This time four years ago, Tampa Bay, Fla. was in our shoes. The 2012 Republican National Convention was coming to their city, and they were preparing for the media attention, influx of visitors, business impact, logistical implications, and all the rest that comes with it.
Ken Jones, 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee President and CEO, spearheaded the city's efforts. He knew that there was an opportunity to have lasting impact for Tampa during and after the Convention.
"It was important that legacy projects that would benefit the community at large well beyond the Convention were a high priority," Jones said.
The Tampa Host Committee worked with several organizations to maximize this opportunity. For example, Humana built a new playground on the east side of Tampa to address the issues of healthy communities in underserved areas. Coca-Cola invested in a recycling program that will serve to improve their green footprint, and CSX Corporation supported Trees for Tracks, an initiative to plant trees along railroad routes.
"Additionally, the Host Committee put a high priority on addressing the infrastructure of the city," Jones said. "Particular attention was focused on the areas of power and communications."
These kinds of efforts and others created lasting benefits for locals and visitors to Tampa for years to come. Cleveland can likewise benefit from these types of projects, and the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee is working diligently to identify and implement its own legacy projects that will best create a lasting positive impact as well as a long-term increase in favorable perception of our city.
For example, Cleveland’s Public Square is undergoing upgrades that will serve as a shining example of revitalization in the heart of Downtown, complete with greenscapes, a restaurant, and various entertainment and leisure spaces. Furthermore, the INTER|URBAN project will celebrate diversity through permanent public art installations, displayed for passengers along RTA transit railways.
Jones said that in retrospect overall, he wouldn't have changed much about how Tampa prepared for the Convention, but said there were a few areas where he would have expanded their efforts even further. He emphasized the importance of communicating to the community early and often with precision, and involving even more local vendors for business needs.
In regards to the latter point, the Cleveland Host Committee is taking Jones' recommendation to heart as we continue to refine and promote the Supplier Guide, a list of businesses made available to the Committee On Arrangements to source local businesses for Convention needs.
So what additional advice does he have for Cleveland as we ramp up our efforts in the months leading up to the 2016 Republican National Convention?
Jones reiterated the mission that we can rally around all together: for the Host Committee and many area residents, it's about showing off the city and the region, not about politics. With 50,000 visitors (including 15,000 regional, national and international media) coming to town, there's a huge opportunity to show the world that Cleveland is a great place to live, work, play and visit, including all of the many improvements the city has implemented and will continue to experience in the years to come.
Jones also stressed the importance of transparency when communicating to the public on topics such as security and logistics. The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee is dedicated to informing the community about these topics and others through the Community Update newsletter, the 2016cle.com website, and our various social media channels as we get information about the Convention and the activities surrounding the event that will impact the region. We will also be working closely with local media outlets to get the word out about any issues that will affect the general public, including construction projects, traffic patterns before and during the Convention, and other information as it becomes available to us.
The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee's efforts, and those of the 4,500+ volunteers from the community, served the city well. The media impressions from the Convention coverage topped 10 billion worldwide, and the Convention brought $214 million in direct spending and $190 million in indirect and induced impact for a total of more than $404 million in economic impact to Tampa Bay.
Cleveland, are you ready? It's our turn to show off our city as Tampa did four years ago. Let's learn from Tampa's successes and recommendations, build out further ideas, share our pride and make the most of this unprecedented opportunity.
For more information on how you can get involved in the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee's efforts, click here.