Successful developer featured at Chamber Banquet

Published 10:33 am Tuesday, February 26, 2013

MURFREESBORO – A Charlotte native with a proven track record of urban development will be the featured speaker March 18 when the Murfreesboro Chamber of Commerce hosts its 61st annual banquet.

Dr. Eric Anthony Johnson, Ph.D., will bring the message of “Rethinking Economic Development….A New Beginning” at the banquet, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. with a social hour and silent auction followed by the dinner and program at 7 p.m. The banquet will be held at the Roanoke-Chowan Shrine Club, located on NC 11 between Murfreesboro and Ahoskie.

Tickets are $25 per person and are available in advance from the Murfreesboro Chamber office or from any Chamber member. Call 398-4886 for more information.

Johnson’s emergence as a national leader in urban development began in the mid-1990s — long before population shifts signaled renewed preferences for the urban core. His work extends across federal, state and local agencies.

In his current role as executive director of Akron, Ohio’s University Park Alliance (UPA), a nonprofit community development corporation, Dr. Johnson is leading renewal efforts in the core section of this former Rubber Capital of the World — now an emerging bio-tech city gaining national recognition for its creative economic development strategies. In that role he inherited an organizational mission on the verge of failure due to its 10-year dormant status. In less than 12 months, he transformed a deteriorating fruitless operation with little to no community belief into a thriving development force on the dawn of revitalizing the heart of Akron’s community.

At the community level, in Akron and elsewhere, Dr. Johnson’s accomplishments include:

Advancing Akron’s transformation by partnering with a prominent international real estate development firm to manage, finance and mitigate development risk in a 50-block area around the University of Akron.

Management of more than 100 acres of waterfront land redevelopment in Cleveland, Ohio.

Successful oversight of a $2.5 billion real estate portfolio in Charlotte with results including the negotiation and sale of Bobcats arena.

Acquisition of more than $15 million in land for redevelopment projects in the City of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Early in his career, Dr. Johnson worked to establish community development corporations to address pressing urban challenges. That experience advanced his understanding of the politics of urban development — and how to accomplish goals through teamwork.

Also in his early years, Dr. Johnson served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Later, working in economic development in Louisiana, he offered testimony before the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee relating to the impact of local urban renewal initiatives — indeed, sharing views that would shape his own work in years to come.

In 2003, Johnson earned his doctorate in Urban Affairs & Public Policy from the University of Delaware. His doctoral research focused on the impact of policies and economic development investment in Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans and Washington, D.C.

He has completed executive training through the Harvard Graduate School of Design Advanced Management Development Program in Real Estate; the Harvard Business School Real Estate Management Program and the Harvard Kennedy School’s government leadership program. A regular participant at national forums on urban planning, Dr. Johnson also serves on the Urban Land Institute Inner City Council. He holds Economic Development Finance Certification from the National Development Council.

Dr. Johnson’s advanced leadership training includes programs at Brookings Institution, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the University of New Orleans and LoyolaUniversity.

In Northeast Ohio, Dr. Johnson is on the boards of JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture development organization, and Open M, an Akron-based nonprofit dedicated to helping the sick and poor. His volunteer activities include building homes for Habitat for Humanity.

Born in New Orleans, Dr. Johnson lives with his family in the area of Akron he is working to revitalize.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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