Cleveland businesses prepare for Republican National Convention expected to draw 50K visitors

Associated Press

Hundreds of vendors, suppliers and business owners in northeast Ohio are strategizing on how they can cash in on the hundreds of millions of dollars expected to be spent during the Republican National Convention next summer in Cleveland.

More than 200 people attended a supplier forum held Wednesday at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Cleveland for local companies that want to be vendors at the convention.

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The Cleveland 2016 Host Committee has been compiling an online list of vendors to serve as a resource guide for the RNC and convention participants.

"We don't have the ability to tell the convention whom to buy from," Steve Millard told the Northeast Ohio Media Group (http://bit.ly/1LEKfoh ). Millard is the president and executive of the Council of Smaller Enterprises, which organized the event. "But we're trying to create a spotlight for local vendors and suppliers."

The Cuyahoga County Republican Party also organized an event Wednesday evening aimed at minority business owners.

Officials have estimated that $200 million will be spent in the city as a result of the convention, which will take place in July 2016.

"It's such a great opportunity," said Lisa Oswald, the owner of Kay Chemical Co. "It's a historic event, regardless of your feelings about the politics."

Cleveland is expecting about 50,000 visitors to the region. The first Republican presidential debate will take place there in August.