2016 RNC Spurs Economic Activity, Contributes to Changing Narrative

Studies Show Positive Impact of Hosting 2016 RNC

By all measures, the summer of 2016 will go down as one of the greatest summers in Cleveland’s history. The Cavaliers brought the city its first professional sports title in over 50 years and the Indians made an unforgettable run to the World Series. While our sports teams gave us much to cheer about, perhaps the greatest victory of 2016 was the way our city shined during the 2016 Republican National Convention (RNC).

To further highlight the impact the RNC had on the city and region, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee recently released the findings from two, third-party studies that focused on the Convention’s overall impact. As the studies illustrate, not only did the Convention provide a significant economic boost, it also contributed to a changing narrative about Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio. While the RNC is now just a distant memory, its impact will be felt for years to come.


In an effort to evaluate the macro and micro impact of the RNC, the Cleveland 2016 Host Committee commissioned studies from two organizations – Tourism Economics and Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. As noted in this press release, “the organizations used different approaches and methodologies and, as a result, provide complementary findings to illustrate the benefits of the public, private and civic investment in the hosting effort.”

Below are some of the key findings from both studies.

Tourism Economics Analysis:

  • The 2016 RNC produced $110.1 million in direct spending and $188.4 million in economic impact in a seven-county region.
  • Hotels averaged 88 percent peak occupancy rate in the seven-county region and 99 percent in Downtown Cleveland during the five core nights of the Convention.
  • The jobs and labor income generated by the city’s hosting of the RNC were significant. The 1,324 FTE positions generated (on an annualized basis) through the hosting translated to $61.1 million in income for residents.

Cleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs Analysis: (Cleveland State University’s micro analysis focused on downtown hotels and based its spending study on 296 questionnaires completed on and around Public Square by convention week visitors, giving a ground-level view and lessons that can be applied to future events)

  • The CSU study affirmed the belief that events like the RNC can be used to change people’s impressions of Cleveland.
    • Survey participants asked how they would describe Cleveland before attending the RNC included words like “rust belt,” “dull,” “boring” and “dangerous.” Asked to describe the city since attending the RNC, the most popular words were “friendly,” “nice,” “clean” and “safe.”
  • Renting out living space to visitors in close proximity to such large events was a viable option for Clevelanders.
    • The study showed that apartment tenants and the associated rental property owners made more than $500,000 during convention week through a rental program coordinated by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

In addition to the economic benefits of hosting the Convention, the event offered an unprecedented opportunity to showcase Northeast Ohio to audiences across the nation. To that end, some 15,000-credentialed media used the city as a backdrop while covering the Convention. With an attentive audience gathered, civic organizations used the occasion to tout information about the region’s ongoing renaissance, which piqued the interest of reporters. Because of this, the region captured more than 3,000 story pick-ups, each highlighting various aspects of living, working and playing in Northeast Ohio. What is more, 76 percent of these stories were positive or neutral in tone. Ultimately, this surge in media coverage helped Northeast Ohio tell its story – a story of revitalization and economic growth.

Drawing some 48,000 visitors, the 2016 Republican National Convention not only made an economic impact, it also generated a positive buzz that continues to pay dividends. The Convention provided an opportunity for Cleveland to show its true colors, dispelling common stereotypes and misconceptions. While difficult to quantify, this type of exposure has helped fuel the positive momentum that will drive our region forward in the years and decades ahead.