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Luncheon Summary

2015 Outlook for Charlotte Metro and the Carolinas with Frank Warren of Kimley-Horn

Frank Warren, CRE, is a Senior Economist with Kimley-Horn and Associates. With over 25 years of real estate market research, appraisal, and development experience, Frank brings a uniquely comprehensive perspective to consulting assignments. Developer and investor clients rely on his insight to determine demand for commercial and residential projects, and to recommend specific concepts to maximize marketability and value. Frank also works on a wide variety of comprehensive planning and economic development assignments for local governments.

Charlotte’s New Normal? How shifting location preferences and infrastructure investments are driving new development patterns. Frank began his presentation by discussing all the changes that have shaped the City of Charlotte since 1964 including four interstate highways, two airport terminals, three UNC-C campuses, three baseball stadiums, three basketball arenas, the return of rail transit, and the dissolution and rebirth of Center City. Recent job growth in the Charlotte MSA (metropolitan statistical area) was heavily focused in Mecklenburg County, further enhancing it as the employment center of the region. Although, suburban job growth, primarily focused in York and Lancaster counties, has been facilitated through affordable land, state incentives, and business-friendly tax rates.

Demographic shifts are impacting location choices that households and employers are making. Nationally, household formation has dropped dramatically from a peak of two million new households per year to a trough of 500,000 during and following the Recession. The region’s renter household growth has been strongly focused in Mecklenburg County, representing not only organic growth but also pent-up renter demand. Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, will continue to shape real estate. They generally value experiences over possessions, drive less, are always connected, and are increasingly diverse. They also face challenges like student debt, jobs, and incomes.

These employment and demographic shifts have impacted the real estate market throughout the region. Apartment growth has been heavily concentrated in a few submarkets in Mecklenburg County, primarily urban or with access to retail or transit opportunities. Similarly, office and retail vacancy rates and rent growth trends are strongest in urban locations. Development of new office space will likely emerge along the south corridor light rail line in the next five years. Older product in Midtown, Cotswold, Park Road, and Southpark will start to redevelop.

Key Takeaways:

  • Divided Economy . Growth is accelerating in states and metropolitan areas with educated workforces and at least 18-hour urban cores; the balance of the country is trying to remain relevant.
  • Mixed-Use Success . Demographic patterns, lifestyle preferences, and a focus on sustainability will continue to make mixed-use developments attractive.
  • Suburban Redux . With downtown urban areas thriving, suburbs are the next great opportunity.

2014 Excellence Awards

CREW Charlotte celebrated an exciting year at the final luncheon of the year. We spent the afternoon recapping the successes of 2014 and honoring our members. Six members were presented awards for their outstanding contributions. The awards spanned from “Member of the Year” to “Networker of the Year” to “Deal of the Year.” The afternoon’s highlights are as follows:

· Rising Star Award: Emily Buehrer with BLOC Design received the Rising Star award for her extraordinary contributions through her involvement in the Communications Committee and advancement of CREW’s social media presence since becoming a member in March.

· Member of the Year: Whitney Bauman, Marketing and Business Development Manager with MSS Solutions, was honored as Member of the Year, an award that recognizes a CREW member who has made an outstanding contribution to the chapter in 2014. Whitney was an active participant on the Programs Committee and co-chaired the Queen City in Pink Committee. Through her efforts, CREW Charlotte’s Queen City in Pink campaign had a record year with over 275 participating buildings.

· Networker of the Year Award: This award was presented to Carrie Sharp, Sales Partner at Indoff Commercial Interiors, for her demonstrated efforts as a master networker actively sending referrals and business to other CREW members.

· Outreach Award:: Past CREW Charlotte President, Margaret Martin, CFO, MECA Realty received the Outreach award due to her service and promotion of the success of women in commercial real estate.

· Deal of the Year:This award recognizes a CREW Charlotte member who spearheaded a commercial real estate transaction including multiple CREW members and best exemplifies the capability to handle a commercial real estate deal from start to finish. The award was presented to Cristy Nine, Vice President and transaction manager of CRESA, for completing the US Synergetic corporate headquarters relocation project in Fort Mill. Under an exceptionally tight deadline, the project team, which involved eight CREW member companies, delivered.

