3 newsmakers from 2018 and predictions for 2019

Photo credit: charlottesgotalot.com

As we look back at 2018, we’re reflecting on our biggest newsmakers in arts/culture, business and community — better known as Qcitymetro’s ABCs. This wasn’t an easy task; a lot of memorable things happened this year. However, here are our top ABC stories and what to watch for in 2019.

Culinary in Color

With the endless number of food options, we’ll agree that 2018 has been Charlotte restaurant scene’s breakout year. But at Qcitymetro, we kept an eye on how often that mainstream conversation included people of color. It wasn’t often. We started our own conversation. With events like Charlotte Black Restaurant Week and Soul Food Sessions’ pop-up dinners, we tasted everything from comfort food to Caribbean cuisine to plant-based alternatives. Whether you fancy sit-down restaurants or food trucks, Black chefs and restaurateurs are gaining followings that can’t be ignored.

Things to watch in 2019:

  • As Charlotte continues to push its food scene on a national scale, will that push include more people of color?

Big Business Keeps Booming

Charlotte might’ve missed landing Amazon’s new headquarters, but it didn’t stop the momentum with recruiting national businesses. The region was already home to six Fortune 500 companies and gained its seventh when Honeywell announced the relocation of its global headquarters (bringing 700+ jobs by 2024). Corporations with local headquarters, like LendingTree, announced expansions.

The Queen City is also racking up a list of major conferences and conventions. Black Enterprise held its Entrepreneurs’ Summit in June, and in a controversial decision, Charlotte was selected to host the Republican National Convention in 2020.

Things to watch in 2019:

  • Charlotte has been home to the CIAA basketball tournament since 2006, with its headquarters tucked away in SouthPark since 2015. The city is competing with Baltimore and Norfolk, Va. to host the tournament in 2021 through 2023. The event brings $50 million in economic impact to our region. Will CIAA stay or will it go?
  • As Charlotte continues to host major events and gain national attention, will local black-owned businesses have a seat at the table and an opportunity to capitalize?

#SouthParkSusan

Who can forget this gem? In October, we were introduced to Susan Westwood, aka “South Park Susan,” following her racist tirade on a pair of black sisters in a south Charlotte apartment complex parking lot. With this new entry, the growing list of absurd things white people call the police on black people about got a little bit longer. We must now add “Black people living in an affluent neighborhood can’t have their car break down and patiently wait for help to arrive.” After the story went viral, Westwood eventually turned herself in. She claimed she made $125,000 (at Spectrum Enterprises); hopefully, she saved her money because she was fired almost immediately, evicted from the apartment complex and faces several misdemeanor charges.

Things to watch in 2019:

  • While some residents, like Westwood, take issue with black people occupying space in affluent neighborhoods, gentrification in historically black neighborhoods is rampant in our growing city. Economic mobility and lack of affordable housing are major issues that continue to plague Charlotte. Officials have few answers and progress has been slow. It’ll be interesting to see the impactful steps taken to combat this problem in 2019.

Kallan Louis is a writer and consultant for qcitymetro.com. He does a lot, but never feels like he’s doing enough. His life can be described as a Venn Diagram: News media, Black culture and sports. He’s always on TV, but rarely seen.

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