Get your Chatham County business news here!

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 9/6/19

Every week I take hundreds and hundreds of copies of the new edition of the Chatham News + Record to locations across Chatham County, mainly on the eastern side. But my first stop is always the Silk …

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Posted

Every week I take hundreds and hundreds of copies of the new edition of the Chatham News + Record to locations across Chatham County, mainly on the eastern side. But my first stop is always the Silk Hope Grocery.

It’s usually between 10:45 and 11 a.m. on Wednesdays when I arrive at the store. Every week there’s two or three cars parked outside, and inside there’s people shooting the breeze about whatever’s happening. A TV playing in the background keeps those in the store informed about the world. I come in, bringing newspapers that tell people about what’s happening in Chatham County.

As far as I know — I’m only 26 — those types of stores used to be common gathering places in America. Citizens of a town or neighborhood would gather to catch up on gossip, bicker about sports or share news of births, engagements and deaths. They’d be the corner store, department store, etc. I think of Gower Drug in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” McLaren’s Pub in the TV show “How I Met Your Mother” and Central Perk in “Friends.”

That’s what I hope to bring to this regular column, but about a very specific topic.

According to the N.C. Department of Commerce, 34,112 people were employed in Chatham County in June 2019. In the fourth quarter of 2018, there were 1,442 private industries and 67 manufacturing operations in Chatham. In 2016, there were an estimated 2,466 people who were self-employed. Total retail sales by Chatham businesses, including restaurants, reached $565.9 million in 2018.

That’s the topic.

Many large newspapers and media outlets have business reporters, people who focus on what businesses are up to, hiring trends, unemployment, businesses closing and opening, etc. I’ve done a bit of that in my time here, but it’s my goal to expand that.

Thus, the introduction of “Zach’s Corner Store,” a new weekly column in this newspaper.

There are three things I want this column to do, and to fulfill a couple of those desires, I’ll need your help.

1) Illustrate how things at the government level affect business and businesses.

Municipal and county government-level politicians will oftentimes brag about how electing them to office will bring jobs. This column will, hopefully, provide a platform to evaluate their effectiveness at that and whether or not the government actually is doing positive things for businesses.

2) Showcase openings, closings and changes of notable businesses in Chatham County.

People like new stores and new stuff coming to their area. “Zach’s Corner Store” will be a place for business owners to announce that they’re open for business and explain what they’re offering to the Chatham County community, and a place to announce closures and changes happening to current businesses.

3) Inform people about interesting and unique things Chatham County’s businesses are doing and offering.

We journalists love things that are different and one-of-a-kind. In a county with as many creative people and businesses as Chatham, there’s bound to be things happening that are unique and truly interesting, and this column will be a place to showcase those things.

The column will take different forms throughout its existence. Sometimes it might look at three pieces of news from local businesses. An example: a restaurant has a cool new menu item, a manufacturer announced a job fair for a specific role within their plant and a self-employed person started a new firm doing something different or unique in Chatham, like fixing broken cell phones or providing cleaning services for bee hives. Sometimes the column will feature Q&As with industry leaders about their establishments or the state of their particular industry. And sometimes it will be me, writing about something I found interesting while visiting a Chatham County business or looking at newly-released statistics and what they mean.

The goal for this is to be a weekly feature, so to make sure that happens, I need help from you. If you own a business and are doing something interesting/having a fun event/collected some cool data, let me know. Email me at zhorner@chathamnr.com and your information may appear in the next edition of “Zach’s Corner Store.” I might even reach out to do a whole column on your information.

The goal is for this to be a place where you know what’s happening in the business world in Chatham County.

Welcome to the new corner store.

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