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Charlotte to woo companies in town for DNC

CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Charlotte Chamber has gone in with the city and several other boosters to hire a Washington, D.C.-based consultant to help score time with U.S. business leaders coming to town for the Democratic National Convention.

With a $50,000 budget, they’ve tapped Odell, Simms & Lynch, Inc, which previously worked with London to bring in business in conjunction with the Olympics.

During DNC week, the firm will set up appointments to speak with Charlotte economic development and business leaders. Afterward, the firm will help set up follow-up conference calls with companies impressed with the city.

The Chamber also plans to enlist local CEOs to attend convention parties and events. Afterward, it will send 32 Kindle Fire tablet computers to Fortune 500 company CEOs pre-loaded with a promotional video the Chamber produced and other Charlotte information.

The goal: to lure another global headquarters and more jobs.

“We will have the opportunity to give them a first impression,” said Chamber executive director Bob Morgan. “We will be very disappointed if over the next two years there’s nobody who puts jobs here who says we first saw you at the convention.”

While Morgan would not offer specific names of companies to be targeted, the Chamber is focusing on Fortune 1000 companies primarily, with a particular interest in energy, finance and health care companies. And taking a lesson from what drew Chiquita Brands International to Charlotte, they’ll woo companies that don’t have an airline hub in their backyard.

Of course, it will be difficult to measure exactly how much new job activity will be directly tied to the convention. The Chamber will look for an increase in the number of new leads coming in over the months post-convention. The rest of it will likely be anecdotal.

Morgan also said he has talked with leaders in San Diego, which hosted the 1996 Republican convention, and in Denver, where the last Democratic convention was held. Both, he said, reported new job announcements they believe were tied to hosting the conventions.

Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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