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May 2003
Celebrate New Beginnings!
By John Paul Galles

    We have much to celebrate in May 2003.

     As Americans, we can and should celebrate the liberation of the Iraqi people from many years of torture and intimidation at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his leadership. We can be proud of the success of the American military in the planning and implementation of a war strategy that limited civilian casualties and targeted sites specific to Saddam Hussein and the Republican Guard. We can be impressed by the accuracy of American technology and weaponry. And most of all, we can honor the men and women who serve in the armed forces to protect and defend our country and our national interests. As the main conflict subsides, Iraq is being given the opportunity for a new beginning for their people and their nation.

     The ending of this war also gives the United States opportunities for new beginnings. Having achieved an end to the Hussein regime, we must exhibit a new commitment to international cooperation based upon principles of freedom and democracy and human rights. We cannot let terrorism in any form jeopardize those fundamental principles. Reconnecting and re-engaging international cooperation and support must build upon the past, but be reshaped to stand up to new forms of terrorism wherever it is being encouraged. While this involvement in Iraq is far from over, we must follow through to establish a democratic Iraqi government and encourage its economic future.

     At the same time, as Americans, we must recharge our own economy. Our recovery has been stifled by terrorism, the war and uncertainty. Having achieved some degree of success in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we have demonstrated our determination to defeat terrorism and regain a sense of certainty. Now, the engine of free enterprise must be turned on to meet our growing obligations and ambitions at home as well. Our economic recovery can now be invigorated. It is time to create new jobs and expand wealth creation.

      As Charlotteans by birth or by choice, we can also celebrate new beginnings that will support greater economic growth in our community. Most notably, this month begins the new brand rollout of the reconstituted Wachovia Bank. While the final results are not in, First Union and Wachovia have been in the successive stages of converging into one, which has been most impressive. In this issue, we present David Carroll and Jean Davis as two of the primary architects of that conversion. The new Wachovia Bank stands tall alongside Bank of America. It is great to have two of the top ten banks with headquarters in Charlotte. Wachovia continues its growth with its newest acquisition of Prudential Securities.

     We also celebrate the beginning of a new PGA event in Charlotte. The Wachovia Championship is a very big deal for golf and for Charlotte. We will learn about the size and scope of its financial impact on our community, but we should also recognize that it provides a significant opportunity to show off the opportunities, advantages and qualities of this community as we seek to boost economic growth and development.

      Our new basketball franchise and our new arena continue to grow. Day by day, we learn more about its new staff and the progress of construction that will expand our center city and open more opportunities for economic development.

      We can also celebrate the opening of the new Westin Hotel. Delayed for numerous reasons, it is finally open for business and operating at full tilt.

       Certainly all of these new beginnings require substantial resources. As Americans, we are confident that we can raise those resources when the path has been cleared for economic growth. We have not just cleared that path, but we have protected our foundation and improved our infrastructure so we can now turn up our economic engines and boost our economic well-being.

      We can all stand a little taller, feel a little more confident, breathe a little easier and get back to work for our families, our businesses, our nation and our world.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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