Breakfast meeting for businesses

Claremont business owners are learning about good business practices from the city's most knowledgeable people — each other.

Area business leaders and officials met Tuesday for an informal gathering to discuss economic development opportunities in the community during Claremont's inaugural Business Breakfast.

"I heard, 'Gosh, I wish there was a way businesses could get together and talk,'" said Doug Barrick, Claremont city manager. "It's an economic downturn, so any information they can get today will help."

More than 60 people, including Claremont's city employees, attended the drop-in breakfast, which was held in the Family Life Center at St. Mark's Lutheran Church.

Barrick said he hopes to continue the event at least twice a year, with the next breakfast meeting in the fall.

"I wanted to meet business people in the community," said Claremont business owner Jesse Salwen. "We share the same problems and the same joys."

Salwen, who owned A Klein & Co. before the Claremont company went out of business, now has a photography studio in Claremont. He takes photos of just about everything and has recently expanded his business to include printed note cards.

City and town department leaders also attended the event to show their support of the business community.

"It's a good way to interweave with the business community," said Claremont Police Chief Gerald Tolbert.

Claremont, home to major companies such as AdvancePierre Foods and Poppelmann Plastics, is also developing smaller businesses, like Salwen's.

Both major companies and small businesses are important to the city's growth and well-being, Barrick said.

"This is exactly what we envisioned when we thought about this event," Barrick said of Tuesday's breakfast, where attendees gathered casually in groups and spoke about the state of business and government in Catawba County.

Leaders from the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Economic Development Corporation, attended the meeting. Representatives from other county municipalities also attended.

"We exist on this side (of Catawba County), too," said Catawba Town Manager Brian Barnett. "We support them, and they support us."

The last year offered promising economic opportunities for Claremont, with announcements of expansion at AdvancePierre Foods and Poppelmann plastics. The city also received word in March that a division of Williams-Sonoma, Sutter Street Manufacturing, will lease the city's entire Kelly Boulevard warehouse.

"Our area is home to multi-national corporations and local businesses that can all assist each other in ensuring the long-term success of, not only your business, but also the community as a whole," Barrick wrote on the event's invitation.

To be notified about future meetings, contact Barrick at (828) 459-7009 or