· President’s Choice Award: This CREW member or company made contributions throughout the year that were vital to the ongoing success of the chapter. It was presented to Wanda Townsend with Johnston Allison & Hord. Both Wanda and Johnston Allison & Hord have provided long-running contributions, and have been instrumental in the success of CREW Charlotte.

Lack of Available Space in the Charlotte Metro Area

Who you missed: Ronnie L. Bryant, CEcD, FM, HLM is President & CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership. Mr. Bryant leads the team that promotes the 16-county Charlotte USA region throughout the world as a premier location for businesses considering expansion or relocation. Mr. Bryant has more than 20 years of technical, managerial and economic development expertise, and a proven track record of establishing and implementing successful economic development programs. He specializes in existing industry expansion and retention, with a strong emphasis on regionalism and marketing

What you missed: Evolution of Economic Development in Charlotte: Mr. Bryant discussed three key elements that need to be on everyone’s radar screen as we consider economic development:

  • Structure: When considering the delivery of economic development services in our region, what has changed and what should we be doing differently to continually challenge ourselves to raise the bar and break down barriers?

  • Focus: We have to be laser focused, because our competition is. We need to understand how to meet the needs of existing businesses; the resources that are necessary to recruit new businesses; and how we can encourage entrepreneurs to choose the Charlotte region to implement their new ideas.

  • Space: Everything in economic development has a real estate component. In today’s competitive market, timelines for providing space with proper square footage, zoning, infrastructure, etc. is very tight. We need to have options for real estate that already meet the needs of potential businesses in order to be competitive with other regions.

If we can continue to understand these three principals and get them right, the Charlotte region will continue to attract the economic development we need to sustain our community and remain competitive for the long haul.

Why: Executing economic development as a single jurisdictional unit by itself is a setup for failure. By combining the resources of the various jurisdictions within the 12 North Carolina and 4 South Carolina counties that comprise the Charlotte region, we can gain an advantage in competing against other regions. The next evolution of economic development for Charlotte will be the creation of a Piedmont – Atlantic mega region, combining the resources of the Carolinas, Georgia, Virginia and parts of Alabama. This will allow the southeast to compete with the northeast and northwest where mega regions have already been formed to pool resources in attracting new business to larger regional footprints. We can no longer see Atlanta as our competition. 

Critical to the evolution of economic development is understanding the role that the evolution of the real estate landscape plays in supporting business development and retention. Mr. Bryant believes that the Charlotte region’s best years are ahead if we do not become complacent, but instead work together to ensure that the resources, including space in the form of appropriate real estate opportunities, are available as recruitment tools for attracting new investment in our region.

Business Imperative for Future Organizational Success

Who you missed: Valerie McMurray, Human Management Consultant and Board Certified Executive Coach with the NorthStar Consulting Group. Valerie has dual Masters of Science in Organization Develpment and Executive Coaching from McColl School of Business at Queens University. She is an Associate Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation and Board Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing and Education. She has been trained/certified in a variety of assessment and leadership programs including Myers Briggs Type Instrument, FIRO-B, Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, WorkPlace Big Five Profile, MSCEIT, Gallup, DISC, CareerLeader, Servant Leadership, Staub Leadership, and Wilson Learning Systems.


What you missed: If you missed our last CREW luncheon, you missed an excellent presentation by Valerie McMurray entitled “Business Imperative for Future Organizational Success”.

McMurray explored statistics/findings regarding women in the workplace and their overall economic power. Studies have shown that companies with a higher percentage of women at the top benefit from the following results:

– Neutralization of the group think phenomenon

– Increase in new ideas

– More & better innovations

– Enhanced company reputation

– Well balanced approach to all aspects of the business

Studies have also revealed that women are the breadwinners in 40% of US homes, control 80% of consumer spending, and that achieving greater gender parity would increase the national GDP by 12% by 2030.

Why: McMurray concluded by sharing the following “Top 5 Women Executive Success Factors”:

– Lifelong Learning

– Self Awareness & Openness to Feedback

– Effective Communication Skills

– Being a Risk Taker

– Building Strong Relationships

The Data Center Market: The Data Center Impact on Charlotte's Commercial Real Estate

Who you missed: Ben Rojahn with CBRE’s Data Center Solutions Group moderated a panel comprised of David Jones, Co-Founder and President & CEO of Peak 10; Todd Aaron, Co-Founder and Co-President of Sentinel Data Centers; and Martin Walsh, Vice President of National Mission Critical for Balfour Beatty.

What you missed: CREW Data Center Presentation: As electronic file storage has become critical to businesses of all types and sizes, the infrastructure needed to securely store data has become a niche industry and an area of significant growth. Businesses of varying sizes often look to offsite facilities for storing data, creating an industry focused on providing the structures needed, and therefore creating a demand for construction expertise in building the specialized facilities, as well as companies to manage them. Balfour Beatty’s Mission Critical division combines the company’s extensive construction experience with a specialized knowledge of the IT and security installations required to create a secure facility. Peak 10 works with smaller businesses or specific divisions of larger corporations that have decided to outsource their data storage. Sentinel Data Centers works with very large enterprises that may have the resources to invest in their own data storage facilities, but choose to have the flexibility to better react to changes in the market by allowing a third party to invest the capital needed to develop and manage the facilities.

Why: While those of us involved in commercial real estate may not think a great deal about data storage on a daily basis, we all rely on it in various ways. Financial institutions, health care systems and major retailers all store personal data about each of us that needs to be safe from cyber-crimes as well as natural disasters. As we rely more and more on the ability to have everything we need at our fingertips, stored in the “cloud,” data storage facilities will continue to be a growth sector. The construction of these facilities requires traditional real estate development activities such as site selection, design and construction, including electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems, as well as specialized construction of security and IT infrastructure.

Speed Networking

CREW Charlotte was excited to bring back Speed Networking for our August luncheon. It offered our members and guests a chance to share their most dynamic business statement, otherwise known as an elevator speech. Movers and Shakers moved throughout the room, making rapid-fire connections.

Through this experience we learned that Speed Networking is not a super highway to true business building. Our audience ended the afternoon with a hand full of business cards and a brief introduction to a person’s business interests. Like every networking opportunity, the key to success in Speed Networking is follow-up. A lack of follow-up will prove to be a quick road to nowhere.

This fun event provided our members with an opportunity to get revved up and enjoy life in the fast lane. CREW Charlotte hopes that we see an uptick in our “Members Making Deals” website link in the weeks following this event!

Sustainability Equals Real Money: The Whole Impact of Sustainability on Charlotte

Who you missed: Amy Aussieker is the Executive Director for Envision Charlotte, where she is responsible for developing strategic plans for community outreach, fundraising, vendor and partner relationships. Amy’s background is a blend of corporate, non-profit and entrepreneur expertise. She spent several years as Group Vice President for Sales and Marketing for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, where she was responsible for leadership, fundraising and community relations. She also served as a business development and community affairs executive with Balfour Beatty Construction, and she founded, operated and recently sold a successful retail business.

Amy has previously served as a board member for the Arts and Science Council, co-chair for the School Bonds, chair for the Hot Jobs/Cool Communities initiative for the City committee, co-chair of Charlotte’s Citizen Transit Advisory Group and a board member for Slow Food Charlotte. She has been recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal as a 40 Under 40 award winner and a Top 25 Women in Business Award recipient.

What you missed: Amy and her team strive to help develop Charlotte, NC into a global model of environmental sustainability. Launched in 2010, Envision Charlotte believes that environmental sustainability, when combined with a pro-business approach, benefits the regional economy. Uptown Charlotte, NC currently has 61 participating buildings with 21 million square feet of office or commercial space, hosting 67,000 workers. Through Envision Charlotte, regional corporate and government leaders are working together to measure factors of sustainability in real time through individual sensors on each participating building.  The goal is to make Charlotte one of the smartest cities in the world, resulting in a superior place to do business. Those factors of environmental sustainability are broken down into 4 pillars; Air, Water, Waste, and Energy.

Air: Charlotte ranks 19th worst in the country for air pollution. The energy that we use while commuting to work, working in our offices, and in our homes leads to the production of air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions and smog. Over the next 5 years, Envision Charlotte aims to deploy innovative programs to reduce energy use and promote cleaner air, including ride and drive programs, promoting the use of electric vehicles, and other forms of alternative transportation.

Water: Demand for water is expected to exceed supply within the next 30 years. Uptown Charlotte uses 238,000,000 gallons of water every year. Envision Charlotte has developed a program to track and report water usage in uptown buildings called Smart Water Now. Through this program they are working with building owners, managers, engineers, and tenants to take simple steps to reduce water usage and improve efficiency.

Waste: With over 100,000 pounds of waste generated each day in uptown Charlotte, the landfills that’s serve the city are on track to be full within the next 5 years. Envision Charlotte aims to divert at least 20% of that waste away from the landfill by increasing recycling programs and sensoring waste from buildings to study how they can reduce their production of waste.

Energy: 30% of Uptown Charlotte's energy is wasted in office buildings. Envision Charlotte has a goal of reducing 20% of Charlotte’s energy use in the next 5 years through Smart Energy Now. Through this program, office workers and business leaders are becoming more educated on how small simple changes in their daily habits and routines can have a huge impact on overall energy use. Since Envision Charlotte has started measuring energy use there has been a reduction of 8.2%, with 6.2% coming from changes in behavior alone.

Why: The message is simple. By lowering the amount of energy use, waste production, and water consumption, you will lower the cost of doing business in Charlotte, and therefore bring in more business and opportunity!

Envision Charlotte believes that everyone can make a difference in helping Charlotte become more environmentally sustainable. Because of their hard work, Charlotte, NC, is well on its way to becoming the most sustainable urban core in the country.

Getting Your Business to Dance with Jim Donald, CEO, Extended Stay America

Who you missed: Jim Donald is the current CEO of Extended Stay Hotels and former CEO of Starbucks and Haggen Food & Pharmacy. He was named one of the “Top 25 CEO’s in the World” by the Best Practice Institute in 2006 and one of the “25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives of 2013” by Business Travel News. He has a reputation for turning around financially ailing companies toward growth. Donald speaks to many groups to share his experience as a leader focused on innovation, quality, service, strong relationships within the community, and risk-taking with the freedom to fail.

What you missed: Getting Your Business to Dance: Donald explains six “dance lessons” that are necessary to implement in order to ramp up your business when no one is buying.

1. Have a fish story – In other words, what are you going to tell people about your business? Have a story to tell so people remember you years later.

2. Never be bigger than the front line – It is important to present yourself as an equal and not above or better than the average person. Employees lead the way and it is necessary to relate to them on their level.

3. Go where you have never been before – Send a personal message to associates/guests/clients that makes them feel comfortable.

4. Communicate to everyone in the organization – Speak a language that other people can understand. Realize that everyone is powerful within the company.

5. Encourage risk taking with the freedom to fail – Donald shared how he gives a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to encourage his employees to take risks no matter the end result.

