RNC Chief to Industry: Prepare to 'Break New Ground'

Secret Service, Host Committee Heavyweights Give Frank Assessment of RNC 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

St. Pete/Clearwater, FL (Aug. 2, 2012) - More than 200 VSPC industry partners gathered Wednesday at the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach to hear the latest developments on the largest piece of business the area has ever hosted: the Republican National Convention. 

Speakers at the event included Ken Jones, President and CEO of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee; Matt Miller, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent; and Mike Miller, RNC Chief Operating Officer, each of whom focused on the impact that an event of this magnitude will have on the area. 

Jones, who is in charge of the day-to-day executive management of the committee, focused on the importance of hospitality to showcase the area and gave the local Tampa Bay tourism industry the highest praise. 

"This is the best cooperation of any host destination that this committee's ever had," said Jones, who stressed that getting the media and delegates to return by delivering a "great experience" is one of the event's major goals. 

Jones and his team are working with an assortment of more than 30 municipal, regional, state and federal organizations to make the nominating convention---the largest in the area's history---a success. 

"We're here to showcase Tampa Bay, period," Jones said. "The idea is economic development, and we want them to come back." 

The four-day convention is expected to draw more than 50,000 visitors, who will generate some 100,000 hotel room nights and $200,000 million in direct spending from Aug. 27-30, which is normally one of the slowest weeks of the year. 

According to Jones, the opening gathering, which takes place at Tropicana Field on Sunday night before the convention begins, will be the largest kickoff event in the history of national conventions. 

"We are breaking new ground while showcasing the region," Jones said, noting that many of the more than 20,000 invitees will be first-time guests to the area. 

Matt Miller of the U.S. Secret Service described some of the challenges associated with the event. As a representative for one of the most powerful organizations in the world, Miller described his greatest challenge: how to secure the event with the least amount of disturbance to commerce, business and residents. 

"It leaves a question of what can be done, versus what should be done," Miller said, using the decision to curtail local boat traffic, rather than prohibiting it entirely, as an example of the kinds of decisions that had to be made. 

Informing attendees who have any questions or problems encountered during the week of the convention should be reported to local authorities, Miller provided a list of additional resources for industry partners to keep on hand, including: 
* Public awareness: http://www.dhs.gov/files/reportincidents/see-something-say-something.shtm
* Facilities training & resources: http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1259859901230.shtm
* Suspicious activity: http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/ip_cikr_hotel_advisory.pdf
* Business planning: http://www.ready.gov/business/
* Protect your workplace: http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2006/july/ncrs070706
* St. Pete information: http://www.stpete.org/RNC/
* Transportation plan: http://www.stpete.org/police/rnc%20docs/GPA11-12_TampaSecurityTransporationPlan_1.pdf

A veteran of more than a dozen national conventions, RNC Chief Operating Officer Mike Miller gave a historical perspective on the RNC's importance, noting that in addition to the actual candidate nomination, there is a lot of party related business---including platform development---that takes place. 

"It's the only time the Republican Party comes together," Miller said. "It's big." 

VSPC Executive Director DT Minich said the St Pete/Clearwater area is prepared for the onslaught. "We have a unique opportunity to show off our destination in a way we've never had before, and we're ready." 

VSPC is the destination marketing organization for Pinellas County, Florida.

For more information: www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com

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