A new campaign to promote economic development is encouraging local businesses to keep their major events and meetings in Wake County.
“Keep It Home” will launch Sunday at Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh as an effort by local leaders, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Organizers plan to hold a private “BBQ, Bourbon and Bluegrass” reception to kick off the campaign and celebrate its first participant: Dude Solutions, a “software-as-a-service provider” of operations management solutions.
For the first time in the company’s nearly 20-year history, Dude Solutions plans to hold its annual “Dude University” event at the convention center April 30-May 3 instead of at Myrtle Beach. Dude Solutions plans to host more than 1,100 clients from as far away as California, Vancouver and Alaska.
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“If locals help evangelize us as a destination, that’s a game changer,” said Loren Gold, vice president for the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The campaign, which doesn’t promise financial incentives, says companies can save money on travel costs by staying in Wake. The visitors bureau promises to help connect companies to local resources.
Dude Solutions plans to take its guests on tours of local institutions, including Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh-Durham International Airport, WakeMed Health and Hospitals, the Wake County Justice Center and the newly opened North Carolina Heart and Vascular Hospital.
Rather than hold lectures in a conference room all day, Dude Solutions wanted to showcase Raleigh’s stock of interesting places and innovative people, said Nick Mirisis, the company’s vice president of marketing. The company’s clients will hear speeches from local people, including N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson, who’s scheduled to speak about public-private partnerships.
“We wanted to create a conference different than the ones they’ve been to,” Mirisis said. “We said, ‘Let’s turn Raleigh into a learning lab.’ ”
Sunday’s event is for Dude Solutions and its guests, and isn’t open to the public. Local band Chatham County Line plans to perform, and about 15 local vendors – including House of Swank, Mother Earth Spirits, Raleigh Denim and Raleighwood Provisions – plan to sell their wares on-site.
Convention Center officials hope other local companies and organizations will want to show off Raleigh’s home turf, said Laurie Okun, the center’s sales director.
“When we can put residents and visitors together for an event, that’s when the sensational happens,” she said.