NC Chamber recognizes outstanding NC innovators, leaders at annual meeting

On Tuesday afternoon the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual meeting and awards ceremony, highlighting some of the most innovative and bold leaders across the state. 

Chamber leaders promoted North Carolina’s status as the No. 1 state to do business in for the second year in a row and emphasized the importance of fostering statewide prosperity. To encourage innovation, the Chamber hosts an annual contest for the ‘Coolest Thing Made in NC.’ The public contest is held each fall to spotlight the incredible products made right here at home. 

“At the chamber, we believe that what’s made in North Carolina makes North Carolina, and a strong manufacturing industry is vital in ensuring our state remains first for business,” said Emilea Boyette, the chamber’s senior director of marketing.

The fall 2023 recipients were recognized at the Tuesday afternoon event, with the small business award going to ​​Static Rope Edge Protection (STREP) by Fjord Inc. First nominated by the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce, STREP is used across the world by search and rescue teams, recreational climbers, firefighters, police, and military who use static ropes. It’s been featured on The Amazing Race and is used at the International Rescue Competition. It’s produced by a team of nine in Burlington, North Carolina, with the help of the world’s largest sewing machine. 

Static Rope Edge Protection (STREP) by Fjord Inc.

“The prospect of the company evolving into a third-generation family business fills me with hope and determination,” CEO Michael Ratigan said on stage. “Thank you once more for this honor. Our journey is deeply rooted in the Tar Heel State. We’re proud to be a part of North Carolina’s textile history.”

Ratigan described the crucial role STREP played in rescue efforts during the aftermath of the 2023 earthquake in Syria, underlining its global impact. He also pointed to its use in the US Navy and Coast Guard, protecting mooring lines and ensuring their operational readiness.

The large business award went to the Q-Series 5-Axis CNC Machine developed by the company C.R. Onsrud. The machine is often sold for use in the aerospace industry, and it can create cuts so accurate and intricate that they cannot be replicated manually. It’s fabricated and welded from raw steel plates in North Carolina and assembled within the state as well.

Q-Series 5-Axis CNC Machine developed by the company C.R. Onsrud

The Chamber awarded the Distinguished Public Service Award to former Republican Representative in the North Carolina General Assembly, Mitch Gillespie, who also served as former assistant secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Chamber leaders highlighted Gillespie’s significant accomplishments, including the implementation of over 70 pieces of regulatory reform and the drafting of a new state energy policy in collaboration with many stakeholders.

“I’m a product of the American Dream… I’ve been so lucky and so blessed. I’ve always said the Lord has blessed me, and He gave me three distinct gifts,” Gillespie said, listing his “halfway decent” mind, a strong will, and good health. He said he went into public service to give back and to protect the American Dream, because he sees it “slipping away.”

The final award went to A. Dale Jenkins for his distinguished citizenship in North Carolina. Jenkins said the award is not just a personal achievement but a ‘testament to the collective spirit of our great state.’

NC Chamber awards

Hundreds of members and sponsors attended the afternoon gathering at the convention center in downtown Raleigh.

The post NC Chamber recognizes outstanding NC innovators, leaders at annual meeting first appeared on Carolina Journal.


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