The CONNECT Beyond region is a diverse and interconnected economy of road networks that lead to urban and rural markets originating back to the late 1800s.

Transportation is central to our region’s economy, connecting the farming in rural areas to grocery stores in urban areas, and building manufacturing hubs in the suburbs that transport goods to market via regional rail, trucking, and air cargo.

Over time, the pressures of “globalization, automation, and consolidation in many of the economic sectors that had once sustained the region “ caused a certain amount of decline in rural areas, according to researchers. At the same time, Charlotte became an international player in the knowledge-based economy with banking, retail, energy and distribution industries leading the way to today's growing tourism and music industries. Today, a new generation of farmers also feed the growing demand for urban area "farm to fork" initiatives.

CONNECT Beyond will explore the interconnectedness of the region’s urban and rural markets for opportunities to improve the transit experience.