13 Charlotteans who made us proud in 2017

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Presented by OrthoCarolina

2017 brought a lot of change to our city – new businesses, new leaders and tons of growth.

While we enter into 2018, Charlotte is poised for even more expansion.

But before we delve too far into this new year of opportunity, we wanted to look back and shine a spotlight on some of the Charlotteans that made us proud last year.

These individuals drove innovation and change. They pushed themselves, and our city, forward.

We can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.

Ric Elias
Co-Founder and CEO of Red Ventures
In 2017: Ric oversaw the monster acquisition of Bankrate, a $1.4 billion purchase. He doubled the size of his Red Ventures’ Fort Mill campus and fundraised millions to help rebuild Puerto Rico after the devastation by Hurricane Maria. The CEO also turned 50 and reportedly had Justin Timberlake perform at his birthday party. Talk about a big year.
Why it matters: Red Ventures has skyrocketed with growth over the past 5 years. The Bankrate acquisition solidifies Red Ventures as an East Coast Fintech giant and is sure to help them attract more top talent.

Tom Ryan
Founder of Start100
In 2017: Tom and Start100 launched a new program that will invest in 12 companies over the course of the next year. They will primarily focus on tech products.
Why it matters: A stipulation is that the companies have to be willing to come to Charlotte and build a lasting presence here. Could be a big deal for us.

Betsy Hauser Idilbi
CEO and Cofounder of Tech Talent South
In 2017: Betsey and her coding school start-up landed a multi-million-dollar investment to fund their expansion to new locations as well as build out their corporate training program.
Why it matters: Charlotte is poised to become a Fintech hub and we need the talent to support it. Betsey and Tech Talent South are helping bring that talent here.

Tim Griffin
CEO of Cloosiv
In 2017: Tim launched his Cloosiv app start-up last year, which allows Starbucks-style ordering for breweries and pop-ups. They landed a $300,000 seed round and they’ve got massive potential.
Why it matters: Charlotte has already seen successful start-ups go big (think Red Ventures and AvidExchange). We think this app could explode.

Dwight Howard
Center for the Charlotte Hornets
In 2017: Dwight Howard joined the Charlotte Hornets and has proven his worth game after game. He even led the Hornets to a 111-106 win against the Milwaukee Bucks in December with a dislocated finger.
Why it matters: Howard is a big name to come to Buzz City. He may be in his 14th NBA season but he’s still a highly skilled player and could help breathe new life into the franchise.

Christian McCaffrey
Running back for the Carolina Panthers
In 2017: McCaffrey joined the team for his rookie NFL season. He made a big splash with 80 receptions for 651 yards – both records for the franchise.
Why it matters: He’s already shown what he can do and next year we think he’ll really get into his stride. Young talent like McCaffrey is what the team needs. Super Bowl 2019, anyone?

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In 2017: The man behind the wheel of famous number 88 finally retired after 18 seasons and 26 wins. He and his wife, who live in Mooresville, also announced they’ll be welcoming a baby girl this upcoming May. Good for you, Dale.
Why it matters: He is a NASCAR legend and this is a NASCAR city.

Bert Rodriguez
In 2017: The 38-year-old won the Charlotte Marathon in November, finishing at 2:26:33.
Why it matters: Bert is one of the fastest road racers in Charlotte (he’s won A LOT of races). Our city has an active running community and he’s setting a high bar for everyone. See you at the starting line in at the next Charlotte Marathon, Bert.

Photo via Facebook

Hope Muir
Artistic Director of the Charlotte Ballet
In 2017: Muir began her first season directing the Charlotte Ballet and started it off with a bang. Her first set of programming featured innovative choreography and unexpected collaborations, like live musicians from Jazz Arts Initiative.
Why it matters: It’s really exciting to have such a visionary director come to our city. In a short time, she’s already made a big effort to get involved in the community and has launched cool initiatives like family matinees, which are reduced-priced, hour long programs geared towards kids. Can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us.

Katy & Joe Kindred
Owners of Kindred Restaurant and Hello, Sailor
In 2017: This dynamic duo launched their highly-anticipated second restaurant location, Hello Sailor, in Lake Norman.
Why it matters: Their first restaurant, Kindred, has consistently attracted local and national attention for their chef-driven, locally sourced cuisine. Hello, Sailor is sure to do the same. We can’t wait to sip cocktails by the lake this spring.

Sarah Baucom & Carrie Barker
Owners of Girl Tribe Co.
In 2017: These besties/business owners, put on multiple massive pop-ups in Charlotte and Raleigh. They hosted the first ever Girl Tribe Girl Talk Conference at Camp North End AND they opened their first ever storefront in South End.
Why it matters: These ladies are killing it and gaining momentum at every turn. We love the positive, girl power vibes they bring to our city and love how they are supporting and elevating local, women-owned businesses.

Vi Lyles
Mayor of Charlotte
In 2017: Vi Lyles made history by becoming Charlotte’s first African-American woman mayor.
Why it matters: As mayor, Lyles has pledged to focus on local issues like affordable housing and workforce development. She brings a new and different perspective to her role and we’re looking forward to seeing how she can progress our city.

Dimple Ajmera
At-large representative for Charlotte City Council

In 2017: Dimple became the first Asian-American on Charlotte’s City Council. At age 30, she also became one of its youngest members.
Why it matters: It’s refreshing to see younger members of the community getting involved in local politics. Our city is diverse and we need more diverse representatives to help drive us forward.

Here’s to another big year, Charlotte.

Cover photo via Alex Grichenko.

(This content was co-created with OrthoCarolina.)

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