As Bank of America's directors search for a chief to replace Ken Lewis, local leaders wonder if the new CEO will have any ties to the Carolinas - and what it will mean for Charlotte if not.
Some bank insiders worry that the new commander might be less committed to keeping the base here. They fear that the corporate offices could be uprooted to New York or Boston or another city, perhaps because the new CEO wants to make a dramatic statement of change - or because the person simply doesn't want to live here.
Charlotte and state leaders say they're determined to keep the hometown bank in its hometown, especially after losing Wachovia's headquarters last year. Gov. Bev Perdue has been talking with bank officials, shareholders and community leaders about the bank's future since Lewis announced two weeks ago that he plans to retire by year's end, Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said.
Perdue has "let it be known that North Carolina will welcome its new leader with open arms," Pearson said.
Bank of America is one of the most important engines driving Charlotte's economy, employing 15,000 workers and supporting a raft of smaller businesses. It is the sole reason that Charlotte can still claim to be the country's No. 2 banking center, a title that has defined it for years.
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