After much preparation, speculation and anticipation, the 2012 Democratic National Convention kicks off this week in Charlotte, with official duties scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Though much of the hype has centered on the host city, the impact of the DNC is already being felt in surrounding areas, including Lincoln County.
An estimated 35,000 people are expected to attend the event, roughly 6,000 of whom are delegates, according to the DNC’s website. While none of those delegates will be from Lincoln County — though a few surrounding counties will be represented — some area residents plan to attend the convention.
Lincoln County Democratic Party Chair Deanna McGinnis, who is also a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee of North Carolina, is one of them.
She told the Times-News last week that she would be attending several events during the convention, beginning with a kickoff party Sunday evening and leading up to the grand finale on Thursday, when President Barack Obama will formally accept the nomination at Bank of America Stadium.
With her will be 50 other county residents who committed to the “9-3-1 Pledge” in order to obtain tickets to his speech. The program allowed those who volunteered nine hours for the campaign, which was equal to three completed shifts, to receive a ticket. Volunteer work, which had to be completed by Aug. 18, included registering voters, making calls and canvassing.
“I’m very excited to have that many people to have donated hours,” McGinnis said.
A charter bus will transport the group from Lincolnton to Charlotte on Thursday.
“There will be real excitement on that bus,” she added.
Locally, McGinnis said watch parties have been scheduled by Democratic officials for the “big day.”
Her daughter, who is in college at Wingate University, also donated hours to the campaign and will be in attendance Thursday night.
“I’m very excited to get kids to be able to see that,” she said.
McGinnis noted that having the convention so close to home will be a “monumental event” not likely to be seen in her lifetime again.
It has also helped to bring out volunteers and excite the party in what will be a “very battleground” state in November’s election, she said.
“It’s helped inspire people who haven’t been active before,” she noted.
The local impact has also extended beyond politics. Economically, Lincoln County will reap some benefits, with convention guests having booked rooms at local hotels in Lincolnton.
Both Comfort Inn on East Main Street and Days Inn on Clark Drive said they have rooms booked for people who are in town for the DNC. At Comfort Inn, 13 rooms will be occupied by members of the Democratic Party from New Jersey.
McGinnis said several people from the local party planned to greet the incoming guests upon their arrival Sunday night.
Kara Brown of the Lincoln Economic Development Association told the Times-News last week that the organization had been contacted and requested to provide food products made in Lincoln County to be served at a booth during the convention. Other than that, however, she noted that she wasn’t aware of any direct impact to local industry.
“From the industry side of things, I don’t believe the DNC will have any impact at all,” she said.
Lincolnton-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce President Ken Kindley said his staff helped to disseminate information to Chamber members interested in being vendors or volunteering in some aspect. He said he hopes some guests of the convention will use their spare time to wander into the surrounding towns and communities and “like what they see.”
Whether that happens or not, it’s safe to say that the glare of the national spotlight won’t be far from Lincoln County this week.