ECONOMY

Jan 10, 2013
The first quarter 2013 Charlotte Business Confidence Index report, released Jan. 2, shows Mecklenburg County business leaders' optimism about economic prospects in the first quarter 2013 improved compared to their expectations for the fourth quarter 2012.
Jan 10, 2013
Since 1993 the City of Charlotte has tallied information about some (and in later years all) city neighborhoods, in its regular Quality of Life reports. But this year major changes are afoot for the project, which opened its online doors to the public on Monday.
Dec 17, 2012
2013 may be a year historians look back on as the time local leaders hit the “reset” button on issues that had been at the forefront of public policy discussions before the 2008 economic meltdown. Will leaders revisit these issues following the same assumptions and conventional strategies as before? Or will lessons learned in the past five years and a new set of leaders take the region down an entirely different path in addressing some of these issues?
Nov 14, 2012
Surveys are pointing to a new optimism about the local and national economy. Can we move beyond the election and the “fiscal cliff" so that these optimistic attitudes turn into economic realities?
Nov 12, 2012
For many reasons, more Americans are renting their homes today compared to recent years. How does that reality square with long-held perceptions about homeowners versus renters?
Oct 25, 2012
Charlotte has lagged much of the country in this period of economic recovery, but the region has finally begun to see a few small signs of better days on the horizon. Over the past several months, there has been gradual improvement in the unemployment rate and home price index in the region. These bright spots are welcome news in a region that continues to suffer the effects of the Great Recession.
Oct 17, 2012
Many people are surprised to learn that agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state. However, North Carolina is losing farmland faster than any other state – and the number of dairy farms is down dramatically.
Oct 02, 2012
The fourth quarter 2012 Charlotte Business Confidence Index report, released Sept. 28, shows Mecklenburg County business leaders’ optimism about economic prospects declined compared to expectations for the third quarter.
Sep 04, 2012
Welcome, Democrats! You have received loads of material on restaurants, sights and the strange habits of the locals. Here is a primer quick enough for you to digest while you spoon through your breakfast grits.
Aug 22, 2012
An interactive map showing subdivisions in the Charlotte region that were not completed as originally planned due to the economic downturn.
Aug 17, 2012
In the wake of the financial crash, many real estate developments across the Charlotte region appear frozen in various stages of construction. But a few of these so-called “zombie subdivisions” may be reviving, as developers regain their financial footing and, in some cases, propose new plans. (Click here for a photo gallery of abandoned subdivisions in and around Charlotte.)
Aug 08, 2012
How much are homes in your neighborhood worth? The era of upside-down mortgages and foreclosures has left homeowners across the country anxious about home values – theirs and their neighbors'. In the midst of this housing market upheaval, explosive growth in the Charlotte region has reshaped residential patterns.
Jul 02, 2012
The third quarter 2012 Charlotte Business Confidence Index report shows Mecklenburg County business leaders’ optimism about economic prospects declined compared to their expectations for the second quarter. The overall index value, however, remains positive on business confidence overall for the third consecutive quarter.  
Jun 18, 2012
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library budget is up by more than $800,000 for the coming fiscal year after suffering a larger reduction in funding during the recession than many of its peer library systems around the country. The increased funding will allow the restoration of Sunday hours at six regional branches during the coming school year.
May 22, 2012
After decades of decline, manufacturing jobs across the country have seen a modest uptick. This long period of industry restructuring has left a strikingly different geography of manufacturing in the Carolinas; we still make furniture and textiles, but that’s not the whole story anymore.
Apr 25, 2012
In this period of high unemployment, not everyone has suffered equally.  Two populations of particular concern are veterans and youth.  Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont provides services to both of these populations and is a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable populations in the Charlotte region.  The agency is continuing its innovation and outreach efforts in a partnership with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute by providing new resources to the community to understand who needs help now, and who may be at most risk in the future.
Apr 18, 2012
Where are urban regions growing – in their cores or suburbs? What is happening in rural areas? New population figures have fostered speculation about what growth in urban regions will be like in the future.  For rural parts of the Carolinas, the issue isn’t about growth at all, but widespread decline in population.
Apr 02, 2012
As Mecklenburg County business leaders look ahead to the second quarter, their optimism about the economic outlook has improved.
Mar 07, 2012
Smart cities around the world use two secret weapons to form leadership and stay ahead of the pack in planning and economic development.  One mechanism is internal, an informal, diverse but cohesive planning elite. Another is external, an outward-looking and systematic search for new knowledge, often by visiting other cities.
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
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.
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.  
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 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 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 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.