Mayor Foxx is pumped up about Charlotte’s future

by Mike Parks

Mayor Anthony Foxx sounds bullish about Charlotte’s ability to recover from a recession that left the city and region scrambling to cut budgets to save as many jobs as possible.

“Charlotte’s demise has been greatly exaggerated,” he told a group of local business leaders Tuesday, Oct. 12, at a meeting of the the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce. “I’m happy to report … we aren’t a bust city.”

That’s the kind of talk local business leaders want to hear. Prior to Foxx’s discussion, many of them talked among themselves about the struggles they’ve faced in the past two years.

“We’re still not where we want to be,” but the city is getting there, Foxx said.

Part of that confidence comes from the city and state’s ongoing push to diversify Charlotte’s business portfolio as something more than just a banking city. An announcement earlier this year that Siemen’s would bring more than 800 new jobs to southwest Charlotte served as a big step in the right direction, Foxx told chamber members, while Electrolux’s expansion into University City served as another.

“We’re seeing an unprecedented movement” of businesses to Charlotte, Foxx said, noting the Professional Golfers’ Association’s decision to bring a championship to Quail Hollow in 2017 is a sign the nation sees Charlotte’s economic strength.

“Groups like the PGA don’t make these investments in places that are decaying,” Foxx said.

That line of thought is something Foxx hopes members of the Democratic National Convention Committee keep in mind as they approach a decision about the location of the party’s next national convention. Charlotte is one of four cities left in the race, along with St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis.

Foxx said he feels like one of the women contestants on “The Bachelor.”

“We’ve gone on our date,” the mayor said. “(Now) we’re waiting for the rose ceremony.”

Having the convention here would bring in roughly $150-200 million, Foxx said, while putting a needed spotlight on Charlotte and showing the country what the city has to offer.

Foxx is not sure when word will come, but he said the committee has been in touch for follow-up questions since their initial tour this summer.

With or without the Democrats, Foxx said he’s pleased with the rebound his city has seen so far. But he’s quick to note more needs to be done to help small businesses.

The city hopes to soon offer the help of an online small business resource center, Foxx said, and changes made to the city’s small business loan program are helping already.

But no matter what, Foxx wants Charlotte to have many options.

“I think we’re going to be one of the energy leaders in the world,” the mayor said. “(But) Charlotte will continue to be a significant financial services city.

“… Charlotte was strong five years ago, Charlotte was strong last year and Charlotte is still strong.”

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