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September 2011
An Opportunity Not To Miss—Charlotte in 2012
By John Paul Galles

     When the Democratic National Committee chose Charlotte, North Carolina, as its site for the Democratic National Convention the week of September 3rd, 2012, that decision was based on much more than Charlotte being a charming and attractive city.

     Strategically, President Obama won North Carolina by the slim margin of 14,177 votes in 2008. He wants to win it again. North Carolina has a democratic governor, Beverly Perdue. Charlotte has a democratic mayor, Anthony Foxx. North Carolina became a “swing” state in 2008 with its changing demographics. North Carolina is known as a southern state.

     In addition, Charlotte has an excellent airport with direct connections to many major airports around the country. Charlotte has the Time Warner Cable arena and Bank of America Stadium and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is the second largest banking city in the nation with a burgeoning energy industry in addition to entrepreneurial activities. Add the fact that Mayor Foxx lobbied to have it in the Queen City on numerous occasions, and it becomes more evident that Charlotte’s got a lot going for it.

     All of these factors played a role in the decision to hold the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Democrats want to reelect President Obama and Charlotte is the official launching pad for the reelection campaign.

     With 30,000 to 35,000 delegates, national and international media, key policy and political decision-makers and other visitors patronizing area hotels, restaurants, entertainment and other businesses, what is most important to pulling off a successful convention are the volunteers. The Committee for Charlotte 2012, Inc. will be recruiting over 7,000 people to participate and support this event. They want all types of people, democrats, republicans, independents, younger people, older people, experienced people and inexperienced people.

     Volunteers will work events and activities and support delegates and media as well as VIPs, policy people and decision-makers who need to be greeted, welcomed to Charlotte, escorted, ushered, assisted and supported in so many different ways. Over the course of the next year, the Charlotte in 2012 host committee will hold numerous meetings for gathering volunteers, organizing and educating them to the multitude of tasks and activities.

     As a reference, when the convention was held in Denver in 2008, that convention used about 14,000 volunteers for jobs ranging from assembling delegate welcome bags to drivers to hospitality and informational personnel. Volunteers also hosted delegations from each state as well as media and VIPs visiting the city. They held at least 1,500 events on the master event calendar, ranging from small state delegation breakfasts at local hotels to large concerts. Sponsoring businesses and private individuals paid for the majority of the events.

     Visitor spending in Denver reached about $26.4 million on lodging and accommodations, approximately $3.5 million on transportation, over $19.1 million on food and beverages, and $3.9 million on entertainment, souvenirs and other merchandise.

     Charlotte in 2012 outreach will be to individuals and to businesses of all types and sizes. Diversity and opportunity are especially important to their efforts. They seek to be extremely inclusive and broadly collaborative at the same time. You may sign up and/or get involved by going to their website, www.charlottein2102.com. Simply complete the information requested in the boxes under “Get Involved.” They will keep you informed about their progress and their needs.

     This event can be a transformational opportunity for Charlotte. We have an opportunity on the national stage, but also the global stage. We can exhibit and demonstrate the quality of our people and our location to people around the globe. We will certainly feel the economic benefits for the event itself, but we want to make an impression that brings benefits for many years to come.

     Get involved! Sign up today! Become an ambassador within our own city to thousands of people visiting Charlotte for the first time. We want them to know about Charlotte’s hospitality and charm and gracious nature so they come back time after time after time. They may even choose to relocate and become part of our community. Get connected now so you can participate in this watershed event.

John Paul Galles is the publisher of Greater Charlotte Biz.
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