All posts by MitchellCountyChamber

Chamber’s New Workforce Development Project Featured

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The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) recently featured the Mitchell County Chamber’s new workforce development project. The project’s goal is to address the local business and industry concerns regarding the availability and future of a qualified workforce in Mitchell County. The project’s launch is scheduled for Fall 2019 and will focus on middle school and high school students and their parents.

The project has been in planning for the past year and has consisted of business and industry interviews, student surveys, steering committee meetings, video production in local industries, student focus groups and more! Stay tuned for the project launch in Fall 2019. If your business would like to learn how to partner and support this project, contact the Mitchell County Chamber office at 765-9033.

Link to EDPNC Featured Article: EDPNC Featured Article


Candidates Forum Scheduled for October 8th

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce will host a Candidates Forum on Tuesday, October 8th at 6 PM at the Historic Courthouse in Bakersville. The forum will provide local citizens with an opportunity hear from candidates seeking the offices of Spruce Pine Mayor and Bakersville Town Council. The two candidates running unopposed for the Spruce Pine Town Council seats will also have the opportunity to address the audience. A survey will be offered to Chamber members to submit questions for the candidates. The event is free and open to the public.

60th NC Mineral and Gem Festival Coming Soon!

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Cheers to 60 Years!

2019 will mark the 60th Anniversary of the NC Mineral and Gem Festival in Spruce Pine. For sixty years, Spruce Pine has welcomed rock hounds and jewelry lovers to the NC Mineral and Gem Festival where they enjoy aisles and aisles of beautiful jewelry, gemstones, and minerals from around the country.


“Each year we welcome dealers to the Festival from as far away as California and as close to home as Little Switzerland,” said Patti Jensen, Director of the Festival.  “These dealers, and the thousands of visitors that come to the Festival each year, have a tremendous economic impact on our community.”


Spruce Pine, North Carolina has been deemed the most important mining district in the world and has celebrated nature’s resources in this mountain area for decades.  “The world would come to a slow crawl without the rich minerals from the Spruce Pine area,” said Patti Jensen with the Mitchell County Chamber. “Spruce Pine provides over 90% of the world’s purest quartz for the production of computer chips among many other uses.  And did you know that the “sand” at the Master’s in Augusta is trucked in from Spruce Pine?”


The 60th anniversary event will feature many new additions to the weekend. The Festival will kick off July 31st at 6 pm with a VIP event. This event is a one night only exclusive event and first look of the Festival. Guests will enjoy live music, food, drinks, a silent auction and a 60th anniversary “swag bag”. A special ribbon cutting will open the Festival on Thursday August 1st at 9:30 am with special guests from our mining community, as well as sponsors, dignitaries and more. All are invited to join in!


The popular mine tours will happen this year during the Festival on Thursday August 1st and Friday August 2nd. These tours are sponsored by The Quartz Corporation and visitors can visit a local working mine and dig for treasures to their hearts delight. Anything they find they can keep! The tours are a ticketed item and require reservations.  Space is limited and these tours are very popular so reserve spots early!


Festival go-ers can enjoy shopping, ample parking, and nearby food services. Attendees can shop for fine jewelry from the top jewelers in the country, have their own custom jewelry designed on site, as well as shop for minerals, gemstones, fossils and beads.  Local gem mining establishments offer special mine tours as well as well as special events at their business locations.


The week is full of activities including an outdoor gem show, the Grassy Creek Mineral and Gem Show, sponsored by the Parkway Fire Department. This event is held the entire week from Sunday-Sunday and is just a few miles down Hwy 226 from the NC Mineral and Gem Festival.


The 60th NC Mineral and Gem Festival will be held August 1-4, 2019 at a new location this year. Just steps away from the former location and still located in the Spruce Pine Commons Shopping Center, the new location boasts a beautiful space and will also host food vendors, a gift shop and a special exhibit from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.  The physical address of the new location is 12085 South Hwy 226, Spruce Pine, NC and is directly behind McDonald’s.  The times are Thursday-Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12:30-5:00.  Admission is $4 with Senior Citizens admitted on Thursday for $2 and Mitchell County Residents admitted on Sunday for $2.


Sponsors of the Festival are the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, The Quartz Corporation Duke-Energy, Sibelco, Springmaid Mountain, Alpine Inn, Western Sizzlin’, Eben Concepts and Wal-Mart. A special thank you to the staff at The Quartz Corporation for their incredible work to help get the facility ready for the festival.



