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Winston-Salem Chamber Selects Mark E. Owens as Incoming President and CEO

The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce announced today that it has selected Mark E. Owens as incoming president and CEO. Owens is presently serving as president and chief executive officer of the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina.

The executive committee affirmed Owens on Monday afternoon to succeed Gayle Anderson, who will retire at the end of the year. He will formally join the organization in early December.

“Winston-Salem has a rich history of growing and developing homegrown businesses into national brands. I look forward to cultivating the city’s entrepreneurial spirit as we script the next chapter together,” said Owens. “I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead this organization, which has a tremendous legacy and history.”

A strong and innovative leader, Owens surpassed the list of expectations guiding the executive search. He was the unanimous choice of the 17-member search committee, which was co-led by Alan Proctor and Peggy Carter. The committee reviewed more than 230 potential candidates for the position.

“Mark brings strong skill sets and great energy to our community,” said Carter. “He is a collaborator who understands and embraces strong partnerships to drive community goals. He sees great opportunity for Winston-Salem and we are excited to welcome him.”

Owens joined the Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce in 2008 as a director of business development, was named vice president in 2012 and president and CEO in 2014. He is a 2007 graduate of Presbyterian College and the United States Chamber Institute for Organizational Management. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, Owens was a financial advisor, managing $10 million in assets for individual and business clients. He and his wife Melody recently welcomed their first child, Luke.

Wise Man Brewing Wins Silver Best in Show at NC Brewers Cup

Wise Man Brewing’s Week’s Work English Mild took home the silver medal Best in Show this week in the NC Brewer’s Cup, the premier beer competition in North Carolina. In addition, Week’s Work won the gold medal in the British Brown Ale category. Wise Man also won a gold medal in the Scottish Ale category for Open Confession and a silver in historical beer with their Full Current Gose. The NC Brewer’s Cup is an official competition sanctioned by the Beer Judge Certification Program and the North Carolina State Fair. A panel of certified judges selected the finest examples of each beer style submitted by professionals and homebrewers from across North Carolina’s thriving craft beer scene.

The 2017 NC Brewers Cup featured the stiffest competition in the event’s history, with 599 commercial entries and 141 homebrew entries competing for medals over 3 days of judging by beer experts from around the Southeast. The competition is organized by the NC Craft Brewers Guild, and sponsored with support from Total Wine and More. A complete listing of winners – including a downloadable buying guide for beer fans – is available at

Wise Man Brewing opened its doors in January of 2017 in Winston-Salem after a two-year project of restoring the historic Angelo Brothers building. Since opening Wise has brewed over 35 varieties of beer including the use of two wood foeder’s and a barrel program. You can enjoy 16 beers on tap in taproom located at 826 Angelo Brothers Avenue. Wise Man also recently started distributing to bottle shops and restaurants throughout the Triad and beyond.

WS Urban League to Host Whitney M. Young Community Awards Gala

The Urban League requests the participation of our local, regional and national supporters to the 2017 Whitney M. Young Gala to recognize civil rights pioneers in our community and to acknowledge their remarkable commitment to creating opportunities for underserved communities.

CEO James Perry will offer remarks and present a most prestigious award reflective of the Winston-Salem Urban League’s mission, which is to empower and advocate for African-Americans and other disenfranchised communities, and to promote socio-economic progress and parity through education, training and civic engagement.

The Winston Salem Urban League welcomes the CEO of the Urban League of Greater St. Louis, Michael McMillan as the guest speaker. Michael McMillan has received over 150 awards and was recognized as one of the Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African-Americans in the United States.

The VIP Reception will be held from 6:00pm to 7:00pm with a live performance.

What:    The Winston Salem Urban League 2017 Whitney M. Young Gala
When:    Saturday, October 21 (VIP Reception at 6pm, Gala at 7pm)
Where:   Wake Forest Biotech Place, 575 N. Patterson Avenue, W-S, NC
Who:      James Perry, CEO of the Winston Salem Urban League
              Michael McMillan, CEO of the Urban League of Greater St. Louis

VIP Reception and Gala tickets are available for purchase. Please click the following link to purchase tickets and reserve seating, Whitney M. Young Gala. Winston Salem Urban League members will receive admittance to VIP reception with dinner ticket purchase at a reduced cost.

For more information about the 2017 Whitney M. Young Gala, please visit

Winston-Salem Urban League Hosts Fall Career Expo 2017

The Winston-Salem Urban League’s annual Fall Career Expo will include over 50 top-tier companies ranging from the communications, manufacturing, healthcare, finance and industrial career fields. This year’s Fall Career Expo is being sponsored by Pepsico, Inc., a major employer in the Triad.

