Watch CBS News

RNC is economic bust for Cleveland businesses

RNC impact on Cleveland
RNC impact on Cleveland 01:58

CLEVELAND -- From conspicuously empty seating inside the arena to the streets outside, it's been easier to avoid crowds than to find them.

The few blocks around the security perimeter feel like a typical political convention -- vendors selling swag, restaurants crowded with delegates, media, and Republican officials.

But across the rest of this town, it's a different story. Several blocks away, employees at newly opened Coastal Taco say the supposed Republican National Convention economic boom has been a bust.

Coastal Taco in Cleveland, Ohio has sent some employees home due to few customers during the RNC. CBS News

"We've sent people home, take the night off," said managing partner Erin Clyde. They staffed up and extended hours, which was apparently unnecessary.

"I mean it's going to be great, it's going to be this huge windfall, and you know it hasn't been," Clyde said. "In fact it's been a little bit of a ghost town."

Heightened security concerns and Donald Trump's controversial candidacy turned away millions of dollars in corporate sponsorship. That meant fewer parties with rented-out restaurants, and less cash for businesses and employees.

Low RNC attendance 00:30

But a big windfall was never in the cards, according to Cleveland Host Committee CEO David Gilbert

"This is not going to plan everybody's retirement," Gilbert said. He says the committee expects between $200 to $250 million in direct spending.

"We would love for everybody to have a banner week during the convention, but it is nothing we have the ability to control."

Back at Coastal Taco, Clyde says he wasn't expecting the town to celebrate Trump the way it did LeBron James and the Cavaliers at last month's NBA championship parade, but...

"We thought it might be like a Cavs playoff game, you know with maybe more media coming in. But it doesn't have that same feel."

Some downtown businesses decided to close for security concerns, but with Cleveland relatively calm, a number have reopened.

One of the realities of modern conventions is that all this security ends up acting as a barrier to the community at large.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.