Boone Area & Blowing Rock Chambers Host 3rd Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Breakfast

Posted By: David Jackson Chamber News ,

Over 160 local business leaders gathered at Appalachian Ski Mountain for the 3rd Annual High Country Economic Kickoff Breakfast, co-hosted by the Boone Area and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce. The event was presented by PeakGroup.insure and further sponsorship support was provided by Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute and Skyline National Bank.

Dr. Harry Davis, North Carolina Bankers Association Professor of Banking and Economist, presented a summary of trends related to regional and nationwide economic growth, housing, employment, and education. He then predicted the current economic recovery period will continue through 2019 and into 2020.

“The economy is going to grow around 2.6% this year, down from the 3% over the last 12-months, but above the 2.3% levels that we saw before,” Davis stated. “The unemployment rates for the Nation and for North Carolina will remain at historically low levels. We are going to have greater wage and salary growth over the next 12-months because of the tightness of the labor market. And if these things do happen, which I think they will, it will be a real positive for housing. It may take a while to show up, maybe a few of months, but I think housing will mirror last year’s numbers, which showed to be a pretty good year. I think this year the housing market has the chance to be better based on these trends.”  

Dr. Davis went on to predict Watauga County will experience similar trends in unemployment and wage growth as compared to 2018. He also added that North Carolina’s Gross State Product will continue to outperform the Nation’s Gross Domestic Product for the coming year.

Businesses seeking more efficient employee recruiting and training tools can take advantage of the Career Connections program offered by Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute.

 “This program is designed to connect our students to careers and to connect our employers to our students,” said Dr. Mark Poarch, President of Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute. “We provide employers with a talent pipeline. We hear you and we know what your challenges are and we are trying to solve problems by providing you with well-trained ready-to-work applicants.”

Through the Career Connections program, employers can interact with CCC&TI students through on-campus interviews, job fairs, and by allowing students to visit their places of business. Students in the program can take advantage of services such as career advisement, employment search assistance, and work-based learning opportunities.

Other highlights of the event included a legislative update from Senator Deanna Ballard (NC Senate-45) and Representative Ray Russell (NC House-93). Both discussed early session agenda items and legislative priorities that will have a direct impact on the High Country and rural communities across the state.

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce awarded it’s 2018 Business of the Year awards. High Country Food Hub was selected as Startup Business of the Year. Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchants was selected as Small Business of the Year and Blue Ridge Realty and Investments was tabbed as Large Business of the Year.

An audio archive of the full event is available by using this link.