Opportunity to showcase Raleigh at SXSW ends amid nationwide coronavirus concerns

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The chance to showcase what Raleigh has to offer was cut short, due to an unexpected cancellation of one of the largest festivals and conferences of the year.

The City of Austin announced on Friday afternoon that their week-long annual event, South by Southwest, was cancelled, due to Mayor Steve Adler declaring a local disaster.

RELATED: South by Southwest canceled amidst coronavirus outbreak

The yearly festival garners thousands of national and international eyes and attention for its music, film and trade shows.

Chris Powers, one of the owners of Raleigh-based Trophy Brewing and Pizza, along with other local businesses and VisitRaleigh, were planning to attend next week's event.

RELATED: Raleigh economic leaders to showcase city at trade show in Austin

Powers said he had his flight and hotel booked all the way up to Friday afternoon, when he learned of the cancellation.

"It was a major bummer. This is one of the trips that I look forward to every single year," Powers said.

The trade show was Powers's and local economic leaders' chance to showcase their strengths to about 75,000 people and hopefully bring new visitors and entrepreneurs to the City of Oaks.

"It was a great way for us to go down there and connect with people, especially people that see Austin as a cool venue. You know, because Raleigh is very much on that same level," Powers added.

That's why some city leaders were planning to go. Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin was not one of them, but she commends the city of Austin for taking precautions.

"SXSW has an international audience, attracting people across the globe. With the uncertainty about the coronavirus, they made the right decision for this particular event," Baldwin said.

This would've been Powers's third time making a trip to Austin. The owner says now he's focused on expanding his business and taking his own precautions to protect his staff and customers.

"We're doing our best to make sure that everybody's washing their hands repeatedly. Making sure they're wiping down surfaces wherever possible. And if any of our employees are sick or have any of those feelings that they may be sick, we're encouraging them to stay home, go to the doctor," Powers said.
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