Charlotte Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan
In early 2016, the Charlotte Region began a process to create the first Regional Economic Development Strategic Plan to define and align shared goals for Charlotte and the broader region. The strategic planning process is a joint initiative between the Charlotte Chamber and Charlotte Regional Partnership with engagement from key partners including funders, regional economic development officials (EDOs), and the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.
The partners selected Avalanche Consulting to facilitate and prepare the strategic plan, which encompasses the 16‐county Charlotte Region. The Strategic Plan identifies critical regional issues and opportunities over the next 3-5 years and provides an action plan to address these issues and maximize opportunities. The project includes validation of the region’s current industry targets and exploration of other potential clusters for future expansion. The plan provides specific recommendations for the region’s business attraction (domestic and international) efforts; retention and expansion actions; and small business and entrepreneurial support initiatives.
Economic Development Vision Statement
This Strategic Plan includes strategies that will propel the region’s economy forward and drive long-term success. It is a complete economic development strategy, a single framework designed to unite the activities of the Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership. It recommends ways to grow jobs through attraction, retention, expansion and entrepreneurship. It also offers priority projects related to workforce development, business climate, and infrastructure that will make the region even more competitive for business.
These goals and strategies represent priorities that emerged through an objective analysis of the Charlotte region’s competitive position as well as those expressed by key regional stakeholders. More than 100 regional leaders were engaged in the strategic planning process and helped to shape this vision.
Simply put, shared success between the Chamber and Partnership means that the region achieves its united economic development vision:
The Charlotte region invests together to enforce its position as a global leader in business, innovation, and talent.
In this vision statement, “global leadership” in “business, innovation, and talent” expresses stakeholders’ desire for the region to be one of the best performing economies in the world. It recognizes that accomplishing this requires having an environment that nurtures business, encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, and attracts talent. All three are critical components of a thriving economy.
“Enforcing” the Charlotte region’s position as a global leader emphasizes the fact that the region is already among the ranks of the best locations for business in the world. Maintaining that position requires constant reinforcement through targeted marketing and business development initiatives, strengthening the Charlotte USA brand, and continually investing in the community’s assets.
Call to Action
While enforcing the region’s position as a leading global economy are pillars of the vision statement, the most important stakeholder desire is captured in the word “together.” All stakeholders the region’s business, academic, community and governmental organizations echo the same sentiment: The Chamber and the Partnership must align and unite activities if the region is to achieve its maximum potential.
Aligning the Chamber and Partnership’s activities began during Phase 1 by developing the Competitive Assessment, which serves as a shared baseline of information for joint decision making. The next step, the Target Cluster Report, advances alignment even further by providing the first-ever unified list of target clusters and niche sectors for the region.
This third step of the planning process, the Strategic Plan, answers the questions of what are the region’s priorities and how together do we go about achieving our vision and goals? The Action Plan at the end of this document answers that question. For each strategy, lead and support responsibilities are assigned to the Chamber, Partnership, and in a few cases, other organizations in the region. Estimated budgets, timelines and metrics are provided, as well as suggestions on an alternative organizational structure based on national best practices.
The final step, executing this Strategic Plan, calls on the Chamber and the Partnership to set aside differences, trust that this Strategic Plan represents the desires of their investors and represents the region’s highest opportunities, and coordinate all economic development activities in one efficient and effective fashion. It also calls for at least doubling economic development funding, raising additional funds to implement this Strategic Plan, and reporting progress in a transparent manner.
Four goals emerged during the planning process that advance the Charlotte Region toward achieving its vision. Each goal is supported by four key strategies.
1.1 Refresh and re-build the Charlotte USA brand.
1.2 Invest in more sophisticated and integrated marketing tools and media relations, including a new Charlotte USA website.
1.3 Create and maintain a joint annual marketing plan to coordinate economic development marketing activities across the region.
1.4 Continue to lead coordinated target cluster and site consultant outreach campaigns.
2.1 Expand the Chamber’s leadership in entrepreneur ecosystem facilitation.
2.2 Expand available capital and resources across the region.
2.3 Elevate and celebrate entrepreneurs.
2.4 Promote the development of local IT, Fintech, and Health IT startups through stronger inroads to major corporations in the region.
3.1 Align education and training programs with target cluster and high-demand fields.
3.2 Create a talent attraction and retention campaign.
3.3 Focus resources to improve economic mobility for residents of all backgrounds and skill levels.
3.4 Grow higher education student enrollment and research capacity across the region.
4.1 Together, create and share a unified regional agenda for infrastructure, business climate, innovation, and other target cluster needs.
4.2 Adopt a consistent, regional approach to BR&E.
4.3 Expand infrastructure around Charlotte Douglas International Airport and strengthen connections to global markets.
4.4. Explore the creation of a nonpartisan, regional executive council that informs and influences improvements in the region’s foundational assets.
Regional Economic Performance Metrics
Regional economic performance metrics track outcomes and how effective strategic initiatives are at reaching regional goals. The consulting team recommends the following:
GOAL 1: Marketing
- Number of qualified leads generated by targeted marketing campaigns
- Media mentions (out of market) of the region’s business and lifestyle assets
- Number of visits to CharlotteUSA.com website
- Number of content downloads from CharlotteUSA.com
GOAL 2: Entrepreneurial Economy
- Angel and venture capital investment
- Net new firm formation in IT, Fintech, and Health IT
GOAL 3: Talent
- Higher education student enrollment
- Enrollment in target cluster-related programs in high school and college
- Talent attraction
- Educational attainment (high school and college)
- Income and earnings equity/mobility
- Research funding at UNC-Charlotte
GOAL 4: Foundational Assets and Target Clusters
- Overall employment growth
- Employment growth in target clusters
- BR&E visits
- Jobs created and capital investment as a result of ED efforts