Located in the Piedmont Region of the Carolinas , Charlotte is the 25th largest city in the nation and a part of the country's fifth largest urban region. This fact is startling to some, considering that Charlotte, a mid-sized city with a population of 527,291, is the largest city within the region. Still, within a 100-mile radius, Charlotte has 6.3 million. (By comparison, Atlanta has 6.6 million people living within a 100-mile radius.)

Partly because of its location, the city has emerged as a financial, distribution, wholesale and transportation center, with many major national and international companies.  Dun & Bradstreet lists 651 companies in their Million Dollar Directory with facilities in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  In addition, 305 of the Fortune 500 companies have facilities here, five of which are headquartered in Charlotte.

Charlotte is also just two hours east of the Appalachian Mountains and three and a half hours west of the Atlantic Ocean.

Although settled by the Scotch Irish in the 1740s, the Charlotte area was also been influenced by German colonists. In fact, the city owes its name to German born Queen Charlotte, wife of England's King George III, and the county to her birthplace of Mecklenburg. That's also why Charlotte is referred to as the "Queen City" and why the Bank of America building has a crown architecturally incorporated in its design.

Charlotte abruptly attained city status with America's first discovery of gold in 1799. It was also the first small step in establishing the city as a financial center. Charlotte quickly became the gold mining capital of the country until the California Gold Rush fifty years later.

It was about that time that the cotton industry moved south from New England. By 1903, the Charlotte area was clearly defined as a textile leader.

But the real driving force propelling business activities was the arrival of the railroad. Today, Charlotte is a major distribution hub and is at the center of the largest consolidated rail system in the U.S.

It is also a center for education. Charlotte has 23 colleges and universities which serve over 70,000 students. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte is known to be one of the best education values available. Central Piedmont Community College is one of the top five two-year institutions in the country. Other colleges and universities include Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University and Queens College.

Compiled from Charlotte Chamber reports