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Foxx gives Chamber ‘State of the City’ update

Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx gave members of the South Park chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce a “State of the City” update today, saying Charlotte is still strong despite the banking industry bust.

Foxx pointed to the growth of companies, including Charlotte-based Celgard, which makes lithium battery separators and opened a new facility in Concord this summer, and the Swedish appliance maker Electrolux, which moved its North American headquarters to Charlotte, as proof that the economy is still growing.

“That all happened in the midst of a deep recession,” Foxx said. “Many cities are not seeing any new growth at all.”

Foxx said that rather than trying to create jobs, local government is trying to facilitate job growth by helping startups and small businesses. For example, local government is working with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and the Charlotte Regional Partnership to create a website that offers small-business owners one-stop access to the business counseling service SCORE, the Small Business and Technology Development Corp. and other local resources.

“One thing I’ve heard over and over and over from small business owners is that the resources are here, but because they’re so dispersed, they’re hard to find,” Foxx said.

Though Foxx said Charlotte would always be a strong financial services industry, he said other industries, such as energy and health care, would also play an important role in the city’s economic future.

Foxx also discussed the 2012 Democratic National Convention, saying there there is still no word on whether it will be coming to Charlotte. Charlotte is one of four cities being considered — the others are Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Cleveland — but while organizers are still keeping in contact and asking follow-up questions about the city, Foxx said there’s been no decision.

“I tell people it’s like being on (the TV show) ‘The Bachelor,’” Foxx said. “We went on a date — two people came down and looked at everything here — and we put on our Sunday best. Now we’re just waiting for the rose ceremony,” he added, referring to part of the show where the woman the “bachelor” wishes to stay with is presented with a rose.

If the convention is held in Charlotte, it will bring an estimated $150 million to $200 million in economic impact.

Caitlin Coakley can be reached at caitlin.coakley@mecktimes.com.

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