CHARLOTTE — The Centralina Regional Council announced the 10 recipients of the region’s Achievement Awards during a virtual ceremony on May 11.
Presented annually, these awards recognize individuals, organizations and communities for their achievements over the previous calendar year in support of Centralina’s mission to expand opportunity and improve the quality of life in the region of nine counties which understand Mecklenburg and Union.
“Each year, we ask local governments to nominate innovative projects, programs, plans and individuals that have contributed to meaningful and positive progress in the region,” said Geraldine Gardner, Executive Director of the Centralina Regional Council. “Regionalism encourages not only collaboration, but also the celebration of successful initiatives and innovative actions of local governments. The Region’s Excellence Awards also provide a forum for county and community leaders to learn from best practices and network with peers in the region. »
An independent jury reviewed the 27 entries and selected the winners.
Cross-Community Collaboration Award (Small Community) – Lake Norman Economic Development
Lake Norman Economic Development received the Cross-Community Collaboration Award for prioritizing workforce development and its community events. The group connected students with local businesses and job opportunities through two great workforce events: virtual speed networking and Journey 360, a manufacturing event. The events involved the Lake Norman Education Collaborative (part of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce), the town of Huntersville, local businesses and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The goal of the collaboration was to provide high school students with a variety of career paths in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology.
Cross-Community Collaboration Award (Large Community) – Rowan County Education Collaborative
Rowan County Education Collaborative Membersmeet monthly to explore innovative and collaborative ways to work together to increase education and create a talent framework that helps Rowan County businesses and residents prosper.
Since its inception, the collaboration has passed Rowan County’s $45 million education nexus and articulated more than 50 career paths between Rowan Cabarrus Community College and Catawba College.
Local Government Innovation Award – Gaston County Department of Tourism Development
Due to increased visitor numbers and hotel demand, the Gaston County Tourism Development Department has decided to work with the tourism development authorities of the towns of Belmont, Gastonia and Mount Holly to develop plans for tourist activities. They were able to identify common priorities for tourism demand, create a collective strategy for tourism initiatives, and implement a project assessment tool to boost tourism in the region.
Quality of Life Improvement Award – Neighborhood Care Center
The Neighborhood CARE Center is a non-profit organization headquartered in the town of Cornelius that provides support to individuals and small businesses. They are dedicated to improving the quality of life through relationship and faith-based programs. In 2021, the Center and its volunteers provided 50 families with grocery donations, gave 300 children Easter goody bags, gave 35 mothers a free oil change on Mother’s Day and provided over 3,000 free lunches over the summer.
Clean Cities Award – Charlotte Douglas International Airport Electric Bus Fleet
CLT’s electric vehicle bus fleet has used clean fuels and alternative fuels in airport vehicles to reduce consumption of traditional transportation fossil fuels. CLT has also supported sustainability by purchasing 100% zero-emission battery-electric buses that will last 12 years, replacing older vehicles with newer vehicles to reduce emissions, implementing fuel economy improvements to reduce fuel costs and reducing gasoline gallons consumption by nearly 40,000 gallons of gasoline equivalent/
Aging in Action Award – Senior Community Connections
Senior Community Connections is a non-profit organization that provides transportation assistance, technology, minor household repairs, and social activities to keep seniors engaged in their community. The organization considered the town of Davidson as its first targeted service area, but as the need grew in other nearby towns, Senior Community Connections expanded to the town of Cornelius and the greater Lake Norman area. . At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they provided more than 300 services to their members and sponsored activities such as yoga classes, arts programs, and coffee get-togethers.
James D. Prosser Leadership Excellence Award – Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg
Mike Legg has dedicated more than 27 years of his career to the citizens of Kannapolis, where he began his career in public service as the city’s first director of planning. He led Kannapolis through strategic growth with infrastructure investments in the I-85 corridor and the Kannapolis Gateway Business Park, now home to Stewart-Haas Racing and Haas Formula One. Through tax incentives, the city also secured a $100 million Amazon fulfillment center and a $58 million Gordon Food Service facility that increased job growth in the area.
COVID-19 Resilience Award – Mecklenburg County Community Advisory Committee Volunteer Fred Benson
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fred Benson is committed to ensuring that residents of long-term care facilities are informed of their civic duty to vote. He created an advocacy resource guide that included residents’ rights in facilities, contact information for the ombudsman program, and steps for advocacy in long-term care. He also worked to connect each establishment with their elected officials and polling stations. Fred’s volunteer work has been instrumental in promoting advocacy for residents of long-term care facilities and their families.
COVID-19 Resilience Award – Behavioral Health Collaborative Program
The Behavioral Health Collaborative Program is a partnership between the Union County Department of Social Services and Union County Public Schools. The program addresses the need to support the social, emotional, and mental health of students in the Union County Public School District. In 2021, at the height of the pandemic, the program provided help for elementary, middle and high school students with suicidal thoughts. This program also connected families with support organizations that provide resources for food deliveries.
COVID-19 Resilience Award – Stephen Eaton, Gaston County Director of Public Health
During the pandemic, Stephen Eaton has worked to create a transparent channel of communication with the community and the media who have provided essential public information and updates. He regularly spoke at school board meetings, county commissioners’ meetings, and gave media interviews to honor public concerns and build trust and increase confidence in the county’s local response. His team coordinated 30,000 vaccinations between January and May 2021 and established a local task force of health organizations to create actionable measures and form a unified response to the pandemic.