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ICYMI: GBA Commit Breakfast Breaks Down Barriers to Local Officials Regarding Advocacy

March 28, 2022

Gaston Business Association

Thursday, March 24th, the Gaston Business Association (GBA) hosted its GBA Commit: Business Advocacy in the East Breakfast at Gaston College’s Kimbrell Campus Auditorium.

The meeting opened with Patrick Mumford, GBA President & CEO, introducing advocacy as a strategic priority and revealing members of the GBA’s new Advocacy Council:

  • Bre Hager Wilhelm (Council Chair) – Caromont Health
  • GBA Director Jim Morasso – Webb Custom Kitchen
  • GBA Director Eric Clay – Coldwell Banker
  • Mike Tanck – Charter Communications
  • Martha Wegner – Duke Energy
  • Julie Roper – Dominion Energy
  • Kathleen Evans – AT&T
  • Madeline Keeter – REBIC
  • Malissa Gordon – Piedmont Lithium
  • Joe Bost – Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

The council will help guide the GBA’s efforts in Influencing the Business Environment to enrich Gaston's diversification, overall reputation, and regional position.

Eastern Gaston’s elected officials also shared updates about their work:

Senator Ted Alexander, District 14, discussed his philosophy that government is best when it allows business owners to “do their thing”. He views public service as a vehicle to help people and has assisted by ending taxation for military retirement and increasing state employees’ salaries 5% while in office.

Representative John Torbett, District 108, is working on businesses behalf to reduce costs, both strategically and financially. He reassured attendees that although it sometimes takes a long time and is complicated, “there is a method to the madness” of governing.  In addition to his contributions to the business community regarding transportation issues, he has a goal to reduce the corporate income tax to “$0”. Torbett also explained the process for creating new district maps and reviewed the changes for Gaston.

Representative Donnie Loftis, District 109, has most recently been working on transportation appropriations and administering the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funds. His most critical focus is growing access to quality healthcare for a growing Gaston County.

Gaston County Commission Chair Chad Brown Riverbend Township emphasized the unprecedented cooperation between local governments and municipalities. Transportation will be at the head of the County’s legislative agenda and while the budget has been extremely difficult to develop due to Covid-19, he is proud of the final product. “All of the GBA’s strategic priorities are all of the things we are working on and looking forward to addressing to move the community forward,” he added.

Gaston County Commissioner Ronnie Worley, South Point Township shared the  removal of unnecessary government restrictions and regulations is his top priority. Looking to the future, he plans to assist in adding first responders and police officers to service the growing population and pushing for the Catawba bridge to begin development.

Gaston County School Board Chair Jeff Ramsey touted the success of Gaston’s CTE (Career and Technical Education) program.  Created in 2015 to graduate more vocational students, the program was ranked first in the state in 2021 for the number of CTE graduates and number of certifications. They have even created a Career Signing Day (as opposed to a Sports Signing Day) for high school seniors who sign a job contract prior to graduation.

Gaston County School Board Member Justin Davis, South Point Township has similar admiration for Gaston’s CTE programs. His focus is to prepare kids for a career or college prior to high school graduation. Career prep, college prep, leadership, health services and more options are available to high school students through Academy Programs. Some students even earn an Associates Degree at their high school graduation. Applications for Academy Programs being in February.

To view the complete event recording, please login to the investor portal on the GBA website.

The next GBA Commit: Business Advocacy Breakfast will be held May 26 and will focus on elected officials representing western Gaston.



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