Charlotte regional economic group hires CEO to lead newly formed agency

Following a four-month search, Charlotte’s regional economic development organization has named a new chief executive.

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance named Janet LaBar as the president and CEO of the organization. LaBar holds a similar position at a regional public-private partnership in Portland, Ore., where she helped develop a five-year plan for economic development of the region. She will start in April.

The organization declined to disclose LaBar’s salary. A spokeswoman for the alliance said LaBar was not available for interviews Monday.

LaBar’s selection follows the merger of the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership, officially completed in January. In October, Ernie Reigel was named interim director of the new organization to oversee the transition until a replacement could be found.

Bob Morgan, who served as the Charlotte Chamber’s longtime CEO, withdrew his name from consideration for the role in December.

The new group is charged with luring businesses to the Charlotte region. It represents Mecklenburg County, 10 nearby North Carolina counties and four in South Carolina.

“We saw her as a person who understands how economic development works,” said Ned Curran, former chairman of the Charlotte Chamber and a member of the executive committee of the new organization’s board of directors. “To us it was natural that she would be able to translate those skill sets for the benefit of the Charlotte region.”

The chamber created the regional partnership in the 1990s, and the group was later spun off. The former partnership was behind Charlotte’s failed proposal for Amazon’s HQ2.

The latest report issued by the newly-merged organization said the Charlotte region created nearly 35,000 net new jobs in 2018, and 118 expansion or relocation projects were announced.

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Danielle Chemtob covers economic growth and development for the Observer. She’s a 2018 graduate of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill and a California transplant.