Category Archives: Community

Small Business Spotlight: Durham Family Medicine

Dr. C. Nicole Swiner and her partners are committed to their patients. So committed that 10 years ago, when the UNC Health backed practice nearly closed after losing the support of the Chapel Hill giant, Dr. Swiner and Dr. Mohan Chilukuri banded together to keep the practice going.

“We had thousands of patients that relied on us,” said Dr. Swiner. We couldn’t have them without medical homes.” Together Swiner and Chilukuri formed Durham Family Medicine, a certified, patient-centered medical home to more than 8000 patients right here in Durham.

Their commitment to their patients is not unusual for those who practice family medicine. “Family medicine doctors, in general have a heart for community service,” said Dr. Swiner, “we are sometimes considered the low man on the medical totem pole, but we do what we do because we love people. You almost have to be born a family doctor with a desire to help others.”

Durham Family Medicine doesn’t stop with the doctor – patient relationship. They also offer allergy testing and treatment, massage therapy, a trained herbal and nutrition specialist, Zumba and yoga classes, as well as ultrasound and mammogram services in the office.

“In order to take good care of someone you have to know them intimately. That is an honor and privilege to serve in this way,” said Dr. Swiner.

Having grown to a practice of four, Durham Family Medicine is a full spectrum practice, providing Pediatric, Men’s Health, Mental Health, Chronic Disease, Gynecology and Geriatrics care. “I like to say we see patients from just hours old or newborn to ninety-nine and up,” said Dr. Swiner.

The practice maintains late hours, seeing patients as late as 6 p.m. and six months ago begin providing telemedicine – the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine appointments are ideal for anything that does not require the doctor to physically touch the patient, including things like medication follow -up, prescription refills, mental health and diabetes and blood pressure follow up.

Durham Family Medicine is a unique practice, but not nearly as unique as their current building on Broad Street. Arguably no building in Durham has been more adaptively re-used than this location. Built in 1925, the building has served as a prison camp, Tuberculosis sanitarium, television station and the home to several different medical practices.

The level of care and commitment that each provider shows to their patients is evident as the practice continues to grow. Durham Family Medicine is currently in search of a fifth medical provider.

...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

An Update on Durham’s EPIC Economic Development Night

written by Ted Conner, Senior Vice President of Economic Development

On a late night in 2015, members of the Chamber staff were attending a meeting of an elected body at which three Public/Private Partnerships involving the renovation of the Chesterfield Building, the Durham ID and Park Center were approved.  After the meeting the Chamber observed that this was an epic night in Durham’s history because the face of Durham was going to be interminably changed as a result of these Public/Private Partnerships in addition to the partnership approved earlier in the year for the City Center Project.

One cannot say how important the joint City-County the Public/Private Partnerships have proven in bringing these projects towards fruition.  Recently tenants started moving into the Chesterfield Building, returning life to a building that has been vacant since 1999.  In addition, the City Center building is being topped out and steel is being erected for the two new office buildings and assembly the new Durham ID parking deck is underway.

To top off this progress, Rich Horn with Strategic Capital Partners purchased approximately 100 acres of land on Patriot Drive from IBM for the development of a new business park called Patriot Park with entitlements allowing the developer to build more than 1 million square feet of new industrial space.  This is the first new business park since Liberty Property Trust began construction of Liberty Ridge in 2008.  Interestingly, Liberty Ridge is now built-out with the last building scheduled for completion in the fall.

The Durham Chamber has been integrally involved in these projects and realized that this is indeed an epic week in Durham!

...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Spotlight – Geer Street Garden

While a partner at the Piedmont Restaurant in Durham, Andy Magowan would pass by the old Fletcher’s Gulf Station on the corner of Foster and Geer streets. “That would make a great little restaurant,” Magowan thought to himself. In the fall of 2010, after deciding to leave Piedmont, he jumped at the chance to lease the building  and just seven months later Geer Street Garden served its first customers in May of 2011. “We are a gastropub committed to using quality ingredients, preparing everything as carefully as possible all in a relaxing atmosphere,” said Magowan.

The restaurant seats 45 inside and nearly 80 outside on the patio that Magowan built when he opened the restaurant. With a menu that is chock full of favorites, from the Reuben to the Cobb salad, to the infamous “Pile” (a diet-destroying agglomeration of french fried, fried chicken, bacon, melted cheddar cheese, jalapeños, gravy & cheese sauce.) The restaurant has become a community favorite. “Geer Street is a place that no matter who you are, there is something for everybody,” he said. “In today’s world, people can feel alienated, but not here. My goal is to have a place where everyone can feel normal.”

In fact, the restaurant’s communal seating often leads to parties of four merging with the folks seated next to them, turning two separate parties of four into a party of eight. From a meal to a marriage, Geer Street brings people together and that, Magowan said, makes him very happy.

