Make us your home page

Tampa's 2012 RNC host committee unveils networking plan to help small businesses

TAMPA — If your company is looking for ways to cash in on next year's Republican National Convention, here's some advice from the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee.

You can take a key step now that may involve filling out some paperwork at a city hall or county courthouse. Then, in January, you can register for an opportunity to bid on convention-related business.

"What we're hoping to do is open the door to promote Tampa Bay small business, showcase what they have to offer," said Matt Becker, the chief operating officer of the host committee, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group raising money to support the convention and market Tampa Bay.

The convention is expected to deliver $150 million to $175 million in direct spending. Its organizers, state delegations, visiting corporations, event producers and others will need to buy products or services in nearly 50 categories, from catering to graphics to florists to fireworks.

To help local companies tap into that market, the host committee Tuesday unveiled a new small business networking program that will hold two educational forums early next year and publish a directory to help connect buyers with local sellers.

To qualify for the program, a business must be located in and its owner must live in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk or Manatee counties.

Also, the company must be certified as a small business enterprise (SBE), women/minority business enterprise (WMBE) or service-disabled veteran enterprise (SDVE) by the cities of Tampa or St. Petersburg or by Hillsborough or Pinellas counties.

So companies that want to vie for convention-related business can contact one of those cities or counties to go through the certification process.

In January, the committee will host the first of two forums on the program. Then online registration for local small businesses to sign up for the networking program will open.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 27-30 at the St. Pete Times Forum, and its scale is unlike anything Tampa Bay has seen.

With up to 15,000 journalists in attendance, it is the largest media event anywhere outside the Olympics. Overall, it is expected to draw 50,000 visitors who will need 15,000 hotel rooms for each night of the convention, plus another 75 venues for parties.

The host committee does not promise that every business that signs up will close a deal. But it wants its directory to be used by both local and out-of-town groups and organizations that may need a product or service.

Each approved business will have a link to its own website on the directory's website, with businesses listed by product or service. Contracts will be awarded on a competitive basis.

On Tuesday, the host committee started taking online registrations from groups or companies that expect to have contracts that they will need to put out for bid. Organizers said they are trying to encourage local and national companies to support Tampa Bay small businesses by registering their contracts

As part of the program, the host committee also has enlisted the help of the California-based Latino Coalition (not to be confused with the Latino Coalition of Tampa Bay, a network of local social service providers).

In March, the Latino Coalition will team up with the host committee to hold the second of two forums designed to help Tampa Bay companies learn about business opportunities, register for the program and network.

The Latino Coalition is chaired by Hector V. Barreto, former administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. For Tampa organizers, the appeal of the partnership is less the coalition's affiliation with any one group and more its expertise promoting small business, including matchmaking and working with other national business organizations.

No other GOP convention has launched a local business outreach this broad, host committee president and CEO Ken Jones said.

"The program that we've designed is unique," he said. He couldn't say how much convention spending could reach small businesses in Tampa Bay, but "we're going to drive that percentage as high as we possibly can."

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.

To learn more

Check the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee website at


Key dates

Tuesday–Jan. 10: Online registration for companies or organizations seeking to place contracts out for bid.

January (date and location to be announced): Introduction to the Small Business Network forum. Attendees will be able to register for the network directory and potentially bid on available contracts.

Jan. 13–March 1: Online registration for locally certified small businesses.

March (date and location to be announced): Business matchmaking forum in partnership with the Latino Coalition.

March or April: Small Business Network directory published.

Goods and services categories

• Audiovisual

• Balloons

• Barricades

• Carpet/flooring

• Catering

• Cigar rollers

• Concessions

• Decorations

• Destination management

• Electronic (wire and supplies)

• Electrical engineering

• Employment agencies

• Entertainment

• Equipment rentals

• Event planning

• Fencing

• Florist/flowers

• Food and beverage

• Furniture (office, lounge)

• Generators

• Gift items/baskets

• Graphics

• Hardware supplies

• Heavy equipment

• Janitorial services/supplies

• Linens (rentals)

• Merchandisers

• Messenger/courier service

• Office supplies

• Photography

• Pipe and drape

• Portable toilets

• Public relations/marketing

• Printing

• Pyrotechnics

• Restaurants

• Security

• Set design and construction

• Signs and banners

• Staffing

• Tables and chairs

• Computer, telecommunications, etc.

• Tenting

• Tour services

• Trailers

• Transportation

• Waste removal

Tampa's 2012 RNC host committee unveils networking plan to help small businesses 11/08/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 8, 2011 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.