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What a possible RNC in Milwaukee means for county

kpilarski@conleynet.com 262-513-2657

WAUKESHA — Waukesha County officials are excited at the possibility of the 2024 Republican National Convention coming to Milwaukee. Last week a site selection committee unanimously recommended the event be held in Milwaukee instead of Nashville, Tennessee. The Republican National Committee would still need to approve the location at its meeting Aug. 2-5 in Chicago.

“We look back to what the DNC (2020 Democratic National Convention) was going to do. We see there’s going to be a pretty solid impact in the Waukesha County area. Not only just for the hotels but the restaurants and other entertainment venues that we have,” Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said.

Farrow said the county saw all the bookings and reservations in 2020 but they disappeared due to the pandemic. He thinks the county will be in a good position.

“From a county perspective we were involved in the logistics from working with law enforcement, security

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and working with our public health team so there is a lot of infrastructure that we were helping out and will be a part of again,” Farrow said.

“There will be some opportunities for businesses looking at opportunities where they can show off who they are and what they can do to see if we can attract people to come here and live here after the convention,” Farrow said.

The county executive said the impact from having the convention in Milwaukee, knowing 2024 will be a pivotal year in the election cycle, will bring some enthusiasm and pundits here that will be good for the people of Waukesha County to get out and see.

And the benefits would go beyond the county. Washington County Executive Josh Schoemann provided the following comment: “Congratulations to Milwaukee County Executive Crowley and Milwaukee Mayor Johnson for putting the region ahead of politics. Holding the Republican National Convention in southeast Wisconsin will benefit the entire area, and we offer our full support and any assistance needed to ensure a successful event.”

We like green

Matt Mareno, chair of the Waukesha Democratic Party, said having any national event in Milwaukee is wonderful because it highlights the great state and its communities and will bring a ton of revenue to Wisconsin.

“I haven’t seen the financial estimates but I assume they are close to the DNC’s financial estimates. Just tens of millions of dollars of economic revenue, so that’s wonderful,” Mareno said. When Milwaukee was announced as the location for the 2020 DNC, officials regardless of political leanings were excited.

“I know our county executive (Paul Farrow) was excited,” Mareno said. “Again think a ton of economic revenue for your community,” he said.

Farrow said the county had been willing to help out with the DNC. He added in talking with Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, they realized the economic impact to the 30,000-plus people coming to Milwaukee.

Republicans felt the same way that there was a economic impact to the DNC coming.

“I was talking to Mayor Johnson and we joked we might be red or blue but we both like green,” Farrow said.

Waukesha County Chairman Paul Decker said the news is positive and anytime there is a big convention it will encompass other areas such as Brookfield with their hotels and meeting spots.

“People are always looking for events at these type of conventions. We have wonderful venues in Lake Country and throughout Waukesha County people can utilized for private gatherings. That adds to the flavor of what I believe is attractive about Milwaukee as a convention spot,” Decker said.

Economic development and workforce among benefits

When asked about both Republicans and Democrats being happy about the RNC, Decker said “Money is green, not blue or red.”

The RNC coming to the area means help for economic development, the workforce and so many different areas, according to Decker, so the benefits rise across all political spectrums.

“Regardless of what side you are on ... it comes to the enhancement of Milwaukee and the metropolitan area’s image is a plus for all of us who are working to build a better community,” Decker said.

Suzanne Kelley, president and CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance,released the following statement: “The Waukesha County Business Alliance celebrates the continued progress toward bringing the Republican National Convention to Milwaukee in 2024. A win for Milwaukee is a win for Waukesha County and the region. We look forward to the final vote in August to confirm Milwaukee as the host site. The economic boost for our region by bringing roughly 45,000 attendees to Wisconsin will be beneficial to so many industries, including those that have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Besides the immediate economic impact, we are excited about the prospect of showcasing our region as a great place to live, work and play to a wider audience. The RNC is an opportunity to highlight the amazing businesses, people and quality of life we enjoy in Southeast Wisconsin and potentially attract new talent to our region.”

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