Catalyst (cat·a·lyst): An agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.

Sparking community transformation takes action and vision. Your chamber, alongside of our collaborative partners, serves as a game changer for business and a driver for economic growth and advancement.

Over the past 18 months, I’ve had the pleasure of regularly convening a group called, “The Catalyst.” We are a group of local founders, mentors and entrepreneurial support partners who are passionate about growing Catawba County’s startup community and providing support to those entrepreneurs who desire to start, grow and sustain businesses here.

Thriving economies and robust entrepreneurial ecosystems go hand in hand. Entrepreneurs, outside-the-box thinkers, problem-solvers and innovators are integral to the current and future success of our state, region and community. Creating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary for Catawba County to continue to grow and thrive.

So what or who makes up our said “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Catawba County? More specifically, what are the programs, workshops, community assets, support organizations, policies and best practices for empowering more people to realize their full entrepreneurial potential?

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, at our Shareholders & Investors Luncheon that will be held at the Hickory Metro Convention Center, we will shine a light on the “ecosystem-building” efforts of this group and share our collective vision to claim ownership and further lean into our reputation as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in western North Carolina.

To help paint this vision, we’re honored to welcome Thom Ruhe, the president and CEO of NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the state of North Carolina. Thom is an entrepreneur, investor, mentor, philanthropist and works with entrepreneurs, governments, universities and NGOs around the world to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset needed to grow vibrant economies.

In addition to our guest speaker, we’ll have the opportunity to showcase our refreshed brand, share the highlights of our 2019 impact, and recognize some noteworthy individuals, including our board of directors, 2019 chamber ambassadors and the recipient of our 2019-20 Citizenship & Service Award, presented by Duke Energy. This is the highest award given by the chamber in honor of a business or community leader who has gone above and beyond for community and economic development.

Reservations can be made by visiting our events calendar located on our website at or by calling the chamber at 828-328-6111.

Lindsay Keisler is president and CEO of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce.

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