by Mike Parks
Local business owners came together Tuesday, July 10, to get an update on the Democratic National Convention and learn more about how the event will help, or hurt, their SouthPark-area businesses.
The convention, and the thousands of people that come with it, will be in town the week of Labor Day. While most of the events and meetings are being held Uptown, hotels and businesses across the city and as far away as Raleigh will likely feel the impact, according to officials speaking at a meeting of the SouthPark chapter of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce.
Hotels will get rooming lists as early as Aug. 11, according to Hotel Motel Association representative Leon Cox, and by September will know more about how many people will be staying locally. Some 17,000 hotel rooms will be filled in the city for delegates and others coming for the convention, including rooms in SouthPark and Ballantyne.
“Rooms will be at a premium,” Cox said, adding people may have to stay as far away as Raleigh, or into upstate South Carolina, if they’re coming in for convention activities.
And while some businesses in the area may be hoping the event is an economic plus for them, officials urge caution in putting too much emphasis on the convention. Torre Jessup, with the DNC Host Committee, said it’s important for people to remember Charlotte is “open for business” despite closed streets and strict security around town, but while the convention will be a “great economic opportunity … people shouldn’t expect to ‘make their year’” through convention-time sales.
As for south Charlotte companies that have business in the Uptown area during convention week, they should start making plans now for the difficulties involved. Deputy Chief Harold Medlock of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said a list of roads that will be closed and when should be available on either Aug. 6 or 13, and people should prepare to ride shuttles, Charlotte Area Transit System buses or the light rail to get around in Center City.
Other notes from Tuesday: the convention committee will officially take over Time Warner Cable Arena this weekend to start making it fit for the convention and speakers, according to Jeff Mann, representative for the arena. That work will include transitioning around 35 luxury suites into television studios and building the podium for speakers.