GOP Selection Committee to Visit Tampa

Our lovely City of Tampa, a finalist for the 2008 Republican National Convention, will be screened this August. The following release from the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau was passed along to me (emphasis added):

Extraordinary events require extraordinary effort. This community has an extraordinary opportunity to showcase itself as a world-class region when the Site Selection Committee for the 2008 Republican National Convention visits the Tampa-St. Petersburg area from Sunday, August 20 to Tuesday, August 22.

The Tampa Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau has been busy planning for the Committee’s anticipated arrival, and now we have firm dates. Please mark your calendar, as we will need everyone’s support. This is our opportunity to show the client that we are a community capable of handling a national convention of this size and scope, and that we are a community eager to do so.

We will be communicating with you soon regarding specific site visit events, dates, and times. In the meantime, I invite you to share in our excitement at the prospect of introducing the 2008 Republican National Convention Site Selection Committee members to our wonderful Tampa Bay community.

The selection committee liked the Tampa Bay area the last time they visited, but not enough to overcome the message of having their first post-9/11 convention in the Big Apple. This time, many involved in the bid process think Tampa is the front runner, given the state’s swing status. I would add that the election of a Republican governor this November, could be a deciding factor – the site will be selected during the first part of 2007.

Why would we want the convention to come to Tampa? As a Republican I have some partisan reasons. However, I would add that as a proud resident of Tampa Bay, I would be happy if the DNC would consider Tampa in the future for the Democratic Convention.

My non-partisan reasons for supporting the bid, are from an image and economic development perspective. First, no amount of money can buy a week-long commercial broadcast around the world. To be sure, a lot of the focus will be on what happens inside the St. Pete Times Forum – but there will be stories about our community, images of our community broadcast gloabally. This kind of free publicity can only help attract more tourists to our community, rather than the House of the Mouse to our east.

Second, consider that having tens of thousands of people from across the country coming here will be a boon to tourist-related businesses. Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, the Dali Museum, the beaches, the hotels, the restaurants — all will see significant business for a week that is usually a slow period. One doesn’t need to be an economics professor to know that money spent will ripple back through the community. Media reports have estimated this impact at $300 to $400 million.

Finally, and I think this is just as important as the first two, consider that the GOP convention will attract a large number of business leaders. Corporations will sponsor hospitality suites and many delegates from other states are business leaders in their communities. Having a large portion of our nation’s business leaders in our area will give them the chance to see all that we offer, leaving a favorable impression. When they consider moving their headquarters or opening a new office or expanding into a new market, the Tampa Bay area will be on their minds as a potential new place to be. The convention could lead to more jobs for our community.

This is why I think having the Republican National Convention in Tampa is a good thing. At least the selection committee will be visiting close to the same time of year that the convention will be held. They will see that hurricanes are indeed rare enough that they should not be too concerned.

I wish those involved with the bid success with the visit this August.

About Jim Johnson

Editor and publisher of The State of Sunshine.
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