Why N.C. should host Democratic Convention

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2011

By Jim Rogers
For the Salisbury Post
When I moved to Charlotte in 2006, the city and state welcomed me and my family with open arms. We found an ambitious and forward-thinking region with a history of taking advantage of opportunities and meeting challenges head on. We found a steeled determination ó that comes together when the going gets tough to make great things happen.
There is no better example of this than Charlotteís and North Carolinaís efforts to host the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Our region and state provide the perfect platform for the convention to showcase what is possible as America climbs out of the Great Recession and reinvents itself. Yes, like the rest of the nation, our region has suffered over the past two-and-a-half-years, but we have also come together to develop a stronger, more diverse economy. In the Charlotte region, we have announced 8,500 jobs in the last year, and we are optimistic that 2011will bring many more new and high paying jobs to our region.
We have what it takes to successfully host an event of this size and complexity.[0xa0][0xa0]
We have the hotel rooms, a premier international airport, a state of the art uptown arena and an expanded convention center that can accommodate thousands of visitors.[0xa0]
We have light rail, world-class art galleries, restaurants, museums and an exciting night life.[0xa0]
We have family-friendly activities such as Carowinds Amusement Park, U.S. Whitewater Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame, and golf.
We have a proven track record of hosting major events, such as the NRA Convention, two NCAA Final Fours, six regional NCAA tournaments, five CIAA tournaments and eight major PGA Tour events ó all without a hitch.
We have a central location between the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains and beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
North Carolina is also home to one of the largest and best community college and university systems in the nation, as well as excellent private colleges and universities that are providing the training needed to compete globally to climb out of this recession. In the Charlotte region, we have 34 colleges and universities, educating 175,000 students and offering degrees in 150 subjects and 60 graduate programs. We have also grown by about 30 percent since 2000, and despite economic hard times, our growth continues.
Itís estimated that for a $40 million to $45 million investment ó mostly through private donations nationwide ó we could see a $150 million to $200 million economic impact to our region.[0xa0]Hosting the convention will show a national and international audience that Charlotte and North Carolina are leading the way in the innovation, optimism and hard work needed to turn our nationís economy around.
Support from across the region and state to attract the 2012 Democratic National Convention has been strong and bi-partisan. Prominent Republicans such as former Gov. Jim Martin and former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot joined leaders from both political parties to support this unprecedented economic development opportunity because they are eager to showcase our city and state to the rest of the nation and the world.
Democratic National Committee leaders can be assured that if they select Charlotte and North Carolina to host their convention, they will find what I found when I came to the state. They will receive a warm welcome that reflects the best America has to offer, and one with determination to deal with challenges head on and get beyond this recession to make a better future for our children and grandchildren.

Jim Rogers is chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy and serves as co-chair of the Charlotte in 2012 effort.