Snapshots: 60 Seconds with Janet LaBar, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

Janet LaBar, Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, discusses Lowe's $153M global tech center, tech jobs, and the region's vision for economic growth.

BF: What were the key factors in Lowe’s decision to put its new $153 million global tech center in Charlotte?

Charlotte Regional Business Alliance
Janet LaBar, Chief Executive Officer, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance

JL: Lowe’s is headquartered in the Charlotte region with approximately 4,000 associates working in Mooresville, NC. The company has enjoyed calling Mooresville home and found success in this part of our region.

To grow its innovation capabilities and accelerate reach among existing and new customers, Lowe’s focused on investing in tech infrastructure. The result? A global technology center driven by top talent. Because universities across the Carolinas are active partners with and understand Lowe’s talent needs, they were able to demonstrate through programs and graduates that these needs would be met. Additionally, Charlotte has seen a surge in tech talent growth, reflective of our position as the nation’s second-largest financial center and the need for tech-enabled jobs in artificial intelligence, security and user experience that require advanced skill sets.

Real estate was another important factor, and Lowe’s landed on a brand-new tower that will anchor Charlotte’s South End design district, already known for its concentration of fintech and creative firms, diverse restaurants and breweries, art galleries and millennial population—all connected by light rail, bike lanes and paths for walking, running and scootering.

Finally, it was important that Lowe’s felt a continued willingness to partner from government. Governor Roy Cooper, Mecklenburg County Chair George Dunlap, Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and their respective teams were highly engaged with Lowe’s leadership.

BF: Microsoft is adding 430 jobs at its Charlotte campus. What makes the area a magnet for tech jobs?

JL: The Charlotte region has a diverse industry base that includes advanced manufacturing, automotive, energy, financial services and health care—all of which have technology drivers advancing their growth. On top of this, we’re increasing our headquarters count and expect to reach eight Fortune 500 firms (for a total of 17 Fortune 1000 companies) calling our region home by end of this year. Tech talent stretches across headquarters operations and our targeted industries, so it’s no surprise the Charlotte region has seen success in year-over-year growth of tech occupations.

Without question, our region is sticky for tech talent, whether attracted here or homegrown from our region’s higher education institutions. Charlotte and the region have everything to offer professionals at any stage of their career. Our community has knitted together a beautiful tapestry of vibrant arts and culture assets, big-sky parks surrounded by winding trails, greenways and waterways, an ever-growing cultivation of fans enjoying our sports and entertainment scene, and a foodie feast of restaurant options to satisfy any palette. Combine this quality of life with New South charm, and you have the perfect recipe for the Charlotte region as a top talent hub.

BF: The Charlotte Chamber and the Charlotte Regional Partnership combined to form the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Has the Alliance established a shared vision for growth across the region?

JL: Absolutely. We have a shared vision to make the Charlotte region the most vibrant, innovative and healthy economy in the nation. We follow this with a mission statement of advancing economic growth, opportunity and prosperity for all. I’m blown away by this community’s appetite for regional leadership on economic development.

I spent my first 90-plus days meeting with regional stakeholders in Charlotte and across our 15-county footprint. We are two states, one region, with one dream of prosperity for all. We’re united in wanting to see our community be world-class, and we want an economy in which everyone can participate and benefit. As a new regional economic development partnership, CLT Alliance brings a unique value proposition to deliver on this vision and mission. Through clarity in our role to market to investment decision makers; drive business recruitment and partner on retention, expansion and growth of startups; advocate to ensure our region stays competitive for investment; and share talent insights on workforce supply and demand—all powered through research, data and analysis—we have a leadership responsibility to championing sustainable, vibrant and inclusive growth for the Charlotte region.

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