Category Archives: News & Events

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

Mitchell County Chamber Partners with Mitchell County Schools for [email protected] Month

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The Mitchell County Chamber and its new workforce development initiative is partnering with the Mitchell County Schools to present the [email protected] Month to Mitchell County’s middle school students during the month of March.

[email protected] is a project of the North Carolina Business Committee for Education in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The goal is for North Carolina businesses to help middle school students in their community see the opportunities that exist in the workplace.

The Chamber is working with  Pam Pitman, Business Career Coordinator at Bowman Middle School and Shea Renfro at Harris Middle School to coordinate the events. “The Chamber was eager to be a part of this project in Mitchell County Schools to bring our local business and industry community together with the middle school students at both Harris and Bowman schools,” said Patti Jensen, Executive Director of the Mitchell County Chamber.  “We appreciate the opportunity that Kim Hodshon, CTE Director of Mitchell County Schools and the Business Career Coordinators at the middle schools gave us to partner with them.”

Instead of taking place during one concentrated week, [email protected]™ program will be held throughout the month of March with a specific industry focus for each week during the month. The students will have exposure to local business and industry and a variety of careers through speakers, exhibits by local businesses and field trips.

The specific focus weeks are:
March 4-8: Education, Healthcare and Public Service
March 11-15: Small Business and Entrepreneurship
March 18-22: STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
March 25-29: Hospitality, Tourism and Retail

The [email protected]™program is a perfect example of the types of engagements that the Chamber’s new workforce development initiative plans to have with Mitchell County students to raise the exposure, awareness and education of the types of careers that are available in Mitchell County,” said Jensen. “In addition, our member businesses are interested in knowing ways that they can support our local schools and the workforce development programs in the county.”

Businesses are encouraged to participate in the [email protected] month by signing up to speak to students about their business, industry or career during the industry week that highlights their business sector.  Speakers can choose one or both schools and can work with the coordinators to select a day and time slot that works best for them.  Businesses are also invited to set up a booth/table during the lunch breaks at the middle schools to highlight their company and provide information students.  Any business interested in being a part of the [email protected] week should email Pam Pitman at Bowman Middle at [email protected],  or Shea Renfro at Harris Middle at [email protected].   Businesses may also call the Mitchell County Chamber office with any questions they might have.

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

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Mitchell County, N.C. (January 25, 2019)- The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce 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.

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.



About Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce is to support business and promote community.  The Chamber is made up of hundreds of businesses, industries and individual members whose goal is to promote Mitchell County, the surrounding region and its economy.

The Chamber operates two locations in Mitchell County. The Mitchell County Visitor’s Center is located in the Museum of N.C. Minerals, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Visitor’s Center greets tens of thousands of visitors each year and provides them with information about the county. Administrative offices for the Chamber are located on Crystal Street in downtown Spruce Pine



Contact: Patti Jensen, 828-765-9033 [email protected]

And The Winners Are…

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The Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce held our Annual Awards Dinner November 29th at the Cross Street Center in Spruce Pine. This event is an evening to celebrate our Chamber members and to announce the winners of the Annual Awards. The nominations and award recipients are selected by the membership of the Chamber. The evening was an opportunity to network with community businesses and leaders.  New Board members were installed as well as new officers President DeLee Scott and Treasurer Kim Stephenson. Entertainment was provided by The Saylor Brothers Band and catering provided by Chamber Member White Falls Catering.

Congratulations to all the winners!
Member of the Year: WTOE/WKYK Radio
Non-Profit of the Year: Mitchell County Animal Rescue, Inc-North Carolina
Small Business of the Year: Becky’s Flowers & Gifts
Large Business of the Year: Mitchell House
Directors Award: Bakersville Improvement Group- Town of BakersvilleBakersville, NC
Presidents Award: Ciji Dellinger
Amazing Customer Service: DT’s Blue Ridge Java
Excellence in Community Support: Hospice and Palliative Care of the Blue Ridge, Inc
Outstanding Service to the Chamber: Springmaid Mountain Resort Joe Glenn
Rookie of the Year- Soggy Bottom Farms/Tin Shed





Small Business Saturday Make A Big Impact

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In an effort to support local shops that make our communities strong, American Express launches Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving to encourage
people to Shop Small and bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.

One year later, as the Shop Small Movement gains momentum, local officials across the nation take notice and promote Small Business Saturday. In 2011, the Senate unanimously passes a resolution in support of the day and officials in all 50 states participate. It even gets a shout-out from the president of the United States.
In 2013, more than 1,400 individuals and organizations sign up as Neighborhood Champions to rally their communities with events and activities on Small Business Saturday — and that
number continues to grow. By 2017, there were more than 7,200 Neighborhood Champions across all 50 states. They’re not alone. Beginning in 2011, business associations, nonprofit trade groups, municipalities, and public officials started to unite by forming a Small Business Saturday Coalition, encouraging everyone to Shop Small. And nearly 100 corporations lend their official support to the movement.
Small Business Saturday continues to be an annual holiday shopping tradition — just one part of the larger Shop Small Movement to support small businesses every day and everywhere.
Because a visit to the family-owned framing shop or a stop at the neighborhood taco truck not only supports our local economies, but also promotes thriving communities.
In Mitchell County, we will be celebrating Small Business Saturday in all three of our towns.  Bakersville, Little Switzerland and Spruce Pine will be hosting Open Houses, special events and even a parade in downtown Spruce Pine on Saturday Nov 24 at 6 PM.
Celebrate our local businesses this year and give them the gift of your presence, your support and a little of your shopping list too!  Check our calendar for events!