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The City of Charlotte aims economic development on small businesses

Charlotte is changing its approach to economic development to deal with a different business climate. Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton says the focus is now on existing businesses. Walton expects the next five years of Charlotte's economic development landscape to be quite different from the last five. It won't be so much about large projects, but "It's really going to be hanging on to the businesses we have and growing those. And most of the businesses we have are small businesses and most of those occur in our corridors," says Walton. Many of those areas like stretches of Beatties Ford Road and Freedom Drive back up to neighborhoods. Walton says the city is merging the neighborhood and economic development departments to better coordinate the city's efforts. He wants the combined department to begin tracking crime statistics, affordable housing and job growth in these areas that the city has highlighted for revitalization. The City Manager says the change has nothing to do with a tight budget year and he does not foresee layoffs tied to merging the departments.