Charlotte expects economic boost with DNC

Charlotte expects economic boost with DNC

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by MITCH WEISS and MIKE BAKER / Associated Press

MITCH WEISS and MIKE BAKER / Associated Press

Posted on February 1, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 1 at 7:16 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Democratic National Convention will provide North Carolina's largest city with a massive economic boost in 2012 and beyond, Charlotte leaders said Tuesday.

Mayor Anthony Foxx said the benefits will come from both money spent on the gathering and the lasting impact of national exposure. Officials estimate the convention scheduled during the first full week in September 2012 will attract an estimated 30,000 to 35,000 delegates, media members and political leaders.

"This is a permanent deal," Foxx said. "This is something that's going to have lasting significance to this city for a long time."

Planners have said the economic impact of the convention could be as high as $200 million, and 2008 host city Denver estimated that the impact there surpassed $250 million.

However, economic figures for such mega-events are often disputed and difficult to tally. A 2008 study conducted by economics professors at the College of the Holy Cross and Lake Forest College found no statistically significant evidence that political conventions contribute to local economies. The researchers warned people to be skeptical of promises of huge windfalls.

Duke Energy Corp. CEO Jim Rogers, who co-chaired the effort behind Charlotte's bid, expects that organizers will have to raise up to $50 million for the event and will seek donations from around the country. Officials in Charlotte declined to discuss specific details about costs, such as security.

"Let me just say, if I don't raise the money, I'm going to need some serious security," Rogers joked. He acknowledged that the event could cause some inconveniences around the city but asked locals to recognize that it will be for a greater benefit.

As a financial hub, Charlotte has struggled for the last couple years amid turmoil in the banking industry. One of the city's leading employers - Wachovia Corp. - nearly collapsed at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 before it was purchased by Wells Fargo & Co. Charlotte is also home to the nation's largest bank, Bank of America Corp.

The county's unemployment rate - more than 10 percent - is higher than the state average.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue said she believes the economic impact will ripple beyond Charlotte to the rest of the state.

"A national political convention is a keystone event that will boost North Carolina's economy, while showcasing Charlotte and our state to the nation and the world," she said.

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