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

Performing to an audience of more than 200 Watauga County business leaders in attendance in both in-person and virtual formats, the Boone Area and Blowing Rock Chambers of Commerce hosted the 6and Annual High Country Economic Launch Breakfast, Thursday, January 20and, 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 National Bank Skyline.

Dr. Harry Davis

In his annual remarks on the state of the economic situation of the Haut Pays, Dr. Harry Davis, professor of banking and regional economist at the North Carolina Bankers Association, said, “every piece of economic data that you can look at for Watauga County is solid, and it will continue. We are lucky to live here and to be in an area with such constant growth.

As part of his 2022 economic forecast, Dr. Davis predicts that GDP growth will occur at a rate of 4.5% for 2022, combined with an inflation rate that will fall to 4.5%. He predicts that local and state labor markets will remain tight and that workers will see 4 to 4.5 percent growth in their wages over the coming year.

“North Carolina is the nation’s sixth fastest growing state with tremendous economic development. We have low corporate and personal tax rates, which lead to continued economic strength and growth.

Christopher Chung

The presentation also included remarks from Christopher Chung, CEO of North Carolina Economic Development Partnership (EDPNC). As the state’s chief business recruiter, Chung shared observations on North Carolina’s economic trajectory through the COVID-19 pandemic and how the state overcame obstacles to maintain its position as an attractive landing place for new business while serving its existing business interests in a way that promotes future expansion.

“Last year, we saw 174 situations in which companies made commitments to locate or expand their business in North Carolina,” Chung said. “This resulted in 28,000 new jobs being advertised statewide, in both rural and urban markets. We’ve seen $10 billion in capital investment. When that money comes into the state, it appears as property taxes for communities, which helps fund infrastructure, education, and social services. All of the things that make our communities great depend on a tax base, and that $10 billion mark has broken all records in North Carolina for the past 25 years.

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

“The opportunities for places like Boone are about building places and making it an even more attractive destination, not only for people to move there, but also to create a place where people want to start businesses, start commerce and employ other people in these small businesses. “Each of the small businesses you honored today are great examples of the kinds of businesses that every community (across North Carolina) should aspire to help.”

The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce awarded its 2021 Watauga County Business of the Year Award. Appalachian FC was voted Startup Business of the Year. Mane Habit Salon was voted small business of the year and Mustard seed market was named Big Business of the Year.

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