South by Southwest continues today in Austin, Tex., following yesterday’s tragic hit and run that left two people dead and 23 injured — and left many wondering if the festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world has become too big and unruly.
As the festival continues to expand, cities and countries have been sending representatives to tout their homegrown musical artists — and do a little self-promotion — with the goal of attracting new business.
From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Kate McGee of KUT in Austin reports.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
It's HERE AND NOW.
South by Southwest continues today in Austin, Texas following yesterday's tragic hit and run. It left two people dead, 23 injured and left many wondering if the festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors from around the world has just become too big.
As the festival continues to expand, though, it's drawing cities and countries who have been sending representatives to tout their homegrown musical artists - and do a little self-promotion - with the goal of bringing new business back home. From the HERE AND NOW Contributors Network, KUT's Kate McGee reports.
KATE MCGEE, BYLINE: You'll hear the word brand a lot at South by Southwest. Businesses and bands are here touting theirs. Tech companies come to pitch the next big mobile app, and increasingly, government officials come to pitch their city as the best place to create that next big app.
JENNIFER BOSS: There's a collision of all the kinds of people who we're trying to attract, whether it's talented engineers that are looking for their next great opportunity, companies that are looking for a place to grow, or investors that are seeking deal flow. And we want to take advantage of having all of those people in one place.
MCGEE: That's Jenifer Boss. She's director of business development with the deputy mayor's office in Washington D.C. It's her second trip to South by Southwest. Erin Horne McKinney is also here on a mission for the city.
ERIN HORNE MCKINNEY: Our goal is to actually create the largest innovation and global tech hub - high-tech hub in the world.
MCGEE: Walking around on the trade floor of South by Southwest, it's obvious D.C. isn't the only city, state or country with the same idea. Michigan and Berlin, Argentina and Canada are here. They're handing out refrigerator magnets, pins and t-shirts, hawking themselves as great places to live, work or visit. This year, Chicago joined their ranks. The Chicago mayor's office organized a three-pronged effort to promote the city in music, film and business tech. This is Jake Trussell with World Business Chicago.
JAKE TRUSSELL: We're here just networking and meeting people and talking to them about Chicago and trying to see if they have any interest. And many people do.
MCGEE: But Trussell says they're not trying to poach businesses from other locales.
TRUSSELL: This could be happening anywhere and, you know, it's not like, you know, we're trying to get Texas companies to come to Chicago. We're just - we really just are sort of here to show the - show how great Chicago is to the world.
MCGEE: Here's Jennifer Boss from Washington D.C. again.
BOSS: I don't think that by coming here, various cities, including Washington, D.C., are necessarily stealing companies away from anybody, but rather helping entrepreneurs find the place where they can be most successful.
But that doesn't mean poaching isn't happening, says Boss' co-worker, Erin Horne McKinney.
MCKINNEY: We will say this: There is - we have one company in particular that will remain nameless here, but they're actually Austin-based who has been kind of thinking about coming to D.C. and has - because of what we've been doing, has become extremely excited and has planned to relocate.
MCGEE: Neither representatives from D.C. or Chicago would say how much it cost to promote themselves at South by Southwest although Chicago representatives say most of the money for this trip came from the private donations. For HERE AND NOW, I'm Kate McGee in Austin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.