Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

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5 money angles to remember when a candidate comes to town

September 15, 2016

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Political rallies can have an immediate impact on a community's finances. Here are stories to keep in mind when Clinton or Trump come to town.
Political rallies can have an immediate impact on a community's finances. Here are stories to keep in mind when Clinton or Trump come to town. (Image by Ted Eytan via flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)

With only 54 days left until the presidential election, Clinton and Trump are picking up the pace of their cross-country campaigning, stopping in small towns and big cities alike. When a candidate comes to town, the local economy is impacted. People who travel to the event—both staff and attendees—will need to pay for food, lodging and gas, often benefiting local business owners. But big crowds often come with big expenses. Here are stories to keep in mind when the Trump train or the Clinton caravan comes to your town.

The impact on local businesses

While local businesses might benefit from the thousands of hungry and thirsty event-goers descending on your community, street closures and traffic snarls could have a negative impact. Visit the location the day before the event to take note of normal traffic patterns, signs indicating that streets will be closed, how busy local businesses are. You’ll have a base to measure things against once the rally is underway.

Location costs and logistics

It’s likely that renting the event space will be the campaign’s largest expense. Find out who chose the location for the rally in your city, and why. What is the cost of leasing the facility and staging the event? What additional workers will be hired for the occasion? If the venue is a public space such as a school arena or public park, find out specifically how the rental fees will be spent.

Temporary jobs created for the event

Ask if staffers are volunteers or if they are being paid. How many are locals? Look at the people selling merchandise as well. Are they locals, or are they from out of town? Are there independent food or beverage carts working the event?

The price of law enforcement and public works

While presidential candidates are provided with Secret Service detail, they also depend on local law enforcement to help with security and logistics. After the event reach out to your city’s Public Information Office for details regarding overtime and extra security costs. Police, the fire department, and public works employees may all come into play. Communities are rarely reimbursed for these expenses.

Spikes in hotel occupancy 

If a rally requires that a candidate and press corps spend the night locally, find out which hotels are being used. The impact of a campaign overnighting in town could be significant.

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