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One on One with Ronnie L. Bryant 5-15-18

Centralina Workforce Development Board NextGen Specialist Solomon McAuley recently sat down with Mr. Ronnie L. Bryant, President and Chief Executive Officer of Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Mr. Bryant presented at the Centralina Workforce Development Board meeting in February and I was so intrigued with how he commanded the attention of the room and kept the audience engaged while providing information about the Amazon HQ2
When asked could I come and sit down with him, he did not hesitate, he said "let's make it happen."
Mr. Bryant graduated from LSU and spent 15 years working with Western Electric AT&T in the telecommunication manufacturing industry. In 1989 he left there to join the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. There he started his economic development career for the next 5 years.
Mr. Bryant was recruited to the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce & Growth Association as the Senior Vice President.  He lead that team for 6 years before being recruited to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance for 4 years. In 2005 he was recruited to the Charlotte Regional Partnership.

Coming to Charlotte what was it like?

Charlotte has always been an exciting market and in fact I have competed again Charlotte in some past projects. Over time I have fallen in love with Charlotte.

What was some of your biggest accomplishments in this area?

Being able to build and maintain a strong regional presence and doing it with dignity and respect. For 12 1/2 years we have being able to meet the expectations of those that support this organization. We went from 43 private sector investors to as of today 190 private sector investors that support our efforts.

What has been some of your greatest challenges?

Expanding the notion of regional collaboration outside of workforce development in the areas of education and transportation.

In what areas can the school system do a better job?

K-12 being the first step in producing a good product, high schools cannot have young people graduating that are not ready to enter into higher education or the workforce. When young people enter into college they should not be taking remedial courses. If young people are not ready it hurts the workforce and this region cannot continue to be competitive.

Where do you see the Workforce heading in the next 10 years?

It will continue to evolve with the hopes that the workforce will not continue to allow people to fall between the cracks because of baggage.

When millennial's get a "no" as it relates to employment opportunities what could they do? What do you feel they bring to organizations?

Relocating does not always solve the problem and they have to be willing to see if there is another reason behind the "no".  Millennial's bring their youthfulness, the fact they think outside the box, and if you tell them no, they need a reason behind your decision. They are articulate and aggressive.

What were some highlights during the Amazon process?

I lead the effort along with pulling together 40 other organizations including Centralina Workforce Development Board in an effort to respond to the questions about the community to provide  to  Amazon. It was a very aggressive process. We received the application on September 7th and it was due October 9th. There were a lot of late nights but at the end, I was pleased with what we were able to produce. During the Amazon process  we were in the mist of 99 projects but no one wanted to talk about the other 98.

If another company wanted to move to the area would you be willing to go through the same process?

Yes indeed, bring it on!

One word or phrase that describes Ronnie Bryant, the CEO, the friend, the community shaker?

I live by a few quotes and one in particular is by Edwin Markham- "There is a destiny which makes us brothers; None goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own."
Without a doubt we reap what we sow. I believe if I treat people right I will be treated right and that is the way I live my life.
Another quote is by Raul Armesto; "The world isn't interested in the storms you encountered, but whether or not you brought in the ship."
In other words; Get the job done! That is all that people want to know did you get the job done. If you develop a reputation for getting the job done you will be okay.
Centralina Workforce Development Board's Mission
We help Centralina businesses expand and thrive through a globally competitive workforce. Our public and private sector community leaders are regionally focused, locally driven, and dedicated to providing innovative employment and training strategies.

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