RNC Host Committee to create registry to help small businesses

01/19/12 Janelle Irwin
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The Republican National Convention coming to Tampa in late August is expected to inject almost 200 million dollars into the Tampa Bay economy. The Tampa Bay Host Committee held a forum for small businesses at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa today to help them get a piece of that revenue.

“We’re facilitating motivated buyers meeting qualified sellers which are the small businesses.”

Hector Barreto is the head of the Latino Coalition and is partnering with RNC planners to help local business owners. They’re creating a registry for both buyers and sellers that will be published in March. Participants will be matched and then scheduled for something like a job interview where businesses can have the opportunity to get a piece of the economic pie the RNC is expected to create.

“We’re going to spend the next four, five weeks actually doing the matches so that when we come back in March – we haven’t set that date exactly, but it will sometime in early March – we’ll come back and we’ll actually have those one on one appointments.”

Brian Boyle owns U.S. Tent Rental based in Manatee County. His business provides all sorts of party and event supplies like tables and chairs. With more than 50,000 people expected to flood the region for the convention, Boyle is hoping the small business registry will make August a busy month for his company.

“There’s going to be a big economic impact and they’re going to need a lot of small businesses. It’s the first time we’ve ever registered for something like this so I’m not sure how much of an impact it’s going to have. But since they seem to think it’s going to be big, I guess I’m going along with it and we’ll see how it goes.”

And Ken Jones, president of the Host Committee, says the goal is to stimulate business in the area before and after the convention as well. His hope is that when everyone goes home they remember the local establishments and continue their patronage.

“It doesn’t have to be August 27 through the 30th of 2012. It can be anytime between now and even after the convention is over. And that’s really important. A lot of what the Host Committee does is geared toward the convention, but Matt and myself and others at the Host Committee have taken a different tack on this convention. We want things that are legacy projects.”

Security efforts during the convention will be huge. They’re coordinated by the Secret Service, but local agencies will be called on to help out. Joe McGee owns a St. Pete-based security company is trying to get as many contracts as he can for convention security. He said he hopes this registry service will encourage companies like his to get first preference.

“Especially focusing on the local small business. That’s my opinion. I think that’s what they need to gear on. They chose Tampa so they should stick with the business owners that live here and own the businesses here and stay away from the ones that do service here, but their headquarters are up in Minneapolis or somewhere else. Keep the money in Tampa Bay.”

And the city of Tampa was awarded $50 million from the federal government for security purposes. That money will be used for 3,000 to 4,000 extra police officers and extra equipment including an armored vehicle. Some people think that’s a poor use of funds. Others think the money should have come from the Republican National Committee, not the feds. But small business owner Brian Boyle just hopes it helps keep people safe.

“If they can’t finance it themselves, they’ve got to get the money some place. We’d like this thing to go on without any incidents, or minor incidents at the worst. So, hopefully if they have the money, they spend it wisely and do a good job to keep the security.”

RNC security could also pose a problem for a few businesses. Depending on road closures and traffic, some areas might be less accessible. But the Host Committee’s Ken Jones said he meets with the Secret Service every week and doesn’t see a problem so far.

“Sometimes there are impacts, but to speculate as to what those impacts are, you’re shooting in the dark to be blunt about it. The Secret Service is the lead agency. They get better and better at security every convention. They do it in a more business friendly manner, a more resident friendly manner. So, you’re citing statistics there about certain areas being shut down, Davis Island being shut down. I have not heard that.”

Businesses must first be approved by a city or county government for the small business registry.

Another information forum will be held in March. You can learn more on the Host Committee’s website

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