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August 2006
Become An Ambassador For CharlotteUSA!
By John Paul Galles

Living here, we all know that the Charlotte region is an attractive place to live and conduct business. We are thrilled with its growth and its opportunity. But not everyone has learned about our region. Yes, we have an abundance of agencies and organizations that stand ready and prepared to assist any business seeking to relocate or expand its business into the Charlotte region, but they cannot do the job alone.

Our 16-county region has been dramatically transformed with the economic restructuring of the tobacco, furniture and textile industries. Large numbers of workers at Cannon, Continental Tire and Springs Industries have been laid off from good-paying jobs after years of continuous employment. As a result, we have an abundant workforce looking for new jobs.

Where will new jobs come from? Major sources are new businesses that relocate or expand into this region. It is essential that we use every resource we can focus on attracting business relocations and expansions into this region.

Business moves are strategically calculated. Usually, these moves are considered and explored in private, confidential meetings without any commitments until the very end of the process when the deal is closed. Every business has its own set of criteria when making choices about its location(s). At the same time, businesses are made up of people want to feel good about where they live and work. Their interaction with local people is immensely valuable.

Before choosing Charlotte for its southeastern financial services center, TIAA-CREF looked hard at Tampa and many other communities. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products looked seriously at Pittsburgh and other regions before choosing Charlotte. Johnson & Wales was very close to moving to the Norfolk area before choosing Charlotte. Each had their own criteria, but their interaction with local leaders also had a huge impact on their process.

State competition is stiff for companies looking to locate major plants and operations. Japanese automaker Honda recently chose Greensburg, Indiana, for its newest car assembly plant that is expected to hire over 1,500 workers. Google decided that Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a good place for a new facility that will add 200 workers per year for the next five years. North Carolina won a new Dell facility to the Winston-Salem area. Each of these site selections included a package of incentives from the states that attracted them. While incentives can make or break a location decision, good leadership and personal involvement make a huge difference.

You don’t have to be an economic developer to invite businesses into this region. Each and every businessperson traveling to a business meeting or trade show or association meeting can be a great ambassador on behalf of this region. You only need to ask. You won’t know someone’s thoughts about relocating or expanding into the Charlotte region if you don’t ask! Be bold! Make it your personal objective to invite business owners, managers and executives to move or expand their businesses into this region.

To assist you as an ambassador for this region, Greater Charlotte Biz has partnered with the Charlotte Regional Partnership to publish its third annual economic development guide that tells executives all about the Charlotte marketplace. Entitled “Choose CharlotteUSA,” the 2006 issue has been mailed to owners, managers and executives at nearly every business location in the 16 counties that make up the Charlotte region. It is chock full of facts and figures that demonstrate why this region is a great place to live and do business. It also has critical contact information for those economic developers that can help people answer the tougher questions about relocation and expansion.

We are happy to shout about the attributes of this region and hope you are too. Spread the word…New and expanding businesses are welcome in CharlotteUSA!
John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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