RNC leaders discuss next steps, business opportunities for 2024 convention

There are still 17 months to go before the 2024 Republican National Convention comes to Milwaukee, but the GOP and local organizers are already laying the groundwork to bring upwards of 45,000 visitors to the city for the four-day event.

Local officials and Republican leadership gathered Thursday to provide an update on fundraising efforts and opportunities for local businesses to cash in on the estimated $168 million to $280 million economic impact on the city and state economy.

“That’s the basket that every entrepreneur oughta be holding out to try to take advantage of,” said Steve King, CEO of the MKE 2024 Host Committee. “… Nobody is looking to make this city red or blue, we’re going to make the city green.”

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King was joined at the press conference by GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, MKE 2024 Host Committee chair Reince Priebus and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

“There’s going to be plenty of opportunities between now and May or June of 2024, and those opportunities are going to be widespread,” King told BizTimes Milwaukee.

In an effort to extend the influx of dollars over the region, the nonpartisan local host committee and the party’s soon-to-be-assembled convention planning team is looking to recruit diverse and minority-owned businesses to contract as vendors for the convention, King said.

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“There are going to be advantages provided through our RFPs for historically underserved businesses … and we’ll be working with the city of Milwaukee to come up with protocols for those RFPs,” he said.

The local host committee has begun meeting with minority business leaders and chamber groups and plans to hold quarterly meetings for businesses to learn more about contract opportunities and voice questions or concerns.

RFPs through the local host committee will soon be available through its newly launched, website, while RFPs through the party’s national convention committee won’t come online until the second or third quarter of this year, said King.

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The local host committee is already making inroads with the Milwaukee business community, having retained marketing agency Zizzo Group to design its website and commercial interior design firm Coakley Brothers to provide its office furniture.

Addressing the media Thursday, Priebus, who formerly served as chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party and the Republican National Committee and as White House chief of staff under President Donald Trump, highlighted the separate objectives of the national convention committee and the local host committee.

The party’s goal is to nominate and later elect the next president of the United States, and “on the other hand, you have what our job is, to highlight this great city, great people, expose this city and this state to the entire world so that what happens in Milwaukee is something that spreads to a lot of of other business that comes your way,” said Priebus.

Among his charges as host committee chair is leading efforts to raise the necessary funds to put on the major political convention. It was previously reported that the committee has a budget of $70 million to $75 million.

Asked for an update on the fundraising process, Priebus declined to disclose the amount of money raised so far but said the committee is ahead of schedule.

“The good news is we have so many generous people here in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin that, honestly, we’re pretty overwhelmed, truly, by the financial support that the people of Wisconsin have already committed to,” he said.

Priebus noted that the next key step will be converting fundraising commitments to actual dollars, but said the committee is “in good shape.”

Another responsibility of the host committee is booking what will amount to 300 to 400 hotel and motel properties within a 60 mile radius of downtown Milwaukee for delegates – who will all stay within a 30-mile radius – media and other guests. The committee has hired Chicago-based event accommodations provider onPeak to secure lodging contracts, King said.

In the months leading up the 2024 presidential nominating convention, Milwaukee could play host to another high-profile political event. GOP chair Ronna McDaniel said Thursday that she expects a GOP primary debate to be held here. In her remarks Thursday – like she did when announcing Milwaukee as host city – McDaniel made a point to thank Johnson and city leaders.

“As important as Wisconsin is as a battle ground state, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Milwaukee. … You really do have a city that shines,” McDaniel said. “I am so excited to bring the word into Milwaukee, not just for the Republican Party but for the businesses and business owners and to highlight a bipartisan effort to do great things for this urban community.”

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