500 look for tips on doing business with Republican National Convention in Tampa
More than 500 Tampa Bay small business owners packed into the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa Thursday, all looking for the same thing: the keys they need to sell their goods and services when the Republican National Convention comes to town.
"The buzz is out there," said Sheree Johnson, who owns Image Masters International, a photography and video production company in Clearwater. "There is a lot of talk, knowing the amount they're anticipating on spending. We want to be a part of it."
The standing-room-only crowd, which filled a ballroom and an overflow room at the spa, came for a three-hour forum sponsored by the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee, the nonprofit group that's raising money to support the convention and promote the bay area.
Scheduled for Aug. 27-30 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the convention is projected to generate an estimated $175 million to $200 million in direct spending, though not necessarily all of it in Tampa Bay. For example, that estimate includes $50 million that Tampa is getting to provide convention security. Much of that will go to out-of-state suppliers of police equipment and law enforcement officers temporarily hired from other parts of Florida.