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Is Charlotte the Austin of the East Coast?
Both southern cities are home to big universities and have up-and-coming economies—fueled by banking and tech, respectively—that share a love of barbecue, a penchant for live music and rapidly growing millennial populations.
But the two cities present different benefits—and growing pains—to their residents and prospective transplants. Similar to how many Austinites look to San Francisco as an example of what lies ahead for the Capital City, at least one Charlottean is looking to "Austin as a guide (and in some cases a warning) for what's to come in Charlotte."
Here's how Austin and Charlotte compare across 15 highly specific, occasionally scientific categories.
1. Top workplaces
Charlotte's largest employers include Atrium Health, Wells Fargo, Walmart and Bank of America, according to the Charlotte Business Journal. Austin's largest employers include the State of Texas, the University of Texas at Austin and Dell.
2. Origin stories
Charlotte was settled around 1750 and is named for Princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, queen of England and wife of King George III, which is why it's sometimes called the Queen City.
Austin, previously known as Waterloo, was purchased to serve as the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839 and renamed in honor of "Father of Texas" Stephen F. Austin, who colonized the region and introduced slavery, despite attempts by the Mexican government to ban it. Texas was annexed into the U.S. in 1845, and Austin became the state's official capital the following year.
3. Beloved food
Although there are many, the top contender in Austin might just be migas, where in Charlotte it is arguably shredded pork barbecue, eaten with a plastic fork.
4. Median home price
The median home sales price in the city of Austin hit an all-time high of $550,562 in April, exacerbating the challenges of first-time and prospective homebuyers, according to the Austin Board of Realtors.
The Charlotte housing market is similarly outperforming the national average, posting double-digit gains in home prices and contending with a housing shortage and population growth. But it remains relatively affordable compared to the Austin market. The median home sales price in April was $315,000, according to the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association.
5. College towns
Austin and Charlotte are both home to state universities. The University of Texas at Austin is the 14th best public school in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report; has an enrollment of more than 50,000 students; and counts the second largest endowment at $31 billion. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte is second to flagship campus Chapel Hill but still enrolls more than 30,000 students.
6. Population growth
Austin beats Charlotte both in terms of population and growth, but only barely. The capital city had a population of 978,908, according to 2019 census estimates, and had grown 22.1% since 2010. Charlotte had a population of 885,708 and had grown 20.4% over the same period.
7. Fitness freaks
(The Trail Foundation)
According to the 2020 American College of Sports Medicine's community fitness index, Austin ranks 31st and Charlotte 67th among the country's largest cities. Austin's score reflects better bike friendliness and more farmer's markets per capita, among other metrics.
8. Craft brewery density
(Zilker Brewing Co./Facebook)
Charlotte narrowly beats Austin in terms of ranking and number of breweries, according to the Real Estate Witch's 2021 list of best beer cities in America. Charlotte came in 17th, with 76 breweries, and Austin ranked 25th, with 71.
9. Natural disaster risk
The Willie Nelson statue downtown got a dusting of snow during the February winter storm. (Laura Figi/Austonia)
Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, received a score of 16.89 on the national risk index, which is compiled by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This places it in the 88th percentile nationally, at risk of such natural hazards as drought, hurricanes and tornadoes.
Travis County scored worse—24.91—which landed it in the 96th percentile nationally. Its most prevalent natural hazards include drought, lightning and tornadoes.
10. Local politics
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat in her second term, is the first Black woman to hold the office. She has championed against anti-LGBT legislation, investment in affordable housing and light rail.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler, also a Democrat in his second term, is the first mayor to serve as part of the 10-1 council system. He has tackled contentious issues, from zoning reform and homelessness to the city's affordability crisis and recent protests over police violence, with varying degrees of success.
Both cities are liberal strongholds in more conservative states. Nearly two-thirds of Charlotteans voted for President Joe Biden in the 2020 election, compared to 49% of North Carolinians. Nearly 72% of Austinites went for Biden, compared to 47% of Texans.
11. Sports culture
Both Austin and Charlotte recently gained soccer franchises, but the North Carolina city also has a stable of other beloved professional sports teams, including the Panthers (NFL) and Hornets (NBA).
Until recently, Austin was alone among the country's 15 populous cities that lacked a major league team. Now it has Austin FC, which has won two games and lost four so far in its inaugural season.
12. Millennial appeal
(Michael Anthony Orona)
Austin and Charlotte are among the most attractive cities among millennials. According to SmartAsset's 2020 report, Austin ranked third and Charlotte fifth in terms of net millennial migration. Similarly, RentCafe included both among its top 15 hottest cities for millennials renters over the last five years, with millennials making up 48% of Austin rental applicants and 43% of Charlotte rental applicants.
Austin and Charlotte rank 23rd and 24th, respectively, among large U.S. cities in terms of ethnic diversity, according to a recent WalletHub study. Austin is a majority-minority city, with a rapidly growing Asian population and decreasing shares of families-with-children in the urban core and Black residents overall. Charlotte is also a majority-minority city, with increasing Asian and Hispanic populations, according to Mecklenburg County's 2020 pulse report.
14. The great outdoors
Austin beats Charlotte in terms of its 2021 ParkScore ranking, which is compiled by the Trust for Public Land and includes the 100 largest U.S. cities. In 45th place, Austin fell eight spots from last year and received its lower mark for equity. Charlotte, however, ranked near the bottom, at 91st place, and received its lowest mark for access. Fewer than 40% of Charlotteans live within a 10-minute walk of a park, compared to 62% of Austinites.
