What do you call a 16-county region with more than 2.7 million people, nine Fortune 500 company headquarters, a world-class transportation infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and a diverse, vibrant and expanding economy? The answer is Charlotte USA, a global center of banking and financial services that has built significant industry clusters in aerospace, life sciences, energy, film production and motorsports. A cooperative and collaborative regional approach to economic development has spurred remarkable growth in jobs and investment from around the country and around the world, making the region a great place to work, live and prosper. New and expanding businesses have invested more than $33 billion in the region since 2000, creating nearly 150,000 jobs. “When you talk with people whose companies have moved or expanded in Charlotte USA, you’ll hear the same thing over and over again. Our region has outstanding accessibility, a talented workforce and a business-friendly climate. Those are the reasons that they cite, but if you talk to them longer, another reason they came – or have stayed – is our culture of collaboration, vibrant urban core and generally outstanding quality of life,” says Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership.
Big Names, Big Companies
Evidence of the region’s success is ample and ongoing:
- Chiquita Brands International has relocated its global headquarters to Charlotte USA, bringing 400 jobs with it, in part because of the superior international air service available at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
- Apple built a $1 billion state-of-the-art data center in Catawba County and is investing millions more on a 4.8-megawatt fuel cell facility that, along with a 40-megawatt solar farm on site, will help the facility generate more than half of its electricity needs. The center will support Apple’s iCloud online data storage system and its SIRI voice-recognition software.
- Rockwood Lithium opened its Global Technical Center in Cleveland County, citing the region’s accessibility, skilled workforce and outstanding quality of life – assets that the company says makes it easy to recruit additional talent.
- Charlotte USA is a destination of choice for global headquarters. Companies such as Bank of America, Lowe’s, SPX, Duke Energy and Goodrich call the region home.
- International companies with household names such as Michelin, Toshiba, Hitachi and Electrolux have major operations in Charlotte USA. More than 900 international companies have a presence in the region, the largest concentration of foreign-owned businesses between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta.
For many businesses and the people who work for them, there’s no better place to be. There are a lot of reasons for that, says Bryant.
Infrastructure, Workforce and Livability
harlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), the world's sixth-busiest airport for takeoff and landings, has more than 700 daily departures to more than 135 destinations, including nonstop daily flights to 36 international cities, including Frankfurt, London, Mexico City, Munich, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome and Toronto. Business and leisure travelers are never more than one plane change away from any business destination.. A well-developed transportation network means products and people can reach 60 percent of the U.S. market in one day. Charlotte USA’s infrastructure includes:
- The intersection of I-85, I-77 and I-40
- Tier I rail service through CSX and Norfolk Southern on their network of 43,000 miles of track, as well as connecting shortline service
- Port access within four hours to Charleston, Wilmington, Morehead City
- Two inland intermodal terminals with service to Wilmington
- An intermodal facility currently under construction at Charlotte Douglas International that will double capacity of the existing facility, seamlesslessly integrating air, rail, road and sea transport
Charlotte USA’s highly skilled workforce is a major reason businesses choose to grow in the region. Employers have a workforce of 1.5 million from which to draw, including professionals in finance, IT, engineering and other white-collar professions, as well as in precision metrology, nanotechnology, CNC machining, advanced materials and optoelectronics. White-collar jobs account for 58 percent of employment, and the overall workforce has one of the lowest unionization rates in the nation. Businesses and workers benefit from the presence of 37 institutions of higher education with more than 50 campuses located throughout the region. They engage in collaborative initiatives with industry and provide focused training for workers. Add a mild, four-season climate, a cost of living just 93 percent of the national average, affordable housing, a quality of life that suits top executives, as well as employees and a job market that is the fourth-fastest growing in the United States, and it becomes clear why Charlotte USA is a destination of choice.
“A lot of communities can boast about quality of life," Bryant says. "But in the Charlotte region, we have life in balance. We’re the total package.”