Updated 09/26/2011 05:08 PM
Chamber takes to Twitter to get Chiquita CEO 'Bananas for Charlotte'
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CHARLOTTE -- City leaders hope the power of social media will help convince a major company to move its headquarters to Charlotte. Over the weekend, the Charlotte Chamber took to Twitter, asking followers to show the CEO of Chiquita what the Queen City has to offer.
Brian Francis, the assistant to the Mecklenburg County Manager, said it all started with a simple tweet and a quirky hashtag – #bananasforCLT.
"From as best as we can guess, there's been over 100,000 followers who have seen the hashtag,” Francis said.
In a few short days, it has evolved into a lively grassroots effort to convince the company's CEO to move its headquarters from Cincinnati to Charlotte, bringing 400 jobs to the area with it.
"These are ordinary people who love Charlotte and see the benefit that having those jobs come here would bring," Francis said.
Laurie Smithwick, creative manager at Leap Design, said although she wouldn't benefit directly from the move, it's important that city and county leaders, businesses and residents get behind the promotion.
"It's a vote of confidence for Charlotte, which means it gives us a better chance of winning other businesses making the decision to come here. I almost feel that Charlotte is a really well-kept secret and the more companies that come here the less well kept the secret will be," she said.
City leaders say it's a rare approach to a typically hush-hush process but the local business community thinks is just might end up changing how these deals are made.
"You never know what's responsible for what but it's really fun to think that you might be playing a part in making something happen," said Smithwick.
The hashtag #Bananasforcharlotte was trending on Twitter both Saturday and Monday in Charlotte. On the flip side, the city of Cincinnati also launched a similar campaign to convince the CEO to stay.