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February 2014
On Charlotte Becoming a Global Hub of Commerce…
By John Paul Galles

We are fortunate to have substantial talent and devoted citizens among us here in Charlotte…our own A-Team as it were. Tony Zeiss, Chase Saunders, and Michael Gallis certainly qualify for that honorary title in this community with their ideas and ambitions for the future of the Charlotte region.

     They are providing the leadership—with their research, study and action planning efforts—to stimulate long-term economic growth that repositions Charlotte for the next 30 years. There are many others who have and are contributing to these ideas and objectives. I would be hard-pressed to name them all—but they would include Jerry Orr, Michael Almond, Tony Almeida, Bob Morgan and many more.

      New ideas are always questioned, easily brushed aside, and often criticized from the very outset. Especially when so many businesses here in Charlotte have been struggling to maintain revenues and simply survive the recession, it has been difficult to focus on new ideas for the future of this region. But thankfully some time has passed and opportunities seem like a possibility again, and it behooves us to look forward in a swifter smarter fashion if we are to thrive in the increasingly competitive and seemingly ruthless realm of world commerce.

     The A-Team vision for the Charlotte region’s future is to become a global hub of commerce, a great “inland port” leveraging its financial, energy, health care, educational, entrepreneurial, manufacturing and logistical resources to world prominence, creating greater regional prosperity with more jobs. They began their efforts nearly two years ago. The springboard for the current effort being put forth are built upon those set forth originally in Advantage Carolinas initiative, put forth by another A-Team of the 1990s.

     Charlotte’s very existence is because of its intersection of trading paths; today its prominence as a national and international intersection for the corridors of commerce is no less prominent. Charlotte is located at a pivotal global intersection: equidistant to Canada and Mexico, equidistant to the East and Midwest, and, with the Panama Canal expansion, equidistant as an inland port for distribution of goods from the rest of the world.Here, you can create, import, manufacture, export and deliver just-in-time anything, anywhere. And you can do it more economically and with a better margin of profit than anywhere else. Charlotte offers fertile soil in which businesses can grow and prosper. Charlotte has a great track record in attracting international businesses and talent, and is known as a business-friendly city.

     The Charlotte region has rich assets including water, energy, air quality, education, finance, health care, roads, an airport second to none and a skilled labor force.

     Our economic pillars today include being the #1 energy hub in the United States, being the #2 financial center in the U.S., and having #3 world-class health care facilities and services, and wonderful higher education resources. As the A-Team works to gain support for a global economic vision for Charlotte, they target new economic foundations including entrepreneurialism, advanced manufacturing, improved infrastructure, transportation and logistics, and improved higher education and workforce development.

     To achieve that global vision, the A-team is encouraging regional, private and public leaders to collaborate and create opportunities to broaden our economic base to take Charlotte to the international stage. Their plan includes objectives to:

     • Create things” better than our competitors by adopting entrepreneurialism and innovation as prominent and core values of the region and provide support for innovation and new business creators.

    • Make things” better than our competitors by growing our advanced manufacturing base and providing these businesses with world-class employees through exemplary education and training success.

    • “Move things” better than our competitors through the new intermodal centers at and around the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. From Charlotte, we can move people and goods faster, cheaper and more efficiently through the consolidation of train, truck, air and ship transportation. In the process, we will become a natural leader in logistics and supply-chain management.

     The A-Team is encouraging business leaders to take part in the Global Vision. They recommend that you…

Consider how your organization or industry association can benefit from the global vision outlined in this economic plan or strategy.

     • Add a global vision to your organization’s strategic plan.

     • Take advantage of the opportunities that will result from the intermodal hub at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

     • Get involved with a K-12 or college’s workforce development partnership with industry.

     The next big event to learn more and to get involved in this Global Vision initiative is the Global  Competitiveness Summit III on March 12th, 2014 to be held at the Harris Conference Center.

     As a major promoter for the A-Team, I encourage you to attend and to participate in building the future of the Charlotte region so it will truly become the global hub for international trade that it can be. Let’s all get behind the A-Team and work for a dynamic future.

     “I love it when a plan comes together,” as was Hannibal’s catch-phrase.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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