Chamber Blog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009
A good week for Chamber's transportation agenda

The hoopin’ and hollerin’ you hear at the Chamber lately is thanks to the wins in transportation funding that have been announced lately. Last week’s announcement by Governor Beverly Perdue was the culmination of work over the last year to expedite the completion of I-485. Thank you, Governor Perdue, for listening to the Charlotte community and realizing that this is our top transportation priority. If you have a moment, drop the Governor a line and add your thanks. Send it to:

Honorable Beverly E. Perdue
Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

We also heard last week that Congress passed it’s omnibus spending bill that included $20 million for light rail to the University, $380,000 for the Garden Parkway toll project in Gaston County and $237,500 for the Monroe Connector toll project in Union County. The Charlotte Chamber has long advocated for our transit system and for the two toll projects in our region.

It’s been a good week for the Chamber’s transportation agenda and I’ll likely be doing cartwheels down the hall!

Posted by: Charlotte Chamber @ 10:01:17 am  Comments (0)
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
10 Ways to Maximize Your Chamber Membership

10 Ways to Maximize Your Chamber Membership

We unveiled a great new format for our Member Orientation at the Charlotte Chamber on February 4th by combining it with an Open House. We also started the event at 4:00 in the afternoon so that folks could finish their day with us.

We organized the event around the “10 Ways to Maximize Your Chamber Membership” with staff and volunteers manning 10 different stations. Colored tape on the floors led guests from tables in the Belk Action Center to meeting rooms all over the Chamber where they could talk with staff and volunteers who could give them the scoop on getting involved.

We had standing room only with 148 members representing 123 different companies and 13 prospective members in attendance.

We also had five Survive and Thrive partners participate to share ways people could grow their businesses:
City of Charlotte
SCORE
Business Journal
SBTDC
Office Depot


Sponsors provided excellent refreshments, including Green Mountain Coffee doing specialized coffee drinks, Le Bleu providing bottled water and Lance providing snacks.

One thing we learned, though, is that the police are serious about towing cars off Tryon Street at 4 p.m., so if you plan to join us in the future take note! Fortunately we were able to get everyone’s cars moved before that happened this time.

These orientations will be held once a quarter. The remaining sessions for 2009 include May 6th, August 5th and November 4th from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. Whether you’re a brand new member or someone who wants to make the most of their Chamber membership, the member orientation is for you. Mark your calendar now and prepare to register online!

Posted by: Charlotte Chamber @ 11:53:04 am  Comments (0)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Charlotte's Positive Economic Indicators

Economic Development's Tony Crumbley shares his thoughts on Charlotte's economy

It seems all we hear today is how bad the economy is in Charlotte. The stock market is declining, houses are being foreclosed and banks are laying off workers. Clearly the vast majority of the community is experiencing the “half empty glass” syndrome.

We are currently placing the blame of the economic slowdown on the lending institutions and the real estate community, when, in fact, the real culprit is the lack of consumer confidence driven by daily negative media. It’s time someone puts in perspective just how “bad” our economy really is.

Money magazine recently ran a chart that gives a good perspective of this. The chart compared 1932 with 2008.

1932 2008
-13.0% Gross Domestic Product 1.6%
23.6 Unemployment Rate 6.1
-9.9 Inflation Rate 4.2
-8.9 Consumer Spending .5

As you see, the nation as a whole has a long way to go to reach the bread lines of the 1930’s. The reason it has taken so long for the feds to call the recession is because the American worker is still producing positive growth.

We, here in Charlotte, are considerably better off than the rest of the nation. There are few places in the world one could be today and have such a positive quality of life and economic future as Charlotte.

There are many positive economic indicators reflecting the stronger local economy as compared to the nation. Residential housing across the nation has seen a decline in sales price of nearly 17% over the past year. Only recently has Charlotte seen any decline, which totals less than 3%. Dallas is the only other metro city that can make that claim. Many cities have seen declines in the 30% range.

The next time you are driving past the downtown skyline, take a look at all the construction cranes you see. Few, if any, cities in the nation have that many. Charlotte will have a record year in 2008 for value of new non-residential construction. We are 30% ahead of 2007 and expect to end the year at $2.8 billion in new construction. One of the reasons for this success is because construction costs are 20% less in Charlotte.

