Charlotte just lost its title as “the banking city second only to NYC.”
Back in the 1990s, a few key mergers led the Queen City to move past San Francisco to claim that No. 2 spot, but San Francisco has pulled ahead once again – largely due to the Wells Fargo/Wachovia merger that sent the headquarters back to California.
But while many see this as a loss of bragging rights, I couldn’t disagree more. What an excellent opportunity to rebrand.
Without doubt, the banks bring a lot of good to our city. But the banks also bring a lot of stereotypes and baggage along with them – mental images of sports fans that are more interested in happy hours and box seats than rooting for the home team; the uptown bustle of suits and heels that falls desolate and quiet after dinner time; a stilted, country club vibe that never truly dissipates.
Increasingly, though, I feel like this portrait of Charlotte is incomplete and, dare I say, passé.
It’s almost as though the Banking Narrative of our city has eclipsed everything else that goes on here; it’s the filter through which we consider what feels like Charlotte and what doesn’t: “I can’t believe this is happening in Charlotte,” and “Isn’t it exciting that this is happening here?!”
But at what point are we going to stop being surprised?
At what point do we embrace our city as a real, full-fledged city – one in which things are expected to happen? One in which it is absolutely unfathomable that we don’t have robust, public transportation and an array of housing options in the urban center?
We certainly have work to do, but it’s time that we stop seeing ourselves as just a buttoned-up banker.
There is so much more to our story than the banks, and this is a great opportunity for us to embrace that.
Brittany A. Stone is a linguist and communications strategist. She is a graduate of Vance High School and UNC Charlotte.