50, President & CEO, Charlotte Center City Partners
UNC Chapel Hill, B.S.
Northwestern University, MBA
In downtown Charlotte, cranes reign: In its 2018 annual report, the center-city booster group reported 5.1 million square feet of office space, 8,363 housing units and 2,276 hotel rooms planned or under construction. A spate of announcements near the end of the year, including new towers planned by Duke Energy and Lincoln Harris, and emerging development along the 9.3-mile light-rail extension will accelerate the growth. At the helm of the downtown organization is Smith, who has held the position since 2005 and received $482,000 in compensation in 2016, the group’s most recent filing shows. With this month’s NBA All-Star Weekend and the Republican National Convention in 2020, Smith and his organization will be busier than ever.
What is North Carolina’s key challenge?
How we maintain the values and essence that have drawn us all to this state while growing exponentially. This is a first-world problem, but it will require intentionality. These are the challenges we normally face at the city-planning level, but we now must consider them at a statewide level as they present themselves in our approach to public education, inclusive economic development, affordable housing, congestion and natural-resource conservation.
What is something people don’t know about you?
Live music shows recharge my soul. I am constantly seeking out live music in a variety of settings — from breweries to intimate music halls to outdoor venues.
Key 2018 accomplishment?
This decade will be center city’s most prolific for residential, office and hotel construction. We will deliver more housing than the previous three decades combined and will increase our office supply by 42% and our hotel-room inventory by 73%.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I am able to bring my faith and belief system to work every day. This is mission-based work for me. It is a calling. I have an amazing board — some of the best minds in our city — and a talented staff that is the best in their respective fields. Because we are in the city-building business, everybody brings their A-game to our work.