Wooing CEOs During The DNC

Aug 27, 2012

In about two weeks, the Democratic National Convention will have come and gone in Charlotte. But a group of city officials and economic development agencies are working to extend the economic afterglow of the DNC.

Political conventions don't just draw elected officials, media and political junkies. They're also a magnet for high-ranking business people looking to make connections with the powerful.

While they're here, Center City Partners CEO Michael Smith wants to meet them, too.

"So that when those decision makers or those foreign companies are thinking direct-foreign investment, expansion or relocation of headquarters, we make the list," says Smith.

Center City Partners, the Charlotte Regional Partnership, the Charlotte Chamber and economic development offices at the city and county have partnered to make sure they miss no opportunity to pitch Charlotte to a business during the DNC. They've hired a consultant to identify prospects.

But Smith also knows Uptown will be hectic - and hard to navigate - during the convention. So even if one-on-one meetings with visiting CEOs don't happen, the DNC will at least be an opportunity to make contact - and a good impression.

"We've tidied up nicely, so they're gonna be able to see that," says Smith. "They'll be able to see the functionality of our airport. They're gonna see the way we host. And for them to be able to meet some commerce leaders and make some connections, I think this is kind of a step one.

Center City Partners has a subtle back-up plan to get the message across. The agency has printed 47,000 pocket maps of Uptown Charlotte that will be distributed to convention attendees and visitors. On the front, in bold lettering it says "Center Your Business" in Charlotte.