According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, there are about 90,000 health-care employees in the greater Charlotte area as compared to about 55,000 in the banking industry. Morgan said the annual banking payroll puts about $5 billion into the local economy compared to $4 billion from the health-care industry. “We don’t think of ourselves as a health-care center, but we are,” Morgan says. “We continue to be a center for professional success.”
Duke Energy, the largest public utility in the country, is headquartered in downtown Charlotte. Areva, the largest technical resource for the nation’s nuclear-energy sector, recently announced it was moving its North American headquarters from Bethesda, Md., to Charlotte. Food-service giant Compass Group of the Americas, one of the 10 largest employers in the United States, is based in Charlotte. MetLife announced in April it will bring 300 new jobs to Charlotte as part of a national retail hub for the insurance company. “We’re much more than a banking center, but we always have been,” Quinn says. “Since the financial crisis, our economic-development teams galvanized to make sure we could recruit businesses to expand the job base to be more than a financial center.”
Morgan, CEO of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, grew up in Charlotte when seeing a professional athlete often meant catching a glimpse of pro wrestler Ric Flair around town. It also meant going to Atlanta for the weekend to get a taste of big-city life. Now it’s a city where the popular Showtime drama Homeland is filmed. It’s where Michael Jordan owns two homes, where presidents get nominated and where you can find whatever you want within a few miles.
No longer a trifling town attractive only to fast-food franchises, Charlotte is moving rapidly and forcefully into the future, building a reputation as a city whose many assets are nothing less than golden.
Charlotte native RON GREEN JR. is a contributing writer for The Charlotte Observer, where he worked for more than 20 years. He has written eight books, including 101 Reasons to Love the Yankees, and he currently writes for GlobalGolfPost.com.