RALEIGH — On Wednesday, Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane fired up social media speculation with a cryptic post announcing a press conference Thursday “regarding economic development.”
With local musicians behind her, she unveiled the news Thursday morning at the new home of co-working space HQ Raleigh: McFarlane and the city’s economic development team are going to South by Southwest, the arts and innovation festival in Austin, Texas.
Raleigh will have a booth at the festival’s trade show to showcase the city, and the economic developers will also have meetings with the Austin Chamber of Commerce, investment banking firm Duff + Phelps and Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s staff.
“South by Southwest is the perfect venue to showcase Raleigh’s creative side and to promote the city as a top destination for talent and tech companies,” McFarlane said.
After the announcement, McFarlane climbed aboard the RV the economic development group is taking to the event. The road trippers include city economic developers James Sauls and Derrick Minor, HQ Raleigh’s Jason Widen, WedPics founder Justin Miller and Michael Haley of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
While Thursday’s announcement was billed as a surprise, Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin mentioned the South by Southwest trip at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “They have some really cool things planned,” she said. “This is a new way of doing economic development, and I think it shows a lot of foresight.”
McFarlane checked out the RV during the press conference, but she said Tuesday that she’ll be flying to Austin separately.
“I’m not going on the road trip in the big van,” she said. “Sorry, guys.”
Thursday marked the mayor’s second press conference this year in which few details were released in advance. She announced a Billy Joel concert at the PNC Arena with similar fanfare.
Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter