CHARLOTTE, N.C. The Democratic National Convention was a chance for Charlotte to pitch itself to business and political leaders, sure.
But city development leaders hope college students got the message, too.
Even as they breathe a sigh of relief that the convention ended smoothly, Charlotte Chamber CEO Bob Morgan and Center City Partners CEO Michael Smith talked Friday about the convention putting the city on the radar of young people who may not have considered it a destination previously.
“It changes the trajectory of the city in ways that will not be measured in a linear fashion,” Smith said of the impact of the convention. “It is the students at the University of Michigan, at USC, at Yale, at Chapel Hill and UNC Charlotte that don’t recognize the influence ... but that decide that they want their first job to be here, that they want to start a career here.”
The city’s business community had long planned to use the convention as an opportunity to sell the city as a good place to do business. Morgan said the Chamber was able to catch up with a number of leaders while they were in town, though he would not name many names.
One meeting was with British ambassador Peter Westmacott, where Morgan and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx made the case for Great Britain to move its embassy from Washington, D.C., to Charlotte.
US Airways executive Chuck Allen also met with the ambassador to lobby for the airline’s request to add a direct flight from Charlotte to London’s Heathrow airport, instead of the smaller Gatwick.
Morgan also talked with a parliament member from Turkey about how Charlotte can learn from Istanbul’s cultural scene.
Smith said he hopes all the exposure will put Charlotte on the map for not only students, but portfolio managers who might buy assets in the city or corporations looking to have offices in major cities around the country.
To that end, Morgan said the Chamber will be working on following up with business leaders they met this week. The Chamber has already planned to send out 32 Kindle Fire e-readers pre-loaded with information on Charlotte.
So what’s next? The Republican convention in 2016?
“My personal preference is we bring the Rolling Stones back to Charlotte,” Morgan said. “Beyond that, those of us who will be part of that conversation, we will probably need a day or two to decompress before we figure that out.”