2 min read January 2022 — Charlotte has seen incredible growth during the last year of the pandemic. According to Janet LaBar, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, her team has supported more than 2,700 jobs and investments totaling about $2.9 billion from a variety of projects. “As of November 2021, our team had generated over twice as many projects for 2021, with 82 new projects in our pipeline. We are on track to return to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, when we finished that year with 86 projects,” LaBar told Invest:.
What are the main takeaways for the CLT Alliance during this unprecedented period?
The last year-and-a-half has brought never-before-seen challenges to our communities, but I think the CLT Alliance has helped us connect more to our purpose as an organization and to become clearer in our vision. We have become nimbler, more flexible and better in how we reach and engage our investors. On top of that, we have strengthened the core of our organization and we’ve shifted to a more sustainable revenue model.
When it comes to recruiting new companies, we are more focused on marketing the region to reach those companies that are considering expansion and to reach decision-makers to consider our region to relocate or grow their business. From the business recruitment standpoint, we never stopped. In terms of our business advocacy, we just continue to work to push the policies that are good for companies that are already here. We believe in policies that will continue to make the Carolinas thrive.
This year, we have seen unprecedented growth. As of November 2021, our team generated leads on over twice as many projects for 2021, with 82 new projects in our pipeline. We are on track to return to pre-pandemic 2019 levels, when we finished that year with 86 projects.
Our team has supported more than 2,700 jobs from projects that landed here in the region, attracting investment in the region of about $2.9 billion for this year.
What infrastructure needs and challenges does the region face to support sustainable growth?
We need to invest in transportation infrastructure as we are seeing 120 new people here per day. We have a large role in making sure that this community has an investment in transportation and transit mobility. I also see the need for continued investment in innovative technology and things like broadband that will enable people and businesses to have some certainty when they are connecting.
We commissioned an economic impact study, and it showed that if we don’t invest in transportation, we will see a potential loss of 126,000 jobs and $10 billion in lost wages, essentially giving up $28 billion in economic output and $3 billion in tax revenues by the year 2050.
What do you see as the major challenge now for the business community?
The labor shortage is a major challenge for our business community. We are about 30,000 employees short and that is a significant number. We need to figure out how we can grow and develop talent in the Charlotte Region.
What is the CLT Alliance’s initiative to promote diversity and inclusion?
The initiative we champion is the Charlotte Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative, a public-private partnership dedicated to a more equitable Charlotte. The initiative focuses on the development of six corridors of opportunity that the city of Charlotte has identified that have been historically under-invested. We are also focused on bridging the digital divide to make sure that young people and their families have access to the technology hardware, software, and skills that facilitate access to education and careers.
As of today, the Charlotte community has committed $196 million to these efforts and Wells Fargo announced another $20 million to facilitate growth among small businesses, and diverse businesses specifically, in these corridors of opportunity. It is an unparalleled commitment of this business community to advance racial equity.
What is your outlook for the CLT Alliance and the local business sectors for the next two to three years?
I certainly have a bright outlook. We all know the COVID-19 pandemic is going to continue to linger. Despite that, we believe that the market activity that we’re seeing reflects optimism. We had a strong 2021 and we continue to be very bullish in the Charlotte Region. We look forward to working on initiatives to accelerate the economy, recruiting companies and continuing to move forward with racial equity initiatives. The growth rate here is incredible; we just need to make sure we are being smart and create a system that is inclusive, accessible, efficient and smart.
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