Category Archives: Lunch with Lynn at the Liberty

Meet Bob Morgan,  Charlotte Chamber’s President and CEO…up close and personal

You grew up in Rome, New York. What are your favorite memories while living there? And talk about your two brothers as well.
My grandparents lived outside of the city in dairy farm country. My great uncle ran the dairy farm that had been in the family for several generations. Time at the farm was very stimulating. We milked cows, saw a calf being born, rode minibikes throughout the fields, rode tractors to bail hay and took target practice once or twice. My grandfather’s garage was full of all kinds of cool stuff – he was the neighborhood mechanic – and my grandmother cooked and spoiled us as only a grandmother can do. Their house was full of family and love and in the cold winters their fireplace was the best.

What brought your family to Charlotte? Eventually, your father became a CMPD police officer. What was it like living with a police officer? Do you remember any of his stories while on the beat?
In the winter of 1971, Rome experienced 174 inches of snow. Dad, who is from Cabarrus County, determined that between the weather, the taxes and the labor unions, we were out of there. He got the job with the CMPD and we moved.

None of us will ever forget the night Dad got shot. He took fragments from some ricochet bullets in the shin. Fortunately the injuries were minor, but life gets real when Dad gets shot. I was probably too young to fully appreciate the risk of being a police officer at that time. I have to think it was especially stressful for Mom to see him going off to work every day.

I also remember the time Dad saved a man’s life by giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation. He made the front page of the newspaper, above the fold. We are still proud. Even today when I talk to officers on the street and ask them if they know Dad, to a person that have good things to say about him. That is pretty special.

What were your most favorite things to do as a child?
Eat Oreo cookies. Pretend to sing and dance like a young Michael Jackson. Play Pop Warner Football (five years for the Derita Demons and one year for East Meck Idlewild). Family camping trips to Morrow Mountain where I learned to swim. Visiting my grandparents in New York and my great grandmother and her family in Albemarle, NC.

You learned lately that some of your ancestors were living in Salem, Mass in 1692 and 93 during the Salem Witch Trials. Share that story. It’s fascinating.
My 8th great grandparents were living in Salem at the time. Samuel Abbe wrote a letter in support of one of the accused. Later, he and his wife made accusations against another woman who had lived in their house and had been difficult. After they kicked her out, farm animals started dying unexpectedly. They assumed that she had put a curse on them. Both of the young women were executed.
Another grandmother around that time was accused of being a witch but the charges were not pursued. I think she was just having a bad day.

Everyone who knows you is aware how you love to play golf. If you could put together your dream foursome, you being one, who would you select….living or dead and explain why.
Jack Nicklaus in his prime. Tiger Woods in his prime. Arnold Palmer in his prime. These are three of the best ever. I would like to see their games and their personalities up close in action. If I could make it a fivesome I would include Bobby Jones.

You have two high school sons who are only 18 months apart in age, but couldn’t be more different. Tell us about them.
Classic stereotype of the oldest being the introvert and the youngest being the extrovert. Robert is very studious and plays in the band. Jack is not quite as studious yet but shows a very strong work ethic on the football field. Robert is now an Eagle Scout and Jack will likely earn the same in 2018. Both are great kids and we are proud of them.

A new Charlotte City Council and Mayor are being installed today December 4. Six are new and have never served in office before. As a leader in Charlotte for many years, what is your advice to them, and what do you see as their challenges and opportunities.
I am biased here, but I think it is important to recognize that Charlotte is and always has been a business town. The public and private sectors have to continue to maintain a pro-business environment for those who are already here and those we recruit. We have to continue to create public private partnerships to get things done. We are also a city that invests in its future. We pass bonds. We look for creative ways to fund infrastructure. We do things that others say can’t be done. We can never forget or lose this spirit.

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Bob and his brothers.  Yup, he’s the middle one.

About  Charlotte Chamber President and CEO Bob Morgan

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce; Charlotte, NC

President & CEO; 2005-pres

Gaston Chamber of Commerce; Gastonia, NC

President & CEO; 2002-2005

Key objectives were to: renew the energy, focus and professionalism of the organization,

implement a merger of the Greater Gastonia Development Corporation into the Chamber as a new Economic Development Division (EDD), implement a new partnership between the EDD and the Gaston County Economic Development Commission (EDC) and improve Gaston County’s image and relationship within the region.The Gaston Chamber of Commerce in 2005 had  999 members and a budget of $658k.  There were 5 full time employees and 3 part time.  The mission was “to grow the economy, be a strong voice for the business community and to deliver value to the membership.”  I also served as the Executive Director of the EDD,  a separate 501c6 organization, comprised of members from the public and private sectors to  fund a marketing program in partnership with the Gaston County EDC; the EDD had a budget of $201k

Leadership:                    

