ECONOMY

Feb 23, 2012
Children without hope can be found in every community.  Father Greg Boyle has been working on this issue for decades through Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.   He spoke in Charlotte this week about Homeboy, which is recognized as the largest gang intervention program in the country.  Homeboy Industries' slogan is, “nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
Feb 08, 2012
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute now has office space in the university's Center City Building. Although the institute will continue to be headquartered on the main campus, several staff members and institute Director Jeff Michael are now regularly spending some time each week in the new facility uptown. The Center City Building offers the institute new ways to engage with the community and to connect faculty and students to the institute's community research.
Jan 19, 2012
When it comes to city-county consolidation, citizens should know that nothing is guaranteed. And some of the commonly held beliefs about consolidation may not, in fact, be accurate. One prime example: Despite fears in Mecklenburg's towns, in many recent city-county consolidations the smaller municipalities in a county weren’t part of the merged body.
Jan 05, 2012
The first quarter 2012 Charlotte Business Confidence Index report, released Jan. 3, shows Mecklenburg County business leaders' optimism about economic prospects in the first quarter improved compared to their expectations for the fourth quarter 2011. The overall index value of 54.6, an increase of 8.3 points compared to the fourth quarter, returned to a positive outlook on business confidence, after posting negative expectations for the first time in the fourth quarter.
Dec 19, 2011
This has been a year of change and growth for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute.  As I look back on the year’s highlights – and look forward to a new project we’ll debut early in 2012 – I’m reminded of the role the institute has played since 1969 in the greater Charlotte region.
Dec 01, 2011
In the realm of corporate buffalo hunts, Charlotte bagged a trophy this week, with Tuesday’s announcement that Cincinnati-based Chiquita Brands International is moving its headquarters to North Carolina’s Queen City. The decision is notable for more than just a state and local incentive package worth up to $22.5 million for 417 jobs. This particular corporate move has some other distinctions: Charlotte's role as an immigrant gateway was important. So was, believe it or not, Twitter.
Nov 22, 2011
Our new family Thanksgiving tradition is to run the neighborhood 5k and donate nonperishable food items as an entry fee.  This run is my favorite of the year.  It has social cause, allows one to eat guiltlessly and gives a good early winter jolt to the metabolism.
Nov 10, 2011
Charlotte is a city of transplants and has been for years. But in these trying economic times are people continuing to move here?  You’d better believe it.  In 2010, more than 65,000 people moved to Mecklenburg County from somewhere else – the equivalent of the whole city of Rock Hill moving over the state line. Who are these newcomers and where do they come from? Find out, and view a slide-show presentation of other economic and demographic analysis from the institute's researchers.  
Nov 10, 2011
Despite lines on maps carving out city limits and voting districts and state borders, in the real world of air and water, of urban transportation and economies, city regions function in ways our political systems may not recognize. This is the case in Charlotte and pretty much across the United States. But is it possible to get around that problem and create meaningful ways to look at city regions as they truly are – regions? Last week I spent several days chewing over that question with more than two dozen business and nonprofit leaders, academics, writers and former mayors.
Sep 29, 2011
Local business leaders’ expectations for the upcoming quarter have dipped into negative territory for the first time since March, when a new opinion survey began.  Not only is their outlook negative for the national economy – as it was after the second quarter – but they’re feeling grimmer about the local economy as well.
Sep 28, 2011
In Garrison Keillor’s mythical home town of Lake Wobegon, all the children are above average.  In terms of where the college-educated live, there are a few Lake Wobegons, and then there is everywhere else.
Sep 08, 2011
If we want to assess how well we have learned about the threat of terrorism we need to look back over a decade. But we also need to look at our world today, and we must look to the future to decide how high the cost of failure – or success – could be.
Aug 03, 2011
The regular announcements of unemployment numbers tend to focus on short-term changes and specific locations.  It can be challenging to make sense of trends in unemployment over longer periods or between geographical regions.  How is the Charlotte region holding up in this important...
Jul 19, 2011
Local perceptions may not have caught up with the new reality in the Charlotte region’s manufacturing economy. Even before the recession began in 2007, declines in the textile and furniture industries were changing the structure of local employment.
Jul 05, 2011
The third quarter Charlotte Business Confidence Index report, released July 1, shows Mecklenburg County business leaders slightly optimistic about economic prospects in the third quarter.
Jun 30, 2011
The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute opens a new chapter today in fulfilling its forty-year mission of serving the Charlotte region with the launch of its new on-line Charlotte Regional Indicators website.  The Institute established the Charlotte Regional Indicators Project in 2007 to...
