Charlotte biz columnist leaving for university job



Charlotte Observer business editor John Arwood and managing editor Cheryl Carpenter sent out the following announcement on Friday afternoon:

We’re sorry to announce that Ron Stodghill is leaving the Observer to become the director of an Applied Research Center at Johnson C. Smith University, focusing on small business and workforce development.

In his columns for the Observer, Ron has often introduced us to individuals in Charlotte who have decided to reinvent themselves, to engage, to try something new. Ron sees this new chapter in his life in much the same way: In his new role, he will be helping entrepreneurs follow their dreams and energize the small-business sector in Charlotte.

As Ron’s readers know, this is what he believes deeply: When creative entrepreneurs thrive, so will Charlotte. This new role gives Ron a chance to help make that a reality.

When Ron joined the Observer in early 2008, he brought considerable gifts as a writer and as a leader. He became editorial director of the magazine division, helping our magazines transform their journalism. He led that division to more significant collaboration with the newsroom. All that would lead to the magazine division’s first SND award.

In 2009 Ron joined the Business news staff as a columnist. He wrote provocative columns about an array of business figures, from CEOs to young creative types. He told us what Alan Simonini learned from running a Dairy Queen, what Ron Carter learned in South Africa, and how one man went from crashing into a tree to shaking hands with the mayor. He wrote about the unlikely rise of twin black barbershop owners Damian and Jermaine Johnson to become powerful advocates for economic inclusion. His columns often brought edge to our pages, especially when he introduced us to business people frustrated with what they see as Charlotte’s reluctance to embrace creative entrepreneurs.

He introduced us to the people behind the stories — dramatizing Electrolux’s move to Charlotte, for example, by following the story of one family relocating here. His skill as a storyteller and columnist won him a first-place NCPA award for serious column writing.

Please join us in wishing Ron well. His last day is August 26.