Leaders of the newly formed Gaston Business Association believe they now have a more unified approach to helping businesses in Gaston County.
On Thursday, the Gaston Business Association revealed its branding after the new organization was officially born on Jan. 1. The GBA was created as a result of a merger between the Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Gaston Development Corp.
The organization will be led by CEO Pat Mumford, former executive director of the GGDC and a former Charlotte City Council member. Steve D'Avria, the former CEO of the Gaston Regional Chamber, will serve as the GBA's chief operating officer.
At a brand unveiling on Thursday morning, the two leaders of the new organization expressed confidence that they are much better suited as one entity to help county businesses.
“It really just allows all of us to enhance the work we have been doing all of the years in Gaston County by bringing the strengths together of two organizations," Mumford said. “We now have a larger suite of opportunities and are strategically aligned and are prioritizing our work efforts. It allows us to be more broad-reaching.”
In an interview with the CBJ shortly after the branding reveal, Mumford laid out a vision with several key focuses for the organization in its early days.
First, he said the GBA will focus on its assistance for local businesses and growing memberships. Mumford also said the organization will put a strong emphasis on the recruitment, development and retention of a strong workforce. But one of the key actions he discussed was the new organization's ability to better advocate for local businesses and influence policy for their benefit.
"We’re operating with more scale to our organization," Mumford said. "We’d like to think that means a stronger voice of business in Gaston County so that we can support infrastructure investments in the community and bring that unified voice of business to Raleigh, Washington, D.C. — and locally, for that matter, to the municipalities.”
Mumford said the idea to merge the two organizations initially was hatched about 18 months ago. The merger was formally approved in August 2020, when each group's board of directors approved it.
The GBA has eight full-time employees, each of them keeping their roles with the previous organizations intact and embedded into the new structure.
The GBA will have a smaller board of directors than each of the two organizations had before. The 15-member board is co-chaired by Chris Peek, president and CEO of CaroMont Health, and Greg Botner, CEO of Wilbert Plastic Services Inc. Mumford said he is excited by the prospect of a small board that can be more engaged in the GBA's work.
Memberships with the GBA start at $350 annually, according to the organization's website. Those memberships and relationships with businesses are the foundation of the GBA, Mumford said.
“The core, long-term, sustainable revenue for this organization is going to be through memberships," he said. "The only way that we can make that happen is if we’re providing value to the members.”