Global Vision Leaders Group

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ONE: The Alliance and The Global Vision Leaders Group (GVLG)

Dear Member or Former Member of the Global Vision Leaders Group (GVLG):

In 2012, with a vision of the Charlotte region becoming a hub of global competitiveness, Dr. Tony Zeiss, the president of Central Piedmont Community College and other local leaders including Chase Saunders, Michael Gallis, Mary Vickers-Koch and myself, began an awareness campaign to rally regional leaders to identify assets the Charlotte region needed to be more globally competitive.

Founded from an economic vision white paper by Saunders-Zeiss-Gallis entitled Charlotte 2030: Create It, Make It, Move It, the group evolved into a collaborative, non-political, grassroots leadership organization known as the Global Vision Leaders Group (GVLG) functioning as a thought leadership group with businesses, government and the media to promote and expand the globally competitive assets of the 29-county region, substantially funded by JPMorgan Chase.

The GVLG and its over 200 business leader members have been hosted by Central Piedmont Community College since its inception, and for the first five years was the convener of a Global Competitiveness Summit with world-renowned speakers to help the region understand the global competitiveness strengths of the region. However, over the last two years, under a new administration, the college’s mission and objectives have changed and there has been a noticeable decline in GVLG organizational activities and engagement.

In a letter I received from Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, President of CPCC, on Dec. 19, 2019, she informed me that the college will be discontinuing support of the Global Vision Leaders Group as of the end of this year. I thought you might like to know her reasoning:

Given the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance will be focused on “creating the most vibrant, innovative, and healthy economy in the nation,” with a commitment toward “one economic enterprise and one region with one dream of prosperity for all,” I have every confidence the Alliance will more than fill the purpose the GVLG previously served. The Alliance will be well equipped to generate support of and engagement in economic development objectives across the region. As such, and after further consideration, as Central Piedmont moves into 2019, we will not continue the Global Vision Leaders Group. I am strongly encouraging all who have a commitment to building global talent to support the new Alliance to develop economic opportunities for the region.

Because of your participation and others like you, Global Vision Leaders Group thought leadership contributed strongly to the education of its members and helped boost the region’s awareness of its valuable strategic location through various accomplishments recounted in its Strategic Plan:

  • In conjunction with the GVLG, a new partnership, the Charlotte Regional Collaborative for a Global Economy, was established bring community colleges in both North Carolina and South Carolina together to develop and enhance workforce development ensuring the strategic focus areas of global entrepreneurship, advanced manufacturing and global logistics through the establishment of a database of workforce training programs.
  • Commissioned the Brookings Institution benchmarking assessment Greater Charlotte in a Global Economy looking at the greater Charlotte region’s competitive position through five factors—overall economic performance, trade and investment, innovation, talent and infrastructure—compared to 19 other city-regions in the U.S. and abroad that most closely resembled the Charlotte region’s size, wealth, productivity, industrial structure and competitiveness factors.
  • Members of the GVLG made presentations to various community businesses and groups raising awareness of the unique location of Charlotte in relation to CLT Airport and six deep-water ports and building greater recognition of the logistics community and its value to the recruitment of firms.
  • The GVLG was instrumental in establishing the new position of Director of Economic & Community Affairs at CLT Airport, now held by Stuart Hair, and a participant in the airport’s second long-range plan, which has now been completed.
  • After discovering that the Charlotte region lagged behind other similar regions, the GVLG promoted the establishment of a significant number of additional honorary consuls.
  • The GVLG worked to enhance and promote partnerships with North and South Carolina as well as the port authorities in Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah to grow jobs in trade and commerce.
  • The GVLG collaborated with the U.S. Export Assistance Center to help develop an export strategy.
  • The GVLG established a website to capture the accomplishments and educational and, through its media members, acted as a conduit of information to the community with thoughtful articles and reviews about global competitiveness of the region and a series of “Going Global” vignettes with WBT Radio with different business leaders.

Dr. Deitemeyer has assured us that the newly formed Charlotte Regional Business Alliance “will more than fill the purpose the GVLG previously served.” The Charlotte Regional Partnership and the Charlotte Chamber have now merged to form the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA), with a mission is to collaboratively promote and advance economic development for the entire Charlotte region, as a robust and effective economic development engine uniting the exceptional and diverse strengths of all the counties in the Charlotte region, consolidating and integrating leadership into one organization focused on economic development.

To that end, Tony Zeiss, Craig May of JPMorgan Chase, and I met with Ernie Reigel, the transition chief for merging the two groups into a consolidated organization, about the combined entity’s inclusion of the mission and objectives that the GVLG sought to promote. Reigel also assured us that they were “well ahead” of us. According to Jesse Cureton, incoming Board chair for the new enterprise, “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.”