Geer Street Garden also specializes in large group gatherings, including rehearsal dinners, business gatherings and small conferences.  Catering is an option through Happy Cardinal Catering, the hospitality venture from Geer Street Garden and Magowan’s other restaurant, The Boot. Order lunch from Geer Street and Andrew might deliver it himself. That is how much he enjoys people.

...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce


An Introduction to SpokeHub

by Taylor Glymph

Social Media is here to stay. A 2017 study estimates that seven-in-ten Americans utilize social media to entertain themselves, learn about businesses, discover news content, and connect with one another. Therefore, it would behoove all brands and businesses to engage with their customer base using social media.

Many successful businesses have launched large Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and even SnapChat campaigns in an attempt to engage with their customers. It has become a normal form of marketing and we think we’ve gotten it right. However, when you think about the BIG THREE social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) all you do is scroll through content stopping for only a second to passively click “like”. There is not a place to truly engage with customers.

What if businesses could know what their customers think about their product, services, brand, customer support, and any other aspect of the business…IN REAL TIME? What if true two-way conversation from business to consumer was possible? What if the analytics of consumer behavior (not simply characteristics) around topics of interest were available to paying business owners? Well “what if’s” are over because SpokeHub, Inc. has recognized the gap and filled it with two tools SpokeHub Social and SpokeHub Enterprise.

SpokeHub Social adds connection and relevance to every conversation around topics of interest – in essence we’ve brought chat rooms back. SpokeHub Enterprise offers and an end-to-end consumer engagement platform allowing real time sentiment analysis. See it for yourself! Download SpokeHub Social today on the Apple App Store or Google Play. For more information on SpokeHub Enterprise contact  [email protected].


...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Shop Small | Shop Local Events

Wednesday, Nov. 8 – Shop Small Items Give-Away, Pour Durham – 202 N. Corcoran Street (from 4 to 6 p.m.) and All Day at the Chamber’s office

Saturday, November 25—Shop Small kick-off: Coffee and Donuts (location TBA) provided by the Durham Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, November 25—Shop Small Scavenger Hunt – North Regional Library – 221 Milton Road

Friday, December 1, 6 PM – American Tobacco 12th Annual Tower Lighting

Sunday, December 10, 12-5 PM – Durham Patchwork Market

Downtown Holiday Festivities, December 2nd

11 AM – Downtown Durham Holiday Parade

1-4 PM – Holiday FunFest at American Tobacco

4-5 PM – Street musicians and window display self-guided tour

5-6:15 PM—Band on CCB Plaza

6:15-6:30 PM—Mayor(s) light the Christmas Tree

6:30-7:00 PM— Band on CCB Plaza


...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Why the Durham Community is a Good Fit for Amazon

by Geoff Durham, Chamber President & CEO
originally published Oct. 19

These are exciting times for Durham!

A great deal has been reported in recent weeks regarding the Amazon site selection process, so I thought today, the deadline for Amazon proposals, would be the perfect time to provide an overview of where Durham is in the process and how we arrived to this point.

First the basics…

On September 7, Amazon sent shock waves across the country when they sent out a press release announcing their intent to open a second corporate headquarters, referred to as HQ2.

This caused state and local governments, economic development professionals, and business communities to shift into high-gear in preparation for a response.  It should be noted, unlike other national site selections and corporate relocations, this process was playing out in a public forum, allowing the media to identify locations and speculate on Amazon’s inclinations. Thus making the process a unique challenge.

So like many other industries before, Amazon has disrupted the confidential nature of economic development and the site selection process.

 So how big is big?

 Amazon’s HQ2, once they are fully operational over the next 10-15 years, will require 8 million square feet of space, will hire as many as 50,000 new full-time employees with an average total compensation of $100,000.  In total this project is expected to have over $5 billion in capital expenditures.   In context, Amazon’s proposed workforce would roughly be the equivalent to the entire employment base currently residing in RTP.

What is Amazon looking for?

 The Amazon RFP identifies preferences for: metropolitan areas with more than 1 million people; a stable and business-friendly environment; urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent; and communities that think big and creatively when considering locations and real estate options.

Sounds like the Triangle community is a perfect fit.

A Regional Partnership

 In evaluating the requirements, Triangle communities quickly became aware that a regional response was the most effective strategy.  When joined together, Durham and our regional economic development partners, local jurisdictions and our area’s prestigious colleges and universities make the compelling case needed to attract major transformative projects such as the one detailed by Amazon.

A regional task force was assembled, representing inclusive membership of over 80 business and education leaders from around the region. Led by Co-Chairs, Farad Ali and Nate Spilker, the team advanced our regional economic development efforts by bringing together diverse insights and providing an array of expertise to help shape the Triangle’s final submission.

