Despite reduced crowd sizes and some shaky concerns about security at the Republican National Convention scheduled to be held in Jacksonville, the host committee is pointing out a flood of local businesses have registered to service the event.
More than 1,000 First Coast businesses have now registered to be vendors connected to the RNC set to take place between Aug. 24-27 in Jacksonville.
The 2020 Host Committee actively solicited local businesses to seek vendor agreements and registration procedures shortly after the Republican Party announced in June the majority of convention events would be moved from Charlotte, N.C. to Jacksonville. The switch for host cities was a result of President Donald Trump complained coronavirus social distancing and other COVID-19 measure in Charlotte would put a damper on the events as he’s to be formally nominated by the party for another four-year term.
The list of registered vendors ranges from a wide variety of industries in Northeast Florida including hospitality, florists, entertainment, food and beverage, health and safety, printing and sign services, promotional products, transportation and several other services.
The huge influx of businesses wanting commerce from the convention isn’t overly surprising as the host committee held a vendor showcase in early July .
The host committee website points out more than 125 of the registered vendors are veteran-owned, more than 195 are minority-owned and more than 300 are owned by women.
But the heightened business attraction comes as police are voicing concerns about security.
Due to the coronavirus resurgence, GOP officials announced last week that the number of people admitted to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will be limited and some events will be moved to outdoor venues at TIAA Bank Field football stadium and adjacent amphitheater.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams bluntly said Monday he has substantial concerns about security for the convention events.
“I am compelled to express my significant concerns with the viability of this event…,” Williams said in a prepared statement issued to media outlets Monday afternoon. “I cannot say with confidence that this event and our community will not be at risk.”
Williams blamed much of the security uncertainty on the sudden announcement in June that the convention would be moved to Jacksonville. With such a short time period for preparation, Williams said his office has been able to address only about 25% “of the ask” for the security requirements.
Williams also expressed concerns about security expense reimbursements and surrounding issues and problems generated from the pandemic.