Vision 2026. Cool Spring Downtown District. A new artistic director for Cape Fear Regional Theatre. A new music director for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. These recent initiatives and changes reflect a growing, collective thought: Fayetteville is ready to grow, and that growth requires collaboration.
Successful entrepreneurial collaboration is the message of Charlie Brock, keynote speaker for Methodist University’s third annual Reeves School of Business Symposium and Awards Dinner. The dinner will held Thursday, Nov. 16, at Embassy Suites Fayetteville/ Fort Bragg from 6:30-8:30 p.m. In addition to the keynote speech and dinner, seven awards will be presented to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in Fayetteville’s business community.
Pam Bierman, MU Center for Entrepreneurship instructor and co-organizer of the event, said this night is not only relevant to award recipients and those already entrenched in the business community.
“Entrepreneurism is everywhere, and I believe there’s a budding entrepreneur in each one of us,” she said. “I think a lot of people have had dreams of what they would like to do, but they don’t know how to do it.”
That’s where 20-year veteran entrepreneur Brock comes in. His speech for the night is titled “Transforming Cities through Innovation and Leadership.” Bierman said she first heard Brock speak at a regional pitch competition for students in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“A couple of things struck me about Charlie that I thought would be perfect for having a keynote here,” she said.
First was the evidence of Brock’s success in his own city – and how the mechanisms of that success could apply to Fayetteville. “Chattanooga has been transformed over the last 20 years,” Bierman said. “Twenty years ago, it was … really a rough city, a lot of problems with drugs and gangs. Some prominent members of the community decided to take back the community and make it a safe, prosperous and enjoyable place with a high quality of living. (Brock) was one of those people.” Through Brock’s work in organizations like Launch Tennessee – of which he is the president and CEO – early-stage investment in Tennessee has increased 100 percent, and Chattanooga now boasts the fastest internet and smartest electric grid in America.
“He’s very involved in developing what I would call entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout Tennessee,” Bierman said. “I kind of parallel Chattanooga to Fayetteville. We’ve really seen a need for better collaboration; we’ve got little pockets of it but not necessarily orchestrated at a higher level. … He’s doing that, and we want to know how to do that. He’s not only working with legislators in trying to have state legislation that’s business-friendly, he’s (also) mentoring, trying to create incubators and accelerators and those kinds of programs that help businesses get started.
“(He’s) an exciting person who is doing and has been doing what we want to do in Fayetteville.”
The seven awards of the night will honor community leaders who, like Brock, have laid and are laying the groundwork for the change their city wants to see, Bierman said. These awards are Alumni Business Person of the Year; Entrepreneur of the Year; Business Person of the Year; Greater Good Award; SmallBusiness Excellence Award; Silver Spoon Award; and Outstanding Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.
“A lot of people attend to see the award winners,” Bierman said. “We make people wait until the end, because it’s kind of the climax of the event.”
Attendees will get to learn about each awardwinner’s work, ideas and passions in short videos that will play as recipients make their way onstage.
Tickets cost $75 each. To register or to learn more, visit www.methodist.edu/rsb-symposium.
PHOTO: Keynote speaker, Charlie Brock