Chamber Announces 2017 Economic Growth Award Winners
Published Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Chamber Announces 2017 Economic Growth Award Winners

The Charlotte Chamber is excited to announce the winners of this year’s Economic Growth Awards. The annual event celebrates individuals and organizations that have played a significant role in the economic growth of the Charlotte region. The awards ceremony will be held Oct. 16 at the Mint Museum Uptown. Sonja Gantt, executive director of the CMS Foundation, will emcee the black tie optional event. This year’s recipients are: 

New Corporate Citizen of the Year: Albemarle Corporation
Headquartered in Charlotte, Albemarle Corporation (NYSE: ALB) is a global specialty chemicals company with leading positions in lithium, bromine, refining catalysts and applied surface treatments. Albemarle powers the potential of companies in many of the world’s largest and most critical industries, from energy and communications to transportation and electronics. In August, Albemarle announced the addition of 200 jobs at its two Charlotte-region locations, including 30 jobs at its SouthPark-area headquarters. 

Entrepreneurial Champion of the Year: LendingTree 
Leading online loan marketplace, LendingTree was founded in 1996 by passionate entrepreneur Doug Lebda. Two years later, launched nationally and hasn’t stopped growing since. This past November, the company announced the expansion of its Charlotte headquarters which will create 314 jobs over five years doubling its size while investing nearly $47 million in the SouthPark community. LendingTree’s revenue jumped 62 percent in the first half of 2017 compared to the previous year and its shares have soared 120 percent to $223. LendingTree ranks No. 3 on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies.

International Corporate Citizen of the Year: Burkert Fluid Control Systems 
Burkert Fluid Control Systems is one of the world's leading manufacturers of measuring, control and regulating systems for fluids and gases. Their products are used in a wide range of industries and applications – ranging from breweries and labs to medical, bio-engineering and aerospace technology.

With its global headquarters in southern Germany, Burkert boasts a sales network in 36 countries and more than 2,500 employees worldwide. Some 100 people are employed its 120,000-square-foot  advanced manufacturing facility in Huntersville. Burkert is a great economic development partner to the Charlotte Chamber, often providing tours and feedback to international companies considering relocating to the Charlotte region.

Regional Legislator of the YearRepresentative Jason Saine
Representative Jason Saine is a thought leader in the North Carolina General Assembly on policy that directly impacts economic growth.  As the Senior Co-Chairman of the Finance Committee in the North Carolina House, Representative Saine has been a strong advocate for the Charlotte region.  He understands the urban-rural divide and has been at the forefront of collaborating, developing and pushing public policy that helps bridge those gaps.

Talent Champion of the YearCarolinas HealthCare System
As the largest employer in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the broader region, Carolinas HealthCare System employs more than 35,000 people in the Charlotte region and more than 65,000 people throughout the Carolinas. Through its merger with UNC Health Care, it will have a combined employee base of more than 90,000. But CHS is more than just an employer. It is a developer of talent and an enabler of economic opportunity. The system has a robust talent management and learning development strategy framework, which cultivates both patient-serving and administrative staff. It is a national leader in diversity and inclusion and serves as a model for attracting, developing and retaining diverse talent for the health care industry and across business sectors. 

Economic Opportunity Champion of the Year: AvidXchange 
Charlotte-based financial technology firm, AvidXchange announced plans in June to create 200 jobs in 2017 and more than 600 new jobs in Mecklenburg County by the end of next year. The company currently employs close to 1,000 people at its North Charlotte campus. Founded in 2000, AvidXchange has experienced skyrocketing growth appearing five times on the Inc. 5000 list and was recently named among the Top 10 largest fintech companies in the U.S. This summer, the chamber announced an entrepreneur in residence partnership with AvidXchange. 

Economic Growth Champion of the Year: Fred Whitfield
Hornets President Fred Whitfield played a critical role in brokering a deal on House Bill 2, spending the better part of a year meeting with leaders on all sides of the issue. At stake (among other things) was Charlotte’s opportunity to host the NBA All-Star Game as well as the ability to book other big name attractions to the Spectrum Center. Whitfield’s perseverance paid off in May when the NBA announced Charlotte would host the 2019 All-Star Game. The economic impact to the Charlotte-region is expected to be $100 million.



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