What's next for Charlotte after Wachovia's fall?

For a generation, as a bank town, Charlotte swaggered.

We grew from Top 10 in banking to Top 5 to Top 2. We rebuilt our downtown, got ourselves an international airport, a football team, a basketball team, twice.

We compared our rising property values, enjoyed our growing restaurant scene, smiled at cranes and frowned at traffic, but we knew what it signaled: prosperity.

And we expected more. Charlotte recruited other cities' young professionals and hunted other cities' business headquarters – leaving other chambers of commerce to glumly wonder what was next.

Monday, it was our turn.

Wachovia Corp. – pummeled by toxic loans – announced it was being taken over by Citigroup. Wachovia's retail banking headquarters will remain in Charlotte, but the investment banking division – and the corporate decision makers – will be based in New York. No longer will we be a city of two brawling banks, competing in business and sponsorship and charity.

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