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Q and A with Ronnie Bryant

by Mark Peres

December 4,2005

What is the role and function of the Charlotte Regional Partnership?

The role of the CRP is to market the Charlotte region to decision makers and influencers around the world. We support our public and private partners in their efforts to recruit new business and talent to the sixteen counties that make up our region. We do it by facilitating and protecting a regional brand, by identifying and helping address challenges to economic development, and by facilitating cooperation between and among our partners.

Given that there are many other public and private entities that market the region, why is CRP relevant?

CRP is the only organization that brings together private and public interests across 16 counties in North Carolina and South Carolina to position the region. We are a non-profit organization dedicated solely to the growth and vitality of Charlotte USA. We help our partners leverage a variety of tools a forum for our partners to address potential conflicts and help break down barriers that may arise from municipal and geographic boundaries. In that respect, CRP has a unique role to play.

How do you see CRP’s relationship with its partners evolving under your leadership?

Our public and private investors are critical to our success. Half of our revenue comes from public sources, and half from private sources. Our partners include large and small corporations, professional firms and media groups, the sixteen counties we represent and the North Carolina and South Carolina departments of commerce. Our Board of Directors represents an extensive array of stakeholders, including top executives representing the full diversity of business and industry within the Charlotte region, highly respected public officials, and leadership from our various colleges, universities and technical institutions. My job is to keep our partners fully engaged in making Charlotte USA globally competitive.

What do you perceive as the strengths of the region?

Charlotte and its surrounding region is full of potential. The best days of the region are ahead of it. Pittsburgh and St. Louis, two cities that I worked for prior to coming to Charlotte, were leading industrial economies 100 years ago. In the new economic age we live in, those two cities are working hard to re-invent themselves and position themselves for this century. Charlotte, on the other hand, is a city very much of this time and the century ahead. It is a city oriented toward the future, and its core strength is how aggressive the community is about improving itself and its standing and perception in the country and the world.

What challenges do you face marketing the region?

The two paramount challenges we face are ‘lack of product’ and workforce development. By ‘lack of product,’ I mean site locations for businesses that need ready-to-go shell buildings with supporting infrastructure. Site location product has to be largely in place to attract businesses. Saying that you will build it after the fact of relocation doesn’t cut it. Companies deciding between different markets rarely take that risk. They make the decision to move based on the existing product that is currently offered. The second challenge is workforce development: Our region needs to continue to address skill and
literacy levels to attract knowledge-based companies.

What initiatives does CRP have underway to address these challenges?

We are putting together a ‘product development forum’ that will happen this spring. It’s the first of its kind that we are aware of. We will facilitate discussion and workshops on developing new site locations to attract business into the region, and talk about the best way to manage associated risks with forward funding and other financing options. We want this region to lead the way in having great product to offer businesses. We are also initiating an effort to deepen and broaden our strategic thinking on regional economic development issues. We want to make sure that our regional planning is current, comprehensive and relevant. We want to bring our stakeholders together to develop creative solutions.

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