Nikki Haley presented with 2018 Citizen of the Carolinas Award

Story and Photos by Samir Shukla

The Charlotte Chamber and Charlotte Regional Partnership merged into the new organization “Charlotte Regional Business Alliance" that was unveiled on November 27, 2018 at the Chamber's annual meeting. The new organization, which promises to work as a new “regional economic development enterprise with a vision to create the most vibrant, innovative and healthy economy in the country," will begin operations January 1, 2019.

“The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance will be a robust and effective economic development engine by uniting the exceptional and diverse strengths of all the counties in the Charlotte region," said Jesse Cureton, who will serve in 2019 as Board chair for the new enterprise. “This is an exciting, positive and bold step forward for our region and is a milestone that will be remembered across our regional footprint for years to come."

“Our mission is to collaboratively promote and advance economic development for the entire Charlotte region," added Cureton, executive vice president and chief consumer officer at Novant Heath. “We're confident we can build on our economic successes and reinforce the region's position as a global leader in business, innovation and talent, all of which will drive long-term growth and a vibrant regional economy."

According to Charlotte Chamber and Charlotte Regional Partnership, “the name Charlotte Regional Business Alliance signifies a vision for greater collaboration and unity across the region. The new organization's branding supports a broader theme of 'One' – One Charlotte, One Region, One Community."

Carol Lovin, who will serve in 2019 as Board vice chair for the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, said the new enterprise stands in partnership with every county in the Charlotte region and will unify, strengthen and grow the region together.

“The Charlotte region is composed of many unique counties, each one home to thriving industries from manufacturing, health care and finance to energy, transportation and technology," said Lovin, executive vice president and system chief of staff at Atrium Health. “Geography may appear to separate us, but we know our true strength can be found in the common threads, shared interests and boundless opportunities that bind us together."

Comprising the mark are subtle C's and A's, derivative of Charlotte and Alliance. The four quadrants within the mark on the new logo represent the brand pillars of the new organization:

• Business recruitment, expansion, innovation and intelligence
• Brand strategy, promotion, communications and engagement
• Talent attraction, development, involvement and retention
• Economic and public policy advocacy and influence

“As the new name and branding elements signify, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance will be focused on making one of the fastest growing regions in the country even stronger," said Ernie Reigel, transition director for the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance.

"The Charlotte region has a history of coming together and working side by side for the greater good and this effort is no exception," he added. “We are confident this newly combined organization is the right strategic decision for our region's future."

The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance is conducting a national search for its first CEO and will name a new chief executive in early 2019.

The key event at the Chamber's annual meeting on November 27, 2018, along with the unveiling of the new organization, was the presentation of Charlotte Chamber's annual 2018 Citizen of the Carolinas award, which was given to Ambassador Nikki Haley. She accepted the award at the event.

She gave a short speech at the Chamber's annual meeting that evening highlighting her past record as governor and saying that she went to the United Nations and brought what she called “Carolina values." She said, “Like Palmetto trees we bend, but stay strongly rooted."

"Other ambassadors would often talk about how many languages they spoke. I told them I only spoke one, southern. I'm confident that I'm the first American ambassador to ever say bless your heart, when I really meant something else," she said drawing laughter from the crowd.

“There will always be a part of me that's in the Carolinas, regardless of where I am," Haley told the crowd gathered at Charlotte Convention Center.

She became South Carolina governor in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. She left that post to become President Trump's ambassador to the United Nations in early 2017. She announced in October that she was resigning at the end of the year to pursue other opportunities.

Haley is a star in the Republican Party and is sure to make a national run for office in the future.