Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Twelve ways Charlotte is superior to other cities

So I was over at the Charlotte Chamber the other day and picked up a handy sheet listing all the "Top 10" -style lists Charlotte has made this year. Since we're always wondering how we fare compared to other places, I thought it'd be an interesting item to share. So, here's 12 lists where Charlotte (and North Carolina) ranked in the Top 12 this year:

  • No. 12 Top State for Business. (CNBC ranking of all states).
  • No. 11 Top Boomtown (Bloomberg ranking of all large metro areas).
  • No. 9 Most Job Openings per Capita ( May 2013 ranking of 50 cities).
  • No. 9 Top Moving Destination (Penske Truck Rental).
  • No. 8 Best City for Jobs (, May 2013).
  • No. 7 Top Cities for Small Business (, August 2013).
  • No. 7 Spring Break Destination for Families ( list of 500 cities).
  • No. 6 Hot Cities for IT Jobs (Modis, Inc., ranking of 10 cities).
  • No. 5 Most Installed Solar Power Generation Capacity (SNL Energy ranking of all states).
  • No. 5 Fastest Growing Metro 2000-2012 (U.S. Census ranking of 52 metro areas).
  • No. 4 Fastest Growing City Since Recession (
  • No. 2 Best Airport for Making Connections (Travel Leaders Group ranking of U.S. airports).
Our little Top 12 list would've been more tidy and complete if we could've filled in slots No. 10, No. 3 and No. 1.  Just for kicks, if you were compiling your own list of the Top 12 things Charlotte ranked highest in among cities, what would you pencil in for those spots?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Big speculative building going up in Concord

The Silverman Group out of New Jersey is doing something that hasn't gotten done very often around here in recent years: it's breaking ground on a big speculative industrial building, and betting that tenants will come later. The firm says it's breaking ground this week on a 400,000-square-foot building in Concord Airport Business Park. For comparison sake, when insurance giant MetLife announced this spring that it is bringing its U.S. retail business hub to Charlotte, officials said the firm would occupy roughly 340,000 square feet in Ballantyne Corporate Park.

"The market for Class A distribution space in the greater Charlotte market is very tight," said Blake Silverman, president of the Silverman Group. "There are no Class A vacancies greater than 200,000 square feet, which is why we were intrigued by this opportunity ... There are currently very few buildings in the market to accommodate tenants needing large blocks of space."

Boosters for uptown Charlotte have been saying they need more large blocks of office space, but wary developers haven't been willing to put up the massive amount of capital it would take to put another skyscraper in without a major tenant already lined up.

Construction on the Concord building is slated to start in the first quarter of 2014 with completion expected in late summer. Christopher Skibinski, an Avison Young principal based in Charlotte, is the leasing agent.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Former City Manager Curt Walton's new gig

Former Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton has a new gig: interim head of University City Partners, the group charged with promoting the University City area. The group's board formally made the announcement via a press release this morning, after news reports Thursday said longtime executive director Mary Hopper had resigned.

The press release doesn't say why she left. She'd led the group since July 2003, and the press release, issued on behalf of the group's board of directors, credited her with helping promote the University City brand and leaving her imprint on local land use and transportation issues. The board "is grateful for Mary's service and contributions; her impact on the University Area will continue to benefit our residents and help attract business."

The board has contracted with LevRidge Resources for help during the transition, the release says, and through that agreement the board has retained Walton to serve as interim executive director while a search for a permanent head moves forward. The board expects to name someone before year's end.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Swiss plasma giant expands in Charlotte

The U.S. subsidiary of one of the world's largest plasma products manufacturers is relocating to a new facility it is building in southwest Charlotte, the Charlotte Chamber announced Thursday.

Octapharma AG, an independent firm specializing in human proteins, is investing $39.2 million to build a state-of-the-art facility in the Westlake Business Park. The expansion of the firm's U.S. subsidiary, Octapharma Plasma, will create 45 new full-time positions.

The subsidiary's corporate office moved to Charlotte in 2009. The company said the expansion will position it to serve the U.S. market from one location. "This step is a natural progression in our strategic planning," said Frederic Marguerre, president of Octapharma Plasma.

Octapharma Plasma owns and operates plasma collection centers around the country. The parent company, based in Lachen, Switzerland, serves patients in more than 100 countries.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Charlotte's center city headed for international spotlight

This just in via press release: since "the amazing growth of Charlotte's downtown has drawn both national and international attention," it will be used as a case study next week in New York when urban management experts from around the world get together for the International Downtown Association's World Congress.

The conference will draw nearly 700 downtown and urban district leaders from around the United States, Canada and 11 other countries. They'll talk about the evolution of city centers and share best practices, in addition to hearing from national and international urban affairs experts.

Charlotte Center City Partners President Michael Smith will speak Tuesday during a panel discussion on how cultural partnerships can spur development and revitalize neighborhoods. Charlotte does have something to brag about on that score, judging from the new life the Mint Museum, the Harvey B. Gantt Center and the Knight Theater have breathed into a formerly lifeless stretch of south Tryon Street.