CHARLOTTE -- Charlotte business leaders say the Democratic National Convention will help attract companies to move to the city. They're pushing back against skeptics who say convention cities don't gain business because of the exposure.
Those business leaders say the convention is a first step in building relationships with executives from all around the world. They're relationships the city hopes will be long and fruitful for Charlotte.
Mayor Anthony Foxx says the DNC is a perfect opportunity to court suitors for the city.
"This in many cases is a first date for us," he said.
During the convention, Foxx and Charlotte business leaders will pitch the city to visiting dignitaries and executives.
"We're going to be very deliberate about taking time to focus on economic development during the convention and we'd be crazy not to," he said.
Charlotte Chamber President Bob Morgan says his staff already scheduled meetings with business leaders who will be in town during the convention.
"Hopefully the knowledge they take back will somewhere down the road will lead to some leads," he said.
Before the convention officially opens, the chamber will host more than 300 dignitaries from all around the world and staffers will sit down with key prospects, particularly in the health care and energy sectors.
"We have targeted a certain number of corporations who we think Charlotte would be a good fit for their corporate headquarters," said Morgan.
But skeptics say the city won't gain business from the convention.
A study by economists at Holy Cross concluded there is "no statistically significant evidence that these huge conventions contribute positively to a host city's economy."
Morgan disagrees with critics. Both he and Foxx say Charlotte will gain jobs because of the convention but only after the Queen City gets past her first date.
The city of Denver reported $153 million in economic impact from the 2008 DNC there and Minneapolis-St. Paul pulled in $170 million during the 2008 GOP Convention.