UCP team tells NC recruiters – send us your best prospects

Sep 22, 2015 | Economic Development

8740 Research Drive

This 1980s office building at 8740 Research Drive, now fully leased to Wells Fargo, was gutted and totally updated two years ago

Charlotte tops the U.N. list of America’s fastest growing big cities through 2030, and UCP leaders are pursuing our share of Charlotte’s boom. Recently, Executive Director Darlene Heater, board member Ryan Wetherington with Allen Tate and Tracy Dodson with Lincoln Harris visited the state’s economic-development leaders.

Our message: Businesses seeking a home near a vibrant research university, expansive office parks and young workforce will love University City.

Created in 2014 by the NC legislature, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina oversees statewide job recruitment and tourism. The partnership’s leaders include Commerce Department veterans and newcomers with experience in economic development. The UCP team met with David Spratley, vice president for business recruitment, and several members of his staff.

“The message we took, first and foremost, was as an introduction to University City Partners,” said Wetherington, who chairs the UCP Economic Development Committee. “Our second priority was to educate them on our office opportunities and industrial parks, and to let them know that we can be used as a resource if they have a prospect looking at Charlotte that wants to be close to a major university.”

He said new staff members were impressed with the amount of office product available in University City. “They encouraged us to keep the relationship going and to proactively educate them on opportunities,” Wetherington said.

Our winning team

University City Partners benefits from having a strong, engaged economic-development committee, including Wetherington, vice president of corporate services for Allen Tate’s Charlotte region, and Johno Harris, recently promoted to president of Lincoln Harris. Harris asked Dodson, vice president of brokerage and development at Lincoln Harris, to join Heater and Wetherington on their visit to the NC Economic Development Partnership.

Other committee members include Elizabeth McMillan, director of development at Crescent Communities; Kati Hynes, vice president, economic development, with the Charlotte Chamber; Lat H. Purser, senior vice president of Lat Purser and Associates; Timothy Britt, senior Vice President for Wells Fargo; and Jeremy Dreier, senior manager for corporate communications for the EPRI (Electric Power Research Institute).

Ambitious goals for 2015-16

This powerhouse team set an ambitious program of work for the 2015-16. Its goals include growing office tenants in several key industries from energy to engineering, retaining existing employers, supporting business partnerships with UNC Charlotte, building our retail community and landing a UNC Charlotte conference center near North Tryon Street.

The committee also created 13 tasks for achieving those goals Check off one-half of Task No. 4 – meeting twice yearly with the state Economic Development Partnership.

Heater described the meeting as a high-level discussion about the benefits that University City can offer to a business, and our need for help generating additional building inventory. After years of surplus space, University City’s business parks have filled most leasable blocks above 100,000 square feet.

Partners in NC economic development

“Another goal was to foster dialogue and build relationships, so that they see us as a source of research and data and a partner to support their efforts,” Heater said.

Both groups maintain databases on available build-to-suit opportunities and properties that owners have to sell for development, but those databases do not completely match Heater said. UCP and the state staff agreed to share their information.

The groups also plan to meet regularly to share information. Heater said the next trip will likely include Clay Andrews, assistant director for corporate partnerships at the university’s Charlotte Research Institute, and the institute’s executive director, Robert Wilhelm.

“Bob has a very good relationship with the state economic development department and is a strong advocate for UNC Charlotte,” said Wetherington, who is bullish on efforts by UCP to attract new business. “The direction we are going is the right direction, and it will become very interesting over the next few years as this area changes with light rail,” he said.

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