Businessman leaves McCrory foundation post to join new commerce venture

Posted by Patrick Gannon on January 4, 2014 

Charlotte businessman John Lassiter said Friday that he would leave his post as chairman of the Renew North Carolina Foundation board of directors before the end of January.

The departure comes as he joins the board that will oversee North Carolina's new private economic development arm. Lassiter, president of Carolina Legal Staffing in Charlotte and a former member of Gov. Pat McCrory's transition team, has been chairman of the Renew North Carolina Foundation board for about a year.

The foundation has raised money from private donors and funded advertisements to boost McCrory's image. This year, the nonprofit Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina Inc. is expected to take over business recruiting, retention and marketing functions of the state Commerce Department. Lassiter has agreed to serve on the partnership's five-member interim board of directors, which hasn't met.

Some, including the liberal group N.C. Policy Watch, have questioned Lassiter's dual roles on the two boards, as the foundation raises private money from corporations to help the governor and the partnership will dole out economic incentives to businesses seeking to locate in the state. Asked about whether a potential conflict played into his decision to leave the Renew North Carolina Foundation board, Lassiter didn't respond directly.

Instead, he said he has been on the board for about a year to provide leadership and direction in its infancy and that he's accomplished what he set out to do. He also said he is on six or seven boards and has a busy schedule. "There's only so much bandwidth that I have," Lassiter said.

Meanwhile, Lassiter said he has provided input into the hiring of a chief executive officer for the Economic Development Partnership, but he declined to go into detail. An announcement about that hire is expected soon.

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