Tuesday, December 26, 2006

New Year's resolutions for newcomers

As the time for making New Year’s resolutions approaches, I find myself wondering what kinds of resolutions newcomers might want to make.

Since launching this job in June, I’ve been writing a lot about things newcomers can do to feel more settled in this region. Among them: Getting out to explore more. Seeking a club or group to join. Volunteering. Joining a house of worship.

I’ll weigh in with some specific resolutions in a column soon. Meanwhile, it’s your turn: What resolutions should newcomers make to feel at home here?

And for more on the fun side of New Year’s, here’s a link to our list of New Year’s Eve parties around the region.

Friday, December 22, 2006

What's your image of Charlotte?

What’s your image of the Charlotte region? A buttoned-up banker town, family-friendly place, a beautiful stop between the mountains and the beach, or maybe some of all three?

You can have your chance to weigh in on this question by taking an online survey sponsored by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. They hope to use the findings to improve Charlotte as a destination.

The survey takes about 10 minutes, and those who complete it (deadline is Jan. 3) can be entered into a drawing for a free video iPod or choose to have a charitable donation made in their names – or remain completely anonymous.

Use this link to take the survey. Meanwhile, I’m curious to know your thoughts on what Charlotte’s image is. Drop me a line.


Here’s a little more on today’s story about how newcomers are fueling population growth in both Carolinas. A reader wrote to say it would be nice to know the current populations of both states.
I had thought both numbers would be in the headline of the story, but they didn’t make it into the online version (I don’t write my own headlines).

So, for the record, North Carolina is now at 8,856,505, and South Carolina is 4,321,249. More on the new U.S. Census Bureau data here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Seeking Kannapolis newcomers, and more tidbits

Are you a newcomer to the Kannapolis area? Or, are you a Kannapolis oldtimer who’s marveling at the changes coming from the North Carolina Research Campus? I’m looking for both types of people to talk with for an upcoming article. Please e-mail me at Ldyer@charlotteobserver.com with your contact information.


If you didn’t see it in Saturday’s paper, there’s an interesting newcomer project in the works at the Levine Museum of the New South.

They’re asking for video contributions from newcomers and non-newcomers for an upcoming exhibit and a special to air on WTVI in 2008.

You can submit short home videos, 10 minutes or less (think YouTube). Participants can talk about what it’s like to be a Charlotte-area newcomer; talk about what it’s like to deal with newcomers; show a celebration or some other tradition you do here because you did it “back home;” or show a Southern celebration or tradition that you hope newcomers will appreciate.

The museum will accept the videos (any format) at its front desk (200 E. Seventh St. in uptown) during normal museum hours. You’ll be asked to sign a release giving them permission to use the material. More questions? Call 704-333-1887, ext. 228.


And finally, here’s a link to the latest newcomer report with WCNC-TV on the many great resources available at the Levine Jewish Community Center. In addition to airing it on their Monday morning and midday shows, the Observer’s news partner WCNC has also recently decided to air our newcomer reports on their Saturday morning broadcast.

Look for our next report to help you plan New Year’s Eve activities this coming weekend.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What do you predict for this region?

What are your predictions for 20 years in the future?

That’s been a hot question recently around here. The Charlotte Chamber made “Charlotte 2026” the theme of their annual meeting last week. And Chamber President Bob Morgan has been making the rounds with predictions for the region, including a population of 4.2 million surrounding 100,000 people living in uptown Charlotte.

Other area business leaders have made some predictions of their own. Here are excerpts from some they shared at last week’s event:

“Our economy will be thriving, fueled by the global dominance and the full flowering of our biomed and biotech initiatives.” – Mary MacMillan, Lincoln Financial Media

“I see...lights from the baseball stadium flickering against the uptown high rises. I see parks. I see uptown retail, perhaps even a Belk.” – Anthony Fox, Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein

“I see a ticker tape parade in uptown Charlotte led by New York Mayor Derek Jeter and 70-year-old Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory celebrating the victory of the Major League Baseball Charlotte Kings over the Yankees in the World Series.” – Jim Turner, Duke Energy Corp.

