Business

Incoming chamber chair rooted in investments, business

By Dave Yochum. A behind-the-scenes name in Cornelius business and local GOP politics will be out there more next year. Joshua Dobi takes over the volunteer reins of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

The incoming chairman at age 42 is already a quiet force having hosted a number of fundraisers and campaign openings for prominent Republicans, all the while running a financial advisory business with clients in 35 states, not to mention chairing the chamber’s public policy committee.

The committee was refreshingly straight-forward in its approach this past year, coming out in no uncertain terms agains the Charlotte Mecklenburg School bond referendum last month. The bonds passed, of course, but the clear, no-nonsense approach hints at the approach he’ll take to chairing the 1,000-member pro-business organization.

It’s been evident in Dobi Financial Group, based in a quaint cottage on North Main Street just south of Davidson.

He launched the firm in 2009 after being a partner in another financial advisory business since his junior year in college at age 20. The son of a Presbyterian minister and a schoolteacher has a track record as a go-getter.

Dobi had several jobs at the same time as a kid, including a grass-cutting business, a car-washing business “and I delivered the early morning newspaper in my community.”

Dobi, who, with his wife Kerri has two daughters, sees Cornelius and Lake Norman “as a growing community blessed with the good things and challenges that come with growth.”

One challenge Lake Norman faces is affordable housing. It spins both ways: On the consumer side, higher prices are tough on young families. On the business side, employers can’t recruit from an exclusively high-priced community. It’s one area where Dobi says people from different parties can work together.

Cornelius Today caught up with Dobi for an interview a few weeks before he takes over the chairmanship from accountant Jay Lesemann.

CT: Is all growth good?

Dobi: “No. Growth without a plan is just painful and miserable; growth with a plan can be amazing, producing ‘1+1=3’ opportunities.”

CT: How will the chamber keep fighting the toll plan as it is now? That’s assuming you will.

Dobi: “As the Chamber Board noted in its statement regarding the toll lane project, the Chamber is always concerned with factors which impact our business members and the broader community in both positive and negative ways. The Chamber will continue to advocate for an alternative to the current contract and wholeheartedly supports the efforts of our local citizens and elected officials in that pursuit.”

CT: As chamber chair, what are your top agenda items for 2018?

Dobi: “We want to continue to support, provide a ‘value-add,’ and advocate for our business members. To that end, we will be relentlessly focusing on listening to our members, understanding their concerns, and working ceaselessly to provide them a ‘+1’ in their business pursuits.  Whether that comes from our extensive calendar of networking opportunities, connecting them with a resource which can help them grow, or advocating for them to our elected officials, we want to be their go-to place as they  seek new  and greater opportunities in our Lake Norman community.”

CT: In the wake of the recession, it looks like the Lake Norman Chamber is holding its own, membership-wise you’re at 1,000.

Dobi: “I know we get excited about membership goals and there is a fiscal reality to supporting a healthy Chamber.  However, I’m much more concerned with attracting and retaining those members who want to not only sustain and grow their businesses, but to help our Lake Norman region continue to thrive.”

CT: You’re a financial advisor…what’s your outlook for the national economy in 2018?

Dobi: “We’re in an interesting macro-economic space currently, which I suppose can be said about any time and space. However, we are running a relative economic parallel dichotomy: We have certain segments (i.e. large technology, ex-U.S.) which are growing robustly (and some would say even too quickly); then we have other segments (i.e. energy, financials) which are largely lagging behind and even retracting. We are in a nearly unprecedented low interest rate environment which is wonderful for mortgages and capital expenditures but miserable for cash savings. All that said, we are cautiously optimistic for our 2018 macro-economy, leery about those parts which have been running hot, mindful of geo-political impact points, and looking for some rebound in areas recently largely forgotten.”

CT: As a local business leader, what is your outlook for Lake Norman in 2018?

Dobi: “You don’t need to step too far outside any home in the  Lake Norman region to see first-hand that we are continuing to grow at amazing relative speed. Even with a slow-down from our current growth rates over the last 20 years, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect that our region will continue to attract businesses and residents alike.”

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