Work in Charlotte

One of the biggest draws to working in the city is opportunity based; Opportunity to work in a densified urban environment with a diversified workforce on the cutting edge of their respective industries.  It provides the opportunity to interact; with each other, with a vast collection of market sectors, and with the natural and built environment which surrounds us.
    
For a burgeoning, relatively young, southeastern city such as Charlotte – the opportunity to thrive lies greatly in the potential to reach a more cohesive, connected urban workforce influenced by the diverse arterial neighborhoods which encircle and give life to the pulsating uptown. Charlotte is a desirable city. Living and working here offer lifestyle and opportunity that few other places can match. Charlotte is a city that is attracting young talent, families that are growing, and transplants from near and far seeking a different lifestyle from what they currently have. Yet it is the character of this diverse collection of individuals which form the melting pot, the vitality of Charlotte’s 199 ring neighborhoods which is shed on approaching the doorstep to the city.

The reasons for this are in fact symptoms of Charlotte’s quick rise over the last several decades to become a financial power hub. There is a sense that downtown is owned by the corporations which brought the city to such prominence. The primary beat for downtown is one of business. During the day there is very little activity going on that is not business; much of this concentrated along one single streetscape with few venturing outside of this realm. Uptown Charlotte has evolved much like many of the cities which saw significant growth at the height of the automobile era. The experience of uptown for the average worker is largely designed around the seamless ebb and flow of commuter traffic which breathes life into the city’s lungs. The city is designed for the car first and the pedestrian second.

How can this problem be successfully addressed? The good news is there is a high level of awareness of these issues and energy behind transforming Charlotte into the new template for the bustling southern city. A vision for this transformation is now policy. An interconnected transit system is on the horizon, Charlotte will have its own modern grand central station, but the remnants of the commuter city will still need to be addressed in a sustainable and adaptable way. So here we leverage the city’s 2020 Vision and attempt to utilize the wealth of diverse surrounding community as a catalyst to greater diversify the working experience in Uptown Charlotte. This will be accomplished by creating “Open Access Markets” consisting of “Smart  Modules” which will encourage smaller businesses, largely under-represented in the core of the city to locate downtown and create opportunity for startup companies: Open Access Market Outline

Issues & Proposed Solutions
1. The current scarcity of foot traffic outside of the business corridor
Encourage greater foot traffic between business corridor and proposed retail corridor by providing pedestrian connections where “Smart Modules” can be located

2. Smaller business and startups do not have the infrastructure or mechanisms of larger downtown businesses to complement and engage in Fortune 500 business
Provide “Smart Modules”, a collection of short term shareable space within an “Open Access Market” and at the scale of the garage startup equipped with network infrastructure, technology, and tools catered to the needs of the business via connected reservation systems that cater to individualized needs. Provide accessory spaces within the greater market which serve these modules and present opportunity for collaboration, lifelong learning, arts & culture exchange 

3. Suburban startups and small businesses located in the communities surrounding uptown have less opportunity to mix with the business and creative community in Charlotte
Locate “Open Access Markets” along pedestrian connections; foster an environment that encourages open-source collaboration, crowd-sourcing, crowd-funding, partnership with other interested parties, and venture capital

4. Opportunity to scale a startup business in Uptown
Provide growth opportunities for successful startup ideas by setting aside leasable office or storefront space dedicated to successful startups, and at varying scales: The most successful ideas get funded and scaled to fit their business model accordingly

5. Opportunity to engage other creative pursuits while working under the umbrella of a larger company
Provide businesses with an opportunity to allow employees to pursue passion projects independently while still under the umbrella of the company. This benefits employees desire to explore creative outlets outside the realm of the companies standard practice, while benefitting employers by having a creative representative of their company engaging with the greater business community in the “Open Access Market”

6. Broken funding loops due to scarcity of options
Bring variety to opportunities to fund and monetize business. Kickstarter-style crowd-sourcing could mean smaller collective contribution with goals presented in an explicit and transparent manner. Just starting out? Make the goal to fund continued use of the “Access modules”. Building to something bigger? Offer ownership stakes to higher level funding partners, negotiate manufacturing rights, barter established commodities for marketing partnerships, or offer early access to new products.

Local Contributors: ABIGAIL BUCHANON, EMMA BUTLER, HOLLY CHRISTIAN, JADE DIVENUTA, KARLA GABAY, SUNWHA HER, JULIE JACKSON, CHANDRA LAPSLEY, SCOTT MACMEEKIN, DEBBIE NESTVOGEL, RYAN OLSON, JENNILYN PASKO, MICHAEL SPENCER