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N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association, the leading association for North Carolina's $18.8 billion hospitality industry, has named Sen. Tom Apodaca as its Hospitality Champion of the Year.
Apodaca, a six-term Republican from Hendersonville, was honored for his commitment to the industry during the association's Stars of the Industry award ceremony on Feb. 3 at the Sheraton Imperial Hotel & Convention Center in Durham.
The restaurant and lodging industry, which employs 11 percent of the state's workforce, thanked Apodaca for his support of bills that helped preserve a summer labor force and blocked "unreasonable occupancy tax bills." It noted his leadership role in shepherding through legislation that Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. wanted before it would commit to building its East Coast brewery in Mills River.
"Sen. Tom Apodaca has been a true friend to North Carolina's vitally important hospitality industry," 2013 NCRLA Chair Brad Hurley, of Raleigh's 42nd Street Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill, said in a news release.
"For years, he has worked to pass and then protect the school calendar legislation, which preserves the summer tourist season that is so important to restaurants and hotels throughout North Carolina, particularly in our mountain and coastal regions," Hurley said. "He has been at the forefront of fighting meals tax legislation and unreasonable occupancy tax bills, and I know he is proud of the employment opportunities that have come with the opening of new breweries and distilleries in his home district. Our hospitality businesses are grateful for his continued support."