  Why is the Durham community a good fit for Amazon?

 Talent Pipeline

The Triangle Region is home to three nationally acclaimed Tier 1 research universities and 10 other colleges and universities producing more than 42,000 graduates per year serve to build upon our already impressive base of talent.

Authentic community and creative culture

Durham reflects Amazon’s corporate culture by celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusivity. Durham is an innovative, authentic and creative community that thrives in a simultaneously disruptive and collaborative business eco-system.

Quality of life

While frequently cultivated here, it is one of the nation’s best livability indexes that keeps our region’s talent in the community.  Because the Triangle is a region composed of many communities, a wide variety of housing options and price points are available due to the diverse offerings.

Thriving business community

Durham is already home to a wide array of outstanding companies ranging from our exploding start-up community to national corporate headquarters. This diverse and energized economy, the convergence of technologies and disciplines along with a highly-educated workforce has given Durham positive momentum leading to more than $8.5 billion in recent economic development announcements.

Multiple real estate options

With multiple viable sites, Durham does not have to “make room” for a company of the size, scale and ambition of Amazon.

  Mobility and connectivity

The Durham area continues to have low levels of traffic congestion as compared to other growing metros and the region has the highway corridor and arterial roadway capacities to support new development.

Additionally, with approved local funding that focuses on future needs of the Triangle, the multi-modal transit and commuter network of the region is poised to provide scalable and adaptable solutions to take advantage of emerging technologies and stay a step ahead of future growth.

Lastly, RDU provides the region with efficient air travel times to major US cities as well as international destinations and they continue to grow and expand their capacities.

 But is Amazon a good fit for Durham?

Let’s not kid ourselves, growth at the rate anticipated by Amazon could be detrimental to any community not prepared to take advantage of new and disruptive opportunities.

But Durham is not any community.

It time for Durham to do what Durham has always done…face challenges head-on together and persevere.

The Durham community must pull together with the local education and workforce development systems to create multiple career pathways providing for the wide array of entry levels and career growth opportunities that Amazon would bring. We must collaborate and innovate with the goal to insure that our citizens are well prepared and equipped with the necessary resources for us to take next big step together.



...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

2017 Mayoral and City Council Candidate Surveys

Click the name of the candidate to read their responses to the 2017 Durham Chamber of Commerce Candidate Questionnaire.

Mayoral Candidates

Farad Ali

Steve Schewel

City Council Candidates

Ward 1

DeDreana Freeman

Cora Cole-McFadden


Ward 2

Mark-Anthony Middleton*

John Rooks


Ward 3

Vernetta Alston*

Shelia Ann Huggins

*candidate did not respond to requests

...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Spotlight: Durham’s Partnership for Children

For more than 20 years, Durham’s Partnership for Children has been charged with identifying needs and mobilizing partners to serve young children, birth to age 5, in Durham County. Founded as part of the state-wide early childhood initiative known as Smart Start, the Partnership leverages public and private sectors to support comprehensive approaches to serving all of Durham’s young children and their families.

And their work is essential. It is the work of The Partnership that addresses a critical and ongoing need across the state; ensuring that children enter school prepared to learn. Their comprehensive programs have expanded access to early care and education in the first five years of life for children; a solution that works. A child’s early years are a crucial window to create the best possible outcomes in education, health and economic prosperity, and to build a successful future both for individuals and for our community

Early childhood education has a lasting impact, strengthening our economy by supporting the current workforce and allowing parents to work and go to school, while also cultivating a better future workforce. Thanks to Partnership programs, more Durham families receive the support and resources they need, more child care centers can improve the quality of early education and support their teachers, and more parents can access affordable child care.

All Partnership programs are monitored and evaluated to meet state-wide benchmarks and ensure that this work is making an impact in the community. The Partnership’s programs include:

Smart Start, which provides funding for many early education and health and family support programs, including: child care referrals, child care scholarships, home visiting services, parent education and support groups, and interventions for children with challenging behaviors.

Durham Early Head Start, which provides comprehensive family services for pregnant women and children birth to age 3.

NC Pre-K, which provides high-quality early education for 4-year-olds who meet eligibility criteria.

Durham’s Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a collaboration between the Partnership and Durham Public Schools, which helps rising kindergartners and their parents get ready to enter school through a series of events and school readiness resources.

Training and resources for professionals who work with families with young children.

Here is why their work matters:

There are approximately 23,000 children birth to age 5 living in Durham County.

16.5% of children in Durham are obese.

28.1% of children 0-5 live below Federal Poverty Level (FPL) and 51.9% live in low-income households (below 200% FPL).

There are more than 3,000 children on waiting lists for child care scholarships.

18% of families below 200% FPL have had their employment affected by child care related issues.

29% of children 0-5 are enrolled in licensed, regulated child care programs. 76% of these children attend 4- or 5-star facilities.

