Some Philly businesses cash in on DNC
The Barnes Foundation has been booked this week with a string of parties related to the Democratic National Convention. "Normally, July private events are few, so this is a tremendous increase in activity," Barnes spokeswoman Deirdre Maher said.
The Barnes Foundation has been booked this week with a string of parties related to the Democratic National Convention.
"Normally, July private events are few, so this is a tremendous increase in activity," Barnes spokeswoman Deirdre Maher said.
Hotels were nearly full, streets around the Pennsylvania Convention Center and City Hall bustled with pedestrians, and some restaurants were booked by out-of-towners for the entire week.
Does this mean that the convention, which brought an estimated 50,000 people to Philadelphia - about the same as for the annual Army-Navy football game - was an economic boon for the region?
The Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee estimated the local economic impact of the convention at $250 million to $300 million.
It is far too soon to have solid numbers on the convention's impact, but experts said promoters typically inflate their estimates because they exaggerate the spin-off effects, do not acknowledge that some of the money "leaks" out of the region, and do not account for business that would have happened otherwise.
"It's a huge issue," said Lauren R. Heller, an assistant professor of economics at Berry College, in Mount Berry, Ga., and coauthor of a recent paper that attempted to analyze the economic impact of the national political conventions in 2008 and 2012.
The paper said that economic impacts of more than $150 million for a national political convention "require heroic assumptions about the amount of convention-goers' spending on food, beverages, or other goods or services."
David Fiorenza, an economics instructor at Villanova University, estimated last month that the Philadelphia convention's impact at $130 million.
Whatever the correct figure, the convention meant a surge in business for restaurants managed by Ellen Yin, co-owner of Fork and High Street on Market, in Old City. Her company also operates a.kitchen and a.bar at AKA Rittenhouse Square.
Compared with the same week last year, revenue this week is up 25 percent to 50 percent, depending on the location, Yin said.
Fork had additional revenue from breakfast, which it does not usually serve, and Yin had private lunches every day, more than usual.
"Our team is being stretched," she said, because she cannot simply add more staff for one week.
That hotels are close to fully booked on peak nights means front-line hotel workers are getting more hours, said Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.
Although it is not unusual for a convention to fill the hotels, Grose said, "what's different about the DNC is the amount of food and beverage revenue that comes with it."
The convention was a big deal for the Barnes, because July is not a busy time for private parties, but it means less to businesses that are normally busy at this time of year.
Robert Sallade's company, Soundtracks Production Services L.L.C. in Sicklerville, which provides audio services at concerts and conventions, took on four DNC jobs, but that did not boost his summer.
"Summer is always busy because it is festival season and we work a lot of festivals," Sallade said. "This week would have been busy regardless of the convention."
What about swag?
Impact Dimensions L.L.C., a Philadelphia firm contracted by the Philadelphia host committee to sell T-shirts and other items, was more than halfway to its $300,000 goal Thursday, company president Luis Liceaga said.
Jonathan Saidel, city controller during the 2000 Republican Convention and a member of the 2016 host committee, said the city would benefit long after the convention ends.
Three years after the 2000 Republican Convention was held in Philadelphia, he said, "people were coming because they saw the photos. It's a great opportunity."
Staff writers Diane Mastrull and Jane M. Von Bergen contributed to this article.