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Raleigh Leaders Plan For Future At Annual Chamber Meeting

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Money, sports and downtown development are on the

Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce's

agenda Wednesday as the 115th annual planning conference gets under way in Greensboro.

When you have got a bustling city with a rising economy, it makes planning for the years ahead a more attractive task.

"Absolutely. The economy has picked up," said chamber president Harvey Schmitt. "What we want to talk about is what kinds of things we need to do to make certain we maintain that success."

Among the items on the agenda is sports promotion.

"We need to find ways to promote attendance, promote new events -- the All-Star game, for instance, with the NHL," Schmitt said.

Leaders support Wake County in buying and preserving open spaces to balance the urban landscape, which will also come up in conversation.

The chamber also supports a $40 million Wake Tech bond-- an issue which could be put to voters in November. Wake Tech has a new north campus opening.

Business leaders will discuss downtown improvements and how to maintain the area's vitality.

"Downtown is enjoying a great run," Schmitt said.

The Progress Energy building has already changed the Raleigh skyline. A new convention center in the works will do the same, but the downtown infrastructure will have to be capable of supporting the changes.

Since January, the Triangle gained about 1,700 new jobs and $157 million worth of new investments in a sluggish economy.

"We also need to be doing a good job to make certain we cope with that correctly," Schmitt said.

More than 180 business leaders and elected officials are expected to participate in the two-day meeting.

"The critical ingredient in a good conference is getting people out of their normal environment and away from the telephones and have an opportunity to have a conversation," Schmitt said of holding the meeting outside of the city.


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