Goal 8: Diverse and Resilient Economic Opportunity
Charlotteans will have opportunity for upward economic mobility through access to a diverse mix of jobs and careers that align with education and skill levels of residents and the economic strengths of the region.
- 8a)Increase the jobs-to-housing balance in Charlotte to ensure housing development keeps pace with job growth.
- 8b)Increase number of workers employed within the City’s target industries.
- 8c)Increase the number of businesses supported and/or participating in business support programs.
- 8d)Increase the rate of new business formation within the City.
- 8e)Increase the number and proportion of family sustaining wage jobs in Charlotte.
- 8f)Decrease the number of acres within mixed-use Place Types that are existing single-use commercial and office employment uses by allowing transitions to a mix of uses.
- 8g)Grow the presence of “micro-economies,” (the number of jobs located within community and neighborhood mixed-use areas).
- 8h)Maintain or increase the number of developed acres within Manufacturing & Logistics and Innovation Mixed Use Place Types.
- 8i)Maintain or increase the number of jobs located within Manufacturing & Logistics and Innovation Mixed Use Place Types.
- 8j)Grow the number of Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprises (MWSBEs) and cooperatively owned businesses, operating in the City.
- 8k)Increase the share of jobs at MWSBE-qualified businesses and within cooperatively owned businesses.
- 8l)Capture a greater share of employment growth within the City’s existing and planned Regional Activity Centers.
- 8m)Increase job-training opportunities that allow residents to obtain hard and soft skills needed to qualify for jobs within the City’s target industries.
- 8n)Maintain or increase the number of middle skill jobs (jobs that require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree).
Big Policy IdeasUL::Develop Regional Activity Centers, especially in East and West Charlotte (see Implementation Strategy) with a mix of jobs, housing, schools and daycare services. UL::Create a Citywide Strategic Jobs Plan for the City of Charlotte to ensure a coordinated strategy for increasing employment opportunity throughout the community.
- 8.1Work with Mecklenburg County to revise and align business attraction incentives provided by the City and the County to focus on the quality and quantity of jobs in target industries, workforce development programs, and Activity Centers/priority employment areas. Working with workforce development partners, boost talent development strategies and incentives to maximize opportunities for local employment recruitment.
- 8.2Use quality-of-life amenities, such as proximity to shared-use paths, transit, broadband Internet access, and diverse housing options, to attract businesses.
- 8.3Prioritize transit investments that support access to employment opportunities, especially those that connect areas with low Access to Employment Opportunity equity metrics and employment areas with irregular schedules (night shifts, sunrise shifts, etc.).
- 8.4Invest in amenities and infrastructure needed to support the transition of single-use commercial and office areas to mixed-use places in accordance with the Future Place Type Map. Prioritize these investments in areas lacking Access to Employment Opportunities.
- 8.5Support retention, expansion, and development of Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprises (MWSBEs), small businesses, and micro businesses. Expand business corridor revitalization programs to align with the Future Place Type Map and prioritize investing in areas with a lack of access to economic opportunities to attract desired uses and support existing businesses (applies to Regional Activity Center, Community Activity Center, Neighborhood Center, Campus, and Innovation Mixed Use).
- 8.6Invest in youth training and paid employment programs that expose youth to education, entrepreneurship, and career pathways.
- 8.7Continue leadership role in regional efforts to support economic development with further emphasis on defined roles and responsibilities for the City, regional partners, and the state. Focus City efforts on project based business attraction/retention opportunities within target industries, investments in place-based economic development efforts and partner with place-management organizations that implement them, support for Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprises (MWSBEs), and support for workforce development efforts by providing resources and connecting training providers to residents and businesses.
- 8.8Support and encourage the growth and creation of place-based economic development organizations that serve Activity Centers and employment areas. Encourage the use of funding tools (e.g. municipal service districts, business associations, business improvement districts) by these organizations.
- 8.9Grow and promote the greater airport to support their master planning efforts.
- 8.10Support local and regional agencies and institutions (community colleges, job-training centers, service providers) on workforce training and employment opportunities, with a continuing focus on new and emerging types of careers (e.g. renewable energy).
- 8.11Prioritize partnerships and funding for job training and workforce support service providers working in underserved areas and serving historically disadvantaged populations that do not have four-year degrees.
Other City Initiatives
- 8.12Consider a district-wide parking program for older urban commercial districts to reduce costs and parking challenges for existing and new businesses.
- 8.13Support initiatives that provide resources to build or rehabilitate retail spaces and other types of commercial spaces in business corridor revitalization areas and recruit and support tenants to these spaces in order to develop micro-economies.
- 8.14Explore policies and programs, such as Community Benefit Agreements, to support the development of new and retention of community assets and amenities, and for workforce development in or near major employment centers.
