Home to about 2.6 million people and 10 Fortune 500 companies, the Charlotte USA region has built a highly diverse and vibrant economy. Through recruitment efforts of organizations such as the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the region – 12 North Carolina and four South Carolina counties – has attracted more than $31 billion in capital investment and announced 134,000 jobs since 2000. Proud of its heritage as the epicenter of NASCAR and the motorsports industry and its position as the nation’s second-largest banking center, Charlotte USA has cultivated a remarkable mix of other major industries: aerospace and defense, health and life sciences, energy and film production, to name a few top sectors. Buoying efforts to spur additional new investment, expansion and jobs is a unified and cohesive regional economic development effort.
Though they compete for projects and investment, the 16 counties in Charlotte USA promote a true partnership and a full understanding of the region’s assets beyond their individual counties, with the recognition that success for one community benefits all of them.
A Collaborative Spirit in Charlotte USA
Regional collaboration is a key to Charlotte USA’s success in establishing itself as the New Energy Capital. Spread across the region are more than 250 companies directly tied to the energy sector. They collectively employ more than 27,800 workers. Since 2007, companies such as Siemens Energy and Shaw Power Group have announced nearly 5,500 energy sector jobs. The energy sector creates an average of 1,000 jobs each year throughout the region, says Ronnie Bryant, president and CEO of the Charlotte Regional Partnership. The regional approach also extends well beyond the borders of Charlotte USA, a long-time global address for business.
“Our regional international allies play a key role in helping us to recruit businesses from their home countries. We work closely with our 11 honorary consuls, members of our local international chambers of commerce and the leadership of many of the nearly 900 foreign-owned businesses in the region to help us connect with overseas firms interested in setting up U.S. headquarters, manufacturing and distribution operations,” Bryant says. That spirit of collaboration and cooperation was on display in Apple’s decision to open a $1 billion data center in Catawba County, says Scott Millar, president of the Catawba County Economic Development Corp.
Strategic East Coast Location
Charlotte USA’s strategic location in the center of the East Coast and the importance of an Eastern Time Zone location are major logistical advantages, Bryant says. A well-developed transportation network makes it easy for businesses, international and domestic, to reach destinations throughout North America and the world. Charlotte Douglas International Airport provides nonstop flights to London, Frankfurt, Mexico City, Munich, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Rome, Toronto and other international destinations. The airport’s more than 700 daily f lights include nonstop service to more than 130 destinations. With growing key industry sectors, a business friendly environment, low business and energy costs, a highly skilled workforce, a world-class international airport and renowned universities, Charlotte USA’s economic momentum is gaining notice far and wide. A national survey of site selection consultants and location advisers ranked Charlotte No. 1 in business climate nationally, beating out Atlanta, Chicago, Jacksonville (Fla.), Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Richmond and Tampa, among others. “The momentum,” says Millar, “is clearly on our side.”