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October 2008
By John Paul Galles

     Those three words describe the thrust of the 2008 Citistates Report, a full regional analyses focused on the 21st century challenges of rapid population growth and broad futures for the booming Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, including its surrounding counties in both North and South Carolina.

     Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Citistates Group (Neal Peirce, Curtis Johnson and Alex Marshall) have returned to our region to follow up and “revisit” their findings of the 1995 Peirce Report. Their reports are meant to foster awareness and focus on our most challenging public policy issues and growth and how our communities are coping with it. Their goal is to stimulate vigorous civic dialogue.

They are engaging with area publications and media in releasing the report in four installments through the end of the year.

     The first installment in the September focused on the emerging “energy cluster” in the region, and our opportunity to become a leader in the energy sector on a global scale, becoming a center for innovation in the area of renewable energy. The report surmised that this process could create an economic engine for the future which would affect the Charlotte region much as the banking industry has over the past quarter century.

     This month’s topic concerns the overall form of regional growth, focusing in on issues of transportation and land use.

     In November, the focus will not only be on Center City Charlotte’s dramatic turnaround since the 1995 report and the challenges and opportunities ahead, but also on the region’s many historic downtowns and the emerging new “town centers” appearing in such places as Baxter and Locust.

     And finally, in December, the installment will focus on the region’s many environmental challenges, including water resources, green infrastructure, and land conservation.

     This report will offer ideas helpful to every community as they make choices regarding their limited resources and how to build our region for maintaining and improving our quality of life and maximizing our business opportunities.

     Our 16-county regional marketplace, also known as Charlotte USA, is home to our businesses, our communities and our families. We live, work and play in Charlotte USA. Our region is known for its accessibility, its business strength, its capable work force, its quality of life. Where are we targeting our resources? Where can we best focus them to the benefit of our communities?

     In the midst of our elections process, it is timely to be considering the proposals that will come from this 2008 report. We will learn how we have fallen short of the original report, but we will also learn how we have grown beyond that report.

     The greater Charlotte region is becoming a model for growth to communities all around the United States. We have been fortunate to have great leaders who have delivered us to this point in time. We need to continue to find and develop leaders in pursuit of the “greatness” that Charlotte USA has become and aspires to be.

     The debate and discussion that this new Citistates Report will engender is important. The introspection, critical analysis, cumulative decision-making, and direction of resources are integral to the vitality of this region.

     Please make time to read, think and react to the Citistates Group’s findings this fall. In addition to print media, the group’s findings will be presented on television and radio, as well as hosted by many online resources, as well as discussed in many blogs.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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