CHARLOTTE, N.C. Dan Murrey’s biggest conclusion after a whirlwind trip to the Republican convention in Tampa: Charlotte’s ready.
“The biggest thing I came away with, I felt we’re prepared,” Murrey said Thursday.
Murrey, the executive director of Charlotte’s host committee, flew down to Tampa and back on Wednesday for an on-the-ground look at this week’s GOP convention.
Over 10 hours, he met with the mayor, the Secret Service and his GOP counterpart and visited convention venues as well as a social media “command center” hosted by a tourism group.
He got a look at a squatters camp of protesters and homeless dubbed “Romneyville.” He drove downtown past government buildings protected by steel fences and armed National Guardsmen.
“I felt better about the whole security presence,” he said. “It felt safe and secure but it didn’t feel uninhabitable.”
Largely because of the security measures, a lot of downtown Tampa businesses have virtually shut down or seen diminished customer traffic. While the same could happen in uptown Charlotte, Murrey said he hopes the effect is mitigated by the convention-related events open to the public, like Monday’s CarolinaFest.
“The biggest thing that I’m glad about is the openness of our event,” he said. “Even though there will be security, we’ve arranged it so there will be opportunities for Charlotte and North Carolina to be a part of it. “It’s a different way to do conventions.”
Murrey also visited Tampa’s social media command center, sponsored by Tampa Bay & Company, a regional tourism group. Volunteers monitor tweets and Facebook posts for mentions of Tampa. They respond to visitors’ questions and analyze, and quantify, the content of online conversations.
Murrey said he was impressed by that, as well as by everything else he saw.
“It struck me as a great city,” he said of Tampa. “And like us, a lot of people are rightfully proud of their city.”