North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2012

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Case studies Mayor Anthony Foxx says Charlotte ZLOO UHDS WKH EHQHÀ WV of millions of dollars worth of free publicity during coverage of the convention. An estimated 15,000 of those visitors will be members of the national and international press, which is more publicity than Charlotte has ever seen. "That's one of the big opportunities here — having all this media come and visit Charlotte from around the world," says Michael Smith, president of downtown booster group Charlotte Center City Partners. Things have come a long way since 1979, when a group of business leaders and residents formed Center City Partners with the city to promote econom- ic development downtown. That signaled the beginning of a boom that would thrust Charlotte into the limelight as a major U.S. fi nancial center. But according to Smith, the city is still a work in progress. "Charlotte is in its infancy in terms of introducing itself to the world. We are renowned as a place of commerce, and we'll be able to strengthen that, but there also will be opportunities to showcase Charlotte as a great place to visit and live." Mayor Anthony Foxx agrees. His rising-star status in the Democratic Party, strong ties to President Barack Obama and partnership with Charlotte-based Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers were key factors in the Queen City securing the convention. "This is the fi rst time the international spotlight will be cast on our state and our city," Foxx says. "The value of that kind of attention will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. We'll have longer-term job growth as a result of companies that may not have thought of us in the past taking a second look and, in some cases, a fi rst look." In late summer 2011, with the convention still more than a year away, the city already was feeling its economic impact, the mayor says. "AT&T is making a tremendous investment in building its 4G network here. And in real estate, we're seeing many properties that have been languishing over the last couple of years being improved with millions of dollars of investment in advance of the convention." Hotels also were splurging on upgrades. Teams have been set up to handle the hurricane of activity. Among them is the convention host committee, headed by former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Dan Murrey. His group is charged with raising the $37 million it will take to put on the convention as well as compiling a directory of area vendors for attendees. "My job is to make it hard for anybody to say no to a local business that is qualifi ed to do the work," Murrey says. The host committee is collaborating with the Democratic National Conven- tion, whose 39-year-old CEO, Stephen Kerrigan, already is a political veteran. Kerrigan, who has worked in politics since his teens for luminaries including the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and Obama, has served as chief of staff for the presidential inaugural committee and was part of the site-selection team that chose North Carolina. He says Charlotte was "always the front-runner," even when some pundits were betting on St. Louis. "This is a dynamic, diverse and vibrant community that refl ects America in the 21st century," Kerrigan says, adding that the DNC considers North Carolina a Convention CEO Stephen Kerrigan, 39, says Charlotte was always the front-runner. 44 North Carolina Economic Development Guide

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