Central Piedmont Community College’s initiative to connect the Charlotte region with global commerce got a boost Tuesday, when JPMorgan Chase announced a $110,000 grant to support the program.
CPCC plans to hire a part-time staff member to help formalize the work of the Charlotte Regional Collaborative for a Global Economy, a consortium of 14 community colleges, and the Global Vision Leaders Group, a group of about 150 local leaders who meet quarterly to come up with economic development strategies.
“It will fund research to help develop the blueprint for the future of the regional global initiative,” said CPCC President Tony Zeiss. The grant will also fund a regional workforce development conference on Nov. 12 and conferences in the spring.
“Our region can realize its full global competitiveness when we work jointly to accelerate access to talent and resources that will help attract more companies and trade opportunities to the region,” said Craig May, JPMorgan Chase’s market leader for the Carolinas.
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The grant was announced Tuesday at the Global Vision Leaders Group’s meeting in Belmont. Economic developers at the meeting said Charlotte and the surrounding counties have made strides to grow the region’s economy and need to build on the groundwork that’s been laid.
Officials pointed – as they often do – to Charlotte Douglas International Airport as the region’s most important economic asset. Ronnie Bryant, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, said the region’s population growth is a major asset as well. He worked in St. Louis and Pittsburgh before coming to Charlotte.
“We are an in-migration community,” he said. “Working in a market that’s actually growing as opposed to one that’s downsizing a truly a different competitive position.”
The Charlotte airport’s strong connections to western Europe are a big boost for business, with German manufacturing firms located throughout the region as well as companies such as Sweden-based Electrolux. But Charlotte doesn’t have a non-stop flight to Asia, an item that’s high on economic developers’ wish lists.
“What I would like to see under my Christmas tree is a direct flight to Asia,” Bryant said.