I join them and encourage the rest of our Global Vision Leaders Group members to support the united front for economic development of the Charlotte region and stand ready to provide any assistance that may be helpful in generating support and engagement in economic development objectives across the region, especially the continuing thought leadership for making the Charlotte region more globally competitive.

♦ The Brookings Institution’s 2016 benchmarking analysis of the greater Charlotte region compared the area to that of global cities Birmingham, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Stockholm and Zurich. The overriding theme of the analysis was, “Taking part in global markets is no longer a choice for metropolitan leaders. City and regional leaders can either seize the opportunities afforded by the global dynamics or risk falling victim to the downsides of globalization.” I would hope the Alliance would carry the GVLG emphasis to compete on the world stage, promoting the Charlotte region as the “facilitator,” if not the leader of a SE USA Delta (Charlotte – Greenville – Atlanta – Savannah – Charleston, as a competitor to China’s Pearl River Delta), superseding prior visions of significance in the Piedmont Corridor (following I-85 corridor from Atlanta to Richmond, Richard Florida’s Char-lanta mega-region), and going well beyond marketing it as the commercial center to the Carolinas (think Alliance Carolinas like Perot’s Alliance Texas).

♦ I think it important to recognize how much our region has grown over the last years both in number and diversity and to broaden our own perceptions of the importance of our region in the global economy. For example, the Alliance has defined its footprint as 12 counties in North Carolina and 4 counties in South Carolina—the same counties the Charlotte Regional Partnership adopted in 1996. The GVLG’s footprint was 29 counties. UNC Charlotte’s Urban Institute looks to a footprint of 32 counties. In the absence of the GVLG, it is my hope that the CRBA will take into account the region’s considerable growth and enlarge the footprint/extended footprint appropriately.

I think it important to recognize that in this increasing globally connected world, it will be necessary to facilitate transactions—work more readily, cooperatively and collaboratively—across political boundaries of municipalities, counties and states. We need to strengthen ties with South Carolina and its economic development groups as partners in the growth of this region in this globally competitive marketplace. [Think David Tepper/Carolina Panthers strategy.] There is an overwhelming need to combine all of our assets and resources of our two states in a unified vision that makes us globally competitive—crossing state lines and competing among the best countries across the world.

Specifically, I think we need to demonstrate aggressive thought leadership on how these new technologies are transforming economic development in our region:

  1. Shift from combustion engines to electric vehicles and ultimately automated vehicles profoundly affecting our transportation systems and the businesses that support and service that equipment as well as our economic development efforts. [Greenville, SC and Duke Energy have made substantial strides in this regard.]
  2. The transit-oriented development being undertaken by the City of Charlotte in coordination with the expansion of the light rail lines will also remarkably change communities, how we live, how we shop and how we move from place to place.
  3. The systemic reforms that are being encouraged by the city’s and county’s Upward Mobility efforts will also stimulate more advancement and opportunities for diversity and inclusiveness.
  4. The SEAP, Envision Charlotte and Bloomberg Climate Challenge initiatives are well on their way to making a formidable difference in our city’s carbon footprint and are already impacting area businesses.

Also, in the merger of the Partnership and the Chamber, the Alliance should not overlook the importance of our Foreign Trade Zone (administered by former Partnership staff). It has been built into a profit center for the region and helps manufacturers and distributors avoid many of the Trump tariffs. Toyota’s FTZ in Hendersonville reportedly saved their company some $6-7M annually in taxes.

The Alliance has significant responsibilities and it needs our support in gathering the resources from the Carolinas region—all of us, as feet-on-the-ground ambassadors—into a cohesive force that builds on our existing assets and encourages an improving infrastructure serving the expanding needs of global trade and participation.

I look forward to the Alliance’s engagement and leadership of open and transparent thought leadership that advances this region to surpass not only our urban competitors (i.e. Nashville, Austin, Atlanta, etc.) but also amalgamates our region to attract global trade and investment. Markets outside the U.S. represent: 80% of global purchasing power, 92% of global economic growth, and 95% of global consumers.

We must see ourselves as more of a global player, aligning local initiatives with globally aggressive objectives engaging in thought leadership to participate in the opportunities and surmount the challenges of our transformational economy.

I have all the best expectations for the Alliance moving forward.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Yours truly,

John Paul Galles


Global Vision Leaders Group Strategic Plan 2016-2018 – Please click on the image to open.

Brookings Institution’s Greater Charlotte in a Global Economy assessment commissioned by the Global Vision Leaders Group – Please click on the image to open.


Charlotte 2030: Create It, Make It, Move It (Zeiss-Saunders-Gallis, 2011) – Please click on the image to open.


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Thank you, John Paul Galles