Two of Charlotte’s three economic development leaders received raises in their most recent fiscal year, as the city’s economy continues to boom despite challenges from House Bill 2 and demonstrations over a police shooting last fall.
Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan and Charlotte Center City Partners CEO Michael Smith both received 2 percent bumps in pay and are both now making more than $400,000 in annual compensation, according to the Observer’s annual analysis of IRS Form 990 filings by the city’s most prominent non-profit economic development groups.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Regional Partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant, whose group promotes a 16-county area, saw his pay dip 2 percent to a little over $313,000.
In addition to disclosing compensation, the filings made late last year shed light on the financial health of the organizations that help recruit businesses to Charlotte and promote the city as a place in which to work and live.
The latest numbers for the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership are for calendar 2015, while the most recent filing for Charlotte Center City Partners covers the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016. Charlotte Center City Partners files its 990 about five months after the end of its year versus 10 to 11 months for the other groups.
Here’s a closer look at the numbers for the three groups.
Morgan remains the highest paid of the three leaders, making $443,115 in 2015, including a $108,122 bonus, according to its latest 990 filing.
The Chamber, which declined to comment on Morgan’s pay, is Charlotte’s largest business group by revenue, bringing in nearly $9 million, up 4 percent from the previous year. Its revenue exceeded expenses by $310,308, down 3 percent from the previous year.
The group, which has nearly 3,200 members, serves as a public voice for the city’s business community, provides networking opportunities and recruits new businesses to the city.
During 2016, more than 1,000 new or expanding businesses in Mecklenburg County announced the creation of nearly 11,000 jobs, according to the Chamber. That compared with about 9,400 jobs created by 847 firms in 2015.
Still, Chamber officials have bemoaned the economic blows this past year stemming from House Bill 2, the state law limiting protections for LGBT individuals. It has cost the city corporate expansions, sporting events and concerts.
In a statement last week, Morgan said he is encouraged by the early bipartisan support for a compromise bill that would repeal HB2, while generally precluding cities from regulating bathroom access.
Charlotte Center City Partners
Smith’s pay rose to $406,513 in the fiscal year ended in June 2016, including a $110,000 bonus.
The group, which promotes uptown and South End, declined comment on Smith’s pay but says in its 990 filing that his compensation is based on a combination of factors, including an evaluation of performance goals and national compensation studies.
The group’s total revenue rose 13 percent to $4.7 million during the year. It receives most of its funding from a special tax on properties in uptown and South End.
For the year, it posted a deficit of $326,472, an improvement from a deficit of $909,575 in the prior year. The group has previously said that it lost revenue when a review of property values in Mecklenburg County reduced tax collections in the district, but the organization began setting aside reserves a few years ago to cover expenses.
Among its accomplishments in the past year, the group noted in its Form 990 the continuing building boom in South End, development planning for the North Tryon corridor, work to promote the Historic West End and the planning of various uptown events.
Smith was vocal last fall about getting uptown open for business again after the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott led to demonstrations in the center city. He has also been an advocate of bringing a Major League Soccer team to Charlotte, an effort that has won support from Mecklenburg County but not city officials.
Charlotte Regional Partnership
CEO Bryant made $285,447 in salary and $27,918 in benefits in 2015, but he didn’t receive a bonus.
The organization, which recruits companies to the broader Charlotte area, saw its total revenue increase 103 percent in 2015 to $2.1 million. It posted an $81,247 surplus, an improvement from a year-ago deficit of $139,848.
The organization lost funds when the state shifted money away from regional partnerships to the newly created Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina in 2014. But the group was able to make up what it lost in state revenue with private investment, said Bryant, who wouldn’t comment on his reduction in compensation.
“Even with changes by the state, our finances have always been stable,” he said.
One of the organization’s accomplishments in the past year was the completion of a strategic plan that has the group working more closely with the Chamber in recruiting companies, Bryant said. “Of course there are ongoing concerns about the economic impact of HB2 but recent bipartisan negotiations taking place to repeal it are a step in the right direction,” he said.