Member Spotlights

Dianne Jones
Maxis Advisors

Current job:  Senior Manager of Client Services at Maxis Advisors, LLC

Summary of your role in the company:  I am in business development for Maxis Advisors and spend most of my day educating and assisting companies with identifying and securing negotiated incentives.   To name a few examples, negotiated incentives offset upfront operational costs through cash grants, infrastructure reimbursements and tax reductions.   We work on behalf of companies that are evaluating locations for a new facility or expansion of an existing facility by negotiating, securing and implementing incentives with state and local governments.  Our goal is to ensure the company is maximizing their savings opportunities.

How I chose my occupation:  I like to say my occupation chose me! I spent 13 years at a law firm and picked up knowledge and skills that help in this industry.  At the time I had no idea there were specialist in incentives negotiation and site selection.  I met the owner of Maxis Advisors at a Methodist University alumni function in Charlotte and I was intrigued by what they did.  We swapped cards and stayed in touch.  When they had a position open, he reached out and the rest is history.  

Years in the business:  I have spent the last six years in the world of economic development focusing on site selection and incentives negotiation.

My specialization is:   Maximizing negotiated incentives and providing comprehensive labor analysis in the location decision.  Incentives can be tricky to navigate and having an expert is very important in making sure a company maximizes their incentives opportunities.   With a tight labor market, companies need to locate in the right place with a sufficient workforce and an accurate cost of labor is key to a successful operation.

A good lead for me is:  An introduction to a company that has a minimum of $10 million in capital investment and over 50 new jobs anywhere in the country. This could be at an existing facility or they are looking to open a new facility.

The most satisfying part of my job is:  Matching companies and communities.   I love to see communities grow and thrive. Regardless of if it is a new location or an existing industry expansion, growth is good.  

Best leadership advice I have been given: Two things, the first, “Listen to hear, not to respond.”  The second, “If you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.”

Greatest professional achievement:  Generation of well over 1,000 new jobs and $500 million in capital investment in various communities across the country.

Number of years with CREW: 6

Most significant CREW connection: I have found my place on the Student Outreach Committee.   I love the work we are doing in the community through the youth, which are our future.   I even got to go back to my alma mater, East Mecklenburg High School and speak. It was a full circle moment!!

Place of birth/hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina (Yes, I am a Unicorn.)

Number of years in Charlotte: 30! I spent 10 years away during college and just after college before coming back home.

Family: I have a husband of 15 years, Andra and two daughters, Emory who is 8 and Hayden who is 3.

My ideal vacation spot: Somewhere on the beach, clear water preferred but not required.

Hobbies/Interests: Panthers football and time with family that live in Cornelius and Fort Mill.

Other professional organizations I belong to:  North Carolina Economic Developers Association, South Carolina Economic Developers Association, and Women in Manufacturing.

I wish I could: Go back in time and have one more dinner with my Daddy. I have a lot to update him on professionally.

Celeste Pantuso
DAS Architecture

Current job: Marketing Director at DAS Architecture, Inc.

Summary of your role in the company: In my role I cover a broad range of responsibilities that include business development, responding to request for qualifications, proposals, project coordination, project budgets and managing all vendor and consultant accounts.

How I chose my occupation: After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a concentration in Marketing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville I knew I wanted a career that involved marketing a company that I truly believed in! I was lucky enough to land a career at DAS Architecture, Inc. where I can utilize my skills to enhance the awareness and growth of the firm.

Years in the business: 2

My specialization is: Business Development 

A good lead for me is: an introduction to someone that needs design services, this could be anyone from a CRE developer to an owner of a business looking for a new home. Making connections in the A/E/C industry is always key!

The most satisfying part of my job is: Satisfied clients!

Best leadership advice I have been given: Surround yourself with people who push you beyond your current capabilities, you’ll be more likely to stretch yourself.

Number of years with CREW: 1.5

Most significant CREW connection: I’ll never forget the day that my CREW Ambassador, Sloan (Stryffeler) Kormelink, sat me down at our first connection and showed me what determination for a project looked like!

Place of birth/hometown: Gastonia, NC

Number of years in Charlotte: 5

Family: rescue cat: Kiki

My ideal vacation spot: Anywhere with a beach, mountain, or lake!

Hobbies/Interests: Any and all outdoor activities: soccer, yoga, hiking, traveling, etc.

Other professional organizations I belong to: SMPS Charlotte, Leadership Gaston and a few leads exchange groups.

I wish I could: have more hours in a day.

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