Dec 12, 2023 - Business

Hot takes from Charlotte’s top executives

Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures

Ric Elias, CEO and co-founder of Red Ventures CLT Alliance Annual Outlook Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Three of Charlotte’s most powerful CEOs gathered on one stage Tuesday to reflect on the past year and look forward to 2024.

Driving the news: To wrap up each year, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance gauges how the city’s top business leaders feel about the economic state during its annual outlook.

  • Speakers were Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison. Ric Elias of Red Ventures, also a well-known podcast host, moderated the panel at The Revelry in Camp North End.
  • This year’s event had a brief hiatus, as executives in suits mixed with special guests from the Charlotte Fire Department due to a false fire alarm, but things were quickly back to business.

Here are some of the hot takes from the executives this year.

Brian Moynihan, chair of the board and CEO of Bank of America
Moynihan. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

“It’s hard to have a recession if everybody’s working and making money.” — Moynihan

  • The national unemployment rate fell to 3.7% from 3.9% in November.
  • Elias said the Great Resignation seems to be over. Both Ellison and Moynihan noted attrition is low at their respective companies.
  • “I think it’ll hold here for a while because, just the stability of the economy,” Moynihan said. He stressed the importance of continued talent development. He emphasized the need to invest in education for the future of artificial intelligence and the jobs it will require.
Marvin Ellison, chairman and CEO of Lowe’s
Marvin Ellison, chairman and CEO of Lowe’s. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

“The only NBA team in the country that Lowe’s is a sponsor with is the Charlotte Hornets, and it’s not because they’re putting a great product on the court.” — Ellison

  • Asked by Elias what advantages Charlotte has over other regions, Ellison said its people like Fred Whitfield. Whitfield announced last week he is stepping down as Hornets’ Sports & Entertainment president and vice chairman.
  • Ellison recalled how Lowe’s was shifting all its market focus to the NFL. As their main competitor (Home Depot) was partnering with college football, data indicated Lowe’s customers didn’t care about the NBA.
  • But Ellison said Whitfield’s passion for Charlotte and his philanthropy changed his mind. Lowe’s recently extended its sponsorship agreement with the Hornets, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.

“This city could be the best city in this country.” — Elias

  • The leaders were optimistic about Charlotte’s future. They said the city should focus on growing talent and improving education.
  • They were also concerned about infrastructure. Ellison said Charlotte should learn from the planning mistakes other cities, such as Nashville and Atlanta, have made.

Bonus tidbit to go: What would Moynihan and Ellison be doing if they weren’t leading major companies? Elias posed the question:

  • Moynihan said he would be an architect, like his brother. Ellison said he’d probably be a professor, so he could guide young people.
CLT Alliance Annual Outlook
This year’s CLT Alliance Annual Outlook had a surprise visit from the fire department. Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

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