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Downtown Cleveland is back in business with NFL Draft in town

The NFL Draft is bringing in customers and cash after a long, hard winter.

CLEVELAND — Between the Republican National Convention, the MLB All Star Game and the Presidential Debate, Cleveland has proven it's got what it takes to handle events where the world was watching. 

Then of course COVID hit, and like many other cities, our downtown was nearly decimated with business of all types shutting down or struggling to stay alive. But the NFL Draft has brought us back in the spotlight, and with it, the chance to rebound.

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For Douglas Petkovic, Managing Partner of Flannery’s Pub, which shut down for part of the winter, the NFL Draft was welcome business.

"We were essentially hemorrhaging money. You know, we still have to pay rent, we have insurance, we have utilities,” he explained.

In fact, Petkovic says it lost less money staying closed than open. But, not during the Draft, where there was a line outside for people waiting to get in.
“We love it that it's a sports event because we're huge sports junkies. And we love it that we get to showcase our city in this way. It's moving in the right direction. You can feel the momentum,” Doug said.

For it to fully bounce back though, he says it's becoming less about customers and more about convincing workers there's money to be made.  Which is exactly what one of the Pub’s servers told us, “It’s been busy. It’s been great. I have no issues.”

But the difficulty in getting people is why the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Downtown Cleveland Alliance https://www.downtowncleveland.com/ created a one stop source to connect job seekers with spots in the hospitality industry as well as other businesses.

Deb Janik, Senior Vice President of Business Growth & Development explained, "We want to make sure that we are showcasing our businesses that are hiring, our businesses in need, to get our downtown district re-invigorated and refreshed a new.”

Although it’s already started. The Cavs and Indians are now playing, The Huntington Convention Center has started holding events, Playhouse Square and other theatres have planned their re-openings.

And people are feeling the excitement. The McDonald brothers, who came in from Pennsylvania to see the Draft said, "So far it's been great. Real nice. Beautiful city. Cleveland is a beautiful city."

With the city again in the national spotlight, Cleveland centric groups say we’re headed for a touchdown.

“This is the first weekend of kickoff for what I hope will be a summer that accelerates recovery, gets our businesses back up and operating. And we start to see that hustle and bustle in our downtown district that we've come to really appreciate over the course of the last several years,” Janik said.

Given many hotels are more than 80% filled, and tens of thousands are hitting downtown for the events, we're not just drafting players, but new life for our city.

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