Reboot Charlotte: Charlotte the Global Community
CHARLOTTE, NC – Charlotte/Mecklenburg County is in the midst of an immigrant population boom. The "American Community Survey", which is based on information from the US Census, says Charlotte's immigration growth period started in the1990s. During that decade, 38 thousand immigrants came to the region. That rate increased by almost 8 thousand people between 2000 and 2009 -- totaling 47 thousand foreigners today. The greatest influx came from Latin and Central America. Between 2005 and 2009 most of that group came from Mexico and El Salvador. Indians and Vietnamese spearheaded immigration from Asia. But Denise Long from the Charlotte International House says, "We see people from all over the world. We see a lot of people from Africa, Sierra Leone and Eritrea. Also Latin America, Columbia, Mexico, Brazil."
However, when we posed the question, “Is Charlotte a global city?” the responses we got were varied. Mecklenburg County Budget Manager Hyong Yi says, “"If you use language, it's a pretty broad indicator that there’s a lot of diversity, multi-culturalism, internationalism here."
Alina MacNichol who heads up the Charlotte International Cabinet says, “We're probably not as familiar to most of the rest of the world as we will be after the DNC." But she also points out, “We have 650 foreign owned firms that are located here in Charlotte Mecklenburg and 875 in the region. In a business sense we very much are a global presence."
MacNichol says the diversity Charlotte boasts benefits the city in many ways. “What's in it for you is a more exciting place to live. I'd say that first and foremost." Denise Long says, “Diversity in Charlotte brings economic benefit to the community. It brings different cultures and ideas." But when asked about the fact that not everyone is benefiting from that economic benefit, as evidenced by Charlotte’s current unemployment rate, she responded “Purely economically, I think it's erroneous to think that immigrants are a sap or draining our resources."
One might measure Charlotte’s global appeal by the groups congregating at local parks or the business people hard at work in uptown. But the sign outside the Charlotte International House underscores the city’s diversity. It reads, “CHARLOTTE WELCOMES THE WORLD.”
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