In a series of statements posted to the Twitter social media platform Wednesday afternoon, Pam Lewis shed more more light on her high-profile – and controversial – dismissal from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce last month. Kit Cramer, the head of the Asheville chamber, announced on Sept. 27 that Lewis was no longer working for the chamber.
Lewis had served as director of entrepreneurship for the Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition since 2011. She came to that job after working in a similar capacity at the AdvantageWest economic development group. Lewis took the EDC job as local economic development officials made major strides toward nurturing existing entrepreneurs and wooing others to come to Asheville.
Lewis lost her job after tensions between she and Cramer blew up over the posting of an innocent Facebook photo. Click to read the bizarre background.
On Wednesday, Lewis tweeted that she will continue to work with entrepreneurs, though it is unclear in what capacity. Lewis tweeted that Asheville chamber officials asked her to leave North Carolina so as not to compete with their efforts to recruit and develop entrepreneurs. She also offers a couple of other provocative statements. Here’s the series of tweets. @JakeFrankel is Mountain Xpress reporter Jake Frankel:
Can we be 100% confident in the information given us re: economic development deals?
@jramphis @Forbes #Avl has asked me to leave so I’m open to work anywhere and would love to work w/you
@tbeckett leadership with a conscience is hard to find
#avl has asked me not to compete with them in entrep. dev.
@JakeFrankel the only thing I know – work with growing the entrepreneurial scene
@LewisLightner @jramphis @Forbes #avl is prime for entrep. dev. @bfeld theory is 100% correct
My dad gave his life for this country – I will defend that sacrifice – pursuit of life, liberty and justice #vietnam
@JakeFrankel thank you
@JakeFrankel but #economic development is a zero sum game – offended to ask to leave the state
@JakeFrankel yes, the #avlchamber asked me not to compete for 1 year /
@JakeFrankel I am the 5th woman to be terminated by @kitcramer in her 3 years of service
@JakeFrankel – questions to be asked for sure unless #avl is comfortable with this
@JakeFrankel I can assure you I’ve only worked in best interest of #avlgov not just a select few
@BryanFreeborn I’ve been silent out if respect, but my silence will not move #Entrepreneurs forward #avlgov
@CarolinaCates they asked me to leave so as not to confuse marketplace
From all I can tell, Asheville/Buncombe has one of the better growing economies in the United States and certainly the best in North Carolina. We have the lowest rate of unemployment in the state. Sure, not all of those are top paying jobs because Asheville has relied on tourism because that was easy. We live in such a beautiful place. But now: GE Aviation, new Belgium, etc. these is more than green-washed groceries. One thing that is holding Asheville back is the high price of real estate. The mountains are beautiful but also drive up the price of homes. As businesses come into the area they have to consider this also the mountainous layout can be less than conducive to providing industries with the land they need for major operations. Asheville has one of the better Chambers of Commerce in the region and I, for one, am glad they are taking care of business.
I wonder if the chamber will ever get it together enough to realize that we need sustainable, non-tourist related economic growth in Buncombe county if we ever want to achieve stability and decent wage growth in the community.
My observation is that Asheville (C-of-C, City Hall, and non-affiliated residents) have done everything they can to limit or destroy anything resembling entrepreneurship, capitalism, or industry, unless it relates to overpriced art or green-washed groceries.
Employment agreements with significant termination packages typically have a non-compete competent. It isn’t clear what the nature of the “competition” is in this case. If the payout is lump sum, I’d take the $ and fight them later if they want to try to enforce the non-compete.
Judges generally take a dim view of such non-competes as they are generally “agreed” by parties with such disparate power. If the pay was significant, however, that would tend to make it more enforceable.
In my experience, traditional chambers of commerce do not do much to help truly innovative entrepreneurs flourish. They have often had to find their own way through things and their own communities, largely because they start off not big enough for chambers to care too much, nor do they fit well in the traditional industry boxes identified by most chambers.
Pam, this puts you in a very unique position to continue reaching out to these entrepreneurs who have otherwise fallen through the cracks. You’ve built such good will and strong support on AVL that I’d hate to see you go. Instead, form something like an E-Chamber focused on the types of entrepreneurs the traditional chamber does little to support. Work from home folks, small technology outfits, ecommerce retailers and other could benefit from your connections to local co-working spaces, entrepreneurial organizations and, of course, your own amazing evangelism on their behalf. While I believe strongly that you’d make this work anywhere, I also believe Asheville is a place just ripe for an entrepreneurial explosion. You are now in a position to do it on your own terms, your way. This is the kind of thing any EDC that actually cares about true economic development should welcome with open arms rather than feel threatened by.
Wow, Tim, cry me a river. And Barry- she has worked in the field for decades. To accomplish anything in this town you would absolutely step on someone’s toes or you’re not doing anything. She has guts.
I agree with Shawn. Shouldn’t the Chamber be about anyone working to help entrepreneurs and attract business (and jobs) to our area? It isn’t supposed to be a competition about who gets the credit. The current Chamber leadership doesn’t seem to be about small business at all. I’m not sure they even like Asheville very much.
The more I see and hear of this issue, the more it seems this lady may have some issues. Ones that.readers may want to give some second thought before they cast judgement either way. Maybe, maybe not.
I will never attend a Chamber event again. I may even stage a protest. They do not represent our area well by producing such a violation of rights.
Confuse the marketplace? What idiocy. Seems to me that we oughta to target and attract entrepreneurs not so easily confused. Or fooled.
Pam getting the ax was simply her karma coming back to haunt her…in particular her behavior working to get Gwen Ruckenbroad fired from Handmade…but beyond that she has several feuds going in the community related to her inflated ego. I personally volunteered for several several events she put on only to be treated like a piece of crap by her after the fact. If she’s gonna stay in Asheville she shouldn’t be looking to find work that involves dealing with the public.
What was behind the departure of Gwen Ruckenbroad?
Not only are they dismissing this amazing person from the chamber they are silencing her locally for a year. This is an outrage! We need Pam. Who will fill her shoes??? I’m pissed bc small businesses like mine in growth phases need her. I need to know there is someone out there who cares and is connecting people the way she does. I’m sure the level of connectivity Pam has in our town and beyond took years to develop and the chamber should be WAY more respectful of her efforts. She’s bridging a gap between businesses at different levels of development, inspiring entrepreneurship and creating a scene we can all function together in for a strong community. I’m really sad about this and already feeling a void. We love you Pam Lewis!!!
I hope Pam told the Chamber that not only will she stay in Asheville, but they should all lean down and kiss her ass.
Besides the non-compete, did they give her a settlement or severance for wrongful termination? I can’t believe this has dragged on this long.
How come such an obviously dysfunctional unelected entity gets to decide on how our property taxes are spent? The Chamber has an inordinate amount of influence over economic development incentives because Council won’t do its job.
God forbid that the “marketplace” be confused by having Pam Lewis working in the same area as the Chamber. That would ruffle all sorts of feathers among the city’s unelected ruling class.
I hate Twitter. I really do. I hate it so much.