Chamber Announces 2018 Economic Growth Award Winners
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2018 3:50 pm

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 Sept. 6 at Project 658 located at 3646 Central Avenue. Sonja Gantt, executive director of the CMS Foundation, will act as master of ceremonies at the black tie optional event.

This year’s recipients are:

New Corporate Citizen of the Year: NN, Inc.
NN, Inc. combines advanced engineering and production capabilities with in-depth materials science expertise to design and manufacture high precision components and assemblies for a variety of markets on a global basis. Headquartered in Charlotte, NN has 51 facilities in North America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, South America and China.The company says their decision to locate their headquarters in Charlotte just made sense. A national transportation hub with global accessibility, the Charlotte region aligns closely with NN’s strategy of building a diversified industrial business by being closer to customers and ensuring greater collaboration between business units. Charlotte's enhanced infrastructure, as well as its growing talent pool and robust business climate, offer even greater future benefits for this expanding company focused on technology and innovation. 

Entrepreneurial Champion of the Year: Sunlight Financial
Sunlight Financial is a leading national platform for residential solar and energy storage lending. The company partners with solar and battery installers nationwide to offer homeowners the opportunity to save money on their energy bills. Sunlight’s best in class technology and deep credit expertise simplify and streamline consumer finance, enabling solar companies to quickly provide homeowners with opportunities for economic savings and environmental benefits. Sunlight contributes to economic growth directly, by employing more than 50 teammates in its Charlotte office, and indirectly, by providing financing for residential solar systems, the installation of which employs thousands of people in North Carolina and beyond the state line.

International Corporate Citizen of the Year: Waddell Language Academy
Waddell Language Academy is nationally and internationally recognized for its immersion programs. The K-8 magnet school is part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District. Waddell offers K-5 students the chance to participate in full language immersion in one of four languages: Chinese, French, German or Japanese. From the first days in kindergarten to the day they complete the program in grade 5, student instruction occurs in the target language for the majority of the instructional day. At the middle school level, Waddell students continue to study their second language and are provided the opportunity to begin an accelerated course of study in a third language. Students gain insight into the culture of their language of study as well as learn about the culture of other countries represented at the school. This integration of language and culture produces students who are not only proficient in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in a second language but who also participate in relevant instructional activities that make them globally aware and open to a variety of world experiences.

Expansion Champion of the Year: EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services EY delivers help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. In so doing, EY plays a critical role in building a better working world for its people, clients and communities. EY’s Charlotte practice has more than 1,300 people, including 126 partners, principals, executive directors and directors. With the recent announcement of the EY wavespace™ slated to open next year in Charlotte, the company’s commitment to adding new jobs will build on the momentum of the city’s economic growth. The Charlotte wavespace will be the latest center in a global network that will help clients catch the next wave in technology, achieve radical breakthroughs in digital transformation and navigate the transformative age.

Regional Legislator of the Year: Representative William Brawley
The role of a state legislator means fulfilling many roles, but the most important is to be an advocate for the people who elected you to represent their interests. Introducing and voting for legislation that is in the best interest of your community and how it can help the surrounding region has to be weighed with every decision. As senior finance co-chair in the North Carolina House of Representatives, Representative Brawley is tasked with guiding tax policy through the House. This includes extensive deliberations not only with colleagues in the House of Representatives but facilitating negotiations with the North Carolina Senate. Tax policy is included in the annual budget, so a strong relationship with the budget writers is also imperative to creating tax policy that accurately reflects the priorities of the legislature with regards to spending. Tax policy has a significant impact in the Charlotte region as we seek to attract and retain businesses, particularly with personal and corporate income taxes. The Charlotte Chamber recognizes Representative Brawley for his tireless efforts to keep our tax rates competitive.

Economic Opportunity Champion of the Year: Cognizant & Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont
Cognizant is one of the world’s leading professional services companies, transforming clients’ business, operating and technology models for the digital era. The company’s unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in New Jersey, Cognizant is ranked 195 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world. In May, Cognizant announced a $100 million foundation to help train people for technology jobs across the country. The first grant of $1.5 million will go to Goodwill Industries to help expand Charlotte's Goodwill University which provides free digital literacy and advanced technology training, especially for people who face barriers to economic mobility such as a lack of education or criminal records. 
In addition to providing employment services to more than 12,600 people in the Charlotte region last year, Goodwill’s Opportunity Campus in west Charlotte, provides convenient access to Goodwill resources and services such as health care, banking and financial literacy all under one roof through collaborations with strategic partners.

Economic Growth Champion of the Year: Charlotte Douglas International Airport
Often referred to as the most important economic engine of the Charlotte region, Charlotte Douglas International Airport welcomes nearly 46 million passengers annually. CLT is ranked among the top 10 busiest airports in the world, averaging 1,400 daily aircraft operations. Charlotte Douglas is served by seven major carriers, 15 regional carriers and two foreign flag carriers with nonstop service to 173 destinations, including 34 international locations and three U.S. territories. CLT contributes $16.2 billion yearly to the local region and supports 224,410 jobs that generate an $11.52 billion payroll. Need we say more?

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