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Each week, WFAE's "Morning Edition" hosts get a rundown of the biggest business and development stories from The Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Charlotte’s Med School Expected To Have Big Economic Impact

Artist Rendering - WFSOM-Charlotte Skyline.jpg
Ayers Saint Gross
Atrium Health
An artist's rendering of the new Wake Forest School of Medicine (tall building in foreground) shows its relationship to uptown Charlotte.

Officials have announced where Charlotte's planned medical school will be built. The school, a collaboration among Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest University, will be located in Dilworth at Morehead and McDowell. For more on the business impact the school will have, we turn to Tony Mecia of the Charlotte Ledger Business Newsletter.

Marshall Terry: First, Tony, were you surprised by the announcement?

Tony Mecia: Well, Marshall, my publication, the Charlotte Ledger, has been reporting for months that this is where the medical school is going to go. So personally, it wasn't that surprising. And if you think about the sort of things that they're looking for in placing a medical school somewhere, this really makes some sense.

It's near the Carolinas Medical Center campus. Atrium has a lot of other facilities over there — it's just about three-quarters of a mile from CMC. So it really makes sense if you're going to be training future doctors that they can get some clinical practice over at the hospital.

I know some people were hoping, oh, is it going to go up in University (City) or uptown? But it seems to make sense to put it by Atrium's flagship hospital.

Terry: What does this announcement mean for businesses, especially those that are located in that area?

Mecia: Well, there are some businesses in that area. There are some law firms. There's a kidney dialysis place. This is right by the corner where Dilworth Neighborhood Grill is. Atrium didn't really specify which particular parcels this is going on. You know, some of these businesses have leases that run out in the next couple of years, and I think they're probably negotiating with Atrium to sort of get them out of there. Not clear on specific businesses. Some are probably going to have to relocate.

You know, this is in a corridor, Marshall, where I think you're really seeing a lot happening. Atrium has put up several new buildings over there in the midtown area by the Pearl Street Park area. And they're sort of envisioning the whole Morehead corridor as an innovation corridor we're going to have in the future. Biopharmaceutical companies and other companies wanted to collaborate with the medical school. So, I would foresee a lot of changes in that area.

Terry: You report this week that it appears one of the biggest names in investment news of late — Robinhood — is opening an office in Charlotte. Is this a big deal?

Mecia: Well, they're still crossing the T's and dotting the I's on it. But we're told that Robinhood has been scouting a location here, a fair number of customer-service type of jobs. You know, 300 workers that I think Charlotte certainly would be happy to have that. They've been building up this "fintech" — financial technology industry — that sort of is a nice niche for Charlotte, given our strength in financial services and technology.

So, Robinhood, people know it from a couple of months ago — the GameStop purchases market volatility, that story from a couple of months ago. But certainly it plays to a bigger story of the growth of the fintech sector in Charlotte.

Terry: Some news now involving another company, AvidXchange is reportedly getting ready to go public. This is the latest in a string of recent IPOs in Charlotte.

Mecia: Yes, AvidXchange does payment software. It's sort of a homegrown Charlotte company, been expanding a lot lately. People might know of the AvidXchange Music Factory. Again, financial technology. Reuters reported this week that AvidXchange has hired investment banks to take it public, to be put on the stock market by the end of the second quarter. So, really the end of June.

So that would be a big thing. There have been a number of these lately in Charlotte — Premier, Extended Stay America, Bojangles a few years ago. So it's not completely uncommon to have an IPO in Charlotte, but there are other areas of the country that have a lot more of them.

Courtesy The Charlotte Ledger
Sports fans, almost all of them men, filled up nearly all the seats at the Harrah’s Cherokee Casino sports book on Thursday, the first day it was open to accept sports bets. Many were enthused about the play-in games on the first night of the NCAA Tournament.

Terry: Let's venture outside of Charlotte for a moment. Legal sports gambling began last week at Harrah's Cherokee Casino in the North Carolina mountains. So is Harrah's turning into Las Vegas now?

Mecia: Well, I don't know if anybody would say that the North Carolina mountains are like Las Vegas. I did have a chance to go up there. It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it, Marshall, to take a business trip up there and explore.

You know, the casino, I will say, did feel ... It did have sort of a Las Vegas feel to it. I was expecting it to be sort of smaller, not a lot going on. It's a pretty big facility, both in terms of the slot machines, the table games, and now this sports wagering facility where you can bet on all kinds of sports -- basketball, baseball, football, the Mexican Open Tennis Championship. I mean, there are all kinds of things you can bet on there. I think that's certainly going to grow in popularity. They told me that Charlotte is their No. 2 market. They draw a lot of people from Charlotte, second only to Atlanta.

Terry: Finally, here's something interesting the Ledger found is in demand in Charlotte: time on ice skating rinks. So much so that recreational hockey leagues are having to schedule matches in the middle of the night.

Mecia: Yes, Marshall, it does seem a little bit odd that you would have people playing adult recreational hockey in Pineville or in Indian Trail — that's where the two ice rinks in Charlotte are. They play late at night, games start at 11:30 in some cases. It's really being driven by a couple of different things: you have a bunch of people from the North that have moved down here. Hockey's popular up North, but there aren't that many skating rinks. At the same time, there are demands on the ice for figure skating, for kids' hockey, so a lot of times they push these adult rec games really late.

So our Cristina Bolling went out there, checked it out, was out late on a Thursday night until about 1 in the morning when one of these games wrapped up. And she was there actually, Marshall, when a fight broke out on the ice and they ejected a couple of players. So a lot of excitement, a lot of late-night rec adult hockey excitement going on out there.

Terry: All right, Tony, thank you.

Terry: Thanks, Marshall.

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Marshall came to WFAE after graduating from Appalachian State University, where he worked at the campus radio station and earned a degree in communication. Outside of radio, he loves listening to music and going to see bands - preferably in small, dingy clubs.