By Laura Doster

Executive Director

At the writing of this article, many factors are still up in the air around what to expect in 2021.  Much teeters on our country’s leadership, our local governments, COVID-19, and how fast the vaccines can be distributed.   Daily we are provided with an ever-changing landscape around each of these critical topics.  

Despite this turmoil, the Chamber is looking ahead and focusing on the positive things to impact in 2021.  There are lessons learned, both good and bad, throughout 2020.  Consequently, we asked ourselves how do we create a strategic plan on such a wobbly landscape?  How do we continue to support our small business communities and stay sustainable as a non-profit?  Can we drive economic and community development while protecting the natural integrity of the Gorge?  What will be different, what can we improve upon!

When setting your sights on what to do, a wise man once told me it is always valuable to ask yourself this question, “What is it you have been given to do . . . are you doing it well . . . if not, then fix it and be great at it.  If you are unable to fix it, then walk away and focus on what you can do well.”  In the Hickory Nut Gorge, it is blatantly easy to see what we have been given.  The Gorge’s views along with Lake Lure, our beautiful mountains, Chimney Rock State Park, and the multitude of gorgeous waterfalls are exceptional.  The effects of these natural resources are the reasons so many love this area: our hiking trails, rock climbing, biking, bouldering, camping, fishing, boating, zip lining, golfing, beaching, swimming, and rowing, to name a few.  During this pandemic, our visitors have been constant BECAUSE of these treasures. Hence, it makes complete sense to the Chamber’s board to focus our efforts on our most natural asset – our magnificent Hickory Nut Gorge.  

Therefore, we are very excited to share the Chamber is embarking on a 2021 plan to brand and market the Gorge as an “Outdoor Community”.  Meetings have taken place with subject matter experts on this topic as well as conservation groups to guide us in our efforts.  Of course, we will continue to work collaboratively with our local stakeholders.   Worth mentioning, this is not an effort to industrialize our community.  It is a cohesive effort to improve the outdoor experience our residents and visitors are seeking.  This will not be an overnight effort, to do it right will take time.  Stay tuned as we promise to keep everyone updated.  And if you have any creative ideas on this subject, please feel free to share.  Your voice is always important to us.

With Peace Profound,

Laura Doster