Honorable Mayor Joines will launch the Fall Career Expo at 10:00 am which symbolizes the legacy of Mayor James Hanes who established the Urban League over 60 years ago, as a way to obtain gainful employment for all community members.

Winston-Salem Urban League CEO James Perry states “The Urban League’s mission is to promote socio-economic progress and parity by empowering residents through training and employment. Our Fall Career Expo is a great opportunity for job seekers to improve the quality of their lives by becoming economically secure.”

What:     The Winston-Salem Urban League Fall Career Expo 2017
When:    Wednesday, October 18th
Time:     10:00 am to 3:00pm
Where:   Benton Convention Center, 301 Fifth Street, Winston-Salem, NC

This event is free and open to the public. Applicants are encouraged to bring several copies of their resumes to present to employers. Advanced online registration for the Fall Career Expo 2017 is encouraged and can be found at

Wake Forest Baptist Health seeking volunteers for Tranquil Moments II research study

Do you worry a lot? Feel anxious, nervous or jittery? Are you 60 years or older? If so, you may qualify for the Tranquil Moments II research study to reduce worry. Although worry and anxiety do not usually improve on their own, there are treatments that are useful and can improve your health. This is NOT a drug study and you will NOT have to change your medications. You will be paid for your time.

Participation in Tranquil Moments II involves either:

• 10 one-on-one weekly confidential talk therapy sessions with a personal study coach by telephone, or
• 10 group biweekly gentle yoga classes at a location in the community

For more information, call Gena Hargis, MPH, toll free at 1-866-396-4771.

Upcoming Business 40 Lane Closures

The Chamber has received the following schedule for upcoming lane closures on Business 40 and Peters Creek Parkway from the NC DOT:

Business 40

* Beginning October 23, 2017 thru early December the contractor will be closing the inside lane in both directions of Business 40 nightly for construction of the center bridge support of the new Peters Creek Parkway bridge from 9:00pm to 6:00am.

* Beginning October 25, 2017 thru early December, in addition to the above, the contractor will be detouring the eastbound Business 40 traffic up the exit ramp at Peters Creek Parkway and down the Business 40 on ramp from Peters Creek Parkway from 12:00am to 6:00am.

* Beginning early December, the contractor will close the inside lane of Business 40 in both directions all day for a maximum of 45 days.

Peters Creek Parkway

* Beginning October 23, 2017 thru early December, the contractor will be closing one lane in each direction of Peters Creek Parkway, nightly for work associated with the new Peters Creek Bridge construction from 9:00pm to 6:00am.

* Beginning mid-October, expect periodic daytime lane closures along Peters Creek Parkway during non-peak hours (9:00am to 4:00pm) as we begin clearing operations.


* No lane closures will occur on either Bus.40 or Peters Creek Parkway from November 21, 2017 to November 26, 2017 due to Thanksgiving Holiday Restrictions.

* Excluding the 45-day continuous closure, lane closures are dependent on the weather conditions, as we do not install lane closures during rain events or other adverse weather.

* Nighttime lane closures on westbound Business 40 will only be installed when the nature of that night’s work warrants the closing of the westbound inside lane. If the work does not require the westbound lane closure, we do not intend to install it. (This does not apply to the continuous 45-day closure. It will remain in place once it is installed.)

Please continue to follow the DOT and the Chamber’s announcements via email and social media to keep up with what’s happening on the roadways and stay safe.

Arbor Investment Advisors surpasses $500 million in assets under the firm’s management

Arbor Investment Advisors is pleased to announce that it recently surpassed $500 million in assets under management, a significant milestone for one of Winston-Salem’s leading fee-only investment advisors.

In business since 1998, Arbor is an independent, privately owned investment management firm that provides tailored solutions for high-net-worth individuals, foundations and retirement plan trustees.

Commenting on the new milestone, Arbor CEO Scott Cawood stated, “We want to offer a special thank you to our clients for the trust and confidence they place in Arbor. Our ongoing pledge is dedicated personal service as we help our clients plan for the future and achieve their financial goals.”

Paige Birchfield, Arbor’s Chief Operating Officer and 19-year veteran of the firm, echoed Cawood’s appreciation and gratitude. “Words can’t express how much we value the exceptional relationships we have with our clients.”

Founder James E. (“Jim”) Martin led Arbor during the first seventeen years and successfully transitioned leadership of the firm to its current second-generation management team in 2015, before retiring at the end of last year.

Arbor’s seven-member team serves its clients at 300 South Main Street, the renovated 1950s firehouse just north of Old Salem.

Learn more about Arbor at:

McNeely Pest Control Salute to Business Luncheon – Wednesday, September 13, 2017

McNeely Pest Control is a locally owned and operated pest and wildlife management firm, headquartered in Winston Salem, North Carolina, that strives to provide environmentally responsible services. We combine many years of experience with science to offer superior pest and wildlife remediation services for our clients in a wide variety of both commercial and residential settings. Our service staff are supported daily by our on staff Entomologist, Biologist, and Wildlife Biologist.

