President Barack Obama’s reelection kickoff may not feature Greek columns this time around, but it will have something else in common with the Olympics: Its host city will lose money.
Small business owners and residents in Charlotte are frustrated that the arrival of the Democratic National Convention has done little to improve its struggling economy. Politico reports:
"I’m very frustrated," said Tyler Lee, manager of The Big Chill, a special events facility in the Queen City, of booking events during the Democratic National Convention and working with the host committee. "We actually had to send people interested in our venue to them, and they were supposed to send them back to me … but it only went one way."
Lee originally hoped to hold two events a day at the facility during the September convention. But with just over two months until the big show, his venue, which can hold around 600 people, doesn’t have a single event booked.
Democrats have run into issues with local vendors, including minority-owned businesses, expressing distrust of party officials. The poor support for local merchants stands in contrast to the 2008 Republican convention in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis fared better, with a hotel occupancy rate of 95 percent as well as some unexpected benefits, including the use of its convention center, and many restaurants and music venues booked evening events.
"From my point of view, it was positive overall," said Melvin Tennant, Meet Minneapolis president and CEO, adding that there were some businesses that invested in supplies and personnel following enthusiastic projections by convention planners whose expectations weren’t met.
An economic impact survey by a professor at the University of St. Thomas found that there was nearly $170 million in spending in the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul region associated with the 2008 GOP convention.
The Democratic National Convention officially launches Labor Day weekend.