Some local businesses had high hopes of raking in money when the Democratic National Convention rolls in later this year, but some businesses are starting to feel left out of plans they expected to be a part of.
"They just kind of kicked us to the side," said Tyler Lee, the sales manager at the Big Chill in Dilworth.
The special events venue agreed to a right of first refusal with the DNC, essentially locking the Big Chill into a contract which hasn't allowed it to rent out the venue around the DNC. Lee didn't mind that because he ultimately expected it to be booked for a DNC event.
"Then, just last week, they sent us a letter saying they no longer need to use us anymore," Lee said.
Lee said he'll now have to raise rates for other groups who have since contacted him about renting the venue out during the DNC. But less than two months away from the convention, Lee said he's now scrambling to bring in appropriate security and other accommodations. The cost of doing that will ultimately be passed on to the groups coming in for the events.
"That's going to leave a bad taste in their mouths... and we didn't want to do that," Lee said.
The Democratic National Convention Committee said that venues like the Big Chill were not forced into signing a right of first refusal but rather did so voluntarily without any guarantee they'd be used for an official DNC event.
Eyewitness News also spoke with other Charlotte-based businesses who said they were starting to feel frustrated that they had not gotten any calls back on bids they'd placed to offer their services during the DNC. Those businesses did not want to be identified because they are still holding out hope that they'll be utilized.
"I think a lot of this was based on exaggerated expectations," said Kendall Taylor, of Metro Transportation Services.
Taylor said his company was actually chosen as an official courier for the DNC, but he didn't expect it to come automatically just because Metro Transportation Services is a Charlotte-based business.
"As soon as we heard it was coming here, we started putting projects together," Taylor said. "You've got to have a good service, bring a competitive rate and bring solutions and innovations."
The DNCC and Host Committee stressed to Eyewitness News that they've done everything possible to keep as many local businesses as possible involved in DNC and pre-DNC events.
Several major contracts have already been awarded to local companies, including the $7 million renovation and restoration of Time Warner Cable Arena, which is being done by Rogers Builders.
Additionally, the DNCC said it has hired local event-planning companies to manage 13 welcome events before the DNC. All 13 companies are either based in North Carolina, have a Charlotte office, or have partnered with a North Carolina event-planning company to put on the event.
“We’re proud of our unprecedented outreach to local businesses. We’ve made convention-related business opportunities available publicly, and through our online vendor directory and dozens of outreach sessions, we’ve provided businesses with the tools to pursue a contract either with the convention or with one of over 1,000 expected outside events. We have done a great deal to connect businesses with opportunities that we are aware of, and have empowered them to pursue outside opportunities on their own,” said Suzi Emmerling with the DNC Host Committee.