Who will lead Charlotte now?
Posted on 14 Dec 2009 by Justin Ruckman
Excellent article in The Observer yesterday by Peter St. Onge and Tim Funk; below is but a piece:
Not a month before, while accepting a 2009 Vision award from Charlotte Center City Partners, McColl had jarred another uptown gathering by saying of Charlotte’s big banks: “We no longer have two rich uncles we can turn to. It’s time to let those days go — completely.”
The “two uncles” line has since been on lips throughout the city — part rallying cry and part fret about the future. If those uncles won’t be there for Charlotte, then who will?
(…) The questions come as Charlotte welcomes its first new mayor in 14 years — and as the city adjusts to losing the headquarters of one of its two big banks, Wachovia. The other, Bank of America, is looking for a new CEO, prompting fears that it, too, might find a new home. All this has happened against the backdrop of the recession and devastation of the financial sector, which has drained significant income and wealth from the city.
Charlotte’s leadership, however, had been changing long before this difficult year. Its once-local corporate giants had become global institutions, with far-flung interests demanding the attention of executives here. Its power structure — once a handful of business leaders — evolved into a diverse group of ethnic, religious and neighborhood voices that didn’t always appreciate the benevolent attention of an uptown few.
All of which is what happens, experts say, when a big Southern town becomes a mid-sized American city. And so, at that April meeting, the 40 or so were grappling not only with the urgency of a nonprofit crisis, but the larger issue of how Charlotte will go about solving its problems. How would we move on from the rich uncles?