CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Next week Charlotte and North Carolina will be propelled onto the world stage when we welcome the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
As the CEO of Duke Energy, which is fortunate enough to call Charlotte and North Carolina home, I couldn't be happier or more proud. For the more than 35,000 visitors planning to attend the convention, our city might surprise you.
Many in America and the world have yet to fully discover our region an area that has long been special a model for economic expansion, bi-partisan civic engagement and sustainable energy initiatives.
Twenty-five years ago, the idea that the Democratic National Committee would one day hold its convention in Charlotte would have been inconceivable.
Our economy was transitioning away from our roots in manufacturing and textiles, rail and truck transit and toward a path as the nation's second largest financial center with one of the world's busiest airports.
In recent decades, Charlotte has undergone a massive cultural and economic transformation.
Our more recent growth as an energy hub has helped our region get its "mojo" back during this economic recession. Today we have more than 240 companies tied to the region's energy sector, supporting more than 24,000 local jobs.
In fact, since 2007 when the recession began, Charlotte's energy economy has added more than 4,000 new and well-paying jobs.
Two years ago, Charlotte made history when we announced a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership dedicated to making more than 18 million square feet of commercial buildings in our urban core more energy efficient.
When announced, the primary goal of Envision Charlotte was to reduce energy usage by 20 percent by 2016 -- the equivalent energy to power about 40,000 residential homes. Today, Envision Charlotte has grown and is now a non-profit organization with a comprehensive strategy for environmental sustainability not only in energy, but in air, water and waste.
While visitors will appreciate our development, I believe they will be more impressed with something that has been here all along -- the heart and soul of our residents and our desire to welcome newcomers to our region. I have always found our citizens to be incredibly warm and open, with a unique commitment to making their communities a better place to live and work.
Some have questioned whether Charlotte and North Carolina are up to the task of hosting a major national and international event.
I say now is the time to come and see for yourself. This is why local Democrats, Republicans, business executives, educators and other community leaders worked in a bi-partisan effort to make this happen.
It was never about politics. We wanted to bring this convention to our city and North Carolina for the simple reason that we're proud of our communities, optimistic about our future, and eager to share that energy and outlook with the rest of America.
Jim Rogers is Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO, and serves as Co-Chair of Committee for Charlotte 2012, the local convention host committee.