15. Celebrity sightings
(Gary Clark Jr./Facebook)
Charlotte lags behind Austin in terms of famous residents. The city counts former Tar Heel, Charlotte Bobcats majority owner and possible best basketball player of all time Michael Jordan as a part-time Charlottean.
Austin, on the other hand, saw more celebrities lay down roots in 2020 alone, including extremely successful podcast host and professional devil's advocate Joe Rogan, "Dawson's Creek" actor James Van Der Beek, enigmatic Tesla CEO Elon Musk and "Entourage" star Adrain Grenier. Other notable Austinites include possible gubernatorial candidate Matthew McConaughey, country music legend Willie Nelson, Grammy winner Gary Clark Jr. and Coach Taylor himself Kyle Chandler.
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A second person connected to Saturday morning's Sixth Street mass shooting has been arrested. The Austin Police Department confirmed they arrested a 17-year-old male suspect in Killeen on Monday.
The suspect has been identified as Jeremiah Roshaun Leland James Tabb, who will be charged as an adult with aggravated assault, officials confirmed. He was arrested without incident while enrolled in a summer school class.
Police arrested the first suspect, a 16-year-old male, on Saturday evening. It is still not known what charges the suspect will face and since he is a minor, court records and identity will likely remain confidential.
The shooting occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 12, when two men fired shots into a large crowd on the 400 block of East Sixth Street and injured 13, killing one. Investigators believe there was "some type of disturbance" between the two parties.
A 25-year-old tourist visiting from New York, named Douglas John Kantor, succumbed to his injuries while in the hospital on Sunday afternoon. He leaves behind family and his high-school sweetheart.
The investigation is still ongoing and information can still be reported by calling 911 or the police tip line at 512-472-TIPS.
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With high temperatures looming over Austin for the next week, The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which controls about 90% of the state's electricity flow, is asking residents to conserve energy usage through Friday, June 18.
ERCOT issued the conservation alert via Tweet on Monday afternoon, saying that a high number of "forced generation outages combined with potential record electric use" during June have created tight grid conditions. Austin Energy echoed the request.
🔊CONSERVATION URGED! @ERCOT_ISO is asking Texans to reduce electric use as much as possible today, 6/14 through Friday, 6/18, due to statewide grid conditions.
ERCOT says a significant number of power generators have forced outages for repairs. (1/2)
— Austin Energy (@austinenergy) June 14, 2021
ERCOT is attributing the "tight grid conditions" to more electric generators than usual being shut down for repairs.
June is going to be hot—temperatures are expected to peak around 96 degrees every day through Friday. It's just the start of the Texas summer season with high temperatures likely not dipping below 90 degrees for the rest of the month.
ERCOT data indicated that energy demand may exceed capacity during peak heat hours. According to ERCOT, approximately 11,000 MW of generation is on forced outages for repairs and today's peak load forecast may exceed 73,000 MW. The previous record for June was 69,100 megawatts in 2018.
One MW typically powers 200 homes on a summer day.
ERCOT shared voluntary guidelines to reduce energy usage:
- Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher–every degree of cooling increases your energy use by 6-8%.
- Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.
- If you don't need something–turn it off and unplug it if possible.
ERCOT has been under scrutiny since the grid collapsed in February during Winter Storm Uri, leaving millions of Texans in the cold and dark for days. The mass outage prompted a series of changes, including resignations, termination of President and CEO Bill Magness and a state investigation.
ERCOT previously said in May that it expected a relatively mild summer for emergency conditions and said it expects a peak energy demand of 77,144 MW through September.
Douglas Kantor, 25 year old killed in 6th Street shooting, leaves behind family, high school sweetheart
Family, friends and the community are remembering Douglas John Kantor, the 25-year-old who was killed on Sixth Street after a mass shooting that injured 13 others early Saturday morning.
Kantor, who was visiting from New York and lived in Michigan, died in a hospital just after noon on Sunday after being "shot in the abdomen, just below the rib cage," according to his brother Nick Kantor.
One other victim remains in critical condition. Two suspects have been arrested as police continue to investigate the incident.
"He suffered from the time of the injury until time of death, it was the most gruesome thing," Nick Kantor told KVUE. "It's painful to discuss, but I think the public deserves to know what my brother suffered."
Nick Kantor released a statement to KVUE following his sibling's death, calling the shooting a "senseless tragedy" that "put an end to all his dreams."
According to Nick, Douglas Kantor was "looking forward to marrying his high school sweetheart of 10 years and starting a family." He had recently bought a house after receiving his master's degree in business at Michigan State, where he also completed four years in computer engineering.
🚨UPDATE: The family of Douglas John Kantor has released a statement following the death of the 25-year-old in #Austin: "He was loved by all who knew him." Kantor was shot & killed during a mass shooting event in downtown that injured 13 others: https://t.co/pS9lnAkcuF pic.twitter.com/11fFY5izYb
— John-Carlos Estrada (@Mr_JCE) June 14, 2021
Kantor was employed with Ford Motor Company as a product manager and had also used his computer science skills to develop a website for his family's air conditioning and heating business. Nick Kantor said Douglas was "loved by his family, friends and everyone who met him."
City officials and community members joined Nick Kantor in remembering Douglas Kantor.
Mayor Steve Adler released the following statement regarding Kantor's death:
"The loss suffered by the Kantor family is unimaginable. Doug Kantor leaves behind family, friends, and the future he was building. His senseless death has filled us with enormous grief, and even more resolve to stop this from happening here and across the country. Our hearts go out to all of Doug Kantor's loved ones."
A new Facebook page labeled the Downtown Austin Mass Shooting Survivors has issued a survivors fund for the 13 other victims injured.
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