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CEO of Charlotte Business Alliance speaks at chamber breakfast

SALISBURY – Economic development is a team sport, says Janet LaBar, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.

LaBar was the speaker Thursday at the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Power in Partnership breakfast. She is a regional economic development leader who has a background in communications, strategy and operations skills.

Before joining the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance in April, she held the same position at Greater Portland Inc., a regional public-private partnership that markets the Portland metropolitan area and helps companies expand and relocate to the region.

The Charlotte alliance has a similar mission: “to enthusiastically collaborate to promote and advance the Charlotte region, creating opportunity, economic growth and prosperity for all,” the organization says on its website.

LaBar on Thursday spoke about regionalism, her career journey, economic development growth and the work of the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.

“It has been a delight to work with Rod Crider and his team and Elaine Spalding and her team,” LaBar said, referring to the presidents of the Rowan County Economic Development Commission and Chamber of Commerce. “We are standing on the shoulders of the work you two have put in place.”

LaBar said that a healthy and innovative economy can only be grown through “working together.”

“Economic development is a team sport. No one organization, agency or entity can do it by themselves,” she said. “It really does take a village. It’s a community investment.”

Labar said her parents immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines and that she “was not born with a silver spoon.”

“I saw what struggle and education could do for my parents and for my mother, and that is something that has stuck with me,” she said.

LaBar spoke about the strategic areas that the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance aims to focus on. They include business recruitment and expansion, innovation and intelligence, brand strategy, promotion, communications and engagement.

LaBar said the partnership “works with partners within local chambers to help existing companies grow.”

She also spoke about transportation connectivity and infrastructure and the availability and quality of water as well as stressing the importance of investing in education, attracting new companies and cultivating current ones.

“It is critical that we as a community continue to invest in those things,” she said. “Who you elect into office and where we invest is (also) critical.”

She also gave statistics about the Charlotte region.

“There are 130 new people coming into the market everyday. Thirty of those are babies being born into Mecklenburg County. About 100 people move to the county every day, and where are they coming from?” LaBar said,

The majority of those attracted to the Charlotte region are moving from the Northeast and no longer want to shovel snow and deal with harsh winters, she said.

Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in United States, and its airport has more than 700 daily flights, with 150 destinations, 34 of them being international. LaBar said that Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the seventh-busiest airport in the world and that Mid-Carolina Regional Airport in Rowan County contributes $142.3 million in economic impact.

“We are a diversified market, not only for financial services. We are well connected in and out of this market very easily. We have diverse talent,” she said.

LaBar also highlighted population growth trends in the Charlotte region and Rowan County, saying that Rowan is likely to continue seeing growth rates that stay in the single digits.

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