Business people from across Lincoln County came out to network Thursday at the East Lincoln Community Center for Lincolnton/Lincoln County Chamber of Commerceâ€™s fourth and final business networking luncheon of the year.
â€œWe rotate where we hold the four luncheons between Lincolnton and Denver,â€ said Chamber President Ken Kindley.
He says the luncheons have proven to be successful.
â€œItâ€™s done to provide our members an additional way for people to promote their business and to develop new business contacts for them,â€ said Kindley.
Kindley adds that not only has participation for the event increased â€” it averages between 85 and 100 business people â€” but sponsorship has as well.
â€œThe luncheons are so popular, weâ€™ve increased the numbers of sponsors from one to three,â€ said Kindley.
The sponsors for this luncheon were A-2-Z Promotional Products and Avason Family Dentistry both of Denver, and Lincoln Staffing in Lincolnton.
Tony Moore, vice president of sales for the Ingold Company of Hickory, says his reason for coming to the networking luncheon is simple.
â€œI do business in Lincolnton, and I want to do more business in Lincoln County,â€ he said.
Peter Capece is an attorney with the law firm of Kennedy & Wulfhorst, P.A., in Denver.
â€œItâ€™s important for me to meet folks who keep the community moving,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s an integral part of any business to continue to build a network of support.â€
Jack Funk, owner of A-2-Z Promotional Products, adds the importance of being local.
â€œWeâ€™re a local company, working with local folks. That means a lot,â€ he said.
After introduction of new chamber members and recognizing sponsors, Tim Miller, the western North Carolina director of the state emergency management services, talked about emergency preparedness in North Carolina.
â€œFEMA has gotten a bad rap, especially since theyâ€™re into the Department of Homeland Security,â€ said Miller.
Miller said anytime there is an emergency in western North Carolina, his office in Hickory becomes the command center for the entire 34-county region.
He added that disasters are nothing new to the western region of the state.
â€œDisasters start locally, with someone observing something out of the ordinary and calling 911,â€ he said, â€œand they end locally as well.â€
Miller revealed the responses to hurricanes Ivan and Frances last year required no federal response, including dollars.
â€œWe were given federal monies after the President ruled western North Carolina a disaster area, and we used those for reimbursement purposes for the monies we had already spent,â€ said Miller.
Preparation, according to Miller, is important for dealing properly with disasters.
After the 9/11 terrorist tragedy, Urban Search and Rescue teams were developed. However, right after the tragedies in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., the closest teams to Lincoln County were based in Tennessee and Virginia.
So the state of North Carolina decided to develop regional response teams. There are seven across the state, with the closest to Lincoln County being in Charlotte, Miller said.
Since 9/11, however, four USR teams have been developed in North Carolina. They are located in Iredell County, Charlotte, Asheville and Bryson City.
â€œThese teams have two added components of swift-water rescue and hazardous materials, which is more than the federal USR teams,â€ said Miller.
In training the teams, Miller says team members are brought to Charlotte for two weeks in order to make the training uniform.
â€œTheyâ€™re trained the same way and on the same equipment,â€ said Miller.
When the news of possible terror threats breaks, state officials have to evaluate the stateâ€™s current threat level, Miller said.
â€œWe have to assess if the threat is real or not,â€ he said. â€œAnd I reiterate, disasters start locally and end locally. It starts when somebody notices something and notifies authorities.â€
Miller recommends that families keep a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water on hand.
â€œThatâ€™s usually the time it takes for federal emergency response to arrive,â€ he said.
Watauga County in the mountains of western North Carolina had the most emergency declarations of any North Carolina county.
â€œWestern North Carolina had more declarations than any other region of the state due to floods, winter storms and landslides,â€ said Miller.
North Carolina Emergency Management recently won the Higgins-Langley award for swift-water flood response during last yearâ€™s hurricanes.
â€œSometimes, however, we do get complacent regarding preparedness,â€ said Miller. â€œLook at Mississippi and Louisiana. They didnâ€™t have a disaster prior to Katrina in years.â€
by Jon Mayhew