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WWNO News Features
Thu July 16, 2009
Microsoft Conference brings Business Leaders and Business to New Orleans
By Eileen Fleming
New Orleans, La. – When Microsoft executive Jennifer Heard discusses the relationship her mega-corporation has with partners, she calls it an ecosystem.
The New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau has its own ecosystem model to describe how the meeting puts money in local pockets. It says tourism accounts for 35 percent of the city's operating budget, and employs 78-thousand people.
Heard, who is based in Houston, said she was glad to arrange the annual international conference in New Orleans.
Unlike many conventions in New Orleans, the Worldwide Partner Conference draws top executives from not only Microsoft, but the high-level managers of the partner companies. And 65 percent of the delegates are international.
One was Alfred Bertschinger (BUR-ching-ur) from Switzerland. He said he not only took a look at what Microsoft has to offer, but what New Orleans is about.
Another is Charles Lalieu (la-leur) from South Africa.
Kelly Schulz of the convention bureau says that because the Microsoft event draws the big executives, they probably spend more than the $1,076 the average delegate will spend per day. The 8,000 people who attended the partner conference also spread money to local vendors, such as shuttle bus services and florists.
And the 100 members of the news media are also shining an international light on New Orleans. And then there's word of mouth.
Lalieu says he would also recommend New Orleans to his friends for a visit.
Next up at the convention center is a meeting next week of the Evangelical Lutheran Churches in America. It's believed to be the largest event ever arranged by the bureau - with 37-thousand visitors.
And, like Microsoft and other corporate sponsors, the group plans days of volunteer work on rebuilding projects.