What the Republican National Convention Means to Northeast Ohio

by | Mar 22, 2016 | NE Ohio in the News

EA staff and Diane Downing

Diane Downing, front and center with portion of the EA staff.

Monday, March 21, 2016 – This morning our staff had an hour with the Chief Operating Officer for the RNC’s Cleveland Host Committee, Diane Downing. On loan from her full time job at Huntington Bank, Diane has decades of experience making big projects happen, on time and within budget, and her calm demeanor is a thing of beauty (as we all know she has been working 14 hour days since taking on this project). Here are some thoughts on how NE Ohio will benefit from the 2016 Republican National Convention.
First, most people know that Ohio is a swing state that is very influential in electing presidents, but did you know that more US Presidents have come from Ohio than any other state? We can claim EIGHT: William Henry Harrison, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, William Taft and Warren Harding.
RNC Cleveland logoHere’s a little background on the RNC plans in Cleveland:

  • Formal events begin Sunday, July 17th with a Welcome Event (site TBD) for as many as 12,000 people.
  • The famous balloon drop to announce the Republican nominee will happen at Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday, July 21st.
  • The Cleveland Host committee is responsible for raising $64M, securing 16,000 hotel rooms, identifying and training 8,000 volunteers, and securing local venues for up to 1,200 events over the course of the convention week.
  • The CLE Host Committee is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which is separate and distinct from the RNC’s Committee on Arrangements (which has 56 volunteer members appointed by Reince Prebus and represent every US state and territory). They are working closely with many organizations, notably, Destination Cleveland, which has created a speaker’s bureau and a vendor buyer’s guide for the RNC (2,500 businesses have signed up to do business with the convention).
  • There will be 50,000 visitors (15,000 will be media), and the political convention is 2nd only to the Olympics for press coverage…and it is expected to generate more social media than anything to date.
  • 350 buses will be needed to get delegates to the convention every day from hotels as far flung as Sandusky, Akron and Lake County (do NOT drive into downtown Cleveland that week unless you have a lot of time to spare sitting in stopped traffic).
  • Secret Service agents have been working in CLE since the fall of 2015 creating a plan to insure a safe, peaceful convention, regardless of whether it is contested or not! The lead agent was responsible for the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia which attracted 1 million visitors, so we are sure our city is in good hands.

Claudia and Diane Downing

Diane Downing (white shirt) shares info with EA staff.

So, not only does NE Ohio get to sit in the media limelight for up to two weeks (national and international reporters often arrive a full week prior to the convention to do prep work and get footage for side stories), but an expected $200 million will be pumped into the local economy. And, we are pretty sure many of these things would not have materialized without a deadline like the RNC:

  1. Public Square reconfiguration and re-imagining.
  2. The Hilton Convention Center Hotel, due to open June 1st, will be the largest hotel in downtown CLE with 600 rooms and will likely be the hotel to house the Republican Nominee.
  3. The Drury Hotel, the former board of education building, is being turned into a boutique hotel.
  4. The Kimpton Schofield Hotel opened in early March on the corner of E. 9th and Euclid.
  5. RTA’s Redline train from the airport to downtown will undergo a major cleanup, with a possibility of artwork being added to the scenery.

These three experts shared their thoughts on how political conventions cause ripple effects that cities can take advantage of for years to come at the Cleveland City Club’s State of Downtown program in March.

  • Joe Marinucci, Pres/CEO of Downtown Cleveland Alliance (instrumental in the pitch that won the convention bid and part of the team organizing events)
  • Paul Levy, Pres/CEO of Center City Philadelphia (hosted the 2007 RNC, the Pope’s visit in 2015 and hosting DNC in July 2016)
  • Tami Door, Pres/CEO of Downtown Denver Partnership (hosted 2008 DNC)

They all echoed that Cleveland should think of this two weeks as a reverse economic trade mission where all the potential business partners come to you. And it’s a great time to strengthen relationships with the powers in Washington, D.C. Finally, once the world knows your city can host this size of a convention, you will have lots of others knocking on your door. More meetings means more hospitality jobs, which are critical to help urban areas employ those who are not college educated but need good steady jobs.
So although the RNC will be a major freeway clogger and business disrupter (our clients won’t be able to bring any recruits to Cleveland those two weeks as there won’t be any hotel rooms to be had for 50 miles), our company, like many others, will grin and bear it as we know that these infrastructure projects will have a long term impact on our city!
So whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent or just sitting on the sidelines watching the craziness, we call the democratic process, you’ll probably be tuning in to see Cleveland in July.
Executive Arrangements works night and day to stay on top of everything going on in NE Ohio so that we can pass timely and accurate info onto our clients, executives relocating to Cleveland, Akron or Canton. If you want to learn how we can help your organization attract and retain talent by matching their interests and needs to the lifestyle options available in our region, call us: 216.231.9311.