Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: Will Charlotte’s economy be ready for prime time?



The backdrop for Mayor Anthony Foxx was impressive. He stood with other U.S. mayors — White House in the background — after a meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday to discuss economic challenges in American cities. Politico included Foxx on its list (along with Philadelphia's Michael Nutter, Oklahoma City's Mick Cornett and Los Angeles's Antonio Villaraigosa) of “regular visitors to the White House.” (Cornett is the Republican.)

It came after a good weekend for Foxx, who, during a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Baltimore, was appointed to the advisory board of the executive committee. He has served as chair of the group’s small business task force.

In the White House meeting, officially and optimistically called “the State of American Cities and Signs of Hope,” Foxx — according to a statement from the mayor’s office — outlined the obstacles of “reducing unemployment rates, increasing government revenues and assisting small businesses secure access to capital.” Foxx used some Charlotte achievements as examples. On the day the mayor met with the president and his advisers, the hospitality services company Compass Group USA Inc., announced plans to bring 200 jobs to Charlotte.

So far, so good for the mayor who has been a visible point person as the Democratic National Convention 2012 team arrives in Charlotte.

Then, a report from the IHS Global Insight research firm had mixed results for the city. It predicted the region would return to its pre-recession employment peak by mid-2014 — ahead of Cleveland, Detroit and Las Vegas but lagging behind Raleigh and Dallas. Still, the mayor noted that in the first quarter of 2011, 268 new or expanding firms have created more than 2,300 jobs.

With the goal posts set to 2012, 2014 and beyond, it’s easy to look past Foxx’s re-election bid in November, unless you’re the candidate.

This week, Foxx heads to Seattle with Charlotte businesspeople, though it’s doubtful the trip will result in as interesting a photo-op as last week’s New York breakfast with Fox News Channel President Roger Ailes and former Mayor David Dinkins. It takes a convention to bring that trio together.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.

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