Development

Charlotte Chamber, Charlotte Regional Partnership to collaborate more

jkomer@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership, two of the main organizations that lure businesses to the region, are set to start collaborating more closely and could start jointly raising funds for the first time.

The partnership’s board of directors voted Thursday to approve a memorandum of understanding between the two groups. Here’s some information about what’s changing.

What’s changing: Following a study last month that recommended more collaboration, the Chamber and the partnership are getting together to make that a reality.

“We’ve always collaborated on the tactical level,” said partnership CEO Ronnie Bryant. “This gives us an opportunity to be more strategic in the way we collaborate and identify opportunities to maximize the return on investment.” The two groups expect to have all the details worked out a new strategic plan, including a possible joint fund-raising campaign.

Under the proposed memorandum, the organizations would meet monthly to review active business recruiting projects, coordinate their marketing plans and activities, share confidential project lists and, on a more basic level, acknowledge each others’ roles and invite each other to economic development announcements.

Why it matters: Business recruiting efforts can play a big role in real estate development. Recent examples include MetLife’s creation of a Ballantyne hub – which filled almost two entire spec buildings in the office park – and Dimensional Fund Advisors’ recent decision to create a Charlotte hub. DFA is planning to build a $105 million office building.

If the Chamber and partnership, which represents 16 counties including Mecklenburg, work together more effectively, we could see more businesses lured to Charlotte, boosting the commercial real estate market.

What happens next: The two groups are set to finalize their joint strategic plan by January. “Once the strategic plan is in place, that will give us an opportunity to really identify assignment areas, if you will,” said Bryant.

How much of a difference will the public see? Bryant said that though this will be a big change for the Chamber and the partnership, the general public probably won’t notice a lot.

“From the outside looking in, I don’t think you'll see a significant shift,” said Bryant. “Internally, I think there will be some differences as a result of the way we work together and utilize each others’ resources, and in some cases possibly combining resources. That will be new for us.”

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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