Gegorek, the council helps provide resources and unique programming for minority-owned businesses.

“We started our Minority Business council several years ago so I was really glad that we already had a diversity and inclusion plan in place,” Spalding said. “We’re working with our local minority business communities to provide them seminars and teach them how to become a certified minority business supplier at the state level.”

While the executive of the year award in an individual honor, Spalding credits her team for helping her win the award.

“This award recognizes our entire team, including our board of directors, all our volunteers, our chamber members and especially our other staff members Erica Church, Sharon Hughey and Tina Jamison-Cowan,” Spalding said.

Blabon said that the award not only reflects well on Spalding, but is an indicator of the business climate in Rowan County.

“It’s another thing to put us on the radar,” Blabon said. “We’re doing a lot of great things here in Rowan County.”

More information on the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce can be found at


Standard Process,  Integria Healthcare agree to new 10-year partnership

KANNAPOLIS — Supplement supplier Standard Process and Integria Healthcare have reached a renewed 10-year partnership agreement intended to support health care practitioners with whole-food based and herbal supplements.

Standard Process is headquartered in Palmyra, Wisconsin, but operates a nutrition innovation center in Kannapolis.

Although Standard Process and Integria have worked together for 20 years, the new agreement is intended to foster deeper collaboration between the two companies.

“Standard Process and Integria Healthcare have a unique relationship in our industry because we combine the expertise of a leading whole food-based supplement company, and a leading herbal supplement company,” Standard Process President and CEO Charlie DuBois said in a news release. “As powerful as our past has been, our future looks even better.”

Standard Process remains the exclusive U.S. distributor of MediHerb — an Integria Healthcare practitioner brand. The new agreement will ensure continued U.S. availability of MediHerb products and see the companies work close together at the initial stages of product development.

“We are very proud to renew our contract together for a further 10 years,” Integria Healthcare CEO Michael Bracka said in a news release. “This builds on the wonderful legacy of a successful 20-year partnership and sets the scene for us to continue our important work together: supporting natural healthcare practitioners in delivering health and well-being outcomes for their patients. We look forward to a prosperous, health-focused future.”

The agreement was signed in September and will last until 2030. Beyond products, it will also feature enhanced collaboration that incorporates coordinated and integrated educational programs, marketing initiatives, and business expansion projects. 

“My congratulations to MediHerb and Standard Process on the signing of this new 10-year agreement,” Kerry Bone, MediHerb co-founder, said in a news release. “I am so proud of what we have achieved together over the last 20 years, and to see this continue is inspiring. The ongoing commitment, focus and support of health care professionals in the U.S. by both companies is what makes this partnership both important and meaningful.”

To learn more about the partnership,


$2.3 million USDA grant going to Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corporation

Rep. Ted Budd R-13 recently announced that a $2.3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant has been awarded to North Carolina through USDA’s ReConnect program

The funding was awarded to the Yadkin Valley Telephone Membership Corporation, which will use the ReConnect grant to connect over 5,600 people, 67 farms and 18 businesses to high-speed broadband internet in Davie, Yadkin and Iredell counties.

Budd sent a letter requesting the grant on April 27.

“Helping more folks access broadband internet has become a necessity for thousands of North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Budd said in a news release. “That’s why I’m so proud that our state received this grant, so that people can continue to live their lives, operate their businesses, and educate their children. I’d like to thank USDA and other members of the North Carolina congressional delegation for their work to get this grant across the finish line.” 

Kannapolis accepting upset bids for Oak Avenue property

KANNAPOLIS — The city of Kannapolis is accepting upset bids for property on Oak Avenue.

Kannapolis purchased the property at 230, 234,242 and 250 on Oak Avenue in 2015 as part of its downtown revitalization project. The properties currently have two tenants, including Pizza Hut, and are suitable for office and commercial space.

The city received a bid of $930,000 for the .56-acre property that is approximately 11,000 square feet. The legal upset bid process is open until 5 p.m. on Nov. 9. During that time, anyone may upset the bid by submitting an offer of no less than $976,500. If an appropriate upset bid is received, the bidding process will continue until there are no additional valid upset bids.

Kannapolis has been working to revitalize its downtown for several years. The first three phases of the plan include: infrastructure and the West Avenue Streetscape (completed and opened in October 2019), the VIDA Mixed Use District, which includes a parking deck, restaurants, a brewery and apartments (opening Winter 2021) and the Atrium Health Ballpark (opened April 2020), the new home of the Kannapolis Cannon Ballers. 

As the city continues the next phases of the revitalization, interested buyers are invited to submit bids for the Oak Avenue properties.

Details on the upset bidding process are located at For more information contact Eric Davis, assistant city manager, at or 704.920.4307.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at

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