Boston Globe compares Charlotte's recovery & diversification to its own | CLT Blog

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.”



  1. Brad 14 Jun 2010 at 8:31 AM

    This story is problematic in multiple ways. I think as residents here we can all testify that our economy has not diversified. The jobless rate is a true testament to that. But aside from the statistics we can observe, this article should be looked at with a bit more scrutiny. To consider us a new energy capital from the assumption that a few manufacturing lines are coming here is a little naive. Rather than the quantity of jobs coming here, why dont we consider the quality. Manufacturing jobs are respective in their own right, but they do not improve the quality of life of an area from multiple perspectives. This is visible in places like Birmingham, Cleveland, Baltimore, and are these the cities we are aiming to be? Secondly these are companies relocating, RELOCATING. This often means the employees will come as well, especially in this economic environment, to ensure they retain employment. So to say that these companies are creating x amount of jobs is highly unlikely. The number is going to be significantly lower. The relocating of these companies brings us to another issue, pointed out in a previous article, where Charlotte was ranked towards the bottom of all creative North American cities. We can never develop an identity or a culture that so many great cities have (which we always strive to be), as long as we spend our time, money, and other resources relocating people and companies here. While being a melting pot is great in its own right, it also never allows for incubation. The creation of an identity, the development of businesses, technology, and industry, while developing a true connection to the place you live. The cherry picking of other cities’ businesses is marginally beneficial (GMAC is a perfect example when they claimed they would create 200 jobs but instead laid off 200 people to add to our unemployment pool). This is an issue that has a deep rabbit hole that would need an article on its own to explore but the problems are endless and range from exploitation to lost regional revenue. The fact of the matter is, is that no one is exploring these things deeper and offering a greater examination. Granted the Charlotte Observer should be doing such, but it is more or less just a pandering publication that pats us on our back when we do well, and turns the cheek when we do poorly. Please do not allow this website to do the same.

    • Avatar of Justin Ruckman
      Justin Ruckman 14 Jun 2010 at 9:27 AM

      We’ve got some good video coming out w/ the founders of Dugg Dugg who just left for NYC that I think you’ll like. Still in the process of editing it down, but the conversation is just this — what Charlotte is lacking for young creatives (which to me, includes entrepreneurs), and what it could do to improve.