Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Can Charlotte live up to its moment on stage?

It was two sentences, sent to an e-mail list of Democratic officials and supporters.

“Charlotte is a city marked by its southern charm, warm hospitality, and an ‘up by the bootstraps’ mentality that has propelled the city forward…” wrote Michelle Obama Tuesday morning, announcing that Charlotte was getting the 2012 Democratic Convention.

“Vibrant, diverse, and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds,” she said.

Two sentences, probably typed by a speechwriter.

But it felt good, no?

Today, the home team gets a big win and some good headlines. The Hotels are booking, and the city is buzzing, and hardly anyone is groaning about politics or costs or that doozy of a commute the first week of September 2012.

Tomorrow, everyone starts looking at us more closely.

You know that moment after you finally get that promotion, or you land that job you bad wanted? Not the fist-in-the-air moment, but the one right after, when you think: “Holy (insert word here), now I have to do it.”

Well, now we have to do it.

This is the stage Charlotte has longed for – bigger than a golf championship or basketball tournament. The world will be pulling into our driveway for a week in 2012, and it’ll be reporting on everything it sees.

A lot of it will be big-picture stuff – how this once-formidable banking city is searching, and perhaps struggling, for a new vision. Or how this New South city is dealing with the seeming resegregation of its schools. Conservatives will wonder aloud how that Democratic leadership thing is working out for us. It won’t always be comfortable.

There also will be plenty of small-picture stuff, and in some ways, it’ll be just as important. Bloggers and critics will dissect our restaurants and public transportation and nightlife and traffic, and much of it will be done in the context of geography and stereotype. We’ll either be a Southern city that’s grown up, or a Southern town not ready for the big time, y’all.

We’ve had some good practice – the 1994 NCAA Final Four and, more recently, the ACC Basketball Tournament and the annual CIAA Tournament. But DNC 2012 will dwarf those, in size and scope. Some numbers to digest: The NCAA gave out about 1,700 media credentials for its men’s Final Four in 2010. Total media for the 2008 DNC: 15,000.

“This is a huge step,” said Michael Smith, president of Charlotte Center City Partners, which is responsible for planning and promoting uptown’s evolution. Smith is confident, of course, because leaders have spent decades preparing for this kind of moment, investing in hospitality assets and infrastructure. “It is a natural next step,” he said. “It’s part of our progression as a city.”

It seems a long while since we’ve thought of Charlotte that way. The economy has beaten us down and taken one of our bank headquarters, and like in other cities, our home values have plummeted and our schools are in crisis. Just this Monday, a sad parade of economists spoke at the annual City Council retreat, warning that it will be years before Charlotte climbs back to 2007 job levels.

But today, instead of wondering how we’ll recapture our swagger, we’ve had it handed to us – in the form of a test.

An “up by the bootstraps” mentality. Vibrant, diverse and full of opportunity.

Two sentences, sent to the world. Not something that overcomes our challenges, but a reminder that we’ve long been a place that meets them.


Anonymous said...

Charlotte has always pulled itself up by its bootstraps. It's in our DNA, because we had no natural port, no river navigable for shipping, no particularly favorable geography.

So whaddya know, we've done it again. Many thanks to all those who worked hard to land this one shining moment, including Mayor Foxx, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers and the late and much-missed Susan Burgess.

I am a thrilled native Charlottean. :)

Anonymous said...

Let's hope so. Either way, this is a great moment for Charlotte. No matter what lever you pull!

wiley coyote said...

I notice Kojo and the NAACP have been silent the past few days about the Charlotte boycott.

Was the $55 million donation to only 7 schools within CMS a payoff?

Eerie timing.....

Anonymous said...

I can just picture it now. Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Ed Schultz, Wow, Charlotte look what you became during the Bush administration. Wow, look at those bank skyscrapers. Wow, Nascar HOF, Wow banking sponsored "cultural campuses". Wow, Nuclear Energy hub. And every local "lefty" will be interviewed and complain about our Democratic State government. A republican mayor for almost 20 years who probably would have been re-elected if he ran. Gee, why did Meck go 65% for Obama but 50% for Perdue. Wow look at all those Unions.

Charlotte is the antithesis to everything that most democrats stand for. The movers and shakers here believe only in corporate headquarters and trickle down philosophy.

Charlotte is about as anti-government of a place as there ever was. Hopefully the dems will USE Charlotte as what is wrong with the world.

a "true" liberal.

Anonymous said...

