Downtown Cleveland Economy Looking Up, But Will RNC Deliver?

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The DCA's report shows a 70 percent population increase from 2000 to 2013, with over 13,000 residents now living in the downtown area.

Sharing the findings before the City Club of Cleveland, DCA President Joe Marinucci also touched on the area’s labor force.

“As the report indicates, over 3,000 new jobs were created in 2014,” said Marinucci. “Forty-four companies either moved in or made decisions to remain in downtown Cleveland during that period. So the underpinnings of our community remain very, very strong.”

The DCA report also gives the latest average annual household income for downtown residents as under $59,000, compared to $36,000 in 2006.

City leaders are hoping that continued growth will help Cleveland re-invent its reputation when the RNC comes to town next year. Panelists said it’d be good to move past burning rivers and hard times, and highlight things like the improved retail, health, and food sectors across the area.

The RNC and its economic potential for the region has certainly fired up a lot of hopes. But local officials urge both caution and advance preparation.

The City Club’s latest forum included Michael Smith, President and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners, in Charlotte, North Carolina. That city hosted the Democratic National Convention in 2012. And while many locals in Cleveland are undoubtedly seeing dollar signs when they envision the thousands of delegates, party officials, and tourists coming to town, Smith urges restraint.

“There can be a false expectation by local businesses that ‘This is going to be such an incredible windfall,’” cautioned Smith. “And it will be good, I mean it had $165 million economic impact on Charlotte. But it’s concentrated. It’s not spread across everybody. There’s a lot of private events. Being realistic about that is really important.”

Meanwhile, the economic impact of political conventions remains debatable. Some say the payoff is immense, while others say the hassle of increased security and traffic can discourage regular residents from the event.

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