Boston Globe calls Charlotte 'Wall Street South', touts our comeback

Remember when The Washington Post ran this story last fall? It really irritated local business leaders, not least because it was written by a former Observer reporter, the talented Binyamin Appelbaum. In fact, it still holds a special place in many civic boosters’ craws, because of passages like this one:

Few American cities prospered more over the past two decades than Charlotte, its growth propelled and gilded by Wachovia and its crosstown rival, Bank of America. Executives shoehorned gaudy mansions into old neighborhoods around downtown. Workers poured into vast subdivisions on the city’s ever-expanding periphery. With coffers overflowing, giddy public officials spent tax dollars on a manmade river for whitewater rafting.

Now Charlotte is suffering. Unemployment has spiked to 12 percent, well above the national average. Subdivisions sit unfinished. Mansions cannot be sold. The school system, which for years had recruited teachers from shrinking cities such as Detroit, laid off more than 1,000 employees this summer.

Some leaders also griped that Appelbaum only quoted one top official (Chamber head Bob Morgan) while giving large play to four ‘regular joes,’ such as longtime Latta Arcade shoeshine man Grady Parker.

Well, the powers-that-be have to be happy with a May 30 story in the Boston Globe, which almost reads like a counterpoint to the Post article. Example: The Post story derided the Duke Energy Tower as:

A monument to the financial crisis … intended as a fitting headquarters for Wachovia’s national banking empire. It will open instead as the headquarters of a regional power company.

The Globe ran with the renaming of the tower as a symbol of Charlotte’s all-of-a-sudden diversified economy:

The tower that Wachovia built to be its headquarters has since been renamed the Duke Energy Center. … “Charlotte is not just a financial center,” said James L. Turner, chief operating officer for Duke Energy, the Fortune 500 utility that anchors Charlotte’s energy sector. “We are one of the largest [energy centers] in the country.

The Globe story even includes a video interview with Morgan, in which he gets to tout Charlotte’s diversification. I would embed it here, but frankly it’s a tad silly (though no fault of Morgan’s). But it’s at the link if you want to watch it.

When the first story ran, I blogged that what goes around, comes around. Charlotte was once a star, and the national media loved to tell the story of a Southern boomtown. Then, Charlotte became a minor symbol of the financial crash, and that made for a good story as well. But everyone loves a comeback story, too.

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