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Organizers plan Huntersville chamber


Feb. 16. Jill Swain, the former mayor of Huntersville, is the new executive director of Huntersville Connection, a 501c6 organization that voted today to transition to the Huntersville Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to Swain, board members include Jeff Neely, a former Huntersville town commissioner, and Raquel Crespo, assistant general manager of the real estate management company behind Birkdale Village.

The organization is effective as of the vote today. The group is working toward completing a business plan and sharing with participants.

Bill Russell, CEO of the Cornelius-based Lake Norman Chamber, said he was not concerned about the new chamber in the midst. “The Lake Norman Chamber was formed 28 years ago to be a regional chamber of commerce serving the businesses of Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius, and, as we grew, we included Denver, and even Charlotte. Thiss announcement has no impact on the Lake Norman chamber because we will continue to be the chamber that services the communities Huntersville, Davidson and Cornelius,” Russell said.

Much of the chamber business today has to do with perceived value. Where businesses almost automatically joined chambers years ago, simply on the basis of geography, that’s not the case any more, Russell said.

“The uniqueness of Huntersville Connection has been our ability to create partnerships among our participants that benefit each entity. Our goal has been to give a sense of community to the local businesses, so that everyone works together toward overall benefits. When the business community understands that they are each other’s cheerleaders, we’ve seen that customers respond,” said Crespo, board president.

The organization has grown since its inception. Originally intended as a roundtable for area destinations, organizers added businesses as well. Meetings have been held on the third Tuesday of each month at rotating locations and participation has been free.

The organization will move to a fee-based model with “affordable” membership dues. Planned are a website and more events, like the Fall Into Huntersville festival held annually and discussion forums.

“Huntersville’s population is now over 54,000 and it looks like that the growth will continue. Creating the Huntersville Chamber of Commerce, which will work with other area Chambers of Commerce, effectively moves our business community into a more proactive growth position for the future,” Neely said.

Swain is in charge of transition plans, including membership recruitment, website development and name change issues. More info: HuntersvilleChamber@gmail.com or HuntersvilleConnection@gmail.com, on Facebook at Huntersville Chamber.