Trailblazers: A salute to young catalysts in smaller N.C. communities

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North Carolina is more than its bustling metro areas: Most of the state is made up of small cities and towns seeking niches in a fast-changing economy. Business North Carolina’s inaugural Trailblazers feature includes 22 young, thriving business owners and professionals in North Carolina communities with fewer than 100,000 residents. We sought nominations for the best and brightest under 40 who are showing significant business success and are striving to make a positive impact.

Enthusiastic nominators introduced us to many qualified young professionals. We narrowed the list to 22 leaders from across the state, from Saluda to Edenton. Each noted that there’s something special about living in a small community. Each offers the kind of energy needed to improve their communities, often against heavy odds.

This year’s list includes:

Sara Bell, 37, The Gorge/Green River Adventures, Saluda

Chris Cartwright, 39, Prism Medical Products, Elkin

Cameron Cruse, 30, R. Riveter, Southern Pines

Jennifer Harriss, 38, Destination Downtown Edenton, Edenton

David Joyner, 34, Joyner Media & Strategies Inc., Rocky Mount

Lindsay Keisler, 31, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, Hickory

Brandy Koontz, 36, Koontz Law, Mocksville

Joanne Badr Morgan, 37, Ward and Smith, Asheville

Jon Neumann, 36, Grove Stone & Sand, Asheville

Anna Oakes, 34, Watauga Democrat, Boone

Chip Owen, 37, Innovation Brewing Co., Sylva

Nicole Owen, 32, Innovation Brewing Co. Sylva

Jesse Pope, 37, Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, Linville

David Sauls, 37, Southern Bank and Trust Co., Mount Olive

Ashley Scarborough, 31, Plank Road Forestry, Wadesboro

Logan Scarborough, 30, Plank Road Forestry, Wadesboro

Kelly Shiley, 39, Mary Square, Apex

Christi Thompson, 35, The Market at Three Little Birds, Clayton

Dalton Walters, 32, Mimosa Insurance, Morganton

Ben Webb, 35, Fish Hippie/Old North State Winery, Mount Airy

Danny Wilcox, 29, We Can So You Can Foundation/Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Boone

Joe Williams, 37, Brisson Drugs, St. Pauls

Stay tuned for profiles on each of our Trailblazers to be published on our website.

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