CHARLOTTE, NC - Eight weeks remain until the Democratic National Convention and while local businesses should be getting excited about the economic boost coming their way, some have a different feeling. Local vendors are feeling frustrated and want what they were promised.
Organizers are expecting the DNC to have an estimated $150 million dollar impact on the Queen City, but not everyone is getting a piece of that pie. Vendors that registered for DNC opportunities over a year ago say they’ve heard nothing.
Shequeta Smith is the Owner of Off My Chest Tees. Smith says she has been calling the DNC for months and she cannot get a straight answer out of them.
Debbie’s Delights Chocolates Owner, Debbie Mangeney says she hasn’t heard anything from the DNC about vendor opportunities, "It's very disappointing. I was very excited about a year ago and it's just dwindled every month since then; not hearing anything."
Mangeney started her own handmade chocolate business ten years ago. She created red, white & blue sweets in preparation for the DNC. But now Debbie says time is running out, “Even four months would have been a great heads up and I would have absolutely rented a space and I would have had enough product and I would have sold out."
Mangeney says she was counting on the convention, “They checked out the city and said we have what they need, so why aren’t they using our local people?”
The City of Charlotte Permit Official Emily Cantrell, said the city is not designating any public space for vendors during the Democrat National Convention.
Still, there may be other options; vendors in Charlotte could contract with private property owners to sell their products. A private business is leasing the future baseball stadium from the Charlotte Knights for “The American Presidential Experience” and the exhibit owner, Jim Warlick will be offering booths in the tent for up to 75 vendors. It will cost $5,000 from August 31 through September 8th.
Local business owners like Smith & Mangeney say they couldn’t afford that type of investment this late in the game. Now with just a couple of months to go, Mangeney says she feels left out, “When this opportunity comes around once in a lifetime and you don’t get to have it, it is frustrating; what happened to supporting us back?”
The host committee recently announced that it will allow vendor opportunities at CarolinaFest 2012; the celebration along Tryon Street on Labor Day. Businesses can begin to apply next week.