Business owners mixed on economic impact of DNC

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - People packed uptown Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention, but by Friday afternoon, most of the crowd was gone and the spending was wrapping up.

Tourism officials estimate the economic impact in the Charlotte area could be up to $150 million.

Officials with the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority said over the next few weeks they will collect data from businesses and area organizations and then work to put together a report measuring the economic impact of the DNC in the Charlotte area.

The response from local business owners was mixed.

Hundreds of customers kept the cash registers ringing at Newks restaurant on North Tryon Street.

But because many uptown workers stayed home during the DNC, owner Justin Karas said it balanced out to a typical week in sales.

"We knew we wouldn't have our normal day-to-day business," he said.

Across uptown Charlotte, some restaurants, like Phil's New York Deli & Tavern, struggled without their regulars but tried to attract people with a watch party for President Obama's speech.

Others like Blue, a Mediterranean restaurant, had a record week.

In Concord, Kathleen Reader, who owns The Bead Lady bead store, said she went after delegates, pre-selling party favors and manning a table at Great Wolf Lodge.

"You can go after it and get it," she said. “What the expectations were to what the reality is -- is not there. We are happy with what we've done."

Charlotte Chamber of Commerce president Bob Morgan said it's also about selling Charlotte to people who might vacation here in the future, college students and foreign officials, who may bring business here.

"Who now will come back to Charlotte? “Morgan said. "On business or for pleasure or perhaps to move here?"

Karas believes more conventions, most of which won't force many employees to work from home, will come to Charlotte in the future.

"I think at the end of the day, it's more than totaling up receipts for three days," he said.

The Charlotte Visitors Center typically sees about 300 people a day.

On Labor Day, officials said 3,000 people visited, and since Sept. 1, more than 9,000 visitors were there.