Sallly Ashworth wouldn't trade what she does for anything.
"I love my job," the executive director of Visit Lake Norman said. "I've always believed that one should do what you love and love what you do and that goes a long way."
Ashworth, who is also in charge of the Lake Norman Visitors Center's operations, knows this well.
After graduating from Marshall University with a degree in business and education in 1985, Ashworth decided to go into teaching.
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She started working as a high school accounting and business teacher but slowly found out that this wasn't what she wanted to do. "I liked my job, but I didn't love my job," Ashworth explained. "I've always said 'we're never promised tomorrow so make today the very best that you can,' and so I did."
After teaching for two years in both her native West Virginia and North Carolina, she discovered the hospitality industry.
The 48-year-old said she felt an instant connection to the trade.
"I started thinking about the experiences I had as a child - going into hotels and resorts with my family and going to Disney World and having those memories - and I thought, 'you know what, I'd like to create memories,'" said Ashworth.
She started off on the hotel side of the industry, working in sales for 11 years. During those last three, she served as MeriStar Hospitality Corporation's corporate director of sales for the Carolinas, representing national chains such as Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn among others.
During her time in hotel marketing, Ashworth became active in various area organizations, including the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce. She became a member of the organization's board of directors, while at the same time managing its marketing efforts from 1997 to 2002.
The chamber looked into funding an organization focused on travel and tourism during Ashworth's time on the board and that's how Visit Lake Norman started.
"We wanted to devote those dollars that are generated by the hotels' sales tax to a specific market - tourism," she said. "We wanted to do this because tourism is, better than I could ever say it, economic development."
Ashworth served as the chairwoman of the Lake Norman Convention & Visitors Bureau, which led to the formation of Visit Lake Norman in 2001. The following year, Ashworth took the reins of the organization and has served as the nonprofit's first and only executive director.
The Huntersville resident said that Visit Lake Norman gave $14.92 back to the community for every dollar they received in funding last year.
Ashworth said she moslty enjoys being able to get events such as the Southern Conference Wrestling Tournament, which was recently held at Davidson College , and the FLW National Guard Open, which will take place March 24 to the 27.
But her job doesn't end after securing an event. Ashworth said her days start early when she opens the visitors' center at around 7 a.m. The center, which is mostly run by volunteers, provides tourists information about area attractions, restaurants and retail and also offers brochures from across the state.