Friday, September 23, 2011

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: Getting down to business in Charlotte

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Each week brings another chance for Charlotte companies to compete against — and perhaps join in partnership with — regional and national businesses for DNC 2012 opportunities. Especially in a tough economy, the possibility of major contracts takes precedence over politics for many.

This week, the Democratic National Convention Committee opened the bidding for “an exposition services vendor.” That’s the bureaucratic name for the firm responsible for outfitting the work spaces for convention and campaign staff and media in the Time Warner Cable Arena, the Charlotte Convention Center and other places around town.

Last week, the DNCC released a request for proposal (or RFP) for “an event architect and construction manager,” charged with the big job of designing and modifying the arena in preparation for the convention. And someone will eventually have to design a stage set that is suitably presidential.
The DNCC said it will judge proposals “on numerous criteria, including, but not limited to: experience, reliability, relationships to Charlotte, N.C., and the surrounding region, participation of union labor, women, minorities and persons with disabilities, and local resources to support the endeavor.”
In right-to-work North Carolina, union participation in convention projects has been a part of the discussion since the beginning, with some national unions objecting to the Charlotte pick. Opposing them are state unions that see opportunities for their members, while some non-union businesses worry about being left out.

The forms and deadlines for the work are listed on the convention’s official site, which is also the home of the vendor directory, launched on Sept. 1. So far, more than 1,200 non-convention related events are expected when the more than 35,000 delegates, politicians, celebrities and members of the media come to town.

On Wednesday night, members of the host committee, including CEO Dan Murrey, met with the Carolina Regional Minority Partnership Coalition, minority businesses whose Website also includes a vendor list.

Coalition chair James Ferguson told me that their closed-to-the-press meeting at the historic Excelsior Club was “mainly just an informational session.” He said, “It’s important to get as much information as possible so our members can fully participate in the process.”

“The one thing that’s not clear,” he said, “is how they will monitor and measure their progress and success. We can help.”

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.


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