Local Democrats Foresee a Columbus Convention in 2016
Local Democrats and city officials are optimistic about Columbus’s chances of hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Eleven members of the DNC site selection team spent Wednesday and Thursday touring Columbus in an ongoing effort to choose the right city. Tyneisha Harden, communications and special projects manager for Mayor Michael Coleman, was pleased with how the city presented itself for the team.
“We think they’re impressed,” said Harden. “But of course they’re pretty tight-lipped.”
The selection team arrived on Wednesday and spent the first part of their visit touring the Convention Center. They were then taken via pedicab to the Arena District where more than 1000 people gathered for a rally in support of the convention. The team also toured the Short North, COSI and the Arena District, finishing Wednesday evening with dinner at The Ivory Room.
Thursday was spent hashing out the technical details of a potential convention including security and financing. The selection team also visited Ohio State University and Ohio Stadium, which could be where the Democratic presidential candidate will accept the nomination in 2016.
“Every part of the trip was outstanding,” said Bill DeMora of the Ohio Democratic Party. “I’m not sure we could have done anything better than we did.”
Both Harden and DeMora agree that hosting a major nominating convention would not only provide a huge economic profit, but also exponentially boost Columbus’s national profile. Harden estimated that direct spending by visitors during the convention would total at $102.6 million, resulting in an economic impact of $157.3 million. Harden also said that an event on the scale of a national convention would provide vast, inexpensive media exposure at a time when branding has become a major focus of the city.
“From the mayor’s perspective, this is a great opportunity for Columbus to be a player on the national and international stage,” said Harden.
Beyond economic and advertising impact, the convention could have less tangible, longer-term effects.
“When people come down and they have a good delegate experience and have a positive experience,” said DeMora, “other groups are going to start coming here.”
DeMora said if Columbus succeeds in hosting a major convention like the DNC, the city could be “reaping benefits for years and years to come.”
If chosen for the DNC, Columbus would not be the only Ohio city hosting a nominating convention in 2016. The Republican Party has already selected Cleveland as the city where it will choose its presidential candidate.
“I think it helps us,” said DeMora of the Cleveland convention. DeMora pointed out that every media outlet in the state will be covering the convention in Cleveland, which means that without the DNC in Columbus, the Republicans could dominate local media coverage in Ohio, “the battleground of the battlegrounds.”
“We don’t think it hurts us,” said Harden. “We think it gives the Democrats an even bigger reason to come to Columbus.”
Overall, DeMora and Harden believe the selection team was impressed by the city this week, and foresee an exciting summer for Columbus in 2016.
“I think we hit a homerun with this trip,” said DeMora. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to have the convention.”
More information can be found at www.columbus2016dnc.com.
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