HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — You could call Amber Williamson a professional cheerleader.
She doesn’t cheer for a sports team. She cheers for the Piedmont-Triad’s third largest city.
And she doesn’t yell, wear a uniform or wave pom-poms.
She communicates through virtual and print media along with one-on-one meetings.
“So I am High Point’s cheerleader,” she told me during a recent one of those one-on-one meetings. “(I’m) finding ways to make us shine even more brightly than we are currently doing.”
And you can list a lot of ways High Point is “shining more brightly” these days.
From all the building at and excitement surrounding her alma mater, High Point University, to the new baseball stadium and all the activity around it downtown to one of the largest children’s museums in the southeast, High Point is finally breaking out of its reputation as a sleepy, primarily manufacturing city whose downtown comes alive twice a year for the furniture market.
And Williamson is spreading the word.
Since early August, she’s been the executive director of High Point Discovered. Like the name implies, its purpose is to help people “discover” the city through the stories of interesting places and people.
It accomplishes this through a website, a strong social media presence and a slick magazine scheduled to be published annually.
In many ways, it’s hard to imagine Williamson grew up in nearby Greensboro. She was the only daughter among four brothers. The family didn’t make it to High Point that often.
“We, on occasion would go to the old Oak Hollow Mall and go to like Steve & Barry’s (a retail clothing chain that went out of business in 2009),” she said. “But that was really kind of a limited exposure to the community.”
That changed in 2011 when she started attending High Point University. She would go on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications in 2014 and Master’s in Strategic Communications in 2016.
Unlike many graduates of the fine universities in the Piedmont-Triad, Williamson decided to stick around after graduation.
“I saw it as a place that had room for me to be here,” she told me. “It was a place that I could take root and make a difference.”
She started making that difference as a communication consultant for The Foundation for a Healthy High Point. That would lead to a five-year journey with Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce where she became Director of Leadership and Program Development.
“When I started it was right when we began pushing for the new stadium (Truist Point Stadium), and I was a part of creating the communications for the bond package,” she said. “But I was also part of the rebranding of Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce.”
Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce was founded in 2015 through a merger of the Chamber of Commerce and the private economic development group, High Point Partners.
Her experience with Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce helped develop an appreciation for the city and most importantly, it’s people.
“On a day-to-day basis, I came into contact with inspiring people who every day chartered to make a change in their community some way, somehow,” she said. “Whether it was starting programs to support food insecurity or mothers who may need assistance.”
In fact, telling these “people stories” is one of the core missions of High Point Discovered, and Williamson was the perfect fit.
You can find these stories all over High Point Discovered’s media which feature stories about—among many others—those who run the affordable housing program to the high school principal who—through love—is working to keep students focused on academics.
But in her new job, she also wants everyone to know there are a lot of “fun” things to do in High Point. And that includes the city’s restaurant scene—which Williamson feels is underrated.
It’s among the reasons she created the High Point Food Mob Facebook Page to help support local eating establishments.
It’s also among the reasons she and I met for lunch at the city’s brand new Stock and Grain Assembly Food Hall. It features 12,000 square feet of restaurants and take-away counters that feature all types of food imaginable.
I haven’t found anything quite like it in the Piedmont-Triad.
“What I love is it’s a melting pot,” she told me. “People can get hot dogs or they can get sushi,” she said. “And so everyone is just here breaking bread at the same time.”
And she has a message for those who still think High Point is the same city it was 10 years ago.
“High Point is a true city on the rise,” she said. “You need to come and take a look at what we have going on how. I feel safe in High Point. I feel loved in High Point. And I feel an energy in High Point that is unfelt anywhere else in the Triad.”
Sounds like a professional cheerleader to me!
For more information on High Point Discovered and how you can get a copy of “High Point Discovered: The Magazine,” check out the non-profit’s website.
At the bottom of the homepage, you’ll find links to the High Point Discovered social media pages.