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Center for Economic Development


The summer of 2014 was an exciting time full of announcements and transitions for the City of Cleveland, marking the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Republican National Committee selecting Cleveland to host the 2016 RNC Convention. Two years later, 2016 saw the Cavaliers win the city’s first major sports championship in 52 years; just four weeks later, July 18-21, the City hosted its first Republican National Convention in 80 years.

The old saying, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation” reflects the importance of the state in national politics; the only two candidates who have lost Ohio but won the presidency in the past 104 years were Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 and John F. Kennedy in 1960. So, it is no surprise that the Republican National Committee chose Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC) for the third time in its history. The last time Cleveland hosted the RNC was in 1936 (and before that in 1924). After unsuccessful attempts to bid for Convention hosting duties in the early 1990s and the mid-2000s, Cleveland officials reevaluated the city’s offerings and looked at what needed to happen to the city as far as infrastructural and other improvements. The results of these efforts were several new multi-million dollar construction projects, including the Hilton Cleveland Downtown hotel and renovations to Cleveland staples such as Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Public Square, and the Cleveland Museum of Art.

The 2016 RNC brought approximately 44,400 visitors to Northeast Ohio and Quicken Loans Arena. Included were 2,472 delegates and an estimated 2,302 alternate delegates and their guests from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five American territories: American Samoa, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Marian Islands. Along with 15,000 credentialed media and social media representatives, this Convention had the largest social media presence of any Convention in history. Additionally, 2,763 local volunteers donated their time and energy to assist with the Convention in a wide variety of capacities.

The convention was a notable economic event for Cleveland. RNC guests brought millions of dollars into the local economy, while visiting hundreds of unique businesses and cultural sites throughout the region, stimulating growth both in terms of infrastructure and business development.