May 26, 2011
An examination of the Census 2010 data released so far provides several insights into how North Carolina’s growth compared to other states.  North Carolina was the 6th fastest-growing state in the 2000s at 18.5%, putting it just between Texas and Georgia, and virtually tied with Georgia in...
May 19, 2011
The recently released South Carolina data from US Census 2010 now allow for a more complete picture of growth in the Charlotte Region in the last decade. The South Carolina counties of Chester, Lancaster and York form the southern flank of the 14-county Charlotte Region. The census data show York County was the second-fastest growing of all South Carolina’s counties since 2000 with a population increase of over 37%.
May 12, 2011
Last week, the Appellate Court for the District of Columbia ruled against Alcoa’s petition requesting that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proceed with issuing the company a new license to continue operating its dams along the Yadkin River. This ruling was not the final determination concerning who will own and operate Alcoa’s dams and reservoirs in the future, but rather just the latest chapter in a protracted – and for many people, confusing – battle over the future of an important natural, cultural and economic asset.
May 05, 2011
The following commentary first appeared in the April 29, 2011 issue of the Charlotte Business Journal: Initial population data from the 2010 Census show that the Charlotte region maintained its status as one of the nation’s fastest growing metro areas. Charlotte grew to a population of 731,424 in 2010, an increase of 35.24% since 2000. Mecklenburg County is now home to 919,628 residents, an increase of 32.23%.
Mar 31, 2011
The inaugural BusinessFirst Charlotte Confidence Index report was released March 31, and with an overall index value of 62.3, Mecklenburg County business leaders are generally confident about economic prospects in the second quarter (index values above 50 indicate positive expectations, and values below 50 indicate negative expectations).
Mar 24, 2011
The March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated the northeast coastal area of Japan has highlighted the extreme vulnerability of man-made infrastructure to natural hazards.  Despite tremendous advances in engineering and construction, disasters of this magnitude lead us to question whether or not we should build infrastructure robust enough to withstand such a devastating disaster.
Mar 24, 2011
The Future of the Library Task Force presented its final recommendations to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Trustees of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library during a special meeting on March 21, 2011 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.  The...
Mar 24, 2011
The Future of the Library Task Force was formed in 2010 to make recommendations to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and the Board of Trustees of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library concerning long-term funding strategies for the library system.  The final report was presented on...
Mar 17, 2011
Controversies over school closures in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County over the past year have refocused public attention on issues of race in our community. While the explosive growth of the Hispanic population has been a more recent demographic trend, the issue of residential segregation among blacks and whites has a much longer history in this community, with significant public policy implications.
Mar 11, 2011
On Wednesday, March 2nd, the first set of data from the 2010 Census was released for North Carolina counties, cities, towns, etc., providing the first hard population counts for these areas since 2000.   We know that the Charlotte region as a whole has grown rapidly in the last decade,...
Mar 03, 2011
What should Charlotte look like?  When discussing urban design many planners, architects and developers assume that what works in New York, San Francisco and Portland should work here.  This assumption ignores the reality that Southerners have a very different perspective on "...
Feb 25, 2011
Among the many state programs whose futures hang in the balance as North Carolina’s leadership wrestles with how to close the state’s projected budget shortfall are the four “trust funds” that have served as the primary sources of funding for land conservation over the past few decades. As leaders debate their future, a new report released by the Trust for Public Land (TPL) earlier this week demonstrates that the return on investment of these programs since 1998 has been significant.
Feb 17, 2011
Since 2007 the American School Bus Council (ASBC) has coordinated a national “Love the Bus” month in February. The goal is to raise awareness for the job that the hundreds of thousands of school bus drivers across the country do every day. A tool just released by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and ASBC gives new reasons to “love” what these drivers and their vehicles do for the environment and our individual pocketbooks.
Feb 11, 2011
Headlines have highlighted multiple demographic trends affecting Charlotte and the metro area over the last decade. “Carolinas lead the nation in Hispanic growth,” read the headline of a Charlotte Observer story in 2008. The city has ranked highly on “Best City” lists for African Americans throughout the 2000s. Moving beyond the headlines, however, is there any clear demographic picture emerging for Charlotte’s future? A glimpse at the 2009 Census Bureau data (the final estimates before the 2010 official counts are released later this spring) provides some insight.
Feb 03, 2011
A partnership between the City of Charlotte, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Workforce Development Board, and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute announces the establishment of the BusinessFirst Charlotte Confidence Index. Created to assess the opinions of Charlotte business executives pertaining to local and national economic trends and how they expect their business to perform, the BusinessFirst Charlotte Confidence Index will produce quarterly reports focused on expectations of the coming quarter.
Jan 27, 2011
One of the transportation indicators that the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute tracks as part of its Charlotte Regional Indicators Project is a measure of congestion that is included as part of an annual Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI).  That...
