The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) on Monday named Sen. Rick Gunn of Burlington and Rep. David Lewis of Dunn hospitality champions of the year. Gunn and Lewis were presented with the awards at the annual NCRLA Stars of the Industry Awards ceremony, at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel Raleigh-Durham Airport at Research Triangle Park.
The legislators were recognized for their consistent support of North Carolina’s business growth, going above and beyond to champion the state’s $23 billion hospitality industry.
“Advocating for policies and regulations that benefit, not hinder, restaurants and hotels in growing their businesses and creating jobs is a vital part of our mission at NCRLA. Sen. Gunn and Rep. Lewis have consistently shown that advancing North Carolina’s hospitality industry is a priority for them,” said NCRLA President and CEO Lynn Minges. “On behalf of the 18,000 restaurants and 1,800 hotels across North Carolina, it is a privilege to recognize these legislators with this well-deserved honor.”
Gunn was chosen as the 2018 North Carolina Senate Hospitality Champion for his leadership and advocacy for the hospitality industry at the North Carolina General Assembly. He not only led the charge as the face of the “Brunch Bill”—a bill he has been committed to seeing through the process for several years—but worked tirelessly on other industry priorities including nonprofit game nights legislation.
Beyond his duties as a representative of the 24th Senate District in Alamance and Randolph Counties, Gunn has been an active member in the business community. He served as president of the Burlington-Alamance County Association of Realtors, the Alamance Business Club and the Burlington Downtown Corporation. He previously served as vice chairman of the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the Government Liaison Committee.
“I simply cannot overstate how important the hospitality industry is to the economic engine in North Carolina. It is personally rewarding to partner with the NCRLA to sponsor and pass pro-business legislation that helps this industry grow and prosper, creating jobs and making North Carolina a great place for travel, tourism and business,” said Gunn.
“The ‘Brunch Bill’ is an excellent example of common sense legislation that will have a significant and lasting positive impact for businesses in our great state,” added Gunn.
Lewis was selected as the 2018 North Carolina House of Representatives Hospitality Champion for his longtime commitment to bettering the state’s business climate for the hospitality industry. He was crucial in facilitating the success of several NCRLA priorities in 2017, making sure legislation such as the “Brunch Bill” made it across the finish line.
Beyond representing the 53rd House District, encompassing most of Harnett County, Lewis currently serves as the Chairman of the Rules, Calendar and Operations of the House Committee and Elections Committee and is well known for his work on the 2013 tax reform legislation.
“People often talk about southern hospitality; I’ve always believed that here in North Carolina, southern hospitality is a way of life,” said Lewis. “I’m proud to support the folks in our hospitality industry as they continue the tradition of welcoming people of all walks of life to our state, and the industry as a whole is a major economic driver, which sets the standard for excellence in service.”
For more information about the NCRLA 2018 Stars of the Industry Awards, visit www.ncrla.org/stars.