Networking is arguably one of the single most important factors in fostering a rewarding career, and the Waxhaw Business Association is hoping to lead that charge in the not-too-distant future. In recent years, under a series of committed and forward-thinking leaders, the WBA has re-dedicated itself to its mission “to encourage, support and promote Waxhaw’s thriving business community through education, networking, and events.”
Originally established as the Downtown Merchants Association by former Waxhaw Mayor Daune Gardner, it was intended to bring local business owners together. But the Waxhaw of the early 2000s and the Waxhaw of today are two very different places, and at the time, the Merchant’s Association had largely run its course, with few business owners interested in participating. When new leadership came on in 2007 and officially established the Waxhaw Business Association, it was a hotbed for independent contractors, realtors, financial advisors and generally those self-employed, home-based businesses.
When former WBA President and now SkyeCroft Realtor Jimmy Grappone came on-board, he made it his mission to invigorate WBA membership to include not just those independent contractors, but more so, focus on the brick and mortar businesses, getting them engaged in creating a true downtown community of business owners.
For Grappone, he recognized the importance of owners getting to know each other, beyond those in the same business category. For instance, as a realtor, he was able to meet the staff at Passionate Paws Veterinary Hospital and the South Charlotte Dog Rescue, and collaborated to sponsor the now-annual Pups ‘N Pints fundraiser and adoption event. As the ultimate example of networking at its finest, this year, the event will be hosted at downtown pub Mary O’Neill’s – so four very different businesses, working together for a common interest and community-wide benefit. Therein lies just one of the success stories of the WBA, and its ability to achieve its vision.
While membership to the WBA is not a requirement for business owners, they do make it a priority to welcome them to Waxhaw with a ribbon cutting, as well as encouraging them to attend their monthly meetings, held every third Wednesday of the month, from 7-9 a.m. at the Waxhaw Women’s Club. The meetings consist of opportunities to network, as well as meaningful speakers to empower their members with both information and insights. According to current WBA President Marcus Watson, the organization has restructured its speaker platform that’s based on a three-pronged approach that includes a focus on economic development, tactical updates, and business coaching.
With a passion for small business, Watson is encouraged by the recent growth in Waxhaw. “As president, I want the WBA to serve as the voice of the small business owner in Waxhaw,” explained Watson. “We all have a common thread to make business in Waxhaw and Union County better on a daily basis. All of our members have a passion to drive this organization and leave a positive impact.”