Story and pictures by Hal Goodtree.
Morrisville, NC – Carlotta Ungaro, the President of the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, asked me to take pictures of the group’s annual meeting. “Sure,” I said, expecting 40 or 50 people and rubber chicken. Boy, was I wrong.
2012 Annual Meeting
The 2012 Annual Meeting of the Morrisville Chamber took place last Friday at the Hilton Hotel on Page Road.
Surprise Number 1 for me was the turnout. The ballroom was packed with about 250 well-heeled guests. It looked like every seat was taken.
A bagpipe group entertained the crowd and the Morrisville Fire Department presented the colors.
After a few opening remarks, we chowed down on a fine meal of tossed baby greens, baked salmon and layer cake.
Morrisville Chamber Awards
After lunch, Roy Watson, Chairman of the Chamber, introduced the presentation of awards in three categories:
- Small Business of the Year
- Ambassador of the Year
- Community Steward of the Year
Primrose School at the Park was awarded the James M. Pugh Small Business of the Year Award. Primrose is an independently, operated education-based private school owned by Ms. Leslie Moore. Primrose currently employs 28 employees and offers care for 176 children.
The North Carolina Chef’s Academy received the Jeremiah Morris Community Steward of the Year Award. The Chef’s Academy, opened in August of 2010, is the Culinary Division of Harrison College in Indianapolis. Students receive hands-on training in the fields of culinary arts, pastry arts, and hospitality and restaurant management. The Chef’s Academy has made an impact in the community through organizations like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, The North Carolina Hospitality Foundation, United Way of the Greater Triangle and the National Football League’s Party with a Purpose. The Chef’s Academy also provides scholarships for high school students through its culinary arts competition.
Karen Monna won the 2011 Ambassador of the Year Award. Monna is the Membership Engagement Director at the Cary Family YMCA, where she has worked for 14 years. She has been a Morrisville Chamber Ambassador for the past three years.
Keynote Speaker: Ryan Allis
I’d heard of Ryan Allis and his company iContact. But I’d never actually heard him speak. I can say without hyperbole that this 27-year-old entrepreneur blew away the crowd.
First impression: Ryan Allis is the Triangle’s Mark Zuckerberg. Although he probably gets tired of the comparison (I get tired of being compared to Matt Damon, after all), the story lines are similar.
Allis dropped out of a great school (UNC Chapel Hill) to build his company. He threw a mattress on the floor and slept at the office. 10 years later, he 300 employees and $47 million in annual income.
iContact sells software as a service (SaaS) that helps users create commercial looking email campaigns without knowing any code.
After giving a brief recap of his history, Allis shared a few observations about why he choose Morrisville for his new company headquarters:
- Centrally located with the Triangle
- 20 minutes to any of the 3 major universities in the region
- Lots of tech talent nearby at IBM, Cisco, Lenovo and others
- Low cost of living
- International airport 5 minutes away
Allis neatly summarized all that’s good for business in the Triangle in general and Morrisville in particular. I leaned over and whispered two words to Carlotta Ungaro: “testimonial video.” She nodded with a twinkle in her eye, either in agreement or in the hopes that I’d shut up.
Finally, Allis made a few observations about the direction of technology in 2012:
- Software and data is now on the cloud, not on the desktop
- 2.1 billion people are now on the internet, growing to 5 billion by 2020
- Firms that focus on social responsibility are gaining a competitive advantage with Gen-Y consumers and workers
- Emerging and frontier markets are booming
On the notion of social responsibility, Allis described a situation where a worker is considering two similar offers. The company that emphasizes social responsibility is more likely to get the valued labor.
Allis mentioned that iContact is a B Corp, a voluntary form of corporate organization that considers social responsibility. The company donates 1% of its output in 4 areas to support charitable organizations:
- 1% of employee time
- 1% of its product
- 1% of profits
- 1% of its stock
Allis stuck around for about a half hour after the meeting adjourned to shake hands and chat with anyone who wanted to say hello.
The line was long.
CaryCitizen is a proud member of the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce.