Charlotte's Economy and Where We are Going with Johnny Harris
John W. Harris formed The Harris Group in January 1992, and in 1999 formed LincolnHarris, an affiliate company of Lincoln Property Company. Johnny is responsible for development and management of over 20 million square feet of property throughout the Southeast and was formerly President of The Bissell Companies, Inc., a major commercial real estate and investment management company.
Johnny, a lifelong Charlotte resident, has served on numerous boards including Piedmont Natural Gas, USAir, Inc, and the National Collegiate Athletic Foundation (NCAA) and has served on the Airport Advisory Committee, NC Department of Transportation and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Hospital Authority. He is also a past Chairman of the Charlotte Regional Partnership, UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, NCAA Final Four Charlotte Organizing Committee, Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Charlotte Sports Commission.
Johnny opened his remarks to the crowd of over 225 by sharing that there is no better place to be than Charlotte. With unemployment figures down below 5.5%, with more employees at both Bank of America and Wells Fargo than in 2007, with a greater influx of Millennials into the Queen City and with $750 million in active construction projects in one submarket (SouthPark), this is the “beginning of our golden years”.
Protecting Our Airline
Johnny urged the crowd to work to protect Charlotte’s hub status with American/USAir. The fuel tax break that American receives needs to be extended. He shared that while the $6 million tax break sounds large, the economic impact received from that tax break is over $1.6 billion dollars to our region.
These breaks keep Charlotte attractive and provide us the ability to maintain that hub status. Charlotte Douglas has 683 average daily departures, over 40,600,000 passengers in 2014 (2.3% increase over 2013) and nationwide ranked 6th in movements/operations and 8th in passengers for 2013…
It is 1978 and We’re Atlanta
Airline deregulation sparked Atlanta’s growth.
Johnny outlined that whether you are pro or anti fracking, you have to admit that due to the lowered fuel costs, we are at the beginning of twenty-five years of great economic development.
The prior six year slow down is now fueling extreme demand, not only in multi-family but also in office. He described Ballantyne (and Smoky Bissell) as one of very few places in the country with significant development over the past six years, but said they eventually are going to run out of land.
SouthPark has $750 million in active construction, with another half-billion coming in the next eighteen months.
What is next? Look between the airport and the river. Johnny cites it as the only place with “big land”….. and “big land brings big users, and that is good”.
Well, Not Really Atlanta
We’re growing and we are the place people want to be. Economic Growth, Employment Growth and Millennial Migration – it is all Charlotte.
What Other Things Should We Pay Attention To?
The Intermodal Facility opened last year within the airport footprint and doubled the capacity of Norfolk Southern's prior uptown facility …. But it is already full.
Talk of a High Speed Train at the State level for a connection between Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta …. Possibly a privately funded railway (similar to plans for a line between Orlando and Miami).
Medical Services are now the 3rd largest sector in the Charlotte region.
Anything to Worry About?
When asked what concerns him, Johnny didn’t have too much to worry about but did mention the need for strong leadership in Charlotte and in North Carolina. He mentioned running out of viable sites for construction as well as the need to make sure that the quality of what is being built remains a priority.
Johnny’s final thoughts were that regardless of where in the country someone lives, if they really do their homework, Charlotte is the place they should strive to be. It is about quality of life and with our proximity to the mountains and the ocean, our airport, cost of living, and job growth, the quality of life in Charlotte is pretty good.
He also shared that had he and his five member operations committee at Lincoln Harris been at a CREW luncheon 25 years ago, they would not have fit in without any women in that group; but today, two of the five positions are held by women and he seemed to imply that CREW probably helped that along!