Leading when your team is virtual (free version)

Plus: N.C. releases new stats on hospital readiness; United Way assesses needs; Hearst Tower becomes Truist Center

Today is Wednesday, April 1, 2020. You’re reading The Charlotte Ledger, an e-newsletter with local business-y news and insights for Charlotte, N.C. (no joke)

Editor’s note: This is a shorter, free version of The Charlotte Ledger sent to people on our free sign-up list. The complete version for paying subscribers went out 15 minutes ago. It included the full interview with a Charlotte executive coach on how to lead when everybody is working remotely, as well as the full list of rezoning petitions filed in Charlotte in March — with details on where developers are planning new apartment towers, warehouses and townhome communities.

Paid subscriptions to The Ledger start at $9/month, and you receive full access to every edition by email and on our website, including the complete Wednesday and Friday issues. Details here.


Q&A: Employees want vision and empathy – even if it’s via computer, a Charlotte executive communication coach says

By Amy George

Leading — a company, a business, a team — is hard enough in normal times. But these are not normal times. As more companies have employees working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, more leaders must lead from afar.

For insight into how that works, The Ledger turned to Guillermo Villar, executive communication coach and owner of Cambio Coaching, who is doing more virtual coaching from his home in Elizabeth.

Q. What do team members need to hear from their top leaders or managers right now?

Villar: They need to hear some empathy. They also need to hear a vision for how we will get through this difficult period. Sometimes leaders like to say, “This is a tough time, but we need to persevere,” and they are able to get people on board with that.

But the next-level leader needs to think about what’s not being said. The next-level leader is thinking about what people aren’t saying about what they are feeling inside. Maybe it doesn’t have to do with the job but the toll that this extraordinary time and work is having on them. The next level leader is able to keep their finger on the pulse of the unsaid things and find ways to encourage people to address those aspects of their life and work that might not be talked about.

The full interview is available to paying subscribers.


New N.C. stats on hospital preparedness

The state released some new facts about hospital preparedness for the coronavirus, and they are numbers we haven’t seen before, including:

  • There are 76 patients hospitalized in the 11-county region that includes Charlotte, or about half of all hospitalized coronavirus patients in the state.

  • About 1/4 of the 2,519 ventilators in the state are currently in use (for any reason).

  • Statewide, there are more than 7,000 empty hospital beds, including nearly 800 ICU beds.

You can check out all the new figures here. They’re helpful. They help you understand that at the moment, hospitals appear to have plenty of capacity to handle an increase in serious coronavirus cases. Alas, that won’t fit the panic-inducing narrative.


United Way: Food and cash are biggest needs

Last week, Foundation for the Carolinas and United Way of Central Carolinas announced 14 grants totaling $3M to Charlotte-area nonprofits through the new Covid-19 Response Fund.

It has raised $13.5M from local businesses and individuals — and it is still fundraising as the needs continue to grow.

The Ledger caught up this week with Laura Yates Clark, CEO of United Way of Central Carolinas, for an update on what she is hearing from nonprofits about their important work.

On where the biggest needs are right now: “Food and emergency cash assistance, and in making sure we can help people be sheltered and housed. The eviction law is a huge help, but there is education that has to go on about that. It doesn’t mean somebody might not attempt to evict someone.”

On how relief efforts are going: “We are grateful for the community’s support for the fund. It’s going as well as it can, under the circumstances. Are we going to be able to meet all the needs? No. We are going to be continuously fundraising.”

On help from the federal government: “Federal funding will provide significant help for the nonprofits and the people they serve, but it will take time for that to roll out.”

On the challenges for Charlotte’s nonprofits: “The nonprofits are having to figure out how to change their business models. Think about how close in contact they are with their clients and the day-to-day interactions they have. Especially those on the front lines, they don’t have the option of working from home. … Often, our nonprofits are operating on thin operating margins. They don’t have the technology they need, like a laptop for every staff person. They don’t have remote access.”

Organizations that have donated $1M+ are Mecklenburg County, C.D. Spangler Foundation & National Gypsum, LendingTree, City of Charlotte, The Howard R. Levine Foundation, Truist Financial Corp., Bank of America, The David A. Tepper Charitable Foundation, Lowe’s and Coca-Cola Consolidated.

Individuals are also invited to give. More info here.


Truist buys Hearst Tower — but signs might take a while

Truist Financial Corp. on Tuesday finished its purchase of Hearst Tower uptown, in a record-setting deal.

The bank bought the 47-story building from Cousins Properties for $455.5M and has made it its headquarters. It will now be called “Truist Center.”

The bank said in a statement: “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, decisions about the building, including branding, signage and occupancy plans, will be announced at a later date.”

In March, Truist filed paperwork with the city giving some indication of what the signs on the tower might look like. It is seeking a rezoning to allow it to place signs on the building “with a total maximum sign face area of 3,076 square feet.” The signs would be “allocated between all four sides of the existing office tower.”

Here are the proposed views from Tryon Street and College Street:

And a close-up:

The signs from Fifth and Sixth streets would be a little smaller, probably just with the bank’s interlocking logo, like this:

However, since the City Council isn’t meeting at the moment, it’s unclear how long it might be until we can see “TRUIST” and its logo emblazoned in purple on the Charlotte skyline.

More rezoning: Today’s newsletter for paying Ledger subscribers included every rezoning petition filed with the city in March — even those not on the city’s main rezoning website.


In brief

  • New #1 grocer: Walmart has surpassed Harris Teeter as the biggest grocer in the Charlotte region, according to an industry report. Walmart captured 21.8% of Charlotte-area market share in 2019, compared with 17.6% for Harris Teeter, according to Chain Store Guide’s Grocery Industry Market Share report. In 2018, Harris Teeter edged out Walmart 18.8%-17.8%. (Biz Journal)

  • CMS board struggles with electronic meeting: A school board meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday on Zoom encountered technical difficulties. “‘It worked yesterday,’ [chairwoman Elyse Dashew] said. ‘Today we’re getting an error, and so we have a bit of a work-around.’ The work-around was an iPhone stream of a laptop carrying the Zoom meeting.” (WFAE)

  • No shut-offs: Gov. Roy Cooper ordered utilities not to shut off service for nonpayment. “The order specifies that electric, gas, water and wastewater services can’t be shut off for the next two months.” (WFAE)

  • No sports at county parks: Mecklenburg County has closed basketball courts, tennis courts and volleyball courts at its parks to discourage residents from playing sports that might spread the coronavirus. (Observer)


Programming note: Ledger editor Tony Mecia appears as a guest on 90.7 WFAE at 6:40 a.m. and 8:40 a.m. on Thursdays for a discussion of the week’s local business news in the station’s “BizWorthy” segment. Audio and transcripts are also available online.


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The Charlotte Ledger is an e-newsletter and web site publishing timely, informative, and interesting local business news and analysis Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, except holidays and as noted. We strive for fairness and accuracy and will correct all known errors. The content reflects the independent editorial judgment of The Charlotte Ledger. Any advertising, paid marketing, or sponsored content will be clearly labeled.

Editor: Tony Mecia; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire