Convention will mean big business for Lake Norman

by Courtney Price

Ashworth

When the Democratic National Convention rolls in to Charlotte next fall, Lake Norman will see a influx of people, cars and, perhaps most importantly, money.

Sally Ashworth, executive director of Visit Lake Norman, worked with Charlotte to help bring the convention to North Carolina in 2012. The convention is set for the week of Sept. 3, 2012.

Ashworth said based on the last convention, held in Denver, Colo., the 2012 convention is estimated to bring $250 to $300 million to the Charlotte region. By comparison, the Visit Lake Norman Soccer Series in January generated an estimated $4.45 million.

More than 30,000 delegates and media representatives from across the nation will visit the Charlotte region.

To secure the convention in Charlotte, hotels within a 30-minute drive, including Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson, from the convention center had to commit 80 percent of their rooms for the convention delegates, Ashworth said.

“The 19 hotels in Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville have a total of 1,599 rooms,” she said. That would mean about 1,280 rooms are reserved for the convention week.

To get visitors from Lake Norman south to the convention center, Ashworth said. Charlotte has “250 buses with air conditioning that had to be contracted for the convention.”

The Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce wasn’t a part of the convention bid process, but Chamber President Bill Russell said the event will be great for businesses.

“This is not just an event that’ll affect hotels and attractions. This is going to be an event that impacts all of our businesses up here. It’s going to be huge.”

To promote businesses and attractions in the Lake Norman region, Ashworth said, Visit Lake Norman will create packages for each delegate about the area.

While it’s not set up yet, there will be space set up on the Visit Lake Norman website, www.visitlakenorman.org, to allow local businesses to apply to be included in those packages.

“This isn’t going to just be a 10-day window of exposure for Lake Norman,” Russell said. “You’re going to see people who come to this area and see it first hand, and then probably, like many of us, choose to come back here and relocate to Lake Norman.”

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