For more information contact the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce at 765-9033 or visit







Mitchell County Chamber Workforce Development Initiative

Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce Receives Grant to Support Workforce Development Initiative

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce working with the High Country Workforce Development Board has been awarded a grant from the NC Department of Commerce “Maximize Carolina” program.  The $75,000 grant (with 15% of the amount being provided by matching funds from local partners) will assist in kicking off a Mitchell County workforce education and awareness initiative for local students.

The project was developed in response to many existing companies indicating they are struggling to find and retain employees. This is especially true in the manufacturing industry.  Feedback from local industry and employers has established that there is a lack of understanding on what career opportunities are available in Mitchell County and that locating the information when available is extremely difficult. The new workforce initiative funded by the Maximize Carolina Grant and other partners will begin to address the gaps in information on types of jobs available in the marketplace now and growth areas anticipated in the future. It will tie these opportunities to the training required to successfully attain these positions (much of the training being available through Mayland Community College) and provide information on possible assistance with funding the required training.

The program is modeled after the Work In Burke program facilitated by the Burke Development Inc. The Burke County program was addressing the same issues that the industry in Mitchell County is facing and became a great resource for the project. The project was referred to the Mitchell County Chamber by the regional NC Economic Development Partnership Industry Manager, Bill Slagle. “The staff at Work in Burke have been very supportive in seeing their project become a model for Mitchell County, said Patti Jensen, Director of the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce. “The Work in Burke program has been very successful and we appreciate their program staff being such a great resource for replicating their project in Mitchell County.”

The campaign is a joint effort with partners from across the county, region and state, including: local business and industry, Mayland Community College, Mitchell County Public Schools, Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, High Country Workforce Development Board, Mitchell County EDC and others. Work will begin immediately with a partnership with Mitchell County Schools CTE program to survey students and parents in the school system to gather their input and feedback on workforce issues. The next steps will include creating the content for a robust website and a multi-media outreach plan aimed at providing needed information to primarily middle and high school students and their parents. Plans are to expand the reach of the program as more resources become available.  Plans are to work with the students in the school system to have them be a part of the branding of the project as well with their input and feedback.

“When meeting with our industry partners, we were hearing of the issues they were having in finding qualified workers to meet the needs of their business and also their concerns about the future workforce pipeline that would feed their future expansions and employment needs,” said Jensen.  These conversations with business leaders led to the Chamber researching opportunities to help and respond and this led them to the Work in Burke program and the Maximize Carolina grant. “We appreciate the assistance provided by the NC Department of Commerce to our efforts’, said Jensen. With the fast changes taking place in in the workplace, it is increasingly important for all students to continue their education beyond high school whether through certification programs or degrees. With all our partners engaged in these efforts, we believe we can close the information gap that exists and assist more of our students in finding a career that is right for them right here in Mitchell County. “

The Maximize Carolina Sector grants are designed to “address skills gaps in robust and emerging industry sectors” according to the NC Commerce website. These grants can be used to address challenges such as applicants lacking specific skills, lack of sector brand awareness and work-based learning opportunities.

“The CTE program in Mitchell County Schools and the workforce development programs at Mayland Community College are doing an excellent job in working with our students and our community. Our local industry is stepping up to the plate to be engaged partners with our education systems as well. This new initiative will be a piece of the puzzle to support these programs in the community and try to fill any gaps that our education and business industry partners feel are needed,” said Jensen.

In addition, the Chamber has also received support for this initiative from the NC General Assembly as well as Duke-Energy and the Mitchell County Economic Development Commission. “We appreciate the General Assembly, Duke Energy and our EDC office for coming on board so early in this project, showing their support for workforce development in our communities and their confidence in this initiative, said Jensen.


Chamber Announces New Tourism Grant Program

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce’s Tourism Committee announces a new small grant program to help support tourism-oriented events and programs in Mitchell County.

There are various ways the Mitchell County Chamber Tourism Committee accomplishes its mission, with direct marketing and promotion of Mitchell County as the primary tactic. However, there are a number of initiatives, like the small grant program, that play an important role as well. The goal with this program is to maximize the impact of the Mitchell County tourism funds by supporting local individuals and organizations with events or initiatives that positively affect the local tourism economy.

Local businesses and organizations can apply for the funds to help support their tourism-oriented events and programs.  The maximum amount of support for the Small Grant is $1750 per request.

“We at the Chamber and our Tourism Committee members are excited to announce this new program for Mitchell County,” said Patti Jensen, Director of the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce. “The Tourism Committee has worked for months to develop this program including its criteria and guidelines, she said”

Tourism is a major economic driver in Mitchell County with nearly $25 million dollars spent each year by visitors to the county.  “Tourism is a key piece of the economy in Mitchell County,” said Jensen.  “The county’s tourism industry continues to grow with increases in tourism visitation and dollars spent each year. “ The last report by the NC Department of Commerce revealed that Mitchell County experienced the largest year over year increase in tourism dollars spent than any surrounding county.

