From Money Magazine, October 2009
MSA: Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
Best places ranking: #7 among large metro areas
Nestled in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, Charlotte has all the amenities of a metro hub with the flavor of a small Southern town. The surrounding region was originally steeped in textile and furniture manufacturing, but as those industries declined, the workforce retrained and deployed into other areas. Today, the area has 1,900 manufacturers, representing industries that range from computer and electronic products to bio-medical facilities.
Charlotte is the second-largest financial center in the country, with more than $2.3 trillion in bank assets, trailing only New York. Seven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here, and incentives are plentiful for new businesses in town.
Charlotte's population has grown steadily for the past 20 years, and unemployment is low. Business owners cite a high quality of life in a region that has four distinct seasons; mountains, rivers and lakes for recreation; and a growing arts community. Mass transit is scarce, however, and Charlotte is the largest city in the nation without a completed outer belt in its freeway system. -Dinah Eng