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Kannapolis EnviroMingle Draws 180 People

04/10/10 by Staff Writer

Dacia Cress & Tamberlyn Blinsink

More than 180 people gathered at the Forty-Six restaurant in downtown Kannapolis April 8 to network and begin a dialogue about issues of common interest to the event’s co-sponsors, the Kannapolis Business Alliance and the Center for the Environment at Catawba College.

“We had a vast array of different organizations and individuals at the event who would like to partner with the Center on everything from clean air and a virtual farmers’ market to healthy food and green design,” says John Wear, the Center’s executive director. “We started the conversation about how the Center and the Business Alliance can interact in the future.”  

City leaders, representatives from Castle & Cooke, the Research Campus and the Chamber of Commerce mingled with business owners and staff from the Center for the Environment.

Stephen Blinsink, co-founder and president of the Kannapolis Business Alliance and owner of Armor Insurance Services, noted that the Business Alliance and the Center have a number of common interests. Promoting walkable communities is an example. “With the new construction going on, especially here at the Research Campus, everything they’re building has sidewalks,” he says. “It’s very bicycle- and walker-friendly. Keeping the Center for the Environment engaged in Kannapolis is really going to be helpful in keeping that kind of idea coming forward.”

Blinsink engages in walking business meetings every Thursday. “We started these walking meetings for our health,” he says. “However, it’s an environmental issue as well. We are saving the fossil fuels. We’re concerned with air quality when we’re out here walking in the community so this all goes hand in hand.”

Benefits from the EnviroMingle surfaced almost immediately. Blinsink was pleased to learn early Friday morning that two local businesses made connections at the event that proved mutually beneficial. One business agreed to provide a greening service to another company that was in the market for the service. “I didn’t make it to the start of the business day before that was communicated to me,” he says.

David Miller, president of American Property Managers and president-elect of the Business Alliance, called the EnviroMingle “a huge success.”  “It was encouraging to me that we were able to have people from all walks of life here – from city leaders to owners of Mom and Pop shops,” he said.

Miller can envision more partnerships between the Alliance and the Center in the future. He has had conversations with Wear about working together on sustainable development. “The city is such a hub for innovative thinking, especially as it relates to the Research Campus,” he says. “We need to build on that. If we can create a dialogue between developers and the city and influence 10-15-20-year planning in a positive way, based on the work of the Center, then we will have really accomplished something.”

The EnviroMingle “allowed people from all those different entities to start some of those conversations,” Miller says. “That’s what was so encouraging to me.”

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