Grants will be reviewed quarterly. The first grant cycle of the Small Grant Program will in June/July of 2019 with the applications due on June 30th.  Those interested in the Small Grant Program can call the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce at 765-9033 or email [email protected] to receive program details.  Applications will be submitted online and a link will be emailed to any interested parties.


Click Here for online application.

Click Here to download grant guidelines and criteria.

Small Business Week

Small Business Week Celebrates Local Entrepreneurs

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Why every week should be Small Business Week

When consumers think of shopping centers, they often picture the big box retailers, the grocery chains and the brand-names that garner headlines and have become household names over decades. But the engine that continues to power the American economy. and helps create vibrant, successful communities is small businesses.

Small businesses create two out of every three net new private-sector jobs. Since the Great Recession, these businesses have created over eight million jobs alone while meeting the needs of Americans in our largest cities and our smallest towns. Small businesses also generate billions of tax dollars that fund critical infrastructure and services, from fire departments to schools and parks.

Seventy percent of retailers have fewer than 10 employees. Whether it’s a local business sponsoring a little league team or the local boutique that always has the perfect dress – these small business retailers are central to the social and economic vibrancy of communities across the country. And they play a large role in the innovation that makes America’s economy so dynamic. (Fox Business).

In Mitchell County, our economy runs on the strength of our small businesses. That’s why it is so important to not just remember the “shop local” slogan, but actually put it into practice. Over the past year, the energy and investment from local citizens partnered with the commitment from local leaders, has lead to a growth in the upstarts of new businesses in our county. From new restaurants, to new boutiques, outfitters, health stores, massage therapy locations, artist studios, renovations of local lodging establishments and more….this new energy is contagious and inspiring. Mitchell County is definitely moving and shaking and it is due to the small businesses that continue to invest and build their businesses here.

Make Small Business Week an opportunity to renew your commitment to our local small businesses. From hardware stores to hair salons, from plumbing and electrical businesses to clothing stores and gem mines and hundreds of other small businesses…Our local small businesses are the heart of our communities and they depend on all of us to support them. Let’s make every week Small Business Week.





Mitchell County Celebrates Travel and Tourism Industry

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The Mitchell County Chamber spotlights Travel’s Economic and Cultural Benefits during National Travel and Tourism Week

We pass popular tourist sites like our gem mines every day; we may not even think of how they support our community. But our gem mines and other attractions like Roan Mountain, the Orchard at Altapass,  Penland School of Crafts and our favorite spots in Spruce Pine, Bakersville and Little Switzerland are part of  the tourism backbone Mitchell County. These places define our community, provide our families with jobs and have given us  and thousands of visitors — a lifetime of memories.

Travel matters, and it improves Mitchell County in ways that have a wide-reaching impact on our local residents. Travel supports over 200 jobs in Mitchell County and it also has an impact that we do not always see: travel can strengthen families, foster hometown pride, and build bridges that connect us with one another.

Travel is powerful for cities and states, and Mitchell County is no exception.  Travelers to Mitchell County spent over $24 million in 2017 (the last recorded data) and generated over $1 million in local tax revenue. Travel and Tourism jobs in our county totaled nearly $4 million in payroll. Because of travelers to Mitchell County and the dollars that they spent in our county, our local citizens saved $139.30 per person in taxes. Travel expenditures in Mitchell County increased almost 5% over the previous year and represented the largest year over year increase than any of our surrounding counties including Yancey, McDowell, Avery, Watauga and Burke.

Think back to your first job. Maybe you worked in a local restaurant or a local attraction, or maybe your kids work there now. For many, one third of Americans to be exact, travel is the front door to a promising career.  Think about how travel matters to the owners and families that operate our local tourism related businesses; travel dependent leisure and hospitality is the largest small business employer in the US.

Those are only a few reasons why it’s so important to keep welcoming visitors to Mitchell County, and why our industry is elevating the message of “Travel Matters” during National Travel and Tourism Week. We encourage you to join us in observing National Travel and Tourism Week and celebrate all that travel does for Mitchell County.

One of the ways you can join in the celebration is to Get Social and engage on social media with your favorite local travel spots…places that you want your family and friends to experience when they visit with you.  Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages and @ExploreMitchell. Follow us on these channels as well as our Mitchell County Chamber Facebook page as we highlight our local travel and tourism industry during National Tourism Week.