I am very conservative and can't stand the Democratic party but this will be incredible for Charlotte. Worldwide attention and a big boost for the economy. Restaurants, hotels, car rentals, shopping, etc.
Maybe the nation and the world can finally see what an awesome city Charlotte is and how much it has grown.

kantstanzya said...

How did we get to a city with "southern charm, warm hospitality, vibrant, diverse and full of opportunity" from "bastian of racism" in only a week?

Anonymous said...

Noone else wanted the DNC and all in the hole bigtime. Dont be fooled. Even Obama considered not running for a 2nd term. McCain didnt really want the job in 2008 with the Great Depres II and incred BHO has run up 300% more red ink trills than big spender Bush.

NC is a RED STATE officially and Raleigh owned by Repubs for the 1st time in 150 yrs. Unemploy is highest in Charlotte in 100 yrs and a top foreclosure city. Gas going to 5 bucks a gall.

Its great PR but if Obama loses in 2012 as predicted it could leave a stigma and that 100 mill price tag unpaid. DNC will pay it? Yea rite. IOU time. The DNC is BROKE.

cltindependent said...

I think this is a great opportunity for Charlotte to showcase the city. If the Republicans had brought their convention here instead of Tampa, I'd feel the same way. It's so sad that some people are so bitter and partisan that they can't even cheer Charlotte for beating out the other cities for this convention. Reminds me of the people cheering when Chicago didn't get the Olympics. Pitiful.

Anonymous said...

With his American Renaissance bungling followed by this big win for Mayor Foxx...

...have we finally seen/heard the end of Patrick Cannon?

Anonymous said...

Please edit the headline - it's live up, not life up. Thanks.

Ryan from Reidsville said...

Plus there'll be plenty of vacant condos that can be rented out for the week.

Anonymous said...

Would these same libs cheer if the RNC came to Charlotte? Yea rite ... hippo time.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to be a part of Obama's farewell tour!

Anonymous said...

Amen to the above!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Would these same libs cheer if the RNC came to Charlotte? Yea rite ... hippo time.

February 2, 2011 12:03 PM

Why wouldn't they? Especially if they own a business that will be patronized by our extra guests. I hope we can be "world class" and not so continually small minded. When President Bush came to Charlotte, I thought it was great. It places a spotlight on the city. No matter who is president, there is nothing wrong with that.

Anonymous said...

After surveying the urban pits also considered for the convention, a thought comes to mind: Why do we have to bother to "impress" these people anyway? Whether visitors like it or not, to most residents this city is infinitely more pleasant than the other burgs.

Anonymous said...

If the RNC came to town it would obviously be slandered as a racist white supremist party like they tried to taint the T-Party before it got elected in Nov 2010 and took the Demorats to the woodshed for that turible turible whooping. Ouch !! hehehe

The conservative Tea Party GOP would like to thank all you lib idiots for the big win giving it free attention. There are bigger fish to fry so its onward Xtian soldiers to the White House in 2012 with a bigger win. Farewell to socialism and hello capitalism.

Dont worry. Pres Palin or Trump will be your good pres too and address legit needs as long you work and pay taxes and not demand welfare or a free lunch. No undeserved unearned free entitlements.
Equality for all but only if you earn it.
You may even learn to like eating moose meat. yummy yummy ...

Anonymous said...

Hey Lawdy Mama Lyrics to the great Canadian John Kays band Steppenwolf 1970 hit never said it better

these towns "are all the same only difference is the name"


You'd like to show me all around
Thank you girl but I know this town
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
Don't you know they're all the same
Only difference is the name
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
Three motels, dusty cars
A movie show and a dozen bars
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
Only thing that I can say
Is we'll be here for just one day

Baby don't you know we're
Leavin' early in the mornin'
So long, I don't know we might be back next year
Baby it just might be never
Don't cha worry 'bout it
So long, good to know your smilin' face was here

This town is boring you to tears
Nothing in the world ever happens here
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
Don't you know you've got to help
Nothing ever happens by itself
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
If no one will share the load
Go pack your bags, hit the open road
It's alright, hey lawdy mama, it's alright
Try to find someone like you
Hope will tell you what to do

Baby don't you know we're
Leavin' early in the mornin'
So long, I don't know we might be back next year
Baby it just might be never
Don't cha worry 'bout it
So long good to know your smilin' face was here

Anonymous said...

Opportunity? Open minds? Not the Charlotte I've lived in for the past 20-some-odd years!