by: Sarah Rosario Updated:
CHARLOTTE - Next week, the Charlotte Chamber and 120 business leaders will head to Minneapolis for the 2014 Inter City Visit.
They picked Minneapolis for its business and programs designed around healthy living.
Eyewitness News spoke to leaders and learned about the changes this trip could bring to Charlotte and how it could impact the way our city is viewed.
With its greenways, running trails, and parks, many take advantage of the outdoor areas Charlotte has to offer.
But according to the American Fitness Index, Charlotte is nowhere near the top of the list for healthy cities in America.
"(Last year) Charlotte ranked 36th out of 50 cities, and I thought we could do a lot better than that," said Carolina's Healthcare System CEO Michael Tarwater.
As the CEO of Carolina's Healthcare System and Chairman of the Charlotte Chamber, Tarwater has championed a "Healthy Charlotte Initiative."
He and the chamber have created a task force to rally individuals, business owners, and community organizations to improve Charlotte's rankings to within the 10 within the next five years.
"For the past two or three years Minneapolis has been the No. 1 healthiest city in America," said Tarwater.
Chamber officials will bring 120 business leaders with them to learn best practices of health and wellness.
Tarwater says if Charlotte can change its health image, it will only become more attractive to companies looking to relocate. "We can get better, and as we do, other people will be interested and we will continue to grow and continue to prosper," he said.
The American College of Sport Medicine's American Fitness Index is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and surveys conducted by the Center for City Park Excellence.
New numbers released last month for Charlotte now rank it at 27 among healthy cities. It's still 17 states away from the top 10, but Tarwater says it's an improvement and says that's why this trip to Minneapolis could help.
"It's just phenomenal. If we keep it up at that clip, we'll be top 10 in about three and a half years," he said.
Leaders are hoping to learn what Charlotte lacks and where it can improve. When they return, they'll present their findings to city council.
The group will leave Wednesday, June 18 and will return June 20.