64% of child care centers are 4-or 5-star facilities.

While there are partnerships serving all 100 counties in North Carolina, there is only one partnership with an apostrophe in the name, Durham’s Partnership for Children. That is because the organization doesn’t just operate in Durham, they believe that they belong to Durham and are deeply committed to serving the needs of young children and families.


...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Spotlight: A Plus Test Prep

APlus Test Prep

5501 Fortunes Ridge Drive

Durham, NC 27713

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 919-824-3912

Founded: January 2011

Owners: Vincent and Sheba Brown

Summary: A+ Test Prep provides test prep, tutoring services, professional development, and academic enrichment services. The team represents 100+ years of combined experience in education from graduate-level instruction down to elementary.

Vincent and Sheba Brown, owners of APlus Test Prep, specialize in tough love; tough love for parents and tough love for students. With more than 20 years in education and the personal experience of preparing four of their own children for higher education, they know a thing or two about what it takes to get to college.

“College acceptance isn’t just about a GPA. You have to be willing to work hard, take challenging courses, volunteer and have a great score on the ACT or SAT.” said Sheba. “There is no short cut to success.”

A former high school teacher for nearly a decade and a first-generation college student herself, Sheba has spent most of her career preparing students for college. So when she and Vincent started their business six years ago, they created a program with three key elements that would lead to success: academic rigor, affordability and access.

Once a month APlus Test Prep connects with parents and students at a free community event they call “Student Prep Preview.” Hosted at their Durham offices, the one hour session allows Vincent and Sheba to connect with parents, have students complete a few sample questions and get a better feel for who might be right for the program.

And their program is affordable. Average cost for college test prep programs hover around $900 but the Browns are determined to make sure that parents can make the investment in their children and still provide for their family. To do this, they keep their three week program at just $350.

“We are living this every day as parents,” said Vincent. “It is real for us, we know how expensive college can be that’s why we are the least expensive program out there.”

But don’t let the low cost fool you, the Browns get results. Last year, one of their students, Mya Reid, a Hillside High graduate, earned $1.6 million in scholarships and was accepted at 37 schools. Reid is not the exception, but the norm for students that complete the APlus Test Prep program.

In the summer of 2017, Vincent and Sheba worked with 3,000 students across North Carolina. In their six years in business, Vincent said he can no longer count how many students they have served. “APlus has worked with high schoolers as far east as Gates County and as far west as Elkin, North Carolina and every area in between,” he said. In fact, several high schools – public and private – contract with APlus to prepare their eleventh graders for the ACT, a test all North Carolina juniors are required to take.

“What we do is really about economic development,” said Vincent.  “A company coming to Durham needs a robust talent pipeline and we are doing our part to make Durham more attractive to employers by preparing the future workforce.”

APlus also partners with corporations to offer “APlus Corporate” an employer-based and funded program for the families of employees to ensure that their children are college-ready. They recently partner with Triangle giant SAS to offer this program to their employees.

For years, Sheba served as a question writer for the SAT and understands that standardized tests require a different way of thinking and preparing, especially for communities of color where test prep is still a relatively new concept. “We didn’t have this in the eighties and nineties in our community,” said Vincent. “But we are determined to help all families see that this is a tremendous opportunity for us in the brown skin community.”

The Browns also acknowledge that college is not for everyone, which is why connecting with parents is so important to the couple. “In the twenty-first century education past high school is absolutely necessary, but parents need to be open to all kinds of options for students,” said Sheba. “Parents need to recognize that learning a trade or apprenticeship is not a dirty word. There are some parents that take offense when you say that to them.”

At the end of the day, the Browns love what they do and according to Vincent, it helps that they are married and don’t have to worry about firing each other.

APlus Test Prep also offers preparation for PRAXIS, LSAT, GRE GMAT and all other standardized tests.


...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

Business Can Benefit From Community Involvement

Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors and see many benefits, including loyal customers and happier employees.

Here are some ways that community service can have a positive impact on your business.

New relationships – Getting out into the community can help you and your staff members develop a stronger professional network. Volunteering puts you in a great position to meet new people who you may not otherwise meet and gives you the opportunity to make genuine connections.

Team building – Working together for a common cause can do wonders for company morale and can help you create an inspired team. Offering employees the opportunity to volunteer during work hours or participate in after-hours activities builds morale and is much better than just meeting for drinks. Volunteering can also provide leadership opportunities that can carry over to the workplace and lead to increased performance and productivity.

Reputation building – It’s the things you do on and off the job that can have an impact on your business reputation. Giving back is one way to build a positive image for your company.  Let your customers know you care about the community by highlighting your community involvement on your company website or with signage in your place of business. It will raise their awareness to your commitment and may even inspire them to do the same.


...[READ MORE]   SOURCE: Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
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