Democrats Excited 2012 Convention Coming to Charlotte
Tourism and political insiders are pondering opportunities for Moore County to bask in the economic glow from the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
All agree that the convention will benefit the state and the region and hope that its effect will extend to Moore County, despite its strong Republican leaning.
"What a great thing for North Carolina and Charlotte," said an exultant Jim Heim, chairman of the Moore County Democratic Party. "It will put us on the map. This is a marvelous thing."
Heim said he is already making plans to attend the convention, either as a delegate from the 6th District or as a visitor. He expects that other Democrats in the district will make similar plans.
"People are clever," he said. "People who live in Charlotte and around the city will find themselves very popular with friends and relatives next year."
Heim added that he is not the only Democrat already planning to attend the convention.
From the other side of the political aisle, Congressman Howard Coble said he too is excited that North Carolina was chosen for the convention. He may be a Republican, but Coble acknowledges that his parents were Democrats.
"I am excited about it," Coble said. "It should generate a whole lot of revenue for Charlotte and the state."
However, Caleb Miles, president and CEO of the county's Convention and Visitors Bureau, took a more cautious position and says it's too early to predict how the convention will affect tourism in Moore County.
Speaking from a nonpolitical standpoint, Miles doubts the convention will have any broad impact on local lodging and food establishments. Moore County is more than 100 miles from Charlotte, too far for comfortable commuting. He thinks the effect will be on towns closer to Charlotte, such as Gastonia, Monroe and Kannapolis.
"My guess is that there may be some opportunities during that time," Miles said. "It might be a good time for a fundraising golf tournament."
Tourism officials will meet next week to discuss other mutual interests, and Miles' counterpart from Charlotte will be among those in attendance. The gathering is not called to discuss the convention, but he expects the subject to arise.
Miles said convention planners may well look around the region to check out opportunities for people accompanying delegates and others connected with the convention. This will be a good time for Moore County to make sure its amenities are known to these people.
"It's all speculation at this point," Miles said. "But I assure you, we will be looking for opportunities."
Heim said he is a little surprised that national Democrats chose North Carolina, which has the lowest union membership in the nation. Heim said Charlotte does not have a single hotel that is unionized.
But he doesn't think it will affect convention participation, expected to attract delegates and supporters from all walks of life - from CEOs to janitors.
"It will be great fun for all of us," Heim said.
By the time the Democratic National Committee made its announcement Tuesday, the news was already being spread through e-mail messages and the Internet.
Among those spreading the news was first lady Michelle Obama, whose e-mail to supporters called Charlotte "a city marked by its Southern charm, warm hospitality and an 'up by the bootstraps' mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South."
Political observers were calling the choice further evidence of President Obama's intention to regroup support that led to significant wins in the South in 2008, when North Carolina went for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since the 1970s.
For months, Charlotte had been on the Democrats' short list for convention sites.
Charlotte is not the only Southern city chosen for 2012 political activism. The National Republican Convention will be held in Tampa, Fla., about a week before the Democrats convene the first week in September 2012.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at email@example.com.
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