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Economic Development Framework
As a Certified Economic Developer with 18 years of experience, Peter Zeiler serves as the Director of the Office of Economic Development for Mecklenburg County, NC. He leads a team tasked with creating and implementing the comprehensive policies and programs called for in the County's first ever strategic framework for economic development, including: business attraction and retention, small business and entrepreneur support, work force development, tourism development and building strong connected communities.
Past experience includes: leading a team of project managers in Austin, TX in facilitating the development of more than 800 acres of City owned land in public –private partnerships; managing transit-oriented development, public private partnerships and business attraction in Charlotte, NC, and the development of public assets and business attraction in Detroit, MI.
In addition to serving on several organizational boards, Peter has also taught undergraduate classes as adjunct faculty and frequently lectured for graduate coursework in urban studies and economic development.
As the Business Manager for the Office of Economic Development (OED), Michael provides budget management, budget development, strategic planning, performance management, and contract management for the department. Michael has held several roles in local government administration. His career began in Mecklenburg County’s Office of Management and Budget as a Budget Analyst, where he gained experience working closely with County executives to develop an annual operating budget and to perform various data analysis research projects. He then spent three years managing departmental budgets and other business administration activities with the City of Charlotte Solid Waste Services and the Mecklenburg County Information Technology Services department. Michael holds an MPA from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a B.A. from North Carolina State University
Monica joined the Mecklenburg County’s Office of Economic Development in August of 2019 as the Administrative Support Coordinator, she brings with her an extensive background in business operations with a focus in big box retail. Monica has managed retail operations for over a decade with experience including: Comprehensive reviews of adherence to governing guidelines, strategic staffing solutions, and adding value to new and existing customer relationships. Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management and Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Claflin University. In addition to her role with Mecklenburg County, she volunteers with Southwest Charlotte S.T.E.M Academy and organize youth events throughout the community.
Launched in January of 2018, the Existing Industry program focuses on supporting incumbent businesses in Mecklenburg County. The mission of the program is to maintain close relationships to key employers in the county to become the "first phone call" when considering growth and expansion and to provide ongoing support for existing industries in Mecklenburg County. Assistance provided to industries covers a wide range of areas including municipal concerns (permitting, zoning, storm water, etc.), infrastructure, grant funding, support for expansions and relocations in the County and more. The program also coordinates with the local community college, university systems and various workforce entities to support workforce development and skills training for Mecklenburg County industries. Looking forward as the Existing Industry Program matures, a variety of resources are expected to be initiated: specific networking/benchmarking programs, a wage and benefit survey, a supply chain expo and much more.
The program is led by Gretchen Carson who serves as Program Manager. Prior to joining Mecklenburg County, Ms. Carson spent five years focusing on existing industry efforts in Union County. She served as the Executive Director for the French-American Chamber of Commerce of the Carolinas from 2007-2010 and is currently a member of the organization's Board of Directors. Gretchen holds a B.A. in French and Art History from Indiana University (Bloomington), a B.S.B.A in International Business from University of North Carolina Charlotte and graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Economic Development Institute in 2012. In 2017, she was selected as one of the Charlotte Business Journal's 40 Under 40 in the Charlotte region. She is married with two sons.
In the summer of 2017, Mecklenburg County rolled out a new service to help small business owners and entrepreneurs get direct, face to face assistance in establishing and growing their enterprises. While there are a significant number of small business support providers in Mecklenburg County, it is often difficult for small business owners to know which agencies can provide them the best support. Compounding this issue is that many agencies hold regular Monday through Friday work hours. This leaves many entrepreneurs unable to take time away from work or families to meet with providers.
OED's Small Business Concierge service offers a one stop service where owners can meet directly with an expert that helps the owner identify the specific issues they are trying to solve, helps them map out a process for meeting the challenges and then connects them to the appropriate service providers. This helps the entrepreneurs to be efficient and effective in their efforts. To make sure all entrepreneurs can access this service, it is offered on weekends and weekday evenings in locations though out the County to meet people "where they are and when they are."
The concierge service is led by Mark Stewart. With over 22 years of experience in advising entrepreneurs, operations, financial management, marketing, non-profit development, and state and federal contracting; Mark is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs. Mark's professional background includes: President Stewart Business Group, Executive Director of the Small Business Center at Halifax Community College, Associate Vice President at DAPCO Business Systems a Toshiba Affiliate, and Executive State Director of the Small Business Development Center for the State of Rhode Island. Mark holds an MBA from Eastern University & Master of Arts in Human Resource Development from Villanova University and Bachelor of Arts Edinboro University.
Mecklenburg County introduced a new support service in early 2018 to help small businesses and entrepreneurs meet their capital and credit needs to launch and grow. The goal of the program is to help these entrepreneurs manage their finances better for long term stable growth and to better manage their capital needs. This service is provided in a one-on-one approach to better provide a tailored and focused service to suit individual business needs. The coaching can include:
The capital and credit coaching service is led by Fred Atiemo, a seasoned economic development practitioner with over 30 years of hands-on experience in banking and economic development. Fred has extensive experience in facilitating project development, implementation and management. Fred moved to Charlotte, NC in 2014 from Portland, Oregon where he worked at Portland Development Commission as the Economic Development Finance Manager for 13 years. He also worked in the banking section for over 14 years at varying levels – from examining financial institutions to leading a community bank. Fred holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and Bachelor of Science from Portland State University in Oregon.
Jamila joined the Mecklenburg County’s Office of Economic Development in September 2018 as the Minority, Women, Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) Program Manager. The mission of the Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprises (M/W/SBE) Program is to increase participation of minorities, women, and small businesses in Mecklenburg County business opportunities through outreach, training, and partnerships.
Jamila moved to Charlotte in 2003 to continue her rewarding career in professional education and strategic initiatives, where she has focused her efforts in training and learning development, program management, performance solutions, workforce/skills development, entrepreneurship and small business, compliance and ethics, research and assessment, licensure and certification, and nonprofit management.
Jamila enjoys forging strong meaningful business and community relationships and has a passion for building up the community and structuring a positive path for youth and the underserved.
Prior to joining Mecklenburg County, Jamila worked at:
Jamila holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities from Walden University.
County services are operating at a limited capacity. Questions about COVID-19? Call Public Health Hotline: 980-314-9400