Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Charlotte's economic future hinges on minority influx, chamber head says

Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan told a group of tax and accounting professionals this morning that the Queen City has come out of the recession poised for strong economic and population growth. Speaking to the Dixon Hughes Goodman accounting firm's annual Executive Tax Briefing event at the Ritz Carlton, Morgan said the city was the fastest-growing urbanized area in the nation during the first decade of the 21st century. The county's population hit 1 million earlier this year, and he said projections call for the metropolitan area to hit 4.8 million people by 2030.


Morgan attributed the growth to several factors: the continued migration of people from the Northeast to the South and West, hurricane-weary ex-Northerners who want to leave Florida but don't want a full return to the snowy North, greater numbers of young people heading to Charlotte, and the reverse migration of African Americans to the South. He pointed to a report by Black Enterprise magazine that suggested Dallas, Atlanta and Charlotte are their top three destinations.

Bob Morgan (left) with Dixon Hughes Goodman regional managing partner Matt Snow
He put up a chart showing that while Charlotte grew by 32 percent in the first decade of the new century, the white population grew by 14 percent, compared to almost 50 percent growth in the African American population.

"We talk a lot at the chamber about the importance of diversity. Not only do we think it's the right thing to do, but we think there's a business case to be made in numbers like this," he said. "The trends of diversity are only going to increase as we go forward, and for us in the Chamber of Commerce that purports to represent this marketplace, if we don't understand and relate to this growing diversity, we're not going to be relevant at some point in the future."

He added that growth brings the kind of scale -- and workforce -- necessary to attract big companies like Siemens, the turbine engine manufacturer with a large and growing Charlotte operation off Westinghouse Boulevard. While few local officials are talking much about the city's effort to win Boeing's planned new 777X aircraft plant, Morgan said the success a big manufacturer like Siemens has enjoyed in Charlotte certainly wouldn't hurt the city's case.

"As we go about pitching Charlotte to companies like Boeing, you can be sure that the Siemens story will be a key part of what we talk about."

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