Life in Charlotte, N.C., has changed radically in the last generation. What was once a small southern town is flooding its boundaries, and areas that were outskirts and farmlands are now near the center of town, residents say.

"We've come from sleepy city to one of the most rapidly growing metropolitan areas in the South," said Dan Bechter, an economist based in the Charlotte branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. Last year, Charlotte received an official stamp of nationwide recognition as a major city when its Carolina Panthers began play in the National Football League.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.