Boone and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce Host the 6th Annual Economic Kickoff Breakfast

Posted By: David Jackson Chamber News ,

Regional economist Dr. Harry Davis delivered his annual High Country Economic Forecast

Playing to an audience of over 200 Watauga County business leaders attending in both in-person and virtual formats, the Boone Area and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce hosted the 6th Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Breakfast, Thursday, January 20th, at the Grandview Ballroom on the campus of Appalachian State University.

The event was presented by Peak Insurance Group with additional sponsorship support from Allen Wealth Management, The Horton Hotel, Appalachian Commercial Real Estate and Skyline National Bank.

In his annual remarks regarding the state of the High Country economic picture, Dr. Harry Davis, North Carolina Bankers Association Professor of Banking and Regional Economist, said, “every piece of economic data you can look at for Watauga County is strong, and that is going to continue. We are lucky to live here and be in an area with such consistent growth.”

As part of his 2022 Economic Forecast, Dr. Davis predicts GDP growth will occur at a rate of 4.5% for 2022, combined with an inflation rate that will decline to 4.5%. He predicts local and State labor markets to remain tight, and wage earners to see growth of 4-4.5% in salary over the coming year.

“North Carolina is the sixth fastest growing state in the country with tremendous economic development. We have low tax rates for both corporations and individuals, all of which leads to strength and continued economic growth.”

The presentation also included remarks from Christopher Chung, Chief Executive Officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC). Serving as the State’s chief business recruiter, Chung shared observations about North Carolina’s economic path through the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the State has overcome obstacles to maintain its position as an attractive landing place for new business while also serving its existing business interests in a manner that promotes future expansion. 

“Last year we saw 174 situations where companies committed to locating or growing their business in North Carolina,” Chung said. “That resulted in 28,000 announced new jobs all across the state, in rural and urban markets. We saw $10 billion dollars in capital investment. When that money comes into the State, that shows up as property tax money for communities, which allows funding for infrastructure, education, and social services. All of the things that make our communities great depend on a tax base, and that $10 billion dollar mark shattered any record in North Carolina for the last 25-years.”

Chung shared his outlook for 2022, including thoughts about how rural communities, such as Watauga County and the High Country, can best position their assets to attract future employers and employees alike.

“Opportunities for places like Boone are around placebuilding and making this an even more attractive destination, not just for people to move to, but also creating somewhere where people want to start businesses, start commerce, and employ other people as part of those small businesses,” said Chung. “Each one of the small businesses you honored today are great examples of the types of businesses each community (across North Carolina) should aspire to help.”

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce awarded its 2021 Watauga County Business of the Year awards. Appalachian FC was selected as Startup Business of the Year. Mane Habit Salon was selected as Small Business of the Year and Mustard Seed Market was tabbed as Large Business of the Year.

For more information about the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, please contact David Jackson at 828-264-2225, or by email at david@boonechamber.com.