I'll be honest, when I saw a networking breakfast panel titled "60 Cranes a Day" - I was not super pumped about attending. (And not just because the event began at 7AM.)
My business doesn't really touch construction in any way. As I'm refining and focusing my marketing niche - I don't see this as being an open area for me, right now. I'm also slightly bittered by the rapid construction growth in Charlotte and it's affect on affordable housing (not only because of my previous work in the non-profit space, but also from personal experience. Being a teacher doesn't exactly afford you luxury living).
However, I am always glad to be proven wrong. And I was. It was an engaging and conscious discussion around what construction means to Charlotte - to its people, to its businesses, and to its future. The light rail itself - connecting UNCC to Uptown - is not just a "convenience". The progress it will create along that line will be felt for decades.
But what do others see when they visit our city? Amazon became a topic of conversation. We were famously cut from consideration for Amazon's new headquarters. You might expect that outsiders look at our city and see all that construction as growth - especially near our city center. But all those cranes seem to say something else.
The moderator, Michael Smith, from Charlotte Center City Partners, touched on Charlotte's brand - and immediately my marketing antennae perked up. What is Charlotte's brand? What story are we telling those who don't live here? I didn't always love Charlotte - I've had three zip codes in the last 6 years: Huntersville, South End, Elizabeth. Huntersville can be a great place to raise a family. In South End there are no shortage of sports bars. And Elizabeth is quiet yet full of character. It took me awhile, but Elizabeth is my home and I can't imagine living in any other city - or any other part of Charlotte, for that matter.
A friend of mine who is a Charlotte Unicorn (you know them, those few people born and raised here) - once said to me that she appreciates that Charlotte is still finding itself. There is no one unique, unifying brand to the city just yet - it's a little fragmented, still growing into itself. She said that spoke to her and her own search for identity. I mean, bravo. From that aspect, isn't Charlotte all of us? It should be.