Jan 21, 2011
The emergence of the biotechnology sector was not due to luck, rather it was due to vision, the ability to see the invisible and do the impossible.  Our state prepared for success by investing in roads, K-12 education, community colleges, universities, research, innovation, business parks and...
Jan 13, 2011
Today’s public libraries are expected to deliver traditional services in a rapidly changing technological environment . As libraries struggle to maintain high quality programs that are financially sustainable, the impact of the recent recession and the consequent decline in financial support further challenges libraries to find ways to survive while continuing to deliver essential services.
Jan 11, 2011
Together with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute completed a study to estimate the value of public libraries to Mecklenburg County residents in 2010.  (Note: This study was begun in July of 2009.  The findings from this report were determined before...
Jan 11, 2011
Together with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute completed a study to estimate the value of public libraries to Mecklenburg County residents in 2010.  (Note: This study was begun in July of 2009.  The findings from this report were determined before...
Jan 06, 2011
The Charlotte region will be in the national spotlight when the New Partners for Smart Growth conference comes to town February 3-5.  Planners, architects, engineers, developers and environmentalists from across the country will converge on Charlotte for this 10th annual conference...
Jan 06, 2011
City-County consolidation, when a county and the cities within a county merge to form a single government entity, is the most visible and comprehensive change in the local government structure. With an average passage rate of fifteen percent, and only forty total consolidations in the US, city-county consolidation is an extremely rare event. Yet, during this great recession, many communities such as Charlotte, along with Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Cleveland continue to entertain the idea in order to improve their economic competitiveness.
Nov 22, 2010
Charlotte is once more at a crossroads: future challenges abound—in education, environmental sustainability, and social equity to name only three. Even more important is the question of transportation infrastructure, and I make no apologies for returning to one of my favorite topics...
Nov 12, 2010
A few weeks ago, UNC Charlotte hosted the ninth annual Charlotte Biotechnology Conference.  The original idea for this event was that it serve as a barometer of the “life science cluster” in the Charlotte region.  Sensing increased activity in patents and start-ups ten years ago, UNC...
Oct 28, 2010
Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a child go without. During tough economic times, more families and children must face their daily struggles with fewer resources. As the unemployment rate increased over the past several years, these struggles became more challenging and affected more people in the community. Last school year was no exception in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System (CMS). More children than ever applied for free and reduced lunch during the 2009-10 school year.
Oct 14, 2010
In its last annual survey* which was conducted in late winter of 2010, the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute included a few questions on a variety of issues currently facing the people of Mecklenburg County.  Three of the questions directly touched on the state of the economy in Mecklenburg...
Oct 07, 2010
Charlotte, like much of the nation, has been affected by the economic recession that began in December 2007.  Job losses and unemployment extend across nearly all economic sectors, leaving virtually no region or industry immune from the downturn.  Due to the tenuous situation of...
Oct 07, 2010
In the early 1950s the not yet established Research Triangle Park (RTP) was pitched to Governor Luther Hodges as a cluster of “two medical schools, two engineering schools and a core of preeminent researchers in every field of science.”  Hodges response: he called the presenter (a...
Sep 08, 2010
For both serious and casual observers of Charlotte’s economic and cultural history, a new book released in July provides a fascinating look at the effects of globalization on the city’s recent development. Published by the University of Georgia Press and edited by UNC Charlotte geography professors Bill Graves and Heather Smith, the book Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City is a collection of chapters written by some of the city’s most...
Sep 08, 2010
I'm writing this essay because I'm worried. I've grown attached to America in the 27 years I've lived and worked here but I'm forced to look elsewhere for useful examples of government action, corporate innovation and citizen activism to meet the fast approaching crises of climate change, future...
Sep 02, 2010
Efforts to construct subsidized apartment complexes in two South Charlotte neighborhoods were recently abandoned after Ballantyne and Ayresley residents raised concerns that the proposed projects would have a detrimental impact on surrounding property values by overburdening public infrastructure...
Aug 23, 2010
One of the delights of an academic life is the opportunity to spend time in the summer traveling on research trips to foreign countries; there really is nothing like studious foreign travel to give useful perspectives on conditions here in America. This year I went home to England and traveled to...
Aug 10, 2010
Downtowns around the Charlotte region are coming back to life.  This video highlights the Town of Davidson and the strategies used there to attract people to the town center.   
Aug 10, 2010
Twenty years ago, the downtowns in our region were believed to be destined for oblivion.  Retail was leaving, if not already gone, locating along a major thoroughfare somewhere on the suburban fringe in the vicinity of the latest big box retail store, often Wal-Mart. Professional offices, if...