6. Celebrate the success of others – It’s not about you anymore! Create an environment that shares success stories.

Busyness Does Not Equal Productivity with Stacey Randall of Randall Research

Who you missed:  Stacey Randall is the founder and chief consultant of Randall Research, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Stacey’s mission is to use research to uncover client’s needs around productivity and engagement.  Her goal is to create productive people and engaged organizations so going to work on Monday isn’t so bad.  Stacey holds a Masters in Organizational and Strategic Communication.  She is a Certified Productivity and Time Efficiency Coach and Consultant, a trainer for the UNC-Charlotte Continuing Education Division, a published writer, and a national presenter on employee engagement, generational diversity, work/life integration, and management training.  Stacey is married with two children.
What you missed:  It’s Time to Take Control: Stacey offered important insights into how we can take control of our days to optimize our efficiency.  Being busy isn’t always the same thing as being productive.  She described the four styles of productivity and encouraged us to each identify our own type in order to understand how to get the most out of our day.
The first two styles are considered “left brained” approaches.  There is the Prioritizer who is logical and focused on outcomes, while the Planner is very organized, sequential and loves to create “to do” lists.  The two “right brained” styles include the Arranger, who is supportive, expressive and likes to work as a team in a collaborative style, and the Visualizer who is able to see the big picture and has the intuition to determine how to get things done.
One of the key problem areas that Stacey identified for the average worker today is e-mail.  She pointed out that while it is not in anyone’s job description, it has become our main mode of communication and many of us spend a great deal of time in our e-mail inbox.  A cluttered inbox represents a multitude of postponed decisions.  Stacey shared her key to becoming agile in email by using the Contain Circle, which provides a path to clarity by first READING an e-mail, then DECIDING what needs to be done with it before ACTING on that decision so that the e-mail is then CONTAINED.  It doesn’t need to be a continued distraction. She provided a flow chart for the ACT step in the circle.
Do you need to ACT on the e-mail: Yes or No
If no, either file or delete the e-mail.
If yes, then do one of the following: 
(1) Take the action necessary – Do it!
(2) Delegate the action to someone else
(3) Convert it to a task – put it on your “to do” list so you don’t forget
Why:  There is no “one size fits all” for being your most productive self.  It is important to identify your style for productivity so that you can work your best.  Don’t be fooled by the common brain myths: Multi-tasking, Memorizing and Unlimited Resource.  The truth is that multi-tasking is not efficient, productive or accurate.  Focus on one thing at a time.  Your brain isn’t meant to store unlimited information, so write things down.  And finally, your brain is not an unlimited resource, so use it for what it is intended – ideas!
Stacey shared that the average person spends 41% of the day in their e-mail inbox and receives 110 e-mails per day. Because we don’t manage our e-mails in a productive way, we spend 6 weeks per year looking for information lost within our e-mails.  This contributes to the average of 37 hours of unfinished work on our desks at any given time.  

Stacey left us with some Best Practices for e-mail use in order to increase our productivity:

  • Turn off the e-mail alert
  • Pick 3 to 5 newsletters that you never or rarely read and unsubscribe from them
  • Don’t check your e-mail until you have finished the high priority project for the day
  • Determine a reasonable number of emails that should be in your inbox at the end of the day.  The number of emails you have currently will dictate where you set your initial goal, but you can keep working towards a lower number.  Stacey has less than five!!
Finally, Stacey shared 5 Productivity Tips:
  • Get up earlier.
  • Start your day off with water.  You need to hydrate.
  • Manage your energy and adjust your calendar.  Know how your body works so that you don’t plan mentally challenging tasks for a time of day when you are mentally exhausted.
  • Use only ONE “to do” list.
  • Prepare, prioritize, prepare, prioritize
You can find out about workshops Stacey will be conducting in the Charlotte area on her website

Dena Diorio, the First Woman Mecklenburg County Manager talks about the State of the County and Plans for the Future

Who you missed:  Dena Diorio is the Mecklenburg County manager, responsible for executing the policy decisions of the Board of County Commissioners and overseeing the administration of County departments. She advises the Board on operational and financial matters, services and other issues, and submits an annual operating and capital budget for consideration. Raised in Westchester County, New York, Dena started her career in New York City, eventually working for the then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Later she took jobs in Stamford and Danbury, Connecticut until moving to Mecklenburg County in 2007. She has a B.S. in Social Services from the State University of New York at Plattsburg and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Columbia University. Dena is married and lives in Huntersville. 
What you missed:  CREW Charlotte’s March luncheon featured the first woman Manager for Mecklenburg County, Dena Diorio. Dena’s presentation focused on the state of the County, where we are headed in the future, and her role as a woman leader. 
In the combined city-county government structure, Mecklenburg County provides Health and Social Services, Education, Library, Economic Development, and Parks and Recreation services to residents. Following the 2007-2009 Recession, the County has experienced a return to fiscal health, including increasing the employment base by approximately 50,000 new jobs and a corresponding drop in the unemployment rate. Future efforts by the County include continuing efforts in the county-wide property revaluation, working to improve the efficiency of the building permit process, which balances customer service with safety, and creating strategies to address the current lack of income mobility facing the region.
Why:  Commercial real estate makes up approximately 40% of the Mecklenburg County tax base. County operations affect commercial real estate in three key ways: (1) Mecklenburg County provides incentive grants to attract new businesses, such as Met Life, Electrolux, and Chiquita, (2) Inefficiencies in the building permitting process are being addressed to promote development in the County, and (3) Through education, competitive tax rates, and workforce development, Mecklenburg County is working to remain highly competitive to potential future relocations.