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With Thousands of Delegates from Around the Globe, Humanitarian Group's Convention - Delayed Four Years by Katrina - Injects $22 Million Into the Local Economy

Thursday, May 12, 2011 General News J E 4
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Rotary brings the world to New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A city already famous for its internationality and color will receive an added splash of both May 21-25, when more than 19,000 Rotary club members from over 160 countries arrive in New Orleans for the humanitarian service organization's annual convention.

Often described as a "mini-United Nations" because of its global scope and cultural diversity, the always colorful Rotary convention is expected to inject more than $22 million into the local economy during its weeklong run at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

"New Orleans welcomes more than 21,000 Rotarians from around the world for the 2011 Rotary International Convention, a meeting that focuses beyond business by spotlighting community events, issues and policies," said Stephen Perry, president and CEO of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Rotary and New Orleans go hand in hand, as we are a global city welcoming a global organization, whose convention not only supports our biggest economic engine - tourism - but also represents the strength of communities and cultural impact that comes from this diverse type of gathering."

That the 2011 convention is in New Orleans at all is testament to the commitment of Rotary leadership and especially to local leaders in New Orleans and Salt Lake City, Utah. In August 2005, as the extent of Hurricane Katrina's devastation became clear, it was also clear that Rotary members in New Orleans had enough to handle to rebuild their own lives and businesses without the added burden of hosting the Rotary convention, originally set for June 2007.

So the decision was made to switch dates with Salt Lake City, which was set for the 2011 convention. Swapping dates and sites on the fly for a major international convention is no mean trick, and success relied heavily on cooperation between Metairie businessman Subhash Kulkarni, chair of the New Orleans Rotary host committee, and Eugene Banks, his Salt Lake City counterpart.

This year's chief keynote speaker is businessman/philanthropist Microsoft founder Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a staunch supporter of Rotary's work to eradicate the crippling disease polio. During his talk on the afternoon of May 24, Gates is expected to discuss the importance of polio eradication -- now more than 99% accomplished -- and congratulate Rotary on raising $200 million to match a $355 million challenge grant from the Gates Foundation, a funding package crucial to the final push to end polio.

Rotary is an organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are 1.2 million Rotary members in 34,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.

To access broadcast quality video of prior Rotary International conventions, Rotary members and Bill Gates immunizing children against polio, and Rotary's Gulf Coast recovery efforts go to: http://rotary.org/mediacenter.

Accredited journalists are invited to cover the Rotary convention (May 21-25) at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Media passes are required to gain access to plenary speeches (Halls E-F), and project exhibits (Halls G-H).  Accredited journalists can obtain media passes at Rotary’s Press Center (Rm 265) 504.670.7010.

SOURCE Rotary International

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Rotary Brings the World to New Orleans