“We’ll be one of the top 10 best cities to live and work in. We will achieve this status because we will have finally completed the 485 outer loop. Either that, or we’ll have Jetson-type aircraft making the recently completed 485 loop obsolete.” – Cheryl Richards, Central Piedmont Community College

“In 2026, Mayor Hugh McColl abstains from a vote regarding the rezoning of the corner of Trade and Tryon for the new 200-story building for the Bank of the World.” Mac Everett, retired Wachovia executive

“In 2026, our population will have no racial or ethnic majority.” – Michael Marsicano, Foundation For The Carolinas

“This is going to be the hot spot for young professionals. New York City, it’s going to be out. Charlotte, totally in.” – Arden McLaughlin, Public Library of Charlotte

“We will have added 1.2 million people to our existing population. This will require an additional 575,000 homes in our community and median price will have increased from $200,000 to $600,000.” – Bill Daleure, Crosland, Inc.

Your turn. What do you see happening in this region in 20 years? Post comments here or e-mail me.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More on volunteering

Just a brief update today. If you want to volunteer during the holidays, here are links to today's column on agencies that could use some extra help, as well as my video report with news partner WCNC.
And the best resource to bookmark is our annual Giving Guide, a comprehensive list of area charities and their needs. It should tell you everything you need about where to donate goods or money along with your time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The region's next happening spot: Kannapolis

Enough about uptown Charlotte. Let’s talk about another mega-development sparking huge change in the region: The North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis.

Growing up here, I never thought I’d see small mill town Kannapolis become one of our area’s most happening spots. As recently as three years ago, when Pillowtex shut down and created the largest mass layoff in North Carolina’s history, the town’s future was in doubt.

Last night, I heard Clyde Higgs, vice president for business development for developer Castle & Cooke, give an overview of the research campus to the European-American Business Forum’s meeting near SouthPark.

A typical research campus is about 75 acres, with maybe one or two universities and a few dozen entrepreneurial companies feeding off of it, Higgs noted.

This one is 350 acres, with eight universities and a goal of luring upwards of 100 companies. It is expected to create at least 5,000 jobs directly, with more coming from support roles ranging from landscapers to accountants. A lot of them will be newcomers who relocate with their companies from other cities or states.

The biotechnology hub is meant to be in collaboration, not competition, with the behemoth Research Triangle Park near Raleigh-Durham.

Higgs called it “a reboot of an entire city.” It’s shaping up to be even more than that – perhaps a reboot of this region or even the state.

Some questions remain about how much public money should be required to pull the project off.

What do you think? How important do you think this project will be to the region’s future? Let me know.

UPDATE: I'm looking for newcomers to the Kannapolis area to interview for an article about this. Please send me an e-mail with your contact information.

Monday, December 04, 2006

More on McAdenville, and Seagrove pottery

If you’ve never been to Christmas Town USA (also known as McAdenville), this month is the time to plan a visit.

Here’s a link to today’s column about the best ways to go see the McAdenville lights, and my report on the lights with WCNC.

Also, here are directions to the best parking lot in McAdenville, which I didn’t have room for in my column:

Directions to Poplar Street:
Entering McAdenville from the I-85 direction - Continue on Main Street, past the McAdenville Community Center. Turn right just before the McAdenville United Methodist Church. The parking lot is located several blocks down Poplar Street on the right.

Entering McAdenville from Wilkinson Blvd (Hwy. 74) - Continue on Wesleyan Drive past the McAdenville Volunteer Fire Department and the lake. Turn left onto Poplar Street just beyond the Fire Department and just prior to the traffic light at the intersection of Main and Wesleyan. The parking lot is on the left, approximately 100 yds. after turning onto Poplar Street.


And finally, a follow-up note to my Saturday column about good places to find holiday gifts that say “Charlotte” – or the Carolinas. Seagrove is famous for its pottery, and I included the Web site for the Seagrove Area Potters Association. But I inadvertently didn’t include the “official” tourism Web site for Seagrove. It’s www.visitseagrove.com.