Charlotte’s Growing Economy
As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, naturally Charlotte also has one of the fastest growing economies. In recent years, the city has reinvented itself from primarily a textile manufacturing region to now having a much more diverse economy. Banking and finance, logistics, manufacturing, and healthcare are some of the city’s largest sectors. As industries in these and other sectors continue to grow, so does the population. This creates a snowball effect that has allowed Charlotte to build one of the nation’s most fundamentally sound economies.
A History in Finance
Charlotte is probably best known for being the second only to New York City as the largest financial center in the United States. This distinction is a product of it being the site of the first major gold rush in the United States and the subsequent founding of the Charlotte Mint in 1837 and the opening of a branch of the Federal Reserve in 1927.
Banks have long been a part of the city with two of the nation’s largest banks having a rich history here. Headquartered in Uptown Charlotte, Bank of America is the second largest bank holding company in the US and after its acquisition of Merrill Lynch in 2008, it is the world’s largest wealth management institution. The city was also formerly home to Wachovia until its acquisition by Wells Fargo in 2008. Today, Charlotte is the head of East Coast Operations for Wells Fargo, headquartered in San Francisco. Some 49,000 residents of the Charlotte Metro Area are proud to have a career in finance and insurance.
Growing Popularity – A Great Place to Be!
Charlotte’s geographic location is key to not only the reason people are moving here, but businesses as well. Take the logistics industry for example. Charlotte is only 200 miles from the coast and a myriad of major ports. It is also at the center of the largest consolidated rail system in the country. For these reasons plus its central location on the east coast and relative proximity to the country’s largest markets, Charlotte has become a logistics powerhouse. Over 331 trucking firms have operations in Charlotte and employ some 31,000 people.
Did you know that Charlotte is the center of the nation’s fifth largest urban region? Makes sense that it would be such a large logistics hub, doesn’t it? Being centrally located on the East Coast, Charlotte’s businesses can reach almost 60% of the US population in just one day’s delivery by ground. Going hand-in-hand with Charlotte’s logistics industry is the strong manufacturing base here. Every major manufacturing sector is represented in Mecklenburg County, including aerospace and defense equipment, industrial machinery, computer and electronics, consumer goods, and biomedical facilities.
Economic growth and population growth can have a snowball effect and play off of each other not only directly, but in ways most people wouldn’t think. Take the case of Chiquita, who moved their headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte in 2012. As Charlotte’s population has grown, so has Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (US Airways largest hub). As daily flights have increased to more than 700 in Charlotte, Cincinnati’s has dwindled to 190. That was a major drawing point for Chiquita executives when debating how relocating to Charlotte would help their business grow.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s largest employers represent many sectors, including healthcare, government services, education, banking and finance, transportation, retail, telecommunications and manufacturing. The city boasts many corporate headquarters aside from Bank of America, and Chiquita, including Duke Energy, Sonic Automotive, SPX and Nucor. Lowe’s, Family Dollar and Domtar are also headquartered locally. In fact, Charlotte ranks ninth nationally in number of Fortune 500 headquartered companies. Couple this with the continued population growth of the Southeast and it’s easy to see why Charlotte’s economy is only getting stronger.