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Local small business owners strategize on how to benefit from DNC and not get left behind

Flores Hall on the south side of Milwaukee is normally the site of retirement parties, wedding showers and quinceañeras. But on September 23, dozens of small business and property owners met there to find out how the Democratic National Convention’s arrival in Milwaukee next summer could benefit them.

Since the convention was announced, there has been promises of 50,000 people converging on the city in July. Alderman Jose Perez, who represents the city’s south side, said the convention can benefit all of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

“There is a wide range of services and vendors that will be needed,” Perez said. “Whether it’s Airbnb, renting out space, you name it – depending on what you do and how you do it – there is money to be made.”

Earlier this year, Milwaukee’s Department of City Development hosted a similar event on Milwaukee’s north side tailored to neighborhood and business leaders. The event at Flores Hall was focused more on restaurant owners, small businesses and property owners, Perez said.

The Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee has said there will be approximately 2,000 events that take place leading up to and during the convention. The convention will be held from July 13-16 at the Fiserv Forum in downtown Milwaukee. The host committee is looking for approximately 15,000 volunteers, but also vendors.

Samer Abulughod owns Crystal Limousine & Coach. He has already signed up to be a vendor for the convention, but attended Monday’s event to make sure he wasn’t forgetting to do anything before the event.

“This doesn’t have to do with politics,” Abulughod said. “I want to know how we can help support our city. We have guests coming and we need to take care of them.”

Tyeshia Coopwood started her business, Potty Pearls, two years ago. She said she would love to get her product — a portable air freshener — in the hands of the politicians coming to Milwaukee. Maurice Wince and his wife recently purchased several properties in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. He is hoping at least one of the commercial spaces can serve as a venue during one of the convention’s events.

“I think that the politicians need to see the entire city of Milwaukee,” Wince said. “Milwaukee has a rich heritage and Sherman Park has a rich heritage.”

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