Dec. 31 marks a time for new beginnings. But who and what will shape Charlotte's future? Is 2010 the year that the Queen City gets a progressive label? And how will laid-off bankers survive and thrive?
Here's a look at some of the people, places and things to keep an eye on in the new year.
Anthony Foxx: He's the new mayor and is coming into office at a time when Charlotte is in decline. And just what will Foxx being doing in 2010? One thing is starting another new job. The Charlotte Observer reported on Dec. 22 that Foxx will serve as the in-house attorney for DesignLine, a hybrid bus manufacturer. Many are sure to say this is an ethical violation. But Foxx said in the article that DesignLine hasn't talked with him about lobbying other cities. Foxx will have to tackle bigger issues in 2010, including working with the state to get more jobs in the Queen City (as he pledged to do in his campaign). Now that he's in office, it's time to see if promises become action.
Brian Moynihan: As the new CEO of Bank of America, Moynihan has decided to keep the bank headquartered in the Queen City. What will Moynihan be doing in 2010? Taking over the embattled bank that took federal bailout money and laid off many Charlotte workers, he's going to be focused on "execution." "When we use the word execution," Moynihan said in an article from American Banking News on Dec. 22, "we mean key things that face our customers."
In 2010, we'll be watching how Bank of America operates now that all of its federal bailout money has been repaid and if more people will find their way to the unemployment line as the bank restructures.
The Latin American Coalition: Since 2001, Angeles Ortega-Moore has been the face of the Latin American Coalition, but she stepped down as executive director in 2009. Jess George took over Ortega-Moore's role at Charlotte's oldest and largest Hispanic service agency at a time when the Latino community and its issues are growing. According to an April 21 article posted on NCWanted.com, the nonprofit civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center "interviewed 500 low-income Latinos, including legal residents, undocumented workers and U.S. residents in five Southern areas, including Charlotte, and found systemic discrimination against documented and undocumented immigrants."
The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners: This year, Mecklenburg County will have more discussions on domestic partnership benefits, and with Bill James still on board, there will be fireworks. But something that will affect all residents of Mecklenburg County is property taxes; for the last two years the threat of higher property taxes has been bubbling under the radar. In 2008, when four new members took seats on the board of commissioners, they told The Charlotte Observer (in a Nov. 11, 2008 article) that they'd delay the revaluation until at least 2010; they were worried, in part, that new values could lead to higher tax bills for some homeowners. Well ... now it's 2010.
Pat McCrory: Former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory may have a chance to spend his Monday nights at home now, but that doesn't mean he's done with politics. He even told WSOC-TV on Nov. 24 that: "There's a chance that I will definitely run for governor again," he said. "We're getting a lot of people from throughout the state asking me to do it again, but that's something I'm going to have to huddle up with my wife about." So in 2010, McCrory would be smart to capitalize on Gov. Bev Perdue's sinking approval rating.
Electrolux and job creation: With the unemployment rate in Charlotte in the double digits as the year comes to a close, hearing that anyone is bringing jobs to the Q.C. is reason to take notice. Knowing that the jobs Electrolux will create in Charlotte are supposed to be well-paying, well -- who isn't getting a resume ready? Reported in a Dec. 16 article published on Georgia Public Broadcasting's Web site, Charlotte will gain more than 700 jobs. "Officials said it was the largest corporate relocation -- and one of the most dramatic job announcements -- there in 25 years," stated the article. The company moves to Charlotte from Augusta, Ga. And on Dec. 21, Zenta, a company that provides outsourcing services announced that they would bring more than 1,000 jobs to Charlotte.
Duke Energy: From looking to squeeze every penny out of its customers with rate hikes to dropping ash in the drinking water supply, it doesn't seem as if Duke Energy is on the road to fixing its public image. In an article published by Creative Loafing on April 28, Greenpeace predicted that the Cliffside plant in Cleveland and Rutherford counties will cost $2.4 billion and emit an estimated six million tons of carbon dioxide every year for the next 50 years. The plant is scheduled to go online in 2012, but with the Obama administration's overhaul of the Environmental Protection Agency, Duke Power will be worth watching -- because the power company may have to do more to clean up its act.
Uptown: Uptown's entertainment portfolio is growing with the addition of several cultural venues, including the recently unveiled Harvey B. Gantt Center, the Bechtler Museum (which opens Jan. 2), the NASCAR Hall of Fame (set to open in May) and the new Mint Museum (coming in October). Will the opening of these venues make Charlotte a more attractive destination for tourists? We'll see.