DNC could bring jobs, money for Philadelphia

Students could benefit from the influx of business and tourism.

With the Democratic National Convention coming to Philadelphia in July 2016, Temple is looking to gain some of the recognition that will come from what is not just national news, but also an event followed around the world.

On Feb. 12, the Democratic National Committee announced that Philadelphia had won the right to host the party’s 2016 presidential nominee convention. The city was among three finalists before it beat out Columbus, Ohio and Brooklyn, New York.

Philadelphia last hosted the Democratic National Convention in 1948, when Harry S. Truman was vying for re-election.

“When the convention comes to Philadelphia, there won’t be just a national presence, but an international one,” said Elizabeth Barber, the associate dean of the School of Hospitality and Management. “The whole world is going to be watching this convention. There is going to be a lot of international press. It’s free advertising for the city and you can’t put a dollar on the free press.”

Barber added that the university is taking the DNC just as seriously as City Hall, with Karen Clarke – Temple’s vice president for strategic marketing and communications –  putting together a committee to find the best ways for the university to get involved and noticed as much as possible.

“I hope the media is looking towards Temple when they need to get a quote from an expert,” Barber said. “I think there is a certain way that Temple can stick out. We just have to be very methodical in the way we approach this.”

Among the deciding factors that led the DNC to choose Philadelphia were the layout of the city, the amenities it offered and the history of Philadelphia – the convention will take place on the 240th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“The Democrats loved the fact that all of the hotels were in walking distance of downtown,” Barber said. “All of the restaurants and shops are in walking distance of each other. Even when the city hosted the Republican Convention in 2000, it is going to be different. [Philadelphia] has more supply. The Convention Center has doubled in size and there are around 45,000 [hotel] rooms for people to stay at compared to only 12,000 15 years ago.”

“The city is also a bigger draw than say Columbus or Brooklyn in that there are parks and museums,” Barber added. “Families will be able to come here during that time and have things to do.”

The convention is also projected to have a significant economic impact on the local economy with early estimations of spending – both direct and indirect – ranging from $170 to $250 million, despite the initial estimates that the convention will cost the city around $85 million.

“I expect the economic impact to be big and the city to do financially well,” Barber said.  “I expect restaurants and hotels to do very well. This is an interesting group that is willing to spend money, both with meetings and parties and things like that.”

When Philadelphia hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000, the city brought in between $200 million and $400 million, with the GOP spending $24.9 million on hotels alone.

Among the economic impacts the convention could have is the creation of jobs for the surrounding areas. When Charlotte, North Carolina hosted the DNC in 2012, 5,000 new jobs were created, although Barber said that not all of those jobs would be sustained past the convention.

“The DNC is one of the biggest conventions there is,” Barber said. “Hotels and restaurants will need more people to deal with the influx of people. Now some of those jobs will be sustainable and some will not. What I mean by that is that people who are part time will go to full time, and more part-timers could be hired.”

“The convention is going to need thousands of volunteers,” she added. “It’s going to need people. It is a great way for Temple students to get involved and learn about the workings of a convention such as the DNC.”

David Glovach can be reached at david.glovach@temple.edu or on Twitter @DavidGlovach.

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