June 26, 2019

Last Thursday morning, members of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce gathered at the Southport Community Building for the 44th Annual Meeting. This meeting serves as an opportunity for the membership to gather, celebrate and recognize those who have gone above and beyond for the organization and local business community.      

A trio of keynote speakers focused on Entrepreneurship: Fueling Our Economic Future”.  Darrell Cheers, Assistant Superintendent of Brunswick County Schools discussed the many opportunities for students and partnerships that give them the tools to succeed in business and higher education.  Dr. Gene Smith, President of Brunswick Community College discussed the many programs at BCC focusing on programs like the Brunswick Promise, funded by Brunswick County, which supports graduates of the BC Schools with tuition free education at BCC.  He also focused on partnerships with several universities that keep costs associated with obtaining a degree affordable for all.  The third speaker was Brian Hamilton, Brian Hamilton Foundation and co-Founder, Sageworks.  Brian Hamilton is an entrepreneur who has decades of experience starting businesses across a range of industries, including landscaping, real estate, and technology.  He reported that the number of people starting new businesses has gone down.  According to the US Census Bureau, in 2015, the number of businesses less than a year old was 1 in 12 that number is down from 1 in 8 r old in 1985.  He recounted his path to success from a modest start and then discussed the two ways for individuals to “Rise Up” - education and/or own a business.  Hamilton also stated we need more support and encouragement for individuals to own their own business and foster entrepreneurship.


The meeting also serves as a platform for the gavel to be passed from the current President of the Chamber’s Board of Directors to the next.  Brad Fisher (ADM) passed the gavel and title of President of the Board of Directors to Lucinda Arnold (Coastal Painting & Improvements).  Prior to relinquishing the presidency, several awards and recognitions were made. 


Arnold will serve as the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce President for a term ending in June of 2020.  Arnold thanked Fisher for his leadership over the past year. Her focus then turned to the membership.  If you have attended Business Connections, on Tuesdays at the Chamber, Arnold is known to say, “what is your ask?” “So, my ask throughout this next year is to please become involved! Serve on a committee, attend Business After Hours, Sponsor and event and by doing so, we as a chamber, can continue to be a strong voice and support system for this amazing business community that we call home.”

Time was taken to recognize retiring board members, newly elected board members and several award winners. The President’s Award, which is given to an individual or group that has proved an outstanding service to the community or to the Chamber, was awarded to Duncan Hilburn (Berry, Padgett & Chandler, PLLC)

Ben Frazier (The State Port Pilot) was recognized as Ambassador of the Year, for representing the chamber at the 53 Chamber function and recruiting 6 new members.

Special Recognition was given to Ira Wayne Berry (Berry, Padgett & Chandler, PLLC) and S.R. Buddy Rudd (Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS) for successfully guiding the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament for 40 years and counting. 

The Small Business of the Year was awarded to Fulford Heating and Cooling,

the Laurie Insurance Group won the Small Business Customer Service of the Year

and Brunswick Family Assistance is the Non-Profit of the Year.

The Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce is governed by a 15-member Board of Directors. Five directors are elected annually from the Chamber Membership and serve on the Board for three years. The following Board of Directors retired after serving a three-year term:  George Brake, Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS; Matt Parvin, Oak Island Accommodations; Howie Franklin, Cape Fear Regional Jetport; Patrick Jones, Ocean Outfitters; Ken White, Farm Bureau Insurance.  Those elected to fill those retiring positions were:  Ben Frazier, The State Port Pilot; Noah Goldman, Check Six Brewing Company; Kristin Goode, Oak Island Accommodations; Andrew Laing, Moore Street Market and Jackie Pappas, Coastal Cosmetic Family Dentistry.


If you would like more information about this topic, please contact
Karen Sphar at 910-457-6964 or email at [email protected].