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Q and A with Hunter Widener

by Mark Peres

September 3,2004

Tell us about The City Committee.

The City Committee is an inclusive, diverse, action-based group of emerging leaders that is working collaboratively with Charlotte’s business executives, community leaders and elected officials to position Charlotte as the best place to live and work in America. The Committee was founded in October 2002 as a direct result of an inter-city visit to Indianapolis by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. We recognized that senior leadership in Charlotte is becoming overburdened. We need to identify, develop, engage and support some “bench strength” to support our current leaders. As Charlotte evolves, we must develop more civic and business leaders. One of the Committee’s greatest accomplishments to date is having built a pool of emerging leaders with a great capacity to serve. We currently have 68 members.

What is the “Cool Community” initiative?

It is an initiative to measure and improve our “cool” factor as a region in order to attract and retain a talented and knowledgeable workforce and citizenry. Our community is experiencing rapid change and demographic shifts in the workplace. Over the next few years, we will be faced with the exiting of the baby boomers from the workforce, increased competition for young, creative talent, and an influx of minority talent that will cause a marked change in the complexion and culture of the Greater Charlotte region. Understanding and embracing these changes is critical for us to remain competitive as we position the region for the future.

How will you measure success?

Success will be measured by (1) an improved perception among Greater Charlotte’s young professionals of the region’s “coolness”; (2) an increase in the number of local, regional and national media outlets that put “Greater Charlotte” and “cool” or “hip” in the same article or story; (3) Greater Charlotte’s employers self report their increased ability to attract and retain talent; (4) a net in-flow of Generation X’ers to Greater Charlotte in the next county labor market census; and (5) a self-reported “boost” or greater ROI in region-wide collaboration in attracting and retaining talent.

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