In Tampa Bay, one year ago Aug 27 through Aug 30, 2012, the city braced to host its first internationally televised event, the RNC. The Republican National Convention would have potential to bring a windstorm of revenue to the Bay area, but along with that potential, loomed Hurricane Isaac with its eye set for the area poised to bring its own wind and rain at the exact same time.
The skies stood dark and menacing from the volatile weather condition contrary to the sunshine, clear blue skies and picturesque waterfront view synonymous of the Tampa Bay area.
Anticipation of massive protest from various groups with political agendas, possessed an intimidating air that caused many to hold their breath on the uncertain safety of the upcoming event. The larger the groups of protest, the higher the odds for violence could emerge from peaceful demonstrations.
The Bay area would have to be conducive to the influx of added traffic and visitation of the event which swirled in many conversations regarding the possibility of unprecedented local traffic jams.
Mayor Buckhorn held a confident vision of the event regardless of the negativity.
"It was our first time on the international stage, and I think we excelled," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. "It fulfilled every expectation I had going in — and then some."
For one thing, the mayor said more and more non-Floridians think of Tampa — not just Miami and Orlando — when they think of Florida.
"This goes from Germany to New York City," said Buckhorn, who has traveled domestically and abroad on city business this year. "When we show up now, people know who we are."
The RNC is a good calling card, officials say, because it suggests a lot about the region's ability to handle complex events and work with big companies.
"Our pipeline has never been as full as it is today," said Rick Homans, president of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.
- The three-day IBM Smarter Commerce Summit comes to Tampa in May for the first time. It will draw 3,500, fill 10,000 room nights and deliver $5.1 million in economic impact.
• Tampa's first Siemens Medical Solutions Innovations for Healthcare IT conference brings 4,300 room nights next August.
• The American College of Genetics and Genomics will make its first visit to Tampa in 2016, filling 4,600 room nights.
This kind of business is important because conventions spend more money than tourists on banquet rooms, catering and entertainment and because it fell during the recession.
The economic impact report showed that hosting the RNC added up to a more than $400 million benefit to the area. On top of that, Council has approved two new residential towers that will bring in new investment and over 1,000 new residents into our urban core. It's an exciting time to be in Tampa