Reach of the RNC expands beyond Cleveland
KIRTLAND, Ohio -- Visitors to the Republican National Convention are expected to spend $200 million.
All that money won't all go to downtown Cleveland hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Outlying communities have been working hard to attract visitors and dollars.
A special panel has been pro-active in Lake County, wooing delegates for more than a year. It's called the Lake County 2016 Organizing Committee.
It's made up of members from government, businesses, non-profits and churches.
It's using history, religion and fun hoping to attract delegates and visitors in convention off-hours
Lake County Commissioner Kevin Malecek says, "We have reached out to delegates all over the country, from Utah to Arizona to California, to let the know about the resources in Lake County....from wineries, to golf courses to historical sites."
Malecek's a Democrat, but stresses the bipartisan objective.
"it's about economic development, " he said.
The James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor is a hoped-for drawing card.
Kirtland mixes religion and history. It's called the "Cradle of the Mormon religion."
Founder Joseph Smith oversaw the building of the revered Kirtland Temple, now 180 years old.
Ronald Romig, of the Kirtland Temple Visitors Center, says there have been outreach efforts to delegates from Utah and other states.
On Friday, the Temple attracted visitors from Maryland and Missouri.
"They see signs for Kirland...and they just have to stop, come and see it," he said.
Events are already scheduled the weekend before the convention.
"They'll be tours set up on Saturday before the convention starts ...and there will be a worship service at the temple," Romig said.
The convention may have disagreement and strife. But there's a spirit of collaboration between different groups with Mormon roots for the benefit of Lake County.
Elder Bill Wynder, of the Historic Kirtland Visitors Center, will celebrate an interfaith service.
"We're going to reach and market our sites...We like to share the story of the growth of Mormonism In Kirtland, " he said.
Four years ago, Mormon Mitt Romney's candidacy drew more interest and visitors.
Malecek said Lake County expects to house three or more state delegations.
"This is about reaching delegates. This is about promoting the region and all the phenomenal things it has to show off and that is a bipartisan effort." he said.
A consulting firm has told the planning group a successful convention that produces a significant number of visitors could result in a 20 percent increase in traffic at key Lake County sites in years come.