“Involvement in the arts engages kids in their community, improves self-esteem, reclaims at-risk youth, and builds the creative skills that are required of a 21st century workforce."
‒ Gavin Newsom
It’s time to give proper respect to an industry that directly impacts our regional economy to the tune of more than a $261 million each year: nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.
We all have enjoyed one form of the arts or another. They uplift us, tap into our emotions, provide beauty and exemplify the best of what it means to be human.
The arts also provide a very practical benefit. They contribute revenue to federal, state and local governments, and they make my job easier in attracting businesses to the Charlotte region.
Every five years, Americans for the Arts conducts a study that quantifies the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry. Last Friday, Randy Cohen, the organization’s vice president for research and policy, presented the regional portion of the study that was released June 8th. For the 2010 report, the N.C. Arts Council subsidized local studies in 17 partner communities. The region’s four S.C. counties arts organizations were not included in the national survey. Arts & Economic Prosperity IV: The Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Organizations and Their Audiences in North Carolina shows that the nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences in Charlotte USA’s 12 N.C. counties had an economic impact of about $261.5 million. This industry also accounted for over 7,800 full-time equivalent jobs. Additionally, this group added approximately $11.5 million to the coffers of our local governments, as well as about $12.6 million to the state government’s bottom line.
Of that $261.5 million regional economic impact, nearly $120 million was direct spending by the arts and culture organizations themselves, while their audiences spent about $141.5 million – and that doesn’t include the cost of admission. In Mecklenburg County, which accounted for the bulk of the arts organizations, 40 percent of event attendees came from the other 15 counties in Charlotte USA and beyond. Of those non-residents, 51 percent specifically came to Mecklenburg for the arts and about 20 percent spent at least one night away from home. This helped raise the per attendee expenditure, excluding admissions costs, to an average of $30.72, higher than the national average of $24.60.
To put this in perspective nationally, U.S. nonprofit arts and culture groups collectively received $4 billion in allocations, but accounted for $135.2 billion in economic activity, supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs, and generated $22.3 billion in revenue for local, state, and federal governments. As Wayne Martin, executive director of the N.C. Arts Council noted, these statistics turn the tables. Rather than asking us to support the arts, the industry can point to these numbers to demonstrate that the arts support us.
Not only do the arts provide an excellent return on investment and contribute to our quality of life, but they also make Charlotte USA a more competitive location in business recruitment.
Last Friday, I was part of a panel sponsored by the Arts & Sciences Council that addressed how “arts mean business,” as fellow panelist Randy Cohen put it. An investment in our arts infrastructure brings nationally renowned exhibits and performances, which in turn, draw tourists and patrons.
Tracy Finch Dodson, director of economic development for Charlotte City Center Partners, expressed it well: Companies want to locate where there is a vibrant arts and culture scene. Simply put, a commitment to arts and culture adds a “cool” factor to the city, attracting young, well-educated professionals, which get the attention of companies wanting employees from that prized demographic. Young people exposed to the arts – future employees – think more creatively.
Creative thinking also is a trait that can make doctors better practitioners. The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Carolinas HealthCare System have developed a partnership in which doctors and medical students will hone their powers of observation to improve their diagnostic skills. By learning to be more aware of patterns in artistic works that are not readily apparent, these health-care providers become more attuned to their patients, delving beyond the obvious.
One member of last Friday’s audience, a woman from Gaston County, called for a regional approach to the arts, similar to the way the Charlotte Regional Partnership facilitates regional economic development. She has a point. Whether you view arts and culture as a joyful part of life, an industry that broadens the tax base, a magnet for young professionals or a teaching tool, the arts are not an amenity. They are a necessity to develop our economy.
I doubt at this point that anyone reading my Monday Memo questions the economic impact that the film industry has on the Charlotte region. A perfect example in microcosm was the “Banshee” shoot in Lincolnton last week. For one scene around the old Laboratory Mill, make-up artists, caterers, camera crews, technicians, electricians, people with rented cranes and trucks, extras, stunt people, actors and others – about 150 people – all were involved in filming a segment of the HBO/Cinemax TV series. In addition to the people on the payroll, numerous local businesses benefitted, too. “Banshee” already has filmed over the last several months in a number of counties around the region and will be here for several more to finish all 10 one-hour episodes for the first season.
Showtime’s “Homeland” continued filming episodes for its second season in uptown Charlotte.
The award-winning series that stars Claire Danes will be shooting in the region through October, except during the DNC.
National media update
Andy Levine, president and chief creative officer of Development Counsellors International recently asked me and 14 other economic development leaders what advice we’d give to recent graduates entering the economic development profession. Andy posted the answers and sent the link to clients and consultants around the country. To see what we said, click here.
