When you think of places hit bad by the credit crunch and economic crisis, cities like Detroit, Phoenix, and Columbus come to mind. But Charlotte, North Carolina, once a booming mecca of financial innovation, has found itself on the precipice of becoming the next Detroit.
Banks like Wachovia and Bank of America were a key part of economic stability in Charlotte, once dubbed the capital of the “New South.”
Washington Post: 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 per cent, 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.
The crisis that shattered several of the nation’s largest banks and left many of the survivors struggling to recover has also damaged the bank towns, the smaller cities that became financial centres in recent years — less celebrated than New York but even more dependent on the industry.