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Charlotte, NC
MSA: Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord, NC-SC
Best places ranking: #7 among large metro areas
Population: 1,701,799
Nestled in the Piedmont region of the Carolinas, Charlotte has all the amenities of a metro hub with the flavor of a small Southern town. The surrounding region was originally steeped in textile and furniture manufacturing, but as those industries declined, the workforce retrained and deployed into other areas. Today, the area has 1,900 manufacturers, representing industries that range from computer and electronic products to bio-medical facilities.

Charlotte is the second-largest financial center in the country, with more than $2.3 trillion in bank assets, trailing only New York. Seven Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here, and incentives are plentiful for new businesses in town.

Charlotte's population has grown steadily for the past 20 years, and unemployment is low. Business owners cite a high quality of life in a region that has four distinct seasons; mountains, rivers and lakes for recreation; and a growing arts community. Mass transit is scarce, however, and Charlotte is the largest city in the nation without a completed outer belt in its freeway system. -Dinah Eng

Launch Toolbox:
Resources for getting started in Charlotte, NC


Local smallbiz lenders

  • BB&T Corporation
  • Superior Financial Group
  • Surrey Bancorp
  • American Heritage Holdings
  • Innovative Bank
See all local lenders

Charlotte Business Statistics
Employer establishments with 1-49 employees
42,926 78,289
Small business growth rate
10.7% 5.3%
State business tax climate ranking
(out of 50 states)
39 N/A
Percentage of population with bachelor's degree
(ages 25-34)
35% 32.7%
Violent crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
721 537.6
Property crime
(rate per 100,000 inhabitants, 2007)
5,269.1 3,700.0
Population growth
18.5% 6.38%
Per-capita income
$39,231 $41,342
Per-capita income growth
18.1% 25.0%
GDP (in millions)
$114,147 $164,601
GDP growth
41% 32%
Average hourly wage
$20.43 $21.03
Housing foreclosure rate
(first half of 2009, 1 per every X housing units)
158 113
Median rent
(2009, for a 2-bedroom housing unit)
$783 $981
Housing price-to-income (HPI) ratio
(first quarter of 2009)
1.7% 1.8%
Long-term HPI ratio
(20-year average, 1984-2004)
1.9% 1.9%
HPI deviation from long-term average
-8% 0.0%

All statistics are for the full Metropolitan Statistical Area. For a complete list of data sources, see "How we picked the Best Places."

From the November 2009 issue
"Were moving a lot of our manufacturing from Asia to the United States, and we needed skilled, technical labor. We found that here." -Rick Admani Abulhaj
Best Places Winners
What do you think of Charlotte?
Find your launch spot
Do you prefer a place that is: Small Medium Large
The factors that matter most to me are:
 Affordable wages  Few foreclosures
 Educated workers  Low housing costs
 Low crime  High local incomes
 A growing economy  Population growth
 Growing small business population

ireportTell us why: Low taxes? Talented workers? An active small business community? Send us your photos and videos, and you could be featured in our upcoming coverage of reader-picked Best Places to Launch. More
This year we partnered with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to find the 50 most business-friendly communities in America.

With help from Robert Fairlie, an economist and leading scholar of entrepreneurship at the University of California, Santa Cruz, we developed a methodology and sifted through such data on factors such as per capita income, hourly wages, workforce quality, crime rates, taxes and foreclosures. More

Comments? E-mail the editors
Data partners

This package was produced in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Foreclosure data provided by RealtyTrac.

Housing price-to-income data provided by Moody's