By Kay Whatley, Editor
Did you miss it? The first Zebulon Next — an Economic Growth Conference — was held on October 6, 2016, by the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce.
Business managers, bank representatives, town commissioners, the Mayor, sponsor reps, local real estate companies, entrepreneurs, small business owners, big business and bank representatives, healthcare agencies, CPAs, club members, growers, and chamber members all came together.
A host of speakers covered local development opportunities, employment, economics, and past and potential growth — for Zebulon and for this eastern tip of Wake County, North Carolina.
The morning started early — well, early for some according to joking over coffee and breakfast. The food available while the crowd networked included:
- Coffee, orange juice, water, and freshly scrambled eggs — in two flavors — were provided by Kaplan Catering Group of Raleigh.
- Country ham mini-biscuits from Zebulon’s own McLean’s Ole Time Cafe.
- Locally made jams and jellies from Martha’s Kitchen.
- Bagels in three flavors, plus spreads, were provided by Brown Bag Bagels of Wendell.
Denise Nowell of the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce and her team designed the event as an opportunity for local businesses and residents to hear what was coming over the horizon for the Town, the county, and the state, and ensure time for attendees to ask questions and network with each other and the speakers.
Networking time ran from about 7:30am to 8:15am or so, when all were asked to take seats in the presentation area.
After introductory remarks by Ellen Fuhrer of the Zebulon Chamber, Mayor Robert “Bob” Matheny stepped up to the podium and talked about the town’s potential growth and development.
The Mayor was followed by a group of specially selected speakers and business owners. These speakers include:
- James T. Simpson, COO of the North Carolina Chamber
- Dr. Mike Walden, NC State Economist
- Adrienne Cole of Wake County Economic Development
- Harry Swendsen of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina
- Joe Moore, Zebulon Town Manager
Mr. Simpson spoke of the great Sequoia trees he’d seen on a recent trip, and how long-lived and practically indestructible they were; how they could recover even from fire damage. He compared this to how running a business could be destroyed by many economic, governmental, and environmental factors. His presentation also covered the main issues he saw affecting NC and reforms of recent years.
Dr. Walden spoke on inflation, job growth, cities with loss/growth, and potential nationwide and locally. His presentation covered everything from oil prices to pay rates to economic bubbles.
Ms. Cole likened a local economy to team sports, and the necessity for people to work as a team to succeed.
Local business owners spoke of their own experiences, including:
- Carnell Taylor of Second Wind Computers (Zebulon NC)
- Elisa Moore of Fonville Morissey Realty / Five County Specialists (Zebulon NC)
- Mark Andrews of TME Investments (Raleigh NC)
Discussions covered forward-looking plans and potential growth and hiring — including potential of six Zebulon areas being considered for development.
Zebulon Next was hosted at Eagle Hall, a part of East Wake Academy in Zebulon. Attendees and speakers were able to walk in and start enjoying the food and chatting with others, thanks to all of the behind-the-scenes effort the Zebulon Chamber team had put in to setting up the venue, breakfast, name tags, presentation equipment, seating area, and so much more!
Businesses big and small sponsored the event, including:
- US Foods
- Weaver’s Pond
- Parrish Realty
- Petway, Mills & Pearson, PA
- Brios Media
- Four Oaks Bank
- Duke Energy
- Victory Lane Quick Oil Change
- Classic Party Rentals
- S&A Communications
- Five County Real Estate Specialists
- Dallas Pearce Realty
- Sam’s Club
- The Grey Area News
Sponsors were announced and given the spotlight before presentations began, thanking each for their support of the event. These are sponsored who supported the event, in addition to the Chamber efforts and food sponsorships mentioned previously.
The North Carolina Chamber of Commerce may be found at NCchamber.net.