Tampa Bay Host Committee set up inside Bank of America tower

Committee has plan to involve local, small biz

TAMPA - Looking through a 33rd floor window in downtown Tampa's Bank of America tower, you can see City Hall, the Convention Center, and Channelside.

Inside 35,000 square feet of office space, a team is working on how the world will view our city one year from now.

"We have had local donors who have given seven-figure donations. Several actually," said Ken Jones, CEO of Tampa Bay's Host Committee.

The Host Committee is prepping for the 2012 RNC next summer. Fundraising efforts have netted more than $15 million for what is billed as the most watched non-sporting television event that is sure to bring economic opportunity to businesses.

"Whenever there's a local qualified business, we go ahead and send that on to them and say we really appreciate it if you use our local Tampa Bay business as opposed to say bringing somebody in from Washington, or Maryland or Virginia."

Jones says the host committee will roll out its plan to get local, small businesses involved.

"I've been in business for 25 years. This is an opportunity like none I have ever seen our community have before," said Maryann Ferenc. "It's never going to happen as big as this."

Ferenc says her restaurant, Mise En Place, has already been fortunate to cater convention-related events and encourages counterparts to get involved too.

"They are taking those names and eventually there will be forms to fill out online that you're an interested business. You need to do that and you need to stay engaged," said Ferenc.

The Host Committee will work to keep Tampa Bay engaged for the next year.

The view from the 33rd floor is pretty spectacular.

Soon enough, millions of viewers and thousands more visitors will share the experience.

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