McCrory praises NASCAR’s contributions to Charlotte

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

Gov. Pat McCory touted NASCAR’s contributions to the Charlotte economy Wednesday, praising the organization’s ability to recruit skilled workers, attract other big businesses to the area and to improve the image of uptown Charlotte.

McCrory’s discussion was part of the Charlotte Business Journal’s Business of Motorsports event Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Bank of America 500 race is scheduled for Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.

McCrory said there was once a bigger disconnect between NASCAR and the city of Charlotte. When he was elected mayor of Charlotte in 1995, the city’s boundaries didn’t yet extend to UNCC. That came about five years later.

“It felt like all of a sudden our town and our state really embraced us, finally,” said Speedway Motorsports Chief Executive Officer Marcus Smith.

McCrory said as NASCAR grew in popularity, employers and city officials starting using NASCAR as a recruitment tool.

“We started using NASCAR in (recruiting) talent to bring in, especially mechanics, electricians, the aerospace engineers, the metallurgy specialists,” McCrory said.

Now, the Charlotte Motor Speedway contributes $450 million to the Charlotte-area economy, Smith said, citing a recent economic impact study.

NASCAR has also contributed to the improved image of uptown, McCrory said. Speed Street has helped draw people uptown as it has grown over the years with more concerts, entertainment and attendance.

“When I moved to Charlotte, you did not go to downtown,” he said.

Katherine Peralta: 704-358-5079, @katieperalta