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State economic official to give local talk

Earlier this year, officials with the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce said the organization’s public policy committee had plans to become more active with programs that could better inform chamber members of public and business issues.

The committee is getting off to a hot start in its plans, with one of the top officials in the North Carolina office of Rural Economic Development slated to be in town in April.

Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development Kenny Flowers, is scheduled to be in Mount Airy on April 3 to talk about issues and challenges facing rural communities in the state, and what his office is doing to help them. The gathering is set to take place at the White Sulpher Springs Event Venue, and is the first in the group’s new Chamber Lecture Series.

“This is a series of events that bring local and state government leaders to you,” the committee said in a recent announcement about the upcoming lecture. “Learn more about government policies, operations and processes, hear updates of the current state of government and plans for the future, and find answers to your questions. This event series can benefit any and all residents and business owners/operators.”

The committee, whose new leadership and members took office in January, signaled early on it wanted to take a more active role in chamber events.

“The public policy committee is looking at doing town hall-type forums, maybe bring in county commissioners, city commissioners, people from parks and rec, planning… to do a larger, more fluid open forum,” Jordon Edwards said of other potential events the committee was considering. Edwards, the chamber events director, made her comments in January while discussing the upcoming State of the County address given by Surry County Manager Chris Knopf. That meeting was held Feb. 9.

“Public policy has never been on the forefront of the (chamber’s) committees, as far as what they did in the community,” said Tonda Phillips, chair of the chamber’s public policy committee, in late January.

At the time, she said, her particular interest was in helping the local business community learn more about what public policies might directly affect businesses in Mount Airy and Surry County.

Chamber officials see Farmer’s upcoming talk as part of that effort.

“In …(his) role he provides guidance for the department in its efforts to support rural communities and help foster rural prosperity. Kenny leads a team of community and economic development specialists that help communities make the preparations and infrastructure investments needed to attract business and industry, and spur economic growth,” they said of the upcoming talk.

The event is scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m. and will include light appetizers and a free beverage. The cost is $30 for chamber members and $35 for non-members. The chamber is also still accepting sponsors for the event.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit



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