With only 100 days until the opening gavel of what promises to be one of the most exciting and prodigious Republican National Conventions in recent memory, the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee is working to ensure that the convention is nothing short of a complete and total success for the Tampa Bay area.
The world will be watching our region this August, and the Host Committee will showcase the myriad strengths we have as a community. Often there is confusion among the community as to what exactly the role of an official Host Committee is for a presidential nominating convention. As odd as it seems (and contrary to popular opinion), the Host Committee is not involved in politics. It's a great irony of political history that the seemingly most partisan event in America is principally supported and hosted by a charitable organization, which has no partisan affiliation. As the official host committee for the 2012 Republican National Convention, we are bound by law to restrict our activities to areas that serve the public purpose of the Tampa Bay region.
One of the Host Committee's missions is to raise the tens of millions of dollars necessary to pay for certain aspects the convention as well as to showcase Tampa Bay to the thousands of delegates and visitors who will be arriving this fall. An important distinction to note is that the Host Committee is appropriately named the Tampa Bay Host Committee — not simply Tampa. The Host Committee covers the entire region, including St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Brandon, 24 beach communities, our brethren in Lutz, Valrico, Plant City, Apollo Beach, Tarpon Springs … you get the picture. The Host Committee will work to promote these diverse geographic enclaves as both tourism and business destinations.
One prominent Host Committee program is the Small Business Network Directory. This program was created to market and showcase Tampa Bay's small-business community. The directory lists of hundreds of small businesses that visiting delegations, corporations and other guests can utilize before, during and after the convention. We have also formed meaningful partnerships with local economic development organizations that have allowed us to broaden our reach deep into the roots of the Tampa Bay business community to maximize and synergize our efforts for the benefit of local residents.
As important as promoting our local business community, the Host Committee is dedicated to showcasing our region by utilizing local volunteers through the launch of the "Faces of Tampa Bay" volunteer program. Through this program, the Host Committee will recruit, train, manage and deploy more than 7,500 local volunteers to assist in the operation of the convention.
The Host Committee is also working with its financial supporters to implement legacy projects that will continue to benefit the Tampa Bay area long after the convention is over, such as recycling, environmental and technology initiatives.
We have the opportunity to use this presidential convention as a platform to market and aggrandize Tampa Bay and Florida to millions of people on a truly global basis. The convention will draw 15,000 media personnel and is one of the largest media events in the world, second only to the Olympics. We're not just talking about Indiana, Birmingham and San Francisco, but also India, Beijing and São Paulo. I want audiences to discover that Tampa Bay is one of the best places in America, and we intend to provide colorful and substantive content for the media to consume and distribute about our local cities.
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The 2012 Republican National Convention is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the Host Committee is committed to ensuring that the event is a phenomenal triumph. Tampa Bay is one of the best-kept secrets in America, and we will demonstrate that our region has grown up and can compete with any city in the world. I often say that "success has many fathers; failure is an orphan." The success of this convention and the lasting impact on our region will depend not simply on the Host Committee or upon any one single organization but on the collective effort of many "fathers" who will give their time, talent and treasure to ensure that Tampa Bay records a convention for the ages and performs on the world stage with grace and excellence. Politics aside, the victor this fall will be Tampa Bay.
Ken Jones is president and CEO of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee for the Republican National Convention.