Friday, May 24, 2024

Change coming in CLT-area business recruitment

The relationship between the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte USA regional partnership group has always been tricky. The chamber has a budget that is about four times larger, more buzz, and a clearer identity, while the partnership has the tougher challenge of balancing the conflicting demands for 16 counties in two states. Those counties include rural ones with relatively little in common with Mecklenburg. And industry recruiters in North and South Carolina compete as much as they cooperate.

After years of study, the groups plan to merge with a new CEO and brand name by January, as reported first by the Charlotte Business Journal. Whether Chamber President Bob Morgan lands the job will show if big local employers are satisfied with the area’s recruitment efforts, or want fresh eyes. Morgan has led the chamber since 2005, expanding the group during Charlotte pre-recession boom, then retrenching after the downturn slammed the area’s banking industry. The chamber employs 35, the Business Journal reported, compared with 59 in 2014, according to the group’s tax filing.

A challenge for the merged group will be integrating Charlotte’s desire to be a top-tier headquarters city with the differing ambitions of suburban and rural counties.  While several of the 10 transition committee members have regional roles, most are perceived as Charlotte-oriented leaders. That may not satisfy business and political leaders outside of Mecklenburg. Nor would an increased role for Charlotte political leaders.

A group of site-selection experts panned Charlotte last month over a variety of issues that are old news here:

  • Charlotte doesn’t match the higher-ed resources of the Triangle or Austin, Texas.
  • Its leadership doesn’t get along well with the rest of North Carolina.
  • Top leaders aren’t well-known.

True, but it’s all fixable. The Charlotte metro area has ranked among the fastest growing in the nation over the last two decades. No time for resting on laurels, but there’s also little need for panic.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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