It is hard to believe that 2023 is soon coming to end. It seems like we were just planning for the new year and all of a sudden, we are thinking about 2024. Each year brings its own excitement. In 2024, we are all excited that Milwaukee will be hosting the Republican National Committee Convention. As many had hoped in 2020 — when the Democratic National Convention was to come to Milwaukee — the Convention offers businesses lots of opportunities no matter what your political leanings are. Although, the Democratic Convention was mainly sidelined due to COVID, the community is moving full-steam ahead with its planning for the Republican Convention in July.
As part of the planning, Ozaukee Economic Development invited Alison Prange, the chief operating officer of the Milwaukee 2024 Host Committee to speak to our board and members of the Ozaukee County Tourism Council. The Host Committee is a nonpartisan, non-profit partnership with the city of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin. The committee is led by Chair Reince Preibus and CEO Ted Kellner. The committee is in charge of raising the significant ($68 million dollars) funds needed to put on the Convention.
The Convention, itself, will be held from July 14 through the 19, but its effects are already being felt in our communities.
This past August, the city hosted one of the Republican presidential debates, bringing in both the national press and key political delegates to get a taste of what the region has to offer. The Convention will host over 50,000 visitors over those four days and a significant amount for the days preceding and following.
Guests will be staying throughout the region and hotels in our communities will all likely be sold out. Many of the delegates will be looking for activities throughout the day, as the convention business occurs mainly during the evenings.
The RNC is expected to bring over $200 million in economic impact to our region. It will also be a great opportunity to showcase our communities and businesses to national and international media.
Many of our local businesses are wondering how or if they should get involved with the RNC. For many businesses, the opportunities are more obvious. Hotels are already filling up.
However, many other businesses could have opportunities — restaurants for parties, sound and light companies, unique attractions that might make a good side trip (i.e., a winery or the quilt museum, charter fishing boats, interesting company tours), marketing companies and others.
For all of these companies, they should look to become part of the business portal for the convention.mke2024host.org/vendors. This portal allows businesses to provide information on what they have to offer and a way to connect with the many visitors and organizers looking to input local elements into their visit.
Additionally, businesses may decide to become involved with other elements of the convention. The committee will be looking for hundreds of volunteers to assist with the many elements of the convention. Also, as I mentioned above, the convention is currently fundraising both locally and nationally for the program. So consider your options to become involved.
The Milwaukee 2024 Host Committee has set up a QR code for businesses to utilize to become involved.
The Republican National Convention offers our region the chance to really showcase all of the great elements we have – one of the best fresh coastlines, amazing summer festivals, unique and fun downtowns and a vibrant and fresh restaurant scene. Let’s all take some time to find out how we can best represent ourselves and our region this July.
Kathleen Cady Schilling is executive director of the Ozaukee Economic Development.
This article was originally shared in the Ozaukee News Graphic (www.gmtoday.com)