From Jack Claiborne, a retired associate editor at the Observer:
When Mayor Anthony Foxx addresses the Democratic Convention this week, heres what he should say about Charlotte.
Throughout its history, this city has exemplified the collaborative spirit that has enabled previous presidents to lead this nation to greatness.
On paper, at least, Charlotte has no reason for being. It is not on a major waterway, has no prominent physical feature, and has had no great industry or private wealth to propel its growth.
From its founding, the city has had to pool its resources to make good things happen for its people. Its very first project was a public-private venture.
At the turn of the 19th century when gold was discovered in the region, Charlotte led efforts to create a regional U.S. mint. It pooled its influence with that of mining interests across the Carolinas to establish a branch of the U.S. mint in 1837. The mint signaled that Charlotte was a good place to make money.
A few years later, as Charlottes wagon-bound farmers looked longingly at South Carolina where a railroad was hauling cotton quickly and cheaply to markets, Charlotte pushed for an extension of the South Carolina Railroad into North Carolina.
Charlotteans bought bonds in the South Carolina Railroad and encouraged people in surrounding towns and counties to do likewise. When their bond holdings were sufficient, the South Carolina Railroad began inching northward.
That prompted directors of the North Carolina Railroad who planned to build a track from Morehead City to Asheville, bypassing Charlotte to change their minds. They could see the Catawba Valleys wealth flowing out of Charleston.
They altered the route to connect with the S.C. line in Charlotte.
The railroad arrived a few years later, making Charlotte a center for the marketing and shipping of raw cotton.
After the Civil War, Charlotte again pooled its resources to become a center for cotton manufacturing. Out of that rose the citys banking sector.
There are other examples of the citys collaborative efforts in building a strong economy and widening opportunities for its people. Let me describe one more.
In the early 1930s, as the Great Depression bit deeply, Charlotte secured a federal grant to expand its post office and federal courthouse, creating construction jobs.
That required the demolition of the handsome Mint building that for almost a century had been a point of local pride. Preservationists marked each stone in hopes the building could be reassembled somewhere else.
With another WPA grant, the city launched efforts to reconstruct the Mint on donated land southeast of the city. Matching the WPA grant required Charlotteans to raise money, including nickels and dimes from schoolchildren.
In 1937 the building opened as North Carolinas first art museum. A branch of it now stands on South Tryon Street, a few blocks from this arena.
This story of public-private collaboration making things happen for the common good is the story the Democratic Party needs to tell the rest of the country.
Through group effort, cooperation and compromise Charlotte has made itself a great metropolitan center. Through similar efforts President Obama and the federal government can invigorate the national economy, strengthen the middle class, and sustain the United States as the worlds greatest democracy. Lets go out and tell that story.