City Builder


Airdate: June 27, 2018

Michael Smith is president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP), a place-making organization that drives the economic, social and cultural development of the Center City of Charlotte. Before joining CCCP, Michael was Chief Financial Officer of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. He has held corporate roles at AT&T Communications, First Union Bank’s Capital Markets Group and By-Products Interactive. He served as the chairman of the board of directors for the International Downtown Association and on a number of regional boards including Boy Scouts of America Mecklenburg Council, the Belk College of Business at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the Hospitality and Tourism Alliance, and the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. Michael earned a bachelor's degree in business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. 

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in place-making, downtown development, the elements of a vibrant city, and leading a mission-based life.


  • Michael describes his role helping lead urban development in the City of Charlotte.

  • He answers what he thinks he is particularly good at in his role, what he looks for in the people he hires and the culture of his office.

  • He considers why Charlotte hasn't made the list of having one of the best downtowns in the United States and how Charlotte's Center City compares with other peer downtowns.

  • Michael shares what comes to mind when he thinks about his childhood and what he tries to echo to his own children.

  • Michael explains why he studied commerce in college and recalls his time in graduate school.

  • He describes the business he helped start and his moment of reflection and introspection that followed.

  • He answers whether he is the de-facto mayor of Charlotte.

  • Michael reveals what is on his night-stand for reading, how he begins his day, and the role faith and Jesuit thinking plays in his life.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: Shaping Civilization

To Learn More About Michael


  • What struck you about Michael's comments?

  • What downtown cities do you enjoy?

  • How did opportunities come your way?

  • What reading informs your day?

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This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts. 

Further support is provided by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, one of America’s leading urban public libraries, delivering exceptional services and programs, with a mission to improve lives and build a stronger community. 

And by the Arts & Science Council, Charlotte-Mecklenburg's resource hub and lead advocate for the regional cultural community, providing Culture for All.

Additional support is provided by the UNC College of Arts + Architecture, celebrating a decade of creative education in the arts and design.