A reporter from The Times of London is in Charlotte USA today to talk with economic developers and businesses around the region about our strong manufacturing industry, vibrant uptown, the DNC and our growing data corridor. The interviews, part of our national PR initiative, will give him enough material for several stories in Britain’s premier daily paper, which has more than 1.5 million readers.
Locations, expansions, contractions
Rockwood Lithium, a subsidiary of Rockwood Holdings, Inc., is opening its $56.8 million plant expansion and new Global Technical Center on Friday. The company, which makes salts and metals for lithium-ion batteries, has added 30 people to staff the new facility and expanded production center, bringing total employment to 130. In April, the company changed its name from Chemetall Foote Corp. to Rockwood Lithium. The plant expansion portion of the project was funded,in part,by a $28.4 million grant from the Department of Energy under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.
MSC Industrial Direct Co. Inc., plans to invest more than $31 million in a new, 180,000-square-foot building in Davidson that will serve as the company’s co-headquarters, along with it current office in Melville, N.Y. MSC, a U.S. metalworking and industrial supplies marketer and distributor anticipates creating 400 jobs by the end of 2017. The Charlotte Regional Partnership assisted with locations for the project, which was made possible,in part,by state grants from the Job Development Investment Grant and the One North Carolina Fund Award.
North Carolina Technology Association has opened a Charlotte office. The Charlotte region is the Raleigh-based nonprofit’s fastest-growing location, with about 500 members locally.
Herff Jones, Inc. in Charlotte has fallen victim to online publishing. The Indianapolis-based company will close its local office by the end of the year, putting about 130 people out of work. Herff Jones publishes and prints educational products, and makes recognition awards and other school-related items.
Punker began its $4.6 million operation in Hickory last December, but the fan and blower company held its official grand opening last week.The Charlotte Regional Partnership assisted the German company, which will hire 62 employees.
VERMOP Salmon GmbH has opened its first U.S. subsidiary in Charlotte, VERMOP USA. The high-end professional cleaning equipment manufacturer will hire eight people by the end of December and will hire additional employee to keep pace with business growth. The privately held German company’s sales and after-sales departments will locate in the 27,760-square-foot leased space.
Perinatal ComfortCare is moving its headquarters from Greenville, S.C., to Charlotte. The perinatal hospice organization will offer training in Charlotte to medical professionals from throughout the U.S. to assist them in helping parents cope with the news that their child will be born dead or only will live a little while.
A big congratulations to Clark Gillespy, whom Duke Energy has just named as president of the company’s South Carolina service region. Clark has worked with many of you in his role as vice president of economic development, business development and territorial strategies for Duke Energy in North Carolina and South Carolina. He has played a key part in helping Charlotte USA be as competitive as it is. In his new position, he will be responsible for advancing the company’s rate and regulatory initiatives and managing state and local regulatory and government relations, economic development and community affairs. We are fortunate that Clark will continue to be part of the region and know he will excel in his new role.
Welcome to Sven Gerzer will be joining the Charlotte Chamber on September 1st as vice president of economic development/European sector, succeeding Justin Hunt, who retires at the end of the week. Sven comes to Charlotte from his hometown of Munich where he was director of West Virginia’s European office. He also serves as vice president of the Council of American States in Europe, which represents U.S. states’ interests in dealings with European governments and industry associations. Sven, who has undergraduate and graduate degrees in international studies from the University of South Carolina, will move to Charlotte in early October.
Our investors’ commitment to regionalism allows us to continue and enhance our mission-critical efforts to generate qualified projects, create awareness of the many assets our region offers businesses, and assist communities in responding to projects requests. This week we will highlight BAE Systems. Read about them in the box below and when you see a member of the company, please thank them for their support of regionalism.
Because of the July 4th holiday, there will not be a Monday Memo next week. But I’ll return the following week. Have a safe holiday and celebrate the foundation on which our country is built.
Ronnie L. Bryant, CEcD, FM, HLM
President & CEO
Charlotte Regional Partnership Investor Focus
BAE Systems is a premier global defense and security company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services.
Activities and Events
Business Growth Summit, sponsored by the Charlotte Business Journal, July 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. - Charlotte Convention Center - Details
International Youth Nuclear Conference, August 5-11, 2012 - Westin Charlotte - Details
Crafting the Playbook for Clean Energy Financing & Development, sponsored by NC Sustainable Energy Association, August 22, 12:30-5:30 p.m. - Piedmont Natural Gas, Charlotte - Details
Photo credit: Charlotte Film/Scott Hunter