Specialties Include: Residential and Commercial Pest Management, Ants, including Carpenter Ants and Fire Ants, Crickets, Spiders, Cockroaches, Silverfish, Bed Bugs, K-9 Bed Bug Scent Detection,  Stinging Insects, Mice and Rats, Termites, Wood Destroying Insect Inspections for Real Estate Transactions, Wood Boring Beetles, TAP Attic Insulation, Closed Crawl Space Installation, Water Drainage, Dehumidifier Installation, and all forms of  Wildlife Remediation.

With offices in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Lexington, Statesville, Banner Elk, and Mount Airy, McNeely Pest Control provides service coverage throughout the Piedmont, Foot Hills and High Country of North Carolina plus South Western Virginia from Independence and Wytheville to Danville… McNeely also plans on opening a Charlotte office in 2018. You can also visit us at

McNeely Pest Control Mission Statement: Be, and be known as, the preferred quality pest and wildlife service provider in all market areas where we work. Fairly, honestly, and diligently deliver the best possible services that we are capable of providing for our clients. Create opportunities for our employees to better themselves through education, advancement, and increased earnings. Grow, expand, and operate profitably.

Front Row (left to right):

Gayle Anderson, President & CEO – Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce
Dan Joyner, President – Image360
Scott McNeely, President – McNeely Pest Control
Jordan Myers, Eastern Regional Manager – McNeely Pest Control

Second Row (left to right):

Richard Brooks, Director of Sales and Marketing – Twin City Quarter
Terry Barber, Director of Catering and Event Planning – Twin City Quarter
Rodessa Mitchell, Vice President, Education & Workforce Development – Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce
Jill Atherton, Vice President, Economic & Community Development – Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce

Senate Bill 621 Gives New Meaning to North Carolina Choice-of-Law and Forum Selection Clauses

If you’ve ever reviewed a purchase order, a partnership agreement, a lease agreement, or an indemnity agreement, you’ve probably seen a choice-of-law clause or a forum selection clause. A choice-of-law clause is a contract term that selects a specific state’s law to govern the interpretation of the contract and any disputes arising under the contract. A forum selection clause is a contract term that designates a particular state as the one in which the parties will litigate any disputes arising out of their contract.

Many contracts often include a choice-of-law clause and a forum selection clause. For example, a partnership agreement might specify that the agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of the state of North Carolina (the choice-of-law clause), and that any disputes shall be litigated (or arbitrated) in North Carolina (the forum selection clause).

Choice-of-law and forum selection clauses have spawned endless litigation on a variety of issues, including whether forum selection clauses are contrary to public policy and whether choice-of-law clauses take precedence over the jurisdiction’s traditional conflict of laws rules. Fortunately, those cases are not the subject of this blog post, and they may not be the subject of future blog posts thanks to Senate Bill 621.

On July 18, 2017, Governor Cooper signed Senate Bill 621 into law.  Senate Bill 621 will be codified as Chapter 1G of the North Carolina General Statutes. The official title of this new law is “North Carolina Choice of Law and Forum in Business Contracts Act,” but, for ease of reference, this post refers to the act as the “Business Contracts Act” or the “Act.”

The Act attempts to guarantee certainty and predictability for North Carolina businesses. Given that, it’s important for North Carolina businesses (and their lawyers) to understand how and when it applies.

The Business Contracts Act applies only to “business contracts.” The Act defines “business contract” as a contract “entered into primarily for business or commercial purposes.” The definition also states that: “The term [business contract] does not include a consumer contract or an employment contract.”

The Business Contracts Act is retroactive.  This means that the Act applies to business contracts entered into before July 18, 2017 as well as business contracts entered into on or after July 18, 2017.

The Business Contracts Act requires North Carolina courts to honor North Carolina choice-of-law clauses. Subsection 1G-3 addresses North Carolina choice-of-law clauses in business contracts. The Act supersedes prior North Carolina case law and permits the parties to a business contract to select North Carolina law to govern their rights and duties under the contract even if:

* The parties, the business contract, or the transaction that is the subject of the business contract do not bear a reasonable relation to North Carolina; and
* A provision of the business contract is contrary to the fundamental policies of the state whose law would apply if the parties had not selected North Carolina law in their contract.

In other words, if the parties select North Carolina law in their business contract, they are stuck with North Carolina law when a dispute arises under the contract. This is a good thing for at least three reasons:

1. it provides the certainty and predictability the parties presumably wanted when they selected North Carolina law in their contract;
2. it reduces litigation costs for the parties; and
3. it preserves judicial time and resources.

