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Attacks on Charlotte’s brand – not legislature – concern me

From Ronnie Bryant, in response to news articles and opinion pieces following his meeting with the Observer editorial board on Aug. 8:

I’m a Charlotte USA booster, and I make no apologies for that. It’s my job. As president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, I market our 16-county region and we firmly believe it is an outstanding place to live, work and visit.

When national publications cherry pick recent legislative activity and write articles that attempt to cast doubts on North Carolina’s business climate, I become concerned. My concerns do not lie with the North Carolina General Assembly, the privatization of the state’s economic development efforts or the elimination of funding for the seven regional partnerships. I have repeatedly expressed both publicly and privately my support for the proposed changes for the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and eagerly await the opportunity to work cooperatively with Commerce’s new public-private staff. I’ve also led the effort since 2008 to increase private investment in the Charlotte Regional Partnership so that we can eventually eliminate any reliance on state funds.

Rather, I’m concerned to see those unjustified attacks on our brand. We have worked hard for over two decades to build that brand, a brand rooted in a pro-business climate, outstanding accessibility and a skilled workforce. Over the past two years, the Partnership has teamed with the Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Center City Partners and the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority to execute an extensive national and international media relations campaign designed to produce positive stories about our region. Favorable reports have appeared in the New York Times, Ta Kung Pao Daily and multiple media outlets in between. Their audiences have discovered the growing strength of our energy and aerospace industries, our resilience, our respected workforce training programs and talented employees, our vibrant urban core, our robust transportation network and many other reasons that make Charlotte USA a location of choice for businesses and their employees.

What is not getting adequate attention are the positive changes that the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory have made regarding corporate and personal tax reform, as well as their strong commitment to funding competitive economic development incentive programs. It’s imperative that we continue to proactively communicate these and other attributes.

The Charlotte Regional Partnership and the region’s other economic development organizations expend significant resources to position Charlotte USA as an ideal place for business locations, expansions and capital investment, and to ensure that we have a strong pipeline of future opportunities. When companies see for themselves what Charlotte USA offers, they come and they thrive, producing thousands of jobs.

The reasons that make Charlotte USA a highly desirable location for business and industry haven’t changed. The Charlotte region continues to be a sought-after choice for new businesses and capital investment. The Charlotte Regional Partnership is committed to providing our clients with factual information designed to maximize our competitiveness nationally and internationally. We will continue to work with the state and our public and private partners for the good of our clients and our region. Charlotte USA and our 2.7 million hard-working citizens deserve no less.

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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