Profile: Charlotte, North Carolina

Interesting facts about one of America's top banking cities
By: Allen Norwood
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Population: 2,491,650 (Charlotte Metroplitan Area)

USDA Hardiness Zone: 7

Major Airport: Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Companies With a Major Presence Here: Bank of America, Wachovia, NASCAR, Belk Department Stores, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Duke Energy

Two of the nation's top banks, Bank of America and Wachovia, sit blocks apart in uptown Charlotte and make this the No. 2 banking center in the country. Bank of America has the taller tower, at 60-plus stories, but Wachovia, with 20,000 local workers, has more employees in Charlotte.

While Charlotteans are emotionally invested in the success of the banks and enjoy the vibrant center city the banks help create, the institutions don't completely define the place. Other top employers include Duke Energy, home improvement giant Lowe's and NASCAR racing.

More than anything else, Charlotte is a city of newcomers. Mecklenburg County was the 10th-fastest growing county in the country in 2007, swelling by 32,000. If you're from somewhere else, you can find accents like yours and taverns filled with neighbors pulling for your favorite sports teams. You'll find attractive communities at all price ranges. Your neighbors are likely to be from other states or the small towns around Charlotte.

If you work hard, and get involved as a volunteer, you'll succeed. That’s why folks keep coming.

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