Copyright ©2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The situation in Syria certainly has the attention of the White House. President Obama also has his eye on politics this week, as the Democratic National Convention opens in Charlotte. The president is running neck-and-neck in polls with his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. As NPR's Sonari Glinton reports, the city of Charlotte has a lot riding on this week's gathering, as well.

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: Charlotte, North Carolina is one of the best examples of the new South. One of the main reasons is everything is so new. I'm standing on a corner in the neighborhood called Uptown, which is the city's central business district. And as I turn around, I can see the Bank of America corporate headquarters. And I look down the street, and on every corner that I turn in, there's almost no example of any architecture that's over 20 years old. The main reason is because of Bank of America and the banking industry. And that's why people came here to protest.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: This is what democracy looks like. Tell me what democracy...

GLINTON: Hundreds of protesters paraded around Uptown, Charlotte. They call their downtown area Uptown here in Charlotte. They gathered in front of Bank of America's headquarters.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We are here today to protest against these criminals, these criminal bankers who are responsible for the evictions of millions of people from their homes throughout the United States of America.

GLINTON: The city has been preparing for the convention and the protests for months, taking extraordinary security measures. Here's Charlotte's mayor, Anthony Fox.

MAYOR ANTHONY FOX: So there's no denying that this represents a singular moment in the city's history. It's also no secret that with that level of global exposure and the very nature of this event, that the level of security is higher than any event that we've hosted in our city before.

GLINTON: The city passed an ordinance creating a 100-square-block security zone in which almost anything might be banned: handbags, backpacks, water bottles, scarves, even bicycle helmets are on the list of potential contraband.

(SOUNDBITE OF CROWD CHATTER)

GLINTON: As local officials are anxious about security, local businesses are anxious about, well, business.

JAMES BAZZELLE: We usually give cops half price. I told them we're not doing that for all the cops this week. There are so many of them.

GLINTON: James Bazzelle and his wife own Mert's Heart and Soul, a soul food restaurant. I asked him what's good to try on the menu.

BAZZELLE: The fried chicken, of course. You're in the South. Everybody get fried chicken. Blackened pork chops are really good. And believe it or not, what people talk about the most is our corn bread.

GLINTON: Bazzelle, who's owned his business for 14 years, worries that business from the convention won't live up to the hype.

BAZZELLE: There's a lot of anxiety. You know, there's been a lot of changes, but, I mean, everybody I talked to - my vendors, our employees - everybody say the same thing: We'll get through it. We'll just roll with what we got.

GLINTON: Bazzelle says he and other business owners wonder whether delegates and other visitors will actually have any time to stop and spend any money. I met Rick Eudy, who was driving a tractor through town. He's is an electrician.

RICK EUDY: I've got all my generators set out, just waiting on the vendors to get here, start hooking their electrical stuff up.

GLINTON: All up and down this street, huh?

EUDY: Yeah, all the way down it. See all those vendors, their generators setting on the sidewalks. That's what I set out.

GLINTON: There were generators as far as you could see. Eudy's been working 16-hour days, and there's one reason he's not complaining.

EUDY: Any big event always brings money. I'm sure that Charlotte will bring in some big money. A lot of visitors in town, lot of dignitaries.

GLINTON: Politics aside, Eudy says big money is exactly what Charlotte needs. Sonari Glinton, NPR News, Charlotte.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: