Boston Globe compares Charlotte’s recovery & diversification to its own
Posted on 8 Jun 2010 by Justin Ruckman
photo: James Willamor
“Slowly, Wall Street South is starting to rise again.
Charlotte, which gained the nickname for its large cluster of financial firms, was slammed by the global credit crisis and recession. Its unemployment rate more than doubled, to the double-digits. Two stalwarts of its economy were battered: Wachovia Corp. was taken over by a San Francisco bank, while Bank of America Corp. was forced to seek a bailout and picked an out-of-state lawyer to succeed longtime chief executive and local resident Ken Lewis, raising fears about the bank’s future in Charlotte.
Though the damage remains, the banking sector has since stabilized. More important, Charlotte’s economy, as Boston’s did nearly two decades ago, has begun to diversify so it is no longer so dependent on a single industry. (…)
“If we’ve seen the worst already, then we are in good shape going forward.”
Charlotte’s struggles mirror the challenges Massachusetts faced in the late 1980s, when it was hit hard by its heavy reliance on defense and technology when the Cold War ended and the minicomputer industry collapsed. Though Boston remains a key center for the financial sector, its strength in other sectors — life sciences, health care, and higher education — helped to soften the blow of the latest economic downturn.
The financial crisis provided a similar wake-up call for Charlotte, pushing city leaders to broaden the local economy so it won’t be as vulnerable in the next downturn. And in another parallel to Massachusetts, Charlotte wants to be as big a hub for the alternative energy industry as it is for banking.”