Recovery won't be simple for Charlotte

For more than a generation, we've watched subdivisions bloom, bank salaries soar and Charlotte attract the symbols of wealth that often bypass cities our size.

Now the worst recession in at least a quarter century will leave the region with a smaller economy, lighter paychecks and a dose of humility – a break from past downturns in which Charlotte arrived late, left early and barely felt a blow.

In a time of crisis, however, Charlotte may be able to translate sweeping cuts at banks and other job losses into a more diverse economy that also has innovative new companies.

That outlook comes from nearly 20 economists, executives, government officials and others who regularly watch the economy. Charlotte faces greater challenges than in the past, they say, yet should survive the financial meltdown and could parlay its skilled work force into other business growth.

In this recession, two industries that once insulated the city, banking and construction, have left it reeling. Rebounds are at least a year away and probably two.

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