The Tipping Point: Overcoming Hickory’s Community Challenges

Posted by Scott Broome on March 21, 2016

What do you get when you bring together a YMCA CEO, a school Superintendent, county leaders in Public Health, Human Resources, and Economic Development, a city Communication and Marketing Director, and a local church Senior Pastor, with local leaders in business and experts in leadership and well-being? When these people come to the table, the result is an experience with a well-represented community, lively discussion, productive collaboration, and impactful ideas.

We found this synergy at our inaugural “Tipping Point” round table discussion on March 2nd, 2016, hosted and supported by StrongLead, Discover Wellness, and the Catawba Valley Global Leadership Foundation. Not only did this collaborative meeting lead to a better joint understanding of the challenges that our community faces from varied perspectives, it also led to a strengthened, shared vision of what we all envision for Hickory and the greater Catawba Valley region.

Tipping Point 1

Local leaders meet at the Tipping Point round table on March 2nd, 2016.


At this time in our community, as you have probably heard, Hickory has 3,000 jobs to fill and is struggling to do so. The City of Hickory and the Catawba Valley region are met with challenges left and right on their path to improved economic development. Along this course, roadblocks loom in a misperception of the nature of respectable work available, a lack of great young talent returning to Hickory long-term after leaving to further their education, and the lingering hardship from an economy that took a hard turn years back.

But what exactly shapes the path to “improved economic development”? It is, ultimately, a road to establishing a community where people want to live. Without exposing the factors found at the core of the solution, a sweeping consensus voiced the difficulty for people to connect with the urgency and great promise that exist for improved economic development in our community. Economic development is grounded in the well-being of our people, a strengthened quality of life, and the exposure of all that the community has to offer for fun, work, play, growth, and experience. In resolving the goal to a foundational change, this route could be more aptly named, “the path to a thriving community”.

Everyone present was aware of Hickory’s “claim to fame” as being named the third “Lowest Well-Being” community (combined with Lenoir and Morganton) by the Gallup poll in 2014-2015 and the subsequent report on “The State of American Well-Being”. Our community leaders also shared the same fervent spirit to do something in turning this negative into a positive, using the title as a rallying point for our community to overcome the challenge before us.

Community leaders contributed to the discussion.

We have the need and the motivation, and it was confirmed at this round table discussion that there is neither a shortage of willing leaders nor a shortage of existing community programs and initiatives to satisfy the need. We see roadblocks where these great programs are siloed in nature, and limited collaboration across field, department, business, and community lines fails to harness the strengths of each to fill in the gaps of others. This is where we must begin to engage the community in awareness of our programs to bring about partnership and participation.

Many locals should be familiar with “Hickory. Well Crafted,” a current campaign that sheds light on all the community has to offer to its residents and visitors alike, from fitness to art, innovation to entertainment, families to sports, and so much more. Did you know that Newton-Conover City Schools, in collaboration with Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC), offers a way for high school juniors and seniors to earn up to 31 college credits prior to graduation, with supplies and enrollment covered? Have you heard about the Park 1764 Mission, a plan for a beautiful business park to attract new businesses and job creation, while fitting into the community and preserving the heritage of Ulrich Crowder, who was granted the lands in 1764? Did you know that CVCC has a Furniture Academy that is, according to CVCC, enrolling students “to provide an industry-driven training program designed by local furniture manufacturers to prepare students for skilled positions that are in high demand…”? What about F3 – Fitness, Fellowship, and Faith, a free, participant-led men’s workout program to give strength to community leadership?


Of those in attendance at the Tipping Point round table,

● 100% believe that coming together, pooling resources, and utilizing technology to gather relevant data for long-term health impact is possible.

● 88% rated the vision and community need discussed as “Very Relevant” to them. 12% rated them as “Relevant”.


Looking ahead to success, our community leaders are looking for ways to reach more people, communicate a vision community-wide, learn more about existing strengths and bridge any gaps, improve data gathering to measure success, embrace technology, and participate as a part of a thriving community. We must rise to this challenge.

The Tipping Point round table on March 2nd was an inspiring start that led to action steps to pull together more leaders in our community in sharing this vision and establishing a thriving community culture of wholeness and well-being, where people of all ages want to work, play, and live.


“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford


Tipping Point 3

Robert Broome addresses the group to collaborate on ideas for the community.



[accordion] [accordion-item title=”In attendance at the Tipping Point round table on March 2nd, 2016:”]

● Bob Conklin – CEO, YMCA

● David Stegall – Superintendent, Newton-Conover Schools

● Scott Broome – Vice President, Broome Associates and President, Discover Wellness

● Bruce Schronce – Founder and President, StrongLead

● Amy McCauley – Community Outreach Manager, Catawba County Public Health

● Amy McDonald – Management Analyst and Wellness Coordinator, Catawba County Human Resources

● Dana Kaminski – Communication and Marketing Director, City of Hickory

● Phillip Reynolds – Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church Hickory

● Robert Broome – President, Broome Associates

● Nathan Huret – Director of Existing Industry Services, Catawba County Economic Development Corporation

● Dana Plummer and Amanda Davis – Discover Wellness




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