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Charlotte Bigger Than Atlanta?


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The city proper is already larger, as you may know. Some 500k in the city of Atlanta v. nearly 700k in the city of Charlotte.

The metro areas (I will use the CSA figures) are reversed. Over 5 million in ATL v. nearly 2.5 million in Charlotte.

Geography has been destiny for Atlanta, since it is sort of the southern version of Chicago. (Atlanta is at the southern-most cross point of the Appalachians, Chicago is at the southern tip of the Great Lakes.) That geography and the transportation networks it spawned and determined leadership has led Atlanta to where it is today.

Charlotte has less geographical destiny but the growth of any area depends on job creation. I'm curious about that for Atlanta since although it has always been a job-creating wonder, it has lost 3 F500 hq in the last couple of years (GP, BellSouth and Scientific Atlanta) as well as some key employers like the GM and Ford plants and of course, Delta's troubles. Atlanta has suffered one of the highest foreclosure rates on homes in the nation and that is bad for any region's economy. Charlotte of course has its giant banks, plus 6 or 7 other F500 companies. Atlanta has only SunTrust as its leading bank and they are takeover bait. But I think Atlanta may be building a small-company job base that we see and hear little about, so maybe that helps.

In 1960 Atlanta metro had 1 million people and Charlotte metro had maybe 500k (I'd have to research this figure for Charlotte to be sure.) They're at about the same relationship today.

Water is a big problem in Atlanta, sitting on that granite and the Chattahoochee all but dried up. Charlotte has ample water unless there's a drought, which both regions are currently suffering.

So to answer your question, I think it would be a long time. It depends on what happens with both region's employers.

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