In general, the living cost in Charlotte is 7% less than the national average. This is one of the reasons nearly 40,000 new people a year are moving to Mecklenburg County. All we hear on the news is the increase in unemployment. The fact is there are more people employed in Charlotte today than were employed a year ago. Charlotte is still creating jobs and will continue to do so. We saw 12,165 new jobs in Charlotte in 2008. New companies looking at opening a new operation in Charlotte continue to keep the Chamber’s economic developers busy. Each week on average ten new companies seek information about the city and the Chamber staff hosts four visits by companies for a closer look.

In spite of all the banking turmoil, Charlotte continues to prosper from the banking community. In the beginning of 2008, Charlotte was the #2 banking center in the nation, with $2.2 trillion in assets behind only New York City. Today, we have $3.3 trillion in assets and are still the second largest. San Francisco is third with just over $1 trillion. When all the dust settles there will be more people working in finance in Charlotte than ever before.

Lastly, let’s look at our often beaten up airport for its seemingly high ticket prices and full parking lot. Those full lots should tell you something and all that red dirt along I-485 should reinforce your conclusion. 2008 will be a record year for passenger enplanements at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. The airport is on track to surpass more than 17 million passenger enplanements, an increase of 11% from 2007.

Why aren’t we reading and hearing about these positive indicators? The list of indicators is out there and continues to grow. When will this community understand that the “glass is half full” and consumer confidence return?

Posted by: Charlotte Chamber @ 10:24:33 am  Comments (0)
Monday, January 26, 2009
Member Orientation: Upgrade

The Chamber's upgraded your Member Orientation!

I’ve started a Blog as a means of communicating with chapter leaders about what the staff is thinking. Everyone is feeling the pressure to do more networking and more marketing, but also to stretch their dollars. We’re responding by holding a member orientation/open house on February 4th from 4:00 – 5:30 here at the Chamber, 330 S. Tryon St. It’s aimed at helping people figure out where they should invest their time, whether it’s at a chapter meeting, on a public policy committee or with a group like Engage or BPN (Black Professionals Network). Or maybe it’s using research data to improve marketing.

Notice that the word “new” isn’t in front of the words, “member orientation.” While we welcome new folks, we also welcome our existing members who want to make the most of their investment.

You can register online at www.charlottechamer.com/events. We’ll be doing these quarterly on the first Wednesday of the second month (Feb 4, May 6, Aug 5 and Nov 4).

By the way, when you visit the Chamber’s offices we encourage you to consider riding the Lynx blue line. You’d get off at the Third Street Station. It’s a short walk from there.

Posted by: Chamber Chapters @ 1:53:40 pm  Comments (0)
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
What's new with the Chapters!

Chapter executive director Kit Cramer’s blog on the latest with the Chapters

I’ve started a Blog as a means of communicating with chapter leaders about what the staff is thinking as we develop programming for the chapters. I hope it will eventually show how our work ties to the efforts of the chamber overall.

The staff is working to develop a comprehensive calendar that will give members a picture of all the events for the year. We heard you when you said that every-other-month meetings weren’t enough! So now there are events every month at one of three times: breakfast, lunch or after hours.

All three are at standard times (breakfasts – 7:30 – 9 a.m.; lunches 11:30 – 1 p.m.; chapter after hours from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.) The breakfasts and lunches have the same fees ($20 for members who make a reservation, $25 at the door and $45 for non-members). Chapter After Hours are free. And the day of the month on which they occur is standard for each chapter, i.e. third Tuesday for the East Chapter, unless noted otherwise.

While it will take little getting used to, we think it will offer more opportunity for people who couldn’t make the “third Thursday of the month,” etc. You can always count on the Member Events calendar to keep you straight with the details and a link to online registration.

We’re working on mapping out “meaty” topics for the chapters according to the shape the volunteer leadership thinks it should take. We’re trying hard not to duplicate subjects. All chapter meetings are open to all members and we’d love to see cross-pollination occur!

You can go to the Member Value homepage at www.charlottechamber.com to download the draft of the topics for the first quarter. If what you see sparks ideas for other topics, please send me them to me at kcramer@charlottechamber.com.

This is the first of many. If there are things you’d like to hear about, please let me know. Thanks.

Posted by: Charlotte Chamber @ 11:04:12 am  Comments (0)
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