Russell’s Ramblings

Those who do not hear the music might think the dancer mad

Every Picture tells a story

Lake Norman Chamber Candidate Forum

It seems as if the last few weeks have been nothing but a flurry of political activity.  The first week of September, the Charlotte region hosted the Democratic National Convention.  Later that week, a delegation from the Chamber and Visit Lake Norman made our annual trip to Washington DC to meet with our federal delegation and to attend the N.C. Business and Economic Development Summit with members of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation and Senate.

These past two weeks we have held two candidate forums featuring our candidates for United States House District #9, Mecklenburg County at large and District #1, and the new N.C. House Seat District #92.

 A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Kristy Etheridge from WBTV who asked did our businesses see much of an impact from the DNC?  I told Kristy that months ago, we cautioned area retailers and hospitality businesses from being overly optimistic that delegate spending would be a “silver bullet” for our local economy. 

In speaking to some local business owners both here and in Charlotte, as well as DNC vendors, sales were for the most part disappointing.  While our hotel industry did quite well, some retailers in Charlotte were actually hurt in that regular customers and clients did not patronize the businesses during the DNC.

The real strength of the DNC was its ability to showcase our area to not only the nation, but the eyes of the world.  A political event of that nature is perhaps second only to the Olympics in terms of international exposure.  Media coverage, as well as national and international awareness, focused on the Charlotte and Lake markets.

Before the gavel sounded at Time Warner Arena, our Chamber had already been contacted by a Senior Producer with RTL Netherlands, a television news organization, on giving our perspective on the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care act (Obama care).  Their producer had seen the media coverage of our August Focus Friday on the subject.

Perhaps Vinay Patel, whose company SREE  owns Marriott’s Courtyard and Residence Inn in Huntersville, summed it up best at this month’s Visit Lake Norman Board meeting when he pointed out the DNC proved to the world Charlotte is no longer a second-tier city when it comes to hosting an event. 

Tom Coderre and Bill Russell

While I did not have a chance to attend any of the official DNC, I did tour the facility and had a chance to have dinner with a close friend I had not seen in over a decade.  Tom Coderre, the Chief of Staff to the Rhode Island Senate President and a former State Senator himself, attended the DNC as a delegate.

Tom was a National Vice President of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) in 1992-1993 when I was the National President.  One of the youngest NVP’s to ever serve the Jaycees, he was assigned to many of the larger states like Texas and Kansas.  In the beginning, some of the Jaycee leaders from those states could not imagine such a young man from such a small state could be that much of a resource. However, Tom soon proved true the adage “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog.”  Among the ten National Vice Presidents, Tom was recognized at our Annual Meeting in Greensboro as the Most Outstanding National Vice President and received the coveted  Don Cavelli Memorial Award.

Tom and I avoided most of the political issues of the day and focused on what we were doing with our professional careers.  However, before we went our own ways he introduced me to other delegates from Rhode Island including his Mayor from the City of Providence – Angel Taveras, and I had the chance to meet delegates from Maryland.

One by one, they each told me how much they were enjoying Charlotte and the region. “Charlotte is a beautiful city,” one remarked and when I identified myself from Lake Norman, another commented, “Oh, I was there yesterday – spectacular!”

Travelling back home in my convertible that night, an old Rod Stewart song came on the radio.  I listened to the refrain of the familiar song I had heard so many times before… “So remember, every picture tells a story don’t it”     In this case… I couldn’t agree more!

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October 12, 2012 - Posted by | Chamber of Commerce, Politics | , , , , , , , ,

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