Economist: ‘This is all looking to be a disaster’ Mayor admits RNC will not generate $100m in economic impact due to Covid

$100 million "a stretch"

Jacksonville, FL — Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is admitting the city will fall short of the $100 million economic impact figure he touted when the City landed the Republican National Convention in June.

“It’s clear it will not be that kind of economic activity with a scale back [because of the coronavirus]” said Curry during a Tuesday news conference.

Curry welcomed the RNC to Jacksonville with a hype video that bragged “what city would take on the RNC with just 75 days to pull it off?”

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However, 34 days out from the August 24th start, the dynamic has changed amid Coronavirus and security concerns even as the Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee website still touts the $100 million economic impact figure.

The RNC revealed last week’s local events would be scaled back to allow for social distancing as Jacksonville tries to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases.

“This is all looking to be a disaster,” says Victor Matheson, an economist who has written about the economic impact of major events. he says the Pandemic kills much of the economic advantages of hosting the RNC, although they typically are overstated, to begin with. “A scaled-down convention leaves you with a fraction of the economic impact but still all the costs and hassle associated with this,” said Matheson.

Action News Jax Ben Becker asked Jacksonville International Airport for passenger numbers and learned it expected 15,000 people to fly out after the convention. but that number is now down to 10,000, the same number of passengers JIA would see on a normal pre-Pandemic day - but 10,000 is still more than double the number of people currently flying out of the airport.

It remains to be seen if the reality ends up living up to the hype, as the Mayor still says even with fewer people expected, local hotels and restaurants will benefit from the convention.