The Business Contracts Act does not require North Carolina courts to honor contractual choice-of-law clauses that select the law of a state other than North Carolina. Subsection 1G-3 applies only to contractual choice-of-law provisions that select North Carolina law. If your business contract selects the law of any other state, then a North Carolina court might conclude that the choice-of-law clause is not enforceable if the chosen state’s law is not substantially related to the parties or the transaction or if the chosen state’s law violates a fundamental policy of the state whose law would otherwise apply to the dispute.

The Business Contracts Act requires North Carolina courts to honor North Carolina forum selection clauses. Subsection 1G-4 addresses North Carolina forum selection clauses. The Act confirms that a party to a business contract may pursue its claims against the other party in a North Carolina court as long as the business contract contains:

* A provision selecting North Carolina law; and
* A provision agreeing to litigate disputes arising from the contract in North Carolina.

A party who enters into a business contract that satisfies both of these requirements will be deemed to have consented to the personal jurisdiction of North Carolina courts. 

Subsection 1G-4(b) expressly prohibits North Carolina courts from entering an order to dismiss or stay the lawsuit on the basis that it would “work substantial injustice,” or otherwise be inconvenient, for the case to be tried in North Carolina.

The Business Contracts Act permits parties to designate one or more North Carolina counties in which to file suit. Subsection 1G-4(c) also permits the parties to designate one or more counties in North Carolina as the proper venue for a dispute arising from the business contract. If the parties do not designate a county in the contract, a party may commence an action in any county in North Carolina.


As of September 1, 2017, there were no published cases applying the Business Contracts Act so it remains to be seen whether litigants and their lawyers will come up with clever arguments to avoid the Act.

In the interim, if North Carolina businesses want to litigate in North Carolina courts and want their agreements to be subject to North Carolina law, they should reassess their boilerplate choice-of-law and forum selection clauses to ensure that those provisions include the language required by the Business Contracts Act. They also should update their standard forum selection provisions to designate a preferred county (or counties) in North Carolina as the place where a lawsuit relating to the contract must be filed.

About the Authors:
Alan M. Ruley is a seasoned civil trial and appellate lawyer at Bell, Davis & Pitt, where he has practiced for 25 years. He represents clients in a wide variety of disputes in federal and state court, focusing primarily on business litigation, intellectual property, insurance, banking and employment. Alan is active in the community, recently serving as co-president of the R.J. Reynolds High School PTSA.

Allison Buckner Parker is an attorney at Bell, Davis & Pitt. She concentrates her practice in the area of commercial litigation with a focus on insurance coverage litigation for corporate policyholders.

Tar Heel Basement Systems honored by U.S. Chamber of Commerce as Small Business of the Year Winner

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded Tar Heel Basement Systems of Winston-Salem, NC with the 2017 Veteran-Owned Small Business of the Year award during its annual Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award Celebration, presented by MetLife. The annual awards ceremony celebrates the achievements of small businesses and honors their contributions to America’s economic growth.

The Veteran-Owned Small Business Award recognizes a veteran-owned, small business that has attained outstanding business achievement and exemplifies contributions made by veteran-owned businesses in the country. The business must be at least 51 percent owned or controlled by one or more U.S. veterans. The business must also have management and daily operations controlled by at least one U.S. veteran.

The 2017 award winner will exemplify success and leadership in each of the following areas:

* Business Growth and Performance
* Business Strategies and Goals
* Community Engagement
* Customer and Employee Relation Practices
* Innovative Business Strategies and Practice

Award winners were selected by a panel of judges from eighteen finalists in consideration for each of the five Business Achievement Awards and the one Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award. All eighteen finalists were also eligible for the Community Excellence Award, which was decided through online public voting.

“Small business owners are the backbone of our nation, exemplifying the American Dream by working hard, taking risks, and helping strengthen their communities and local economies,” said U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue. “The Dream Big Award winners have gone above and beyond to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship, and we are proud to recognize these tremendous small businesses for all of their achievements.”

Award winners were announced at the Dream Big Awards Celebration as part of the 2017 Small Business Summit, which took place September 10-13, 2017 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

About Tar Heel Basement Systems
Tar Heel Basement Systems specializes in providing permanent solutions for wet basements, nasty crawl spaces, foundation issues and sinking concrete. Tar Heel employees have a passion & are on a quest to redefine the unfortunate reputation of poor service and questionable integrity the home improvement industry has earned. Since starting this business in 2003, Pete Burgess has been committed to do “whatever it takes” to satisfy his customers and employees. The overriding principle of providing honest, friendly, professional, and high quality service was adopted as the hallmark of this company in the early days. This philosophy continues today in our company of more than 85 employees, where we all take huge pride in the reputation we have earned from following these principles.