Publications & Reports

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The impact of the racial wealth gap in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
   May 4, 2020
Lori Thomas
James E. Ford

This is the first in a series, based on a report by the Urban Institute. Read Part 2 here. The report was compiled with support from Bank of America, ​which partners with the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Institute for Social Capital on...

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Book review: Can we fix our struggling bus systems?
   November 22, 2019
Martin Zimmerman
There’s been a lot of discussion lately within transit planning circles about how to attract customers to ailing regional bus networks that connect core cities, nearby towns, and far-flung suburbs — including the Charlotte Area Transit System. A handful of bus systems have actually grown, such as Austin, Houston and especially Seattle. But overall, the prognosis for bus ridership is grim. Read more


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A changing landscape: Who are the Uwharries for?
   November 20, 2019
Ruth Ann Grissom
In the years after World War II, my dad could roam the Uwharries with his .22 and his trusty squirrel dog, a feist named Spot. A boy didn’t have to worry about trespassing on a neighbor’s property; he only had to avoid the occasional moonshine still. Despite changes in land use — and an influx of outdoor enthusiasts from across the Piedmont and beyond — boys (and girls) in the Uwharries can... Read more


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Building on natural assets: How Burke County is capitalizing on recreation
   November 20, 2019
Jeff Michael
Rural communities around Charlotte are looking for new economic engines. Urban residents are looking for more outdoor recreation. That provides an opportunity for communities around Charlotte to use their public lands and waterways to fuel growth. And two areas in the region that were ahead of the curve offer lessons for other communities trying to tap this potential source of growth (one in the... Read more


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A border problem? Unexpected ways the state line influences our behavior
   November 11, 2019
Bill Graves, Katie Zager
We don’t often think about crossing state lines. Other than changes in gas prices or the availability of fireworks, there’s little visible difference as you cross from North Carolina into South Carolina, or vice versa. But that line appears to influence our behavior, at least when it comes to how we spend leisure time. Read more


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Banks? NASCAR? Food? How branding aims to find the Charlotte region’s identity
   November 4, 2019

Jonathan McFadden
From basketball to banks, Charlotte’s got a lot (as the slogan goes). But critics say one thing is missing: an actual brand. Compared to iconic city identities such as Nashville’s “Music City” and even Rockland, Maine’s claim to fame as the “lobster capital of the world,” Charlotte seems to lack one defining characteristic that sets the city and its surrounding counties apart. Read more


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Baseball as a redevelopment strategy? Three cities pin their hopes on it
   October 28, 2019
Ely Portillo
In the wake of manufacturing-based economies that once formed the basis for much of the region’s prosperity, three cities in the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection study area are hoping the crack of a bat will give them a second chance. Gastonia and Kannapolis were once regional textile powerhouses, while High Point remains an important player in the furniture market. They’re all investing tens... Read more


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Mapping out Charlotte’s future: Streets plan accounts for more than cars
   October 22, 2019
Ely Portillo
Charlotte planners are trying to change the city’s decades-long focus on building streets solely for cars with an effort to map and plan for future bicycle lanes, expanded sidewalks and more accommodations for alternative ways of getting around like scooters. The first phase of that effort — mapping and planning for the streets along the Blue Line — is nearing completion, with Charlotte City... Read more


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A 'crisis that's brewing': How this program plans to help NC farmers
   October 16, 2019

“There is a crisis that’s brewing,” said Davon Goodwin. “We have a lack of farmers and we have more people to feed. If that trend continues, it’s going to be bad.” Read more


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Chappell Russell and Justin Foley: Trying to recreate the South End lifestyle in a rural town
   October 14, 2019
Ruth Ann Grissom
Chappell Russell and Justin Foley were living the millennial dream. They met at Appalachian State. He worked for a large CPA firm in uptown Charlotte. She helped run a small dog-training business. They had an apartment in South End. On weekends, they walked their dogs Oliver and Indie on the Rail Trail, stopping at breweries and local shops like the Canine Café. Read more