Ben Bradford / WFAE

For decades, trucks have dominated as the main transporter of goods inland, but trains are picking up steam, and Charlotte is part of an ambitious plan by one railway to pick up even more.

Michael Tomsic

Art, the Panama Canal and the Charlotte economy intersected at the Mint Museum Uptown on Wednesday night. The museum’s exhibit featuring paintings of the canal’s construction 100 years ago served as a backdrop for a discussion of Charlotte’s role in the global shipping industry – and how that role is growing.

Charlotte area business and economic leaders continue to work towards making Charlotte a major global hub, with the new intermodal facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and as trade routes across the globe prepare to change due to the expansion of the Panama Canal next year. So what strategies should our region’s leaders use to help us find success in that global hub quest? What does Charlotte have that would allow us to be a global economic center? And how will success in that role change lives for Charlotteans? We’ll ask our panel of experts, including Charlotte’s mayor, Patrick Cannon. 

A more than $100 million project to speed shipments from Charlotte to East Coast sea ports has begun operation. The intermodal facility is an “inland port” that allows transfer of shipments between bus, train, and airplane. The 200-acre site at the airport is still under construction, but Charlotte aviation director Brent Cagle says it sent out its first shipment Monday by train.

“That’s a soft opening,” Cagle says. “They will continue to increase operations at the facility over the next four months until the facility is at full operations.”