Suburbs hoping to cash in on RNC

Suburbs hoping to cash in on RNC
Harry Buffalo restaurant in North Olmsted
Hotels and Restaurants in North Olmsted. (Source: WOIO)
Hotels and Restaurants in North Olmsted. (Source: WOIO)

NORTH OLMSTED, OH (WOIO) - Business leaders and politicians in North Olmsted are excited for the Republican National Convention and the additional business it's sure to bring to the Cleveland suburb.

Mayor Kevin Kennedy told Cleveland 19 that the city is ready and officials are excited.

"We're really perfectly positioned for an event like this," said Kennedy. "Our proximity to the airport, our proximity to downtown, the access to the highways and the amount of hotel rooms that we have here, we have everything you need is right here in North Olmsted."

He said that the city's security forces have all agreed to not take time off during the RNC. He also said that the city's expecting visitors to start showing up in advance of the RNC on or about July 8, 10 days before the convention starts.

"We'll be fully staffed. We're ready for the amount of people that are going to be here in North Olmsted. Quite frankly, we're really excited," said Kennedy. "We're excited to see people come in from different states and again showcase our city to the rest of the United States."

Cleveland 19 also spoke to Tony George, the CEO of the George Group which owns several restaurants in the Cleveland area. George owns the Harry Buffalo restaurants in Cleveland and North Olmsted and has taken different business paths for each restaurant for the convention. His downtown place will be rented out by a media outlet, which he fully recommends other restaurants within the likely security perimeter also do.

"You're going to be limited with the foot traffic because of security, so the only way you're going to get in that area is with credentials," said George. "I think if you're within the security perimeter the people who own those properties are better making a deal with a corporation, a delegations or a news agency."

His Harry Buffalo restaurant in North Olmsted is a different story.

"I think it's going to do great because we are surrounded by hotels and I think a lot of people that are normally going to come downtown, would come downtown are not going to come during the convention," said George. "I think the suburban restaurants and establishments are going to do well during the convention."

He said he hopes the congestion and hassle  of downtown - perceived or otherwise - may encourage people to drive to the burbs for a bite.

There is evidence that could happen.

According to an economic report about the impact on the Tampa Bay Area after the 2012 RNC, the city and eight counties surrounding it were affected by the event. Overall, the report stated, the impact was positive but there were some drawbacks. The report specifically stated that, "residents of Tampa Bay likely changed their daily routines in an effort to avoid the inconvenience associated with the 2012 RNC or to participate in convention related activities."

But there was a drop off in business from locals, many of whom worked from home that week and didn't spend money in places like restaurants.

Those in North Olmsted are hoping that may mean locals who may not have otherwise made the trek decide to go to the suburbs.

"As a businessman in Cleveland I think it's the best thing that's happened to Cleveland in the past fifty years that I've been around," said George. "Especially with Donald Trump being the headliner or the nominee for the Republican convention it's going to bring extra attention to Cleveland."

"It's up to Cleveland to either perform and hopefully everybody leaves Cleveland with a great taste in their mouth and that's what we hope to do, make sure when people leave Cleveland they're cheer leading for Cleveland," said Kennedy.

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