Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Charlotte's Rough Economic Ride May Not Be Over

It has been a year since the implosion of Charlotte-based Wachovia ended up with that banking giant being absorbed into Wells Fargo. Now two more blows may be in the offing. Bank of America, whose name is on everything from their Uptown Charlotte headquarters building to the Carolina Panthers' stadium, is seeking a new CEO. News Talk 1110 WBT is reporting that 98 percent of BoA's business comes from divisions headquartered elsewhere. What's more, the heads of those divisions have no ties to The Queen City. Add to that, the fact that CEO Ken Lewis is stepping down, and it is feared that a new CEO will move the corporate nerve center out of town.

Then today, US Airways CEO, Doug Parker, was in town just a few days after announcing a major downsizing of both routes and personnel. Service is being scaled back, and some cities like Colorado Springs and Wichita, will be eliminated from the airlines flights altogether. There will also be 1000 jobs around the country vaporized by the restructuring. As I have mentioned in the past, US Airways holds a near monopoly on air travel into and out of Charlotte, with other carriers holding a small share of the traffic.

Mecklenburg County has a current official unemployment rate of over 11%. If worst case scenarios become reality for these two major employers, Charlotte and the entire Metrolina region may have an even deeper hole to dig out of. This is a very nice city. It would be a shame to see this occur. As other cities without a great amount of economic diversity, Charlotte's crown as a major banking center may end up being its undoing.

No comments: