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Growth concerns getting a forum

As rapid growth continues to strain relations between east and west Lincoln County, chamber of commerce officials near Lake Norman are hoping doing lunch will raise awareness that a business body remains ready to voice east Lincoln commercial concerns.
While still months away from the October 17 luncheon, officials with the East Lincoln Area Council, an arm of the larger Chamber of Commerce, are using the event to let 150 businesses in the eastern portion of the county know ELAC cares about their issues.
“They don’t feel they can go to anybody right now,” said Ken Morris, vice-chair of ELAC and the liaison to the Lincolnton-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce which meets in the county seat of Lincolnton. “What we need to do is make it more cohesive and to not have an us versus them situation.”
As development continues to rapidly spring up around Lake Norman in recent years, many businesses in the area have long maintained issues specific to their region are not being addressed. There has even been talk in the past of organizing to incorporate the area.
Morris said ELAC understands those issues and is now making a push to energize his group with those businesses, many of whom are already members of the larger Chamber.
“There needs to be more recognition that there is a concern to fill the needs of the eastern area businesses to find out what their needs are and address those needs,” he said. “Some folks feel it is a bit of reach to get out to Lincolnton.”
Rather than depending on flyers or word-of-mouth, Morris said ELAC is launching a far more intimate approach to outreach.
“We are going to be making personal contact with a number of businesses,” Morris said. “We are going to put a face out there so businesses know the people to talk to who can address their concerns.”
While ELAC has worked on issues of infrastructure, such as installing adequate sewer and water, and a sign ordinance to cut back on blight, many issues remain to be addressed in eastern Lincoln, according to Morris.
“People are concerned about roads and the sewers,” he said. “Some others are concerned about beautification of the N.C. 16 corridor which many consider to be Denver’s Downtown.”
The last of four networking luncheons held annually by the Chamber of Commerce, Morris said the October meeting will hopefully be a starting point to open a channel that will lead to better communication in the future across the county and strengthen ELAC’s role in the business community.
“We feel the awareness could be heightened,” he said. “We want to make sure we are seamless and cohesive across the county.”
by Olin Ericksen

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