Writer: Felipe Rivas
2 min read May 2021 — Optimism, innovation and a vision of long-term success for the Queen City echoed throughout the official Invest: Charlotte 2021 launch conference. With three panels featuring some of Charlotte’s top civic and business leaders, the conference was the culmination of a rigorous research period that resulted in the release of the second annual Invest: Charlotte report, a robust analysis of the region’s main economic sectors.
Published by media platform Capital Analytics, the second report showcases the strength and overall resilience of the local economy through C-level insider insights and key business intelligence. The official launch conference took place on May 12 via Zoom and garnered over 600 registrations.
Capital Analytics Associates’ CEO Abby Melone kicked off the event followed by three robust panel discussions. “All around, there are more signs that things are getting back to a new semblance of normal,” Melone said. “Specifically here in Charlotte, the signs of revival and recovery are evident. Unemployment is trending lower, and the economic outlook for the region is for growth.”
The opening keynote speech by Center City Partners CEO Michael Smith doubled down on the shared optimism for the Charlotte region. More than $3 billion in investments are marked for Charlotte Center City, Smith highlighted as he urged people to visit the dynamic business district. “We are powering up,” Smith said. “We find ourselves in a dramatic period of transition. We are seeing an awakening,” he said. “We have to prepare for a new decade,” he added, highlighting the All In Charlotte 2040 plan. Three themes overlay the plan: a commitment to equity, maturation of Center City as a mosaic of unique neighborhoods, and key investments in transportation infrastructure, all slated to continue to attract business growth well after COVID-19 is contained.
The first panel, “Financial future: What’s next for one of the nation’s preeminent banking hubs?,” explored the current state and potential future of the region’s robust banking sector. Moderated by Staci Rosche, partner with McGuireWoods, the panel featured JPMorgan Chase Head of Commercial Banking for the Carolinas Region Brent Gore, Fifth Third Bank Mid-Atlantic President Lee Fite, and Self-Help Credit Union Charlotte Executive Claudie Johnson. The leaders discussed cybersecurity, technology and digitization, local community efforts and even cryptocurrencies. “Acceleration in digitization of processes has been a major silver lining during the pandemic,” Gore said.
Moderated by Truliant Federal Credit Union’s Judy Wishnek, the second panel, “How pandemic-born innovation is reshaping and influencing real estate development,” featured DPR Construction Business Unit Leader Zach Pannier, Brasfield & Gorrie Regional President Michael Byrd and Progressive AE Managing Principal Wes Jones. The leaders spoke at length about the pandemic-related challenges to the construction industry, what this means for future developments, and innovations such as the further adoption of prefab and modular construction.
Moderated by Charlotte Regional Business Alliance CEO Janet LaBar, the third panel, “Innovative ideas helping to position the Queen City for growth in a recovering economy,” featured Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray, Charlotte Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Director Tracy Dodson, Central Region EY Private Leader and Charlotte Managing Partner Malcomb Coley and Signature Consultants Executive Vice President Geoff Gray. “We fared through this pandemic very well. Looking back at last year, we announced over 4,400 jobs,” Dodson said. “We put over $57 million of CARES funding back into small businesses. We are seeing a lot of this momentum continue and have not really slowed down,” she said.
Click here to watch the Invest:Charlotte 2021 Launch Conference in its entirety.
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