Mitchell County Chamber working to grow the outdoor economy

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A Phenomenal Canvas

Meeting aims to develop strategies for using outdoors as economic development

Many people may not consider mountains, trails and rivers tools for economic development, but a group of people assembled this past week see them as precisely that.

Exposing and developing Mitchell County’s outdoor assets was the focus Thursday, April 25., at the “Growing Outdoors Discovery Day” at Springmaid Mountain where a team of regional experts from Growing Outdoors Partnership came together to discuss how Mitchell County can make the most of its mountains, rivers and trails for community and economic development.

The Growing Outdoors Partnership includes people from the industry, education, finance and economic development. The initiative received a $940,000 POWER grant in October 2018 from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Over the next five years, the project is expected to help start 25 new outdoor businesses and expand 100 more, train 125 students in new outdoor degree programs, create at least 150 jobs and attract $10 million in new business development.

‘Mitchell County and its residents are blessed with a phenomenal canvas,” said Andy Williamson, vice president of strategic initiatives at Active Strategies, a company that bases economic development around outdoor activities.

“There is a lot of importance based on the quality of place. Communities have to cross-pollinate and promote your activities. Everybody wants to go into town, but if there’s nothing where are they going to go?”

Williamson is a mountain biker. He said outdoor enthusiasts are attracted to towns with particular establishments such as breweries and places to stay.

“We all know its important for a community to have diversity and progression in its infrastructure,” he said. “But the same thing goes fora  town’s amenities. I am a mountain biker, my family is not. If I want to come here and go mountain  biking and there’s nothing for my family to do, we aren’t going to come here.”

Williamson said the meeting “had a lot of the right people in the room.”

“This is how it starts,” he said. The people with the big ideas and the right intentions are the ones who actually have to step up and make it happen.”

Keynote speaker and Program Director of Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC Noah Wilson said meetings such as the one at Springmaid are one component of the Growing Outdoors Partnership, but is also an important one moving forward.

“We have to work with the willing, Wilson said. “We are here for many reasons such as doing gap analysis and gaining an understanding of where to go from here.”

The more than 30 people at the meeting which included business owners, outdoor enthusiasts and economic development officials, participated in breakout group discussions about core opportunities in Mitchell County.


By Brandon Roberts
Mitchell News Journal



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IRS Releases Final Regulations for Small Business Deduction for 2018 Tax Season

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From the National Federation for Independent Business

NFIB’s Kuhlman: “This new guidance provides certainty for small business owners.”

As W-2’s and other tax forms hit mailboxes around the nation, the Internal Revenue Service released final regulations on the Small Business Deduction of Section 199A—one of the biggest triumphs following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017.

The IRS posted the final regulations here.

“The Small Business Deduction, created in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, has encouraged a historic small business economic boom,” said Kevin Kuhlman, NFIB’s senior director of federal government relations. “This new guidance provides more certainty for small business owners and makes it clear that the majority of small businesses will benefit from the full 20% Small Business Deduction.”

The vast majority of small business owners—87 percent—think the new tax law will have a positive effect on the general economy, according to a recent NFIB survey that captures small business owners’ initial reactions to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Unless lawmakers act, tax cuts for many small businesses expire after Dec. 31, 2025, complicating long-term planning for small business owners.

For more news and updates on the recent tax relief, visit NFIB’s tax reform page.

NFIB is the voice of small business, advocating on behalf of America’s small and independent business owners, both in Washington, D.C., and in all 50 state capitals. NFIB is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and member-driven. Since our founding in 1943, NFIB has been exclusively dedicated to small and independent businesses, and remains so today.

Mitchell County Chamber to Host Legislative Breakfast

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Join us for the 2019 Mitchell County Chamber Members Legislative Breakfast on Friday, March 15th at 8:30 am at the Spruce Pine Fire Department. This event is presented by the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce to give our members an opportunity to hear from our NC Legislative delegation on the new legislative session and on issues that will affect our local business and industry.  An update from the Mitchell County Administration will also be on the agenda. On the agenda will be NC Senator Ralph Hise, Jr, NC Representative Josh Dobson, Robin Ramsey (Senator Burr’s office), Jordan Barnes (Senator Tillis’ office), Wayne King and Martha Peterson (Congressman Mark Meadows’ office) and Mitchell County Manager Kathy Young.

A buffet breakfast will be provided.
$18 Member
$25 Non-Member
RSVP and order tickets by calling 828-765-9033 , emailing [email protected], or clicking here  
Checks can be mailed to Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 858, Spruce Pine, NC 28777