   ACCE Board of Directors; 2014 – 2016

ACCE Metro Cities Council; Chairman; 2015 & 2016

Bechtler Arts Foundation Advisory Council; 2015 – present

Belmont Abbey College Board of Trustees; 2005 – 2007

Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Banquet; Master of Ceremonies; 2008 – present

Boy Scouts Eagle Scout Boards of Review District Representative; 2015 – present

Boy Scouts Leadership Dinner; Chairman; 2014

Boy Scouts Troop Committee Member, Troop 70; 2014 – present

Bush for President NC  Students for Bush; Chairman; 1988

CACCE Scholarship Committee; Chair; 2005

CACCE Board of Directors; 2005 – 2008

Charlotte Center City Partners Board of Directors; 2006 – present

Charlotte CROP Walk for Hunger; Honorary Chairman; 2012, 2013

Charlotte Sports Foundation Board of Directors; 2015 – present

Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage Board of Directors; 2013 – present

UNC Charlotte College of Computing & Infomatics Advisory Board; Lifetime Membership

UNC Charlotte Football Advisory Task Force

YMCA MLK Prayer Breakfast; Co-Chair; 2015 & 2016

And there you have it.  Up close and personal with Charlotte Chamber  President and CEO Bob Morgan.

 

Meet Colette Forrest:  Charlotte’s new power broker

Colette, as new Chairman of the Black Political Caucus elected by that body in February 2017, has demonstrated she has muscle to create the momentum to generate the votes in the November 7 election for Mayor of Charlotte and four at large City Council members. Once the Caucus officially voted for their endorsements in the primary and in the general election Colette proceeded to develop a strategy to get Democrats to the polls. The consequence of her leadership: The Caucus endorsements in the primaries won (those who weren’t endorsed…even incumbents..lost. The same held for the general election. I sat down with Colette to learn all about her.

  • Where did you grow up? Tell me about your family, and what was your favorite thing to do as a child?
I grew up in Charleston, SC. I am an only child and my parents passed away at a young age. My mother from epilepsy when she had a grand mal seizure and my father was KIA in Vietnam. They both died at age 19. Politics is in my genetic DNA. My mother who is now deceased, participated in her first picket at age 16. She later died at 19 but not before she passed the genes of protest to me. Everything is political, so I try to work within the cycle of elections to politically change what I can. I loved reading, that was my favorite thing to do as a child.
  • You moved to Charlotte in 1997. What brought you here?
I had a job offer from Carroll Gray with the Charlotte Chamber.
  • Once in town you became immediately involved in Charlotte politics. What spurred your interest in becoming involved on the political front?  Under your leadership the Caucus has been energized. For the first time all the candidates who were endorsed by the Caucus….Mayor and City Council were elected.  Those who weren’t endorsed were not. Would you share your game plan and how your leadership made that happen?

The late great Don Baker who was former Congressman Mel Watt’s right hand, introduced me to Charlotte politics. Prior to moving, I was involved in SC & DC politics. I had previously worked on the Hill and with SC Congressman Jim Clyburn campaigns and Mr. Baker was aware of my work.

Starting early, I feel was a key to the BPC’s success, that coupled with a lot of hard work.

  • If you could chose your dinner partner living or dead who would it be and why?
Fannie Lou Hammer. I would want to thank her for her invaluable contributions and compare notes with her about the treatment of Black women then and now in politics.
  • If you had a magic wand or could twitch your nose like Samantha from Bewitched and make anything happen. What would that be?
Give President Obama another term, make JFK be his Vice President, Joe Biden their Chief of Staff and Erskine Bowles as their fiscal director.
  • You are Chairman of the Caucus until 2019, what are your plans for that time? And what do you see as the major issues facing Charlotte

I can just take one day at a time, but I would let the BPC body decide what the BPC plans are.

Affordable housing, the rising homicide rate and equitable living are major issues facing Charlotte.

About Colette

And who might this be?  Could it be three year old Colette Forrest? She looks exactly the same now, don’t you think?

I have been a paid staffer for NC US Senator John Edwards, worked on the paid campaign staff of NC US Congressman Mel Watt, NC US Senate Candidate Erskine Bowles, At-Large Charlotte, NC City Councilman Anthony Foxx, NC Governor Beverly Perdue , NC US Senator Kay Hagan and Charlotte, NC District Court Judge Charlotte Brown-Williams.

I have volunteered on the campaigns of SC US Congressman Jim Clyburn, Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin, Charlotte, NC At-Large City Councilman & Mayor Patrick Cannon, Charlotte, NC Mayor Anthony Foxx and Charlotte, NC District Court Judge Kimberly Best-Staton.

Everything is political so I try my best to engage in everything I can politically.

Charles de Gaulle said it best: “I have come to the conclusion that politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians. ” I agree.

I dare to change the status quo.

“My most important campaign is raising an intelligent, happy, healthy, positive & productive strong Black man with my 10 year old son, Bobby.”