Each holiday season, one of our longtime chamber members drops by the chamber for a visit and reminds me each year that Lake Wylie is blessed -- geographically with beauty, seasons and nice terrain, great seasonal weather, and the icing on the cake -- it is a nice community of people who care about each other. With a growing economy, it's also possible for people to thrive and enjoy life even more.
In 2008, the chamber was blessed with the opportunity to purchase a new building to quadruple our space. We also were blessed with the support of our members and the S.C. Legislature to help us create a beautiful visitor center that makes a grand first impression with its warm and inviting furnishings. A special grand opening sponsored by Piedmont Medical Center and Lake Wylie Business Centre was held to celebrate the occasion.
During 2008, Lake Wylie Civic Association formed to represent neighborhoods and Homeowners Associations in Lake Wylie. This group will be able to communicate about issues, common concerns and timely topics, and be a voice from the neighborhoods that make up a fast-growing community. Some issues already tackled include the Sunday alcohol sales referendum, the proposed special fire district tax effort and school issues.
The Lake Wylie Athletic Association also formed. This volunteer organization is working to provide recreational opportunities for youth building ballfields and offering programs including soccer, basketball and football.
Jobs, jobs, jobs ... Freightliner announced its decision to invest in the Lake Wylie area by planning a headquarters and "business campus" in the Allison Creek area. Other major national businesses identified Lake Wylie as one of the strongest locations in the nation to grow or launch a business. Lowe's Home Improvement built a large store at Lake Wylie and hired more than 100 people, employing almost 140 people at the new store. Rivergate, at N.C. 49 and 160, has exploded in retail with the opening of an assortment of new businesses and restaurants. This vibrant retail shopping area was thriving during the holidays.
New businesses opened throughout the area, too. Ribbon cuttings and opening events were held at Wilkins Design Group, Harpers Mill Townhomes, River Hills Country Club Fitness Center and new renovations in Lake Wylie. There also was a groundbreaking for Handsmill on Lake Wylie Clubhouse, and Bank of York expanded. Other openings included Peak Fitness in Steele Creek, and in Lake Wylie, David Wysor Jewelry Design studio, Whippoorwill Ranch Carriage Tours and Lake Wylie Business Centre with its nearly dozen resident businesses.
York County voters passed the Sunday alcohol sales November referendum with overwhelming support from Lake Wylie voters. Restaurants can now serve alcoholic beverages on Sundays, which will improve Sunday business and poises the area to attract more restaurants to the area. The chamber has worked on this issue for more than a dozen years with others throughout the county also working diligently to get the issue on the ballot.
More than $25,000 was raised for the annual Fourth of July fireworks through community contributions. Now, a new group of local businessmen have taken on raising money for fireworks.
The year concluded on Lake Wylie with the best-ever Holiday Lights on the Lake Boat parade, hosted by the chamber. More than 25 decorated boats paraded to create one of the most festive winter occasions on Lake Wylie.
In 2008 , despite of the "down economy" nationally and the challenges, Lake Wylie is blessed with a wonderful quality of life, growth, opportunity and caring citizens who work for the betterment and common good throughout the year. It is the positive attitudes and caring spirits that will help us all to create another blessed year in 2009.
Susan Bromfield is president of Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce.