It is with great sadness that the Board of Directors of the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce has announced that the Chamber will not host Symphony by the Lake this year. The event typically held in July was moved to August 22nd in late spring. The Chamber was optimistic that the outdoor event capacity and social distancing guidelines currently in place would be relaxed by now, but with case counts continuing to increase at an alarming rate in North Carolina, this was clearly not going to happen. Symphony by the Lake at Chetola will return on Friday, July 23rd, 2021.
A Note from Charles Hardin, Chamber President/CEO
As we are approaching the end of the generous CARES Act unemployment period, (currently set to expire on July 31) to assist those that were laid off due to COVID-19, and as Congress wrestles with what to do to help those truly in need, I would like business owners struggling with hiring entry level part time or even full time unskilled workers to consider the following points.
Historically, Blowing Rock seasonal employees have been App State students here for summer school. However, with more and more students choosing to live back home in the summer and work there while taking online classes, we found last year that this pool is not as large as it has always been. Now, with most of the students not here due to the university being closed down since March, there are very few students looking for work. Combine this with transportation issues to get to Blowing Rock and we have a serious issue.
Tourism depends on these entry level workers to fill restaurant servers and hosts, line cooks, retail clerks, hotel desk clerks and housekeepers. Without them, our businesses will suffer even more.
Now, back to those relaxing at home and enjoying an annualized salary of over $48,000; far more than they were making prior to their furlough. Many of these folks will suddenly need to start looking for a job soon. Frankly, as an employer, I would question their motivation level at this point anyway. I am not sure if you know, but if these folks have been called back to work by their employer and they refused to come back, they are supposed to be reported by the employer to the North Carolina Division of Unemployment. I can tell you that those employees who refuse to return to their jobs because they can make more in unemployment are committing fraud and could face criminal and civil penalties (including paying back unearned benefits). Of course, the state operates the unemployment system and enforcement is up to them.
Employers have a role as well. Some employers have begun to report the names of employees who have refused to return to their jobs to the North Carolina Division of Unemployment. Often just the mere suggestion of reporting them will bring folks quickly back to the workplace.
I hope you will continue to utilize our Blowing Rock Chamber Job Opportunities Facebook group to post your jobs. The chamber realizes that there is no “silver bullet”. If the University can get reopened on August 17, there could be a flood of bright new applicants to hire for the fall. We remain hopeful that the state’s numbers will continue to improve and that we will see an increase in visitor travel confidence and resulting business.
Are you in need of talented and eager students? The Career Development Center at Appalachian State University invites you to our Part-Time Jobs Fair on Wednesday, September 2, 2020 from 11:00am - 2:00pm. This will be a virtual fair managed through Handshake. We encourage you to engage with our students at this event to identify the experiences, skill sets, and career competencies your organization needs. Local employers on and off campus are invited to attend.
Store owners may start seeing one or two people outside their establishments taking pictures and making notes but they will have a Watauga County Tax Office ID Badge attached to a lanyard, around their neck. They’ll be working between the hours of 8:00 am and 6:00 pm Monday thru Friday for the next several months.
Forward to Fall
Forward to Fall, a virtual forum set for August 11th from 11am-12:30pm.
Wit Tuttell - Visit NC - Update on expected travel trends for late summer, fall, and winter.
Dr. Beverly Emory - Deputy Superintendent, NC DPI - logistics update on the return to public school across our region, what went into those decisions, and the relationship between the State and local districts on managing this effort.
Talia Freeman - Beech Mountain Resort -- How seasonal businesses are gearing up for the year ahead and how changes in federal hiring rules may impact workforce for some of these key regional businesses.
Ben Teague - Biltmore Farms - How we can best prepare for the short term and long term effects of people seeking out our area of the state to relocate their families/businesses.
Blowing Rock Antiques Co-Op is located at 379 Sunset Drive. You might remember their pop-up antique shop last summer. They will be in this location through November.
Join us on Friday, July 31st at 4pm for a ribbon cutting!
Flavia's Let Them Eat Cakeis a new bakery in the first SouthMarke Kiosk. You might have noticed pink boxes around town. That's her signature packaging!Treat yourself to one of her delicious treats.
Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show starts July 21st
For the past 97 summers the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show and the Town of Blowing Rock have attracted horse lovers from across the nation to celebrate the connection between these regal animals and their human partners. The COVID-19 restrictions have placed severe challenges on the show this year, but the event will be held over two weeks beginning on July 21 with a full schedule of Hunter and Jumper classes. There will, however, be no spectators permitted. Only exhibitors, attendants, management and crew will be permitted on the grounds.
Entering its final stretch, the all-virtual monthlong incarnation of Appalachian State University’s annual summer arts event, An Appalachian Summer Festival, presents visual artist showcases, award-winning films, classic theatre with a modern spin, a popular sculpture walk, and a variety of livestreamed music ranging from orchestral and classical to standards and bluegrass. All events are free. The all-virtual festival runs daily through July 31. Take your seat at appsummeronline.org.
High Country Caregivers Yard Sale
High Country Caregivers provides advocacy, support, and education for kinship caregivers and their families. We are dedicated to relatives, respite, and resources for kinship caregivers, and relatives caring for loved ones with life-limiting illnesses and debility.
Support their Yard Sale this Saturday from 7 am - 12 pm at 895 State Farm Rd, Boone NC
ARHS partners with local law enforcement to provide face masks for the community
On Friday, June 26, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order went into effect requiring face masks be worn in public spaces where physical distancing of six feet is not possible. To help the community adhere to this requirement, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System (ARHS) donated 800 washable, reusable cloth face masks for local law enforcement officers to distribute as needed.
We'd love to see you!
The Chamber Team is glad to see our businesses re-opening! Email Regina to let us know you're open and we will stop by for a socially distance visit.
Suzy Barker, Charles Hardin, and Charlie Sellers pose at Art in the Park wearing their "Show Your Love Watauga" face masks!
Concerts in the Park on Sunday, July 19th. Thanks to our sponsors Alair Homes of the High Country.
Ribbon Cutting at Egg Rollin.
The first Business After Hours of the year at the Green Park Inn.