CHARLOTTE – Now the real works begins for Sarah Reidy-Jones and the rest of the Mecklenburg County Republican Party.
Reidy-Jones is the vice-chairman of the county Republican organization, and she was on hand when the Republican Party voted last week in Austin, Texas to hold its 2020 nominating convention in Charlotte.
The convention is expected to have a huge economic impact on Charlotte and the surrounding counties, as nearly 50,000 visitors could attend the convention, which will most likely be held in August 2020. Charlotte hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and is now one of 10 cities to host both conventions.
The Mecklenburg County Republican Party has been tasked with finding the thousands of volunteers needed to run the convention.
“We were originally told 5,000 volunteers but when I talked to Mayor (Vi) Lyles, she said it took 12,000 volunteers to run the DNC (in 2012),” Reidy-Jones said. “That is the main goal that we will be doing, helping with volunteer recruitment.”
Reidy-Jones is confident the party will find enough help.
“This will definitely be a regional effort,” Reidy-Jones said. “We have already been talking to leaders in the surrounding counties and to leaders in South Carolina. People will be doing a little bit of everything. There will be a variety of roles and between 6,000 and 12,000 volunteers will be needed.”
Reidy-Jones said she was pleased the city council voiced its support for the convention on July 16 and before the whole Republican National Committee voted on a convention site.
“The fact that we had so many from the Charlotte delegation in Austin showed this is more than about politics,” Reidy-Jones said. “It’s really about bringing the city together and having a first-class convention. Our trip to Austin was amazing, and it was great to talk up Charlotte. We explained the council vote because there were a lot of people that were curious about the bid process.
“The reality is that a 9-2 (Democratic majority) council showed its support for this.”
Raising the expected $70 million needed to finance the convention will fall to the Charlotte 2020 Host Committee, led by former Charlotte City Council member and local businessman John Lassiter.
“Hosting the 2020 RNC will generate tremendous economic impact and global exposure that will benefit our region for years to come,” Lassiter said. “We look forward to putting on an event that showcases our great city, creates opportunities for our residents and engages our entire community.”
The Democratic National Convention in 2012 had an economic impact on the region of $164 million and $59 million in added labor income.
“We are incredibly proud to have helped shepherd this opportunity on behalf of our great city,” said Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority CEO Tom Murray. “Charlotte has the collaboration, infrastructure and hospitality that will make the 2020 RNC an unforgettable experience for its attendees. We recognize and are prepared for the tremendous responsibility of welcoming 35,000 visitors to our community for this event and can’t wait to get started.”
N.C. State Rep. Scott Stone (R-Charlotte) said he supported bringing the DNC to the city in 2012 while running for mayor in 2011 because it was good for Charlotte.
“This is not about a particular political party or presidential nominee,” Stone said. “Hosting the RNC is one more opportunity to showcase our city and state as well as provide a huge economic impact.”
N.C. State Sen. Jeff Tarte (R-Mecklenburg) said hosting the convention will impact the entire metropolitan area.
“First the DNC and now the RNC,” Tarte said. “We are excited to share our Southern hospitality and showcase North Carolina to the world. North Carolina is a turnaround success story and now a global economic powerhouse. Our local businesses and entrepreneurs are ready to demonstrate why North Carolina is the No. 1 state to start and operate a business.”