Greater Charlotte Business This city, which seems to eat, sleep and talk business, has become known as one of the nation’s hottest places to make a living. From its traditional banking, distribution and manufacturing bases, Charlotte has expanded into a center for e-commerce, information technology, nationwide customer service centers and other sophisticated business ventures. Banking remains the heart of Charlotte business. The city is the second-largest banking center in the United States and boasts headquarters for Bank of America and Wachovia. It also includes operations for other banks, mortgage lenders and financial services companies. Because of its ideal location at the intersection of I-77 and I-85, Charlotte also is a major distribution center; in fact, it is the nation’s sixth-largest in terms of trade and distribution. Site Selection magazine ranked it fifth in the country for new and expanded distribution operationsadding 192 facilities in the past 15 years. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport is a showpiece for the city and a major asset for recruiting individuals and businesses. The nation’s 16th busiest in terms of total operations, Charlotte/Douglas averages more than 600 flights daily and moves more than 184,000 tons of cargo each year. It’s the largest hub for US Airways, which offers flights to points all over the United States and internationally. International Business If you flew into Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, you’d see “Welcome” signs in a variety of foreign languages. That’s because Charlotte is becoming a magnet for international business. According to the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, more than 650 foreign-owned companies do business in Charlotte. Countries with the greatest representation include Germany, Great Britain and Japan, with Canadian, Swiss and Italian firms on the rise. Charlotte’s banking industry has been extremely accommodating to start-up firms and minority businesses. Call Centers The city also has become a hot spot for telephone service centers, or call centers, including those for Vanguard, TIAA-CREF and Wachovia. Microsoft recently opened a campus in southwest Charlotte, which serves as its East Coast products support center and Microsoft’s second largest operations center in the world. Additionally, GE Power Systems, Lowe’s Corp. and Unifi Technology Group have established their primary e-commerce business here. Attracting Top Companies Thanks to its powerhouse companies, Charlotte regularly pops up on the annual Fortune 500. Of the several N.C. firms on the list of industrial and service companies, Charlotte is home to seven: Bank of America, Goodrich, Duke Energy, Nucor Corp., Sonic Automotive, SPX Corp. and Wachovia. Family Dollar Stores in Matthews and Lowe’s in Mooresville are other Fortune 500 companies right outside of Charlotte. Additionally, more than 300 Fortune 500 companies have facilities here. In 2000, Muzak moved from Seattle to Fort Mill, S.C., adding hundreds of new jobs to the area, and the billion-dollar Hearst Corporation occupies much of the Hearst Tower, which bears its name. More top-notch firms are moving to Charlotte, adding to the vibrant business climate. In the past 10 years, nearly 8,500 firms have opened in Charlotte, bringing 77,000 new jobs and investing $9.6 billion in new facilities. As with many areas of the country, this spectacular growth has left Charlotte a little strapped for workers – good news for newcomers. The city has an exceptionally low unemployment rate, and skilled, experienced, dedicated employees are warmly welcomed. Throughout the region, the story is the same. Other counties in the Charlotte metro region have equally healthy economies, thanks to their proximity to Charlotte’s amenities as well as their own aggressive recruiting efforts and, in some cases, incentives to relocating businesses. While each county has its own special assets, they also tout Charlotte’s benefits, recognizing that the city drives business growth.
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