Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and a team of entrepreneurs plus city staff, are headed to the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, But they are going hunting for entrepreneurs and companies who might want to locate in the capital of North Carolina than the capital of the Lone Star State.
McFarlane gathered with the five other team members at the new HQRaleigh shared office space building in Raleigh’s Warehouse District to kick off the trip to Austin on Thursday morning.
After a brief press event, McFarlane and the others boarded a motor home for the trek.
However, the mayor got off shortly thereafter. She’s flying later on to meet the team when it arrives in Dallas and then will drive with the others to Austin where she will meet with economic developers as well as tech job creators and job seekers during the SXSW event. (WRALTechWire checks in with the team while on the road.)
In an interview after the event, McFarlane says she wants to learn more about the city with which Raleigh often competes for jobs.
“I’ve never been to Austin,” she explained. “I want to find out about the city that others always mention as a competitor for what we are doing in Raleigh.”
Accompanying her will be entrepreneur Justin Miller, the founder and CEO of Raleigh-based WedPics, a fast-growing web publishing firm focused on weddings.The company has grown to 13 people and soon will move into the HQRaleigh space at 310 S. Harrington St. He won a contest to pick a Raleigh “ambassador” for the event and will be representing the city at a number of events.
“I am really excited about this opportunity,” MiIller said before leaving for the event that draws some 50,000 people annually and has become a tech as well as entertainment showcase. “This should be really cool.”
McFarlane is making the trip to help raise Raleigh’s recruiting flag. The City has teamed with other partners such as the greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in the past to promote Raleigh as a place for tech-savvy people to migrate to.
Also going along are:
- James Sauls and Derrick Minor, who work in the Raleigh Economic Development office
- Jason Widen of HQRaleigh, one of its founders
- Michael Haley of the Chamber
The trip is not just fun, Minor stressed.
“This is the second year and it benefits the city by helping to put Raleigh on the same level as Austin in the minds of creatives, designers, and tech talent,” Minor explained. “Talent is a key component to Raleigh’s current and future growth and this is a top priority for us.”
The road team will be making stops in Atlanta and New Orleans in order to explore partnering and entrepreneurial opportunities.
In Austin, the mayor said the group will meet with members of the economic development team reporting to Texas Gov, Rick Perry.