New Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau offices open

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By Joanie Morris
For the Salisbury Post
CONCORD — With wheels spinning, Terry Crawford, chairman of the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau and general manager of Embassy Suites, cut the ribbon at the new Convention and Visitors Bureau offices off Bruton Smith Boulevard.
It was a new take on the traditional ribbon cutting with ceremonial big scissors as Crawford drove a race car through the oversized ribbon outside of the offices located at 10099 Weddington Road, Suite 102. The center moved from offices owned by the Chamber of Commerce on Dale Earnhardt Boulevard two weeks ago.
“Tourism is a vital part of our economic industry here in Cabarrus County,” Crawford said during remarks to a crowd of about 50 gathered in the building Tuesday afternoon. “One of the key things here is motorsports.”
Crawford and others at the event talked about the new offices location to the tourism industry in Cabarrus County. While not centrally located in Cabarrus County geographically, many believe the new offices are centrally located for tourism. The offices are located off of Interstate 85 at Exit 49 — one of the busiest interstate exits in the state.
Along with Charlotte Motor Speedway and zMax Dragway, the exit also boasts Concord Mills, the number one tourist attraction in North Carolina.
County Commission Chairman Jay White, who also serves on the CVB board, said that 3,600 jobs are related to the tourism industry in Cabarrus County, and each household in Cabarrus County sees a $365 tax savings as a result of the tourism industry.
“Exit 49 is the exit to be on in North Carolina,” said White.
Donna Carpenter, president and CEO of the CVB, said people had been telling her all week that it was going to rain.
“There’s no way it’s going to rain on our parade,” said Carpenter, right before wind blew over a tent that was set up outdoors for the event. Even if the ceremony had to be moved indoors, Carpenter and her staff were still excited about the opportunities presented by the new facility. “We’d rather it (the rain) happen today than this weekend.”
The new offices boast a meeting room with bay doors that can be opened for events or closed for private meetings and a large projection screen for video broadcasts. There are administrative offices in the back of the building. For visitors, there is a touch screen interactive station where they can find information about deals and events in the area, and a game station for children to play at. The new space is approximately 5,000 square feet, up from under 3,300 square feet at the old offices.
“Our goal is to be a resource for the visitor, and the best way to accomplish that is by going where the visitors are,” said Carpenter. “By not capitalizing on the heavy visitation that the exit 49 area receives, we were missing a massive opportunity to educate the visitor on everything that Cabarrus County has to offer.”
Convention and Visitors Bureau officials anticipate a two-fold increase in visitor traffic at the new location in the coming year.
Joanie Morris is a freelance writer for the Salisbury Post. She can be reached at 704-797-4248 or