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june 29, 2012


TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL www.tampabaybusinessjournal.com

BLOOMBERG: Goal is to showcase Florida



CEOs of impact and influence will engage, connect and talk about their business, the economy and why to do business in Florida now. The Host Committee’s charter is to showcase Tampa Bay and Florida, and it looked at an economic development series as a way to go beyond just talking about the stereotypical qualities of Florida — Disney, theme parks, beaches and the weather, said Ken Jones, committee president and CEO. “There are a lot of different attributes here, from climate TBBJ TO PARTNER to taxes to workWITH BLOOMBERG force,” he said. The Tampa Bay Business “We can have a Journal is also partnering healthy exchange with Bloomberg LP during of ideas on health the week of the RNC, Aug. care and national 27-30, as a local content defense and encontributor. The news ergy — Florida organizations will collaborate is a big player in on related daily businessthe energy field to-business coverage of the given the presevent. The TBBJ is being ence of TECO Entapped for its local B2B busi- ergy (NYSE: TE), ness knowledge and reach. Progress Energy — Alexis Muellner (NYSE: PGN) and Florida Power & Light.” Discussions are ongoing with national players such as AT&T (NYSE: T), Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and others, Jones said. “We don’t want to give short shrift to Tampa Bay companies such as Publix and Jabil (NYSE: JBL), Outback, Tech Data (Nasdaq: TECD) and others. There is a deep bench here,” he said. Tampa Bay has 19 billion-dollar headquarter companies, four of which are Fortune 500 companies. The Florida Council of 100, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Florida are also collaborating.


Ken Jones, RNC Host Committee president and CEO

ABOUT THE HOST COMMITTEE It serves as the officially designated Presidential Nominating Convention Host Committee under federal law and is a registered host committee with the Federal Election Commission. It is not involved in any political activity.

Beyond the obvious The economic impact of conventions has been widely studied. An effort by the College of the Holy Cross in 2008 found that while direct spending in the hospitality industry and the media impressions were substantial, security issues, the potential for bad press from protestors and other negatives meant rosy “impact” projections couldn’t be trusted. “People should view promises of economic windfalls from hosting national political conventions in the same way they should view the campaign promises of the candidates at these very conventions — with skepticism,” the report said. University of Chicago Economist Allen Sanderson said evidence continues to build that “intangible” benefits of these events can’t outweigh actual costs. “Businesses are making long-term decisions,” he said. “So if I’m going to build a factory or a plant, there are much more important long-term issues around trans-

VENUES: Preparations afoot to host major crowds

Source: Minneapolis Mayor’s office, 2008

portation and crime rate, as opposed to short-term parties.” But it is the chance to drive home Florida’s long-term attributes nationally that the Host Committee sees as inherent in the Bloomberg partnership. Jones said his organization has had to approach the economic development piece differently. “We were forced to look at unique ways to create value for donors,” he said. In the past, donors often said, “Fine, we’ll write the check.” In Tampa Bay, it’s been a tougher sell. “When I said, ‘You need to write a $2 million check because it’s the right thing to do,’ we heard crickets. The corporate leaders here asked what’s in it for us? Where’s our branding? Where’s our promotion? How can we showcase our company? Those are the things they’ll need to go back to their corporate boards and share — that there’s real nutritional value here, not just a political party in some city.” At panels and events, CEOs are slated to interact and share with their counterparts. Locally based executives will be able to pitch Florida as a great place to do business. Jones said the series would likely generate some thoughtful national business reporting that will highlight key Tampa Bay corporate players such as HSN Inc. (Nasdaq: HSNI) and others, given Bloomberg’s global reach. details were not available.


host other large events, which would mean more visitors and revenue coming into the area after the week of Aug. 27. Bay area partnership Lowry Park Zoo began its partnership with Ovations in late March after considering several food service providers. The majority of the zoo’s 32-person food and beverage staff became Ovations employees. This team has since grown to 46. Earlier this week, their new uniforms arrived. Many of Ovations’ employees visited the zoo regularly and recognized the opportunity to provide food services there, said Todd Wickner, principal and chief operating officer of Ovations. Lowry Park Zoo is the first zoo client of Ovations, which serves about 110 facilities across North America. Earned revenue supports about 80 percent the zoo’s $17 million yearly operating budget, Pugh said. Food service is a major part of that. Pugh did not disclose financial details