- 8.15Develop strategies to protect high value production and distribution areas, including those with good access to the airport and rail facilities, from encroachment of incompatible land uses and redevelopment pressures, and identify existing production and distribution lands that are appropriate to convert to other uses (applies to Manufacturing and Logistics and Innovation Mixed-Use). (cross-reference: Goal 6)
- 8.16Identify infrastructure needed to support continued business expansion (applies to Regional Activity Center, Community Activity Center, Campus, General Industrial, and Light Industrial).
- 8.17Ensure that City business recruitment initiatives focus on companies and industries that support key City policies such as providing a family sustaining wage and worker protections, offering opportunities for career advancement, and removing criminal background information from job applications and provide support to retain existing businesses that meet these goals.
- 8.18Encourage the development of new housing opportunities within or near existing single-use commercial and office employment areas (applies to Regional Activity Center, Community Activity Center, Neighborhood Center, and Campus). (cross-reference: Goal 1)
- 8.19Monitor the rate of capture of new jobs and housing in Activity Centers to ensure these areas are capturing the desired mixture of uses.
- 8.20Support the growth of jobs and provision of workforce support services to areas lacking access to employment opportunities. (cross-reference: Goal 1)
- 8.21Create a green workforce development program which provides the skilled workers needed to meet the demand for new sustainable products, technologies, and services.
- 8.22Identify ways to maintain and increase the production of food in Charlotte’s “foodshed” and food production industries by supporting career pathways, access to resources and customers, and improving the quality of employment opportunities for people involved in the region’s agricultural sector.
- 8.23Through Transportation Demand Management (TDM) programs and other efforts, support employer-based transit subsidy, parking cash-out, and other incentives to provide improved multimodal job access. (cross-reference: Goal 5)
Recommended Projects and Programs
- 8.24Map Place Types and associated zoning districts to ensure protection of production and distribution lands and reduce encroachment on valuable production and distribution lands by incompatible land uses.
- 8.25Modify existing and create new programs to support the creation and growth of new and small businesses, including startup businesses, by providing support and assistance directly to businesses and increasing access to capital for new and small businesses.
- 8.26Consider using green stormwater infrastructure (or other infrastructure) maintenance as a workforce development program.
- 8.27Monitor reduction of jobs through automation. Work with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, K-12 education institutions, and workforce development partners to identify approaches to provide training in industry sectors that are losing jobs to automation.
- 8.28Maintain and refine programs for tenant improvement assistance targeted in community corridors and Community Activity Center and Neighborhood Center Place Types. As an incentive to attract desired types of retailers, the City should establish a program that provides a subsidy for a portion of tenant improvement costs.
- 8.29Consider comprehensive economic development programs, such as the City of Boston Worker Cooperative Initiative to expand worker ownership.
- 8.30Develop employer-sponsored transit fare and other alternative mobility programs to provide improved job access.
- 8.31Refine and potentially expand the Opportunity Hiring Grants Program (and/or similar efforts) to increase incentives and participation in the program based on project success. Consider expanding to provide incentives and opportunities for linking job/skill training initiatives.
- 8.32Collaborate with non-profits and other providers to develop training and mentoring strategies to eliminate racial and cultural disparities in access to work opportunities.
- 8.33Promote partnerships between existing Department of Labor registered apprenticeship programs, city departments, and contractors in the building trades industry for workforce development.
Case Study: Many Flavors of BIDs in Milwaukee
The City of Milwaukee has taken an active role in supporting their Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) throughout the city to protect employment areas and cushion against economic downturns. Businesses, property owners and community members benefit from these BIDs, which improve, promote and revitalize neighborhoods and business and commercial areas, and ultimately, the broader community. Milwaukee has over 30 existing districts, including several that incorporate the City’s industrial areas. One noteworthy result from industrial-based BIDs is that the City has developed a evaluation matrix for industrial rezoning requests to ensure they do not impact high-value industrial lands.
Case Study: Target Growth Areas/Vulnerable Communities Incentives
In 2018, Wake County North Carolina made changes to their Business Development Grant program to provide opportunities for use of incentives for businesses expanding or locating in targeted geographic areas. Targeted incentives for vulnerable communities are a critical tool for inclusive and equitable growth. The process of implementing these targeted incentives includes:
•A vulnerability index is used to designate areas of the county not benefiting from economic and population growth (based on poverty, quality of education, unemployment);
•A project that creates a minimum of 20 jobs that pay the Wake County living wage; and
•A minimum investment of $2 million.
The incentive available is up 35% of new tax growth over a 5 year period. Wake County Economic Development created a new tier for the Business Development Grant for companies that locate meet these crieteria. The goal of this new incentive tier is to provide opportunities for low- to mid-skill jobs in areas that would benefit from this level of employment. Previously, incentive tiers for the Wake County Business Development Grant required wages between 100 to 200 percent of the county average whereas the proposed tier requires a living wage, which is below $15.00 an hour.