Economic think tank exec to be Chamber banquet speaker

Donnie Charleston.jpg

Donnie Charleston


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A top official with a Raleigh-based think tank is set to be the featured speaker this month at the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce's 106th annual banquet.

Donnie Charleston is the economic policy manager at the Institute for Emerging Issues, based at N.C. State University, which seeks to ensure the state remains competitive in the global marketplace. The Chamber's event will be from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the K.E. White Center, with dinner to be served at 7 p.m.

The Institute for Emerging Issues, which was established in 2002, grew out of the Emerging Issues Forum. The forum was started in the mid-1980s by then-Gov. James B. Hunt and then-N.C. State Chancellor Bruce Poulton to attract leaders from throughout the nation to speak about critical questions facing North Carolina officials. Mayor Joe Peel serves on the institute's national advisory board.

Charleston's job is to work with corporate executives, government officials and leaders of non-profit organizations from across North Carolina and the rest of the nation.

The Chamber’s event will not be the first time he has been in the Harbor of Hospitality. This past summer, he gave a presentation at College of The Albemarle.

At COA, he told government and business leaders North Carolina stands to lose more than a million jobs, more than 64,000 of them in the northeastern part of the state, as employers begin to automate more low-skill positions currently filled by human workers.

Charleston said he believes North Carolina is going to have to overcome huge challenges in how people are educated if the state is to fulfill business and industry’s need for talent. He particularly emphasized the importance of having a top-flight educational system in North Carolina.

Charleston's background includes having served as a fiscal analyst for the N.C. General Assembly and also includes having served as a policy analyst for the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

Additionally, Charleston continued a family-long history of military service by enlisting in the Army Medical Corps, where he served as a medical specialist. He led military personnel on humanitarian service missions and training missions across the nation and in Central America.

Tickets are $50 each for the Chamber event. For businesses wanting to seat eight guests at a table, the price is $425.

For more information, phone the Chamber at 335-4365.