Welcome to Davie: Chamber tries to help businesses thrive

Published 9:44 am Friday, March 25, 2016

Shop local.

More importantly, shop in Davie County.

The iShopDavie program at the Davie County Chamber of Commerce was so successful that it is ongoing – and going through a rebranding process.

Chamber President Carolyn McManamy said that businesses continue to support the program – one of many aimed to benefit them.

Business owners like posting the iShopDavie stickers they get by participating. They like the idea of rewarding those who support the program with deals. They like the idea of keeping the tax revenues in Davie County; and knowing that money spent here means more to local non-profits, as well.

“We want that tax kept here. It helps keep jobs here,” she said.

Yes, the chamber is still a place to get information – not only on local businesses – but on vacation destinations. They answer a lot of questions, as well, everything from where is the driver’s license office to what is the number for the Social Security office. The most-asked for numbers are published in the chamber’s annual directory.

But the emphasis is more on helping the business community – which, in turn – helps the residents, McManamy said.

“There’s so much industrial growth in Davie County. Things are happening here that aren’t happening anywhere else.”

She mentions that more than 100 folks attended the grand opening of The Corners coffee shop in Bermuda Run. Scarlett’s, a Downtown Mocksville boutique, is moving to a larger location downtown. The Daisy Depot, just south of downtown,  is moving to larger quarters next door. Operators of a popular taco truck are opening a restaurant in Mocksville.

The Squire Boone Plaza, adjacent to Joppa Cemetery in Mocksville, has new owners with new plans. The new owner is trying to lure a major tenant now that Food Lion no longer has a lease on a former grocery store there.

“You’re going to see a revitalizaton of that plaza.. You’re going to see things grow on Main Street. There’s a good trend and it’s all positive.”

Bermuda Run continues to grow, and will grow even more as Wake Forest Baptist Health is expected to develop a commercial section after beds are opened in 2017.

The list of success stories goes on.

“We get excited for everybody. It’s neat to do things with these businesses. There’s life here (downtown) after 5 or 6 o’clock. That increases the quality of life.

“Housing inventory is starting to grow again. It’s fun right now, but there’s no downtime. We have way more ideas than there are hours in the day,” McManamy said.

“This community is rocking, and it will continue to rock. I have a fun job in a fun community,” McManamy said. “People are investing in our buildings. Main Street is doing well.”

The favorite part of her job, and that of member services coordinator Caroline Moser, is helping businesses – large and small. Much of that is done through networking opportunities and seminars.

Business After Hours is held monthly at various hosts businesses.

DC Networks meets from 7:45-9 a.m. on every second Tuesday at Ketchie Creek Bakery & Cafe on Valley Road in Mocksville; and from 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. on every fourth Tuesday at La Carreta in the Kinderton Shopping Center in Bermuda Run (This is also the chamber’s Lunch & Learn.) and routinely features guest speakers.

“This is networking at the organic level, small businesses helping each other,” she said.

The chamber offers marketing help, like a “mini website” geared toward smaller businesses.

Chamber events are open to all businesses, and many  new members decide to join after attending a meeting. “We try to be inclusive, not exclusive.”

The chamber is doing its part to make Davie a “work ready” community, a statewide initiative to have workers ready for jobs available in that area. That effort is being led by Davidson County Community College.

McManamy likes the idea that Davie is transitioning from a county with few retail offerings – to more choices almost weekly.

“We’re at a tipping point. There is a lot of available space and a lot of activity … a lot of opportunities out there.”

The chamber continues to improve its “Best of Davie” awards initiative, where people vote on their favorites in a variety of categories. While multiple votes per person were allowed the last two years, next year, the number of times a vote can be made from a certain computer will be limited.

“We hope we’re shifting the culture to what can we do for you, not what can you do for us,” she said. “We’re comfortable with the fact we’re constantly trying to do more to help local businesses.”

She gives another example. The chamber has access to a worker’s comp insurance provider that has saved several businesses quite a bit of money.

“We love working one on one, brainstorming, being a conduit of information.”

A recent women’s business summit had about 20 women in attendance, but they communicated with each other. The owner of Just Go Play was thrilled, she got three “big” contacts from the other attendees. “We’re bringing people together who can help each other, providing ongoing opportunities.”

The opportunities are there – all the chamber needs is for more people to take advantage of those opportunities.

“It’s a soft sell,” McManamy said. “The opportunities are there, but we’re not going to beat them over the head with them. We want to be able to enjoy living here, too.”

The chamber has 406 members, led now by Scott Gantt of First Choice Personnel.