The List (31-40)

The List: 1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50

31. Bruton Smith
Chairman and CEO, Speedway Motorsports
In 2006: 37

If this list were confined to Concord, Smith would be first, second, and third. The manner in which the town caved to his threats to move the Speedway was breathtaking. But this is a Charlotte list, and while, as one business leader told us, “he’s still got that ‘B’ next to his name”—”B” meaning “billionaire”—Smith isn’t much of a player in Charlotte power circles. Still, he runs one of the area’s largest tourist attractions, he’s influential in the NASCAR world, and, well, there’s that “B.”

32. Tim Belk
Chairman and CEO, Belk Inc.
In 2006: Unranked

Of the three Belk brothers, Tim has emerged as the leader of the company. None of the three (the others are McKay and Johnny) keep a high public profile, but Tim will be the next chair of the Charlotte Chamber, and his name came up often in our interviews as a rising star. Due to the legacy of Tim’s uncle, John Belk, who ran the company for fifty years and passed away last August, Belk Inc. is one of the most influential companies in the city. As long as Tim Belk is the man in charge, then he’ll be a fixture on this list.

33. Charlie Dannelly
North Carolina Senate
In 2006: Unranked

A former twelve-year member of Charlotte City Council, Dannelly represents the state’s thirty-eighth district, part of which cuts through Mecklenburg County. As with most state politicians, few folks in Charlotte even know his name, but for now he’s this area’s most powerful person in Raleigh. He serves as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, one of the three so-called “big chairs” of the budget-writing committee, and deputy president pro tem of the Senate. He was instrumental in getting the General Assembly to pass the rental car tax increase that made the new cultural campus possible.

34. Art Gallagher
President, Johnson & Wales University
In 2006: 25

Since launching the Johnson & Wales Charlotte campus in 2004, the perpetually bow-tied Gallagher has become a local civic force. Name a top-level board and he’s on it, though his local presence is most felt by his work on the Arts & Science Council board. While he doesn’t drive any initiatives himself, other than Johnson & Wales, he is very well connected and valued for his judgment and leadership qualities.

35. Joe Price
CFO, Bank of America
In 2006: Unranked

The highest-ranking UNC-Charlotte grad on the list, Price is the number two guy at Bank of America. As CFO, he’ll play a key role in trying to help lead Bank of America out of the financial industry crisis and integrating new acquisitions Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. Traditionally, the BofA CFO has been a powerful leader in Charlotte, whether it’s by helping to raise money for political candidates or serving as the occasional public face of the company.

36. Marshall Larsen
CEO, Goodrich Corp.
In 2006: Unranked

In a city with one fewer Fortune 500 headquarters than it had a few months ago, Goodrich is that much more of a player. Larsen isn’t the most visible of CEOs, but he’s on the short list of calls when corporate support is needed for a civic initiative, particularly in the area of arts and culture. Goodrich’s employee base here is relatively small, but the company has done well during tough times, which probably means Larsen will get called upon even more often.

37. Claude Alexander
Senior Pastor, The Park Ministries
In 2006: 43

Among local African-American religious leaders, Alexander is generally recognized as the most influential, along with Friendship Missionary Baptist’s Clifford Jones, and one of the more progressive. He preaches to thousands every weekend—in person and online. His ministry is a major landowner, with holdings from its home base on Independence Boulevard all the way up to Huntersville. Alexander doesn’t have the time to get too involved in Charlotte affairs—he was recently named a bishop, which comes with regional responsibilities—but he is accessible to local leaders and closely tied with the Foundation for the Carolinas.

38. Ellen Ruff
Duke Energy Carolinas
In 2006: Unranked

As her boss Jim Rogers jets around the country pitching his vision for the next era of Duke Energy, Ruff runs one of three major utilities that make up the parent company. She’s the top contact at Duke for local officials, and she’s the one who serves on the boards, such as the Charlotte Regional Partnership. In the community, she focuses on economic development.

39. Keith Parker
CEO, Charlotte Area Transit
In 2006: Unranked

All of a sudden, CATS can do no wrong. The opening of the first light rail line went smoothly and just happened to coincide with a dramatic increase in gas prices. Parker, who was an assistant city manager before being given the CATS job by Curt Walton, is not saddled with blame for the cost overruns of the construction of the light rail line, which gave him a jump-start in his job. His primary challenge will be getting the next line up and running and avoiding the problems of the past. It’s early, but he’s off to a good start.

40. Charles Bowman
Charlotte and N.C. Market President, Bank of America
In 2006: Unranked

Is there any doubt that BofA is the biggest player in town? Bowman is the third red banker on this list. He replaced Graham Denton, who was number twenty-seven in 2006 as market president, and power comes with that position. That makes him the
primary contact for local community issues, an increasingly important role as CEO Ken Lewis is forced to focus on running the bank. As one philanthropic leader told us, “he’s writing lots of checks.” And if you’re writing checks, you’ve got power.

Categories: Feature, The Buzz