Just after the Republican National Convention ended in 2008, the mayor’s office in Minneapolis declared it a huge economic success. Among its wins: • More than 8 billion media impressions, the equivalent of a $330 million ad campaign, which were estimates based on a standard formula used to calculate impressions and ad equivalency. • Hotel occupancy rates in downtown Minneapolis and in St. Paul ranged from 90 percent to 95 percent compared to 50 percent to 70 percent during the same period over prior years. • 25,000 “Wish You Were Here” postcards were mailed to convention attendees’ friends and families, compliments of the Xcel Energy Center. • More than 9,000 people attended the delegate party, held inside CivicFest: A Very Minnesota Celebration, at the Minneapolis Convention Center where exhibits about Minnesota business and innovation were on display. • More than 340 buses transported delegates and visitors using 26 routes to various locations. More than 847 cabs participated in reciprocity between Minneapolis and St. Paul.


Lowry Park Zoo Executive Chef Colin Johnson prepares a meal.

of the partnership. “We looked at what we need to do to grow our food service, meet a range of audiences and do it in a way that makes good business sense,” he said. The zoo has reserved its 17,000-squarefoot event pavilion for use during the RNC. Pugh said he expects at least one group of 500 or more guests, but further

Open to possibilities Some venue managers preparing to host RNC parties said their vendor lists are already set but they are open to new partnerships. Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg is in talks with one group to host about 50 people for a breakfast meeting and it can accommodate as many as 400 people in other spots. Morean rents out its space, but does not use an in-house caterer or in-house event planner, said Interim Executive Director Wayne Atherholt. Over the years, the organization has worked with various event planners and service providers. Preparations for the RNC may lead the organization to form new relationships. The Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg works with its approved list of caterers, but also is open to new partnerships, depending on the needs of groups using the facility, said Joe Santiago, general manager. “If [a group] needs audiovisual or other types of services, we would look to the community,” Santiago said. The Mahaffey’s ballroom has a capacity of about 250 and its main stage and lobby have capacities of roughly 2,000. The Mahaffey underwent a $2 million

A call seeking comment from Bloomberg executives was pending return at deadline. An ear on long-term policy Another element to the impact is the potential to influence policy makers. “Forget about the lobbyists trying to get access to [the politicians]. We want access to the 29 state governors and U.S. Senators and House members to show them why Florida is a great place for them to invest,” Jones said. Base realignment is due to come up again soon, for example. Content focusing on MacDill Air Force Base and its two unified commands, and economic impact could help educate lawmakers in California, New York and Idaho, for example and help them prioritize when the time comes. “The Host Committee’s role is to showcase Tampa Bay,” Jones said. “To the extent I can make a good pitch to [Republican lawmakers] Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan or Eric Cantor — we want them to have a great impression of Florida.” The clear economic impact to the hospitality industry is obvious, he said, but having Florida gain a good image benefits the state in ways that “aren’t on the surface and we need to realize the peripheral benefits.” [email protected] | 813.342.2472

Fertile ground With 50,000 visitors on the way, hotels have entered “spruce-up mode,” said Dan Roberts, a design and sales representative with Rain Forest Interiors, a division of Sarasota plant leasing company Tropex. The company installs plants inside hotels, office buildings and other commercial properties. Around the first of the year, Roberts saw an opportunity to market to hotels that will host delegations, so he picked up the phone. A downtown Tampa hotel has hired the firm to provide an interior “plantscape renovation” as well as plant services for more than a year after that. Other contracts are in the works. “Because of the convention being here, hotels are upgrading their interior spaces, so we are getting business because of that,” Roberts said.

— Margaret Cashill renovation after Bill Edwards-owned Big 3 Entertainment took over in October. [email protected] | 813.342.2463